Paul’s Gospel

Paul’s Gospel

Paul’s Gospel consists of many things. In short, all men are unrighteous before God. Therefore, it is impossible for justification through works. Jesus Christ is the propitiation and reconciliation for man’s sin and unrighteousness. Christ’s work was a gift to man. For only by Christ’s bloodshed, death on the cross and resurrection can man be declared righteous. Man accepts this free gift through belief or saving faith. All who believe are saved, justified and declared righteous. Not only is Christ’s blood saving, but it is also redeeming. Man was under the power of sin and Satan himself. But Christ met with Satan himself in death and bought back souls with His blood. Once saved, Paul taught that men are united in Christ. His identify is in Him. Also the saint has remission of all of his sins.1 This is a summarization of Paul’s theology and the message of the Gospel found in his letters.

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Paul and the Law

Introduction

The Law is important to Paul’s gospel message. The Law in Paul’s writing is one of the most controversial topics in the New Testament. One of the most difficult things to understand in the New Testament is this idea of the Law, according to Paul. A careful analysis of Paul’s writings about the Law in Galatians and Romans will show that the two books are complementary, not contradictory despite what some scholars might try to conclude. The Law is not evil or a problem to the Gospel. Rather the Law is an essential element to Paul’s Gospel.

Paul’s Gospel

Righteousness- equity, justice, fairness, moral correct, right doing, good, worthy, virtue, decency, honest, innocent, holy, the perfectness and pureness of Jesus Christ.

Faith-ability to believe in Christ’s death, as the ground of justification before God, saving faith.

Redemption- to let go free for a ransom. Sin is presented as slavery and sinners as slaves. Deliverance from sin is freedom.

Justification- acquittal for Christ’s sake, to be justified/ excused of sin because of Jesus Christ’s death on the cross.

The “Romans road” can be used to explain the Gospel. It is similar to how Paul explains the Gospel in the first 5 chapters of Romans. Let’s take a look at these verses and also so verses beyond the first 5 chapters in Romans. First Paul starts with the problem of the sin nature.” Rom 3:10 as it is written, “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE.” Humans are trapped in a hopeless predicament because of sin nature. By the sin nature, men are not righteous. Rom 3:23 says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Paul’s solution to the sin nature in the Gospel message is faith in Jesus Christ. Rom 10:9, 10 says “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” This is faith, saving faith. We believe that as Jesus Christ was raised from the dead so we were raised with Jesus.
Jesus’ death and resurrection according to Paul’s Gospel is justification for our sin and sin nature. Christ in his righteousness (perfection) sacrificed for fallen man. Through Christ we are justified. As Rom 6:23 says “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Because of our sin we are doomed to die. But through Christ we live. The only way this is possible is through redemption. Jesus justified us, acquitted us because he redeemed us through His death and blood on the cross. As Rom 5:8 says “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” God allowed all of this to happen. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

the confession

the confession:
1. admit your sin/action was wrong
2. believe that God’s grace is enough to cover your sin
3. confess: say you are sorry specifically of your actions to God
4. If it involves other people ask forgiveness from the people/person you offended
5. Forgive yourself, God has forgiven you
6. Remember that God has “forgotten” the sin, separated it as far as east is from west
7. acknowledge that on your own power sin will overtake you again
8. Ask for the help of the Holy Spirit when temptations come again

True confession involves several elements. The first is the act of confession itself, which recognizes the act as a sin with the acknowledgment of guilt. The second step is the feeling of regret and Repentance on the part of the sinner for having been guilty of the offense. The final element in true confession is the resolve not to repeat the sin. Without the third steps the confession is of no value from a religious viewpoint.

The 6 steps of confession to God.

  1. Examine your conscience by inviting God to identify any specific sin(s).

    Periodically use some private worship time to invite God to convict you of anything that needs confession, then spend a few minutes in meditation so he can direct your mind. Don’t settle for generalized guilt, expect God to identify very specific sins. Refuse to get sidetracked into subdividing the blame to other people, keep the focus on your own areas of responsibility.

  2. Look through the eyes of God at the sin long enough to feel sorrow.

    Sorrow is abhorrence at committing sin–a deep regret for offending the heart of the holy Father. Think of how you feel when you realize that you have betrayed or embarrassed a spouse or close friend. Since God loves us even more than they do, I’m convinced he feels even more sorrow when we betray or embarass him. Look until you can label the specific sin: “intolerable.”

  3. Determine to avoid that sin in the future.

    Sure, we need God’s help to resist temptation. We also need our own resolve. The mindset of being conquered and ruled by God is essential to confession.

  4. Determine what you can do to help restore the relationship.

    Talk to your pastor about how you can build a healthy relationship with God, or read Celebration of Disciplines by Richard Foster. If your sin caused damage to another person you will also want to think about how you can restore some of their brokenness.

  5. Articulate or write down your confession, including each of the steps 1-4.

    Suppose you are at a local store and hit a parked car, denting their fender. Nobody saw you, so you just drove off. You have sinned against the other car owner and against God. Your confession might sound like this: “Holy Father, I realize that I sinned by ducking responsibility when I damaged the car. I claim to follow you but I failed to take responsibility for bending a bit of metal, while you took responsibility for all my sins even to the point of death. I see how my intolerable behavior embarrasses you. Please forgive me. I promise to take responsibility for such behavior in the future. I will talk with the store owner to see if he can help me find the owner of the car I damaged so that I can take responsibility.”

  6. Let go of the guilt, it’s over, live in the freedom of God’s forgiveness.

    Confession includes sorrow, but ends in joy. Scripture teaches “redemptive remembering.” This means we do not sit around remembering our sin, but we remember how God redeemed us from our sin.

Marks of Maturity

In the latter part of Galatians 5, the apostle Paul urges the Christians of Galatia, to practical godliness and he also warns against the snares of the false teachers. Paul wants to be clear. Christians are not to live by flesh. And they are not under law. Instead they are to live by love and live by the Spirit (v. 13-26). Paul wrote Galatians because Judiazers or Christian-Jews were coming in and teaching the churches in Galatia that in order to be saved, Christians must continue to follow the law. Paul’s main purposes in Galatians were to establish his authority as an apostle, re-establish the true meaning of the Gospel, warn against these Judiazers, and establish the place for the law.

Paul says that we are to love each other as ourselves. We can only do this by living by the Spirit. By the Spirit we are no longer under the works and desires of flesh: “sexual immorality, impurity, depravity, idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, envying, murder, drunkenness, carousing, and similar things.” Instead we are filled with: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (v19-21).”

It is only through and because of Christ that we can live in the Spirit. For, “those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also behave in accordance with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, being jealous of one another” (v. 22-26).

I will examine three of these fruits more closely: Self-control, peace and patience. (I chose these three because they are most difficult for me.) Self-control is rendered from the Greek word, “ejgkravteia” and the Latin word, continenia. Self-control is a concept that is difficult to pin down and grasp exactly and completely. Self-control is the ability to restrain impulse, set up boundaries, or control actions. The only real “self-control” comes from the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit is living in a Christian, then the Christian is able to resist temptation to sin, choose words wisely, and is able to control thoughts and actions that are fleshly or ungodly. Having self-control is a mark of spiritual maturity. Solomon writes in Proverbs five that “An evil man is held captive by his own sins; they are ropes that catch and hold him. He will die for lack of self-control; he will be lost because of his great foolishness (v. 22, 23).”
According to this verse, evil and foolish men do not have self-control. Self-control is a characteristic of the Holy Spirit and spiritual growth.
Peace is resting in relationship w God. In John 14:27, Jesus says “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid (NKJV).” Again in Matthew 11, Jesus speaks of the true source of peace, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (v. 28-30).” Jesus is saying that he gives peace. He wants you to find rest in Him. In our own power we will not be able to handle the stress and sins of this world, but in Christ we can.

The word “peace” comes from the Greek word “eirene”, the Greek equivalent for the Hebrew word “shalom”, (and Latin word, “ pax,”) which expresses the idea of wholeness, completeness, or tranquility in the soul that is unaffected by the outward circumstances or pressures. This peace is rule of order in place of chaos. When a person is dominated by peace, he has a calm, inner stability that results in the ability to conduct himself peacefully, even in the midst of circumstances that would normally be very nerve-wrecking, traumatic, or upsetting…Rather than allowing the difficulties and pressures of life to break him, a person who is possessed by peace is whole, complete, orderly, stable, and poised for blessing. This is a mark of maturity because it is a command by Paul and Jesus to let the peace be a part of our lives. Phil. 4:7, “And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” It is also a mark of maturity because when outsiders of Christianity see our peace, they will be curious about it. They will want it. They will see Jesus in our lives.

This peace is difficult for me and many other Christians because we like control, or at least I do. I want to make sure I have everything under control. I want to do things my own way. So I try to do things on my own power. When I do things on my own power, I forfeit this peace that Christ offers. But when I let go of my own control and let Christ control everything, this is when I truly have peace!

Patience, which in some translations is “longsuffering” or “endurance,” is defined in Strong’s by two Greek words, “makrothumia” and “hupomone.” In Latin it is the word, “longanimitas.” Trying to give an English equivalent is a little more difficult. The words: lenience, forbearance, fortitude, patient endurance, forgiving tolerance, mercy, and longsuffering – come to mind. It describes a person who has the power to exercise revenge but instead exercises restraint. The person who is patient can endure suffering, stand during difficult circumstances, and tolerate unpleasant things, such as persecution or simply annoyances. Hebrews 10:36 says “For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise.”

