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THE GOSPEL

1 Corinthians 15:1 – Now I make known unto you, brethren, the gospel which I preached unto you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved.

The Corinthians had received the gospel by the revelation of the apostle Paul. In his letter, he wants to make sure that they have understood the message he had preached. By the time Paul is writing to these believers, many had brought confusing words to them about the gospel. Paul states, “Now I make known unto you.” The gospel needs clarification because of all the various individual views that are represented. In today’s contemporary church, there is still confusion regarding the gospel.

The word gospel means to announce good news. The question we must ask is, “what good news?” Paul helps us know what good news he is speaking about, “For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living” (Romans 14:9). Again Paul states, “For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet” (1 Corinthians 15:25). We see that the good news is that Christ died and lives again. The rest of the good news is laid in the fact He is presently reigning as God’s appointed king. The early church represented Christ as “Lord.” In that day, the Romans declared Caesar as Lord, but the Christians declared, “Jesus is Lord!”

God’s purpose in the gospel is for Christ to reign over all of God’s creation. “The aim of the gospel is to declare and enthrone Jesus as King” (Charles Simpson, What Is the Gospel? page 2). This is exactly what the angels declared to the Shepherds at the birth of Jesus in Luke 2:10-11 “a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

For many years, in parts of the church, the emphasis has been on salvation, based on Romans 10:9-10. Verse 13 must also be included, “For whosoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved,” (emphasis mine). It is clear throughout the New Testament that the desired end is not simply salvation, but to make Jesus Lord.

John the Baptist and Jesus both declared, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2; 4:17). Paul ended his ministry in his own rented house; “solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God” (Acts 28:23). The enemy has sought to stop the message of the “good news,” through martyrdom and by distorting the message. He has failed! The good news of the gospel is being revived around the world. Today, multitudes are declaring that “Jesus is Lord!”

Have you embraced the full gospel of the kingdom of God? If not, why not receive Jesus, not only as your Savior, but your king? Begin to speak the full message of the gospel, the good news that Jesus is Lord.

THE ORDER OF GOD’S KINGDOM

Mark 9:35-36 – If any wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.

In Jesus’ statement to His disciples, and to us now, He establishes the order of God’s kingdom. This is in direct contrast to the systems of the world. In the world, the order is to do whatever you must to succeed and get to the top. This is an attitude which is directly related to the problem of sin and evil. Men, ever since the fall, have striven for authority, control, and domination. These are major struggles in the human experience.

The solution is found in Christ. Headship begins with a benevolent Heavenly Father who so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. This amazing favor flows from God’s Throne to earth. True authority originates with God. God sends to all humanity His “Obedient Son.” Because of Christ’s obedience to the Father’s authority, the kingdom of God is established in the earth. The authority of God is reigning in a Man. The Lord Jesus Christ first endured the cross as God’s perfect sacrifice for sin. He broke Satan’s power over humanity and made it possible once again, to be restored to God. God established Christ, the Man, as Sovereign over mankind. When we choose Christ and obey His command to repent and be baptized, we exchange one type of authority, the kingdom of darkness, for another, the kingdom of God. 

The Father promised the Son Their Holy Spirit would be given to everyone who would trust in Christ. Through the “Power of Their life-giving Spirit,” we receive of the kingdom of God and are given authority in the earth. An authority over Satan’s kingdom, an authority in our sphere of influence, an authority over sickness and disease and most importantly, an authority over the self-nature that is rooted in sin.

In the Holy Spirit, we have authority to receive the “new creation man.” In the earth, God’s people are reigning with Christ. The Lord’s Church is to be led by those surrendered to the Life of the Holy Spirit as “gifted” (grace-filled leaders) who are watching out for the souls of God’s people. They are to be servant-minded individuals who see themselves as last of all and servant of all.

Father, I thank You for the order of Your kingdom. Fill me with the Holy Spirit and create in me the heart of a servant. Help me choose a daily posture of humility and servanthood.  I choose to walk under Your authority that begins at Your Throne. I pray for Your new creation man to be fully manifested in my life.

PREPARING FOR THE LORD’S PROMISES

Acts 1:8 – You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.

By this time, the eleven disciples had walked with Jesus for over three years. I say eleven, because Judas, after betraying Jesus took his own life. Many others followed Jesus as well. 1 Corinthians 15:6 tells us that over 500 brethren saw Him at one time after His resurrection. Acts 1:15 records that one hundred twenty disciples waited in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father of which Jesus had spoken.

Days after the resurrection it is recorded, “These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer” (Acts 1:14). These disciples were seeking to obey Jesus’ command to “wait” by preparing for the promise of the coming Holy Spirit. It is evident that they did not know what to expect, but they prepared the best they could to receive what the Lord had promised.

