When Jesus sent His disciples out to preach the Gospel He authorized them to preach HIS Gospel not the “gospel” of someone else. Here is the lesson from this morning that explains what the Gospel is and what we are authorized to preach.
Jer 7:22-24 For in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to your fathers or command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. (23) But this command I gave them: ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’ (24) But they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward.
When it comes to pleasing people, we often want to know “What is the most important thing you want?” We like to prioritize and assume that if we do the most important thing that we will be O.K. even if we don’t get the other “lesser important things” done. Sometimes though, we elevate the less important things above more important things.
In Jeremiah’s message, God reminds Judah that when He brought Israel out of Egypt, that his first words to them were not about burnt offerings and sacrifices. This is not to say that He didn’t command sacrifices. He most certainly did! However, here in Jeremiah and in other places such as 1 Sam 15:22, the message is clear that it not the Sacrifice by itself or in and of itself that God wants…..what God wants is Obedience to His commands.
1Sa 15:22 And Samuel said, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.
The problem in the days of Jeremiah, Moses, the Judges, most of the Kings, the days of Christ, and well….even today is that people want to offer sacrifices but not obedience. People will spend time, money, and resources in sacrifice to God, they will do many things in the name of the Lord, even teaching people about Jesus, but I am afraid they also forget the words of Jesus:
Mat 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
I wish to challenge everyone who reads this to be obedient to the Gospel of Jesus and, for those who preach the Gospel, to be obedient to the commission of preaching the Gospel which is God’s power to save. How will they be saved if no one preaches it and how can they obey it if no one tells them what is required?
Obedience never earns salvation. If you obey the traffic laws, you don’t get a reward but you do avoid the penalties of disobedience. Salvation is God’s gift and it is from Grace not by works but if God tells you He wants to you to write 500 times “I will not sin” to be saved, even after you do it…guess what? All you did was Obey…you didn’t earn salvation. In the same way, Obedience to the Gospel message does not EARN you salvation, it shows your faith and trust in God, it shows your obedience to Him, but doesn’t earn it. Yet, again, just because salvation is not earned by obedience, doesn’t mean you don’t have to obey!
Jesus will return to bring judgement to those who do not obey the Gospel…
2Th 1:7-8 and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels (8) in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
The Gospel is the power of God unto Salvation:
Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Peter preached the Gospel on the day of Pentecost and told those who believed his message what to do:
Act 2:38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Those that received his word were baptized:
Act 2:40-41 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” (41) So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
And notice WHY Peter told them to repent and be baptized: Jesus told him to.
Mat 28:19-20 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (20) teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Yes, that is right: Somewhere between the Resurrection and His ascension Jesus gave the above command.
Peter was obedient to the command to make disciples baptizing them in His name. The hearers were obedient by being baptized based on their faith in the Messiah.
So when preachers are disobedient to Christ’s command today, people cannot be obedient to the Gospel.
There is a command to make disciples by baptizing them. There is an example of a Spirit led Apostle, commanding hearers to repent and be baptized.
There is NO command, or example of anyone being told by a preacher to pray a sinner’s prayer to be saved or of anyone in the scriptures doing so.
Will you offer sacrifices? or will you be obedient?
When I think of having a life that is worthy of the Gospel, I think first of having a life that is righteous and holy to God. I think of a life that is dedicated to not doing sin and one that is dedicated to serving Him. Generally, I think about following rules and those rules are found in the New Testament. But that type of thinking can lead me to a life in which I check off a list of things to do: Bible reading? (check); Pray? (check); money in the offering? (check); didn’t swear, lie, or smoke? (check, check, check).
But is that what a life that is worthy of the Gospel is all about? I would suggest to you that it is not.
So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Rom 1:15-17)
First, we note that the Gospel is more than “how can you be saved.” When Paul says he wants to preach the Gospel to those in Rome, he is not talking to “non-Christians” but to Christians! If the Gospel is only the plan of salvation, then there is no need to preach it to those who are saved; it is obviously more.
Second, it is in part the plan of Salvation. The message of the death, burial, and resurrection which Paul preached and those who believed practiced (in their baptism) is indeed the invitation of God into His family and the preaching of that Gospel introduces sinners to God’s grace.
Third, it reveals the righteousness of God. This is so important. What kind of God do we serve? What is His standard of righteousness? whatever it is, it is the righteousness that we want to imitate. If we look at the Greek gods, we see immoral and base behavior. It can truly be said that whereas God created man in His image, Man created gods in their image.
The Pharisees also had a righteousness but Jesus said we need to exceed that if we hope to get into Heaven. The problem with their righteousness was that it was self serving, hypocritical, and pretentious. It certainly fooled men but it did not fool God. They had so lessened God’s law that they even fooled themselves into the thought they were keeping it.
For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Mat 5:20)
The thing that stands out to me about the Gospel is Christ’s actions and example. He came to serve and not to be served, he came to give his life as a ransom for many.
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mar 10:45)
To have a life that is worthy of the Gospel then, is more than one that is simply following rules, it goes beyond following rules to doing things that are exceed what is required.
For one will scarcely die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die– but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom 5:7-8)
The righteous man is one who does everything right, by the book. If you agree to work for a righteous man for $100, he will pay you $100. Not less, not more. He is righteous. The Good man would agree to pay you the $100 but if you did a great job, he might pay you $120 for that day’s work. He is not good because he is righteous, he is good because he is generous, he does more than is required of him. Someone might die for either of these two individuals, but Jesus died for the scoundrel sinner.
Jesus did more than was required of Him. Had he stayed in Heaven and not come to earth, not died on the cross, not given his blood for our sacrifice, he would be no less righteous. He would be no less Holy. Our need did not require him to act. And THAT is the standard to which we are to strive to live.
Let us follow the example of Jesus and reach out to those people in the world who need that message, even if it costs us something in the process. We cannot just throw open the doors of the church building and say “they know where we are, if they want to come, they will.”
photo credit: Oceanbound.com via Google images