The Gospel 1. Not My Gospel
The Gospel 1.
It’s not my gospel Luke 7:31-33
Key Text: Luke 7:31-33
So we are starting a new series tonight called the gospel. Now you might be wondering surely a series called the gospel would be not much of a series rather a single event. Not really a series; it would be Jesus died for sinners; right?
Well, there is a lot more to it than that and hopefully as we go we will see the true beauty and wonder that is wrapped up in the gospel.
Tonight we will deal with our problem with the gospel
Next week we will look at reality of the gospel how it is done!
After that we look at the simplicity of the gospel
Then for three weeks we will look at its complexity.
So let’s get stuck in!
Firstly, before anything it must be stated that the gospel is a declaration; it is a call to believe a reality that has happened. It entails a story of the work of God in the pursuit of man. However, there are sub stories that enable us to discover the infinite wonder of God and His goodness available to us in Jesus Christ.
The problem of the gospel is that although it encompasses the deep needs of man it also exposes his need and therefore in itself becomes a stumbling block to those who hear it.
I always wonder; if Jesus was alive today how many of us would be able to accept Him as Christ? Or if he would be too radicle for some; and not radicle enough for others?
Tonight as we start this series I want to address the inherent and obvious obstacle in the hearts of men (including you and I here) that causes us to mishear the truth of the wonder of what God did on and through death of Christ on the Cross.
So if you have your Bibles please turn with me to Luke 7:31-33.
Now the context of what we are about to read is vital. Jesus is addressing the crowd about the ministry of John the Baptist. There was quite a lot of discussion about who John was; some thought he was a prophet; some questioned if he was actually Messiah. Jesus address the concerns about the crowds and say that John was more than a prophet; but still least in the kingdom of God. He concluded that John was the one to prepare the way for the Messiah (who He was declaring to the crowd again was Himself).
Now what is interesting is that the entire crowd misses this. It says that the crowd agreed with Jesus because they received John’s Baptism however the Pharisees rejected it because they didn’t accept John’s Baptist. It is in the context of this that Jesus addresses the crowd and says:
31 Jesus went on to say, “To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other:
“‘We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not cry.’
33 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ 35 But wisdom is proved right by all her children.”
Jesus calls out the crowd because both groups have actually missed the whole point! Jesus was before them and they were squabbling about baptism. On a side note; man often misses the glory of God in the minor details of life.
And it is here that we gain insight into two great enemies of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Enemies of the Gospel
The realty that this passage shows us that both the crowd and the Pharisees both missed Christ. The crowd had settled on their own view of righteousness and the Pharisees had refused to move from their self-righteousness that is rooted in their religious practices.
I would argue that these two realities have always been and will always be the great enemies of the gospel.
I say this because so many people have set up a dichotomy between faith and reason; between science and religion. And these mask the underlying heart reality that is actually the enemy of God changing hearts through the finished work of the Cross.
What are these two great enemies?
Well it is; religion and moralism; legalism and license. Those who hold onto religion as their hope and those who hold onto common human goodness as their hope.
The illustration of Jesus explains this; John came not eating nor drinking and you called him a demon; The Son of man came eating and drinking and you called Him a glutton.
The gospel is always too loose for the religious and too restrictive for the moralist. The gospel exposes the heart of both. A heart that has me; myself and I as king! A Heart that refuses to accept Christ as King!
The nature of the gospel is that it exposes our heart; and that is a heart that wants it all my way: we all struggle with this issue.
Essentially; the religious mask their true need of Christ and the gospel by convincing themselves that they are actually good enough for God by the activity they do. While the moralist convinces himself that he is good enough for God by the nature of his existence.
Both hate Christ and the fundamental reality of the Cross; because that would require them to submit to God as His ways.
Both miss the heart of the gospel; which identifies our desperate need of saving and exposes our utter worthlessness in achieving that salvation by human effort.
Essentially the greatest enemy of the gospel is the fact that people want their own gospel.
And herein lies the great problem:
It is not my gospel
The gospel is not man’s to play around with. It is God’s He is the author of it and that grinds us!
I love how Jesus goes into such an appropriate story to illustrate a problem that the crowd and the Pharisees were blind to even identify.
He tells them about two groups of children; and these two groups are shouting at each other how the no one is liking the music; basically.
What is he trying to say here? Well remember He starts by saying what can I compare this generation to? And He is talking about this in the context of the argument of who He is and who John is by the crowd and the Pharisees.
He is illustrating their hearts in accepting the truth of God. Both Pharisee and crowd refuse to see Jesus as He is.
The main issue here is not the type of song being played; as one is a happy song and one is a sad song; the issue is that they didn’t want any song to be played that wasn’t their song. It didn’t matter if a pipe was played (which is a cheerful marriage song) or a dirge (which is a funeral song); because essentially it did not belong to them.
The greatest enemy of the gospel has never been the fact that it does not make sense; or that it is weird. The fundamental problem most people have with the gospel is that it is not about them and what they can do; it is about Christ and what He did!
This is what is fundamentally offensive about the gospel; it is not our song! It is not our gospel.
You see the world (and us if we are honest with ourselves) want God and His help on our terms. However, we really want Him when it suits us.
We don’t want to fall broken at the cross declaring that this is truly all we need. Rather we negotiate and rely on ourselves rather than on what the gospel is actually about.
You see you and I like the rest of the world want Jesus but we want Him on our terms. We want the gospel but we want it our way.
You hear this with language like; the God I believe in could never…
This language gives us away; who is the God of Scripture; do we accept Him on His terms.
I read a comic the other day where there were two guys arguing; and the first one says; “If God is really the kind of God who demands worship, calls people ‘sinful’, tries to tell me how I can and cannot live, and says that anyone who doesn’t believe in him goes to hell forever. Well then he is not a God I am willing to follow. He is not a God worth worshiping.
To which the other guy replies; “okay… I’m just curious… after you die, and you meet him, y’know, face to face… and you tell him all this stuff…like, how do you see that conversation going for you?”
We want God on our terms; however, if that was the case He wouldn’t be God! He would be subject to us.
This world is not about you it is about Christ (Col 1:16) your life is not about you; you were made by Him and for Him. And your salvation is… again… not about you; it is about Him!
Jesus did it all; you simply believed that he did!
Our hope then in the gospel does not lie in our ability but in Christ’s complete work! it does not lie in what we bring; but in what He did. We rest in this!
And so I have to challenge you church tonight; as we go with this good news; this declaration that freedom from sin is possible. Let us declare it as it is!
It is not the ten steps to a better you; it is not a way to make your life better; it is the story of a God who loved us so as to die for us; that whoever would believe would have eternal life!
It has nothing about what we bring to this story; it is all about Him.
Let us not demand of God that He play our song; let us sing His! Because for all eternity we will be singing this song to glorify Christ!
Because Jesus ends this parable with a peculiar statement; But wisdom is proved right by all her children.
Jesus is speaking about us here; wisdom is Jesus; and we prove that the song is God’s by our life. As we live loosely with the things of this world and live in dependence upon Him so this parable is proven right to every generation.
I am always amazed how distracted from this we become; we so often think that it is all about the right delivery of the message; it’s about having a hip church; it’s about singing the right songs. No church; the gospel is Christ’s and so we prove Him right when we sing His song. When we commit ourselves to speaking His truth; the wonder of the gospel to all! That is our power that is the hope of the world.
So don’t believe the lie that you need to know enough and be good enough; believe the gospel! You were not good enough; but Christ made you good through His death and resurrection; declare that truth! Sing that Song for all the world to hear!
This is our mandate and this is what God delights in!