August 2009


So, this gospel is about a moment in time, a man, but it is also about a messageColossians 1:28, “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.”  The gospel is about the proclamation of the most important message ever.  Paul said, “Him we proclaim.”  The Apostle, who saw the resurected Christ, said that his preaching and teaching were about proclaiming “Him,” that is the God-man, sin-forgiving, new-life-giving, world-changing, son of God and nothing else! 

This message is to be believed.  Paul in Colossians 1:5 described the gospel as “the word of truth.”  It should be trusted.  Jesus has been crucified for sins, resurected and is sitting at God’s right hand, waiting to return, and he commands all to believe in him.  This is not an option, but Christ demands all people everywhere to believe.  In John 14:1, Jesus said, “Believe in God; believe also in me.”  Jesus said in Mark 1:15 again, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”  Paul thanked God for the Colossians in Colossians 1:3 saying, “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus.”  You see, faith is essential to salvation.  If you want to be saved from your sin, you must throw all your trust on the only one who can save you, Jesus Christ.  You must believe the good news about Jesus’ life, death, and resurection. 

So, this gospel message should be belived.  However, belief is not the whole coin.  There is another side to conversion, which is repentance.  It means to turn away from something.  This message about Jesus should produce a real change in us, without which there is no salvation.  Again Mark 1:15, Jesus said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”  I Thessalonians 1:9 provides a good description of repentance, “you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.”

The other day I was driving down our street and I noticed a car coming in the other direction.  Now, normally that wouldn’t be a problem, but you see our street is one way.  The guy was driving into oncoming traffic.  He was headed for danger.  He needed to repent. 

The gospel message shows us our sin and it shows us a God who is going to judge sin, it shows us there is a way to be forgiven and it calls us to repent to turn from sin and unbelief to Jesus to be forgiven. I have just laid before you the facts of the gospel, that God is your creator, that you have sinned against him, that you will be judged for this sin, but God sent his son at the right time to die on the cross, so that you might be forgiven, and that Jesus has defeated the curse of sin and resurrected from the grave.  Now, God calls on you to repent and turn from your sin and believe in this good news, so that your sin can be forgiven and you can be reconciled to God.  So will you?  Will you come to Jesus right now?  Will you turn from your sin?  God promises to forgive?  He promises to make peace between you and him.  You can put your trust in Jesus right now!

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Not only is the gospel, the good news of God, about a moment in time, but it is about a man.  A God-man who came down to earth wrapped in flesh to save us rebels from the wrath of God.  This man is Jesus Christ!  Colossians 1:15 says, “He is the image of the invisible God.”  Jesus came to earth to show us who were lost, blind, and spiritually dead what God was like. 

I work primarlilly with 6-12 year old kids and they have some really good questions about God.  A frequent one is “if God is real why can’t we see him.”  I tell them well, he visited us around 2,000 years ago and his name is Jesus.  People could see him, touch him, talk to him, listen to him, and eat with him.  He is still alive!  Jesus is “the image of the invisible God.” 

Jesus is God-man.  He is fully God, but came to take on human flesh, so that he migt save us.  Colossians 1:19 says, “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.”  In Jesus Christ, all of who God is dwelt bodily.  He knows all things, see all things, creates all things, is able to forgive all things, is in everyplace, has existed before all things, and can do all things! Colossians 1:17, “in him all things hold together.”  Jesus is the one sustains the universe and keeps it from flying into choas.  He is the one who keeps you alive today giving “to all mankind life and breath and everything (Acts 17:25).”  He is the Maker and Creator of all!  

Part of my job is distrubuting medications to the guys where I work and last week I went to give some guys their meds and one said, “How does it feel to be the kingpin of Brooklawn?” Then based on previous conversation with these guys, I said, “It’s better to know the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ.”  The another kid said, “Why are you always talking about Jesus?”  So, I responded, “Because he is the most amazing person in the entire universe!” 

This Jesus, this God-man came to save sinners.  “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the worst (I Timothy 1:15).” He came to deviver us from hell, sin, ourselves, and Satan.  He did this by his death on a wooden cross and his resurection from the dead.  You see, death was necessary for sin from the beginning, because God said if you chose to rebel, then you would surely die.  The word of God tells us that the wages of sin is death. All die and all will face judgment and hell apart from Jesus.  So, Jesus comes as the only one who is able to take our sin upon himself and die our death, so that we might not face the ultimate death, hell. 

Colossians 1:19, 20, “ For in him (Jesus) all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”  At the right time and on the right man, the God-man, Jesus Christ, God placed all of our sin on the cross and poured out all of his hatred for sin.  The God who hates evil in this moment, punished his son instead of us, so he might “reconcile” us to himself.  God did this so that in bruising and piercing his own son he would be, “making peace by the blood of his cross.”             

Colossians 2:13-15, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”  The Romans, when they would crucify a man, would drive nails through his hands and feet and nail a “record of debt,” above the criminal’s head, indicating why they were being punished.  The Spirit of God in this text tell us that we all have a record of debt we owe to God that we cannot pay.  This debt stands against us testifying to our breaking the laws of God and it will follow us to judgment, unless.

