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The Gospel Is the Power of God (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
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February 15, 2024 3:00 am

The Gospel Is the Power of God (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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February 15, 2024 3:00 am

If you’re dangling over a cliff and your grip is slipping, you don’t need someone to tell you an inspiring story or entertain you. You need to be rescued! Learn how the Gospel is God’s ultimate rescue mission. Listen to Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.



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This listener-funded program features the clear, relevant Bible teaching of Alistair Begg. Today’s program and nearly 3,000 messages can be streamed and shared for free at tfl.org thanks to the generous giving from monthly donors called Truthpartners. Learn more about this Gospel-sharing team or become one today. Thanks for listening to Truth For Life!





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If you were dangling over a cliff and your grip was slipping, in that moment you don't need someone to tell you an inspiring story or to entertain you.

You need someone to rescue you. Today on Truth for Life, we'll learn how the gospel is God's rescue mission. Alistair Begg is teaching from the first chapter of Romans.

We're looking at verses 16 and 17. The cultural pressure faced in Rome is a cultural pressure faced in Cleveland. And the cultural pressure is really strong. The prevailing wind is blowing not at our backs as we affirm the basics of Christianity, but it's blowing, actually, in our faces. And the message seems weak.

It seems almost pathetic. And that's why when Paul writes of it in his letter to the Corinthians, he reminds his readers that the weakness of God—the apparent weakness of God—is stronger than men. I find that people say to me, Well, you, Alistair, you deal in the realm of faith, we deal in the realm of facts. You deal in the realm of values, we deal in the realm of verities. We deal in the realm of science, you deal in the realm of fiction and mythology.

Well, no, actually, we don't. When the facts of the gospel are disintegrated, there is no gospel left. The fact of the resurrection, the dramatic fact of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, and so on. This is why he says, I am not ashamed of the gospel. I am not ashamed of the gospel. For it is the power of God for salvation.

There's no reason to be ashamed of this, he says. This is the way that God accomplishes his purposes. God does not save through the sacraments.

If you have been brought up to believe that that is the case, then you've been fed a lie. He does not save through the sacraments. If he saved through the sacraments, there would be no Martin Luther here this morning, because Martin Luther could have relaxed. He could have said, As long as I do what I'm supposed to do, as long as I receive what I'm supposed to receive, then all will be well with my soul. But he knew inside of himself that it wasn't. He confessed his sins, but he never had a sense of forgiveness.

He went through the exercises, but he never enjoyed peace. He was in great agony of his soul until the light came on. It is the power of God. For since in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom.

Think about that for just a moment. This is Paul again in the Corinthian letter. For since in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom. In other words, we couldn't think our way through to it.

It pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. People say, But, you know, there's so many, many wonderfully clever people in my university. There's people in my office, there's a girl in my office.

She's so smart! I mean, I get that. But there is no intellectual road to God. Because even the way we think is messed up as a result of our state before God.

Because we are rebels before him. It is, he says, that I am not ashamed of the gospel, and I'll tell you why I'm not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God. Every person God rescues, he rescues through the gospel. Through the gospel.

No one anywhere at any time, including all through the Old Testament, was rescued by any other way. All of the sacrifices of the Old Testament are pointing forward to the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, so that Old Testament believers were saved in prospect of the coming of Jesus, and we then are saved as we find our satisfaction and our solution in the work that Jesus has accomplished. It is for salvation. In salvation, we have been saved from sin's penalty. We are being saved from sin's power. And we will be one day saved from sin's presence. How, then, can a man or a woman be made right with God so that the penalty and the guilt of sin which lays upon our shoulders as a reality—because we haven't loved God with all our hearts, we haven't pleased him in every way, our very life is in rebellion against him, either casual indifference or manifold rebellion—how, then, is that penalty removed? Well, Paul says, I'm not ashamed of this gospel, because it is the power of God. For everyone—to everyone—who believes, whether Jew or Gentile. That brings us to the third four, for in it the righteousness of God is revealed. There's a progression here.

You will see it. He says, I'm not ashamed. So he's explaining his eagerness. For it is the power of God, explaining why he's not ashamed. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed, explaining how it is that it is the power of God. Now, Paul is not suggesting that this is a peculiar story for a unique group of individuals.

No, it is comprehensive in its appeal. The salvation provided in the gospel is the need of everybody in the entire world. The salvation provided in the gospel is the need of every single person in the entire world—everyone that lives up your street and up my street and mine, every person that we went to university or college with, everybody in the entire world needs the truth of the gospel.

