Category Archives: Gospel

Learning to Preach from Acts 2

The beginning of the church, the appearance of the Kingdom, was preceded by “preaching” the Word of God (Gospel of Jesus Christ). That’s how Christ’s church grew and God’s Kingdom advanced. We’ll never outgrow the need for preaching (Rom 10:17; 10:14; Acts 28:30-31; 1 Cor 1:21; Acts 8:3-4; 2 Tim 4:1-2). What truths must be preached?

I. LIFE OF JESUS

A. God’s knows Him (Acts 2:22; John 1:1-5, 14)
B. You know Him (Acts 2:22)

II. DEATH OF JESUS

A. God’s determined plan (Acts 2:23; Luke 24:25-27; Gal 3:13; Acts 3:18)
B. Man’s godless hands (Acts 2:23)

1. Crowd (Acts 2:23)
2. Leaders (John 11:47-53; 15:24-25)
3. Judas (Luke 22:22)

III. RESURRECTION OF JESUS

A. God raised Him up (Acts 2:24) – Proofs:
1. Empty tomb (under their noses)
2. Scripture (Acts 2:25-29; Psa 16:8-11)
3. Eye witnesses (Acts 2:30-32; Acts 2:6-8)

IV. ASCENSION OF JESUS

A. God exalted Him (Acts 2:33-34)
B. Bow to Him (Acts 2:36)

PREACHING: Explaining the Scripture, Exalting the Savior, Exhorting the sinner.

Will you crucify Him or Worship Him?
Acts 2:37-41

The Word of The Cross

“For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor 1:18). In this one statement, Paul exposes the perverse human tendency to measure the revelation of God by the standards of human wisdom. As one man put it, “When god’s thoughts are actually higher than our thoughts, we regard Him as being refuted. For under all circumstances we want our thoughts to be the program according to which God operates”. (Helmet Thielicke)

The problem is made worse when we consider that God has revealed the depths of supernatural wisdom in plain workingman’s clothes. He has not spoken to us in the “tongues of angels” or in “unutterable groans.” Instead, He has employed human thought forms and “blue collar” vocabulary to change our wicked ways and stir our souls. Some were saying of Paul, “His personal presence is unimpressive and his speech contemptible” (2 Cor 10:10). Exactly how is it, some have thought, that the intense pleadings of a dying martyr (Acts 7:51), the tears of an old man (Phil 3:18), the parodies of singing prophets, and the gentle but firm rebukes of a Galilean Carpenter have turned the world upside down? Besides, the central facet of the message is a scandalous story of a would-be Savior dying on a cross! “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

The scorn and derision of unbelievers have caused a reactionary tendency of believers to desperately want to dress the gospel up in philosophical clothes, to make it more respectable. Paul’s appeal to the church at Corinth, in short, is, “This is the wrong approach!” Human achievement is limited. Once in a long while, a mere mortal will make a great discovery. Galileo said, “I render infinite thanks to God for being so kind as to make me alone the first observer of marvels kept hidden in obscurity for all previous centuries.”

These discoveries pale compared to the power of the Almighty Creator. Moreover, we need to be reminded, as Paul reminded the worldly saints at Corinth, that God is God and man is man (1 Cor 1:18-2:5). Men are inclined to worship the human spirit. A “we-can-do anything” mentality seems to pervade human thought. Nevertheless, man’s capacity to determine the will of God does not reside in his own unaided powers. No mere mortal can manufacture a divine message, no matter how hard he tries (Deut 30:11-14). God has utilized the “foolishness” of the gospel to confound the world’s wisdom, that “no man should boast before God” (1 Cor 1:29).

That does not mean the revealed message lacks power to do what it was intended to do. In the 1972 “Nobel Lecture on Literature”, the winner was directed to answering the question of what literature can do “in the face of the remorseless assault” on human freedoms. At the height of the cold war, he said, “One word of Truth shall outweigh the whole world.” Truth is more powerful than a nuclear arsenal, an oppressive government, or a tight network of secret police. It is also more powerful than Satan’s propaganda mills, which continue to churn out lies. Hugh Hewitt has rightfully surmised, “But believers do themselves enormous harm by overestimating the pure numbers of their opponents and by underestimating how insecure these opponents are in their collective disbelief” (The Embarrassed Believer).

The truth of Christ does not need to be repackaged in garb that makes it more respectable to sinners whose pride blinds them to the light. What is needed is an army of courageous and dedicated soldiers of the cross who will not be silenced by the scorn of the world — in short, Christians who are “in no way alarmed by your opponents — which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that from God” (Phil 1:28). — Mike Wilson; Gospel Power, July 1, 2007.

Carla’s Pumpkin

Carla’s Pumpkins and Gospel Seed

My wife picked our pumpkins this past week–early.  Last Fall our pumpkin got pushed over into the flower bed to rot, where it was forgotten.  In the Spring we spaded the soil in the planter and set out flowers, not realizing that we were also planting pumpkin seeds.   Of course, we were intrigued when the vines sprang up, and even more so when we saw the pumpkins developing on the vine.  However, four months of growth is a lot for pumpkin vines, and they were getting unwieldly.  That’s the story behind our two pumpkins and their early harvest.

Jesus said that the seed of the kingdom is “the word of God” (Luke 8).  Like those pumpkin seeds, the word planted in the right heart will grow a Christian.  A person’s conversion might be a surprise to the one who planted the gospel, perhaps springing up in some unlikely place.

