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    Jul 19, 2020

    The Story of the Gospel

    Preacher: Matt Lewis

    Series: Great Gospel

    Keywords: story, creation, gospel, redemption, fall, restoration


    This message ties all the others on the Gospel together by helping us see how our story fits with God's great story of the Gospel.


    The Story of the Gospel 1

    Matthew Lewis

    The Gospel.
    For the last four Sunday mornings we have been listening to different leaders within this extension of Christ’s body sharing about “the Gospel.” We have heard Andrew share some thoughts from Romans 1:16 in order to help us frame a working definition of the Gospel from
    that particular passage. We then heard John speak about some of the Gospel’s power over the sin of our past, heard Bob discuss some of the power the Gospel has for our present lives, and, last week, we heard Jesse use some of his experiences and understanding of the
    Scriptures to display the Gospel’s power for the future- ours and others. Today, I am going to take us together through an overview of

    THE STORY of the Gospel.

    The Story of the Gospel is the story we find ourselves in the middle of. But, before we venture into that story together this morning I want to give you a helpful handle on trying to understand what is meant when we say “Gospel” or talk about “The Gospel.” The word Gospel literally means “Good news” or “Good Story.” And the Gospel of Jesus Christ was not the first “Gospel” message that our world heard. A gospel, was something usually sent by messengers to people throughout a Kingdom
    or nation to inform them of something good that their King or Leader had won for them as a people group, usually through battle. So, a gospel message was a proclaimed announcement of good news for a people. It was not a message about something they needed to do, it was a message about something that had been done for them! The “Gospel” of Jesus Christ, is a declared message of good news that Jesus has defeated evil and sin, and therefore won freedom for all from evil and all its effects. Jesus has through His life, death and resurrection, defeated death, and brought restored relationship with God to all who will receive Him. The Gospel leads to a new way of life, but the Gospel itself is not a way of life, it is a good news message! And, as our sister Tina did a wonderful job of reminding some of the other leaders at the last staff meeting, that Gospel message is all about a person- it is a message completely about Jesus Christ. Jesus is and was the living Gospel.

    Transition: This living Gospel message found through Jesus Christ so radically captured the apostle Paul’s heart and imagination that he at one point wrote the following to the Church at Corinth:
    “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” (1 Cor. 2:4)**
    Paul determined to set his mind and focus on the single pursuit of knowing Christ. Let me illustrate the difference between seeking to understand the basics principles of Christianity and a life devoted to the Gospel:
    There was a man living in New York City who used to visit the Grand Canyon on a yearly basis. This man would travel to the same viewing platform on the South Rim of the Canyon each year.
    At his familiar spot on the South Rim, he would spend roughly 30 to 45 minutes gazing around the Canyon, taking a few photos here and there, and then he would leave, and go back home. The man would put up the photos he took in his office building. Co-workers of his would
    sometimes ask him about the photos and he would happily respond by telling them about his yearly trips and expressing how satisfied he was to KNOW the Grand Canyon.
    There was a woman from Pennsylvania who visited the Grand Canyon once as a young girl. She was captivated by its immensity, its beauty, complexity and the sense of adventure it stirred up in her. She longed to go back and experience more. As an adult she decided to move to Arizona so she could spend as much time as possible hiking around, camping and exploring the various parts of the Canyon. She wanted to see and experience everything she could; different parts of the Canyon at Sunrise- the diverse combinations of colors, light, angles and overwhelming natural beauty- she wanted to soak in as much as she could. She wanted know the Grand Canyon. She spent the rest of her life doing just that.
    Do we want photos of the Gospel on the walls of our life or do we want to explore every contour and mystery of the Gospel we possibly can?
    Peter tells us in his letter to persecuted and scattered believers in the first century that the salvation the Gospel of Jesus brings is so fascinating and unfathomable that angels long to understand it:
    “Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was
    revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.” (1 Peter 1:10-12)
    With the foundational understanding that the Gospel is a message about what Jesus has done that has power for our lives in the past, present and future, let’s look at the Story which makes
    this good news message so important and makes it such good news!
    So, let me ask, who here loves stories? I absolutely love stories. I crave stories. And I believe this in part due to the fact that I crave meaning. I am a meaning maker. (Sometimes I am making meaning based on what is true, and sometimes I making meaning based on things that feel or that seem true to me at the time, but that aren’t actually true).

