What is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert

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I live in an area known as the Bible Belt.  The majority of the population identifies as Christian and has some exposure to basic Bible principles (regardless of church attendance or religious practices).

However, some Christian leaders fear this may work in a negative way.  People are comfortable with their limited knowledge and never truly seek to understand the gospel message.

I was talking with a friend about such issues and he recommend this book.  It’s just over a hundred pages and easy to read.  However, it is full of useful information and puts the gospel message in a whole new light.

There are four main aspects to the gospel (God, man, Christ, response).

God – God is the creator of all things, he is righteous and just, he will not tolerate sin, and will punish the guilty

Man – All of us are guilty.  Sin isn’t just something we do, it is who we are, it is are very nature.  Because of our sin nature, we will be held accountable to God.

Christ – Christ provides hope for mankind.  He was both fully God and fully man, so he is the only one capable of paying the penalty for our sins.  The author sums it up by saying, “He died for me.  They were my transgressions, but his wounds.  My iniquities, but his chastisement.  My sin, his sorrow,  And his punishment bought my peace.  His stripes won my healing.  His grief, my joy.  His death, my life.”

Response – The gospel tells us that faith (reliance) on Christ is required for salvation.  We are also called to repent (ask forgiveness and turn away) of our sins.  Perfection isn’t possible, so repentance is demonstrated by our attitude toward sin.  We can no longer live in peace with our sin.

If you desire to gain a better understanding of the Bible and the gospel message, I highly recommend this book.

 

Great Things From a Little Faith

Matthew 13:31-32

He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field.  It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” (ESV)

God understands human frailty.  God uses our faith and efforts to change the world, even if our faith is small.  With God, great things can come from a little faith.

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Become the Greatest of All

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In Matthew 20:26-28, Jesus was telling his disciples how to be great in His kingdom.  Jesus defines greatness and leadership in a way that is contrary to what we normally see in the world.

According to Jesus, having power or privilege is not what makes you great.  Being able to force others to obey you and serve you, does not make you great.

What makes a person great in the Kingdom of God?  Jesus tells us that to be great, to be a leader in His Kingdom, we must be willing to serve.  We must also have an attitude of humility.

It’s our willingness to humble ourselves and serve others that will make us great people and great leaders in this world and in the Kingdom of God.

 

Forgiveness Brings Healing

In Matthew 18:15-35, Jesus teaches his followers about forgiveness.  When I was reading this passage I thought of Dylan Roof.

The family members of those murdered by Dylan Roof, spoke of their hurt and the pain he caused by taking away their loved ones.  However, they also offered forgiveness.

This is a great example of how forgiveness works in the real world.  Dylan Roof was forgiven, but he will still pay for his crimes.  He still owes a debt to society and will be punished.

Dylan Roof may never feel remorse for his actions, but the willingness to forgive still benefits the family members.  It allows them to let go of the hate and anger they feel inside of them.  The family members are free to heal, because of their willingness to forgive.

Forgiveness can be difficult, but it can also bring healing.

The Sower and the Seed

The parable of the sower and the seed is found in Matthew 13:1-23.  It is about a sower who went out to spread seeds.  In the parable the seeds represent the word of God.

Some of the seeds fell on the path and was eaten by the birds.  When someone hears the word and doesn’t understand it, the word is snatched away from them.

Some of the seeds fell on rocky ground.  The plants grew, but without soil the roots were weak and the plants died.  Sometimes people hear the word and accept it.  However, they have no roots, so when times are hard they fall away from the word.

Other seeds fell among thrones which destroyed the plants as they tried to grow.  People that hear the word, but are more concerned with the priorities of the world are lost to the worries of the world.

Lastly, some seeds fell on good soil and they produced a harvest.  The good soil represents people that hear the word, understand it, and follow the teaches of it.  They bear good fruit and live as disciples of Jesus Christ.

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One thing I have noticed in my life and in the lives of others, is we are not destined to remain in one of those locations.  We can change how we receive the word of God.

If you lack understanding, spend time studying the Bible.

If you lack a good root system, spend time with other disciples and get involved with a church that prioritizes the making of disciples, so your root system can grow stronger.

If you tend to prioritize the worries of the world above your spiritual life, then spend time considering what is truly important to you and how your priorities effect your life.

If you are the good soil, don’t get comfortable.  Continue to spend time studying the Bible, so you can continue to grow and produce more fruit.