You may have heard of such conversions resulting from the simple gospel message presented in a tract left by a concerned Christian; the conversion that resulted from a short radio sermon; or a family conversion sprouting from a preacher’s invitation to the lady at the convenience store.  The sowing of the seed of God’s word is not in vain.

The following is from my old biology text book: “A dry seed is almost in a state of suspended animation.  Although it may appear to be dead, its metabolic processes continue at extremely slow rates.  Lotus seeds hundreds of years old, when exposed to the right environmental conditions, have germinated and produced healthy seedlings.” (The Nature of Life, p. 270, Koob & Boggs, Ad. – Wes., Reading, Mass.)God’s word is the same.  It may not appear to unbelievers to be alive, however, it is as alive and vigorous today as it was in the first Century, producing the same spiritual seedlings.

Furthermore, like kudzu which came from Asia and ravages the southern United States, God’s word will produce Christians in countries other than its native land.  Jesus’ commission to His disciples is to preach the gospel to all the nations (Mark 16:15; Matt 28:1-20).  However, as kudzu does not grow in colder climates, even so God’s word does not germinate in the wrong kinds of hearts–not that sinners have no choice in the matter, but rather that every person decides what he or she will allow to grow in the heart.

First, God’s word requires INFORMED HEARTS to bring forth fruit.  To be informed, one must hear the gospel.  Jesus said, “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God’.  Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me” (John 6:45).  As locust seeds require moisture, heat, and oxygen to germinate, God’s word requires a listening heart free from prejudice, distraction, or apathy.  Searching the Scriptures produces “noble-minded” hearts because the listeners are simply informed (Acts 17:11).

Second, a BELIEVING HEART is required.  James explains the kind of faith which pleases God in James chapter 2.  He says that “the demons believe and tremble,” pointing out that proper faith moves one toward faithfulness to God, of which the demons were not.  “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (Jas 2:26).  When one asks the question, “What must I do to be saved” (Acts 16:30; 9:6; 2:37), one is showing his or her desire to have a believing heart in the gospel of Jesus Christ (Rom 1:16).

Third, only HUMBLE HEARTS produce Christians.  Jesus said, “Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 18:3).  Repentance–giving up sin and turning to spiritual service — requires humility.  The rich young ruler refused to give up his covetousness to follow Christ (Matt 19).  King Agrippa refused to accept the lowly cross of Christ (Matt 26).  The apostle Paul spoke of those “whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame — who set their mind on earthly things” (Phil 3:19).  God’s word has little place in proud, unyielding hearts.

Fourth, a BRAVE HEART is needed to make the good confession (Matt 16:15, 16; 1 Tim 6:12-13).  The teenager who walks away from his pot-smoking friends; or the former alcoholic who shuns his old drinking buddies, the converted fornicator who explains to his past associates that Christians cannot practice sin; all show the gravity of the Good Confession.  Brave hearts take a stand for right.

Fifth, obeying the gospel produces an UNCONDEMNED HEART.  “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God” (1 John 3:21).  When one’s sins are forgiven he knows that he is justified before God, uncondemn-ed.  That forgiveness comes at baptism.  “Repent, and be baptized every one of you…for the remission of sins…” (Acts 2:38).  “Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16.  See also Rom 6:3, 4).

Further, when one continues in obedience, he has assurance of God’s favor.  “Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:9) not that he literally cannot sin (1 John 1:7-10), but rather that when a good heart knows God’s will it cannot conscientiously or habitually transgress.  Thus, the obedient, cleansed heart will be an uncondemned heart, producing a child of God.Now, different seeds produce different plants.  Jesus said, “Every plant which My Father hath not planted shall be rooted up” (Matt 15:13).  He said, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees”, their love of money (Luke 12:1).  Jesus said, “If anyone does not abide in me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned” (John 15:6).  Please, let every soul demand the simple word of God as the spiritual rule in life.  Unlike the creeds and traditions of men, only the gospel is unchanging, only the gospel is God’s power unto salvation (Rom 1:16, 17). – George Hutto, in Centerview Tidings, Vol. 17, No 32

Imposing On Marriage. — Connecting Peter’s Invitations. — It Takes Help To Misunderstand The Word Of God. — Heaven Teaches the Worship of God

Imposing On Marriage

By Boyd Jennings

 Marriage is one of three relationships God created for the betterment of mankind: Home (Gen 2:18), Government (Rom 13:1-7), Church (1 Cor 12:12-31). When, in any of these relationships, God’s wisdom is not respected, the result is harmful to those involved. What follows are three contemporary challenges or impositions to the divine relationship of marriage.

Continue reading Imposing On Marriage. — Connecting Peter’s Invitations. — It Takes Help To Misunderstand The Word Of God. — Heaven Teaches the Worship of God

This “and” That

The word “and” ties together words or phrases granting them equal force.  For example, your car must have gasoline “and” oil to operate.  If you lose a black “and” white pet, you should include both colors in your description.  Inserting “and” into a sentence will affect how that sentence is understood.

In regard to the Lord’s Supper, Paul wrote, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (1 Cor 11:26).  To observe the Lord’s death requires both eating the unleavened bread “and” drinking the fruit of the vine.  A Christian has not observed the Supper by only partaking of one element.

Continue reading This “and” That