Now let’s look at the Gospel as outlined in I Corinthians Chapter 15, and beginning with verse 1. I never tire of repeating it, and I hope you never get tired of hearing it.
I Corinthians 15:1
"MOREOVER, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;"
"...wherein ye stand" is a positional term. That’s why he writes in another place that we are not to be blown about with every wind of doctrine. Some people are so shallow in their understanding of Scriptures, that they see someone on television or someone can come to their door and they have a good line, and a nice approach, and they fall for it. We are supposed to be so well versed in the Scriptures that something like that won’t happen. We are to be like an anchor, steadfast, immovable. Now verse 2.
I Corinthians 15:2,3
"By which also ye are saved (it’s only by this Gospel that you are saved. It’s not by something else), if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain." And now here comes Paul’s Gospel in verse 3:
"For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received (here he’s talking about what we saw in Galatians in our last lesson, how that by revelation, "He made known unto me," Paul says. This is what the Lord revealed to him. We will find that Paul’s Gospel is not based on the Judaistic Law, or just on the fact that Christ was the Messiah of Israel, but it’s that The Messiah of Israel, The Son of God, died on that Roman Cross, shed His Blood, was buried and rose again, and here it is), how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;" This was in the Old Testament. It was all in the pre-eternal mind of God, that all of this would fall into place.
I Corinthians 15:4-6a
"And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures." That’s the Gospel! And to prove that Christ rose from the dead we see in verse 5 and 6 the following.
"And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once;..."
Paul tells us that he also saw Him in person. Paul knew that He was alive. Now back to Romans 1:16. That’s The Gospel – that Christ died for the sins of the world. And that’s what Paul expressly desires to get across to people. It’s so hard for people to comprehend that this is all they have to do. Just believe the Gospel for Salvation. If you really believe He will save you. Now you know that I’m not an easy believer. You know that. I’m not just talking about making a mental acknowledgment and you’re all right. No, what I’m talking about is a Holy Spirit driven belief, that my eternal destiny is based on what He did for me on that Cross. And we will be seeing more and more of that, especially when we get into Romans Chapter 6, where Paul just begins to draw that simple analogy of a little seed that’s planted in the ground, but before that plant can come forth, and bring forth fruit it must die first. So the whole analogy is that, "When Christ died, we died. When He was buried, we were buried. When He arose from the dead, we also arose out of deadness in the old Adamic sin nature to a new life." Verse 16 again:
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it (The Gospel, not our works, or denomination, not anything that we can do, but rather The Gospel) is the power of God unto salvation..."
One of the newer translations waters this down by using the word ‘salvation’ as a better way to heaven. Salvation is much more than a better way to heaven. Salvation is that all inclusive work of God on our behalf, whereby we are forgiven: He justifies us, He sanctifies us, He glorifies us, He baptizes us into the Body, He seals us with the Holy Spirit, He fills us with the Holy Spirit, and on and on you can go in all that was accomplished on your behalf by an act of God instantly the moment you believe. And you’re not going to necessarily feel any of those things, but they have happened to you if you were genuine in your belief. But how do I know that these things have happened to me? The Book says so. And that’s where faith comes in. That’s what The Book means when it says we are saved by faith and are to live and walk by faith. Taking God at His Word. So, you just simply have to know what The Book says. When you come to Salvation, and say, "I don’t understand this or feel any different," remember The Book says that it has happened. And that is what God is pleased by. Remember Hebrews 11:6:
"But without faith it is impossible to please him:..."
You should be able to say, "Yes, I know that I’m forgiven," not because I’m so perfect, or any better than anybody else, but simply because I believe what this Book says! I can’t make it any plainer than that. So when an individual realizes that he’s in the cesspool of sin, in that old slave market, and there is no hope of getting out, unless the power of God takes him out; God pulls him out of that deadness in sin, and gives him new life, sets his feet as the Scriptures say, "On a Rock," and does all these things for him. That’s what believing does! After that, you become a totally new person in your outlook on life, in your desires, and you don’t work for that. Remember, you won’t become a mature Christian overnight. It’s going to take time. The Christian life is like coming into physical life. We come into the Christian life as a babe in Christ, just an infant that needs tender loving care. An infant that needs nourishment, and protection. That’s what a new believer is.
But God doesn’t expect a new believer to stay a babe in Christ. He expects them to begin to grow in Grace, and knowledge and wisdom. To grow in a new lifestyle. Over the years I’ve told my classes the basic fundamental aspect of a Christian life, the part that will immediately become visible to our friends and relatives, and yes, the whole community; a true born again child of God is going to be a good citizen. Have you ever thought of that? When we are a practicing believer, we will be a good citizen. In other words, you won’t find a true child of God giving the police department fits. Now there may be isolated instances, that’s always a possibility. But the basic believer will be a good citizen, and a good parent. He will be a good grandparent. He will be a good child. He will be a good teenager. Now that doesn’t mean we are perfect. Nevertheless, we will be the kind of person that will enhance society. If you could have a community of 100% born again believers, then you would have a pretty decent place to live.
I’m not saying that it would be perfect. It’s just like the local church, no church is perfect. I said on this program once, if it was perfect I’d like to find it, but I wouldn’t dare join it because it would be no longer perfect. But, for the most part, God’s power unto salvation has imparted all these things on our behalf and they will make us different. That doesn’t give us the right to walk around like we are perfect, or better than everybody else. But what we have is an imputed position that God has accomplished on our behalf. We will look at that more in depth later in Chapter 3.
"...for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first and also to the Greek."
I said at the close of the last lesson that there were many things in there that normally people would think should be. Over the years, I have taught to be aware of what is notin Scripture that many of us think should be. Well, here is a good one. Let me read this verse the way a lot of people think it should have been written. This is just an example: "For it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that repents, and is baptized, joins the church, gives ten percent of his income, does good works, and believes." But it doesn’t say that does it? There are a lot of these things that people just automatically think are requirements for Salvation, and they’re not! They are all right in their rightful place after Salvation. But so far as our salvation is concerned it’s based totally upon our faith in the Gospel, and what God has said concerning the finished work of the Cross.