ROAD 101: Session 1: The Gospel
Topic: Gospel Passage: Acts 9, 1 Corinthians 15, 2 Corinthians 5
Christopher Rich – January 15, 2017
Wk #1 The Gospel: His Work, Our Name, Our Identity, and Our Values |Acts 9, 1 Cor 15, 2 Cor 5
Good Morning! Welcome to Damascus Road Church where we are Saved by Jesus Work. Changed by Jesus Grace. Living on Jesus Mission. Today we begin our Road 101 sermon series covering who we are, why we exist, what we do, and why we do it. This is a time to reinforce for those who have been a part of our church and integrate for those who are new so we can be unified as a family on mission together. Today we will look at our Our name, His Gospel, Our Identity in the Gospel, and our Values from the Gospel.
PART I | Our Name - Damascus Road Church | Acts 9:1-9, 17-19
Names are important. In them we find meaning, identity, and distinction. Some names are inherently strong; others are superficially weak. Some names can propel you forward and push you outward; others can hold you back and stunt your growth. All names serve as the introduction, a name immediately reveals something to the curious and serves as a monument to the familiar. To the curious, a name provides a glimpse of who or what you are and in some way distinguishes you from who or what you are not. For the familiar, a name provides a history; it retells a story, it serves as a reminder of why we are here.
Acts 9:1-9, 17-19 | But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him.4 And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5 And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6 But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” 7 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. 8 Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9 And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
17 So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; 19 and taking food, he was strengthened
We chose Damascus Road Church because we want to preach something by our name. This name finds its origins in the experience of Saul, a man walking north from Jerusalem, on the road to Damascus. Saul stepped onto this road hell-bent on finding, imprisoning, and killing people of “the way”— Christians. With every step he unwittingly walked closer to a face-to-face encounter with the one true God he thought he was serving. Without warning, there appeared a light, a voice, and finally a name…Jesus. It was on this road that Saul the Persecutor of Jesus became Paul the Apostle of Jesus, transformed from murderer to future martyr. He left this road a completely transformed man and spent the rest of his life compelled to suffer, serve, and preach the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is why we exist—to see people have unexpected encounters with Jesus and leave changed on mission to serve Him. The Damascus Road experience is a story of complete reformation of those hostile to Jesus initiated by Jesus. And it is noteworthy that, from the beginning, Paul does not walk alone. He is aided by a community of believers beginning with a reluctant Ananias, then an encouraging Barnabas, and finally by a team of fellow workers and apostles. . It is on our own roads destined for destruction where Jesus meets us. Jesus shows us our sin; we repent, stop trusting ourselves, and trust Jesus. Jesus gives us a completely new identity and a powerful new mission. Jesus then walks with us down a new road leading to His glory and our joy.
PART II |His Gospel | 1 Cor 15-1-11
1 Cor 15:1-11 | Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
The Gospel is HISTORIC... the 'good news' of how God accomplished the redemption of man through the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible teaches that Jesus, the eternal Son of God, became man without ceasing to be God. In love, he humbled himself, taking the form of a servant that He might redeem sinful, broken, rebellious men who desired evil continually. Jesus lived a sinless life glorifying God in perfect obedience. He died the death we deserved, saving us through His death on the cross; He died in our place, for our sins, as our substitutionary sacrifice, perfect and acceptable to God. Jesus ensured our justification, conquering sin and death, through the literal physical resurrection from the dead three days later. We are, therefore, justified by grace alone, through faith alone in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus alone. On the cross, our old self dies and we are raised to new transformed life as one cleansed of sin, reconciled with God The Father, adopted into His family, imputed with perfection, desiring to worship our King, Jesus. Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus then dwells in our hearts, ceaselessly conforming us more and more into His image until we see Him again.
The Gospel distinguishes the Christian message from other religions. It is news of a great historical event that changes the listeners’ condition and requires response (such as a victory in war or anew king). So the Gospel is news of what God has done to accomplish salvation through Jesus Christ in history. It is not advice about what we must do to reach God. We do not achieve this salvation. We only receive it. We receive the righteous life we do not deserve as sinless Jesus dies the death that we do for our sin. The only thing we contribute to our salvation is our sin. At its simplest form, the gospel is JESUS IN MY PLACE. More specifically:
The Gospel is the good news that God became man in Jesus Christ. He lived the life we should have and died the death we should have...in our place. Three days later, He rose from the dead proving that He is the Son of God offering the gift of salvation to all who will repent and put their hope in Him.
