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We are looking at this entry in my church home’s statement of faith.

We believe that salvation is the free gift of God, entirely apart from human merit or works, and is received through personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, and that believers are kept secure in Him forever. Ephesians 2:8-9; John 10:27-30; John 3:16-18, John 14:6; Acts 4:12

There are 5 words in this faith statement, which are more important than any of the definitions and questions we have been studying. They are:

“Lord Jesus Christ as Savior”

The most important thing to understand about salvation is the WHO of it.

It’s fine to understand all these doctrines and ideas, but Jesus actually answers all my questions.

Jesus – His name means Salvation.
Jesus – He is the Grace – the gift of God.
Jesus – He is the author and object of our faith.
We may be saved from sin, but we are saved to Jesus.
It is Jesus who promised never to leave me or forsake me.

Our Savior is given the title, Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s break that down.

First and foremost we must recognize Jesus as Lord. It is no mistake that Jesus is called Lord and Savior, not Savior and Lord. The church over the centuries has often turned this around to it own detriment.

but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. - 2 Peter 3:18 NASB

Skye Jethani, [who is among other things the Executive Editor of Christianity Today’s Leadership Journal and one of the co-hosts of a great podcast, The Phil Vischer Podcast] says the gospel in its simplest form is ‘Jesus is Lord.’

As I have said many times before, there are many forms and stages our relationship with Jesus progresses through, but we must first come to Jesus as servants. When we are called to Him, we must respond with a resounding ‘YES LORD’ in our hearts.

In fact, that might just be the best practical definition of faith. Faith is a life that said ‘yes Lord' to Jesus. [Tweet This]

Kim Josephson, who led me to faith, often proclaims, “You must make Jesus, your Master, your Lord, your King, your Boss.”

Next we see His name, Jesus, means Salvation.

She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. - Matthew 1:21 NASB

God has exalted Jesus to the highest place, and set His name, Jesus, above every name that is named.

… God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. - Philippians 2:9-11 NASB

which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, - Ephesians 1:20-22 NASB

Finally, He bears the title Christ. (No, Christ was not Mary and Joseph’s last name.) Christ means anointed one. It would be the Greek word used to refer to the Jew’s Messiah. When the woman at the well saw that Jesus was looking directly into her heart she ran through the city calling:

Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ? - John 4:29 NKJV

So you see, when we say Lord Jesus Christ, we have said a mouthful.

Jesus is Lord – is He yours?
Jesus is Savior – is He yours?
Jesus is Christ – is He yours?

Will you bow your knee to this King of King and Lord of Lords?

It is the only path to Salvation – sozo.

He is the Grace of God.

A life long YES to Him is the only saving faith.

Ben NelsonThanks much for stopping in today.

See you again tomorrow.

Ben

If you missed the beginning of this series you can catch up here:

Salvation

From what do we need saving?

Grace and Faith

Stack of BiblesIn Paul’s account of the gospel he uses this phrase twice:

…Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures ~ 1 Corinthians 15:3- 4

So let’s take a look.

Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. ~ Isaiah 53:4-5

 

My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?
I am poured out like water,
And all my bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax; It is melted within me.
My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
And my tongue cleaves to my jaws;
And Thou dost lay me in the dust of death.
For dogs have surrounded me;
A band of evildoers has encompassed me;
They pierced my hands and my feet.
I can count all my bones.
They look, they stare at me;
They divide my garments among them,
And for my clothing they cast lots.
Psalm 22: 1, 14-18

 

As I began to poke around after a reference to three days I was pretty blown away by what I found. There are 41 uses of the phrase ‘three days’ in the Old Testament (using the NASB translation) and as I scan through them I find tons of references that point to the three days Jesus spent in the tomb. Check this one out:

Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness and found no water. And when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter; therefore it was named Marah. So the people grumbled at Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” Then he cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree; and he threw it into the waters, and the waters became sweet. There He made for them a statute and regulation, and there He tested them. ~ Exodus 15:22-25

So perhaps you will say I am stretching things, but I see in this account – Israel passing through the Dead Sea and going 3 days into the wilderness. They find no water for three days. Finally, after 3 days there is water, but it is just more death. Then when the tree (cross) is thrown into the bitter water of death, it becomes the source of life for all who drink of it.

The most obvious is probably Jonah in the belly of the whale, who Jesus himself pointed to as a foreshadowing of the time He would spend in the grave.

Jesus fulfilled hundreds of Scriptures, which foreshadowed everything from His conception, His birth, His ministry, His torture, death, burial and resurrection.

I love the account of the two disciples walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus on the day of Christ’s resurrection. You can find it in Luke 24. Jesus shows up and walks the seven miles with them, and during that hike He explained everything to them from the Scriptures.

Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures. ~ Luke 24:26-27

My point? The gospel of Jesus Christ was not something that was cobbled together after His death to create some religion, so the disciples would save face.

The gospel of Jesus Christ – His death, burial, and resurrection was planned and set in motion long before that first Christmas, long before Israel ventured into the wilderness. As far as that goes, the gospel was in motion before Adam sinned, before God breathed the breath of life into the dust of the Earth and made man in His own image.

Is He not:

“the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” ~ Revelation 13:8

All I have to say is Glory to God for the eternal gospel of Jesus the Christ.

Ben NelsonSee you tomorrow

Ben

We looked at what it was not.

Yesterday, I brought out Paul’s definition of the gospel.

Today I want to look at what it is.

When Paul delivers the gospel to us, he basically states three facts.

Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
He was buried,
He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures ~ 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (slightly altered)

These are not even principles – they are simply facts.

So, we saw last week that salvation (and great salvation at that) comes through believing, receiving the gospel.

Are you telling me Paul, that believing these three facts makes me a Child of God? That is all I need to do to get into heaven?

Here is my question for you – is believing facts what makes you a Christian. Can your faith be boiled down to a list of things you agree with, or are willing to attest to? Can your “faith” be demonstrated by the recitation of a creed?

It’s more than that beloved. No, I don’t mean more as in you have stuff you have to do, but more as in – more than facts.

These three facts are what set Jesus apart from any other man – and really it is only one of these facts that creates this new abundant life we walk in.

Many people have died (ok – no one else died for my sins, but hold that thought)

Many people have been buried

These facts don’t move me.

Only Jesus was raised up once and for all – and lives on today.

The truth of the resurrection is the lynch pin of all truth. Paul is going to spend the rest of this chapter making his case for the resurrection, and it’s importance and prominence.

Today however, I want to give this one more turn and say we are not saved because we can believe these facts. Facts do not save, doctrine does not save, theology does not save, ideas do not save.

Jesus saves!

It is not believing facts about Jesus that takes us from darkness to light. It is putting our trust and faith in Jesus Himself that saves us.

Let me say it again.

Jesus saves!

The gospel is not facts, it is a man, The Man Christ Jesus.

The Perfect Man Christ Jesus, who lived a perfect life and was therefore a worthy sacrifice for sin.

He died on the cross for our sins, not for His own, but for our sins, yours and mine.

He was buried.

He was raised up on the third day.

He lives to make intercession for you.

I have more to say, but you don't have to wait - You can give your life to Jesus right now.

Give Him your sin scarred life, and let Him resurrect you into a brand new, clean, whole life, with Jesus on the inside.

Ask Him. He will!

Ben NelsonI love Jesus.

See you tomorrow.

Ben

Let’s start with what the gospel is not.

  • The gospel is not the Beatitudes.
  • The gospel is not Great Commission.
  • The gospel is not the Golden Rule.
  • The gospel is not the story of the Prodigal Son.
  • It’s not even a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Don’t get me wrong, these are all good news, and they are important, life changing elements of our faith.

They are not, however, the gospel.

Last week we looked at how the gospel is delivered and the impact it has on those who receive it.

Today we are simply going to break it down.

Paul says this:

For I delivered to you as of first importance … ~ 1 Corinthians 15:3-5

Notice first that the gospel Paul is getting ready to share is of first importance. This letter to the Church in Corinth has addressed many issues from divisions to how to run a meeting.

But now, Paul comes to the most important thing.

It’s not just the most important thing in this letter. It is the most important thing, period.

So here goes – get ready – the most important thing –

what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:3-5

Three facts. Three simple statements. Three non-negotiable.

Christ died for our sins
He was buried
He was raised on the third day

There it is. That’s the gospel.

I have heard folks tell me, that they can't memorize scripture so they don’t feel they could ever preach the gospel. But look at this.

I would be hard pressed to believe that anyone reading these words could not remember those 3 facts.

Hey – if it’s still too much boil it down to 4 words

Christ (I like the name Jesus, but Christ has it’s own implications about being anointed and the sent, chosen one)  -- let me start over

Christ died buried raised

These 4 words change everything – EVERYTHING!

I promise I will dig a little deeper tomorrow, but really – how much deeper does it get than this:

Christ died for our sins, was buried, and was raised from the dead.

GOOD NEWS!

Oh - But there is more to this - so please come back tomorrow!

Ben NelsonSee you then

Ben

The Preacher

I have been pondering 1 Corinthians 15 for a while, and would love to work through some of it here in this wonderful forum. So I am taking a break from Matthew and going to poke around here in the beginning of 1 Corinthians 15 for a bit. Here goes:

Paul is going to define the gospel for us in this passage. This is actually to my knowledge the only place in the Bible where it comes right out and says, “This is the gospel.” For me, that is cause to sit up and take notice.

Before we get to the gospel itself, let’s look at the delivery method:

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:1-2

1)    The gospel was preached
2)    The gospel was received
3)    Those who receive stand
4)    Those who receive are saved
5)    Those who receive hold fast

Let’s take each of these one by one.

