What is the Gospel?
The real basis for hope is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is both Sovereign Lord and our Father. What is the gospel?
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Doing alright? Oh, I trust so.
Voices are interesting. I had stopped by to say hello to a friend of mine, whom I had known for a good many years. She’s working in a health store in the mall here in Strasburg. So I said, “Hi! Want to say hello and thank you for your kindness to me and to my faculty years ago.” And she looked, and said, “Well, we enjoyed it. You know we heard you in Ohio and you got such a young voice.” I told her, I said, “You know one of my profs introduced me to his 7-year-old son years ago, and as I walked away that little boy was heard to exclaim, ‘Dad, he looked so old but he sounds so young!’” Well, oh dear. Age is just a state of mind. It’s not a chronological time, it’s a state of mind. Some people never grow old. I’d like be among them wouldn’t you? Yes, that’s right.
I wanted to share with you, apropos of nothing, except that we’ve been talking about trust in God, awhile back in our study of the 37th Psalm. Do you remember that? And so here comes this letter that was written early in March, and it says “A couple of months ago, you told us how you keep a little card in your wallet that says ‘When you’re down to nothing at all, then for the first time you may know that God is enough.'”
“In January I had a chance to find out that that is true. I was on the flight to Moscow for a medical convention. I was to stay nine days in Russia in January. What happened was that the airline lost my luggage and here I was facing nine days with nothing. So as I was high over the ocean, wondering what I was going to do, going into a country where you can’t even buy clothes. I remembered what you said, ‘When you’re down to nothing, God is enough.’ Now, it turned out that my assigned roommate was just my size in clothes, and he was a Christian and very generous in sharing. No one in my tour group could believe that I was not at least upset.” “Thank you for teaching,” and so on.
Isn’t that great? Well, I know that devastated feeling when your luggage is lost and it does happen to all of us, if you travel at all. You know, airlines people do a great a job, but they’re human, and sometimes things get lost. And I remember, on one occasion I was headed for a series of meetings in Grand Rapids, and when I came to pick up my bags at the airport at Grand Rapids, no baggage. It was lost. They didn’t know where it was. I said, “Well, I hope you find it. I’m going to be staying at such and such a place, and when you find it, bring it out, please,” and I went on and checked into the place where they had me staying. There I was, a briefcase. Fortunately I had in that briefcase some toothpaste and a toothbrush and electric razor so I could keep the whiskers off my chin, but that was it.
Well, the first day went by. I went out to Sears and bought a couple of shirts and preached Monday night, and no baggage. And I thought, “Oh boy, what am I going to do?” And finally, Tuesday afternoon late, they brought the suitcase with my clothes in it, and I hurriedly hung the suit in the shower so the steam would get the wrinkles out. Came to the church then with a different set of clothes. Boy, that’s a bad feeling to be left alone with your baggage gone.
Incidentally, just for a chuckle that night – Tuesday night – here I came with a different suit on and a dear lady came up after the service and shook my hand warmly, and said earnestly, as she looked into my eyes, “Oh, Brother Cook, I’m so glad you have more than one suit.” Well, I can remember the days when I didn’t have but one suit. Can any of you remember that far back?
By the way, I’ve got to get a few of these things off my mind when I think about them. I got a letter the other day from someone who said, “Listened to some of your tapes from the years before you retired, and then listened to your tapes now. There’s a lot more of ‘I, me, and mine’ in your talk nowadays.” Is that right? Really? Well, if it is, I don’t know, maybe I’m going to change it, but I tell you what I do. I pray every day that what Bob Cook says to you may be guided by the Holy Spirit. I just have to trust Him and stick to the Word of God, and that’s what I’m going to do. Is that alright with you?
Well, we’re in 1 Thessalonians and Paul has been saying, “I remember in my prayers without ceasing.” Don’t quit praying for people. God isn’t finished with them or with you. “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
See, the essence, the basis of real hope is a person. Not circumstances, not your desires, not your visions, or dreams, or what you would like to accomplish. The real basis of hope is the Lord Jesus Christ. When He’s Lord of your life and He is running things, you can have hope. Have you proved that for yourself? This is one of the great truths of the Christian life, and I want you to have it as your own.
