Acts Series #35
Whose Gospel is Good News?
Acts 18:24-26; 19:1-5
So many religious teachings, self help books, do it yourself articles …
There are so many different ways to choose in life. Aren't they all really the same thing?
It doesn't matter what you believe as long as you are sincere right?
Islam, Judaism, Christianity, they all claim to pray to the same God so as long as it helps me get my life straight, make sense out of the world, be a good person, a good husband and father, they are all the same right?
They are all equally good right?
And as for Christianity, as long as I believe in God and attend church, be a good person it is alright isn't it?
As we go back to the book of Acts again for #35 in our message series, let's ask the question.
Whose Gospel is good news?
Acts 18:24-26 - 19:1-5 (read through verse 10 if time allows)
Who is the John we are reading about here that Apollos and these 12 disciples were talking about?
It's John the Baptist.
Now surely John the Baptist was a good one to follow. How much closer to Jesus could you get than his cousin, 6 months older than him, HE baptized JESUS remember, so … "what's good enough for Jesus is good enough for me right?"
Now, we need to lay some groundwork here first before we get to our points … what was the spiritual state of these 12 men? Were they religious? Yes.
Were they "righteous" in the world's eyes? Probably?
Were they born again and washed in the blood of Jesus, Christians? NO.
"well Pastor, you can't judge that" … yes I can.
As Paul observed these men, he obviously was noticing that something wasn't quite right. Have you ever met someone and you just thought, something's not right here. This person is saying the right things, and doing the right things, but … something's missing
Paul did what I've done many times in this case he said "tell me about when you came to Christ" … He asked in a different way but that's what he asked … "did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed"
He was saying … "did you have God come to dwell in your life"
They said … 'huh' … 'we don't even know what you're talking about'
Then what did you do?
"I was baptized in repentance."
Now, John's baptism served a purpose of preparing people to come to Christ, it was NOT an end to itself.
Jenny Craig is a baptism of repentance! But it is NOT salvation
It would be like someone saying, "I went to AA and decided to turn my life around"
"I went to a godly parenting class and decided to be a better parent"
"I decided it was time I gave up my bad habits and read the Bible and go to church"
That makes them a better person but it doesn't make them born again and indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God
But how do you know that they aren't Christians?
Rom 8:9,16 "if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children."
Eph 1:13 "and you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit"
If they didn't have the Holy Spirit, they didn't have Christ.
But IS it really important?
The Da Vinci Code movie opened this week. It teaches that Jesus wasn't really who he claimed to be … he was just a man, a good man, a teacher, but he wasn't divine. That was all just a hoax they tell us in the book/movie … Jesus didn't live a set apart and pure life, he was in a relationship with Mary and had a child and the church leaders tried to hide it. THEY SAY
Is it really important whether you believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God?
Is it really important whether we all follow the Good News, the Gospel as laid out in Scripture?
Can't I just find what works for me?
Well let me tell you … These teachings in the Da Vinci Code, are NOT new teachings.
There were those just a short time after Christ that came into the church, they were called Gnostics. That comes from a word for Knowledge. They believed that you needed secret special knowledge in order to be in Christ. They believed that Jesus couldn't have been Human because material things were evil. So, either his Spirit came into the man Jesus and left him before the Cross … or it was all an illusion, a spiritual image but not a real physical man.
And Paul said
2 Cor. 11:3-4 "I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion for Christ. 4 For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough"
Gal 1:6-12 "I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel - 7 which is really NO gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ 8 But even if we or an angel of heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: if anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! 10 Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ 11 I want you to know, brothers that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from man nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.
Children … there is only one Gospel that is GOOD NEWS, that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ …
And the Church has always had people in it, who have turned over a new leaf but haven't turned over their lives to Jesus Christ
They have placed their hands in the Pastor's Hands … but Haven't placed their hand in the Nail Scarred Hand of Jesus
They are TRYING a new Trend and not TRUSTING in the TRUTH
And we need to look within today …
What Gospel have you followed, with what baptism have you been immersed?
Without Jesus …
1. The "gospel" has no wisdom
Job 9:4 - his wisdom is profound, his power is vast. Who has resisted him and come out unscathed?
Job 36:4 - be assured that my words are not false; one perfect in knowledge is with you
Job 37:14 - Listen to this, Job; stop and consider God's wonders. 15 Do you know how God controls the clouds and makes his lightning flash? 16 do you know how clouds hang poised, those wonders of him whos is perfect in knowledge? 17 you who swelter in your closes when the land lies hushed under the south wind, can you join him in spreading out the skies, hard as a mirror of cast bronze?
