These lessons are to be done alone prior to the meeting time and discussed together. The first lesson is an inductive Bible study about the gospel.
Key Passages: Romans 1:18-32 (condemnation)
Romans 3:10-20 (sin)
Romans 3:21-26 (redemption)
Ephesians 2:1-10 (sin, redemption and life in Christ)
John 5:24 (salvation)
Romans 10:9 (salvation)
Study each of the above passages. Answer the following questions of each passage:
- What does this passage say about God?
- What does this passage say about Jesus?
- What does this passage say about sin?
- What does this passage say about me/humans in general?
- What is the hope in this passage?
- Is there an action on God’s part in this passage?
- Is there an action on my part in this passage?
- What are the terms you do not understand in this passage? From the context, what do you assume about these terms?
- Is there anything new you have learned or have a question about in this passage?
- What is your response to this passage?
In your own words, what is the gospel?
Is there evidence of the gospel’s power in your life?
In the Beginning, God created the heavens and the earth and Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve walked perfectly with God in fellowship. He provided for them, and commanded them that they could partake in everything in the garden except for the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Eve was approached by the serpent who began questioning God’s commandment and intentions. She was tempted and chose to eat of the tree disobeying God. She also presented the option to Adam, who also ate from the tree. This caused shame and separation where they chose to hide from God. This caused separation in the perfect fellowship with God that they had because now they were not righteous—they now knew evil. That changed the very standing of man before God.
Before God, we are not righteous (Romans 1:18-32, Ephesians 2:1-2). We can do everything in power to try and appease him, and we will not. He is holy and righteous and just. All through the Jewish religious system, there was a sacrifice made each year for sins. The 10 commandments and the law given were for the Jew to be righteous before God and showed the reality that there is no one who is worthy or good before him. It showed the impossibility of getting to God (Romans 2-3).
The penalty of our sin before God brought physical death on the earth (Genesis 3) (We were created to live forever). Even more so, that sin brought eternal separation from God in Hell. This punishment is just because God, as righteous judge, cannot look on us in our sin…he cannot count us as righteous in order to be in relationship with him when we re not, in fact, righteous. He would cease to be who he is if he were not true to who he is. (See Romans 1-3 in its entirety).
Jesus Christ, the only sinless man and also God made flesh on earth, is the ultimate, eternal sacrifice. He willingly was obedient to suffer and to die as a sacrifice for the sins of all who would repent and believe. He was resurrected conquering the power of sin and death. God is a God of love, mercy, justice, wrath, compassion, long-suffering, and most of all, holiness. He graciously made a way, in Christ, for us to know, love and experience Him.
Our hearts are made whole when we repent of our dead sinful life and are awakened to His Spirit’s presence within us making us new. We are then able to follow him and love him and walk in the way he wants us to walk. It is a process. We learn to die to our old ways and live to his ways. It is a joy to live this way walking in his power and grace. We live on this earth with the hope of Heaven and the New earth where our old bodies will be resurrected and we will live forever in fellowship with Him.
Romans 10:9 says “if you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Read Ephesians 2:1-10.
Therefore, the worst news in the world, that we re sinners with no hope before God is met and provided by him to bring the best news in the world…he made a way for us through Jesus Christ.
There are many who claim the name Christian as an adjective in their life. Being “conservative” or going to church or living a “moral, family values” life does not make you a Christian. Only those who put their faith in Christ and Christ alone will be with God eternally. Only those walk in Him. Matthew 7 says there will be many in the end, when Jesus judges the world, who will act like and assume that they know him but he will say depart from me.
Basically, in a relationship with Christ, we are given the Holy Spirit, who enables us to walk in the things of Christ. He grows us slowly and sometimes painfully but very faithfully to bear fruit (growth) and depend on Him. That fruit is what shows us to be his disciples. That fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control—all the things that we do not have on our own apart from Him. Those things, over time, grow in a Christian’s life and they bring glory to God because they show how good and glorious He is in us.
Preach the Gospel to Yourself Daily
The gospel is the crux of the very hope we have in life. We live and feel based on how and what we think. In order to live in Christ, we have to think in Him. In essence, we base our lives around His word, which is our very hope. His word points to Christ from the creation of the world to the last word of Revelation. The hope we have in Christ is not based merely on how he lived his life, it is based on the power of the gospel to transform our lives. Without his grace and abundant mercy on the cross and His resurrection from the dead, we have no hope or footing to live in Him. We would only be able to study him and try to emulate him in our filthy attempts at good works. Christ’s life and work on the cross brings us the very hope we have in our lives. It actually brings us to new life to walk in the Spirit to follow Him and have restored relationship with God.
