Summary: Power, Salvation, The Gospel, Righteousness
4 NEW ATTITUDES THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE – The Gospel Can Change Anyone
Romans 1:16-17 (p. 782) January 25, 2015
Life generally has a way of changing the way we think about people when we were younger, more innocent, we didn’t look for hidden agendas...or judge people’s motives quite as harshly.
But eventually someone hurt us, used us, or betrayed us...and we became “more careful, more cautious” on the other side of that lesson.
On Wednesday nights we have a great small group studying a book by Brian Jones called “Getting Rid of the Gorilla: Confessions on the Struggle to Forgive.”
Brian got beat up badly by a gang at a football game, and then during legal proceedings he was raked over the coals by the defense attorney. All while the defendants laughed at the table. He said, something inside him died that day as innocence left...and the gorilla of unforgiveness came to live in his heart. Here’s a quote from Brian Jones:
You want to know what I think is the saddest part about living with the gorilla? It’s not that my heart has been jammed full of rage like an overstuffed suitcase. It’s not that I’ve created this huge, stupid, impassable wall just outside the perimeter of my soul that continually separates me from those I want to get close to. Both of these realities have caused me tremendous amounts of pain, but I wouldn’t say they’ve caused me great sadness. The most heartbreaking loss of all is the way the gorilla has slowly changed the way I view life itself. Living with the gorilla over time has altered the way I view people around me. My greatest problem isn’t sarcasm, it’s what gave birth to my sarcasm, and what gave birth to my sarcasm is the pessimistic way I view those I rub shoulders with on a daily basis – something I directly attribute to living with an unforgiving heart.
[I’ll never forget serving at a church where the Chairman of the Elders and the Sr. Ministers came to a shoving match over a microphone during a congregational vote. I’d been asked to bring the children up, so those who had baptized could vote. As I rushed them back downstairs because I refused to let them see this kind of example a little bit of my innocence died.]
But life has done this with all of us hasn’t it? The break-up, the divorce, the crooked business partner, the “close” friend that throws us under the bus...the church leader who attacks your son, the criminal who steals your stuff and your security.
And unlike when we were five or six with new friends...we become more guarded...more protective...more cynical.
Proverbs 4:23 warns us “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (p. 440)
Hebrew writing has no punctuations like commas or exclamation marks...so writers always put the most important thing first in the sentence. By putting “Above all else” at the front of this proverb the writer is saying “TRUST ME...WHATEVER YOU DO IN LIFE AND I MEAN WHATEVER YOU DO, MAKE SURE YOU GUARD YOUR HEART.”
So, how do we protect ourselves from being hurt and guard our hearts from becoming cynical? I’m not sure I have all the answers for that question, but since it’s the most important thing we need to do in life let’s start with this truth...This attitude “I BELIEVE THAT THE GOSPEL CAN CHANGE ANYONE.”
Paul tells the Roman church and us “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes; first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed.” A righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.”
Here’s the most important question we can start with...
I. DO WE KNOW WHAT THE GOSPEL IS?
Most of us who were raised in church will pipe up “It’s the good news.” If you went to Bible College like me maybe you’ve studied some Greek and know it’s the word “evaggelion” (yoo-ang-ghel-ee-on). “Good News or Good Tidings.”
(Like... “Oh man...I feel really hesitant to tell you this but...daggone...I’m so sorry! But you just won a million dollars...sorry!)
Well, let me tell you why “shame or being ashamed” of the gospel is a very real possibility.
The good news all focuses on one single person...His name is “Jesus.” And that name evokes very powerful reactions in people...but not all of them are “good.”
Here’s what I mean...
[Suppose you where one of those poor individuals held in the concentration camp at Ohrdrof in Germany. Jews, Gypsy, poles....anyone deemed undesirable by the Nazi Regime...by 1944 they housed some 10,000 individuals...thousands had died or been killed.