The religion of science has tried and continues to try and explain the origins of the world, WITHOUT recognizing God, to take all their wisdom and explain how all things came and have still too few answers
The Psychiatrists who reject Christ try and explain the causes and effects of life without God and find their answers coming up short
The Marriage counselors try and make sense of marriages without Christ in the equation
Without Christ, there is no good news … without the wisdom of the ages there is no wisdom
Ps. 147:5 Great is our Lord and might in power; his understanding has no limit
Rom. 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!
Isa 44:7 who then is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come - yes, let him foretell what will come
Jer 10:7 who should not revere you, O King of the nations? This is your due. Among all the wise men of the nations and in all their kingdoms there is no one like you.
Isa 40:14 whom did the Lord consult to enlight him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge or showed him the path of understanding?
Without Jesus Christ there is no wisdom
Without Jesus Christ
2. The "gospel" has no distinction
Every self-help way
Every diet plan
Every religion is basically the same … without Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ is the only gospel of distinction
Jesus said, I am the way, the truth and the life, NO ONE comes to the Father except through me
Jesus said I am the vine you are the branches … apart from me you can do nothing …
Jesus said except a man be born again, he cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven … everyone who believes in (the son) may have eternal life
Many Religions say that Jesus is but one of MANY great teachers, or one of many sons of god …
But Jesus said God so loved his one and only son that whoever believes in him should have everlasting life
Jesus said he who has seen me, has seen the Father, he who has not seen me, has NOT seen the Father
Without Jesus the Gospel is NOT good news, it isn't NEW News … it is YESTERDAY'S News …
Without Jesus Christ there is no wisdom and no distinction and …
3. The "gospel" has no humility
What do I mean?
If there is no JESUS … then there is room to boast
If you can pick yourself up by your bootstraps and become all that you need to be … then PRIDE REIGNS …
You could say … "look what I did"
But the Bible tells us that "all our righteous acts are like filthy rags"
Ps 14:3 All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of humility because we recognize that it is only through Christ and the Grace he offers that we have hope
Eph 2:8,9 for it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast
2 Ti. 1:9; (he has) called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.
Titus 3:5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy …
It is a gospel of humility …
Jeremiah 9:23,24 this is what the Lord says: "Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength, or the rich man boast of his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight," declares the Lord
The Gospel of Jesus is a gospel of wisdom, distinction, humility …
But without Jesus Christ …
3. The "gospel" has no power
The only power for lasting change is found in Jesus Christ
The only power for life and peace is found in Jesus Christ
If you are here today searching for strength for life, hope, peace … I am praying today what Paul prayed in
Eph 1:18-21 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in this present age but also in the one to come
The Gospel of Christ is the gospel of Power …
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me
When I am weak his POWER is made Perfect … so Paul said, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me
The only Power, the only hope is found in Jesus Christ and Christ alone …
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only Gospel of Wisdom, and Distinction, Humility, and Power but without Jesus Christ …
4. The "gospel" has no Salvation
Jesus Christ's Gospel is the only one that guarantees your salvation …
A. Salvation from What?
1. from a meaningless life
He pulls us up and out and restores us to the life of meaning, purpose, abundance that we were intended to have before sin entered the picture
2. from a meaningless death
If death is not a passage from this life into life eternal then it is meaningless
Without Christ your destiny is eternal death and separation from God and that is NOT what God wanted or intended. Jesus Christ saves us from a meaningless death
Jesus Christ took on death and punishment at the cross so we would not HAVE to taste death as eternal punishment. He had the only possible answer for God's Justice. Because of our sin Justice demands payment and the payment for sin is death.
What is the destiny of garbage?
That is the image that Jesus used to describe Hell. He said it was like Gehenna. Gehenna was a deep narrow valley south of Jerusalem. Idolatrous Jews had sacrificed children there to a false god named Molech (2 Chr. 28:3; Jer 7:31) After that period, it became the common dump for garbage. The garbage, bodies of dead animals and criminals were constantly being burned in that area. It became a palpable, visible image of the final punishment coming for the wicked. Jesus referred to it in Mt 5:22-30; 10:28; 18:9, 23:15; Mark 9:43-47; and Luke 12:5 … the name became synonymous with Hell. Fires always burned there.
