The Joy of Restoration

Restoration is a very powerful byproduct of a life well-lived in Christ. Define reconciliation and restoration in your own words. Sometimes we use them interchangeably, because being made right with God involves both words. Change that happens to a life is summed up in these two words.

  1. Describe how you came to know Christ.
    1. What was your life like before you received Christ?
    2. How did your salvation story happen?
    3. What is your life like now that you have Christ?
  2. Put into words the feeling you have about forgiveness and the newness you have in Christ.

Video Questions:

  1. In which character do you mostly identify?
  2. In what way have you seen this type of restoration in your life, or in someone you know?
  3. How is forgiveness a necessary step toward restoration?
  4. In what area of your life do you need to experience restoration or new birth?
  5. Standard definitions:
    1. Reconciliation: From the Greek meaning to change or exchange; literally to change in one’s relationship to God (from enemy to friend).
    2. Restoration: synonymous with renew, best described in David’s use in Psalm 51, to restore is to make right (after a sin against God). New birth can be described as restoration.

Bible Study: John 21:15-19

  1. Peter understood the concept of restoration. He was outspoken and said he would never deny Christ… but he did, and Jesus came to him and offered restoration.
  2. Jesus repeatedly asked Peter if he loved him (agape-unconditional God-like love) and Peter responded with phileo (a brotherly love). We wonder if Peter really understood the depth of Love that Jesus had for him.
  3. Peter affirmed the Lordship of Jesus (John 21:17) and that Jesus knows all things. The response ultimately is NOT in Peter’s response to Jesus but in God’s knowledge of Peter’s heart. The instruction is for Peter to do the work of a shepherd (feed, shepherd and tend his sheep).

Bible Study: John 21:1-4, 22

  1. Notice where Jesus encounters his disciples in this post-resurrection appearance. What are they doing?
  2. Peter had gone back to where he had started, on a boat doing what he was doing when Jesus first called him.
  3. When Jesus asked if Peter loved him more than these (John 21:15) he could have meant the FISH.
  4. Peter is concerned about what will happen to John (what about this guy?) but Jesus hammers on the call he cave to Peter, “You follow me.”

Bible Study: Acts 2:36

  1. Peter goes from a denying, fearful man to a person with power and authority, and confidence.
  2. He is so different here than back in Mark 14:66-27.
  3. So, does Peter now appear affectionate toward Jesus (phileo) or passionately committed to him (agape)?
  4. How have you experienced God using you in light of being forgiven and restored?
  5. Restoration involves allowing God to do a work of renewal in our lives. Christ did the work of restoration by his work on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).
  6. Restoration takes time, and we may not see the lasting effects until we get to heaven. Where do you need to do the hard work of restoration in your life?

At the end of the film, we see Cindy’s redemption but Hannah does not. We are left to wonder whether the relationship ever went beyond the written note.

A Guide to Biblical Restoration: *

Failure among God’s people is nothing new; biblical history is filled with failure. Samson failed. Abraham failed. Solomon failed. Jonah failed. The Hebrews failed. All twelve of the disciples of Jesus failed; Even King David, who was a man after God’s own heart failed; “But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord” (2 Samuel 11:27). So all of these committed willful disobedient sin after having once pledged fidelity to God. In both Testaments, the evidence of failure is both overwhelming and sobering.

There is the overwhelming evidence that God is also in the restoration business. The Bible is the astonishing record of the God’s effort to reclaim and to restore those who are his, but who in a moment of weakness betrayed their allegiance to him. The potential for restoration plainly exists. In Galatians 6:1 we are told “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.” Needless to say, there are verses that mention restoration, and these verses outline a process and responsibilities that if embraced, have the potential of releasing the believer from their bondage and restoring them to God.

What are Steps of Restoration?

1. Confession:

Restoration hinges on the honest and straightforward admission of failure. Sin can never be addressed if it is not named. It cannot be purged if it is not identified. It cannot be cleansed if it cannot be seen.

Occasionally we comprehend our sin alone, without the help of an outside voice. Guilt, shame, and loss of peace all creep into our souls and remind us of our error. Others may not be aware of their error, but we know. We fear discovery. We comprehend the enormity of our sin, as did David in Psalm 51.

