Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Gospel Message

I came across an intriguing emphasis in the following simple statement of the Gospel message by John Samson, that seemed worth pondering... "The message of the Gospel is this: All who place their trust in Christ as Savior and Lord are therefore saved by God, from God, for God."

At the outset he wisely acknowledges that the Good News of salvation involves faith in Jesus as Lord as well as Savior. The Master said, "You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am." (John 13:13) With the authority of lordship He declared, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand" (John 10:27, 28). Only God can give eternal life. Only as sovereign Lord could Jesus do so.
As Jonah 2:9 says, "Salvation is from the LORD." In eternity past, the LORD God the Father set His heart upon a multitude no man can number, from every tribe and nation, according to His good pleasure, for whom His Son would lay down His life as an atonement. It is these whom the Lord Jesus terms His sheep in the John 10 passage previously quoted. In verse 30 of that passage, the Lord Jesus stated, "I and the Father are one." Although some have tried to use it as a text for disproving the doctrine of the Trinity, that simply won't do. Rather, the Lord Jesus is emphasizing the united purpose and action between Himself and His Father in protecting and preserving the "sheep." All for whom the Lord Jesus died will be saved in the end. It is a certainty, for it was divinely-ordained from all eternity, divinely accomplished on the cross and by the resurrection, and divinely applied individually by the blessed Holy Spirit in His sovereign timing. Thus, every believer's salvation is initiated by the Father, accomplished by the Son, and applied by the Spirit.

    Notice, too, that the one who is saved through trust in the Lord Jesus Christ is not only saved by God, but from God. The popular assumption of the world, encouraged by the "God- loves-you-and-has-a-wonderful-plan-for-your-life" teaching, is that God accepts and loves everyone on the planet equally, regardless.  It plays well with the presumption that humanity is basically good (even if flawed) and deserving of heaven...and God is love, after all.  

Trouble is, "There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, Together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one." (Romans 3:10--12)  The Bible plainly teaches that it is a terrible thing to experience the wrath of the living God... for, "those who do not know God and...who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus...will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power" (II Thessalonians 1:8,9).  Their final destination is described in Revelation 20:14,15  "Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.  This is the second death, the lake of fire.  And if anyone's name was not found in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."  There, the weeping, the wailing, the gnashing of teeth never cease, nor do the thirsting, the regrets, the remorse, and the tormented memories, forever and ever.  Thus, regardless of public opinion, political correctness, or wishful thinking, life is short, hell is real, and eternity is forever.

Finally, the Gospel message speaks of the salvation in the Lord Jesus being for God.  Here, as in so many other ways, the plan of man's redemption is far-too-often presented as a sales pitch..."here's what's in it for YOU!!"  Promises of peace, prosperity, pie-in-the-sky-bye-n'-bye, overshadow the Lord Jesus' call to discipleship-for-life, self-denial, and cross-bearing (Luke 9:23).  Some protest: "Oh, but that kind of thing is for later...get 'em saved first...then share the "deeper" stuff like lordship truth."  Yet, observe the Master in His calling of men to Himself, and there is continual presenting His lordship in no uncertain terms.  

So, too, should our sharing of His Gospel message be unashamedly centered upon His sovereign Lordship, as well as saving grace, so that God may be glorified as He alone is worthy.

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