Archive for the ‘Threads’ Category

  1. Gospel Threads – Part 6 of 6

    Posted on August 15th, 2012 by Cory Varden

    We’ve finally come to the last of what we’ve been calling the Gospel Threads.  We’ve looked at four threads to this point, the character of God, the sinfulness of man, the sufficiency of Christ, and last week, the necessity of faith.

    When it comes to the character of God, we have said that God is the just and gracious Creator of all things. When it comes to the sinfulness of man we’ve seen that we are each created by God, but we are all corrupted by sin.  Those two threads led us to the sufficiency of Christ, that Jesus alone is able to remove our sin and reconcile us to God.  Now how does that become a reality in our hearts? How is the work of Christ, His life, His death, His resurrection, how is that appropriated for our salvation? Those questions led us to the necessity of faith. We are reconciled to God only through what? Only through faith in Jesus.

    All of this leads to this last thread, thread number five, the urgency of eternity. This is a huge reason why this news, this gospel, must be woven into the fabric of our conversations. Man’s eternal destiny hangs on his response to Jesus.

    Scripture teaches very clearly that after death there are two options – either eternal life, glory, honor, and peace, or eternal wrath and anger and trouble and distress (Revelation 21:1-8). The reality is this: every single person, maybe before you even finish reading this blog, could be irreversibly thrust into one of these two options: eternal life or eternal wrath.

    Scripture confronts us with the truth that at death there is a road that is leading to eternal joy and there is a road that is leading to eternal everlasting suffering (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). Which road are you on?  If God is just and we are sinful, then apart from Christ we are on a road leading to an eternal hell.  That’s frightening to consider.  That’s a reality that most Christians would like to avoid.

    The gospel is important because eternity is forever and our response to Christ and the gospel determines where we will spend forever. This final thread raises the stakes of all the threads.

    The adversary would like nothing more than to keep us from proclaiming this gospel. The adversary is just fine with us coming into a room and singing songs like we’re the church. He’s got no problem with that. But when we scatter and we speak like we are the church, he’s got problems with that. He is dead set against it. So it’s not easy, but it is simple. We take these threads and by the power of the Spirit we weave them into our everyday conversations.

    Let us urge people, as we sew these threads with urgency, to turn to Jesus. To trust Him as Lord and Savior, the one who has taken the wrath of God on our behalf, the one who has shown the power of God over sin in the resurrection, and the one who has done all of this for our salvation and ultimately for God’s glory in all nations.

     

    Feel free to check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5 of this series.  If you would like to listen to the entire “Threads” sermon series you can find it here

  2. Gospel Threads – Part 5 of 6

    Posted on August 8th, 2012 by Cory Varden

    So far we’ve looked at the character of God, the sinfulness of man, and the sufficiency of Christ.  Gospel thread number four is the necessity of faith.  We are reconciled to God only through faith in Jesus.

    It’s one thing to know the truths mentioned in the previous post regarding Jesus.  It’s an entirely different thing for those truths to be appropriated in our lives resulting in salvation.  After all, the demons know the truth (James 2:19).  So how are the truths of the gospel  appropriated in our lives? How to do they become a reality in our hearts?  How do they transform us?

    Paul tells us it’s all by faith. Romans 1:17 is one of the thematic statements for the book of Romans. Paul says, “…for in it (the gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith”,  What does that mean? It means that the gospel is apprehended only, altogether, and completely by faith. “As it is written: ‘The righteous shall live by faith’” (Rom. 1:17).

    The theme of faith is dominant in Romans and throughout Scripture. But we’ve got to be clear on what faith means, for just as  mentioning God in our culture today brings up all kinds of unbiblical ideas about who He is, so faith is often understood in ways that are foreign to God’s Word. We can’t assume anything, not even in the church.  So what is faith?

    Simply put, it’s a turning from sin, and a turning to Christ. Jesus Christ becomes our life. This is what saving faith is. So to weave together the threads we’ve looked at thus far: When you see the character of God and the sinfulness of man and the sufficiency of Christ, you must respond by turning from your sin and putting your trust in Christ. In Christ alone we find forgiveness and eternal life.

    This understanding of faith means trusting in Jesus as Lord.  The dominant title for Jesus in the book of Acts and the book of Romans is Lord. He’s supreme. He’s worthy. Worthy of our entire life, worthy of all our submission. He is Lord.

    As we submit to Jesus as Lord, we also trust in Him as our Savior (Rom. 4:25, Rom. 10:9).  Romans 10:13 says it this way: “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be,” what? “Saved.” Jesus rescues us. He saves us. We trust in Him as Lord and Savior.

    Do you know this kind of faith? Have you ever run to the feet of Christ and fallen on your face before Him absolutely helpless, absolutely hopeless, and cried out for Him to save you?  This kind of faith is not simply for getting out of the line going to hell and getting into the line going to heaven. This is crying out for God to save you and surrendering to Jesus as the Lord of everything in your life. It is saying to God with abandon, “I need you for every breath I breathe. I need you for every good thing in me. I need to be saved from myself.”

    As we begin to sew the gospel threads, we must help people see the necessity of this kind of faith.

