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I Am Not Ashamed: A Gospel-Centered Church

I Am Not Ashamed  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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The early Church was gospel-centered.

Notes & Transcripts
Text: ;
Text: ;
Theme: The early Church was gospel-centered.
Theme: The early Church was doctrinally careful.
Date: 08/13/17 File name: Romans50.wpd ID Number:
Date: 08/13/17 File name: Romans50.wpd ID Number:
The redemptive work of God in Christ was seen by the authors of the New Testament as euaggelion — meaning “good news” or “good tidings”. The word occurs 93 times in the Bible, exclusively in the New Testament. The word, however, implies much more than merely good tidings or news. That applies to lots of different events.
The redemptive work of God in Christ was seen by the authors of the New Testament as euaggelion — meaning “good news” or “good tidings”. The word occurs 93 times in the Bible, exclusively in the New Testament. The word, however, implies much more than merely good tidings or news. That applies to lots of different events.
The best translation of euaggelion is the most common — that of gospel. When the translators of the English New Testament were looking for an English word to interpret the Greek word euaggelion, they chose the Old Saxon word godspell which meant the story concerning God. In time they dropped the “d” and it simply became “gospel.” This is the idea the New Testament writers were trying to convey in the use of euaggelion. In its narrow Evangelical use, the Gospel is the good news concerning Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. But in its fullest sense, the Gospel is the story of God’s redemptive work in this world that the whole of Scripture is a witness to.
Thus, to be a Gospel-centered church is to be a congregation that, not only preaches and teaches and witnesses the story of our Christ, but is a congregation that preaches and teaches and witnesses the redemptive work of God that begins in Genesis and concludes in Revelation.
The whole bible is our Gospel — it is God’s story that culminates in His Christ.
As we finish out the 16th chapter of Paul’s letter to the Christians at Rome we discover four characteristics of the early New Testament Church
• The Early Church Was Deeply Relational
• The Early Church Was Ministry-minded
• The Early Church Was Doctrinally Careful. These are the three we’ve already looked at. The next is ...
• The Early Church Was Gospel-centered

I. THE EARLY CHURCH WAS 1st DEEPLY RELATIONAL

1. we learn from this chapter that the Church is family
a. we are part of a family of faith
1) to be a sister or a brother is not just an honorary title for a fellow believer
2) it is descriptive of the believer’s relationship with fellow Christians
2. one of the characteristics of a healthy congregation is that they live in relationship with each other — there’s a unity and a harmony born out of genuine love for each other
with each other — there’s a unity and a harmony born out of genuine love for each other

II. THE EARLY CHURCH WAS 2nd MINISTRY-MINDED

1. the second characteristic of a healthy congregation is that they are deeply concerned about ministry — extending a loving hand to those in need in the name of the Savior
about ministry — extending a loving hand to those in need in the name of the Savior
2. the ministry of the church is spelled out in what we call the Great Commandment and the Great Commission
the Great Commission
a. 1st, the ministry of the Church can be defined by the Great Commandment — “Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind ... 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (, , NIV)
“Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind ... 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (, , NIV)
1) it is loving God and loving people who we understand to be created in the imago dei — the image of God
dei — the image of God
b. 2nd, the ministry of the Church can be defined by the Great Commission —
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”” (, NIV)
c. because we love God, and because we love peole we to into the world telling people that God loves them
people that God loves them
d. that’s it ... every ministry of a local New Testament church flows out of those two commandments
commandments

III. THE EARLY CHURCH WAS 3rd DOCTRINALLY CAREFUL

1. the third characteristic of a healthy congregation is that they take seriously the preservation of the truth — we will be doctrinally careful
preservation of the truth — we will be doctrinally careful
a. in the Book of Acts we have a description of the early church
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” (, NIV)
c. the first descriptor of the early church is that they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching
apostles’ teaching
1) everything Jesus taught to the apostles, the apostles are to teach to other disciples, and then those disciples teach it to even more disciples
disciples, and then those disciples teach it to even more disciples
d. until the world ends, until all nations are taught, this is the commandment of Jesus unto the New Testament church — to teach everything that Jesus taught the Apostles, and which they taught the early church
Jesus unto the New Testament church — to teach everything that Jesus taught the Apostles, and which they taught the early church
2. and everything Jesus taught the Apostles’ is found in the New Testament
a. thus, to continue in the Apostles’ teaching is to continue in scripture — all of it

IV. THE EARLY CHURCH WAS 4th GOSPEL-CENTERED

1. vs. 25-27 contain the Apostle’s closing doxology — a praise
a. he prays that glory be forever given to God, and he prays that it will be given by these Christian at Rome who have been strengthened ... according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery ...
these Christian at Rome who have been strengthened ... according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery ...
2. in these verses the Apostle refers to
a. The Heart of the Gospel
b. The Centrality of the Gospel
c. The Power of the Gospel

