Tag: gospel

The Greatest Chapter in the Bible

A few months ago, my family found a documentary series on the International Space Station. Since then, we’ve been pretty enamored by space. We’ve woken up early to see the space station passing by us and we’ve prepared to watch the recent Artemis mission launch, but it was rescheduled to launch later this month. Along the way, we learned more about the James Webb Space Telescope, which NASA launched in December of last year. The JWST is 100 times more powerful than the Hubble Space Telescope and uses infrared light to peer through dense layers of space dust. 

In July, NASA released the very first images captured by this telescope. You can look at these remarkable images here, all of them displaying God’s magnificent creation.

The enormity of the universe is virtually impossible to grasp. NASA explains that the SMACS 0723 image is “approximately the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length.” So, find a grain of sand, hold it up to the night sky, and imagine that in it are thousands of galaxies we can see with the most powerful telescope we’ve ever constructed—and certainly countless more galaxies we cannot yet see. You can read more about it here.

I look at these pictures and I think of the enormous depths of space and think, how big is our God, the creator of it all! These pictures show us the glorious depths of God’s creation. And yet, the glorious God behind the great depths of space is not beyond them. He is near. While there are deep pockets of space we won’t see on this side of heaven, the glorious depths of God’s Gospel can be known and there are glorious depths to God’s gospel that we must search and discover for our own souls. 

But we don’t need a telescope or a microscope even; we have the book of Romans, which church history has called, “The greatest letter ever written”. Within the greatest letter ever written is what many, myself included, have called “The greatest chapter in the Bible”, Romans 8.

The Letter of Romans gives us the glorious depths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There are some of you here who are (1) questioning this gospel and maybe skeptical of it, (2) just dipping your toes into grace, or (3) ready to dive into the depths of God’s grace. No matter where you are, my prayer for you is to me amazed by the splendor of our God. It’s what Paul writes in Romans 11:33-36,

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” – Romans 11:33–36

The entire letter shares with us that God has revealed the gracious depths of His righteousness to us. 

We see from Romans 1:1-7 that the Apostle Paul is the author of this letter to the house churches in Rome. He wrote this letter in roughly AD 56 during his third missionary journey while he was in Corinth (Italy) on his way to Jerusalem. You have to look at the final chapters to see a few of the reasons why he wrote this letter. He wrote this letter to (1) unite the Jews and Gentiles and (2) raise money for his mission trip to Spain, in which he hoped to stop by to see these brothers and sisters in Rome (Romans 15:24-25). 

It’s really by reading the entirety of the letter that we see why Paul wrote this letter to these Christians: he wanted them to explore the depths of the gospel.

This letter is a gospel treatise, an overflowing fountain of grace and mercy. It is saturated with Gospel goodness. It is rich in Gospel hope. And Paul invites his readers then and his readers now to discover the depths of Christ’s Gospel. Because A heart that has explored the depths of the gospel is a heart that overflows with gospel joy.

Paul encourages to keep going deeper into the endless wells of God’s grace to scrape the barrels dry only to discover it never does run empty. The depths of this gospel of grace that never ends is the theme of the entire letter. Grace upon grace from the God who is rich in grace. Not only is the gospel the central theme of this letter, but it must be the central theme of our lives. And for the gospel to be the central theme in our lives, then we must dive deep. And when we do, we can along with Paul declare, 

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” – Romans 1:16–17

The gospel is Paul’s reason not only for writing, but for living! This gospel message is not just interesting information, but a transforming declaration! As we dive into the depths of God’s righteousness over the next several weeks, I pray the Lord will continue to stir within our hearts an overflowing joy for who He is and all that He has done for us. 

If you missed Sunday’s sermon, be sure to listen to it here.

By His Grace,

Pastor Matt

Annoyingly Bold with the Gospel

It’s summer time in Florida which means we are dealing with the influx of mosquitos. The mosquito is the most annoying species in the world. There are over 3,500 different species of mosquitoes, all of which are annoying. They fly around your ear, bite your ankles, and ruin your cookouts and send you inside before you’re done with the outdoors. 

When I think of the word “annoying”, I think of the mosquito. I think of the people who take too long to turn. There are hundreds of habits and mannerisms that are annoying to me and I’m sure there is something I do that annoys other people. In fact, I can tell you exactly the habits I have that annoy my wife and my kids. I can’t help it. It’s who I am. I am the mosquito to someone.

The dictionary definition for annoying is “to irritate someone” or “to make someone a little angry” and this is how the Jewish people labeled the teaching of Peter and John in Acts 4.