     

    Feel free to check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 of this series.  If you would like to listen to the entire “Threads” sermon series you can find it here

  3. Gospel Threads – Part 4 of 6

    Posted on August 1st, 2012 by Cory Varden

    So far in this series we’ve covered the first two of what we call the gospel threads.  We’ve looked at the character of God and the sinfulness of man.  Now I want to take a look at thread number three, the sufficiency of Christ.  I want us to see that the gospel teaches that Jesus alone is able to remove our sin and reconcile us to God.

    Now it’s key for our understanding of the gospel and personal evangelism that we have a proper understanding of who Christ is and what He has done.  But in order to do that we need a proper understanding of who God is and what man has done; that’s why we covered those two threads first.  We can’t jump to Jesus’ saving work before we understand our sinful condition before a holy God.

    This point is huge because we don’t see the need for Jesus until we realize that God is the just and gracious Creator of all things, and we have rebelled against Him. We are, therefore, separated from Him (Eph 2:12) and dead without Him (Eph 2:1-3). It’s not until we realize those truths that we will begin to grasp the significance of who Christ is. The truth about God and man points us to Christ, helping us to see that who Christ is and what He has done is exactly what we need for salvation.

    Christ has done everything that is necessary for our salvation. There is nothing else that needs to be done. You don’t need to be a good person. You don’t need to be a great mom or dad or get this or that issue right in your life. Jesus Christ has done everything for your salvation and there is nothing else that needs to be done. He is sufficient, completely sufficient.

    The Scriptural portrayal of Jesus is a picture of perfect righteousness. Unlike us, He kept the law of God perfectly. We are law-breakers. He is the law-keeper.  He also stood in our place as a sacrifice for sin.  He died the death we deserved to die.  He took the wrath that we deserved upon himself, but it didn’t end there.  Praise be to God, he rose from the grave in victory over sin and death. Jesus’ life displayed the righteousness of God (2 Cor 5:21), His death satisfied the wrath of God (Rom 3:23-25), and His resurrection demonstrated the power of God (Rom 1:4).

    We are stained with guilt and shame, but Jesus takes it all. All of our sin, all of our sexual immorality, every impure thought, and every other offense against God. When you see the cross, see Christ in all of His perfect righteousness taking all of your sin upon Himself, and then see Him rising victoriously over that sin in the resurrection. All praise be to Jesus. He is sufficient. And He alone is able to remove our sin and reconcile us to God.

    As you begin to weave this gospel thread of the sufficiency of Christ into your conversations, be sure to explain it in the context of the character of God and the sinfulness of man.  Help others to see the absolutely glorious sufficiency of Christ Jesus our Lord.

     

    Feel free to check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of this series.  If you would like to listen to the entire “Threads” sermon series you can find it here

  4. Gospel Threads – Part 3 of 6

    Posted on July 25th, 2012 by Cory Varden

    Last week in this series we covered the first gospel thread, namely, the character of God.  This week we will be looking at thread number two, the sinfulness of man.  In short, all of us are created by God, but we have been corrupted by sin.

    Not only can this thread be difficult to think about, but it is also very unpopular talk about with others. It’s obviously not the most effective evangelistic strategy to go up to your coworker tomorrow morning and get in his or her face and say, “You need to be saved.” That doesn’t work very well. At that moment the only thing they want to be saved from is you.

    None of us likes to dwell on our own sinfulness. Everyone tries to cover it up. Bringing true conviction for sin is an impossible task in evangelism, humanly speaking. This is why proclamation of the gospel requires the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. Only the Spirit can effectively confront us in our pride and in our sinfulness.

    In our day many have tried to circumvent these unpopular truths by offering the gospel without confronting man’s sinfulness. The gospel has become something you can add to your life to make it better, like working out or eating healthy food. However, the biblical gospel confronts us at the core of who we are and offers a radical change to our sin-corrupted hearts.

    The problem is not that we have done some bad things or made some bad decisions. The problem is that the we are utterly sinful at the core of who we are and dead without God. People might think, “Well that sounds kind of extreme.” But it’s exactly what we see in Genesis 3. God said, “One sin and you will surely die.” As a result of that first sin, death became a reality for all men (both spiritually and physically), so that all men are born in rebellion against God.

    That may sound like an extreme punishment from God, but we’ve got to realize it’s not simply the gravity of the particular sin that’s the issue. It’s the gravity of the One who is sinned against. Think about it: Every individual sin involves looking in the face of the Holy God, the Creator of the universe, and saying to Him, “Your law is not good and you do not have authority over my life. I defy your authority and I know what is best regardless of what an infinite offense it might be to you.”

    In essence, we say those things every time we sin.  And the reality is that we have committed thousands upon thousands of sins. We have rebelled against God (Rom. 1:21-23), we’re fallen short of His glory (Rom. 3:23), and the result of our sin is death (Rom. 6:23). We need to be honest with people about these realities if we want to faithfully proclaim the gospel to unbelievers.

    We live in a culture that pretends to be self-sufficient, where people act as if they can do everything on their own.  As followers of Christ, we need to be a people who constantly point to our dependence on God. We must live and talk like we need God for every breath we breathe, for every word we say, and for every decision we make. If we do this, one thing is guaranteed: we will look radically different from our culture.

