These are tough times for many in Detroit, but for those that believe in Christ & the true message of Christmas, these are also really good times. Why, because the gospel brings hope into despair.
We all need hope. We all need the gospel.
That’s why the gospel is so important. Sadly, many want to find hope just from social justice. Trust me, I am totally for helping your fellow man and I believe it works. But true change comes from Christ. Hope from God changes you. This hope is what we need.
It was pouring rain today. I was taking out the trash to my curb this morning when my neighbor yelled for my attention and wanted to thank me for our church helping them out on Thanksgiving. We talked about church and life, the Lions and the turkey…in the middle of the street, standing in a downpour. He proceeded to tell me that he has lived in Detroit for most his life and never has anyone offered help and kindness like he saw at thanksgiving. He said, “it was great, thanks for being there.” That’s helping your neighbor.
Why do we help others? Why do we go to church? Why do we go to work?
Pay bills? Have families? Live life? Stand in the rain?
What if I told you the answer was the gospel? What if I told you that the gospel was the center of it all and that the gospel gave meaning to life itself? It’s true. You see the gospel is not behavior modification, becoming a better person or learning to become more moral. The gospel is not you doing more, or acting better, or behaving rightly. They should accompany the gospel yes, but they are not the gospel.
The Gospel is the life-altering news that Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, became man, lived a sinless life under the Law, died for sinners and rose again to reconcile them to himself, eternally victorious over every enemy that stood between God and man.
D.A. Carson says the gospel centers “upon Jesus Christ and what God has done through him. The essential points of the gospel are Jesus Christ’s status as the Son of God, his genuine humanity, his death for our sins, his burial, resurrection, subsequent appearances, and future coming in judgment. That no one is justified but in the gracious work of Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection. It is not merely a recital of theological truths and historical events; rather, it relates these truths and events to situations of every individual believer.”
Simply put, the Gospel is the news that Jesus Christ, the Righteous One, died for our sins and rose again, eternally triumphant over all his enemies, so that there is now no condemnation for those who believe, but only everlasting joy. Hope comes from believing that Jesus is who He says He is! Only Jesus can help your life today, your plans tomorrow and your eternal life in the future.
What’s this have to do with standing out in the rain, talking about church and turkeys…
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
For more on the gospel, here is a short video from John Piper: http://vimeo.com/1863953