2 Timothy 1:14 “Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you — guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”
I believe that reformation will bring us back to the real gospel and what the real gospel can do. Paul said in Romans 1:16 “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.”
Do we, like Paul, believe that this gospel is powerful, REALLY powerful? Do we believe that it can enter into a man’s heart and change him (or her), changing even the outcome of his (or her) life? Or do we believe that something ‘else’ is needed to bring about the change in a person? Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
It seems that a new gospel has snuck into the church that is being preached today. A gospel where Jesus does all of the dying; a gospel where there is no personal sacrifice, no giving up of worthless things, no dying to self so that Christ can live out His life through our bodies; a gospel where basically – Jesus is absent.
I am reminded of the passage in Scripture when Jesus was 12 years of age and he went with his parents to the temple in Jerusalem. After two days on their way back they thought that Jesus was with them, but He wasn’t. He was back in the temple doing His heavenly Father’s business. (Luke 2:41-49) For two days Mary and Joseph did not know that Jesus was absent from them. In the same way the church is not aware that Jesus is absent because of this “new gospel” being preached today.
The gospel that Paul was talking about in 1 & 2 Timothy was a radical gospel which called a man or woman to come and then die. Like Paul, the early church realized that this gospel delivered them from their empty self-life. 2 Corinthians 5:15 “And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”
When the gospel came into a man’s life he realized several things:
- That he was not his own; he had been bought with a price. 1 Peter 1:18-19 “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ.”
- That there was a new Lord or Master in his life. Romans 14:9 “For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.” Self who had been in control has now been replaced by a new King: King Jesus.
- That there was a new beginning and direction in his life. “He is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
- That this gospel was ‘free,’ but it was not cheap. It cost more to God, but it must cost us for it to be real and lasting. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
It was this gospel that went out and changed the course of history in the first century. In the first 60 years the gospel had gone forth throughout the Roman Empire, when churches were planted and lives had been changed with the new hope that had pervaded the world. The world would never be the same.
It was this gospel that changed a man by the name of Martin Luther and ushered in the reformation five hundred years ago which changed Western Civilization. It is this gospel that we need to come back to in our preaching and everyday living.