    So, yes, it’s true that the gospel tells us that we are radically, dreadfully, totally, and universally sinful. At the same time, we are created by God in His image. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made” according to Psalm 139, Let’s not forget either of these truths as we weave the gospel threads into our lives. Let’s live out these truths and, by the grace of God, help others to embrace them too.

     

    Feel free to check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.  If you would like to listen to the entire “Threads” sermon series you can find it here.

  5. Gospel Threads – Part 2 of 6

    Posted on July 18th, 2012 by Cory Varden

    In the first post of this series we introduced what we are calling the “threads” of the gospel, and a basic definition was given that answers the question, “What is the gospel?”  The first part of that definition, The just and gracious God of the universe, encapsulates the first of five gospel threads, namely, the character of God.

    God is the just and gracious Creator of all things. God is the starting point of the gospel. The gospel flows from God. It is “the gospel of God” (Rom 1:1). We cannot understand the gospel unless we understand God. Therefore, if we have a distorted understanding of God, we will inevitably have a distorted understanding of the gospel.

    We live in a culture that has a very warped understanding of God.  Sadly, this same warped understanding infects our own evangelical church culture as well. And all of this misunderstanding about God affects our gospel witness. So when we talk to people who don’t know Christ, we really can’t assume anything as it relates to God.

    Pastor David mentioned during the Threads series that when he’s in a conversation with a person who may not know Christ and they look at him and say, “Well I don’t believe in God,” the question he will inevitably ask them is,”What kind of God do you not believe in?” To which they may reply, “Well I don’t believe in a God up in the sky who’s looking down on us waiting for us to do something wrong so He can pounce on us.” When they give this depiction of God, he looks at them and says, “Well that’s good, I don’t believe in that God either. Let me tell you about the God I do believe in.”

    As followers of Christ, we must be prepared to present God accurately. In short, God is our Creator (Gen 1:27; Rom 1:18-20), our Judge (Rom 2:2-6), and (praise God) He is our Savior (Rom 3:23-24). He mingles justice with mercy, holiness with grace. This gets at the core of the gospel. Because God is our Creator, we belong to Him. As our judge, we’re accountable to Him. And as our Savior, we desperately need Him.  We need Him for the forgiveness of sins, for eternal life, and for every breath we take.

    As you begin to weave these threads into the fabric of your life, make sure you hold up a biblical view of the character of God.  Give unbelievers a view of God as He has revealed Himself to us in Scripture. This is a foundational gospel thread.

     

    Part 1 of this series can be found here. If you would like to listen to this entire “Threads” sermon series you can find it here.

  6. Gospel Threads – Part 1 of 6

    Posted on July 11th, 2012 by Cory Varden

    How do we weave the message of the Gospel into our everyday life?  Do we understand our responsibility to demonstrate the truths of the Gospel with the way we live and in the way we speak? We have the privilege, as followers of Christ, to sew what we call the gospel threads together for the sake of others as we introduce them to Christ, revealing His beauty and glory.

    But in order to sew these threads together, we must know what they are.  In order to proclaim the gospel, it goes without saying that we need to know the gospel. So my hope is that through this six part series of blog posts you’ll be better equipped with the threads of the gospel and ready to begin sewing them in your own life.

    This series of posts stems from a sermon series that Pastor David preached back in 2008 called “Threads,” in which he unpacked the gospel and personal evangelism.  During that series he put forth a basic definition that would hopefully answer the seemingly simple question, “What is the gospel?”  That definition came out as follows:

    The just and gracious God of the universe looked upon hopelessly sinful people and sent His Son, Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, to bear His wrath against sin on the cross and to show His power over sin in the resurrection so that all who have faith in Him will be reconciled to God forever.

    Out of that definition David identified five primary gospel threads.  These are threads of the gospel that are woven together throughout Scripture, and they can also be woven into the fabric of our conversations and our thoughts on a daily basis, all with the prayer that God will use these threads (in our lives and from our mouths) to introduce people to Christ. Here are the threads:

    The Character of God

    The Sinfulness of Man

    The Sufficiency of Christ

    The Necessity of Faith

    The Urgency of Eternity

    Over the next several weeks I’m going to devote a post to each of these threads.  To be clear from the outset, the goal is not to take the gospel and bring it down to a bare minimum.  We’re not trying to package the gospel as cleanly as possible so it’s easy to sell.  That’s not the picture.

    But at the same time, we need to know the gospel and this definition gets at the core of it.  This is the foundation of what we believe.  If we don’t know the gospel then we are going to miss out, not only on what it means to share the gospel, but also on what it means to experience the grace of God on a daily basis as the gospel works out its implications in our lives.

    I hope a better understanding of the gospel will cause all of us to consider how it can be woven into the fabric of our lives in the way we parent, in the way we work, in the way we hang out with friends, and in the way we interact with everyone around us.  We need to contemplate how these threads can become a natural part of who we are and how we interact with the world.

    If you would like to listen to this entire “Threads” sermon series you can find it HERE.