God has an encouraging word for you and me today through the Bible-based preaching of Dr. Don Wilton and the message, What is the Gospel? As we study the Word of God, know that we're here for you. We'd love to pray with you and for you at 866-899-WORD.
Jot the number down, store it in your cell, 866-899-9673. We would love to connect with you. And now, Dr. Don Wilton. Please turn with me this morning to Paul's letter to the Ephesians, Chapter 3. You may recall that as we considered Ephesians, Chapter 3, verses 1 through 13, I think that we discovered the monumental wealth of material that the Apostle Paul shares with the church at Ephesus in just 13 short verses. And so this week and next week, I'm going to be focusing on two subjects that we have been invited to focus on in these 13 verses of the third chapter of Paul's letter.
Our subject this morning comes in the form of a very simple question. Here it is, What is the Gospel? Now that's a monumental question, What is the Gospel? I have quoted many times from Charles Haddon Spurgeon, a great Bible expositor, whom God used mightily to spread the message of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, and continues to do so as his legacy lives on in the lives of many people through the books and the impact of his ministry. Charles Haddon Spurgeon said in his lectures to his students, that every time I open the book, I make a beeline for the cross.
I love that. I think that Paul perhaps was trying to capture somewhat of this, or perhaps Spurgeon was trying to capture somewhat of Paul was trying to teach us when Paul said, I save to know nothing among you, except Jesus Christ and him crucified. What did he mean by that? Perhaps what Paul meant was that any preaching that is void of Jesus Christ and him crucified is not Christian gospel preaching. Any ministry that is void of Jesus Christ and him crucified is not Christian gospel ministry.
In fact, the sad thing is that in many churches today, right across the United States, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Episcopalian, on and on it goes in many, many, many churches today, many a sermon could be delivered and would never offend anybody because it is void of Jesus Christ and him crucified. It is the offense of the cross. What is the gospel? It is the good news about the Lord Jesus Christ. I want us to focus our attention on chapter three and verse seven this morning.
Look at it with me. Paul makes a remarkable statement. He says, I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God's grace, given me through the working of his power.
Now we've already discussed the energy that God by his grace gives to his servant in order to give him dynamite authority pertaining to the gospel of which Paul claimed to be a servant. Now the word servant there is the same word that we have for deacon or diakonos and Paul is saying here that I have subjected my life and I have given myself completely as a servant, as a bond slave to this thing called the gospel. Now it seems to me here, beloved friends, that there is an apparent problem because God's word condemns idolatry. God's word says that thou shalt have no other gods before me. God's word says that you cannot become subservient to anything outside of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In fact, the word of God puts it like this, thou shalt serve the Lord thy God with all of thy heart and with all of thy soul and with all of thy mind. And here the apostle Paul says, I have become a person who is totally and completely subject to the gospel. Why did Paul say that?
He was not making an idolatrous statement. The apostle Paul was simply saying that the gospel is the Lord Jesus Christ and the Jesus Christ is the gospel. It is the good news about the son of the living God. So you can go right back through scripture and you're going to find time without number that the word or the phrase the gospel comes up. We cannot understand why Paul was placing such an emphasis and why the word the gospel comes up all the time.
We cannot understand the context in which he is writing. We cannot understand why the apostle Paul seemed to give his entire life, if not his very being to the gospel, if we don't understand what the gospel is. Well, beloved friends, ladies and gentlemen, if we're going to understand it, we've got to ask ourselves the question, what is the gospel according to the world's definition?
Well, I began to look at the subject and it became rather interesting to say the least. I began to ask myself the question, what does the world define as the gospel? What does the average person in the street today who knows nothing about God define the gospel as being? Well, I came up with 10, 11, 12, 15. It goes on and on.
Let me share some of them with you. The gospel is the New Age movement, according to some people. You'd say to me, well, pastor, what is the New Age movement?
It's all it is. It's old paganism. That's what the New Age movement is.
You have to go back into Roman times and into the dark ages, not the time of the Renaissance, not the time of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and all the movements and the great French philosophers. And you're going to find out, my friend, that there is a reinvention of the Garden of Eden. The Adam and Eve became too uncomfortable in the world and the New Age movement began to creep in. It is a religion of natural instincts. Well, what is the world's gospel? It is pantheism. It is the everything is God movement that is growing by leaps and bounds in America. Everything you see, everything you touch, the pancakes that you prepare for breakfast on Saturday morning. That's God.