More often than not, however, we rationalize our sin, deluding ourselves into believing that our behavior is acceptable or not that serious. We refuse to look at ourselves honestly, we ignore the stirrings in our conscience, and we avoid responsibility. We become defensive when questioned and find ourselves postponing the inevitable.

In either case, confession must take place, either at the prompting of the Spirit or by the approach of another believer, following the commands of (Matthew 18:15) and (Galatians 6:1).

Confession is the cleansing of the wound. It forces to the surface of the infection that has festered and stained us. It can be painful and humbling, but there is no other way for restoration to begin. Confession must be clear and straightforward. It cannot be couched in excuses or minimized by stubbornness. This confession must be made to God first, but it should also be made publicly to the church if the sin is publicly known. However, if the sin is unknown publicly then it should be properly dealt with privately. As a general rule, confession should be made to anyone directly injured by our sin. Confession of sin is a necessary step toward restoration and renewal. Confession to God opens the door for his forgiveness. Confession to the one offended opens the door for the victim’s forgiveness. Confession to the offended opens the door of opportunity for the church to demonstrate forgiveness.

2. Repentance:

To repent is to change course, to reverse direction. Once confession has been made and forgiveness received, repentance must be demonstrated. A firm commitment to turn away from the offending behavior must be made. According to Proverbs 28:13, God’s mercy is extended only to those who confess and forsake their sinful practices.

As with confession, the commitment to repent is most effective when rendered first of all to God and then secondly to the one injured by our offense. One’s confession of guilt to those sinned against accelerates the healing process for all involved in ways which secret promises cannot. In the same way a marriage vow is made before witnesses, a renewed commitment to walk with Christ is best made before witnesses.

Even when the sin is private, a specific plan outlining how the penitent person will make spiritual corrections will maximize success. An accountability system has great power to guard our steps. A spiritual mentor can help identify weaknesses, circumstances, and vulnerabilities and help steer a clear course. Enlisting a spiritual member of the church to work with us in being faithful is wise. Such “repentance plans” may be necessary for months or years, depending on the nature of the infraction and personal history, but every effort at restoration needs such a plan.

3. Restitution:

Some sins require restitution, the attempt to restore the loss someone else has suffered by our sin. Restitution typically involves a formal apology to the injured party and evidence of the offender’s intent to repent. The spiritual intent is to “gain the brother,” not to lose him. Restitution helps the wounded person understand that restoration is possible.

4. Discipline:

Establishing an accountability partner and disciplinary policies for restoration can be of great benefit. If the sin was public enough to require church discipline, it requires a commitment on the part of the church’s leadership to stand fast and consistently in implementing church discipline procedures.

Those representing the church must confront sin in the spirit of meekness and sincere humility, with each one acknowledging their own vulnerability to the enticements of sin. Discipline must be redemptive, not punitive. It must be forgiving and not judgmental.

5. Restoration:

When honest and straightforward confession has been made, repentance has been acknowledged and demonstrated, restitution has been pursued and completed, and a structure of loving discipline has been enforced, a formal end to the process should be recognized. The memory of the sin should be sealed and removed from all conversation, and a celebration of the Lord’s goodness and mercy should be enjoyed. After a proper time-frame, the wounded person may take his or her place back in service, free of the past and empowered spiritually to face the future.

No two circumstances are alike, but biblical guidelines are always valid helpful. Many wounded saints can be honorably returned to worthwhile service, if the appropriate steps are taken over a sufficient period of time.

When we come to our senses as did the prodigal in Luke 15, we can step back into the purposes for which God originally created us.

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The Power of Forgiveness

I always heard this quote but only recently discovered it’s origin: “To err is human; to forgive, divine.” It is almost given Scripture status although it does not come from the Bible… it comes from Alexander Pope, 1711. He is also the guy who said, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” So, let’s look at forgiveness.

  1. What is the world’s opinion about forgiveness?
  2. How does that differ from scriptural teaching?
  3. What do you find most difficult, to seek forgiveness, to receive forgiveness or to offer forgiveness?
  4. Describe the last time you needed forgiveness.
  5. Describe a time when someone need forgiveness from you.

Video Questions:

  1. Would forgiveness be an automatic response, a delayed reaction or a withheld virtue for you in a similar situation?
  2. Do you feel that you have the power to choose to forgive?
  3. Hatred is a burden we don’t need to carry, and freedom is found only in forgiveness. How can you relate to the difficulty of forgiving others?
  4. Based on your own experiences, is the previous statement comforting or challenging?

