The Gospel and its increase
Lesson Text: 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5
Preached in Quabbin Valley on 5-17-09
Paul starts off with a prayer, he wants the Thessalonians to pray for the word of the Lord, the Gospel, that it may spread or increase and that those who hear it will honor it, that people will receive it.
I want to take time today to remind everyone here of what the Gospel is.
The word Gospel means good news it’s the Greek word euvaggeli,zw the verb or εὐαγγέλιον the noun and it carries the idea of “to bring good news” or “to announce good news”. You might picture someone running through a town as a herald and they are bringing good news about a victory that has just been won or of a great king that has been born.
The word gospel means good news.
1) The bad news
a. Let me start with the bad news first. I am not sure we will ever appreciate the gospel if we don’t appreciate or remember our past and the bad news. One caution I am not saying or suggesting that we should be focused on the past or focused on the bad but that every so often we remember where we have come from.
i. We have installed in our vehicles what are known as rearview mirrors. If I were to drive and have my eyes on the rearview mirror what would happen? I would run off the road but we do have them so we can on occasion see what is behind us. Also think about how big our windshield is and how small the rearview mirror is. I am suggesting that we think about our past and our life as a car windshield and a rearview mirror. We focus our attention on the road ahead and our destination but we on occasion take a quick look back to remember what things were like.
b. In Genesis one God created the heavens and the earth and in Genesis 1:26-27 it says:
i. Genesis 1:26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Gen 1:26 ESV)
c. We heard last week from our brother Eugene that God created us he molded us as a potter molds the clay we were molded out of the dust of the earth. If that’s true and it is that means God owns us we are his creation we belong to him and he sets the rules for our lives.
d. It wasn’t long after God created man that man fell into sin. In Genesis three we are told how Adam and Eve took the forbidden fruit and the text tells us their eyes were opened, they knew what sin was and they were sinners. God had told them that they could eat of any tree in the garden only one was off limits and it was the one that they eventually ate from.
i. If I told you could eat anything you wanted from the Big Y supermarket but you couldn’t eat the one loaf of day old bread because when you ate it you would die would that be an over whelming temptation for you to eat it? Now if I said you could only eat the day old bread and nothing else from the Big Y supermarket that might be a bit harder. God didn’t make things difficult for them he only wanted their love and obedience. He wanted them to want to do his will.
e. They ended up eating the one tree God told them not to eat of that is where sin entered the world. You want to know the cause of cancer, or about poverty, or why people do bad things, or even why tornados and hurricanes take people’s lives away. It’s all because of sin.
f. The first sin of Adam and Eve opened up the way for the rest of us, we learned how to sin and Paul will tell us that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God but we also read in Genesis that pain in child birth has entered into the world and thorns have entered in the world and the universe changed and was affected by sin.
g. We don’t inherit sin we all chose to sin and we were all raised in a sin sick world but the fact is that the universe changed when sin entered the world.
i. Romans 8:20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Rom 8:20 ESV)
h. Paul says the universe is groaning under the weight of sin. Man eating sharks, killer insects, the swine flu none of this was present before sin but things changed when sin entered into the world and we ourselves are not off the hook as we all have sinned and added to the pollution of sin in the world.
i. Do you know that God has the right to destroy us all, to send every single person to hell, which is separation from God for eternity? He not only has the right to do it, it would be a just thing to do. But God is not only a holy and righteous God he is a loving God.
2) The good news
a. God could have destroyed all of humanity and never allowed us to go on but God in his love wanted a relationship with you. The gospel, the good news is found in John 3:16.
i. John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (Joh 3:16 ESV)
b. He loved you in such a way that he gave Jesus to be your replacement, to take your punishment, God provided a way for sinful man to return to a wonderful relationship with him. Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life and then gave that to God the Father as a sacrifice for you to take away your sins, to take away your guilt.
i. Isaiah 53:12 says: …he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors. (Isa 53:12 ESV)
ii. …God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved-- (Eph 2:4 ESV)
c. The gift is free but not cheap it cost Jesus his blood. The gift is free but we need to accept it. If I put a gift on the table for you and said it’s free take it but you didn’t take it that gift would have no affect on you at all. It wouldn’t benefit you. A person must accept the gift in order for it to benefit him. God has presented a gift in Jesus, the gift of forgiveness and everlasting life with him but a person must take the gift.
3) Spread the good news
a. Paul asked the Thessalonian Christians to pray that the Gospel message would spread and people would receive it. Are you praying that prayer, do you desire to see people saved? If you are and do God bless you if not let me encourage you to start. Start praying that the Gospel reaches into this world and more people would hear and believe and embrace Christ as Lord.
b. Are you, Christian bringing the message of Christ crucified for the sins of the world to people? If you are God bless you, if not let me encourage you to start. Speak for Jesus, those of you who are Christians who have repented of your sins and been immersed into Christ, speak about him.
i. Preach the Gospel- Someone said: “The gospel is God’s message of mercy to humanity. “It contains a display of the plan, and the only plan, of salvation. It sets forth the person, the work, and the offices of Christ, and urges all to whom it comes to accept Christ as their God and Savior, and to devote themselves to His worship and service; and it assures those who do so that they shall never perish, but shall have eternal life. In one sense it is everyone’s duty, provided he or she has received the knowledge of the gospel, to preach it, to make it known to others. “The commission and command—‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature’ (Mark 16:15)—is given not to the apostles exclusively, but to the whole church and all its members. Every member has the right and the obligation to make known this great salvation to his fellow humans.” - Charles Hodge. Source unknown
c. There are three simple ways to get the Gospel out:
i. Pray that the Gospel message spreads. Make that a daily prayer.
ii. Star telling people about the good news of God’s love in Christ.
iii. Start showing God’s love to people. Start showing Jesus to others by how you act and how you live. Show people Jesus in how you work your job, how you walk your dog, how you pay your bills. Not just talk about Jesus but live your life in Jesus.
d. Don’t give Satan a hand by being a stumbling block to people. Remember that people are listening to what you say and are watching what you do. Christians aren’t perfect but let’s not give Satan a hand by being un-Christ-like especially around non-Christians.
e. People often look at Christians and say “If that’s a Christian I don’t want Christ”. We are his representatives. So while it’s true that we shouldn’t want to be stumbling blocks used by Satan I also want to say to the non-Christian that Christians are not sinless we are forgiven. Christians stumble and fall but that’s why we need Jesus because we’re not perfect but he is and a person’s relationship with God is through Christ and no through how some Christians might act.
Brethren, Christians, we have a job to do and let’s make sure that as much as possible we do it in a way that glorifies Christ. Let’s Pray that the Gospel spread, let’s tell others about Jesus, and let’s act in line with what Jesus wants.
If you are here this morning and you’re not a Christian, one who has by faith been immersed into Jesus’ death burial and resurrection let me encourage you to think about what was spoken to day about God’s love and his gift for you. You are lost if you’re not in Christ but that’s the bad news and we have good news. You can be saved and have life more abundant if you will accept the gift of God. If you want to know more about Jesus and what you must do to be saved please speak with me after the service.
We are going to now take time to participate in the Lord’s Supper. This is a meal Jesus gave for Christians to enjoy. If you’re not a Christian just pass the plats along.