And so everything that you touch and everything that you see and everything that you have is God himself. There is the environmental protectionism awareness movement. That's the gospel according to many people. You see, friends, for some people, it's far more important to save a whale or an owl or a tree than it is to worship God. And you're going to say to me, friend, pastor, are you telling me that you're not interested in the environment and protecting animals? Absolutely I am.
I will lead out and support and promote the protection of our environment in every possible way. But I'm going to say to you, beloved friends, that God never put a tree and he never put an owl and he never put a dolphin or a manatee in front of God himself. These things are all subservient to him.
All of them. Brigitte Bardot, for three or four decades known as the sex symbol of the world, lives on the French Rivera. And in an article just recently, she spoke about her life.
Now, in her later years, a life of ruin, she's been in and out of marriages and in and out of affairs and nothing's gone right. And even though she's had all the fame and fortune, her God now is protecting animals. The animal rights movement is the gospel to some people. Do I love animals? Yes.
We've got a bunch of them at our house if any of you are interested, especially some cats. I'm going to say to you, precious friends, listen to me, as much as we love animals and as much as they are important to us, I'm going to say to you that the animal rights movement is not the gospel. I've even heard of people leaving all their money to their animals. Doing unbelievable things. There's the You Are God movement. Everyone is God. Every one of us here is God.
Every living being is God. There's the universalism movement. That means that everybody, no matter what they do, no matter what their preference, no matter what their persuasion, all roads lead to God's heaven, wherever that might be.
Friends, I'm going to say to you out of the love of my heart, if we're going to understand what the gospel is, we've got to understand the universalism movement in America today. The key word in universalism is tolerance. Every newspaper you open, every debate on every field, every political race is tolerance. I dare say, and we haven't been there, that even on presidential debates, you're going to hear people compromising in the name of tolerance.
We're not going to do it because we need to be tolerant. In fact, in America today, you're not even allowed to be a man or a woman anymore. You have to be neuter. Men want to look like women and women want to look like men. They want to behave like one another. You cannot even have a men's institution or a woman's institution.
You cannot have femininity or masculinity. And there is a mad scramble now even to neuter everything that is said to take he's and she's out of everything that exists and turn everything into one glorious it. It's a universalist movement. Folks, if you don't hold to that today and you don't believe the gospel of the world, you're going to run in violation of some organization that's going to bring about some kind of lawsuit or institute some kind of punishment or they're going to use the word alienation. They're going to use the word.
They're going to use all kinds of loaded words that are going to put people more and more into isolationist cells. Universalist movement. There's the vegetarian movement. Acupuncture. Transcendental meditation.
I've had friends that I have encountered standing on their heads. I read in the newspaper in my favorite newspaper and I really respect that newspaper, the Spartanburg Herald Journal. I respect our newspaper. I don't mind telling anybody that. I think it's a very fine newspaper. And I appreciate their most of all their unbiased reporting at most of the time and they never hesitate to write about Christian things and I appreciate that. But I read in the newspaper probably the Spartanburg Herald Journal just the other day that there's a group of people who descended on a place in Arizona. I wish I had the article. And in Arizona in this town there's a big rock that just rises out of nowhere and over 10,000 people this past year all descended on this one place in Arizona because in this place there are some vibes apparently in the atmosphere and these people they all march up the side of this hill and they go and sit on this rock and they hum. I wouldn't mind sitting for a week and humming.
As long as I have a fishing rod in my hand I'll be in good shape. You know the mayor of the little town that surrounds this rock when he was asked by the media what do you think about all these vibes and these things going on he said, man I don't know what it's all about but it's sure good for business. That's the bottom line in America isn't it? Doesn't matter what you believe as long as it's good for business. Well then there's astrology and Scientology. You can drive around our communities today and you're going to see some of the most evil things you've ever seen.
Palm readers. The very antithesis of what God's Word teaches people who consult the medium. There is a rise, an unprecedented rise in America today.
There are 900 numbers that justify their consciences by stating that no one under 18 can call that number and they are reeking and raking in over millions upon millions and thousands upon thousands of dollars will call in to find out what their future is based upon a card or a teacup. What is the gospel? Yoga. In a recent edition of the yoga journal I quote, it is a sin to call anyone a sinner.
I'm going to work on this one. Reincarnation. We're going to come back in another life as somebody else depending upon the life we live in this life. There is karma and Zen Buddhism.
There is trance channeling. There is the natural medicine movement. Nothing wrong with taking vitamins.
There's nothing wrong with being healthy. There's nothing wrong with doing everything you possibly can but the natural medicine movement is a gospel movement that denies the existence of the presence of the great physician, the one who made us and created us. It is the one that denies the existence of giftedness that God gives to doctors and nurses to be able to exercise and to see and to make judgment calls, the tools that God has made available to his people, the natural medicine movement.
Then there's the therapeutic touch movement and I cannot get onto that in a morning service. What then is the gospel? If this is going on all over the world today, what is the gospel? Why would Paul say, I became a servant of this gospel?
May I suggest to you six things as we try to understand it. We're going to go back into the Acts of the Apostles to try and really understand it. The gospel is first and foremost a conviction about the Lord Jesus Christ. Look at Acts chapter four and verse 12. The Bible says very clearly that salvation is found in no one else for there is none other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.
In Acts chapter three and verse six, Peter and John said, silver and gold have I none, but such as I do have, I have the gospel in the name of the Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk and we know the consequences of that. Jesus said it of himself in John 14 six. He said, I am the way, the truth and the life. No man can come under the father, but by me, why? I am the gospel. He was saying three things. He's saying, I am unique, I am complete and I am the only way.
There is no other way, not the new age movement, not pantheism, not the everything is God movement, not the environmental protection movement, not the animal rights movement, not you are the God movement, not the universalism, vegetarianism, acupuncture, transcendental meditation, astrology, yoga, reincarnation, karma, trans channeling, natural medicine, the therapeutic touch movement, otherwise known as TTM. I want you to know there is nothing that can compare to the absoluteness of who Jesus is. Isn't that wonderful? Indeed it is wonderful.
Forgive the interruption. We'll be back in just a moment, but we want to remind you that we're connecting right now on our website at www.tewonline.org. You'll find Dr. Wilton's social media, the points of connection on Instagram or Twitter or Facebook. That's online at www.tewonline.org and there's also a way to sign up for the daily encouraging word email.
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Again, all the details are on our website at www.tewonline.org. Now back to today's great teaching with Dr. Don Wilton. Can you believe that people could be so narrow-minded as to bring it all down to one person, Jesus Christ? The gospel. It is a conviction about Jesus, but secondly it is a coming to grips with repentance. Acts 3 and verse 19, the apostles tell us, Repent then and turn to God. There it is, the very act of repentance. Repent and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out so that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.
Isn't that a beautiful picture that is painted there? You see, the gospel is coming to grips with repentance. You cannot separate the two. But number three, the gospel is understanding the reality of spiritual warfare. That's what the cross is all about, my friend.
It's spiritual warfare. The ultimate definition of the cross is the love of God juxtaposed against the hate of man. Why did Jesus die upon the cross? He died upon the cross because there were those that didn't want him. They had a very clear-cut choice.
What happened? Barabbas was paraded in front of the Son of Man. Barabbas was guilty as charged.
There was no question about it. Pontius Pilate said, Wait a minute, here's a man who's committed crimes. He deserves to be executed.
He needs to pay the penalty and the people, they just refuse to accept it. Why? Because of the reality of spiritual warfare. There was Jesus Christ. He had healed people. He had loved them. He had brought them back together.
He had stopped. He had fed them when they were hungry. He had made the blind to see and the lame to walk and Pontius Pilate said, But surely this man has done no harm.
They said, Give us Barabbas. The gospel is understanding the reality of spiritual warfare. Look at Acts chapter four, verses one and two. The priests and the captain of the temple God and the Sadducees came to Peter and John when they were speaking. They were greatly disturbed. They were upset because the apostles, here it is, were teaching the people and proclaiming the gospel. You can go on further in Scripture. Look at verse 21 of Acts chapter four. After further threats, they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them.
Why? Because all the people were praising God for the gospel, for what had happened. That's what happened. Go over to Acts chapter five. Turn in your Bibles to Acts chapter five and verse 40.