So why are we ashamed? Are we convinced that it is the power of God that the gospel actually saves? To actually believe that by nature we're all guilty, that none of us possesses in ourselves the ability to do enough good things to make ourselves acceptable to God, that we're actually the subjects of God's wrath? Well, this salvation, he says, is enjoyed by those who appropriate the righteousness of God by faith. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith. Now, the righteousness of God, which is not just a New Testament concept—it runs all the way through the Psalms and through the Old Testament—the righteousness of God comes to us both as an attribute of God but also as the activity of God. And it is in this active sense that he's mentioning it here. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed.

In other words, the righteousness of God is not unconditionally and universally known, so that everybody doesn't go, Oh, yeah, the righteousness of God. I got that. Yes.

That's fine. Yes. It's been revealed.

No. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, The righteous shall live by faith. So in other words, we have to believe.

We have to believe. When the Philippian jailor says to Paul and to Silas, What must I do to be saved? He doesn't say, Well, just try your best. No, he says, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved. For the gospel is the power of God.

What does that mean? Well, it means that God saves through the message of the gospel as it is proclaimed. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. How will they hear if nobody tells them? How will they believe if they have not heard? It's obvious.

It's straightforward. It's not the job of religious professionals. It's the entrusted job of the entire church. If your friends don't hear and they're your friends, presumably you don't think it was important to tell them.

And the same would be true for mine. It would really cause a lot of question whether I actually believe the gospel itself and whether I believe that it is sufficient for this. Paul, of course, drives this home again and again.

For example, in Philippians and in chapter 3, it's there for us in a way that is perfectly straightforward. He's recounting the fact that he was a religious person before. He did all these things. He has had a radical change in his life. He used to find his significance and his identity in them, but he said, I wanted to know Christ and be found in him—here we go—not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ Jesus, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.

Now, this is a big story, and it is important that we bow down underneath it. When a person believes this, when a person entrusts themself to this, when a person recognizes that in your righteousness there is life, there is an instantaneous change takes place in the life of that person. It is not an inner moral transformation that takes place. It is a change of status—a change of status. By nature, I am under God's wrath.

I have no possibility of extricating myself from the predicament. Save that, the power of the gospel breaks into my life, is revealed to me not simply as an intellectual capacity, not simply as an idea, not simply as a notion, but as a life-transforming reality. Now, I want us to make sure we grasp this as I draw this to a close. When Paul is saying here that this righteousness is revealed, it's not simply that it is made known so that it might be understood by us intellectually, but rather that it is actively and dynamically made known to us. It is brought home to us in our own sinful condition, so that we suddenly realize, Oh, this is something that I need! This is something God has done!

When he writes to Titus, encouraging Titus to be a good pastor, reminding his people to be decent and not to be unkind of people, reminding them that they, quotes, we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others, hating one another—but when the goodness and lovingkindness of God our Savior appeared, when the gospel showed up, when the good news came, when the righteousness of God was actively, dynamically made true in our experience, then we realize that he saved us not because of works done by us in righteousness but according to his own mercy. Faith, you see, is not the condition. Faith is the conduit. Without the power of the gospel, Tom and Tina will never believe. So, you see, it's not that faith produces this. Faith is the conduit.

That's why we say with our children, isn't it? Forsaking all, I trust him. At a very base level of understanding, what this actually means—and the dividing line for us is this—either I trust God to save me or I continue to think that I can save myself. You see, why would you ever need a gospel? If Christianity is simply, try your best, clean up, quit that, start this, do that, do the next thing, hold the line, and so on, but you don't really need any outside help.

You can make a good stab at this. Either we walk out of this building this morning trusting God entirely or trusting ourselves. That's why Paul says, I'm not ashamed of this. Because the gospel itself is the power of God. And the reason it's the power of God is because the righteousness of God is actively and dynamically revealed when the gospel is preached. You say, Well, everybody can hear this.

Is everybody saying, Oh yes, I'm going to make that my own? No, because, you see, you hear my voice, but you may not hear the voice of God. The story is of God reaching out to rescue all who trust in Christ by giving them an undeserved gift, a right standing before him.

Think about it. What was it that got Luther out of his predicament? Anybody would have looked and said, Oh, he's got it made. I mean, he's a monk. He's doing commentaries on the Book of the Psalms. He's now studying the Book of Romans.

If ever there was a person who was in a right position before God, it surely must be Luther. But if we saw him, sometimes it says in his journals that he confessed his sins again and again and again and again, as much as six hours in a day. He was so agonized by everything.

What changed? The gospel changed. Up until that point, he was a religious zealot. But no assurance before God, until he realized that it wasn't the labor of his hands that made it work. It was the grace and goodness of God. Let me give you a quote that I have kept for a long time in one of my little books here. And it's from the fellow who was at Princeton Seminary, and then he went with others to begin Westminster Seminary. His name is Gresham Machen. And Machen, in this little dialogue, is conducting a dialogue between, if you like, the law of God and the grace of God.

