Tuesday, December 15, 2015

What is the Gospel?

This is the second part of the answer to the question, What is the Gospel? In this article the Biblical diagnosis of the terminal disease of all men is given - SIN! The condition of sinner is that HE IS ABSOLUTELY HELPLESS! A Biblical understanding of the problem of sin is the second truth leading to a true understanding of the gospel.

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(Gen. 1:26-30; 2:15-25; Gen. 3; Rom. 3:23; 5:12; 6:23; Eph. 2:1-3; 1 Jn. 3:4)
Man was created by God and for God. How did God create Man? God created man, male and female, after His own image, in knowledge, righteousness and holiness, with dominion over the creatures. Man, just like all other creation was created very good, sinless… God made man upright (Ecc. 7:29). God created man in His own image, with the capacity to reason, choose, feel, communicate, build, and appreciate beauty. He created man for the purpose of ruling over all the living creatures on the earth in order to glorify God. All of these characteristics of man are a revelation of what God is like.
He created man as male and female for the purpose of revealing and illustrating His love for and relationship with His people. He also created man male and female for the purposes of progressing or carrying on with His creation (procreation).
Because man is made in the image of God, he is morally responsible before God. Since God is our Creator, we owe Him perfect allegiance. Every thought, desire, word and deed must be out of true devotion to Him and for His eternal glory. That is why Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. The way to glorify God is by a life of worship – shown in perfect love of obedience and submission to God both in word and in deed, thought and action, will and desire. The worship is offered both privately and publically. This is shown in thanksgiving, praise and adoration and submission to the Lord God as Sovereign benefactor.
Man then is the highest of all God’s creation and it is for this reason he was created as the last of all creation. As God’s image-bearer, God has entrusted all His creation to man that he may nurture and enjoy it. Through this, man ought to see God as the greatest designer, Creator and Sustainer of all creation so as to bring the highest glory to Him as the representational creation of God on earth. See the blessings man has freely received from God:
1)  God – They enjoyed the closest fellowship with God. No man has known as close fellowship with God than Adam and Eve as we see in chapter 2 of Genesis
2)  Property - the garden of Aden, with everything in it! Man was given the whole earth to be his property! This means that Adam and Eve had all the riches of the earth – all the land and exploit all the minerals such as gold, precious stones, diamond, oil etc.! All the animals from horses to donkeys, cows to goats to camels, sheep, chicken, fish! All the vegetation – trees like pine, cedar, wheat, rice, maize, tea, sugarcane, beans, fruits like pineapples, mangoes, apples etc. – both cash crops and food crops were all theirs! The rivers and seas and land were theirs! They were to do with all these wealth as they wished as long as they yield glory to the Lord… what could have been a better deal?
3)  Health and prosperity – There was no sickness or pain before the fall. There were no weeds before the fall. No thorns and thistles. No sweat. No loss! And we hope for the renewed earth with these!
4)  Food – Man was to eat of every tree in the garden. There was nothing that he could not fully enjoy. But he was expected to look, touch, climb and do anything else but eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil! This was not a prohibition in order to punish – it was a prohibition in order to help him see that his allegiance was to God not to the wealth God gave him. He was not to eat because God had told him not to!
YET MAN THREW ALL THESE AWAY BY LISTENING TO THE DEVIL! This is the greatest catastrophe that has ever befallen man… listening to the evil one instead of listening to God. Obeying the devil and disobeying God. Following the bidding of Satan and turning his back to God! What a loss it was! What a disaster and calamity for all men because with this single disobedience he fell and brought down with him all his descendants. And with this fall came death just has God had said.
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because of all sinned… For if many died through one man’s trespass…  For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation… For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man,… Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation of all men… For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners…so that sin reigned in death… (Romans 5:12, 15, 16b, 17, 18, 19)
It is both spiritual death, but also physical death. Those without Christ suffer both but those in Christ suffer only the physical death.