The gospel preached

There are those who quote Francis of Assisi as having said:

Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words. ~ Francis of Assisi

We love this. Friendship evangelism. And you know what? As groundwork, to earn the right to speak into people’s lives, it is often the right choice. We like to quote Jesus’ own words for this one:

By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. ~ John 13:35

Please notice here, however, Jesus did not say, “by this all will become my disciples,” but that they will know where you stand.

Our love for one another, and for the lost are integral parts of our Christian walk and testimony, but they do not replace the preaching of the gospel.

Consider Paul’s words in Romans 10.

“WHOEVER WILL CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”
How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed?
And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard?
And how shall they hear without a preacher? ~ Romans 10:13-15

Check this out:

it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. ~ 1 Corinthians 1:21

And of course from our passage today:

The gospel which I preached to you, ~ 1 Corinthians 15:1

This is what Jesus did, and what the taught the disciples to do.

And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons; freely you received, freely give. ~ Matthew 10:7-8

God has chosen preaching as the vehicle to deliver this wonderful commodity. It can not actually be caught rather than taught. As we will see in the next day or so, there are words involved in the gospel, so it cannot be passed on wordlessly.

What is Preaching?

There are actually two words for preach in the New Testament. The more common is the word “kēryssō,” which means to proclaim with authority. This is the word used when we are commissioned by Jesus at the end of Him ministry to:

Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. ~ Mark 16:15

But that is not the word used here in 1 Corinthians 15. The funny thing is that the word for preach here, is virtually the same word as gospel.

The word for gospel or good news in the Greek is “euaggelion,” while the word for preached is “euaggelizō.” It is as though Paul good-newsed them with the gospel, if you get what I mean.

It is not unlike the way we use “evangelize” today.

The evangelicals evangelized those who had never heard the “eveangel” (gospel/good news)

Here this: None of the love and good deeds, kind words, smiles and random kindnesses are wasted, or go unrewarded. They are just not the gospel.

So here is the question for the day:

Have you good-newsed anyone lately?

[Please don't take this word as a condemnation of where you have been. I only ask that you open your spiritual antennae to the Holy Spirit today and look for divine appointments. Listen for the words which He will give you. That is the only basis on which we can preach - the words He puts in our mouth - deal?]

Ben NelsonMore tomorrow

See you then,

Ben

photo credit: kevin dooley via photopin cc
photo credit: kevin dooley via photopin cc

It's Palm Sunday.

Jesus makes His triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

And the disciples went and did just as Jesus had directed them, and brought the donkey and the colt, and laid on them their garments, on which He sat. And most of the multitude spread their garments in the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees, and spreading them in the road. And the multitudes going before Him, and those who followed after were crying out, saying,

“Hosanna to the Son of David; BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Hosanna in the highest!”

And when He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying,

“Who is this?”

And the multitudes were saying,

“This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Matthew 21:6-11 NASB

Here is Luke's account:

And they brought it to Jesus, and they threw their garments on the colt, and put Jesus on it. And as He was going, they were spreading their garments in the road. And as He was now approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, saying,

“BLESSED IS THE KING WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

And some of the Pharisees in the multitude said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”

And He answered and said, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”

Luke 19:35-40 NASB

The masses are expecting Him to take power, to take over the rule of the temple, perhaps even raise up a military coo and drive the occupying Romans back to Italy.

By the end of the week their hopes would be dashed, as this humble hero would die a gruesome death.

So what is the point? It almost seems out of character for Jesus, who often pushed away from the crowds to be alone, who has been heard telling those for whom He has done wonders not to tell anyone.

He has walked up and down between Galilee and Jerusalem many times over the last 3 ½ years.

Why ride in on a donkey? Why the parade? Why the spectacle?

It’s the Gospel – the good news – the glad tidings the angels announced 3 decades earlier.

It is the culmination of thousands of years of prophetic declarations to God’s people through the prophets and forefathers of the faith.

Here is the Messiah! God the Father is showing off His only begotten Son to the world this one day.

In this one act, God is pronouncing once and for all – Jesus Christ is Lord!

Paul describes this good news this way:

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to… (1 Corinthians 15:3-5 NASB)

The Gospel is 100% about Jesus.

  • Jesus Christ stepped out of His rightful place in heaven
  • Took on a mortal body, and a soul that could be tempted and had the ability to sin
  • Lived among us - a sinless life
  • Died as a spotless lamb, taking our place, our punishment upon himself
  • He was buried
  • He was raised from the dead on the third day
  • He appeared to many
  • He ascended into heaven
  • He lives at the right hand of God making intercession for us
  • And He shall reign forever and ever

In short

Jesus Christ is Lord

And that is why He came into Jerusalem as a victorious King.

God bless you as you celebrate Jesus death and resurrection this week.

BenSee you tomorrow

Ben

My thoughts today were inspired by last weeks Phil Vischer PodCast. Skye Jithani does a great job of describing the gospel in the last 20 minutes or so of the show. [As of this writing they have not posted it on their web site, but you can get it on iTunes.]

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