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May 2, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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Did you know that 62% of people in South Florida believe that good works is what gets people into heaven? That our standing in eternity is like a scale that weighs our good deeds against our wrongdoing. But this is not what the Bible says. This is not the gospel. So, what is the gospel? As Christians, do we truly understand what the good news of the gospel is . . . what Jesus Christ did for us? In week three of "Unsinkable," Pastor Doug Sauder gave us a deeper, richer picture of the good news of Jesus, how the gospel is completely unique and set apart from human thinking, and how it radically changes our lives.
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Religion Can’t Transform or Save You (John 3:1–3): Religion can't give you peace or assurance. In reality, religiosity essentially leads to either a false sense of pride or an overwhelming fear. Think about it: When your philosophy on the economy of eternity is modeled after a scale, every deed performed whether righteous or sinful, will tip the scale. Every word, every action, every inaction (sin of omission), and every interaction tips the scale in one of two directions. Every lie, every time you speed on the road, every time you're rude to a customer service rep or to your children, every single thing you say and do, both big and small . . . it all brings you a few ounces closer to oblivion. Can you feel the tension of constantly trying to tip the scale toward good?
Religion offers no comfort, it instills no confidence, and will either rob you of all hope or provide you a false hope. But there is a hope that burns brighter than the sun, a confident assurance of eternity . . . His name is Jesus!
The Gospel Transforms You from the Inside Out (John 3:4–8): Eternal life, salvation, hope, freedom, redemption, peace . . . it all comes from Jesus. By His perfect life, death, and resurrection, thereby conquering sin and death, we are saved. And when we receive Him, when we repent and receive Jesus, we are born again and made right with God, our names are written in the book of life (Revelation 13:8), and we are given the right and privilege to be called children of God (John 1:12).
When this happens, when we are saved and redeemed, when the Holy Spirit indwells us and we root our lives in Christ and His Word, transformation and life change takes place! Jesus equates this to the wind . . . you can’t actually see the wind, but you can certainly see the effect the wind has. You can see the leaves blowing and the trees swaying; you can feel it as it hits you. This is what the work of the Spirit in one who is born again is like. We are transformed from the inside out; in our heart, in our mind, and in our soul. The way we think and view the world, others, and ourselves is radically changed. And then it begins to work its way outward as the work of the Spirit begins to overflow from the internal to the external—to the way we live, the things we say and do, and the way we treat people. As the great wind of the Spirit moves through our innermost being and conforms us to the image of Christ, cutting away at the old ways and philosophies, refining us and changing our desires, we become more like Jesus!
The Gospel Is a Gift of Grace (John 3:9–15; Romans 1:16–17): In John 3, Jesus tells the seeking Pharisee Nicodemus that he must be born again to inherit the kingdom and have eternal life. Why? Ephesians 2:1 (NLT) tells us that “Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins.” That’s the bad news that religion can't possibly save us from. No amount of “good” deeds—by human standards—can save us or bring our dead souls back to life. “But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)” (Ephesians 2:4–5 NLT). By God’s grace, through the work of Jesus, we can be saved, transformed, made new, and brought to life!
The Gospel Is for Everyone (John 3:16–17): John 3:16 is arguably the most famous verse in the Bible . . . and with good reason! It tells us that God gave His only Son so every single person who believes in Jesus would receive the gift of eternal life. The gift of eternal life and adoption as sons and daughters of God is available to all of us. Whoever you are, wherever you’re from, whatever you’ve done, Jesus came for you, to give His life for you. No one is excluded from that; no one is beyond the reach of God’s grace.
The Gospel Will Never Disappoint You (John 3:18–21): Have you lost your wonder? Have the disappointments, trials, tragedies, mundaneness, and unmet expectations of life crept in and created cynicism, callousness, or apathy in you? Has jealousy or bitterness infiltrated your life? Consider that your level of disappointment in life is directly related to where you’re putting your hope. Perhaps you’ve been putting your hopes and expectations upon the shoulders of a significant other or spouse. Maybe on your kids, your job, your bank account, your government, or on a religious system.
Sadly, this is a recipe for disaster. Why? Because all people, all human institutions, all manmade systems will fail and falter; none will ever fill or fulfill us. But “those who hope in me will not be disappointed” (Isaiah 49:23 NIV), “and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5 NASB).
Jesus is the both wondrous and wonderful. He is the perfect Son of God and yet He gave Himself up for us. His power to transform anyone, including you and me, should never be taken for granted or forgotten. And when our hope and expectation is in Him and His gospel, we will never be disappointed. Be assured in this: “This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God's inner sanctuary” (Hebrews 6:19 NLT).
Quote to Remember: Religion leads to either pride or fear.—Pastor Doug Sauder
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
1. Why do people believe we can earn our way to heaven?
2. Why does the Bible say we can never earn our way to heaven?
3. Jesus compares the work of the Spirit in the life of a born again believer to the wind. You can’t see it, but you can see and feel its effects. How have you seen this to be true in the lives of other believers?
4. What is the gospel?
5. How has the gospel changed you?
Join us this Wednesday as we dive deeper into the topics of our "Unsinkable" series with a powerful word on the gospel.
Then at our weekend services, we’ll conclude this special four-week series as special guest Pastor Alan Platt unpacks the mission of the Church and how our Lord Jesus equips us and works through us to carry it out
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.