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The Impact of the Gospel (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
June 13, 2024 4:00 am

The Impact of the Gospel (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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June 13, 2024 4:00 am

The Gospel isn’t a gentle “spiritual breeze” that subtly tweaks and refines a life. It’s more like “spiritual dynamite” that upends everything! On Truth For Life, Alistair Begg explores the radical changes that occur when the Gospel “explodes” in a life.


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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 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!


The biblical Gospel is not some kind of spiritual breeze that gently blows into a person's life, making subtle tweaks or refinements.

No, it's more like spiritual dynamite. It upends everything. And today on Truth for Life, Alistair Begg explores the radical changes that occur when the Gospel explodes in someone's life. And we'll turn to 1 Thessalonians and the first chapter. We had introduced our study by noticing the way in which Paul commends his readers for three things—first of all, for their work, which was produced by faith, and then for their labor, which was prompted by love, and then for their endurance, which was inspired by hope. And we then went into the section beginning at verse 4, where he explains their status in Christ, and in so doing provides us with three truths concerning the church at Thessalonica, and indeed three truths concerning all who are made members of the body of Christ at all times and in every place. And you may remember we said that, first of all, he reminded these loved ones that they were chosen by God. And we spend all of our time addressing this issue of what it means to be chosen by God and to a consideration together of the doctrine of election, which I don't know if I said to you, but in the words of Eric Alexander from Urbana some years ago, I think in 1984, speaking on this subject, he said that the doctrine of election is not a bond to be dropped, nor is it a banner to be waved, but it is a bastion for the encouragement of the souls of those who have been gathered up into Christ. Now, from there, we want to go on and notice at least one other thing tonight, and that is not only that these people to whom he wrote and God's people in all and every generation are those who have been chosen, but they are also those who have been changed. They have been changed.

And in verse 4 he says, "'For we know, brothers, loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with the power of the Holy Spirit, with deep conviction.'" And as he goes on to outline what has happened as a result of that, it is clear that these individuals have been radically changed. Now, let me suggest to you that there were three things which marked them. First of all, they had a new foundation. A new foundation.

Where is this? Well, it is essentially in the truth of election, that up until this time they had been without God and without hope in the world. They had been, in their thoughtful moments, trying to make sense of their existence, in their casual moments, denying perhaps the possibility that they had any significance beyond the moment. And then, along the journey of their days, they were arrested by God's grace, they discovered what it means to repent of their sin and to turn to God in faith, and now their lives have been built on a totally new foundation. They are those who have moved from the shifting sand described in Matthew 7, of those who hear the Word of God and do not put it into practice, to the solid rock of those who, hearing the Word of God, do put it into practice. They are those who have ceased to be the foolish men and women who built their house upon their sand, and they have become the wise man who, in the words of the Children's Sunday School Chorus, built his house upon the rock, and the rain came tumbling down.

And as the rain came down and the floods grew up, when the rain came down and the floods grew up, and the rain came down and the floods grew up, the house on the rock stood firm. Now, if you think about this tonight, there are many factors that face the believer which are distinctly unsettling. There are our great concerns for health, and some of us are buffeted by that. There are the issues of our ability to provide for ourselves and for those who are under our care.

There are the issues of our future and our career and our studies and our hopes and our dreams and our possibilities. But one thing is not in doubt, believer, and that is that you have been radically changed, and your life is no longer on a flimsy footing, but it has been placed, by God's grace, on solid rock. The psalmist testifies to it, and he says, He lifted me out of a mirey pit and from the slimy clay, and he set my feet upon a rock, and he established my going. That, then, is part of Paul's confidence in writing to those who have been changed. They have a new foundation. Secondly, they have a brand-new family.

A brand-new family. Notice how they're described in verse 4. They are the brothers. They, he might equally have written, brothers and sisters.

And what makes them brethren? It is that they are loved by God and that he has chosen them. You see, once again, we are brought back to this foundational truth, that when God set his love upon us and redeemed us and brought us into his family, he did so purposefully, in order that we might have a whole new family.

And indeed, this is very significant for some. For in the day that you discovered God's goodness to you and reached out in repentance and in faith, your earthly family grew distant from you. And they do not like to come to your house in the way they once did. And they are perhaps resentful of the fact that you're doing this with your children, and you're bringing them up in this way.

And in one very natural element, there is all the pain that is attached to that. Well, God understands that, and that's why he's given you a whole new family, a whole host of brothers and sisters. You remember the words of Jesus? He says, you know, I want you to know that if you give up your mom and your dad and your brothers and your sisters and your houses and your land and your clothes and your food and your money, for me and for my kingdom, I'll give you much more back, in the present age and in the age to come. And some of us have lost loved ones, precious ones, those near and dear to us, and God has made it up to us. He can never replace until heaven that great aching void. But nevertheless, he's given us a whole new family in Christ. It's your family. And we're gonna be together for a long, long time.

So we might as well start liking each other, start being nice to each other, start loving one another. Changed, given a new foundation, given a new family, and given, thirdly, a new focus. No longer were they approaching their lifeless idols, you'll see in verse 9. It was reported by other people describing these folks in Thessalonica.