After the resurrection, when the disciples encountered the risen Lord, they did not recognize Him (Luke 24:31-32). The years in which they had walked and lived with Jesus were an encounter with the Lord in the flesh. Now, they were experiencing Him in the Spirit, and they did not really know Him (2 Corinthians 5:16). We have not known Christ after the flesh. We have only known Him by the Spirit. Although we, as they, were born of the flesh, it becomes quite a challenge to learn to respond to the Holy Spirit as He leads us in becoming a “new creation” person in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

It is important for us to prepare for the Lord’s presence. Many just assume He is present around us. I believe that He is present in our daily lives, but He wants to show Himself to us in ways we have not known and cannot imagine in our rational mind. These disciples “devoted themselves to prayer.” They devoted themselves to searching the Scriptures about what was happening. They sought to set some things in order in preparation for the coming Holy Spirit. Notice, the Scriptures state that, “they were of one mind,” as previously mentioned.

Father, help me to prepare myself for what You want to accomplish in and through me. I ask for You to help me prepare my heart and lifestyle for what You are planning. Give me an ear to hear what the Spirit is saying today to the church. Father, I pray for Your people to be of one mind in their willingness to allow the Holy Spirit to accomplish the Father’s will.

LEARNING TO WAIT ON THE LORD

Isaiah 40:31 – Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. Waiting can be one of the most difficult areas of life. I admit that I am not a good...

THE WORD OF GOD IS MY COUNSELING MANUAL

John 14:16 – I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth.

The Holy Spirit is the One given by the Father and the Son to help us apply the Word of God. The word “Helper” could be translated Counselor. We should not need a human counselor because we have both the Holy Spirit and the “Counselor’s Manual,” the Bible, to instruct us. As we read and apply the eternal principles recorded in the Word of God, the Holy Spirit is present to help us by giving counsel. It is the Holy Spirit that breathes life on the Word and causes us to have understanding. Sometimes that understanding comes through others. Counsel can come through life experience. Other times, counsel can be given by a trained individual, such as a pastor or a licensed counselor. Our main source of counsel should be God’s Word and our relationship with God’s Holy Spirit.

One of the most powerful scriptures is found in 2 Timothy 3:15. Paul instructs Timothy by reminding him that from a child he had known the sacred writings, which are able to give wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ.

First, we must know the writings of Scripture. Wisdom comes as a result of knowing God’s Word. It is that wisdom which leads to salvation, not only eternal life, but wisdom that delivers and helps make us free in this life, by helping to transform our thinking. Biblical thinking helps to produce peace and joy found in the Holy Spirit. Many are bound up in their relationships with others. This freedom enables us to relate properly to others. Many are in bondage economically. The wisdom that the Scriptures give us about handling money will cause one to be stable financially. These and many other life- relating topics are covered by the 2 Timothy 3:15 verse.

I have found it helpful to make up lists of biblical principles that I study and memorize to apply in my life. The book of Proverbs is one of the great portions of Scripture that instruct us in every type of situation life can produce. For years, I would read a Proverb a day. I would meditate and memorize verses that stood out as I was reading a particular chapter. Try it for a month and see how much wisdom you will gain and how many bad experiences you avoid.

Father, thank You for the counseling book You have given me. I recognize that I need Your Holy Spirit to help me understand the Scriptures. I ask in faith for the Holy Spirit to help me apply Your eternal principles of truth in my daily life.    

SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES

John 5:39 – You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life. 

Life is not found in the Scriptures, but in Christ, “the living word” of God. Jesus tells the religious leaders that the Scriptures “testify” about Him. The Scriptures are the testimony of our great God and king. They record His will. In the Old Testament, an innocent animal was sacrificed in order for the covenant to be exercised. In the New Testament, Jesus Himself gave up His life. Jesus freely offered His body as an acceptable sacrifice to God. His life was seen as acceptable to God because He was the perfect human sacrifice. He gave Himself totally to His Father’s will, fulfilling all that the Scriptures testified to.  As John 5:40 instructs us, Jesus is the only one that can give eternal life.

Searching the Scriptures is a vital discipline for any believer. How else can we know God’s thoughts? Paul instructed Timothy, “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV). A more modern translation such as the NASB states “present yourself” rather than “study.” The studying of the Scriptures is an important way of presenting one’s self to God. We must be diligent about learning God’s Word beyond Sunday school lessons or church sermons. It is wonderful to learn about how God met with others, but even better experiencing God meeting with us. The Scriptures lay a foundation of faith so we might experience God in our daily lives.

The religious leaders of Jesus’ day took pride in their knowledge of Scripture, but refused to yield to the One to which the Scriptures testified. Many today take pride in their knowledge of God’s Word, but refuse to allow the Holy Spirit access and control of all they think and do. The Holy Spirit is God’s source for the life of Christ. We must search the Scriptures to learn of God’s will for our lives in how we should respond to the Godhead, how to respond to family, how to respond to other believers, and how to respond to the world. All are necessary understandings. But we must press into Christ through fellowship with the Holy Spirit to know life. It is He that is an ever-present help in time of need.

Father, place in my heart a love for Your Word. Strengthen me to “present myself to You by studying Your Holy Word. I come to You that I might have life and that abundantly. You and You alone are my source for life.