Bible Study: Matthew 18:21-35

  1. How often are we to forgive someone? (Matthew 18:21-22)
  2. What is significant about the forgiveness the king offered compared to that which the slave withheld?
  3. Do you ever feel the weight of sin from which you have been forgiven?
  4. When we withhold forgiveness, what do you understand about the consequences? (Matthew 18:35)

Peter, wishing to appear especially forgiving and benevolent, asked Jesus if forgiveness was to be offered seven times. The Jewish rabbis at the time taught that forgiving someone more than three times was unnecessary, citing Amos 1:3-13 where God forgave Israel’s enemies three times, then punished them. By offering forgiveness more than double that of the Old Testament example, Peter perhaps expected extra commendation from the Lord. When Jesus responded that forgiveness should be offered 490 times, far beyond that which Peter was proposing, it must have stunned the disciples who were listening. Although they had been with Jesus for some time, they were still thinking in the limited terms of the law, rather than in the unlimited terms of grace.

By saying we are to forgive those who sin against us seventy times seven, Jesus was not limiting forgiveness to 490 times, a number that is, for all practical purposes, beyond counting. Christians with forgiving hearts not only don’t limit the number of times they forgive; they continue to forgive with as much grace the thousandth time as they do the first time. Christians are only capable of this type of forgiving spirit because the Spirit of God lives within us, and it is He who provides the ability to offer forgiveness over and over, just as God forgives us over and over.

Jesus answered that we must forgive as many times as necessary. His illustration is about a man who, although forgiven by his master of an overwhelming debt, refused to forgive another for a meager debt. When this man’s master heard about his ingratitude and injustice, he was outraged and had him thrown to the tormentors. “This is how My heavenly Father will treat each one of you, unless you forgive your brother from your heart” (Matthew 18:35).

Surely, by receiving such a massive pardon, we should not be so mean-spirited as to withhold forgiveness from others. Rather, we should emulate the example of Jesus. In truth, offering forgiveness is an act of will, and failure to acknowledge this will only encourage us to justify our own disobedience. Forgiveness is not a fruit that needs time to grow in our lives. It is not a result of some special encounter with God. Jesus makes that clear in Luke 17:4 when He commands that if someone sins against another seven times in one day and repents as many times, that person should be forgiven. Forgiving someone for the same offense several times in one year would be a major test of sanctification, so seven times in one day drives Jesus’ point home.

Bible Study: Luke 6:37-38

  1. What do these verses teach about forgiveness?
  2. How often have we granted forgiveness only because we feel we will one day seek forgiveness?
  3. If we refuse to forgive, we must take a look at our own heart, have we received the forgiveness from God?

Bible Study: Colossians 3:12-13

This letter is a warning against heresy and false teaching that had become a threat to the believers. They are to abandon certain things (listed in chapter 2) and then a list of how they were to conduct themselves. This verse on forgiveness is listed within the foundational teaching of the church.

Pray that God will help you live in Christ to the fullest, like this…

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

Why Forgive?

There is something strangely sweet about holding a grudge. The ability to withhold forgiveness and indulge in self-righteous feelings is a sense of power. God is the God of justice. Wrongs should be righted. And we deserve to feel contempt for those who hurt us. Except that it’s all a lie.

Refusing to forgive doesn’t grant us power, it enslaves us to sin. And feeling contempt for others very rarely makes a significant difference in their lives. Absolutely no good whatsoever comes from refusing to forgive. This is why Jesus said we are to forgive one another seventy times seven (Matthew 18:22). We should forgive so much that it becomes second nature—our automatic response to offenses.

God gives us two very good reasons in Scripture for why we should forgive.

  1. God commands us to forgive others. God forgave us while we were His enemies (Romans 5:10), and we should do likewise with one another.
  2. Those who forgive others indicate that they themselves have not been forgiven because a truly regenerated heart is a forgiving heart (Matthew 6:14-15). If we are filled with resentment and bitterness, we are exhibiting the “works of the flesh,” not the fruit of the Spirit which is evidence of true salvation (Galatians 5:19-23).

