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-I just wanted to begin by saying that words and the definitions of words matter. Sometimes words sound the same but are spelled differently and/or mean different things. Sometimes the same words can mean something completely different.
-Many years ago I was an exchange student for a summer in Portugal between my junior and senior years in high school. They talked there about playing football. I figured I don’t have much of an arm for a quarterback, but I could be a decent wide receiver and a decent cornerback. Little did I know that they were talking about soccer. It’s like we’re the only country that calls it soccer, everywhere else it’s football, and our football is American football.
-Their idea of football was completely different from my idea of football because soccer is not like the real deal football.
-Sometimes people or cultures try to redefine a word. Think about the word marriage and how that’s being turned on its head. The culture is even trying to mess with the words man and woman (male and female).
-Those types of words have great impact on a people. It has greater consequence than getting the words THEIR, THERE, and THEY’RE or YOUR and YOU’RE mixed up.
-There is another very important word that a lot of people get mixed up—it’s the word GOSPEL. A lot of different people define the gospel in a lot of different ways, and they can’t all be right. And for the ones who believe the wrong thing, it has terrible consequences.
-Some have defined the gospel as Jesus plus baptism. Some have defined the gospel as Jesus plus good works. Some have defined the gospel as getting your best life now. Some have defined the gospel as walking an aisle, praying a prayer, and getting dunked.
-The question is: How does the Bible define gospel? You may not have thought much about the definition before because the word GOSPEL permeates all we do—but if we get this wrong, everything else in our church will be wrong.
-To be a church on mission we have to get radical—and if we’re going to get radical, we need to make sure our message is right. So let’s look at a passage that defines the gospel.
Ephesians 2:1–10 ESV
1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
-We find three parts to the gospel message here—there’s bad news, good news, and a response

I) The Bad News: Man’s Sin

-When you look at how Paul describes humanity, it goes way beyond unflattering—for many people it might seem downright insulting. But sometimes the truth hurts.
-I saw a funny meme on Facebook the other day. It said if a man says you’re ugly, he’s being mean. If a woman says you’re ugly, she’s being jealous. But if a child says you’re ugly, then you’re ugly.----sometimes the truth hurts.
-But the truth is needful if something is going to be done to fix the problem.----If you had a deadly disease that would need extensive treatments to cure, isn’t it better that the doctor just tells you straight up the truth so that you can begin the healing process, rather than not telling you because he didn’t want to insult you or hurt your feelings or make you sad.
-Paul gives us the cold, hard truth about who we are as people. Unlike modern pop psychology, he doesn’t say that people are generally good. Consider some of the descriptions he uses about humanity’s spiritual state.
-First, both in v. 1 & v. 5, he says we are dead in trespasses and sins. We are not just in bad shape, we absolutely have no life in us.
~The word for trespasses means to break the law. Ever since Genesis 3, each one of us is like Adam and Eve who decided that they were not going to let God be Lord, instead wanting to follow their own law. We are dead because we completely wanted to spurn God’s authority over us.
~What is so wild is that all the rest of creation follows the sovereign will of God. He told the sea to stop and go no further, and it did. He told the land to form itself and give life, and it did. He told a storm to stop and the winds to cease, and they did.
~He told mankind what to do and how to live, and mankind said: NOPE, AIN’T GONNA DO IT. And because of that we are dead.
-He also says that we follow the course of this world, and it’s talking about the world system that moves and flows throughout all cultures. This world system is set up against God. It opposes God. It does not want God, so it denies God. It is the spirit behind atheism and false religions.
~James, the brother of Jesus, warned us (4:4):
You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
~Even though this world system is the enemy of God, we, in our natural state, eagerly align ourselves with it.
-Then he says we follow the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—Paul is talking about Satan. He is the god of this dead mankind and this world system.
~Natural mankind may never admit it, but if you do not follow the One True Creator God, you are a follower of Satan.
~Many people say that they don’t follow a god, but if you do not submit yourself to the One God of the Universe, Satan is your god.
~If you follow Muhammed, Buddha, Hinduism, Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Prosperity Health/Wealth people, no matter what name you may put on your god, you are following Satan—Satan is your god because he is diverting you from worshipping and obeying the one true God.
-And Paul says because of all of this, we are by nature children of wrath. God’s wrath abides on us because we by nature and by choice thumb our noses at God’s authority over us.
-All of this is very bad news—but the gospel message needs to include this because none of the rest of the gospel makes sense without it because it forces us to realize that any help we need or get goes way beyond merely getting a makeover, putting our best foot forward, or making some better life choices.----Dead people need life. People under God’s wrath need a substitute.
-Christian apologist Francis Schaeffer was once asked the question, “What would you do if you met a modern man on a train and you had just one hour to talk with about the gospel?” Schaeffer responded, “I would spend forty-five to fifty minutes on the negative to really show him his dilemma: That he is morally dead. Then, I’d take ten to fifteen minutes to preach the gospel. I believe that much of our evangelistic and personal work today is not clear simply because we are too anxious to get to the answer without having a man realize the real cause of his sickness which is true moral guilt and not just psychological guilt feelings in the presence of God.”
-Our gospel message needs to start with the Bad New: Man’s Sin----only then will the next part make sense:

