Summary: The Gospel that saves us from work saves us to work
The Gospel Misunderstood
Ephesians 2: 8-10 (p 827) Feb. 19, 2012
Here’s the premise of today’s message… “The gospel that saves us from work saves us to work.”
Folks, if we want to see the people of God unleashed…really set free to fulfill their purpose in the world…It all starts with the church understanding the truth of the gospel…and yet confusion abounds concerning the gospel in the church today…
Imagine if you will a man I’ll call William…a couple of years ago “Bill” made a confession of his faith in Christ, he was baptized...but according to William his actions have nothing to do with his salvation…God’s grace saved him…he says he accepted that in faith…he comes to church even attends a small group, but Christ is not clear in his character or his care for other people. Bill isn’t all that concerned about the lost, even those who have never heard of Christ…He turns a deaf ear to the cries of hurting people, even those who are part of his church he doesn’t’ want to get involved…he doesn’t have time.
And although William claims to believe the gospel there is no real fruit of faith in his life beyond the religious routine of cultural Christianity.
Or imagine Mary…all her life she’s been in church in fact she’s been baptized 4 times...She has listened to sermon after sermon…she has attended every woman’s bible study…
She wants more than anything to please God, and she works extraordinarily hard to do everything possible to please Him. “Yet…she never feels like she’s done enough…Mary has never been confident in her salvation and always feels unworthy of God’s love.
Both William and Mary attend Fern Creek…..William thinks work has nothing to do with salvation and Mary thinks work has everything to do with being saved.
Both are confused…and both are wrong. And until they get a right understanding of the gospel they can never really accomplish the purpose of God.
Unleashing (filling) “Radical” people into the world requires the gospel as our foundation and our motivation…
That’s why it’s essential for you and I, for William and Mary to embrace a gospel that both saves us from work and saves us to work.
I SAVED FROM WORK
I’m not sure which one scares me the most in their misunderstanding of the gospel, Mary or “Bill”.
But when Mary hears the radical challenge of Jesus to “deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow me...she immediately thinks…
“I need to work harder for God…I need to sell my house and car I need to do, more sacrificial stuff to make Jesus happy.”
Guilt will always be the motivation for her obedience…working hard is her duty to God.
If you understand the gospel like Mary you will never be Radical enough…no matter what you do even if you sell all your stuff, move to Zimbabwe to save starving children…you cannot do enough to be accepted by God.
And the beauty of the gospel is…”you don’t have to!” “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves. It is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph 2: 8, 9)
It’s hard to accept this truth…I’ll never be worthy…none of us can…God loves us in spite of our unworthiness, despite being hopelessly lost in sin.
He loved us so much He gave His only son…god in the flesh…lived a perfect life…one I could never live…Jesus alone kept God’s commands perfectly. He alone was faithful enough to always please His father, generous enough; compassionate enough…Jesus alone was “Radical” enough.
And although Jesus was free from sin in His life, he bore the penalty for sin at His death... He took my place…your place…he died the death we deserved… Then he rose from the grave in Victory over sin...
And to Mary and all those who struggle with working hard enough when you turn from yourself and trust in your Savior…He cleanses you from your rebellion…he clothes you in His righteousness…the starting point of your radical life is your radical death…
You see when I was baptized into Christ at the age of 17 I knew the old “Ricky” has to die…all the rebellion, the selfish attitude, the sinful hurt I’d heaped on others…
Jesus spirit had already convicted me of this sin…He cut my heart to the core…my baptism wasn’t a bath... it wasn’t an outward cleansing…it was a union with his death…His burial, His resurrection...I rose to walk in a new life…because His Spirit made me new…He changed everything within me…
Why do I believe this is essential? Not a work…because unless you die to your old self and receive God’s gift of grace through faith…you cannot be born from above.
Can you just get wet… absolutely…Jesus said He that “repents and is baptized will be saved” (Mk 16:16)