A. THE HEART OF THE GOSPEL

A. THE HEART OF THE GOSPEL
1. the Apostle refers to the preaching of Jesus Christ (vs. 25)
a. the heart of the Gospel is the good news of the death, burial, and resurrection of the Christ, the Son of the living God, and that by his death men can be justified before God
Christ, the Son of the living God, and that by his death men can be justified before God
1) it’s a story that was a mystery and a secret that was kept hidden for long ages
a) but it has now been disclosed finally and fully in the person of Jesus
b) bits and pieces of the story are seen everywhere in the Old Testament — especially in the prophets — but it was a story not specifically spelled out
especially in the prophets — but it was a story not specifically spelled out
b. the full disclosure of that mystery comes in the person of Christ, and is the subject of the Apostle’s epistle
of the Apostle’s epistle
“For 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. 17 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.”” (, NIV)
2. a person is not justified by living a good life, but by faith in Christ Jesus
a. to be justified is to be made right with God, and it is God who takes the initiative in our justification, and accomplishes it through Christ
our justification, and accomplishes it through Christ
1) this gospel that we preach is counter intuitive
b. in virtually every other religion you care to name, if you want to be made right with God (or the gods) you must obey divine law or a set of spiritual principles, or participate in the various religious rituals outlined by one's religion
God (or the gods) you must obey divine law or a set of spiritual principles, or participate in the various religious rituals outlined by one's religion
1) if you obey, then you’re considered a believer, and you can connect with God who then “saves” you
who then “saves” you
2) that’s not the Gospel!
c. according to the New Testament we are not justified by keeping divine law or spiritual principles, or by participating in religious rituals
spiritual principles, or by participating in religious rituals
1) we are justified by Christ when we turn in faith to him
2) see ... here’s the difference ... we’re saved by Christ, and not by the teachings of Christ
Christ
a) in every other world religion you’re saved by following the teachings of that religion’s founder
religion’s founder
b) only in Christianity are we saved by the founder!
3) of course the gospel demands that we obey God — we don’t come to Christ and then assume we can continuing living for self and in sin
then assume we can continuing living for self and in sin
ILLUS. Dietrich Bonhoeffer called that “cheap grace,” and it’s not the gospel.
a) the Apostle dealt with this all the way back in the beginning of his letter
a) the Apostle dealt with this all the way back in the beginning of his letter
“What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” (, KJV)
3. the heart of the gospel is to ...
a. 1st, believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ — at that moment ... at that moment your saved
saved
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (, KJV)
b. 2nd, once you have been saved by believing upon the Lord Jesus Christ you then have the power to obey the commands of God, and you do so with a glad and sincere heart
have the power to obey the commands of God, and you do so with a glad and sincere heart
1) man-centered religion says you "obey the rules in order to be saved"
2) the gospel says you "have faith in Christ which saves you, and then His Spirit within you empowers you to obey the rules”
within you empowers you to obey the rules”
c. those are radically two different orders, and produce radically different results, springing from radically different motivations
springing from radically different motivations
4. most people, including a lot of Christians, have never fully grasped how radical the gospel is
gospel is
a. if your view of salvation is "I obey God in order to be accepted by God" your obedience becomes anxious and selfish
obedience becomes anxious and selfish
1) it's anxious in that you're never quite sure whether or not your pleasing God
a) “Am I being good enough?”
2) it's selfish in that even though you might be doing good works, and reading the bible, and worshiping you're doing it for yourself
bible, and worshiping you're doing it for yourself
a) “I’ll do this so God loves me and blesses me.”
b. BUT, if your view of salvation is "I'm accepted by God because He’s freely saved me in Christ, therefore I'll obey His commands" your obedience is out of love and joy
me in Christ, therefore I'll obey His commands" your obedience is out of love and joy
1) it’s loving in that you want to delight the one who has redeemed you
2) it’s joyous in that you want to become like the one who has forgiven you
ILLUS. Most professing Christians in America today, I believe, in their minds have the gospel backwards which makes me wonder if they really have the gospel. The majority of people who go to church think "I'll believe, PLUS I'll obey, and then I'll be accepted by God." We know this because polls tell us so. 52% of Americans agree with the statement "By the good deeds that I do, I partly contribute to earning my place in heaven."
the gospel backwards which makes me wonder if they really have the gospel. The majority of people who go to church think "I'll believe, PLUS I'll obey, and then I'll be accepted by God." We know this because polls tell us so. 52% of Americans agree with the statement "By the good deeds that I do, I partly contribute to earning my place in heaven."
3) if you believe that, you don’t understand the Gospel of our Christ
5. when you get the order right, when you understand the order of the gospel you'll understand how radical the gospel truly is
understand how radical the gospel truly is
a. the former leads to either self-righteousness or self-loathing while the latter leads to love, peace, joy, long-suffering, gentleness…
love, peace, joy, long-suffering, gentleness…
ILLUS. When Martin Luther finally understood the order of salvation, it changed his life and it changed the world. Listen to part of his testimony: "I greatly longed to understand Paul's Epistle to the Romans, and nothing stood in the way but that one expression, 'the righteousness of God,' because I took it to mean that righteousness whereby God is righteous and deals righteously in punishing the unrighteous ... Night and day I pondered until ... I grasped the truth that the righteousness of God is that righteousness whereby, through grace and sheer mercy, he justifies us by faith. Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. The whole of Scripture took on a new meaning, and whereas before 'the righteousness of God' had filled me with hate, now it became to me inexpressibly sweet in greater love. This passage of Paul became to me a gateway to heaven."
and it changed the world. Listen to part of his testimony: "I greatly longed to understand Paul's Epistle to the Romans, and nothing stood in the way but that one expression, 'the righteousness of God,' because I took it to mean that righteousness whereby God is righteous and deals righteously in punishing the unrighteous ... Night and day I pondered until ... I grasped the truth that the righteousness of God is that righteousness whereby, through grace and sheer mercy, he justifies us by faith. Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. The whole of Scripture took on a new meaning, and whereas before 'the righteousness of God' had filled me with hate, now it became to me inexpressibly sweet in greater love. This passage of Paul became to me a gateway to heaven."
b. when Luther understood the difference between the two orders he says I "broke through"
through"
c. so here's my question to you, "Have you broken through in your understanding of the Gospel?"
the Gospel?"
d. is you faith built on nothing less then Jesus’ blood and righteousness?