Look what happened in verse 40. His speech persuaded them. Here's a picture of the apostles. They were getting up and preaching and talking about Jesus Christ and Him crucified. They called the apostles in and they had them flogged.
Why did they do that? Then they ordered them not to speak the gospel and they let them go. But the apostles left the Sanhedrin rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering, disgrace for the sake of what? For the sake of the gospel. I want to say to our teenagers, young people here this morning, if you want to understand the gospel and know what the gospel is, you need to understand the reality of spiritual warfare. It is guaranteed, folks, when you turn your life over to Jesus Christ, Satan is going to come at you with everything he's got. He's going to come at you through your friends. He's going to tempt you with all kinds of junk to put in your body. He's going to throw things at your mind. He's going to try and get you at your weak spots. He's going to try and cripple you.
He's going to try and cause you to stumble and fall. It is the reality of spiritual warfare. And at some time we're going to get to the end of Paul's letter to the Ephesians and we're going to start to study on what it means to put on the whole armor of God. Paul spends a lot of time dealing with that. What is the gospel? It is a conviction about the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a coming to grips with repentance.
It is understanding the reality of spiritual warfare, but it is also the prioritizing of biblical preaching. I say to you with all the love in my heart, I'm so grateful for Spartanburg, but I'm going to say to you, beloved friends, that in today's day and age it is becoming increasingly difficult for preachers to stick to biblical preaching. I want you to look with me at Acts chapter 28. Some of you might wonder, I know just a few maybe, but some of you might wonder why your pastor every Sunday gets out the Bible. Every Sunday I say to you, turn in God's word. Every Sunday we read God's word. Every Sunday I try and preach from God's word. I don't always do a good job and I miss so many things and I don't come across right, but I try by God's grace to preach and to teach the word of God.
Why? Because the gospel is biblical preaching. It finds its heartbeat in the word of God. Look at verse 23 of Acts 28. They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying.
Here it is. From morning until evening, I mean this just consumed him, he explained and declared. Now those two words, they are very important in biblical preaching. The word there is the word for exposition. The declaration of the unfolding revelation of God through his word. Paul explained and declared to them what? What did he do concerning the kingdom of God, the gospel and he tried to convince them. That word they convinced in the Greek text is the word to persuade. That is why beloved friends, God forbid that you should ever become involved in a church where the preacher is about the business of articulate snoring. You cannot be about the business of articulate snoring when you understand the gospel. It is a conviction about the Lord Jesus Christ. And here the apostle Paul, unequivocally we are told he persuaded them about Jesus Christ from the law of Moses and through the prophets. It was a total consuming effort on his part.
Why? Because he understood the mandate to preach the gospel. The temptation in today's day and age my friend is for more and more churches and more and more pastors and more and more denominations to retreat into the compromise of the tolerance of the gospel. To retreat further and further back to have churches that are filled with people who just come to listen to good stories.
Who just come to be comfortable in their environment. The Bible says it is the offense of the cross. Not that we offend people, but it is offensive to people that the savior that we worship is one who would have died in such a horrible way. Jesus. That's why Jesus said, if you want to understand the gospel in Luke 9 23, you must come after me.
You must deny yourself. You must take up your cross and follow me. That's the gospel. Indeed that is the gospel. And you've been hearing from Dr. Don as he's teaching from God's encouraging word, the Bible itself.
But next, I pray you'd hear from his heart. Are you ready to give your heart and life to the Lord Jesus Christ? Why don't you pray this prayer with me right now? Dear God, I know that I'm a sinner and I know that Jesus died for me on the cross. Today, I repent of my sin and by faith, I receive you into my heart. In Jesus' name. My friend, I welcome you today into the family of God.
This is exciting news. If you just gave your life to Jesus Christ or we dedicated your life to Jesus, oh, how we'd love to put some free resources in your hands Dr. Don wants you to have if you'll just call us at 866-899-WORD. That's 866-899-9673. Or if you'd rather, meet us online at www.tewonline.org. That's the place you'll not only be able to hear today's broadcast but other resources from Dr. Don. It's www.tewonline.org. Thank you so much for joining us. I hope you'll join us tomorrow for more of The Encouraging Word.
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