Text: 1 Cor 15:1-5; Gal 2:14; Phil 1:27 1/20/2013
Main Point: The gospel brings us to God and sends us to others.
I want to let you in on a secret: the secret to destroying relationships. The best way to destroy your relationships is to live with the mindset that you are a mostly good person who does mostly good to most people. If you want to wreck lives then do life thinking that you have small issues here and there but for the most part you’re good and you’ve got it together. Admit that you have your weaknesses and struggles but they are small and relatively inconsequential compared to most. Everyone else is the problem.
People who are mostly good have little patience for people who are not mostly good. How dare you sin against me I’m a mostly good person who does mostly good? How dare you say that to me I’m a mostly good person who is mostly good to you? How dare he do that to me I’m a mostly good person who is mostly good to him? I just can’t understand why she did that I’m a mostly good person who is mostly good to her. People who think they are mostly good expect everyone to give them what they deserve: mostly good.
People who think they are mostly good don’t believe the gospel.
When you think about the Son of God on the cross bloody, naked, humiliated, beaten beyond recognition, and drowning in his own fluid because of your sin can you honestly say that you are a mostly good person? You are thoroughly bad but in Christ you become righteous. On your own you are a train wreck but in Christ you become the righteousness of God. Christ makes you righteous through his atoning death and righteous life so that you can be reconciled to God. This is the gospel.
The truth of the gospel transforms you for relationships. The truth of the gospel transforms you for a relationship with God which then equips you for relationships with others.
Today I want to quickly overview the gospel and what you must do with it then I want to unpack how the gospel frees us for relationships.
1 Corinthians 15:1-5
I. What is the gospel?
1 Corinthians 15 tells us that the gospel is the good news that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, was buried, then rose again on the third day.
Here are some other ways to say it.
The gospel is the good news that sinful men, women, boys, and girls who are cut off from God can be restored to God through the righteous life and atoning death of Jesus Christ.
The gospel is the good news that God himself has come to rescue, reconcile, redeem, and renew his creation through the person and work of his Son.
The gospel is the good news that the hopeless and the helpless receive everything they need for life and godliness in Christ Jesus.
The Gospel is the word of the cross: Sinners are made clean through the substitutionary death of Christ and sinners are made righteous through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness.
1 Peter 3:18, the gospel in one verse, Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.
II. What every Christian must do with the gospel
- Preach the gospel (Philippians 1:27)
In 1 Corinthians 15:1 Paul reminded the church that the gospel is what he preached to them. In Philippians 1:27 Paul reminded the church that they must be striving side by side for the sake of the gospel. Every true church must make preaching the true gospel the priority. The gospel creates the church and the gospel sustains the church. Working the gospel out to unbelievers and working the gospel deeper into believers is our calling for every relationship and program. We exist by and for the gospel. Preach the gospel
- Receive the gospel
The gospel is not like music that you let mindlessly wash over you while you do other things. The true Christian receives the gospel into himself knowing that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. Receiving the gospel is receiving a person. Last week I pointed out that when you believe the gospel you receive Christ so that his atoning death and righteous life become yours.
- Stand in the gospel
Let me come at this phrase from the jello angle. After you get your water boiling and mix in the ingredients jello can’t stand up. Hot liquid jello can’t even hold up a Barbie doll much less a real wife and kids and a job and the responsibilities of life. But put that jello in the fridge, give it time and it will stand firm. The gospel is to your life what the refrigerator is to jello. Stand in the gospel. The gospel is what establishes you and strengthens you. Liquid hot jello must get in the fridge and you must get in Jesus. You must stand in the gospel
- Be saved by the gospel
No one is saved by his praying or singing or her giving and loving. You are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. The gospel explains all that Jesus is and does. The gospel promises to give you all that Jesus is. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation. Rest in the gospel. Be carried to God by the power of the gospel. Be saved by the gospel.
- Hold fast to the gospel
Don’t let go of the gospel. When you sin hold onto the gospel. When people sin against you keep holding onto the gospel. Cling to it with your life for your life. Church the gospel is not a secondary accessory to life. Either the gospel will give you life or you will remain dead to the goodness and glory of life with God.
Husbands and wives, friends who are struggling for the life of another, hold fast to the gospel. Your dreams and desires will destroy your relationships. The gospel will transform you for relationships. Hold fast to the gospel. Jesus will save you and give you the strength to stand. Receive the gospel and preach it to yourself. As you do you will find yourself living in agreement with the gospel
- Walk in step with the gospel (Galatians 2:14)
In Galatians 2 Paul records the occasion when he had to publically in front of God and country rebuke Peter. Paul corrected Peter in front of everyone because Paul “saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel.” Peter was doing things and prizing things that the gospel condemned. His actions were not in step with the priorities and power of the gospel. Are your actions in step with the gospel?
