Monday, June 16, 2008

Why Preach the Gospel?

Yesterday, I preached the sermon for our new downtown church's first worship service. We are going to study through the book of 1 John. Here is what I shared from 1 John 1:3:

. . . that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed jour fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

The aim of John’s proclamation is that his readers will “have fellowship with us.” That is, John wants his readers to experience the kind of fellowship he himself has experienced—fellowship with the Father and with the Son. “We proclaim the gospel,” he says, “so that you might find the kind of fellowship with the Father that we have also found.”

Fellowship has become Christian jargon, and most of us think little about the depth of relationship this word signifies in the New Testament. Next week, Lord willing, we will look more in-depth at this concept of fellowship. But for now note how important it is to John. It is the purpose of his proclamation. The answer to this question: “Why preach the gospel?” is not “to save the lost from hell.” It is “so that you [yes, even you Christians] may have fellowship.” The immediate aim of the gospel is not sparing you from hell. Too many of us have thought that way for too long. The immediate aim of the gospel, at least on a personal level, is reconciliation. The goal is to bring you and I back into a right relationship with God. It is to restore fellowship with the Father and the Son. Don’t say to yourself, “I know I have fellowship with God because I’ve prayed the sinner's prayer and so I’m not going to hell.” That is the wrong way to think about it. Instead ask yourself, “Do I know I belong to him because I have fellowship with Him?” That is the immediate goal of the gospel.


James Hunt said...

The gospel truly is joy for those found and an invitation to those being sought.

May God bless you at Crosstown. I know that by His grace through your leadership this will be the case. I'm glad God has raised you up to be the shepherd-teacher of this fellowship.

XLT said...

that's good to hear, Ben.

Strangely enough, I just recently did a series on 1 John for a relatively long pulpit supply engagement in Round Rock, TX.

Great minds may not think alike, but ours seem to!

Glad to hear the Lord is working there.


supabenben said...

The gospel is exactly WHY we pursue sanctification! The gospel reminds us (Christians) that it is through Christ ALONE that we have been saved (justified). Too many times, churches have added requirements or preferences for sanctification. "You must act this way, you shouldn't do that, you should only pray this way". The gospel is FREEDOM from laws! We pursue right living (sanctification) BECAUSE God has already rescued us!

Praise God that you understand that. I hope that you are able to continue to help others understand.