Most importantly, when we disobey one of God’s commands, such as the command to forgive, we sin against Him. In refusing to forgive another person, we sin against that person, but also against God. Considering that God puts our transgressions as far from Him as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12), He expects us to extend this same grace to others. Our sin against God is infinitely more egregious than anything another person can do to us. Jesus’ parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:23-35) illustrates this truth. The servant had been forgiven a massive debt—symbolic of the debt of sin we owe to God—then refused to forgive a minor debt of a friend. The lesson of the parable is that if God’s forgiveness toward us is limitless, so should ours be limitless toward others (Luke 17:3-4).

Withholding Forgiveness:

The Bible teaches us that God withholds forgiveness towards people who are not repentant (2 Kings 24:4 and Lamentations 3:42). God is able to do this because of His very nature: He is sinless. He is perfect. He is holy. He simply will not tolerate sin. Paul warns those who choose to transgress God’s law in Romans 2:5, “But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.”

As Christians we are certainly obligated to forgive others who sin against us when they are repentant if we are to expect God to forgive us when we sin against Him (Matthew 6:14-15, 18:23-35; Mark 11:25, Luke 17:3-4, Ephesians 4:31-32, Colossians 3:13). This holds true even if someone sins against us repeatedly (Matthew 18:21-22). However, this does not give us license to withhold forgiveness in the same way. The key to remember is this: God can judge a person’s intentions because He knows what’s in a person’s heart (1 Samuel 16:7; Hebrews 4:12-13), whereas we don’t. We are not God. We are not the Judge. For us to play God by refusing to offer forgiveness is an act of judgment on our part, and Jesus tells us that God will judge us according to the way we’ve judged others (Matthew 7:2).

What if There is No Indication of Repentance?

The law given to ancient Israel is similar to the New Testament teaching: “Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt. Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:17-18). An unforgiving spirit leads to bitterness, anger, and seething resentment against another. Such a heart attitude cannot have true fellowship with God. Not holding grudges allows a state of mind that is ready and willing to forgive. Reconciliation is the goal, and if there cannot be reconciliation, an attitude of willingness to forgive must be maintained. There can be no excuse for withholding a forgiving spirit towards others (Matthew 5:22–24).

What About Forgive and Forget?

The phrase “forgive and forget” is not found in the Bible. However, there are numerous Scriptures commanding us to “forgive one another” (Matthew 6:14; Ephesians 4:32). A Christian who does not forgive can reap bitterness and the loss of eternal rewards (Hebrews 12:14-15; 2 John 1:8). Forgiveness is a decision of the will. Since God commands us to forgive, we must make a conscious choice to forgive. This frees the forgiving one from the past. The offender may not desire forgiveness and may not change (Matthew 5:44). Ideally, the offender will seek reconciliation, but if not, the one wronged should still make known his decision to forgive.

In one sense, it is impossible to truly forget sins that have been committed against us. We cannot selectively “delete” events from our memory. The Bible states that God does not “remember” our wickedness (Hebrews 8:12). Since God is all-knowing, he knows that we have “sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). However, having forgiven us, He treats us as if the sin had not occurred. If we belong to Him through faith in Christ, God does not hold our sins against us. In that sense we must “forgive and forget.” If we forgive someone, we must act as if that sin had never occurred. We remember the sin, but we live as if we did not remember it. Ephesians 4:32 tells us, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Summary:

Human forgiveness and God’s forgiveness have differences. The Lord’s Prayer teaches that we are to ask for God’s forgiveness regularly, just as we are regularly to forgive others who have sinned against us. But human nature fights against this. As Paul said, “So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me” (Romans 7:21). Like Paul, we must know that we are powerless in our own strength to do the right thing. But as Christians who possess the Holy Spirit, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).

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The Truth About Secrets

Everyone has a story to tell, and every part of our lives make up that story… victories, successes and the mistakes. Author Jeannie St. John Taylor wrote a book called “You Wouldn’t Love Me if You Knew” where a boy did something wrong and is afraid he can never be forgiven. He tries to replace the mistake with a series of good deeds but he never feels good enough. Once he comes clean, he learns a powerful truth about forgiveness.

  1. When was the last time you felt unforgivable? What did you learn?
  2. How often to you feel like that little boy… if we only knew your deepest and darkest most private secrets of your life?
  3. If you are currently keeping a secret, why do you think you are afraid to be honest?
  4. When was a time where you came clean with a secret, how did the most important people in your life respond?
  5. How do relationship suffer or benefit from being vulnerable?