Do you parent in agreement with the gospel? Is the way you treat your spouse in agreement with the gospel? Are you pouring out extravagant grace for the transformation of others? Are you giving up your dreams, desires, and self for the good of others? Do you find joy as you give yourself for the good of others? If you are going to walk in step with the gospel then you must stand in the gospel. The gospel provides what the gospel requires.
- Live a life worthy of the gospel (Philippians 1:27)
Does the way you love your husband cause him to glory in Christ Jesus (Phil 1:26)? Do your coworkers get a sense that there must be a God because of the way you love others (Jn 13:35)? Living a life worthy of the gospel does not mean that after you believe you go out and do enough good stuff to warrant the death of Christ for you. Don’t prove yourself worthy of the gospel. Instead, by the gospel live a life that reflects the depths and power and undying love of the gospel. By the gospel live a life that causes people to glorify your Father in heaven.
Now, how specifically does the gospel do that in relationships?
III. The gospel frees us for relationship
- The gospel frees us to enter into God (John 17:21)
More specifically and biblically the gospel frees us to enter into the life of the Triune God.
Think for a moment about those times when you see the Father, Son, and Spirit interacting with one another. Do you sense any competition among the members of the Trinity? Do you ever see the Spirit trying to out-do Jesus? Do you ever hear the Father trying to one-up Jesus’ story with a better one? Does the Son ever whine when commanded to do the Father’s will? Does the Spirit ever say harsh things to the Son? Does the Son ever lash out with biting sarcasm? Why?
You don’t ever see or hear a sinful thought, word or deed because each member is Self-Sufficient Absolutely-Holy God and each person is loved perfectly from eternity. So all you see is glad cooperation with each other and overflowing joy in each other. Our marriages should reflect this Triune God.
When the Father speaks about his Son he says, “This is my beloved Son, with him I am well pleased.” The Father is free in himself to delight himself in his Son. This is true for every member of the Trinity; three perfect beings living in a perfect relationship enjoying one another perfectly.
The gospel brings you into that relationship of perfect holiness, love, and delight. The Master in Matthew 25 tells his servant, “Well done, my good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your master” (Mt 25:21, 23). Has anyone here ever been told that by your boss? Well done good and faithful employee enter into the joy of your boss. We might share a joyful moment when the yearend profit is up and everyone gets a bonus. Teammates may share an ecstatic moment when they win the big game. But we don’t share in one another’s personal joy.
God, through the gospel invites you to enter into the joy of God. God, through the gospel enables you to enter into the joy of delighting in God. Hold this truth in your mind: through the gospel our sins are removed and we are given Christ’s righteousness so that we can freely enter into the life and love and joy of the Triune God. Through the gospel you are made a partaker of the life, love, and joy of the Father, Son, and Spirit. With that in mind listen to what Jesus said in John 15
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
The Son was loved perfectly and the Son obeyed perfectly therefore the Son enjoyed perfect love. Now let’s be careful because the temptation is to say, “Okay let’s go obey perfectly like Jesus and then we’ll be loved perfectly like Jesus and then we’ll have perfect joy like Jesus.” But that’s a false gospel. If all someone can promise you are some things like Jesus’ things that is not the gospel. Jesus doesn’t promise to give you something like what he has. Jesus promises to give you what he has.
Maybe you lack joy and satisfaction in life because you live as though Jesus is a liar. You’d never say you believe Jesus is a liar but you think joy in your situation is impossible. You think peace in your circumstances is impossible. You have come to the point where you think that you could never do what God tells you to do because obedience will only make things worse. You don’t believe all of the gospel.
You believe the gospel is the power of God unto salvation from God’s wrath so that you don’t go to hell. But you don’t believe the gospel s the power of God unto salvation from God’s wrath so that you enter into the joy of your master.
The fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 is what is produced in those who are rooted in the gospel. The Spirit that applies the atoning work of Christ and the perfect righteousness of Christ to you is the Spirit that works his love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in you.
Those people who receive the gospel and stand in the gospel and hold fast to the gospel and walk in step with the gospel are those people who by God’s gospel produce gospel Spirit-filled fruit. The gospel frees us to enter into God.
- The gospel frees us to enjoy others
Empty people are always hoping the next thing or the next person will bring them lasting joy. Will your broken sinful spouse ever be able to bring you lasting joy? Will your church filled with sinners saved by grace always deliver exactly what you want and think you need? Will your success today produce unwavering joy six months from now? Will your new car always be new? Will you new shoes, purse, phone, gun, or boat always be new? The things we delight in today will tempt us to anger and bitterness tomorrow.