B. THE CENTRALITY OF THE GOSPEL

B. THE CENTRALITY OF THE GOSPEL
1. in vs. 26 the Apostle writes that the Gospel is preached to bring about the obedience of faith
of faith
a. faith does have an obedience to it
2. the question for the maturing believer is this: “Once you grasp the right order of salvation, what difference does it make in your life?” ... is this just theological nit-picking or are there real-world applications?
salvation, what difference does it make in your life?” ... is this just theological nit-picking or are there real-world applications?
3. a gospel-centered church will teach its congregants to live a gospel-centered life
a. the gospel is not just for the sinner, or the baby Christian, but for the seasoned saint
b. the centrality of the Gospel is when we come to understand that it affects every nook and cranny of our life — it’s not just about having your “ticket punched” so you can go to heaven
nook and cranny of our life — it’s not just about having your “ticket punched” so you can go to heaven
c. in other words, the Gospel becomes the center of your life
4. the Gospel is infinitely broad, and infinitely deep
a. 1st, the gospel is infinitely broad
1) the gospel has implications for your work life
2) the gospel has implications for your moral life, and your sexuality
3) the gospel has implications for how you earn your money, and how you spend your money
your money
4) the gospel has implications for how you see the poor and needy, the stranger, and the alien
and the alien
5) the gospel has implications for how you deal with your past, and how you will live your future
your future
6) the gospel has implications for your political philosophy
7) the gospel has implications for every single relationship you have
b. the simple way to say all this is that the gospel has worldview implications
1) a worldview is a set of beliefs so basic, so foundational, that you just don't look at them you look through them to determine how to respond to everything else
them you look through them to determine how to respond to everything else
ILLUS. Luther's counsel to pastors in modern terms was simple: “First we need to get the Gospel into their heads and then just keep pounding it down into their hearts.” If those who believe the gospel you preach aren’t being altered by that same Gospel, you might need to reconsider what you’re preaching.
get the Gospel into their heads and then just keep pounding it down into their hearts.” If those who believe the gospel you preach aren’t being altered by that same Gospel, you might need to reconsider what you’re preaching.
c. 2nd, the gospel is infinitely deep
1) the gospel reminds us that your value as a human being is not achieved, but received
received
ILLUS. We live in a culture that everywhere preaches, “You’re value is achieved.” It’s achieved by the skill sets you bring to the job. (Perform, perform, perform). It’s achieved by your looks. (The aesthetically challenged need not apply). It’s achieved when you associate with the right kind of people (Whether it’s the “boys from the hood” or the “beautiful people”). It’s achieved by meeting certain behavioral standards with whatever group your associated
It’s achieved by the skill sets you bring to the job. (Perform, perform, perform)
It’s achieved by your looks. (The aesthetically challenged need not apply)
It’s achieved by your looks. (The aesthetically challenged need not apply)
It’s achieved when you associate with the right kind of people (Whether it’s the “boys from the hood” orthe “beautiful people”)
• It’s achieved by meeting certain behavioral standards with whatever group your associated
2) our acceptance before God is not based on our record, but on His Son's record
3) if you're a Christian the hunt for personal worth ought to be over
a) the problem is, most Christians really don't believe this, which is why we have to beat it into our heads
to beat it into our heads
b) you need to understand that, in Christ and in his Gospel, the only One in the universe Who’s opinion matters, has fully accepted you
universe Who’s opinion matters, has fully accepted you
5. when you really understand how infinitely broad, and infinitely deep is the Gospel, it will liberate you — that's what the gospel does
will liberate you — that's what the gospel does
ILLUS. Charles Wesley’s hymn "And Can It Be" was written in 1738 to celebrate
Wesley's conversion of a few months earlier. The last two stanzas are a testimony from a believer who discovered how infinitely broad, and infinitely deep the Gospel is.
• ILLUS. Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature's night;
Thine eye diffused a quick'ning ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
• No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th' eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
• And then the Refrain:
• Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

C. THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL

C. THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL
"For 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. 17 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."" (, NIV)
1. the power of the Gospel is that it saves us
ILLUS. My life was forever changed by the grace, and the mercy of God that I experienced on a Tuesday in June of 1973 when the supernatural Power of God regenerated my soul by the coming of His Holy Spirit into my life according to the promise of His Word. In that moment God justified me and declared me righteous in His sight. I had been born again.
experienced on a Tuesday in June of 1973 when the supernatural Power of God regenerated my soul by the coming of His Holy Spirit into my life according to the promise of His Word. In that moment God justified me and declared me righteous in His sight. I had been born again.
a. the righteousness that comes by faith comes by hearing and accepting a Gospel —
1) it is not about performing religious rituals or keeping moral regulations
2) it is about entering into a relationship with God’s Christ who revealed himself in the person of Jesus
the person of Jesus
b. according to the vast majority of people living on earth, righteousness before God is something they must earn
something they must earn
1) but what does the Bible say?
“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” (, NIV84)
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (, NIV84)
• “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (, NIV84)
c. the power of the Gospel is that our righteousness was earned for us by Christ, and is freely imputed to us when we believed
is freely imputed to us when we believed
2. the power of the Gospel is that is transforms us
a. to believe on Christ is to live for him, to obey him
b. right belief leads to right standing with God, which itself leads to right living for God
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (, NIV)
c. the gospel, beyond salvation, is God’s promise that we can experience new life within, resulting gradually in a whole-life metamorphosis
within, resulting gradually in a whole-life metamorphosis
1) transformation happens when we allow His word to go deep into our core, and when we allow the Spirt to take that Word to radically transform our thoughts and attitudes, and behavior conforming them to that of our Savior
when we allow the Spirt to take that Word to radically transform our thoughts and attitudes, and behavior conforming them to that of our Savior
3. the power of the Gospel is that is impels us to go out into the world to share it
Last week in Charlottesville, VA we saw violent clashes between people who have been radicalized. Some had been radicalized by the philosophy of the alt-right which espouses racial superiority that leads to Fascism. Some had been radicalized by the philosophy of the alt-left which is an anarchist political movement that leads to Marxism. Both of these philosophies lead ultimately to violence, and divide the culture. Both groups want to change the culture, and will resort to violence if necessary. They usually see it as necessary.
Last week in Charlottesville, VA we saw violent clashes between people who have been radicalized. Some had been radicalized by the philosophy of the alt-right which espouses racial superiority that leads to Fascism. Some had been radicalized by the philosophy of the alt-left which is an anarchist political movement that leads to Marxism. Both of these philosophies lead ultimately to violence, and divide the culture. Both groups want to change the culture, and will resort to violence if necessary. They usually see it as necessary.
Christians need to be radicalized by the Gospel. If you want to be radicalized, become radicalized by the Gospel. A radical Gospel leads to a “Radical Faith”, “Radical Prayer”, “Radical Love”, “Radical Stewardship”, “Radical Evangelism”,and “Radical Discipleship”. A radicalized Gospel demands a self-denying faith — a faith that says I will live for the Gospel regardless of the cost. We also want to change the culture, but the believer will never, every resort to violence to force their faith upon another, or retaliate against those who don’t accept our Gospel. . We will, instead, preach the love, and the mercy, and the grace of God Who will change lives by the power of His Spirit through the preaching of the Gospel.
A Gospel-centered church is a congregation of Gospel-centered believers who are radicalized by the grace of God in Christ.
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