II) The Good News: God’s Grace

-Paul goes on to tell us that even though we were dead and following the world’s system and under the domain of the devil, God made a way for us to be alive in Christ. But it is very important how this happened.
-Twice he says BY GRACE YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED. God delivered us from death and the world system and the devil merely by grace—unmerited favor.
-Paul says that God had a great love toward us, so He showed us a great mercy, not because we are deserving, but just the opposite=we were not deserving but He showed us love and mercy anyway through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection.
-God by grace made a gift available. The gift is that by Jesus’ death on the cross, God made us spiritually alive and it says that He has raised us up and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, and He did it not so we can boast in how awesome we are, but so He could demonstrate how awesome He is.
-We have a problem of thinking way too highly of ourselves. There is pride and arrogance in us—we make things all about us. But Paul says God did not just save us for us, but so He could demonstrate through us to the rest of creation how rich He is in kindness.
-FOR BY GRACE YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED—not because you are wonderful, not because you are smart, not because you are warm and fuzzy—God saves us just because of His grace.
-Paul makes sure we understand that salvation from sin and death is a gift—not something earned by works, because we have nothing to offer in exchange for our souls. We have nothing to give to God to make up for our sin or our deadness. God had to give it to us as a gift, otherwise we could never obtain it.
-Imagine the most expensive earthly gift.
I read a little blurb about this car called the Hennesey Venom GT. It’s made in Texas, and is an amazing-looking sports car. It carries a sticker price of over $1 million dollars.
~Suppose that when my birthday comes around in September one of you fine folks roll one of those into my driveway and then hand me the keys saying it’s my birthday gift (wink, wink)
~So then suppose after I get over the shock I start fumbling through my wallet to give you some money for the car. First, you’d be insulted because it was a gift. But the other problem is that I don’t have what it takes to pay you the value of that car. My $2 is nothing in comparison to the millions of dollars that it is worth.
-Your soul and the sins you committed left such a heavy debt that the salvation that Jesus paid for you had to be a gift because you would never, ever be able to repay it. But it is given freely.
-And all you have to do is receive it by faith. Just like a birthday gift or a Christmas gift, all you have to do is extend your hand and receive the gift—we just receive the gift given to us by God through Christ’s sacrifice.
-And we receive by faith. Faith is trusting in nothing else but Christ. It involves knowledge of what Christ has done, assent that Christ’s sacrifice is sufficient, and trust that He sacrificed Himself for you.
-By Grace Alone, Through Faith Alone, In Christ Alone. That is the Good News of the gospel. Anything more or less than that is not gospel.

III) The Response: Good Works

-Just because good works will not save your soul does not mean good works is not part of the equation.
-Paul says in v. 10:
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Eph. 2:10 ESV)
-Being saved by grace through faith does not then mean we sit on our hands and do nothing. Out of gratitude and empowerment we perform good works for other people in the name of Christ.
-God does not save us through Christ for us to sit in pews. God does not save us through Christ for us to pigeonhole Him to a merely Sunday morning consideration in our life. We are saved in order to do good works that God has already prepared for us to do.
-We are not saved by works, we are saved to work. It is a picture of the life transformation that happens. We are so radically saved that our life is no longer the same. That is why salvation is called a new birth. We no longer live for self, we live for Christ—I have been crucified with Christ, I no longer live, but Christ lives in me; and the life I now live I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.
-No gospel message is complete without letting people know that once saved, your life is turned upside down in a good way—you are no longer your own, you were bought with a price, and you now life for Him. THIS IS THE DEFINITION OF THE GOSPEL—THIS IS THE MESSAGE A CHURCH ON MISSION MUST GIVE AND NEVER EVER COMPROMISE ON


-I’ll close with this gospel definition from Mark Dever:
“[T]he one and only God, who is holy, made us in his image to know him. But we sinned and cut ourselves off from him. In his great love, God became a man in Jesus, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross, thus fulfilling the law himself and taking on himself the punishment for the sins of all those who would ever turn and trust in him. He rose again from the dead, showing that God accepted Christ’s sacrifice and that God’s wrath against us had been exhausted. He now calls us to repent of our sins and to trust in Christ alone for our forgiveness. If we repent of our sins and trust in Christ, we are born again into a new life, an eternal life with God. Now that is good news.”
-If you have never trusted in Him today, during the invitation I want you to come down here and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.
-The gospel, though, is for Christians too. Maybe you’ve been striving for an acceptance you already have in Christ, and you just need to come to the altar and rest in Him…
-Maybe you are looking for a church that will preach an uncompromised gospel message—you have found it and we would love for you to be a part in getting that message out…
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