Summary: A look at the Gospel. An evangelistic sermon that looks at the Gospel; what it is, what its purpose is and what it demands
Text: 1st Corinthians 15:1-19
By: Ken McKinley
I don’t know if you’ve noticed it or not but our world is changing; and a lot of people would say, that it’s not changing for the better. But that it’s getting worse. And the church is changing too, even in our own denomination, the Southern Baptist denomination, there are changes taking place. Things aren’t like they used to be, and the reality is; they probably never will be again. Now despite these changes in the world, they haven’t affected the message of the gospel. But what they have affected, is man’s understanding of the Gospel. Some see the Gospel as the two greatest commandments, “Love the Lord Thy God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and your neighbor as yourself.” After all these two commandments were so important that Jesus said in Matthew 22 that all the prophets and the Law hung on them. But Scripture never says that these two commandments; as important as they are, are the Gospel. A second group says that the ethical and social teachings of Jesus are the Gospel, but the problem with this view is that the elements of Jesus’ teachings on ethic and social issues cannot be rightly understood unless we discern how they flow toward and point toward Jesus’ death and resurrection. If we just study the life and teachings of Jesus without looking at His passion and resurrection, then that’s like studying the life of George Washington without reflecting on the American Revolution. If we just look at Jesus’ teachings but ignore the cross then we’ve turned Christianity into another mere religion. We’ve turned forgiveness into ethical conformity. We’ve turned obedience out of love to duty. A 4th group assumes that the Gospel is devoting creative energy and passion to other issues, issues like marriage, or happiness, or prosperity, or socio-political activity, or wrestling against false religions. This appeal to a wide variety of people, no matter where you are on the political spectrum. Whether you’re concerned with saving the planet, saving the unborn, redistribution of wealth, helping the poor, liberating the oppressed, maintaining liberty, or what have you. But this idea overlooks the fact that the people who hear these messages are only hearing what the speaker is most passionate about. Every school teacher and college professor knows that their students aren’t going to learn everything they teach them, but they are very likely to learn what the teacher or professor is most excited about. If the Gospel is only assumed, while peripheral issues ignite our passion, we will train the next generation to downplay the true Gospel and focus on periphery things.
And still another group says that the Gospel is the narrow set of teachings about Jesus and His death and resurrection, and when those things are believed and a person is accepted into the family of God through conversion, then they need not be addressed anymore, but we should move on to deeper theological discussions. But that’s not entirely right either, because the NT emphasis is that the Gospel is what holds the entire Bible together. The Bible teaches that it is the Gospel that takes us from being lost and alienated from God, all the way through conversion and discipleship, to sanctification, and finally to glorification, when the Lord Jesus Christ returns and we are given glorified bodies in order to rule and reign with Him forever.
If we correctly understand the Gospel, then it directs our thinking, and gives us the solution to all those other issues.
Now I said all of that, just to get to our text, so let’s look at it again (Read).
Now what Paul’s talking about in this passage is the Gospel, he says, “Now brothers I want to remind you of the Gospel I preached to you.” And it’s because of this Gospel that they are saved. And in verse 3 he goes on to say, “And this is what that Gospel is…” It is Christ! Christ crucified, dead, buried, and raised. And so the Gospel is first and foremost about Christ, it’s from Christ… it’s Christ centered. That’s why John was so eager to point out in his Gospel that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one can come to the Father but by Him and that’s why Acts 4:12 says, “There is no name but Jesus, given under heaven by which we must be saved.” Every book on the Bible points to the Son of God who became a man, Emmanuel – God with us. And in verse 3 of our text Paul goes on to say, “And this is why I preached Christ, and this is why the Gospel is Christ centered – because He is the One who died for our sins. Earlier on in this letter to the Corinthians Paul said, “I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”