LHCC Youth: What is the Gospel? (Part 1 of 2)

Faithful reader Jae requested that I place my notes online from the youth meeting last week. 

I've tried to make this a two-week version of a presentation I posted here back in August, so long-time readers (both of you) may recognize the similar material.    Here is the basic outline from the new presentation. 

  • Old English word meaning “good news.”
    gōd spell (“good tale,” “good talk”—Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th ed.).
  • In fact, we might as well say “I believe the Good News”
  • This is not just any “good news”
    It’s the Good News to the world!
  • It is a message of God’s glory, and that His glory may be enjoyed by us.

If there is good news, then…
  • The bad news:
    • Isa 59:2: Your iniquities have separated “you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.”
    • Rom 3:10–12: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
    • Rom 3:26: We “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
  • We cannot even enter God’s presence:
    • Psa 68:2: God drives the wicked away as “smoke is driven away… as wax melts before fire,” they “perish before God!”
    • Pro 15:8a: “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination.” (Lost people who worship God or perform godly deeds are not earning brownie points with God.)
    • Rom 3:20: “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight.”
The bad news of Hell
  • The alternative to God’s presence is…
  • The alternative to Heaven is…
  • Four major points about Hell:
    • Humans will be there, not just fallen angels (Matt. 25:41).
    • Religious people will be there (Isa. 5:14; Matt. 23:33).
    • Entire cultures will be there (see Matt. 11:23).
    • Regular people will be there (see Matt. 5:27-30; 10:28; Luke 16:23; Rev. 20:13-15; 21:7-8).
Jesus and His holy angels will return “in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.  They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.”—2 The 8:9

Uh… so what’s the Good News?!
  • Eze 18:23: God has no “pleasure in the death of the wicked,” and would “rather that he should turn from his way and live.”
  • 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.”
  • Gal 4:4–5: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son so that we might receive adoption as sons.”
  • Rom: 3:23–24: All Jews and Gentiles “have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” but they are justified by God’s grace “as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus
  • Rom 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The Gospel and the glory of God

The Gospel appears in Scripture as indivisible from the glory of God.
  • Satan attempts to blind the world of the Gospel “of the glory of God” (2 Cor 4:4).
  • God calls people through the Gospel, so they “may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 The 2:14).
God's glory was seen in His temple:
  • David’s reign as king has ended, and his son Solomon is on the throne.
  • David desired to build a temple for God, so he saved for the project and Solomon built the temple.
  • Guess what happened when the temple was complete and dedicated to God!
  • Very soon Israel began to disobey God.
  • Many even began to go after other gods!
  • Israel split in two – a Northern kingdom and a Southern kingdom.
  • Roughly 400 years later, God shows Ezekiel a sight that is sickening (Ezekiel 8)
    • Idolatry in the temple!
    • At every point, we weep to see the things being done, but God keeps saying “you will see still greater abominations

September 17, 592 B. C (Eze. 10-11)
Then the cherubim lifted up their wings, with the wheels beside them, and the glory of the God of Israel was over them. And the glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city and stood on the mountain that is on the east side of the city” (11:22-23).
  • What did the people do when the glory departed?
  • No one cried “Stop!” or “Come back!”
  • It was business as usual for the next 6 years. No one seemed to notice or care that the Lord’s Glory has left.

586 BC, six years later, Jerusalem falls and the temple, destroyed.
  • Eventually, the Jews make their way back from Babylon and begin to rebuild.
  • However, this time, the elderly, godly Jews weep.
    • The new, rebuilt temple is not nearly as large or beautiful as the old one was.
    • This time, when it is consecrated, the glory never appears. God does not return to this temple.
    • God does continue to speak through prophets, but will soon stop.
God was silent
For almost 500 years, the glory of God was not seen on earth. For 400 years, God did not even speak through prophets.

Remember that Word?
Almost 500 years after the temple is rebuilt, and about 400 years after God speaks through the last of the prophets, shepherds are grazing their flocks by night.

What did those angels say?
“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

The good news is that He has come. In Him dwells the fullness of God, and He will bring together all things in Himself (Col 1:19-20)
  • Jesus “went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom…” (Mt 4:23).
  • Jesus: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news…” (Lk 4:18)

What the Gospel is not
  • It is not about having the easy life
    • In fact, people who trust the Gospel may face trouble as a result
    • Some of your friends might not like you anymore.
  • It is not a self-help message
    • It is not about getting straight “A’s” or high marks at school.
    • It is not about keeping your room clean or being organized.
  • It is not a promise that you are going to heaven
    • This is closer to the truth, but that is only one part of it
    • Just because there is Good News and you say you believe it does not mean you will escape Hell (more on this later)
  • It is not mean God does not care about your sins anymore
 God is the Gospel
The critical question for our generation—and for every generation—is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ were not there?
—John Piper, God is the Gospel, Crossway Books, p. 15
Heaven would be Hell for those who don't enjoy Christ, because Heaven is all about Jesus.  This is yet another reason the unregenerate will be in Hell.  They will be in the place they wanted to be all along—a place away from God.  (Of course, Hell won't be a picnic for them, as they will discover that all the little things they enjoy in this life are part of God's common grace to everyone, a grace absent in Hell.) 

Heaven, on the other hand, is for people who love the Lord, something that is only accomplished through the Gospel.

To be continued...

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