    Stories are meant to provide meaning to our experiences and provide meaning for what is happening around us. We need a uniting story to bring the various experiences of our lives together or else we fall into
    chaos. God knows this. He has given us a story to live into and to help us bring together and make sense of our experiences, and to make some sense of the world around us. This morning, I would like to describe this story God has written and continues to write as a great
    drama with four major Acts.
    1. Creation
    2. Fall
    3. Redemption
    4. Restoration
    Transition: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without from and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” This is what we read at the beginning of the Hebrew Scriptures which we call the Old Testament Scriptures. (Genesis 1:1-2)

    CREATION- The Origins of a story. First Act, the setting for the true story we find ourselves in.
    God created the Heavens- the Realm He dwells in and in Nehemiah 9:6 we are told that God created the host heaven, also referred to as angels, when He created the heaves. Then, God created the earth, and He finished His creative enterprise with human beings made in His own
    image as the pinnacle of all His work. It is important here to note that God created out of abundance, out of love, out of desire. Not out of need or loneliness or lack, but from a place ofjoy. And He declared everything he created to be good. And even more so, when he created
    mankind, saying “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” He declared man, male and female, and all of his creation to be very good. He then placed the good people He had made in a good garden full of life and spent time in relationship with them there.

    Transition: But, this very good beginning did not endure. Evil entered the scene. “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.”
    Genesis 3:1

    THE FALL: The Dismantling and Unbecoming of the Good that was Created. God had given a command to the people He had made in His image-they were not to eat of a particular tree in their good garden, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And, God gave the first people He created, named Adam and Eve, a warning of the consequence if they disobeyed- they would be choosing sure death. But the crafty and evil serpent tempted the hearts of the humans with low desire, he tested them to choose their own power, sufficiency and ability over trusting God to care for them and give them good- “Did God really say?… you shall not surely die…you will be like God.” (Paraphrase of Genesis 3) The first humans, Adam and Eve, fell prey
    to the desire to try and have some of God’s ability over enjoying God’s presence. They chose trying to be smart and capable on their own over being loved by God. And, being that humans were God’s image bearers who God had given dominion over the whole earth to, all of creation
    followed humanity into brokenness and violence. As a result of the choice the humans had made, Holy and honorable God who was true to His word, exiled the humans He had made from the good garden and from His Holy and loving intimate presence. He sent the out into the
    wild of an untamed world without His close presence to figure life out with their newfound knowledge and with less of His help. But even as God sent them out, He gave to them and all His creation a great promise of hope- and because is a living God, it was a living hope, that He would send a redeemer from mankind to crush the serpent and all of the evil the serpent represented and to RESTORE all of God’s good creation.

    Transition: The Fall led to a few thousand years of “Fallout.” Like the long-term environmental effects that linger after a nuclear bomb, the sin and rebellion of mankind against God left an enduring wake of evil, self-centeredness and brokenness over all the earth. One of the most
    damaging and misguided choices of humanity in this time period, was the making of religion's man-made constructions of rituals, teachings, and devotions centers on the belief system that mankind could earn its way back to harmony with God. In the midst of this haze of evil and
    confusion all people now lived under, the Lord chose to create a unique and special relationship with a man named Abraham. From this unique friendship between God and a man, God grew a nation of human beings called Israelites and chose to dwell with them in a unique
    way as their personal God. This people though, ended up enslaved to a powerful foreign nation called Egypt. After living in the bonds of oppression for 430 years, The Lord God, Yahweh, as He declared His holy name to be, gave the Israelite people a great display of His redemptive love and power by rescuing them out of slavery to the Egyptians. He sent destructive plagues on the Egyptians and led His people Israel out of slavery in Egypt and into the wilderness
    around Mount Sinai, before then bringing them to the promised land of Canaan that would become their new home. This place would eventually become known as Israel.This great
    rescue mission of Yahweh leading His chosen people out of Egypt would foreshadow the next major movement of the story, coming a millennium and a half later with the announcement of a special baby boy being born to an unwed woman living in the town of Nazareth in this nation of Israel.

