July 23, 2015

The Church exists for the sake of the Gospel of Christ Jesus; however, not all Christians seem to be clear about what the Gospel is. We sometimes hear Christians describing it as “loving God and loving our neighbor” – but this is not the Gospel – this is the Law. As Law it accuses us. Think of all the ways in which we have failed to love God and our neighbor. The Law, as taught in the Scriptures, reveals to us the commands and demands of God. The Law is not good news, because we are sinners and cannot perfectly obey the Law – which is what the Law demands. The Law is needful in order to bring us face-to-face with our sins, and thus to repentance. It is the Gospel – the good news of Christ Jesus’ death for our sins – which comforts those brought to repentance by the Law. The Gospel demands nothing – it only gives. Anyone who says that “the Gospel demands a response from us” has badly confused God’s Law and God’s Gospel. To do so is to deny the very Gospel that the person is trying to communicate. The Holy Spirit creates faith in sinners through their hearing of the Gospel, and this faith in Christ Jesus saves the one who believes it.
Since the Gospel is central to the Church, and indeed to our faith, each of our catechism students must be able to clearly articulate the Gospel of Christ Jesus. They do this in written form through their faith statements. You will read a marvelous example of this in this weekend’s service bulletin, as Laura Steiner receives the rite of Holy Confirmation. All confirmed Christians ought to be able to confess the Gospel clearly, so that they may tell it to others. While many things today are called evangelism, there is no evangelism apart from the announcement of the good news of Christ Jesus, who has died in the place of sinners and who was raised for their justification. There is only one Gospel, as it is the only good news through which the Holy Spirit saves sinners from perdition.
The very famous Bible verse John 3:16 is called “the Gospel in Miniature,” for it very succinctly presents the good news. While we often hear the phrase “live out the Gospel” – there can be no such thing, as it is a confusion of categories. You cannot live news – you can only learn it and announce it to others. However, we do live in light of the news which we have heard. May the Holy Spirit working in you transform your life in every way through this precious Gospel.
[16] “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. [17] 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. [18] 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. (John 3:16-18).

 


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