We Preach God's Gospel Message!
O Lord God, we come before You this day with joy. While we are fully aware of our many sins and our personal unworthiness, we believe Your gospel message which proclaims Your grace and mercy in Christ Jesus. We, therefore, draw near in worship and praise, confident that You will bless us as we listen to Your word and sing of Your grace. Increase our faith, our love, and our hope. In Jesus’ name, we humbly pray. Amen.
Moses encouraged God’s Old Testament people to bring offerings to the LORD—the firstfruits of their labor in thanksgiving for His many blessings. We, too, will want to remember our gracious God with gifts motivated by a sincere thankfulness in view of His many blessings.
Jesus overcame Satan’s temptations in the wilderness. He endured those temptations as our substitute, and thereby achieved a righteousness which became ours by faith. He likewise reveals how through using the word of God, we, too, can overcome Satan’s temptations.
Text: Romans 10:6-13
The word of faith, which we preach: If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls upon the name of the LORD shall be saved.”
In Christ Jesus, whose precious gospel addresses the greatest need of any person and all people, dear fellow redeemed:
Have you seen it yet? “It,” of course is Mel Gibson’s new movie, “The Passion of the Christ.” It has been in the news for weeks, as people have speculated on the impact this movie might have on its viewers. The topic that dominated pre-release discussions was whether or not the movie was anti-Semitic, with the primary question asked being, “Who will the movie present as being responsible for Christ’s death?” Some Jewish leaders, sensitive to the violence suffered by Jews in the past when they have been blamed for Jesus’ death, have denied Jewish responsibility and blamed the ancient Romans. The Roman governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate, after all, pronounced the death sentence upon Jesus, and, historically, it was the Roman soldiers who undertook the crucifixion of Jesus.
Such discussions and assertions, however, miss the greater spiritual truths that we must all come to understand. While it can be said that the ancient Jews and Romans were the primary agents in bringing about Christ’s death, the responsibility for that death lies with each and every human being. The Bible clearly states with universal reference, “All we (referring to all human beings) like sheep have gone astray; we have turned away, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). To discover who is responsible for Jesus’ death, we need look no further than the nearest mirror!
The gospel of Jesus Christ speaks to us, thankfully, not merely of personal responsibility for sin, but primarily of universal salvation in view of God’s grace. The apostle Paul, who in this tenth chapter of his epistle to the Romans addresses his deep concern for his fellow Jews, who had rejected Jesus as Savior, here reveals the direct connection of Jesus Christ to the salvation of any and every soul. The gospel message is a message that brings us face to face with Jesus Christ and His work as Savior. It is the message Paul preached, and it remains the message we are to preach. Yes, WE PREACH GOD’S GOSPEL MESSAGE! A message that saves; a message that is certain; and, finally, a message that is universal!
The gospel is a message that saves! Paul writes, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation.”
Notice, first of all, that Paul ties the gospel message to historic fact. The gospel is a message dealing with an historic figure—Jesus Christ, and is tied to the events of His life—historic occurrences. Jesus Christ was a real person, but more than that He was a unique person, for in addition to being a true man, He was also at the same time the Son of God. In our service this past week, we were reminded of how God the Father spoke of Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, identifying Him as His “beloved Son” and urging us to “hear Him!” (Matthew 17:5)
Jesus came into this world as God’s promised Christ. His purpose was two-fold. He first came to place Himself under His Father’s laws and to fulfill them perfectly on our behalf. Why? Paul earlier in this epistle informed the Romans, “As by one man’s disobedience (that man being Adam) many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience (that man being Jesus Christ) many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19). Jesus came to give us the righteousness God demands, and that we cannot produce on our own. Yet it is a righteousness that we desperately need in order to stand before God. Secondly, Jesus came to bear our sins, which He did when He died upon the cross. The writer to the Hebrews tells us that “without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22). Paul explained to the Corinthians, “He (God) made Him (Jesus) to knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
It is this message about Jesus, which when believed brings salvation. Jesus lived for us, He died for us, He was raised for us, and He now rules over us. Faith in these truths saves, because this is exactly what God has promised. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Dear friends, WE PREACH GOD’S GOSPEL MESSAGE—a message that saves!
A message that is also certain! The apostle Paul goes on to say, “The Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’” There are many in our day, who question the validity of our Christian faith. There are many in our day, who adamantly oppose our Christian faith. There are many who scoff at the idea that the world will end, and that Jesus Christ will return on judgment day. That such should be the case ought not surprise us. Satan has moved individuals throughout history to oppose the truths of God.
Those individual refuse to accept the authority of the Bible, claiming it is not the inspired word of God, but rather and simply the work of men. In so doing, they place themselves above the word of God—claiming essentially to be their own little gods, suggesting on the basis of their great wisdom what is both true and false within the pages of Scripture. Yet the apostle Paul assures us, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and if profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). The apostle Peter likewise informs us that, “No prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21). Jesus Himself confirms for us that, “The Scripture cannot be broken,” that is, proven false (John 10:35). Consequently, the apostle Paul warns us, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the traditions of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8).
What are those basic principles of the world? The most basic of those principles is work righteousness—the thought that man can and must work his way into favor with God—that character determines destiny, and that faith in Christ alone cannot and will not save. But the apostle assures us, “In Him (that is, Jesus Christ) dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power” (Colossians 2:9-10). We cannot gain our own salvation by good works, because God’s standard is not one of do more good than bad, but rather do good all the time. In other words, God’s standard demands perfection, which brings us back to our need for a righteousness that only Jesus Christ can provide.
The fact, however, that the gospel message is true, and the fact that Jesus Christ is our risen and ruling Lord and Savior means that we “will not be put to shame” when it comes to our faith in God’s promises. God has promised that Jesus will come again on the last day. He has promised that Jesus will judge both the living and the dead. He has promised that all believers will enjoy the gift of eternal life in heaven, while unbelievers will suffer His eternal wrath and judgment together with Satan and his evil angels. Dear friends, WE PREACH GOD’S GOSPEL MESSAGE—a message that is certain!
A message that is universal! The apostle Paul concludes this text by stating, “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For ‘whoever calls upon the name of the LORD shall be saved.’” God’s gospel message is intended for everyone and excludes no one. It begins with the premise that God has created every human being as a unique creature, gifted in his or her own way—individuals with whom God desires to have a relationship. It continues with the stark observation that every human heart has been corrupted by sin and is by nature in a state of rebellion against God. The gospel message of God, however, reveals that in spite of this rebellion God did not give up on mankind, but rather determined to rescue mankind by sending His Son to be the Savior of the world. When Jesus came into this world, He came according to the apostle Paul to reconcile the world to His Father (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:18-21)—not part of the world, but the entire world! God’s gospel message is a message of love, of fellowship, of hope, of a sure and certain future. He is indeed, as Paul suggests, “rich to all who call upon Him.”
Satan, unfortunately, has blinded many to the glorious universal nature of God’s gospel message. Many Christian churches—many Lutheran churches have withdrawn missionaries from foreign lands in recent years, suggesting that to proclaim the Christian gospel is cultural and religious imperialism. They claim that while it is entirely appropriate to provide humanitarian aid in the form of food and medicine for the body, it is inappropriate to suggest that the only way to salvation is through the “Christian’s” Savior Jesus Christ. While such thinking may help some people with regard to their physical life in this world, it does absolutely nothing for their souls.
This afternoon at Luther Memorial Church in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Pastor Matthew Gurath is being commissioned as our CLC’s second foreign missionary. He will work together with Missionary Koenig in at least six different countries in sub-saharan Africa and with our fellow believers in India. His work will be to share a message of universal salvation, as he trains future preachers and as he himself has contact with men, women, and children on two different continents. Our efforts as a church body are modest to be sure, but the message we are privileged to share is powerful and applies to all.
If I might return briefly to Mel Gibson’s new movie—the saddest part of the debate surrounding this film is that it centers on who was responsible for Jesus’ death, rather than focusing on the individuals for whom Jesus died. In the end, it must be said that no one took Jesus’ life from Him. He willingly laid it down on Good Friday, and He powerfully took it back again three days later on Easter. As the apostle Paul stated nearly two thousand years ago, “There is no distinction between Jew and Greek.” Today we might put it, “There is no distinction between American or European or African or Asian—“the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For ‘whoever calls upon the name of the LORD shall be saved.’”
Dear friends, let us therefore recommit ourselves to our spiritual calling. After fulfilling everything He was entrusted to do as our Savior and before ascending back to heaven, Jesus commanded us to “preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). While our congregation may well become involved in a great variety of programs and projects, may it always be true concerning us that WE PREACH GOD’S GOSPEL MESSAGE! Amen.
Soli Dei Gloria!
—Pastor Paul D. Nolting