    Redemption: Rescuing Deliverance from Oppression. The promised serpent crusher, a human being born through the Holy Spirit arrived on earth. In a field outside the town of Bethlehem, Jesus was born to the woman Mary- Jesus, the world’s savior, was born in an animal manger,
    and there were some shepherds watching their sheep through the night nearby. Angels came to these shepherds and declared a Gospel message to these shepherds, saying, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (From Luke’s account of the Gospel of Jesus Christ).
    This promised child lived a perfect life, a sinless life, a life of absolute love for God and other people. In so doing, he fulfilled all that God had intended human beings to be as His image bearers. Jesus lived completely dependent on the Holy Spirit and completely for the glory of
    Yahweh, or, the “Father,” as Jesus so warmly referred to Him as. Jesus then chose to suffer and die and give up his life- he took the death all humanity deserved to die for their rebellion and sin against God’s perfect holiness since the garden. Jesus, in so doing, accepted the
    penalty and judgement and burden that all mankind deserved but could not bear up under. He took on all of the brokenness of the world and redeemed all people from the power of sin, bought them back from the darkness they could not escape from on their own, and through His
    resurrection from the dead, He abolished the power of death over human beings and over all the earth. Jesus conquered all the forces of evil set against God and set free all the captives to sin just as Yahweh had set free all the Israelites from Egypt. But, just like God did for the
    Israelites when He brought them out of slavery in Egypt, God left all people the choice as to whether or not they wanted to live free with Him as their God. He would not force relationship upon them, but, left people with the choice as to whether or not they wanted to try and make a way through the wilderness on their own strength without Him, or if they wanted to walk with Him and worship Him as their God. For those who chose Him then and for those who would choose Him now, The Lord offers up the hope of living with His presence in the Holy Spirit of Jesus through this life, and the hope of living in a perfect world free from all sin and evil with
    Him when He returns one day to fully restore all of HIs good creation to what it was intended to be. The people who choose to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior and now live with His presence in them and worship Him are called the “Church” and live as God’s people here on
    earth who spread His Gospel Message to the world and participate in HIs plan of restorationwhich is the next and final Act of the Story.

    Transition: We are living in this story, between Acts 3 and 4- between Redemption which has been accomplished and Restoration which is being accomplished and will come. Jesus has come to earth once, He has lived and died and rose from the grave and we have the great promise of His return, which will bring about a new heavens and a new earth, a restored earth, where God will dwell will His people forever in perfect harmony and goodness. For now, we who have chosen to follow Jesus are called His church, the new community of people who
    worship God. This Church has been called by God to give the world a picture and a foretaste of what God’s coming kingdom will be like and who, as they go, proclaim the message of the Gospel and disciple others in the way of Jesus and HIs Kingdom. Which will fully come with…Restoration: The Complete Coming of God’s Kingdom and Reign on Earth that Fuels us with
    Hope. Jesus promised to return and dwell with His Church, His disciples, forever, in a renewed and perfect earth. This Act will begin when Jesus returns, as He promised. He will judge all people- the living and the dead. Those who have put their faith in Jesus as their response to the Judgement they deserve, will enter into the restored Heaven and Earth with Him forever.
    Those who have put their faith and trust in themselves, in their religion, in their own goodness, in their own insights, etc. will spend eternity apart from the God who is life and love- this is called hell. In this final Act, all good that has been or seemed lost, will be restored. In us and around us.

    My Story:
    I. My Origins- A good beginning
    A. Idea in the heart and mind of God
    B. Hoped for Arrival (Parents longing for children and naming me Matthew)
    C. Identity (Compassionate, Tender, Bold, Warrior- I was made to be a prophetic truth speaker moved by a heart of love who lived from a place of innocence with God His Father and defied evil)
    II. My Fall- Brokenness and Blame
    A. Identity not Celebrated (Parents raised me to be what they wanted me to be, not to be who I was made to be)
    B. Cursed by others (Bullied at School- Too much, not smart enough, not hard-working enough, too much of a goody two-shoes, naive and innocent as a curse annoying-
    “Rejection”- Message: “You are rejected as you have been made”)
    C. Anger Grew (Nursed Anger inside- Soda Pop bottle metaphor)- This is everybody else’s fault!
    D. Began trading love for respect and admiration (I will impress others to gain love and value)- Using People
    E. Could not love or receive love (too threatening and scary)- Blocked from the source of love (Swords in the garden of my heart)
    F. Stuck and Could not get free (Could not be who I wanted to be or become who I wanted to become)- world waiting for a savior- Oh Come Emmanuel