“And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand”. – Acts 4:1–4

It did not take long for Peter and John to irritate people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Shortly after Jesus ascends into heaven, Peter, empowered by the Holy Spirit, stands up on the Day of Pentecost and proclaims the death and resurrection of Jesus. Thousands place their faith in Jesus Christ and are added to the church. The Gospel has broken free.

This must have been exhilarating for Peter and John because they keep proclaiming Jesus. In the name of Jesus Christ, they heal a lame man who stood up and started praising God with them. We don’t know the lame man’s name but “all the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.” (Acts 3:9–10)

But not everyone responded this way. The religious leaders were greatly annoyed because Peter and John were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. This is how we should be labeled.

Sharing the Gospel with someone is intimidating, mainly, because we know the Gospel is offensive to those who do not believe (1 Corinthians 1:18). Yet, over and over again in Scripture we are reminded to be bold and to not be ashamed of the Gospel (Romans 1:16). Even in the books of Acts (Acts 4:13), the disciples are said to have shared the Gospel with boldness, meaning, they knew sharing the Gospel was offensive and intimidating, but the good news of Jesus must be proclaimed. The eternal life of the sinner is at stake.

In love, let’s proclaim the message of salvation. Let’s be so bold in our proclamation of the Gospel that it irritates people. But let’s not be irritating in our presentation. It’s the message of the Gospel that is offensive, not the presenter of the Gospel. Peter and John had such a passion for Jesus that it annoyed people, but more importantly, it led many to Jesus. Take every opportunity to share the hope of salvation and the forgiveness of sins with someone. It may be annoying to some, but it will be life changing to others. 

How can we be annoyingly bold with the Gospel?

Take every opportunity to share the Gospel.

The Gospel, in short, is the good news that Jesus Christ died and rose again for the sins of the world and through belief in Jesus, you can have eternal life. This is the message we share. Not our opinions. Not just an invitation to church. Jesus has called us to “Go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:18-20).

Romans 10:13-17 asks the question, “How will people believe on Jesus if they have not heard about Jesus”? Most likely, when sharing the Gospel, the questions you are asking yourself internally are, “Will they say no?”, “Will they still be my friends?”, or “What if I don’t have the right answers?”. You’re probably not asking the question: “What if this is their last opportunity to hear the Gospel?” Or “What if no one else tells them?”.

This is what Romans 10 is telling us to consider. Consider every encounter as a last opportunity to share the Gospel with someone. “How can I do this?” you may ask. God desires to use ordinary men and women, like Peter and John and like me and you, to proclaim the extraordinary message of salvation in Jesus Christ. 

In love, let’s proclaim the message of salvation. Let’s be so bold in our proclamation of the Gospel that it irritates people. But let’s not be irritating in our presentation. It’s the message of the Gospel that is offensive, not the presenter of the Gospel. Peter and John had such a passion for Jesus that it annoyed people, but more importantly, it led many to Jesus. Take every opportunity to share the hope of salvation and the forgiveness of sins with someone. It may be annoying to some, but it will be life changing to others.

By His Grace,

Pastor Matt

The Gospel for Everyday Life

We’ve all been there. We walk into a room to grab an item only to have that needed item escape your memory. “Why did I walk in here?” we say to ourselves as we bumble around aimlessly, trying to remember what we knew just moments prior. It’s a reminder of another reality we often forget about: we are finite creatures with an inherited tendency to forget the infinite God who redeemed us.

The Bible teaches us that each and everyone of us have inherited sin from Adam (Romans 5:12). We are sinners, plain and simple. There is no one righteous; not a single one (Romans 3:9-12). The sin that dwells within us is, as Theologian R.C. Sproul states, is “Cosmic treason against God”. The sinfulness of man is the single greatest problem in the entire world.

Because of sin, we deserve death (Romans 6:23). We deserve hell. Yet, as we read in last week’s post, God is marvelously gracious. He shows us this marvelous grace, this eternal love through His Son Jesus. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Jesus was condemned to die in our place in order that we would not face condemnation. His death canceled ours. His resurrection sealed our eternal victory. Christ, and Christ alone is our hope.

This is the message of the gospel. The Gospel is the good news that a holy God sent us His sinless Son Jesus Christ who, through His death and resurrection, has graciously saved us from our sin, delivered us from eternal hell, and has called us to live holy.

It is the gospel of Jesus that has saved us from our sin! But it is also the gospel of Jesus that sustains us in the here and now. This is why, beginning July 20th, we will be hosting a four week study called, “The Gospel for Everyday Life”. 