They're telling how you turn to God from idols to serve the living and true God and to wait for his Son from heaven whom he raised from the dead, Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath. Up until this point, their life was consumed with idols. In a very realistic sense, this whole area was consumed with idolatry.

Mount Olympus was the home of Zeus, and Zeus was described as one who had curly, long, blonde hair, and it was reputed that when he shook his long, blonde hair, the mountain trembled. And people grew up believing this kind of stuff. And they grew up going to the shrines.

In the course of the last few weeks, traveling in different places, I've seen people at all kinds of shrines. I've seen them kissing the icons on the wall in the midst of a great and elaborate cathedral, walking up to a plate glass sheet, behind which are old bits and pieces. I stood and watched as a young woman with a little child stood and kissed the glass. I guess I admired her discipline to come. I guess I understood something of the longing of her heart. But it burdened me to think that there at those lifeless things, she was looking for the answers to the deepest longings of her life. The people in Thessalonica were just like that.

The people in Cleveland tonight are just like that. Serving idols, things, achievement, academics, notoriety, bank balance. And then the grace of God comes in, and it is not that necessarily all of that is removed, but it is that there is a radical transformation. You see, I sometimes think that we're selling the message of the gospel a little short by failing to make it clear that becoming a Christian involves a very definite break from all non-Christian habits. Becoming a Christian does not mean simply adding the Jesus package to a lifestyle of our own choosing. And these people understood that, because up until this time, their lives had been consumed by these things, and now it was a radical change. It's not easy to reject and to eject gods which we have worshiped from our childhood.

And some of you understand that. You have come from an extremely religious background. You have been marked by zeal. You have been marked by all kinds of things that represent the establishment of what it means to follow after God.

And yet you knew in your heart of hearts that it was absolutely lifeless. And God broke in, changed you, turned you from the idols that are dead and unreal and helpless to the true God who is living and genuine and able to help. You may be here tonight, and you frankly are agnostic.

Your life is unchanged. You've never been converted. You may have expressed an increasing interest in religion.

You may be brought up in a Christian home, and you're relying on the buoyancy of those around you. But may I ask you, have you come to a day in your life where there was a change of heart, a change of mind, a change of direction? Where the old passed away and the new arrived? You will notice that they had come into a dimension where they were going to serve and where they were going to wait. They not only had a new family and a new focus, they had a new future.

Because in verse 10 they are described as those who are waiting for the Son of God from heaven, the one whom he raised from the dead, Jesus. Listen to how Phillips paraphrases it. Speaking of those who describe the Thessalonian believers, he says, They tell the story of how you turned from idols to serve the true living God, and how your whole lives now look forward to the coming of his Son from heaven.

Complete reorientation. Once life was hopeless, once there was no future, and now all has changed. Now we're looking forward to the appearing of the Lord Jesus from heaven. We wait with patience. We wait in anticipation. We wait with confidence.

But we wait. The waiting implies a readiness, and a readiness implies a preparation. And the way that you and I may be identified as those who are waiting for the coming of Christ may ultimately be drawn down to two characteristics, I believe. Number one, a genuine desire to live a holy life. And number two, an increasing passion for the souls of men and women without Jesus Christ. We cannot surely be keenly waiting for Jesus to come back and wrap up history, thereby creating a day of separation between the believer and the unbeliever if we do not have an equally compassionate longing for those who do not know Jesus to come to know him. So, they were chosen, they were changed, a new foundation, a new family, a new focus, a new future—and let me just hit this last point, otherwise we'll be in this passage for weeks to come—thirdly, they were channels. What does it mean to be a believer?

It means to be chosen, it means to be changed, and it means to be a channel. You will notice as you read this that they are described as those who were imitators, verse 6, of us and imitators of the Lord Jesus. They came to faith in Christ, and they said, Well, who are we going to copy? And so they said, Well, we'll copy Paul and his friends. And that's why, when it says here that they were able to endure suffering, and yet they were able to do it with joy in spite of the severe suffering, and they became imitators of us in spite of this, you welcome the message with joy. As they came into this experience of all the challenge and the changes, they must have remembered what Paul had told them about what happened in Philippi. And there in Philippi, how they'd had a severe beating were put in the stocks, and yet they sang at midnight songs of praise to the Lord, and they must have said to one another, Well, if that's the way you're supposed to do it, that's the way you're supposed to do it.

You get a hammering, you sing songs. They became imitators of us and of the Lord. And then the imitators became the imitated.

There is a progression here which is a principle. When you first come to faith in Jesus Christ, you become an imitator. After you have imitated for a little while, you become a member of the imitated. After you spend a long time copying somebody and learning how to do it, all of a sudden you look over your shoulder and you say, Whoo! Somebody's copying me now! It's a great step forward in your Christian life. And you don't have to be that far along the journey to look over your shoulder and say, There's someone following me. Howard Hendricks says that every man in his life ought to have a Paul and a Barnabas and a Timothy, a Paul whom he may imitate and emulate, a Timothy who in turn is imitating and emulating him, and a Barnabas, a son of encouragement, to strengthen in the challenges of his day.

