How would you explain the gospel?

Sharing the gospel on the dance floor of a bar might seem strange, but it happened to me once after I first got saved.  I was a new college graduate who had moved back home, and was at some nightclub in South Florida with my sister and her group of guy friends.  One of the guys and I were dancing together when he asked me about my recent conversion to Christianity.

“Cindy tells me you are very passionate about the whole Jesus thing.  Do you actually believe what you are being told at church?”

I was thrilled with his question, because it was the perfect opportunity for me to share the gospel for the very first time.  It seems odd to me now that I could have such a serious conversation while grooving to pop music on a dance floor . . .  but at the time it was perfectly natural.  He listened patiently as I began my explanation with the Garden of Eden.

I kept talking for an entire hour.

I didn’t know how to explain the gospel simply and concisely!  Oh Lord, how embarrassing.  I don’t even remember that young man’s name, but God bless him for hearing me out.

And, if you don’t mind, may I please explain the gospel to you right now in a simple and concise manner???  I promise; I’ll be quick.

The gospel is the good news, or the glad tidings, of Jesus Christ.  It’s good news because He came to solve the problem that plagued humanity.  As I told that anonymous guy on the dance floor:  the problem began in the Garden of Eden.

Genesis 2:15-17, The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

Adam and Eve were given one commandment to obey, and they failed.  They ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  They chose to reject God. So on that day, He left.  They lost the life of God, the Holy Spirit, which had been breathed within them . . . and they died (Gen 2:7).

You and I are born into this world “spiritually dead.”  We are all born in the image of Adam.  We are empty.  We are blind.  We are lost.  (Haven’t you noticed?)

Romans 5:17-19, For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.  So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.

Humans are born in the image of Adam, not in the image of God.  Death reigned from Adam to Jesus.  Life reigns from Jesus until eternity, until forever!  😁

God came to earth as the promised Messiah to the Israelites; the prophet that was foretold and expected for thousands of years.  He was born as a baby and was called Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

After living a perfect life according to the Law of Moses, He was put to death; His death paid the penalty that was required for sinners under the Law.  He was then buried in a cave; hundreds of Roman soldiers guarded that cave for the following three days.

But you can’t kill God, so on the third day, He rose again; His body was resurrected from the grave.  Having died for the sins of the world, the world is now forgiven of all of its trespasses against God.  The slate has been wiped clean so that anyone who wants to be saved, can be saved.  You are saved by receiving the resurrected life of Jesus, by inviting His life – which is His very Holy Spirit – to come and live with you for all of eternity.

Romans 5:10, For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

His death, His burial, and most importantly, His resurrection made it possible for humanity to be saved; to be made alive; to receive His resurrected life, His Spirit, that would resurrect US from the dead.

That life that Adam and Eve lost?  It has been restored.

Have you been restored?  Have you been made alive?  Have you believed in the gospel?

Hearing this message with faith, is what allows a person to be saved from eternal death.

Kind of an important message to share. . . . even if you are on a dance floor.

 

 

May 4, 2018

You are a forgiven person — period

If you seek to be obedient to God, then you must love Him with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength and you must love your neighbor as you love yourself.  These two commandments are the summary of all of the commandments listed in the Law of Moses.  In your attempt, you must never falter and never veer off course.  You must love God and your neighbor for every minute of every day for your entire life. (Mark 12, Matthew 22, Luke 10)

You know what you must do, and you must do it perfectly.  You should give this your best effort.  Your greatest attempt.

Jesus said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

If you fail for even one moment, you are completely guilty; it is as if you failed continually for your entire life.

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. (James 2:10)

At this point, you should see that you are hopeless.  You should feel the heaviness of ‘the impossible’ weighing you down.  You should embrace the dark enormity of this empty void.  Because simply by knowing what is good and what is evil, you can in no way obey the Law of God. (Genesis 2:17)

Allow the Law to kill you and to bring a complete end to any attempts at obedience.  Afterall, “the Law brings death, but the Spirit brings life.” (2 Corinthians 3:6)

You are now ready for the Good News.  You are now ready to enter the Promised Land of Rest!  You are now ready to acknowledge the complete forgiveness of your sins.

Being set free from the Law allows you to live a life of rest knowing that Jesus Christ has done it all – He has done all the work.  Your only job now is to live in the fulfillment of the Sabbath Day.

Live as a forgiven person!  Give no thought to guilt or condemnation when you sin – He has dealt with your sin.  But do talk to Him about it, of course.  Talk to the Lord continually, and pour out your heart to Him at all times.  Allow Him to teach you that He has no expectations of you; that only He could be a perfectly obedient human.

Live as a forgiven person!  The Law came to an end when Jesus Christ fulfilled it here on earth, so do not think in terms of “sin” and “repentance.”  It is the Law that defines sin, and therefore, you are free from sin, since you have been set free from the Law. (Romans 6:16-18)

Live as a forgiven person!  Grow in the grace that He has for you.  You are finally free to grow as a new creation as you get to know your kind, forgiving and loving Savior.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (2 Peter 3:18)

 

November 21, 2017

Christ is the End of the Law

If you are a believer, the Law of Moses was brought to an end for you.