We are tempted therefore to think that the answer is to strive to be self-sufficient like God. We don’t want to have to depend on anyone financially or relationally. This is the devil’s lie. He’s tempting you to believe that it’s better to be like God on your own without God. It is not enough to share in the life and joy of God we have to have our own life and joy without God. So Adam and Eve ate the fruit. So I become sinfully angry with my daughter. So we resent and hate and bite and devour and one-up one another and spend more money never gaining joy but thinking someday we might. We want to be God without God.
But then we read our bibles and hear these promises concerning life and joy and peace. The gospel weans us off of the love and approval of others so that we can enjoy the love and approval of God. And when a person lives life enjoying the love and approval of God that person is free to enjoy others. When your needs are met in God you become a person who can joyfully sacrificially and with great cost meet the needs of others. You can joyfully meet their needs because you want them to find the satisfaction you have in Christ. Your gospel service filled with gospel joy will provide opportunities for you to preach the gospel so that person can enter into the life, peace, and joy of Christ.
Husband, will you be the one who believes the gospel? Wife, will you believe? I don’t mean believe the gospel so you don’t go to hell but believe the gospel so that you enter into the love, obedience, and joy of the Son? Parent, will you stop trying to force your child to love you like only God can? Your son or daughter cannot meet your needs. Young person, your boyfriend or girlfriend will promise you the world but will leave you a wasteland. He will make promises he cannot keep so that you let him slash and burn your life for his own ends.
Church, it is not enough for us to preach a pure gospel and defend the inerrant word and raise good kids and stay married. God invites us to himself through the gospel so that we can enjoy the fullness of God. When we enjoy the fullness of God we are transformed to be like him. We are enabled, like Him, to love and serve and win and enjoy sinners.
When you find supernatural self-sacrificing joy you have found the freedom of the gospel. The gospel frees us to enjoy others.
- The gospel frees us to ask for forgiveness
The gospel of Jesus Christ promises us joy through the forgiveness of sin. We must never lose sight of the truth that it is our own willful rebellion that has driven us away from God. Yet the Father in his joy and Christ in his joy seek out sinners. Christ willingly laid down his life for the ones who hated him so that they could be forgiven and enter into his joy.
Jesus said in Matthew 10:28, ‘Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, fear the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell.’ Your wife can kill you in your sleep but she can’t cast you into hell. Your husband can try to make life miserable but he cannot condemn you to hell for what you have done.
The gospel demands that we see our individual sin as first sin against God. After King David committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband killed he prayed this prayer, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.” King David knew that he deserved God’s worst because his adultery and murder were against God. In the sense of Matthew 10:28 David knew that God had the right to destroy his soul and body in hell. Uriah couldn’t do that. Bathsheba couldn’t do that. David’s dead child couldn’t do that. David sought forgiveness from God.
You and I must seek forgiveness from God. For murder and adultery and un-forgiveness and greed and exploitation and laziness and fear and a critical spirit we must repent to God and believe in Jesus Christ. God will respond to gospel repentance with complete forgiveness.
If God, who can cast my body and soul in hell has forgiven me of this sin then I am glad to go to that person who can only kill me and seek his or her forgiveness. God’s forgiveness empowers me to go and seek the forgiveness of others.
God knows you are a failure and he loves you perfectly in Christ. You are loved. This afternoon call your child who you messed up in so many ways with all your failures and ask his or her forgiveness. The gospel empowers us to do hard things.
- The gospel empowers us to do the good hard things
If you need people to think highly of you then you won’t admit your failures or own your sin. If you need people to like you then you won’t confront them rebuking them for their sin. If your joy depends on you having access to that powerful person then you will give into sin when that powerful person demands it. But when you are clothed in the righteousness of Christ, when you walk in the complete joy of Christ, and when you abide in the infinite love of Christ for you, then you will be able to obey the Father’s commands.
What has God told you to do but you refuse? What has God told you to do but you won’t because you do not believe the gospel?
We all need to own our sin first before God and then before our parents or spouse or children or coworkers. We all need to repent. And we all need to own the righteousness of Christ for ourselves. He doesn’t give you his righteousness because you deserve it or because you’re special. You are made righteous in Christ by faith because God loves to restore and forgive sinners through Christ.
Trust the power of the gospel to lead you to the Father. Trust that when you repent of your sins and believe in Christ you will be restored to God. There with God you will find everything you need for every situation you face. Believe the gospel for the kingdom of God is at hand.