The verse 7 is the key to this, and so you became a model. The word here is a very graphic word, tupos. It was descriptive of the mark that was left by a blow. You banged your elbow on the wall, and in the morning you woke up, and you said, Where did I get that thing from?

And it was left there as an imprint from having hit your elbow on the wall the previous evening. That's a tupos. Or you pick a coin out of your pocket, and you look at it, and you see the imprint on the coin. That imprint there, that stamped die, is a tupos. Or you observe the conduct of somebody, and you say, That is exactly what I want to pattern myself after.

That pattern of conduct is a tupos. And look at what it says. You became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. In verse 8, he chooses another lovely picture. He says, The LORD's message rang out from you. Not only in Macedonia and Achaia, your faith in God has become known everywhere. This is a great church. This church at Thessalonica, it's a good place. This is a good little letter to read.

Lord, we'd love to get even close to this. We want to become a sounding board that your message might ring out from us. A sounding board's a good picture. Because a sounding board is a sounding board. The sounding board doesn't create sound. The sounding board reflects sound. The source of the sound is elsewhere. It hits the sounding board, and the sounding board then magnifies it so that others may hear. What a wonderful picture of a church.

Parkside. May it become a sounding board for the message of the gospel in our generation. May we become channels of God's grace. The hymn writer puts it like this, Channels only, blessed Master. But with all your wondrous power flowing through us, you can use us every day and every hour. Are you a chosen, changed channel of God's grace?

Such an important question for each of us to consider. You're listening to Truth for Life with Alistair Begg. We read in scripture that when Jesus ascended into heaven, his final words to his disciples were a command for them to take the gospel to the ends of the earth to make disciples of all nations. Our online teaching library at Truth for Life, as you may know, actually reaches people all across the globe. And we have generous Truth for Life listeners like you to thank for this free access. And we're excited to let you know about a partnership that has been formed with a group of international book publishers and translators. As a result, Alistair's books are also reaching a global audience.

Books have been translated into languages like Russian, Korean, Italian, Ukrainian, and many more. In addition, the Truth for Life devotional is currently being translated into Portuguese. And later this year, Alistair will be heading south to speak at a pastors conference, not only in Brazil, but also in Colombia, where volume one of his devotional is already available in Spanish. All of this translation work is made possible largely because of the consistent month by month giving that comes from Truth Partners. So if you'd like to take a part in a ministry that helps fulfill Jesus' command to make disciples of all nations, becoming a Truth Partner is a great way to do that. When you sign up to become a Truth Partner, we will send you a welcome package that includes your own copy of the Truth for Life daily devotional. And if you sign up today, we'll send you not only volume one of the devotional, but volume two as well. In addition, as a part of this important team, you'll be able to request both of the books we recommend each month with no additional donation if you give $20 a month or more. And as a Truth Partner, you'll have exclusive online access to a special message from Alistair that's newly released each month. You choose the amount you want to give each month, and it's the combined giving from this team that adds up throughout the year to help us bring Truth for Life to you, however you listen.

It only takes a couple of minutes to sign up online at slash truthpartner, or if you prefer, you can call us at 888-588-7884. When you sign up, be sure to ask for your copy of The Faith Builder Catechism. We're only offering this weekly devotional for a couple more days. It's perfect for older grade school age or middle school age children or grandchildren. It's a book that lays out foundational Bible truths in a fun, interactive format.

It's designed to use weekly, making it perfect for Sunday family reading or midweek youth group meetings. Each reading presents a question for the group to explore, like how does the Holy Spirit change us? What did Jesus do after he died on the cross? And where is Jesus now? Again, The Faith Builder Catechism is yours when you sign up to become a Truth Partner or when you give a one-time donation at slash donate.

If you'd rather mail your donation along with your request for the book, write to us at Truth for Life, post office box 398000, Cleveland, Ohio 44139. Now here's a look ahead at some of what we'll hear in tomorrow's program. The stewards of the gospel, those who serve God in the cause of the gospel, then and now, are primarily responsible neither to the church nor to its boards, but to God himself. I want you to understand that. That is not to say that within the framework of interpersonal relationships, within the context of the one another ministries of the church, that those who are in leadership, those who have the privileges of pastoral ministry, those who fulfill the calling which I fulfill, are somehow or another removed from all those one another accountability factors.

That is absolutely not so. We are brothers and sisters in Christ, and we are accountable on that level. But when you have said that, the minister of the gospel is not primarily responsible to the church or to any ecclesiastical structures established by the church, whether they are bishops or synods or whatever you like to call them.

No, the minister of the gospel is on a much higher task than that, because the minister of the gospel is responsible to God himself. We are not trying to please men but God who tests our hearts. In other words, on the one hand, this is far more disconcerting because God scrutinizes our hearts.

God knows our secrets and God standards are very high. We are glad you joined us today. There are people who think that if you serve God, he will make your path clear and effortless, but the Apostle Paul's experience suggests otherwise. We'll take a look at his journey tomorrow and find out how he was able to persevere in his mission in spite of opposition. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-06-13 07:41:09 / 2024-06-13 07:49:50 / 9

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