Romans 3:23-25| 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.
The Gospel is Necessary: Our Need - Our relationship with God was broken as a result of sin, disobedience and the chasm that exists between God and Man is too vast for us to overcome. Because of Adam's sin, we are sinners by nature. Willfully, we have turned our back on God, becoming guilty by choice as we seek to answer questions of identity, purpose, and truth apart from Him. In that pursuit, we are miserable but try to convince ourselves otherwise. Enslaved to sin, we seek our own glory and fall short of God's. We find ourselves indebted to God, sentenced to die, unwilling and unable to pay what is required to save us. By His grace, God reaches out to those who refused to listen and loves them. By grace, He sacrifices His Son, the perfect sinless one, crucifying Him and paying the price that we could not. Through His willing sacrifice, Jesus redeems us, atoning for our sins, and through His resurrection frees us from the slavery of darkness and sin. In Christ, we are justified, deemed innocent before God, and declared righteous, as Jesus' own righteousness is imputed to our account. No longer under the wrath of God, all our sins covered, evil is defeated, death is conquered, as we who were once dead in our sins are made alive through the resurrection Christ. By trusting in what Jesus alone has done on the cross for our salvation, not in anything we can achieve or earn, God makes us holy and blameless without stain or wrinkle or any blemish. It is at the cross of Jesus where we see God’s mercy (not getting wrath we deserve) and resurrection we seek God’s grace (getting new forever life we do not deserve) We are reconciled to God and enter into relationship with Him once again, having been freed from guilt and shame and freed to serve Jesus out of a heart of love and thankfulness.
The Gospel is | Important: Our Growth The Gospel is not just the A-B-C’s, but the A to Z of Christianity. The Gospel is not just the minimum required doctrine necessary to enter the kingdom, but the way we experience and embody the kingdom in our lives now. We are not saved by the Gospel and then changed by obedience, but the Gospel itself transforms us is the way we grow and are renewed. The Gospel is not that we develop a righteousness apart from God so that we’re deemed “good” and then He owes and accepts us. The Gospel is not that we go from being irreligious to being religious, it’s that we realize that our reasons for both our religiosity (self-righteousness seeking to earn God’s approval) and our irreligiously (self-indulgence not believing we need God’s approval) are both equally wrong. In both, we were seeking EXTERNAL solutions to an INTERNAL problem; we were trying to be our own saviors, develop our own righteousness, and thereby keep control of our own life. Yet, the Gospel does not produce “something in the middle.” Instead, it produces something different from both. The Gospel shows us a God far more holy than the legalist can bear (He had to die because we could not satisfy His holy demand), and yet, far more merciful than a humanist can conceive (He chose to die because he loves us). Many of our feelings of despair, guilt, fear, and anger emerge in our life when we adopt a works-based mentality and allow something other than Jesus (career, family, morality, romance) to operate as our functional savior. A lack of deep belief in the Gospel is the main cause of spiritual deadness, fear, and pride in Christians. We do not “get saved” by believing the Gospel and then “grow” by trying hard to live according to Biblical principles. It is not a one-time repentance and belief, it is a daily and moment by moment repentance of sin and remembrance of the Gospel we are Saved by Jesus work, Changed by Jesus Grace. The Gospel is the only way to meet God, and also the only way to grow in Him—the Gospel must go deeper.
PART III | The Gospel is Transformational: Our New Identity | 2 Cor 5:14-21
2 Cor 5:14-21 | 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
By grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, God makes us new creations. Trusting in Jesus’ death on the cross means finding our identity in Jesus’ life—we are “born again” in new and restored relationship with God, others, our self, and the world. The following four gospel-identities describe who we are restored to be in Christ. These identities shape every aspect of ministry defining, guiding, and correcting us as disciples:
We are WORSHIPPERS| Sons & Daughters of God - All of life is worship and everyone worships something or someone. We were created to worship God. Because of sin, men have a worship disorder—we make idols of creation. The cross of Christ captivates our hearts and restores our worship through His Word by His Spirit. The deeper the gospel goes into our hearts, the wider the worship goes into our lives. We are worshippers so we must be theologians.
We are FAMILY | Brothers & Sisters in Christ - The gospel of Jesus has saved us as individual alienated sinners and us into a universal and local family known as the church. