Summary: God has given us the one message we are to preach and teach and live and give. It is the gospel.
Let’s turn in our Bibles to John chapter 5. We’ve been in this chapter now for a full month as we work our way through the gospel of John.
Let’s pray together: Father in Heaven, we have come here today hoping to meet with You, longing to be in Your presence, desiring to hear from You. “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” Will You come and meet with us oh God? Will You come to us as a stream of Living Water and quench our thirsty souls? Will You give us a view of Your Son that is so panoramic, that is so glorious that we will become changed by seeing Him? Speak oh God, for we are listening to You. In Jesus’ Name amen.”
Last week I asked you the question to start off with, “what is Christianity?” Is it a religion, an organization, set of rules, a scam to get my money? And we saw from Scripture that Christianity really is a resurrection. It is life from the dead. It is new life.
This week I want to ask you a different question: what is the main theme of Christianity? What is the main subject of the Bible, its key teaching, it’s most important topic? I mean there is one Author of this Book, just one. God breathed out His Word. Oh He used 40 different people to convey His truth, but He is the Author of His Word. So with one Author the message ought to be consistent.
Well the main message of the Bible, it’s most important subject is the gospel of Jesus Christ. But there has come a very dangerous teaching into the church, a destructive teaching in the past century, a teaching that basically says this: “the gospel is ‘the salvation message.’ It is for unbelievers to ‘get saved, and then we move on to deeper teachings.’” As if to say that the gospel is just some spiritual kindergarten through which we pass, tipping our hats to the cross, on our way to the deeper teachings of the Bible. This is destructive because it implies that once we know the gospel, we’re good to go, we can move beyond that now, we’re saved.
But you see this is a half-truth. It is true that the gospel is a salvation message, it is “the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16). But it is also a sanctification message, in other words, that which sets believers apart from our sins and changes us little by little into the image of Jesus Christ. In Galatians 3 Paul is talking to believers who were trying to set themselves apart from sin by their own efforts at keeping the Law, and what he says to them in verse 1 is amazing. He says, “you foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you? Who has hypnotized you? Before your very eyes, Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.” In other words, the cross is the message that separates believers from our sins and perfects us in Christ. The gospel is not merely a salvation message, it is also a sanctification message. It’s for believers.
But, it is not only a salvation message, it is not only a sanctification message, it is also a stabilization message. You know, an airplane has what’s called a “horizontal stabilizer”, it’s on the back of the plane, its basically the tail of the airplane. Now what would happen if that stabilizer was gone? Well let’s just say you wouldn’t want to be in the airplane. Listen, what would happen if the gospel was gone from the church? Let’s just say, you wouldn’t want to be in it. Paul writes in Romans 16:25:
25 Now to him who is able to establish you (strengthen, confirm, stabilize you) by my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past.
Do we want to know how to be stabilized in life, to not be a “wall banger”, back and forth, how to have a firm foundation, how to become rooted and grounded, how to be constant and steady and firmly planted, unshakeable? Paul says it is “by my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ.” So we can see that the message of the cross is not merely “the salvation message” for unbelievers to “get saved.” No, it goes far beyond that, it is much fuller than that.
And I have not even mentioned the most important part of the gospel. I mean the gospel is great for what it does for us, but that’s not the most important part. It is not only a salvation, sanctification, and stabilization message, it is also a glorification message. This is the most important part. The gospel glorifies God. After Paul explains the gospel in all its fullness to the Romans in chapter 15 he tells them why God gave His only Son to the Gentiles: