What does the gospel have to do with today's headlines? And have you heard the truth about Christ's gospel message?
[Darris McNeely] What does the gospel have to do with today's headlines? We hear about justice, social justice, and the crying need for equality and fairness among all races and classes of people. I opened my newsfeed this morning, and I saw that violence continues to be the lead event. More tragic shootings, more anger, and more confusion started by events seemingly out of control. We agonize over these matters and express outrage and concern, and we wonder what is happening and what it all means. The gospel has everything to do with justice, fairness, and equity. It has everything to do with freedom among people to live, worship, and live safely. But there are two problems today with people's understanding of the gospel.
First, you likely, yourself, you've not heard the fullness of the true gospel of Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God. You've probably heard only part of the story, but you've not been taught the critical essence of the gospel and what it means for your life today and the world to come. Second, most people do not want to hear the gospel because of distractions that consume our time, leaving us confused and without an understanding of what this life and this world is all about. When you understand the true gospel of God, you will comprehend a transcendent meaning and purpose for your life. We're not animals existing by evolutionary progress. Man is created in the image of God, and you can know that God we see described in the Bible, He wants to know you and have a relationship with you.
Here's something you may not understand about this God. He had no reason to form a man from the dust of the earth and breathe life into him. The account in Genesis says this, "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man becoming a living being." God was all and had all. He is self-existent. He needs no other. There was no reason to create an intelligent being capable of knowing other than because God wanted a relationship which results in a family bond. God created man to expand His family with other beings like Him. This is why you live and this is why you were born. When you understand the true gospel, you also understand why our world works the way that it does. You will understand why there is evil, suffering, injustice, and the persistent problems that we wrestle with today. You will understand why humans have not reached a permanent solution to create lasting peace among nations. You will understand why there is unrest on the streets among people of different races and ethnicities. When you understand the true gospel of God, you will have access to the way of life that can solve these big problems that threaten to tear America and the world apart. You will also understand how to heal the big problems of your life.
The gospel of Mark tells us, "Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God and saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel.'" It goes on, "The gospel of the kingdom of God." That's what He's talking about. That's the message of Jesus Christ. It instructs His followers on what to believe. When Jesus came preaching the kingdom of God, He said it was at hand, and He commanded people to repent and to believe the good news about the kingdom. The key word there is that word repentance. It means to have a new way of thinking, a fresh set of eyeglasses on our personal life before God. It also means to understand this world in a new and different way. Christ wants people to not only hear the gospel, but to change their life, to begin following the way of the kingdom of God, to get not only a new mind, but a new life, to reflect that new mind with that new life. To repent means to think differently and to live differently. It means to begin thinking like the kingdom of God.
And Jesus came preaching the same gospel that was actually given to the patriarch Abraham, when Abraham was told to leave the life that he knew and follow where God showed, when we understand that that way we have a better understanding of what repentance means to turn our life around and to get a new way of thinking up against the story that we find with Abraham.
Let's look at what the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Galatia about this Abraham. In Galatians chapter 3 beginning in verse 8, "And the scripture foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand saying, 'In you all the nations shall be blessed.'" Notice it says that Abraham had the gospel preached to him. It goes on in verse 9, "So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham. For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse, for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who does not continue on all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.' But no one is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident, 'For the just shall live by faith.' Yet the law is not of faith, and the man who does them shall live by them. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us, for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree,' but the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." Paul concludes by saying, "Brethren, I speak in the manner of men. Though it is only a man's covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it. Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He does not say, 'And to seeds, as of many,' but as of one, 'And to your seed, who is Christ.'"
Now, think about what this tells us about today's world, the headlines, and the big issues that we worry about. It says there's a curse for any who does not live by the things written in the book of the law. Paul specifically is talking about the first books of the Bible, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. But it also means the whole Bible, which contains the full teaching of God's laws and way of life. There's a curse for disobedience. There's a blessing for obedience. This is what is meant by the statement of Paul there quoting and saying, "Those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham." This is not necessarily a health and wealth message. God gives blessings for obedience, and He wants the best for you, and His laws and commandments reflect that. Following God's way naturally benefits and promotes peace for you, and disobeying God naturally leads to problems and dysfunction.
To understand the impact of the gospel, we must begin with the story of Abraham and his example of faith. If we are of faith, then we share Abraham's good fortune through hearing, believing, and acting upon the message of good news given to him by God. It carries down to our present world and in your life mind today. This blessing by faith impacts the nations of the world, both in the ancient world and today. The spiritual blessing of salvation is through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. That's what is meant by the gospel of Jesus Christ. When Jesus said the kingdom is at hand, in part, He meant that through His presence, the realm of the kingdom was impacting the world of His day, and He called people to repent and to believe His message about the kingdom. Abraham, he came to know God through the gospel. He received the promise of God. And God said that through him all the nations shall be blessed.
This one statement is so profound and yet so misunderstood, yet it speaks to the issues of our day. We cannot divorce ourselves from this truth and expect to understand the root cause of today's problems and the ultimate solutions that we desperately need and we seek. Today, we want freedom, justice, and peace, yet we run as far as we can from the way that will produce that for all. When Abraham obeyed, he laid down a life of faith based on the gospel of God, and we can do no less. The repentance Jesus called forth is like that of Abraham who left his country and home and all he knew and all that he believed and struck out on a new life on a new land with new promises. Scripture tells us, "He looked for a city whose builder and maker is God." Repentance is a choice to take action in your life, intentionally changing the course of your life and living a different way like Abraham.
Next time, we'll look deeper into the promises to Abraham and their relationship to the gospel, Jesus Christ, and the kingdom of God. What that means for the nations today, and especially America, is a key component of the entire biblical worldview necessary for us to understand today's world events.