When we live our lives forgetting the gospel, we begin to use our human wisdom to try to earn God’s favor again. The gospel’s power is not just for the beginning of our relationship with Jesus, it is meant to be taught everyday, treasured everyday, meditated on everyday.
Consider how you feel when you sin. You begin to feel guilty and overcome with shame…you hide from God like Adam and Eve in the garden. Many times one tries to make it up to God by offering sacrifices and barters and excuses. We begin to slip into false thinking. Our fellowship with him suffers. We feel there is nothing we can do. Unconfessed sin begets more sin (think of the story of David and Bathsheba…lust begat coveting, begat adultery, begat lying, begat murder…etc) We then deal with God on the level that he is angry and vengeful and disappointed with us. We hide even more. We live in defeat. It is a reminder of the Galatians who were teaching that one needed to be circumcised to be acceptable to God…adding to the gospel. We, then, try to navigate our lives on the basis of merit instead of grace.
When we step back and are reminded of the gospel: that we are forgiven…it is done…we cannot be more delivered, more saved, more secure…nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, then we are in a posture to live in Him. We cannot do it on our own. We cannot make it up to God. Jesus reminds us in John 15 that he is the vine and we are the branches and that apart from Him we can do NOTHING.
When we remember the gospel in the midst of our lives, we are filled with thankfulness, praise and humility. It is only when we come to the end of ourselves that we are filled and live as he wants us to live. Unlike the American value of an independent life, we begin to live dependent lives of joy in the Father. We live as Jesus lived daily praying and listening and depending on the Father.
So, in order to preach the gospel to ourselves daily, we must know his gospel and understand it is necessary for life and existence in him. We must memorize his word and meditate on it. When lies creep in that tell us that we are not acceptable to God, that it is too hard, or even that we are acceptable on the basis of our “good works,” we have to battle those thoughts with the truth of the gospel.
In Jerry Bridges book, “Respectable Sins,” he points out ‘that as soon as we begin to work on an area of sin in our lives, we forget the gospel.’ Paul reminds us in Colossians 2:13-14 that ‘God has forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.’ The cross is our hope—it is a necessity.
Question: What is the gospel in its fullness?
How often do you meditate on the gospel and appropriate its truth in your life?
What happens when you intersect with the gospel in your day? What happens when you live without thought of the gospel?
In “The Discipline of Grace,” by Jerry Bridges he says that without living in the truth of the gospel we either live in a self-righteous attitude that we have it together by comparing ourselves with others or that we live in such guilt that we are not measuring up to God. Neither is true in God’s word. What is your default setting—guilt to make it up to God or a self-righteous attitude that you have got it together?
Recommended verses to study:
Romans 3:19-26 (know this well! It is life!)
Romans 8:1,31,33 (The reality of our standing in Christ.)
What is the true gospel, and how do I make sense of it in our culture?
From the statements below, put a check next to the ones that represent the gospel:
____giving to the church
____mowing your neighbor’s yard
____feeding/clothing a homeless person
____forgiving a husband that cheats
____singing about Jesus from your heart
____supplying water to an African nation
____embracing/loving your gay brother or sister while sharing that you disagree with their lifestyle—it is a sin
____obeying the 10 commandments
____loving your neighbor as yourself
____living with the homeless
____being gracious to someone by letting them go before you in line
All of the statements above are good things and they may come out of the gospel’s work in your life, but they are not the gospel. The confusing thing is that they are being preached as the gospel to some. These things may come as an outpouring of love from your heart to share physically about Jesus’ love to give an inroad to share the complete gospel with them. These things are not redeeming in and of themselves. When we begin to try to use good works or outward signs to redeem ourselves or others, we have missed the whole point of the gospel. In this session, we will explore what God’s word says about the gospel and how we are to handle it. We will also be challenged to guard against the many ways the gospel is being twisted.
In your own words, what is the gospel?
Verses about the gospel to meditate on and study:
2 Timothy 1:8-12
Why were we given the life in Christ?
These verses were written at the end of Paul’s life. Did Paul move on with people after they “got” the gospel to a different/more advanced message?