Patience is a mark of maturity in the same ways as peace is. In Eph. 4, Paul calls us to patience and tolerance towards each other as Christians to preserve unity in the Spirit. In 1 Tim. 1:16, Paul says, “Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.” We are following Christ’s example when we have patience. We are following Paul’s example in Antioch and the prophets example of old (James 5:10, 2 Tim. 3:10). Ecc. 7:8, “Patience of spirit is better than haughtiness of spirit.”

As Christians we are to live life in Spirit. Right before Jesus ascended into Heaven he spoke about the Holy Spirit, which he left for us. Act 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Both Paul and Jesus commanded us to live by the Spirit. When we surrender our fleshly will to God’s will in the Holy Spirit then all of the characteristics, marks of maturity or fruits written about in Galatians 5:22–26, Colossians 3:12–17, or Psalm 15 will be evident in our own lives. I would like to close with 2 Peter 1: 5-8. See how these fruits build on each other. We start with faith and we grow into creatures of love! “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith excellence, to excellence, knowledge; to knowledge, self-control; to self-control, perseverance; to perseverance, godliness; to godliness, brotherly affection; to brotherly affection, unselfish love.

For if these things are really yours and are continually increasing, they will keep you from becoming ineffective and unproductive in your pursuit of knowing our Lord Jesus Christ more intimately (NET).”

Costs of Discipleship

When one chooses to be a Christian, one becomes a follower of God. There are things that our leader, God, asks us to do as followers. These conditions of being a follower or disciple of God are not always easy. God wants a real relationship with his followers and when believers meet these conditions spiritual formation (and growth in that relationship) occurs.
Some of the conditions of being a follower of Jesus are self-denial, renunciation, “leaving it all,” steadfastness, fruitfulness, and love. Jesus taught that God does not like half-heartedness. God desires a real relationship with his followers therefore it is imperative that followers show that they are serious about their faith and put God first. There could be many people who say that they are Christians and many people who want to follow Jesus but they are not truly followers because they are not willing to follow through on these conditions.
The first condition, self-denial, is setting aside one’s own plans, goals, desires in life and following God’s instead. This is one of the hardest things about being a disciple of Jesus. Our life is no longer ours, but Christ’s. Do not get me wrong. This is not all bad or difficult. Look at the alternative. Willard says “the cost of non-discipleship is greater than the cost of discipleship.” The cost of having Jesus in your life outweighs the cost of not having him in your life. But being a disciple of Christ means that we will have to choose between the desires of our own flesh and the plans of God.
The second condition, renunciation, means to reject or renounce earthly pleasures. It is a sacrifice. Take the idea of self-denial and step it up to the next level. Not only are you denying your own plans and pleasures but now also rejecting all earthly pleasures and desires as well. Remember God wants all of us in our relationship to Him, not just to be compartmentalized to Sunday mornings only.
The next condition of “leaving it all” builds on the same ideas of self-denial and renunciation. We are taught by Jesus to follow him. Not to follow our own ways, not to follow the ways of this world, instead we are told to “leave all” behind. This might mean leaving behind other “important” things like family, friends, or a career to do God’s will instead.
The fourth condition is steadfastness. Steadfastness means to be dedicated, devoted, loyal, and fixed on a goal. When it comes to being a disciple we are to be fixed on following Christ. We are to abide with Christ, as we talked about together earlier in this class. We are to align our thoughts, doctrines, and teachings up with what Christ teaches in the Bible. The last two conditions are similar, in that we have discussed these things at some level in this class already. We are to be fruitful. Christians will bear fruits of the Spirit. This also progresses from being steadfast. If someone is steadfast in their faith, abides in Christ, and is serious about their relationship with God then they will inevitably become more like Christ. This means they will act and behave differently. They will love. They will have peace, joy, faithfulness, kindness, gentleness, and self-control.

Cost of non-discipleship

A lot of talk is done on the “cost of discipleship.”
While yes there is a high price, it is totally worth it, especially when we look at the “cost of non-discipleship.”

Think of these costs:
1. The obvious one: Hell. Eternity away from God. Eternity in pain and torment, beyond understanding.

2. Stress of an everyday life. The worries without God as the source of strength.

3. Ability to tolerate/understand hardships. When my brother was hospitalized for three months, my hope was found in God. Through that hardship, I grew in Him. I cannot imagine going through something traumatic like that without His help. It would be so difficult.

4. There are more. Without Christ, we are without are true identity, without our Creator, without our purpose in life….