Where does the Gospel begin?

Here are my teaching notes that I will share at our Leader’s Small Group that we recently started at our house. I feel that this is a message that all of us need to be reminded of…or perhaps some need to understand for the first time. I hope that even just the notes speak truth to your heart.

Please pray for our meeting on Saturday that the leaders of our church will really understand the Gospel more, both for their own souls and for the sake of knowing how to share with others.

Where does the Gospel begin?

We often launch out with God’s love, He has a wonderful plan for your life, He wants you to be with Him forever in eternity, etc. You just have to accept Him into your heart.

But the truth is that we are not starting from the right place.

The Gospel does not start with John 3:16. Then where does it start?

Illustration – Cruise ship

The fact is that John 3:16 is indeed great news! But we can only understand the good news of the Gospel when we first understand the bad news.

We will not see the need, nor the value of putting on the life jacket unless we first realize that our boat is sinking and that we are going to drown. In the same way, the good news of the Gospel is not really seen as good until we realize that it is the only way in which we can be saved from our sins and brought near to God, that without it we are still under His wrath, we are His enemy because we are sinners and have rebelled against His holy ways, and that this will lead us to hell…eternal separation from Him. We have to see that our boat is sinking and that we are lost and without hope before we can truly appreciate the salvation that Jesus offers us.

The question then is: How do we know that our boat is sinking? And how do we convince others that their boat is sinking?

Good evangelistic question: If you were to die tonight and stand before God and He were to ask you, ‘Why should I let you into Heaven?’ What would you say?

Think about it. What would you say? (I’m a good person…I try to help people…I do good deeds often…I go to church…etc)

But the question we must ask is: Good according to who? Whose standard are we comparing ourselves to? Our neighbor who gets drunk everyday? The husband who cheats on his wife? This does not matter because we will not be judged by their standards. We are only judged by one standard…What standard are we judged by?

THE LAW OF GOD

Do we still think then that we are fairly good people? Let’s look at just a few of the 10 commandments…the standard in which God gave the people to follow so that they may be able to draw near to Him.

Thou shall not lie: Have you ever lied? What does that make you? A liar
Thou shall not steal: Have you ever taken anything that does not belong to you? Makes you a thief
Thou shall not commit adultery: Have you ever looked upon another with lust? (according to Mat. 5 Jesus said it is the same in God’s eyes as committing adultery) Makes you an adulterer.

So, by our own admission, we are liars, thieves, and adulterers…and we have only covered 3 of the 10 commandments.

So, in God’s eyes and according to His standard, do we still think that we are good people? Good enough to stand forever in the presence of a holy God?

And what does the Bible say about those who try to live by the law…those who think that their good deeds will be enough to get them into Heaven?

James 2:10 “For whoever keeps the whole law yet stumbles at just one point, is guilty of breaking all of it.”

Lev. 19:37 “And you shall observe all my statutes and all my rules and do them: I am the LORD.

Deut. 27:26 “Cursed is everyone who does not do all that is in the law…”

Have we kept the whole law? No
If we have even kept part of the law, we are still guilty of breaking all the law.

WE ARE GUILTY.

Our boat is sinking. Before we can understand and appreciate the solution, we have to realize that there is a problem.

That is why we don’t start with John 3:16…that’s the solution. We need to start with the problem, We have broken God’s holy laws. We are not good enough to do anything to make us acceptable to God. We rightly deserve to be condemned. Our boat is sinking and we are going to drown.

What was the purpose of the law in the OT? It was not to save us.

Rom. 3:20 – law won’t justify us, law shows us our sin
Gal. 3:10-11 – law puts us under a curse
Gal. 3:23 – law held us captive until faith came.
Gal. 3:24 – law was our guardian (greek – pedagogue…one who supervises and disciplines a child) until Christ came…so that we could be justified by faith.

So, we see that the purpose of the law was to imprison us…to show us that we were in desperate need of a redeemer, and to discipline and supervise us so that we would be restrained until the redeemer came…and the whole of Scripture then leads us to Christ Jesus who is the only One who can redeem us from the curse of the law.

The law is not the Gospel
The law does not contradict the Gospel
The law leads us to the Gospel.

Gal. 3:25 – “But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian”

Once we realize this, then and only then does the good news become good news. Christ is our only life jacket…our only solution to our greatest problem.

If we were on a boat that was sinking fast, and someone handed us a life jacket and hurriedly told us to put it on, we would put it on immediately realizing that this life jacket is the only thing that is going to save our lives.

And so too, when people realize that they are truly lost and hopeless to save themselves from their sin…when they realize that their own good deeds amount to nothing more than a used menstrual cloth in the eyes of God (the literal translation of Is. 64:6 “righteousness like filthy rags…”)…when we realize that our sinful condition makes us enemies of God and that we will be forever banished from His presence…then when we bring in the most amazing good news of what Christ has done for us so that we can be saved, forgiven, accepted, loved…that it is because of His righteousness that saves us…that, in Him, we will not be judged according to our own filthy righteousness, but we will be forever accepted because of what Christ has done…that is when the good news will truly be eagerly received like a life jacket given to the person who realizes that they are about to drown.

Christ indeed is our only redeemer. And we desperately needed redemption. Jehova Jireh truly is God our Provider.

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