    III. My Redemption- Rescue and Deliverance
    A. God gave me a promise through my Dad (Coming to truth and Jesus in my room)
    B. God asked me a question- “Matt, if I wasn’t….would you still want to be with me?”
    C. God freed my heart and moved the swords so I could love- Park Bench and Jesus
    IV. My Restoration- My Hope in God’s continued Transforming Power
    A. God has led me on a path to recovering the incredibly good man he made me to be.
    B. But I am still living with this hope in the brokenness of my heart being transformed and awaiting full restoration- (Lane leaving me and the heartache)
    C. I am seeking to plant a church and be a part of Jesus’s coming Kingdom by displaying His love and living out His justice, kindness and truth in what has been a dark part of my city.
    D. Still in process and continuing to learn how to receive love based on God’s kindness and not on what I believe I do or do not deserve.
    E. Jesus is turning me away from a man who needs all the power to feel safe and who is made to empower other people out of love.
    Conclusion: Just like me, fellow son or daughter of Adam and Eve, fellow precious human being made in the image of Almighty and glorious God, You have a story, and you are part of a
    Grand Story. An epic, cosmic story. And, like me, you are prone to forget this story. You are prone to believe that you are living a much smaller, much lesser story. And you are prone to make the smaller stories around you, bigger, than they are. You are prone to make the stories right in front of your face- “THE Story.”

    • Corona and all it’s effects,
    • The Future of how the Church will function in America,
    • Whether or not the leaders you have looked to are following
    • Christ in just the way you want them to,
    • Whether or not you, or someone you love, will die,
    • Whether or not you will be able to have kids someday,
    • What may happen to you financially
    • Where you are going to live or work in the next season of your life

    These are all things that matter, and they matter to God. But none of them are the Story you are meant to live and give your life to. You, just as you exist in this moment, are part of the cosmic battle between good and evil in the Heavenly places, you are meant to be part of King
    Jesus pushing back the darkness of this evil world with His light and love, you are part of the glory of God covering the earth as the waters cover the seas- you are part of The Story of God.

    Good news!!! - Through Jesus’s life, death and resurrection you are freed and empowered to live a much grander story. And knowing where you are in that story is very helpful when it comes to knowing how to deliver good lines and play your part well.
    On the other hand, when you forget The Story, you might slide quickly into believing that you are still living before redemption has happened. Even though you may know the basic Gospel message in word, and you may know about Jesus, without knowing what story you are living in
    with Him, you will have little hope inside and you will likely see yourself working very hard in your own efforts- look at your life! I promise you, there are areas of each of our lives where we are living like redemption has not happened yet, where we are still living like we need to erect a
    religious practice to make the good we want come about. There are areas of our lives where we attempt to do things in our own power to make the evil we fear go away. And then, moving in the other direction, we sometimes get impatient and try to go too far ahead in the story, and then we start believing we should already be living in restoration. When we do this we tend to get angry when we continue to see and experience brokenness and evil and bad things happening, because we believe it should not be! Things should be good and this makes us very irritated!
    For example, when the truths of the Bible and about Jesus are not upheld by our country, and we are living with the mindset that we are already in restoration, then we see ourselves becoming shocked and appalled and we can’t believe it. We mutter and complain and agree
    with one another’s frustration and we end up getting angry and prideful. “How could this be?” we might say.
    On the other hand, when we are living like redemption has not happened yet, and then we see our country not upholding our Christian values, we are fearful and anxious and we try to scheme for how to change our country’s beliefs. We get fearful and angsty. But, when we
    remember the Gospel of Jesus, when we remember that God’s creation was good, that He sent Jesus to die for ALL the sin and brokenness of our world, including our own, which we were enslaved to, when we remember that He set us free by His love and power, when we
    remember we are His messengers in the world, sent to proclaim the good news about what He has already done and about what He, Jesus, will one day do when He returns, when we remember the Story of the Gospel, and then remember that is our personal story as well, if we
    have received Jesus for who He is as Lord and Savior, then we can move toward embracing the declaration of the Gospel. And when the good news of Jesus Christ in the Gospel moves into more and more of our hearts, we find ways to move closer to the Grand Canyon. But what
    fills me with incredible awe, is that Jesus sees my soul as a Grand Canyon He wants to explore, experience, and live in. That leaves me in wonder.
    Benediction: “The way in is the way through.” If you have experienced the Gospel message bringing good news to you at some point in your life, but want to know more about how to continue being shaped by the Gospel in your life today, please come talk with me this morning
    or set up a time to talk with me in the future. And you heard this good news message today for the first time and would like to reposed to Jesus and His desire to rescue you and be with you and give you a hope, please come talk with me or another person you know and feel safe with and we will gladly help you step into responding to Him.

    Go in the Gospel of Peace, Mosaic.