Summary: We are called to be a people of the Gospel; the Gospel must be central to our lives. In order to adequately embrace the Gospel, we must understand the Gospel.
The Basis of the Gospel
1 Corinthians 15: 3-4
As we begin the New Year, I felt compelled to preach a series that deals with the foundational element of our faith – the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I trust everyone understands the significance of the Gospel in relation to salvation in Christ. We must hear a clear presentation of the Gospel and respond by faith in order to receive salvation and have a personal relationship with Christ.
For some, such a series may seem unusual, and even unnecessary for those who have come to saving faith in Christ. However, I not only believe it is necessary; I am convinced it is imperative for the modern church. I fear that many believe the truth of the Gospel, having responded by faith unto salvation, but fail to realize its significance and relevance in our everyday lives as believers. We are people of the Gospel, and as such, we are called to live Gospel centered lives. Our comprehension of the Gospel, and commitment to it, should define who we are as believers. Take a moment to consider the thoughts of Dietrich Bonhoeffer from his book, The Cost of Discipleship: “Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: 'Ye were bought at a price', and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.” A proper understanding and devotion to the Gospel in imperative for victorious Christian life.
As we being the series, A Gospel Centered Life, I want to examine the eternal truths within the text as we consider: The Basis of the Gospel. We must understand its foundation if we are to conform our lives to its doctrine. Notice:
I. The Foundational Truth – In our text verses Paul reveals the very foundation of the Gospel. In a few, short statements, he beautifully sums up the Gospel. While it is not complicated, we must understand each element involved to properly receive, respond, and live according to the Gospel. The first element of truth is:
A. The Identification (3) – For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures. Paul emphatically declared that Christ died. Understandably, one must believe that Jesus Christ was and is the Son of the living God. He is the central figure for all of time and humanity. His life upon the earth cannot be disputed. Biblical and historical records affirm without question that Jesus Christ lived and died upon the earth. For the Gospel to have any significance, leading to a complete transformation, one must believe that Jesus Christ was more than a man. You must see Him as more than a great teacher, prophet, or miracle worker. You must agree and believe by faith that Jesus Christ was and is the Son of God. If you reject the truth that Jesus was the Son of God, deity incarnate in flesh, then you have denied a foundational truth of the Gospel and will be unable to receive salvation. Many passages affirm this, and one of my favorites is from John’s gospel. John 1:1-2, 14 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.  And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
B. The Crucifixion (3) – For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures. Once you have accepted the fact that Jesus was the Son of God, come to earth as a man, you are ready to embrace the second truth of the Gospel –Jesus died upon the cross. Following a ministry of some three and half years, Jesus Christ was betrayed by one of His own, and sold for thirty pieces of silver. He was arrested, tried, and condemned to death upon a Roman cross. He lived a sinless life, never once disobeying His heavenly Father or having a need to repent of sin. He was condemned because of the hatred of sinful men. They denied that Jesus was in fact the Christ, and accused Him of blasphemy because of His claim of being the Son of God. Blasphemy was punishable by death. Since these believed Jesus was a blasphemer, they called for His immediate death on the cross. Jesus was crucified on the cross, where He willingly laid down His life. Luke 23:33 – And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. You cannot embrace the Gospel apart from the death of Christ upon the cross.