Romans 10:4, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”

What is the Law?

What the apostle Paul calls “the law” comprises all of the hundreds of commandments that God spoke to Moses on Mt. Sinai. The first 10 are the most famous, of course, but there are actually a lot more than 10. It’s common knowledge in the Orthodox Jewish community that there are 613 commandments (listed and re-listed in Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy).

The four gospel accounts — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John — further magnify the Law.  The four gospels are technically part of the Old Testament, since the New Covenant did not go into effect until the death of Jesus Christ. When you read them, you are reading the ‘end of the law,’ or the end of the Old Testament. (Bob George of Classic Christianity fame is the one who originally taught this vital truth to me.)

Without the gospels, it would be easy to conclude that the Law deals only with outward behavior. Jesus Christ, however, helps us to see that to be truly obedient to the Law, the thoughts and intentions of our mind must also be pure and good.

Ever felt tormented by one of the parables? Feel uncomfortable when you read the Sermon on the Mount? Those feelings are normal. The Law is having its perfect effect on you. It is beating you up. It is condemning you.

We have no hope of living according to the Law; according to rules and regulations.  Jesus Christ used the Law correctly:  to lead us to the Mercy Seat of God.

Not only did Jesus teach the Law correctly (as opposed to the Pharisees who used it incorrectly), He also lived the Law. He lived every moment of His life under the curse of the Law; He obeyed all of the commandments perfectly.

Jesus did not come to abolish the Law of Moses, but to fulfill it. Since the obligations of the Law were fulfilled by Him, it has been brought to an end.

“He did this by erasing the charges that were brought against us by the written laws God had established. He took the charges away by nailing them to the cross.” (Colossians 2:14, GWT)

Christ is the END of the Law, not the beginning. “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness.”  We Christians must come to the end of the Law, and live righteously by our belief and trust in Him, not in our obedience to the Mosaic Law or any other set of laws.

If Jesus Christ is the end of the Law to everyone who believes, why do so many believers today want to remain ‘in’ the Law?  Why are we not coming to the end of it?

For many of us, it takes time.

I was finally able to come to the end of the Law because I really ‘gave it my all’ as a young Christian. I spent over 10 years being extremely zealous.

If you’ve never been a full-on Jesus Freak zealot, maybe you should give it a try. Really work at the Christian life with fervor. If you would rather not be a raging legalist, well then, studiously read the Law of Moses.

The story of God giving the 613 commandments to Moses begins in Exodus chapter 20. After God speaks the first 10 commandments, there is a break in the narrative because the millions of Israelites gathered around Mt. Sinai grew terrified and they ran away.

“When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, ‘Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.’” (Exodus 20:18-19)

From then on, God spoke solely to Moses. Aaron Budjen brought this truth to light: that God wanted to speak to the entire nation of Israel Himself, yet the only one who would listen to Him was Moses.

The rest of the 603 commandments are recorded in chapters 21, 22 and 23 of Exodus. When God finished speaking to Moses, he went down the mountain and reported the 613 commandments to the Israelites. They agreed to obey all of them.

“Then Moses came and recounted to the people all the words of the LORD and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which the LORD has spoken we will do!” (Exodus 24:3)

After that Moses “wrote down all of the words of the Lord.” In its written form, it is often called The Book of the Covenant.

Next, Moses reads his book to them. This is the second time they are hearing the Law.

In essence he is saying to them, “Hold on guys, are you sure about this? You’re really going to do everything He said? This is serious. You had better listen to all of these commandments again.”

The second reading of the Law is recorded in Exodus 24, “Then he took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!”

I love the classic Jewish behavior shown here: they are very enthusiastic, very driven, and very ambitious.

Next they wander around in the wilderness for 40 years, but before they enter the Promised Land, Moses goes over the covenant with them a third time.

“After they wandered around in the desert for 40 years He reestablished the covenant with them – they went over it, they reviewed it – and Moses rewrote the covenant in what we call the Deuteronomy, or the book of Deuteronomy. In that text we have a rewrite of the covenant in “covenantial form.” (Aaron Budjen)

They try and try for over 600 years to obey all that the Lord had said to them, but they continually fail. God kicks them out of the Promised Land and they get taken to Babylon as slaves. (Click here for more information.)

The Pharisees arise during the Babylonian captivity. The Pharisees were the Orthodox and ultra Orthodox Jews of their day. They added thousands of ‘fence laws’ to God’s original 613, and they come to believe that they have finally achieved total obedience to the Law.

The Messiah arrives on the scene around 4 B.C., and He really gets in their faces. Jesus tells them plainly that they have not achieved perfection; He ends the Sermon on the Mount by telling them that they have to actually be as perfect as God the Father.

Jesus was as perfect as God. He was God. Jesus is God. Only He could fulfill the Law. And since He died as a human, His death was offered to God and was acceptable to God the Father as a substitutionary death for all of humanity.

He brought an end to the Law. If you are a new creation in Christ, live according the Law of the Spirit of Life. Do not live according to the Law of Sin and Death.

Do not allow the Law of Moses to be your guide; allow the Holy Spirit to guide you.

Jesus Christ is the end of the Law to everyone who believes.

End it already.

 

May 31, 2016