Each week, we aim to help you prepare your hearts before the Lord in anticipation of our worship gathering. Therefore, we'll post the Scriptures, Big Idea, Songs, and other reflections that will help us enter into worship together - with one heart, one voice, and one mind - in full accord (Philippians 2:2). Here are some ways you can prepare your heart...(Also, remember to set your clocks BACK one hour on Saturday night).
- READ through the text that will be preached on Sunday. Take a few moments or more to familiarize yourself with it, study, or meditate on it.
- SING, LISTEN, OR READ through the songs that we'll be singing together. Meditate on the truth and substance they instill. Consider the ways of your own heart as you do. This is also a good opportunity to become familiar with new songs in advance of our time together.
- PRAY and ask the Lord to open your heart to Him and to draw you into thoughtful worship as you reflect on His Character (who He is), His deeds, who we are, and what He's called us into.
The Importance of the Gospel
1 Corinthians 15:3 - “Now I would remind you brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures…”
Romans 1:16 - “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…”
1 Peter 1:12 - “It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
“If there’s anything in life that we should be passionate about, it’s the gospel. And I don’t mean passionate only about sharing it with others. I mean passionate about thinking about it, dwelling on it, rejoicing in it, allowing it to color the way we look at the world. Only one thing can be of first importance to each of us. And only the gospel ought to be.” — C.J. Mahaney. The Cross-Centered Life.
We're introducing two new songs this week. Both center their message around the Gospel and the fact that we bring nothing to the table to merit our salvation. It comes by grace and grace alone.
Not What My Hands - Aaron Keyes
What a Savior (Man of Sorrows) - Sovereign Grace
Good News for Everyday Life
The gospel makes Christianity unique among all religions. Some people say that all religions basically teach the same thing, but those people have never studied religions closely. While there are some similarities among religions, the message of the gospel makes Christianity fundamentally different. Anyone whose life is shaped by the truth of the gospel, as opposed to religion, will have completely different motives, relationships, emotions, and behaviors.
But what has Jesus done on my behalf? And how does that make Gospel Christianity different?
First, Jesus lived a life of perfect obedience to God. In every way, he was perfectly pleasing to God, absolutely faithful, and entirely obedient. When I put faith in him, I’m asking God to deal with me not according to my performance in life but according to Jesus’ performance on my behalf. We are fundamentally shifting our sense of worth and identity from ourselves and our life record to him and his life record. When that happens, God no longer considers me a rebel against Him but treats me as a “dearly beloved son.” Our experience of this incredible truth leads to a deep, humble gratitude and a zealous desire to flee from sin because it is incompatible with who we are in Christ.
Second, Jesus died as a perfect substitute, taking the just penalty against my sin. Jesus drank the cup of God’s wrath against me and my sin to the very last drop; there is none left for me when I place my faith in Him. God the Father turned his back on his own Son so that he could turn his face toward rebels like me. I recognize that my sin put Jesus on the cross, and that humbles me; but I also recognize that he freely chose to go to the cross for me, and that reality energizes me to live faithfully before him. This is why Paul in Romans 8.1 says, “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!” We are no longer guilty before God; we have been “justified” or made right with him and we have peace with him. Our moral failure does not hinder our relationship with God.
Third, Jesus rose from the dead and defeated sin, death, and hell. Jesus is alive today and promises to take control of my heart and life, actually living in me by his Spirit. When Jesus ascended to the right hand of the Father, he sent the Holy Spirit to live in us, empowering us for growth in character, gifting us for ministry in the world, and leading us into all truth. By faith in him I can walk in consistent victory over my sin, the patterns of sin in the world, and Satan’s work. Additionally, Because Jesus is sitting at the right hand of the Father, I can be certain that God’s love towards me will never change, and one day Jesus will return to re-make the world as he intended it to be in the beginning, set all things right, and bring me to be with him for eternity.
Christians, then, are not primarily a group of people who all believe the same things and perform certain rituals and religious observances. The radical claim of the New Testament – and of Jesus himself – is that Christians are new people, a new humanity, created in and through the work of Jesus Christ. Our sin has been forgiven because of Jesus, God treats us as beloved children because of Jesus, the Spirit of God comes to take up residence in our hearts, and we have a secure future. We are not who we used to be; rather, we are “in Christ”: all that belongs to Jesus is ours, our past is gone, our identity today is in Him, & our future is life in God’s kingdom with God forever!
The Gospel is the dynamic power of the Christian life, leading to delight in God and heart-level obedience to his ways. Consider the following contrasts between Religion and the Gospel (adapted from Dr. Timothy Keller):
In Religion, we obey in order to be accepted by God, fearing what he might do if we’re disobedient. The Gospel motivates us to obedient Christian living by telling us that because of Jesus we are already accepted, that the judgment against our sin has fallen on Jesus, and that there is no guilt or condemnation left for us.
In Religion, I obey in order to get things from God, often making promises about what I will do or how I will change. The Gospel tells me what God has done for me, and his grace teaches me to obey out of joyful gratitude for all that he has already given me. I obey to enjoy God.
In Religion, my identity and self-worth are based on what I can accomplish, on how hard I work, or on how moral I am. Therefore, I look down on others who aren’t as moral or obedient as me. But in the Gospel, my identity and self-worth are based on God’s love for me in Jesus, even while I was his enemy, unable to accomplish or earn his love by my actions. Therefore, I can’t look down on someone different than me because I am no better than they are – and probably worse.
The gospel changes everything!
We believe that the Gospel separates Christianity from any and every other religion. On one hand, the Gospel teaches us that we are so bad Jesus had to die for us. It absolutely humbles us because it teaches that our sin is offensive to a holy and just God – and our sin is worse than we know or would ever dare admit. On the other hand, the Gospel lifts us up and causes us to rejoice because it says that we are so loved by God that Jesus delighted to die for us. It was God’s plan to rescue us by sacrificing his own Son, and in doing so God brings us great joy and himself great glory.
As Christians, we want to remember, rejoice in, and live out of what God has done for us in Jesus. This means both a growing awareness of our sinfulness (leading to deeper humility) and a growing awareness of how good and gracious God is toward us (leading to greater confidence).
Here’s the point: We don’t ever move past the Gospel. Where we begin is where we stay. True Christianity always springs from growing Gospel-centeredness in our lives. We are to grow in grace each day, to more fully work the reality of what God has done for us – the Gospel – into the everyday parts of our lives. Christianity is fundamentally about learning how to live as a new person in Christ, where your heart is set on Jesus Christ and your life is the overflow of your joy in God.
As one author has said, it’s about “doing everyday things with Gospel intentionality.”
-- Adapted from Gospel Basics, Soma Communities.