Jesus took this “record of debt” and nailed it to the cross.  He set it aside.  He cancelled it.  It’s gone.  To all who are in Christ there is no more guilt, no more shame, no more accusations that can damn us by Satan.  It’s been forgiven!  Jesus paid it all!  This is good news!  Jesus has died for my sins that I could not wash away, for my shame that plagaued me, for my burdern which was to heavy for me to carry and he nailed the whole load to the cross.  He cancelled all my debt and rose again, defeating death, hell, and the armies of Satan that stand against me.  God, “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”

Sibbe’s third and final point in these sermons is that Christ’s ministry in his people is progressive, but will be victorious and end in glory.  Sibbes explains, “The constant progress of Christ’s gracious power, until he hath set up such an absolute government in us, which shall prevail over all our corruptions.”[1]  In other words, the good work which Jesus has begun in us he will complete (Phil 1:6).  In addition, Sibbes elaborates on this idea, “The meaning then is, that the gracious frame of holiness set up in our hearts by the Spirit of Christ, shall go forward until all contrary power be brought under.”[2]  Christ by the Spirit will destroy the works of the flesh in us, so that ultimately “he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish (Eph 5:27).” 

From this third main point, Sibbes lays out several conclusions for the comfort of his people.  The first is “Christ is upon those terms mild, so that he will set up his government in those whom he is so gentle and tender over.”[3]  The same people that Jesus does minister to in such a comforting and gracious way, he will also bring their sanctification to completion.  The same Christ that has died for us must be the good shepherd king of our hearts.  Sibbes further clarifies,

“the first and chief ground of our comfort is, that Christ as a priest offered himself as a sacrifice to his Father for us.  The guilty soul flieth first to Christ crucified, made a curse for us.  Thence it is that Christ hath right to govern us, thence it is that he giveth us his Spirit as our guide to lead us home.”[4]     

So, Sibbes shows that first the sinner must come to Christ for mercy to be forgiven, but this is only the beginning.  Conversion is not an end, but a genesis where Christ begins to reign in our hearts by the Spirit. 

The second conclusion is “that Christ’s government in his church and in his children is a wise and well-ordered government.”[5]  The ministry of Christ is comparable to the creation, when it was chaotic and disorderly, but the Spirit came and God spoke and told things where to go and what to do.  The result was a well ordered universe and a place of rest.  Sin has so shattered all that, but Christ comes to reverse the curse of sin and to make all things new.  Sibbes says, “Where Christ by his Spirit as a prophet teaches, he likewise as a king by his Spirit subdueth the heart to obedience of what is taught.”[6]  The work that Jesus begins and then continues in the heart of a sinner will produce an ordered life. 

Sibbes’ third conclusion is “that this government is victorious.”[7]  Jesus has conquered all his enemies in his life, death, resurrection and ascension.  However, the work that he has completed in himself, he also will do in those who trust in him.  He saves them from sin, death, hell, and Satan.  Regarding this idea, Sibbes observes about the conscience, “If it subject itself by grace to Christ’s truth, then it boldly overlooks death, hell, judgment, and all spiritual enemies, because then Christ sets up his kingdom in the conscience, and makes it a kind of paradise.”[8]  So, Christ’s victorious work is also applied to life of the believer (Rom 6). 

 The fourth conclusion is, “judgment shall be victorious, but that Christ will bring it openly forth to victory.”[9]  Christ’s victory over the spiritual forces of darkness in this present world often times goes unnoticed; only seen by those who have eyes to see.  His kingdom and work take place in and through the church which is not of this world.  However, when “Christ who is your life appears (Col 3:4),” Sibbes says, “grace shall be glory and run into the eyes of all.”[10]  What the church has known by faith shall become sight and what the world has regarded as nonsense shall become their greatest fear.  Jesus’ victory in the end will be evident. 

The fifth conclusion is “that this government is advanced and set up by Christ alone; he bringeth it to victory.”  Such a colossal work can only be accomplished by Jesus.  There is none who can bring themselves to glory with the help of Christ.  When we have escaped such enticing sins and evaded so many suffering to whom do we owe it?  Sibbes answerers,

“To make so little grace so victorious over so great a mass of corruption, this requireth a spirit more than human; this is as to preserve fire in the sea, and a part of heaven even as it were in hell.  Here we know where to have this power, and to whom to return the praise of it.  And it is our happiness, that it is so freely hid in Christ for us, in one so near unto God and us.”[11]   

Indeed, this work that Jesus brings to pass in the life of a believer is truly a work of no ordinary human, but of one that should cause us to stand back and ask “Who then is this (Mark 4:41)?”

The sixth conclusion is “that this prevailing government should not be without fighting…There can be no victory where there is no combat.”[12]  Yes, Christ alone will bring this good work to completion, but he has prescribed the manner for doing so.  His prescription involves that Christians take up arms and join him in fighting against their enemies.  He will not allow us to sit back passively and somehow magically fight all our battles.  He will be victorious in us, but only as we take up the full armor of the Lord.  Sibbes concludes, “We have more for us than against us.  What coward would not fight when he is sure of victory?”[13] 

 


[1] Ibid., 77, 78.  

