Sermon Review and Prayer Items (August 21st edition)
Let me begin by apologizing for the lateness of this summary.
This past Sunday we looked at the importance of the gospel for the church. We looked at Pauls words in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 and 2:1-5 and discovered two things that demonstrate the centrality of the gospel for the church.
First, to be a church with the proper foundation we need to make sure we have our priorities straight (1 Corinthians 15:1-11) Four things we need to understand about the gospel that make it of such high importance.
It is historically and objectivity true - You can believe in the gospel, or you can disbelieve, but you cannot deny its reality, its historicity or its truth.
Paul understood that the Gospel is of HIGHEST importance to the church - the Corinthians are to be, like all other churches, founded on the Gospel of Jesus Christ - which is to say, his death and resurrection, not merely the life he lived.
The Gospel is about more than just the cross - Christ died "according to the Scriptures" and "for our sins". The gospel includes four elements that we must understand:
God – God is our holy Creator, the source of all life, and our righteous Judge. He has made us in his image and he created us to glorify him and enjoy him forever. BUT. . .
Fall – mankind has rebelled against God by sinning against his holy character and law. This sin, if left un-dealt with and unforgiven, will continue to damage every aspect of our existence eventually leading to our banishment eternally to hell. This problem is worsened by the fact that we cannot do anything to rectify this situation. Left on our own we will forever wallow in our sin, guilt and punishment. BUT. . .
Jesus – graciously, God sent Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, to die the death that we deserved for our sins - the righteous for the unrighteous, the innocent for the guilty – so that God might punish our sin in Christ and forgive us as a result of the work of Christ.
Response – the only saving response to this Good News is repentance and faith. We must repent of our sins (turn from them) and believe in Jesus Christ for forgiveness of our sins and reconciliation to God
The gospel is of highest importance because Christ is the pinnacle of God’s redemptive program in the past, present and future.
Second, to be a church with the proper foundation, we need to put the gospel into practice. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)
We need to avoid giving people what they want - which is usually some kind of works based, Pharisaical type of religion - and instead give them what they need, which is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul demonstrated how he does this in numerous ways:
Paul desired to proclaim the testimony of God (v. 1) – Paul chose to make the content of his message more important than the medium of his message. He chose to preach Christ and him crucified and make this the most important part of his message at all points.
Paul desired to focus on Christ crucified (v. 2) – The gospel is what unifies ALL of Paul’s discussion, it is more than just a doctrinal commitment that forms the foundation of his doctrinal statement, it guides his priorities, his lifestyle, his contextual teaching and his style of ministry. It wasn't the life of Christ, but his death and resurrection that were important to Paul. As John Piper states – “whatever else he knew, whatever else he spoke about, and whatever else he did, he would know it and say it and do it in relation to Christ crucified. . . He will not let the cross become a historical relic. He puts it at the center of his everyday work and relationships. He makes tents in the shadow of the cross. He preaches in the shadow of the cross. He disputes with opponents in the shadow of the cross. He eats and drinks and sleeps Christ crucified.”
Paul did not fear weakness, illness or a sense of being overwhelmed (v.3) – Paul understood that such experiences are often the occasions when God most greatly displays his power. If people were to be impressed by his powerful personality and impressive gifts, Paul was concerned that there would be little room for them to be impressed with a crucified Savior.
Paul strenuously avoided manipulating people (v. 4a) – Paul does not mean that he is not trying to convince the Corinthians of the gospel, but that he seeks to avoid persuasion that is manipulative. He does not want people to be whipped up in a frenzy over the power of his words, moving people by his eloquence that is void of the content of the gospel. For Paul it is the truth and power of the gospel that must change peoples lives through the work of the Holy Spirit, not the glamour of apostleship, or the eloquence of his speaking or the emotional power of his presentation.
Paul recognized that a gospel centered ministry is characterized by the Spirit’s power and is vindicated by transformed lives (v. 4b) – A ‘successful’ church by Paul’s standards was not necessarily one with great numbers, or a vast array of programs, or a well-attended Sunday service (or services), or a massive budget, or anything of the like. A ‘successful’ church that is ‘healthy’ is one whose individual members, and the group as a whole, have grasped the gospel, have it effect their lives every day and in so doing they live out of the provision of Christ at every moment.
May we as a church desire to proclaim “the testimony about God” as found in the Gospel, and may we “resolve to know nothing. . . except Jesus Christ and him crucified,” so that the Spirit of God may demonstrate his power among us so that the faith of each one who comes into contact with Covenant Reformed Church may rest not on the wisdom of any one of us, but “on God’s power” – Soli Deo Gloria,
A few things to pray about this week.
Unity - Pray that God unites us in what is truly important and gives us grace in things that don't matter to the Kingdom.
Health - Pray that God builds relationships quickly in our church.
Our legal situation - We are seeking incorporation and charitable status. The former should happen within the next 3 weeks, the latter soon after than. Pray that this moves quickly.
Growth - Praise the Lord that he brought new people to our church this Sunday. Pray that God grows our church with people who desire to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.
A new building! - We have a new building as of September 4. Praise the Lord!
Financial needs - we await charitable status, but we have needs that need to be met. Pray that God's people are generous toward his kingdom, and not just to get a tax receipt.
The Moffats - Pray that God comforts them as they mourn the loss of their son at 22 weeks. Pray for their emotional healing and physical healing for Amy-Leigh.
Soli Deo Gloria