For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. For it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
These days, there are so many things that are preached in churches; but we hear less and less preaching of the Gospel. People do not want to listen to the Gospel any more. They think it is "deja-vu", boring, irrelevant... They want to hear something different, something more relevant and sophisticated, something of the “deep things” of God. They think they have outgrown the simple Gospel of Christ.
But there is no need to wait for a new deep revelation... God has already given us the only message which has the power to save – it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
What is the Gospel?
The Gospel is simple. It is Good News and it is all about Jesus.
In a nutshell, the Gospel means that there is no way we can be made righteous before God in our own strength, by our own works and efforts. The good things we do - or don’t do - do not make a difference. We have all sinned and we deserve death - spiritual death. But God in His mercy and love has provided a way out. This is the good news. Jesus, the Son of God was without sin and took our sin upon Himself. We should have died but Jesus Christ died in our place; he was buried and He rose again on the third day.
Now, brothers, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which you have received, and in which you stand. Through it you are saved, if you keep in memory what I preached to you, unless you have believed in vain.
For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: how Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, was buried, rose again the third day according to the Scriptures
(1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
What does it call for?
Our only appropriate response to this - according to the Bible - is FAITH. That is to repent (think differently, reconsider, change your mind - from sin to God); and put our trust in Jesus as our only Saviour.
The moment we believe in Jesus, something happens: our heart is changed and we become a new creature. The Bible calls this the new birth. We then start to live for God and we have eternal life. It is a miracle. This is something that is impossible to man. Only God can make us new.
After putting our trust in Jesus, our first step of obedience to Him is to get baptised (or immersed) in water (baptism does not save us, but is a sign/symbol that we are now following Jesus Christ).
When the Gospel is missing...
“Know this: In the last days perilous times will come. Men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, slanderers, unrestrained, fierce, despisers of those who are good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying its power. Turn away from such people.”
(2 Timothy 3:1-5)
Men in the last days - which are today - will have a “form of godliness” but will be denying the power of God, which is the Gospel. The Pharisees had a “form of godliness”. They prayed, they fasted, they studied God’s Word, they tithed, they gave alms, they went to the house of God, they wore the right clothes and spoke the right way, they had the titles, they had the positions… but with all of that, they missed it, because they missed Jesus. Do you realise that?
The Pharisees could not recognise Jesus as the Son of God because He didn’t fit in to the image of God they had made for themselves in their heart. Their "image" of God (which was an idol) was that they could please God by themselves, by their own efforts, their good deeds and their own righteousness. But we know that “without faith, it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6).
When we try to please God by our own good works, we become our own good god and we don’t need Jesus. This “form of godliness” that the Pharisees had is just an appearance of godliness, just a façade for people to see but no change of heart. And the Bible says that “man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7b). God is not moved by appearance. He will always by-pass the external and go straight to the heart.
Only the power of the Gospel can change people’s hearts, from a “heart of stone” to a “heart of flesh”. It is a change from the inside out. Let us not be ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!