Thesis: The content of the gospel is of paramount importance.
1. In the educational field ("academia") there is a raging debate over what a "core curriculum" should be.
a. What courses should be required of all students?
b. How do you decide irreducible minimum all should know?
c. Who determines those essential requirements?
2. Similar debates are often waged in religious circles.
a. What ought to be the focus of the people of God?
1) Meeting needs of contemporary people?
2) Maintaining purity of doctrine?
b. Different viewpoints get expressed--conflict erupts.
3. Paul tells us what the core is--1 Cor. 15:1-8.
< Why is the message of the cross the "nitty gritty?" >
I. MAN HAS A FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM--SIN.
A. All have sinned (Rom. 3:10; 3:23).
3. Can sin in our heart without ever commiting the act (adultery, murder).
B. Man is sinful and unable to enter heaven (Rev. 21:27; Rom. 6:23a).
1. You say: "I'm not that bad, surely God will overlook my sin!"
2. Illust. 3 sins per day. How many in a year's time? Over 1,000! Over an entire lifetime? <35,000!> Suppose a habitual offender appeared before a judge with 35,000 offenses? Deserve mercy? Not that bad?
II. GOD'S REMEMDY--JESUS DIED FOR OUR SIN (Rom. 5:6-8).
A. There is absolutely nothing we can do to earn our salvation.
1. We can't sing enough!
2. We can't pray enough!
3. We can't come to church enough!
4. We can't give enough!
5. We can't be baptized enough!
6. Offering to pick up trash in the court room is not going to erase 35,000 offenses against the law!
B. Salvation is a gift (Rom. 6:23).
1. We must receive it as a gift or not at all!
2. Batsell Barret Baxter puts it this way: "Salvation is by God's grace. It is a gift from God, motivated by his love for us, and is provided through Jesus Christ. Grace means `unmerited favor.' Salvation is an unearned, undeserved blessing, offered freely to all mankind, and made possible by the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross. In short, there was no way that man, the sinner, could earn or merit salvation, so God provided it for him as a gift. This is the Good News of the Gospel" (The Family of God, p. 34).
III. THIS GIFT MUST BE RECEIVED.
A. The Bible calls this "faith" (Rom. 10:5-10).
B. Believing the right things about Jesus is not enough!
1. Illust. We must trust Christ completely. This is faith. Take chair--throw keys on it; throw wallet on it. One thing to trust Christ for travel mercies, finances. Another thing to trust him with ourselves!
2. Illust. In 1860 Blondin, a famous tight-rope walker of that time, put a rope across Niagra Falls. Crossed the Falls several times--1,000 foot trip. Took wheelbarrow. "Do you believe I can?" Did it. "Do you believe I can take a person out there in wheelbarrow?" Yes! Pointed to a man in the crowd. Refused!
C. How do we demonstrate our faith? (Rom. 6:1-4).
1. Does this make sense to you?
2. Will you commit your life to Christ?