Video Questions:

  1. How did you feel after seeing this scene in the film?
  2. How do you think Hannah felt when Cindy denied her the truth she was seeking? How can you relate?
  3. Has someone close to you ever kept a secret (the truth) from you? How did you feel? How did you respond when you learned the truth?
  4. How can you relate to Cindy’s response in this scene?

Bible Study: (2 Samuel 12:1-17) David is a man that has all of his ups and downs record for the world to see, throughout generations of time. The man after God’s own heart, the adulterous murderer king.

David was a giant among godly leaders, but he remained human as his sin with Bathsheba and Uriah showed. He spied Bathsheba bathing, desired her, and engineered the death of her faithful warrior husband, after committing adultery with her (2 Sam. 11).

Nathan, the prophet, confronted David with his secret sin, and David confessed his wrongdoing. The newborn child of David and Bathsheba died. David acknowledged his helplessness in the situation, confessing faith that he would go to be with the child one day. Bathsheba conceived again, bearing Solomon (2 Samuel 12:1-25).

  1. How is it easier to see the sin in someone else but not see it in ourselves? (2 Samuel 12:5-6)
  2. What did Nathan say would be the result of David’s sin? (2 Samuel 12:10-14)
  3. How did David respond when his sin was uncovered? (2 Samuel 12:16-17)
  4. How are you impacted by knowing that David was forgiven but still had to endure the consequences of his sin?

For the rest of the story: Able to rule the people but not his family, David saw intrigue, sexual sins, and murder rock his own household, resulting in his isolation from and eventual retreat before his son Absalom.

  • David grieved long and deep when his army killed Absalom (2 Samuel 18:19-33).
  • David’s kingdom was restored, but the hints of division between Judah and Israel remained (2 Samuel 19:40-43).
  • David had to put down a northern revolt (2 Samuel 20).
  • The last act the books of Samuel report about David is his census of the people, bringing God’s anger but also preparing a place for the temple to be built (2 Samuel 24).
  • The last chapters of 1 Chronicles describe extensive preparations David made for the building and the worship services of the temple.
  • David’s final days involved renewed intrigue among his family, as Adonijah sought to inherit his father’s throne, but Nathan and Bathsheba worked to ensure that Solomon became the next king (1 Kings 1:1-2:12).

Take a look at Psalm 32:

  1. David writes these psalms as confession of his sin. Psalm 32:3 mentions that he kept silent about his sin, how did that make him feel physically and emotionally? (Psalm 32:3-4)
  2. What are some ways that you see sin and guilt affecting people?
  3. According to Psalm 32:5, what did David do and what did God do?
  4. What lessons did David learn about sin and secrets (Bathsheba, Uriah, the front lines)? (Psalm 32:6-11)

A baby lost his life, a warrior lost his life, a woman lost her husband… but don’t judge David too harshly. How have you been like David the sinner?

Take a look at Psalm 51: this is a deeper confession of David’s sin

How have you been like David the forgiven?

The fact is that we have all done horrible things and we try to put on the false face to hide the truth from other people. Here are a few truths about secrets:

  1. Secrets birth other secrets.
  2. Secrets make us lonely.
  3. Secrets disconnect us from other people.
  4. Secrets are not secrets from God, while they do strain our relationship with him.
  5. Secrets prevent us from being fully alive in Christ.
  6. Secrets lose their power when they are shared.

Assignment and Challenge:

  1. What is there about your personality that not many people know?
  2. What is something you have overcome that not many people know?
  3. What is something with which you struggle that not many people know?

What Does the Bible Say About Keeping Secrets?

A secret can be difficult to keep and equally difficult to share, yet life seems to run on secrets, from concealing birthday presents, to obscuring a difficult past, to protecting the whereabouts of an important political figure. The Bible teaches, indirectly, that secrets can be either good or bad, but it does not clearly delineate the right and wrong uses of secrets.

Throughout the history of Israel, political and military secrets are mentioned without pronouncing any moral judgments for or against them (e.g., 2 Samuel 15:35-36). However, in the story of Samson and Delilah (Judges 16:4-22), Samson reveals the source of his strength, an act which, based on the aftermath of his admission, was awfully stupid. It was a secret he should have kept.