The real basis of hope is the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and he says, “in the sight of God and our Father.” Now, “in the sight of God” is a reference to God’s sovereignty. He’s sovereign, “Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world.” Yeah, we read in the Old Testament, “I know that Thou canst do everything and nothing can be withholden from Thee.” Nobody can hinder God’s work. So He’s sovereign. So He says, “It’s hope in the Lord Jesus as you face in the direction of a sovereign God.” Now, why? If that were the end of it, you would be devastated. Who can stand before God? You and I are sinners, we’re imperfect, we missed the mark, we’ve transgressed, and we’re full of iniquity.
This is our condition naturally, and except for the Lord Jesus Christ, we couldn’t even face toward Heaven. So he says, “hope in our Lord Jesus in the sight of God.” This all-powerful, awesome, this omniscient God, Who knows not only what we say but what we could say, knows all of our actions, but He says, “and” – it’s the end of verse 3 – “and our Father.”
He’s not only the sovereign God, He’s also your Father. He loves you with an everlasting love because of Jesus. See the patience of hope in Christ. When the Lord Jesus is running your life by His indwelling Holy Spirit, you can enter into the awesome presence of a thrice-holy God. You could do it with confidence, because Jesus is there to be your advocate, to be your intercessor, and because God then has become, through faith, your Father. And you can pray as the Lord taught you, “Our Father which art in Heaven.” Oh, that’s a beautiful truth.
“Let us,” the writer to the Hebrews says, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace.” It’s not a throne of judgment anymore. Jesus said, “He that believeth on Me shall not come into judgment but he is passed already from death onto life.”
And so we come into that awesome presence with confidence. Why? Because we like our blessed Lord. Could say “Abba, Father, Papa, God.” Oh, I love that. Don’t you?
Now, he says, “Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.” I’m not going to get into a long discussion about election and predestination and free will and all of that. I like the oversimplified explanation that D.L. Moody was said to have given. He said “When I came to the door of salvation, on the outside it said ‘whosoever will.’ And when I got on the inside by faith, I looked at the same door and it said on the inside “chosen in Him from before the foundation of the world.”
Your election of God simply is that God reserves the right to make His plans based on the fact that He’s omniscient. He knows it all. Yes, He gives us free will. Yes, you can choose. But yes, He knows. Oh yes, He does. And so today, yield your heart to Him so that it may be guided by His Holy Spirit, and that you may fit in then to His eternal plans. Your election of God. God chose you. You want to yield to Him, and now, you say, because verse 5 “our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.” So the sequence there is the Word what He said, the power, what it proved, the Holy Ghost, the Person who did it, much assurance, the result of that working, and then finally modeled by Paul and his people. “You know what matter of men we were among you” and it was for people. They were people-minded. Not from themselves, but for others. “For your sake.” That’s the outline there. You want to talk about that for awhile?
Paul said “our gospel.” If you had to oversimplify the gospel and encapsulate it in a few words, what would you say? I think one of the best descriptions of the gospel is in 1 Corinthians 15, verses 1-8. Paul said “I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received,” and now he said “I delivered unto you first of all.” What is the, what is the gospel? Number one, Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. Number two, He was buried. Number three, He rose again on the third day, according to the Scriptures. Number four, He had been seen by all these different people; Peter, then the Twelve, then 500 brethren at once, and then by James and of all the Apostles, and then finally, “last of all,” it says here, “He was last seen by me also, as of one born out of due time.” “By the grace of God I am what I am.”
That’s the gospel. Christ died for our sins, He was buried, He rose again, some people saw Him, and I know Him. See, that’s the essence. You can’t preach the gospel effectively, beloved, unless you can say “Me too. I know Him.” You see, that’s the clincher there in that passage 1 Corinthians 15, 1-8. “Last of all He was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles. But by the grace of God I am what I am. Jesus met me too…” Even the skeptics say quite frankly there is no way to prove that a Christian experience is untrue, because what you experienced with God is yours and His, and you know it and God knows it, and people can’t deny it.
The gospel, when it is preached effectively, is laced to the personal awareness of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Do you have that in your own life? You may talk about the gospel, talk religion, but oh, make sure that you’re able to say, as did the apostle Paul, “least of all He met me too. By God’s grace I am what I am.” It’s a great concept.
Oh, dear Father today, may we be led by Thy Holy Spirit and enjoy that beautiful Father relationship in Jesus. Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with The King today and be a blessing!
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