This is Machen writing now. He says, Those who have been saved by the Lord Jesus Christ are in a far more blessed condition than Adam was before he fell. Adam, before he fell, was righteous in the sight of God.

But he was still under the possibility of becoming unrighteous. Those who have been saved by the Lord Jesus Christ, not only are righteous in the sight of God, but they are beyond the possibility of becoming unrighteous. In their case, the probation is over. It is not over because they have stood it successfully. It is not over because they have themselves earned the reward of assured blessedness which God promised on condition of perfect obedience. But it is over because Christ has stood it for them.

It is over because Christ has merited for them the reward by his perfect obedience. Man, says the law of God, have you obeyed my commands? No, says the sinner, saved by grace. I have disobeyed them, not only in the person of my representative Adam in his first sin, but also in that I myself have sinned in thought, word, and deed. Well then, sinner, says the law of God, have you paid the penalty which I pronounced upon disobedience? No, says the sinner. I have not paid the penalty myself, but Christ has paid it for me.

He was my representative when he died there on the cross. Hence, so far as the penalty is concerned, I am clear. Well then, sinner, says the law of God, how about the conditions which God has pronounced for the attainment of assured blessedness? Have you stood the test? Have you merited eternal life by perfect obedience? No, says the sinner. I have not merited eternal life by my own perfect obedience.

God knows, and my conscience knows, that even after I became a Christian I have sinned in thought, word, and deed. But although I have not merited eternal life by any obedience of my own, Christ has merited it for me by his perfect obedience. He was not for himself subject to the law. No, no obedience was required of him for himself, since he was Lord of all. That obedience then, which he rendered to the law when he was on earth, was rendered by him as my representative. I have no righteousness of my own, but clothed in Christ's perfect righteousness, imputed to me, and received by faith alone, I can glory in the fact that so far as I am concerned the probation has been kept, and as God is true, there awaits me the glorious reward which Christ has earned for me. Either we're being saved on account of what Christ has done, or we're gonna go out and save ourselves. We sang it. No fear in death.

Really? Luther was scared to death of death till he realized what Paul was saying. I'm not ashamed. Not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God. It's for salvation to everyone who believes—to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed, faith from beginning to end—a hundred percent grace and a hundred percent faith—as it is written, The righteous by faith shall live. The righteous shall live by faith. You're listening to Alistair Begg on Truth for Life with the message he's titled, The Gospel is the Power of God. Keep listening.

Alistair returns in just a minute. As Alistair mentioned, everyone in the entire world needs to hear the gospel. That's why our mission at Truth for Life is to teach the Bible with clarity and relevance every single day, and to make additional teaching available freely through our website at truthforlife.org. And we're able to do this because of the partnership we have with listeners like you. And if you make a donation today, we want to invite you to request a book called Helen Rosevear, The Doctor Who Kept Ongoing No Matter What. Request the book when you give a donation to Truth for Life through the mobile app or online at truthforlife.org slash donate.

Or if you'd prefer, you can call us at 888-588-7884. By the way, Alistair had the privilege of interviewing Helen Rosevear back in 2001. Here's a brief excerpt. I just fell in love with Jesus because he was somebody who actually knew me and loved me. Up to then people either knew me and didn't love me or loved me and didn't know me.

And it was wonderful. If you'd like to hear more of Dr. Rosevear's remarkable and inspiring story, maybe share it with others, you can hear the full interview on our website. Go to truthforlife.org slash Helen. You will hear about Helen's incredible journey in her own voice, how she came to faith, her calling to mission work in the heart of Africa, the dangers she faced, and God's faithfulness throughout. It's really an extraordinary discussion.

I think you'll find it fascinating. Now, here's Alistair with prayer. Father, out of an abundance of words, we long that we might hear your voice. I pray that the solemnity of these things might lay hold upon our hearts and minds.

Some of us are just young and thinking there's plenty of time later on to get all this sorted out. I don't need to hear this today. I don't need to believe this today. Lord, remind us that the Bible always speaks in the immediacy of things, that now is the accepted time, that now is the day of salvation. What a wonder it is that you do this for us in order that we in turn may take this message to others. Write your word upon our hearts. We pray for Jesus' sake. Amen. I'm Bob Lapine. It's more comfortable to think or talk about God's grace than about his wrath, but tomorrow we'll discover why we need to consider both. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is burnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-15 07:55:58 / 2024-02-15 08:03:50 / 8

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