It is so important to understand what the Bible teaches about sin.  If we do not understand a disease, we cannot know how to treat it! For this reason we have to take diagnostic tests before medication. One of the definitions of sin in the Bible is: “Sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4).  But sin is not only the actions and speech it is also the thoughts that we have that are against God’s law. It includes every part of our being including our thoughts, motives, desires, appetites and emotions as well as actions. In other words, all are totally depraved, sin has affected every aspect of human being. Sin is not just in the hands or eyes – it is firmed embedded in our hearts until we are saved. We were born into this life spiritually dead to God, thinking only of our own desires and our own glory. We were born this way, because of the sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve. Everyone born of Adam and Eve has a totally sinful DNA.
Note what Jesus teaches as to where all these sinful things come from: “For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, …” (Matthew 15:19).  The “heart” is our inner self out of which all will comes.  There is something wrong with our heart.  Jeremiah says of the heart that it “is deceitful above all things and desperately sick” (17:9).  Paul writes of the Gentiles that they have no understanding and are ignorant “due to the hardness of heart” (Ephesians 4:18).  So sin is a condition, a character, an attitude, man’s nature.  Jesus likens the heart to a treasure box (Matthew 12:35).  How a person lives depends on the character of his heart.  Men and women not only do acts of sin, they are sinners by nature (see Ephesians 2:3).
We all know that we fall far short of our moral obligation to God. Because Adam brought us down by his own disobedience we sin because it is our nature – our desires and will are sinful, our thoughts and actions are evil, our words and affections are as sinful. Consider Romans 3:10-18:
…as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." "Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive." "The venom of asps is under their lips." "Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness." "Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known." "There is no fear of God before their eyes."
From this passage, we see that sin has not only affected everyone of the members and faculties of our bodies – will, actions, throats, tongues, lips, mouths, feet, knowledge (mind), but it has also affected all left no exception! Everyone is sinful – sin is universal! There is not a single human being who has not sinned.
To show us our failure, God gave us the Law, including the Ten Commandments. The Law is like a mirror showing us our moral corruption. Our moral failure is called sinFor all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). All have missed the mark of the standard of God in His law. All without exception are sinners. Only Jesus Christ has been an exception of the corruption of sin and its effects. The Bible teaches that He was tempted as we are yet without sin (Heb. 4:15).
When we die, we shall stand before the perfectly righteous, holy, and all-knowing Judge and give an account for every thought, word and deed. Because we are sinners, we are under the wrath of God and face, not only physical death, but also eternal death, complete separation from God and all His blessings, in Hell, described as the Lake of Fire. We can do nothing to change our condition. We cannot change our own hearts or do anything acceptable in God’s sight. Even our ‘good works’ are like filthy rags before God.
A biblical understanding of man and sin is absolutely important for at least three reasons:
1)    Our understanding of salvation depends upon it.  Are we saved because we choose Christ, or because God first chooses us?  The Bible is so clear that we are totally dependent upon God.  What must God first do if anyone is to come to Christ according to John 6:44? Draw us to Christ. What must first take place if anyone is to produce spiritual fruit according to John 3:5? Be born of water and Spirit. Like Lazarus, stone dead in the tomb, we must first be made alive, before we can do anything spiritual.  Salvation is of the Lord (Jonah 2:9) and to Him all praise is due!
2)    Our method of evangelism or presentation of the gospel is controlled by it.  Man-made methods such as special music, altar calls and testimonies of well-known people have produced many false converts.  Because of total depravity and inability salvation begins with God’s work of the new birth, not entertainment!  God uses the preaching of the gospel to urge men to believe and repent.  We must tell sinners the truth as clearly and forcefully as we can, trusting that God will open the heart to give heed (Acts 16:14).
3)    It will lead us into the practice of both godly humility because we are totally unworthy, and joyful praise because God has graciously done what we could never do.  In our Christian lives sin becomes enemy number one that we take seriously in order to put it to death (Romans 8:13).


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