Let me Read you a quote from Boston College Professor, Peter Kreeft "All sin is spiritual garbage, and necessarily meets its end in destruction. God can't let garbage into heaven. Only if the sinner won't let go of his garbage does he get burned WITH it. God offers to take the garbage off his back, to separate the sinner from the sin so that the sinner is not separated from God. Jesus is the garbage man.
Now I don't know if I like the term that Jesus is a garbage man, BUT the point is clear. You do NOT have to HANG ON to the Garbage of Sin. But sin is, as it were, on a conveyor belt headed for the fires of Gehenna. If you do NOT let go, you will go WITH it. THAT is the most senseless and meaningless death, to die in punishment when it is NOT necessary, payment has been secured
Jesus provided for us to be released from the hold of sin.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only one that provides real Salvation from a meaningless life and death
Isa. 45:22 Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God and there is no other
Acts 4:12 salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved
As I rush to finish … The Gospel of Jesus Christ is THE Gospel of wisdom, distinction, humility, power, and salvation … and finally … without Jesus
5. The "gospel" has no LIFE
There are so many things that claim to be life … came to bring life … claim to give life …
But they are imposters …
Jesus Christ created all things according to John 1 and without him nothing was made …
From the time that Jesus "formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being"
To the birth of each person since …
Until the time when any person surrenders their heart and life to Christ … Life is found in Christ alone …
Jesus said, the "thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but I came that you might have life and have it more abundantly, to the full"
He said (John 3:36) whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him
All life … if found in Jesus Christ and without him everything pretending to be life is just a counterfeit
In Jesus is LIFE and that life is the light of men, John 1:4
for the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself John 5:26
John 11:25 Jesus said … I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies
There are so many things, religion, education, politics, connections, relationships, that we think will provide us life … Jesus rebuked the Religious Leaders of his day with this Word
John 5:39,40 You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the ONLY Good News … It is GREAT NEWS … it is News with Hope and a Future … A Gospel of Wisdom, Distinction, Humility, Power, Salvation, and Life …
If you are already a believer in Jesus Christ You HAVE a wondrous Gospel to Tell …
Do NOT be ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ … It is the POWER of GOD for the SALVATION of everyone who believes
I have a serious word for us here today …
You know that I would not play on emotion or create decisions … BUT … as I prepared for Today I am aware that just as these 13 men … there are probably some people here that perhaps believe in God, perhaps have joined a church or taken a religious path, but have never truly been filled and indwelt with the Holy Spirit of God because you have never believed in Christ alone and given your heart to him.
If you were Baptized for any other reason than because you had recognized your sin and need for Christ and had given your heart to Christ and desired to be obedient and follow in Baptism, then chances are you never gave your heart to Christ.
If you were baptized because you just were trying to turn over a new leaf, you need to come to Christ
If you were baptized because you thought you should join a church … chances are you have never come to Christ
If you are trying to be a religious person, yet do not experience the power and victory, and you did not receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and confess him as Resurrected Lord of your life, then you need to come to Christ today.
The Baptist baptism isn't enough, the Lutheran baptism isn't enough, or Assemblies, Pentecostal, Catholic or any other, is NOT enough apart from the understanding and decision to come to Jesus Christ, baptized in faith in HIM alone
Whose Gospel is Good News?
The Gospel of Jesus Christ
It is the ONLY gospel of wisdom/understanding, humility, distinction, power, and salvation and LIFE.
So do you want to turn over a new leaf or have new life?
Do you want a religious way or a righteous heart
Do you want the wisdom of man or the wisdom of the ages?
Do you want the same old thing or the ONLY Way to Real LIFE?
Do you want boastful and proud heart that says, "I don't need anyone" … or in humility come to Christ
Do you want "power" that ultimately won't produce … or do you want the Power that SPOKE and this world came into being, formed, and a human shape took form, breathed and life came out … who breathed his last on the cross and LIFE was available for all who would believe?
Do you want to Save yourself and lose your soul, or lose yourself in Christ and find the salvation you seek
Do you want the LIFE?
Do you want LIFE?
Do you Want LIFE??
His name is JESUS, Life is a Person … Jesus Christ, the Son of God
This is your moment of Decision
Someone today needs to put pride, excuses, membership, position, experience aside and come to Christ … Receive him as Lord
Reject the useless things you've been baptized in and be Baptized in the Salvation of God that imparts his Holy Spirit into your life
Bow Your Heads with me today … no one move around … this is a critical time in hearts today