Esther’s story provides a positive example of someone who kept a secret. Her decision to hide her nationality (Esther 2:20) became an integral part of God’s plan to save His people (Esther 4:13; 7:3-6). The same story also supports the morality of revealing a secret that, if kept hidden, would cause great wrong or serious harm (Esther 2:21-23).

Proverbs, the central book among the “wisdom literature” of the Bible, is the most explicit about secrets. Chapter 11 says that “a man of understanding holds his tongue. A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret” (Proverbs 11:12-13). So, keeping a secret can be noble, but secrets kept for the wrong reason earn a person the title of “wicked,” for “a wicked man accepts a bribe in secret to pervert the course of justice” (Proverbs 17:23), and “whoever slanders his neighbor in secret, him will I put to silence” (Psalm 101:5).

One type of secret is always wrong: trying to hide sin. “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). When it comes to our sin, God wants full disclosure, and He grants full forgiveness (Isaiah 1:18).

Of course, there’s no use trying to hide our sin from God. Nothing can be kept from Him. He is “the God of gods . . . and a revealer of secrets” (Daniel 2:47). Even our “secret sins” are exposed in His light (Psalm 90:8). “For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light” (Luke 8:17).

God Himself keeps some things—likely many things—hidden from us: “The secret things belong to the LORD our God” (Deuteronomy 29:29). Jesus asked several people to keep miracles He had done secret. For example, Jesus healed two blind men and told them to “see that no one knows about this” (Matthew 9:30). When Job realized the immensity of God’s knowledge, he spoke of “things too wonderful for me to know” (Job 42:3).

We can conclude that God does not consider keeping a secret to be sinful in and of itself. There are some things that people should know and some things they should not. God’s concern is how secrets are used, whether to protect or to hurt.

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What is the Gospel?

There is talk about the actual definition of the gospel.

Briefly, the true gospel is the good news that God saves sinners. Man is by nature and by choice sinful, and is separated from God with no hope of fixing his situation or standing before God. But God, by his power, provided for our redemption in the death, burial and resurrection of the Savior, Jesus Christ.

The word “gospel” literally means “good news.” To truly appreciate how good this news is, we must first understand the bad news.

  1. As a result of the fall of man in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:6), every part of man—his mind, will, emotions and flesh—have been corrupted by sin.
  2. Because of our sinful nature, we do not and cannot seek God. We have no desire to come to God and, in fact, our mind is hostile toward God (Romans 8:7).
  3. God has declared that our sin dooms us to an eternity in hell, separated from God.

It is in hell that man pays the penalty of sin against a holy and righteous God. This would be bad enough news if there were no remedy.

But God, in His mercy, has provided the perfect remedy, a substitute for us—Jesus Christ—who came to pay the penalty for our sin by His sacrifice on the cross. This is the essence of the gospel that Paul preached to the Corinthians.

  1. In 1 Corinthians 15, he explains the two elements of the gospel, the death and resurrection of Christ.
    1. Jesus died for us, the proof being that he was buried (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
    2. Jesus rose from the dead, the proof being the post-resurrection appearances (1 Corinthians 15:5-8)
  2. Anything added to this “first creed” of the church is not defined as the gospel:
    1. Not the plan of salvation
    2. Not liberation theology
    3. Not a social gospel
    4. Not justification, sanctification or glorification
    5. Not bearing fruit or good works or evangelism
    6. Not what one believes about the virgin birth or the end times
    7. Not humanitarian causes done in Jesus’ name
    8. Not even letting your light shine before men
  3. For us, our old nature died with Christ on the cross and was buried with Him. Then we were resurrected with Him to a new life (Romans 6:4-8).
  4. Paul tells us to “hold firmly” to this true gospel, the only one that saves.
    1. Believing in any other gospel is to believe in vain (Romans 1:16-17, Galatians 1:6).
    2. Paul declares that the true gospel is the “power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” He means that salvation is not achieved by human effort, but by the grace of God through the gift of faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Because of the gospel, those who believe in Christ (Romans 10:9) are not just saved from hell. We are given a completely new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17) with a changed heart and a new desire, will, and attitude that are demonstrated through good works. This is the fruit the Holy Spirit produces in us by His power (Galatians 5:22-23). Works do not bring salvation, but they are the proof of it (Ephesians 2:10). Those who are saved by the power of God will always show the evidence of salvation by a changed life.

The gospel can be presented in a variety of ways…

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