What does that tell us about writers today who have?
We must know what the gospel is so we can continue to live and preserve it. This is so we can tell others and be his light to the world (Matthew 28:19-20).
What are the false gospels alive today?
- Emergents—thought of redeeming the world (here and now) through the “social gospel” being the hands and feet of Jesus. There is a lot of emphasis on social justice.
- Prosperity Gospel–God loves you and has a wonderful plan to bless you and make your life better. If you follow Jesus, he will bless your life with wealth and happiness
- Legalistic Gospel—follow and love Jesus and he will save you…you have to perform for God
- Universalistic Gospel—we are all inherently good and on a path to God in our own way. Jesus brings all to him—we are all God’s children and he is all Love
Where have you heard any of these used around you?
Can you think of any other false gospels alive today?
What was Paul’s calling according to these verses?
How does this rub up against our society/Christian culture?
In regards to this passage, it is not okay to change the gospel to suit our own desires/pleasures—He has spent the whole book of Romans laying the groundwork of systematic theology (ch1-11) and then walking out with them how to live it out. He tirelessly made the gospel clear through Romans in order to present the Gentiles as an offering acceptable to God—sanctified –growing in Christlikeness. This does not look like something to be changed or altered.
How do the false gospels that we mentioned above alter the true gospel’s message and not present people as acceptable offerings to God/sanctification?
Paul’s charge to guard the gospel:
1 Corinthians 1:17-31
What was the intent and work to be done here?
- Does this sound like what is being preached today?
- What is the difference between changing methods and changing message? Does the line blur?
Paul’s use of methods:
1 Corinthians 9:19-23
It seems, through these verses, that Paul related differently for the gospel’s sake but he did not change the gospel.
How do you see this is necessary in your life?
I Corinthians 15:2-4
Believing anything else is believing in vain…
2 Corinthians 4:1-6
What do these set of verses say about changing the gospel?
How should we present it?
How do you think presentation in this way will be received?
What reactions have been the reactions you have gotten when sharing the gospel?
Read verses 7-18
What are we promised?
How do these verses fall in line with the Prosperity Gospel (ie God wants to bless us, let us be happy, not experience trouble)?
Can you think of anything else that Jesus says that falls in line with these verses?
Did the early churches struggle with false gospels and teaching?
The gospel costs: Jesus said count the cost
What events in history tell us that the gospel costs?
How do we see the cost of the true gospel now?
Have you counted the cost?
Paul presents the gospel truth and implores them to stand firm holding on to the hope held in the gospel
People who are involved in things not of the true gospel seem to be “doing good” in the world, but what hope is there in the false gospels?
A lot of things seem and sound good, but how do we differentiate?
A man from an African nation spoke at a gathering for an organization called African Leadership. (This is the organization that has Mocha Club.) He talked about how much aid and humanitarian effort is sent to Aftrica. There are secular and Christian organizations. There are Christian organizations who just do good works and those who share the gospel along with doing good works to bless the people there. He remarked that the only thing that brings change and real hope is the gospel. Otherwise, you are only changing the circumstances for a moment, but you are not giving them hope for eternity and inner strength for today.
Greg Pinkner says that doing good works to help people without sharing the gospel is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. You may give a smile for the moment, but they are going down. The greatest love counts the cost and shares in depth the fullness of God and his plan.
1 Thessalonians 2:1-17
It is not about pleasing men but God. Pleasing men is the route of all false gospels. We begin to change things to make it palpitable for ourselves or others.
Have you every tried to please men by altering the gospel?
Why is it important for you to share/tell the gospel?
2 Thessalonians 1:6-10
We cannot share in our own strength. Sometimes it seems easier now not to share fully but our hearts will break in eternity as we think about how we denied Him. We have to pray to have strength and spiritual vision instead of temporal vision for our comfort and acceptance.
Summarize the gospel again in your own words.
Why is knowing it clearly exactly so important?
1 Timothy 4:1—pray that your heart be guarded in God’s word that you may cling to the true gospel and not get caught up in the doctrine of demons—believing or teaching it. Pray for discernment as to things that you read and hear. Always go back to his word to measure it out.
Guard your mind by reading books that encourage the true gospel. Remember that things that sound good are not always true.
Sermon series to listen to:
1 Timothy—Greg Pinkner and Rick Dunn
(April 20 and 27, 2008 Fellowship Church, Knoxville, TN—itunes)