[2] Ibid., 78.   

[3] Ibid., 79.   

[4] Ibid., 79.   

[5] Ibid., 80.  

[6] Ibid., 82.   

[7] Ibid., 84.   

[8] Ibid., 84.  

[9] Ibid., 91.   

[10] Ibid., 91.   

[11] Ibid., 95.   

[12]Ibid., 95, 96.  

[13]Ibid., 98.

In Colossians 1:5, Paul descirbes the “word of truth” as “the gospel,” which a young convert of his, Epaphras brought back to his hometown, Colossae. What is the gospel? Well, its doesn’t mean gospel music.  I don’t think black gospel or the Gaither band were around back then. “Gospel” means simply good news.  But what is the gospel?  What is the good news that this disciple of the Apostle Paul brought back to Colossae?   

The gospel is about a moment in time.  The gospel is about a moment in time without which time and life make no sense.  I remember before I was a Christian one night, hanging out with some friends and partying, and looking up at the sky filled with stars and saying, “There must be a reason for all of this.” 

The gospel is about a moment in time which takes us all the way back to the beginning of time, when God created all things out of nothing.  We can even see this in the book of Colossians.  Colossians 1:15, 16, “He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.  For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.”  These two verses tell us about where we come from and about our purpose here on this earth.  These verses tell us that God created “all things” that includes you, through Jesus Christ.  And that you were created “for him,” that is you were created in God’s image to reflect the glory and goodness of God in the creation, you were created to be in a close relationship with God, you were created to know him, you were created to love him, and you were created to obey him. 

The word of truth tells us that God created the first humans for his glory.  And When he created them, Genesis tell us,  God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good (Genesis 1:31).”  There was no sin, no shame, pain, hurt, disease, war, rape, murder, jealousy, materialism, polution, earthquakes, tornadoes, or any such thing. 

A couple of weeks ago in Louisville, KY, we had some flash floods and there were cars floating and river was running though my street.  It was lovely.  One of my friends who I work with was walking out to his car to go to work with his little girl during this storm and she fell on her knees and shouted, “God deliver us from the devil!”  As cute and as funny as that is, there is some truth in it.  There is something gone wrong with this world and there’s something wrong with us.  Five minutes of the evening news will convince you of that. 

Genesis tells us it all went wrong, when the first humans decided not to listen to God, to be gods to themselves, and to rebel against God.  This is when Romans 5:12 says, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.”  Through the sin of the first humans, Adam and Eve, sin has spread to all who follow.  We are all sinners!  We are all rebels.  I am, you are, and so is everyone else.  What’s the problem with this world I am, we are. 

Colossians 1:21, “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds.”  We all come into this world alienated from God; we are seperated from him, because of our sins.  Psalm 5:4, 5 says, “For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you.  The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.”  Apart from Christ we are hostile to God and to the things of God.  We don’t like the idea of a God who created us and demands absolute authority over our lives.  We don’t want a God who hates “all evildoers.”  We would rather live independent of him and not be bothered by his holy demands.  The last phrase in Colossians 1:21 tells us why, “doing evil deeds.”  We’re hostile in our minds towards God, because we want to practice evil deeds and sin and be left alone. 

Colossians 3:5, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”  The word of God tells us sin is shown in our lives by all these things, like sexual immorality, that is any type of sex outside of the marriage between one man and one woman, whether it be looking at someone of the oppisite sex and having sex with them in your mind, masturbation, pornography, premarital sex, beastiality, homosexuality or whatever.  Sin is revealed in us by coveting the things that others have, wanting what others have, and lusting over  the things of this world.  Paul calls all this stuff “idolatry.”  So, when we sin, we set our ownselves up as God and look to sex or money or family or husband or girlfriend or religion to satisfy our hearts rather than God.  We look to ourselves for provision rather than God.   

Colossians 3:8, 9, “But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.  Do not lie to one another.”  God would also remind us that we show ourselves to be rebels by nature by our anger, slander, filthy mouths, and lying and many other ways.  And because of these offences before the Living God of the Universe Colossians 3:6, says, “account of these the wrath of God is coming.”  Because of sin, God’s anger is being kindled against it.  He will judge sin; he must judge sin.  He is a good God and a holy God.  He cannot let sin and rebellion that has been done primarily against him be left unpunished. 

But there is a gospel!  There is hope!  There is good news!  This gospel is about a moment in time.  The word of Christ describes it like this in Mark 1:15, “Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”  When Jesus came into this world the time was ripe, God’s plan to rescue sinners was coming to pass and Jesus says, “the time is fulfilled.”  Paul describes this moment in time, in Galatians 4:4, by saying, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman.”

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What do you think Satan, all his demons, and hell itself think about your church?

This Lord’s Day Dr. Chuck Lawless, Dean of The Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, preached an excellent message at my church from the book of Acts, looking at the early church.

He began by asking the question, “What kind of church threatens hell?” Lawless’s four points from the book of Acts were:

A Church That Threatens Hell…

1) Is Supernaturally United

2) Focuses More on Others Than on Themselves

3) Believes That Holiness Matters

4) Prays Together   

Check the message out!