The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:1 reminds us of the gospel that saved us, the gospel we’re standing on, and the gospel that sustains us. Why do we need a gospel reminder? Because as stated earlier, we are finite creatures with an inherited tendency to forget the infinite God who has redeemed us. Paul says it this way in his letter to the Galatians:

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ”. (Galatians 1:6–7)

We need to be reminded of the Gospel everyday. We need to be reminded of the hope of our salvation that is only found in Jesus. We need to be reminded of His redeeming love. We need the reminder because we are prone to wander, prone to leave the God we love.

Our goal in “The Gospel for Everyday Life” is to help you know the gospel deeper and how this good news sustains us every day. We’ll focus on four aspects of the gospel:

  1. What is the Gospel? (July 20th)
  2. The Gospel and our Personal Holiness (July 27th)
  3. The Gospel in our Relationships (August 3rd)
  4. The Gospel is our Mission (August 10th)

My prayer for you is that your affections for the Lord will grow as you grow in the grace of the Gospel. Each and every one of us needs a gospel reminder. As author and pastor Tim Keller said, “The Gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” 

So come and join us as we remember how the power of the Gospel is for everyday life. Register Here.

By His Grace,

Pastor Matt

Marvelous Grace

On our way out of town for vacation, Julie and I took the kids on a slight detour past our first apartment in Knoxville, TN. It was the first time we had been there since we left in a Penske truck back in 2008. It looked just like we remember it. 

We then drove the winding road back towards the highway, a road I traveled quite a bit for classes, work, and church. We drove up the hill where I spun out the winter of my freshman year. I hadn’t learned how to drive in the snow yet. We drove past neighborhoods where our friends used to live, places we used to eat, and stores we used to shop at. Finally, we drove past the college and church I attended for close to four years.

With memories flooding back of the different places and people from those years in Tennessee, there is one word that explains how thankful I am for this short time in my life: grace.

Those four years were quite difficult to say the least. Everyday I fought the legalistic posture of my heart. I was working so hard to please God. I tried doing everything right and still didn’t feel like it was enough. I couldn’t keep the rules of the school the way they were intended to be kept. I was often scrutinized, questioned, and ridiculed. After an accidental rule breaking, I was asked a question that I didn’t have an answer to at the time: “What would Jesus think of you right now?” 

“He’d think I was a failure”, is how I wanted to answer. But I didn’t. I didn’t know at the time how much Jesus truly loved me. It was around this time I realized I was never going to be able to do enough to be good. I was never going to be good enough. I was never going to be righteous. 

Legalism is a deadly weight. It devalues the finished work of Jesus and elevates our filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). It is an unbearable task to earn any favor with God. There is nothing we can do to earn the righteousness of Jesus. No matter how often we keep the rules, no matter how “good” we are, no matter how churchy we appear, legalism is a lie from the pit of hell. Legalism continues to yell, “Do more! Do more! Do more!” while Jesus lovingly declares, “It is finished!”

It had been close to 10 years since I had placed my faith in Jesus Christ for the salvation of my sins, but in the Rocky Mountains of Tennessee, I learned and came to appreciate the grace of Jesus. While I was never going to be able to do enough to be good enough, Jesus did. While I was never going to be righteous, Jesus was and now through His grace, His righteousness covers me (2 Corinthians 5:21). We are so underserving of the grace of Jesus. His grace is truly marvelous.

The good news of Jesus reminds us that we are saved through faith in Jesus Christ. It is faith that pleases the Father (Hebrews 11:6), faith in His Son, Jesus. While our natural tendency given to us from Adam (Genesis 3) is to cover ourselves, there is freedom in knowing that we can’t. Our sin covering, our standing before God, only comes from the finished work of Jesus on the cross. Our joy comes from the victory we have through His resurrection. And none of this was deserving. When we fell short of God’s standard of righteousness, Jesus measured up (Romans 3:23). It is all because of grace. 

As the old hymn says, 

“Marvelous grace of our loving Lord, grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt! Yonder on calvary’s mount out-poured, there where the blood of the Lamb was spilt. Grace, grace, God’s grace, grace that will pardon and cleanse within; grace, grace, God’s grace, grace that is greater than all our sin!”

If I were to be asked the question again, “What would Jesus think of you right now?” I’d respond with great joy, “He loves me as His own, not for what I have done, but for all that He has graciously done for me”. And it is this grace of Jesus that frees us to live in obedience to all his commands.

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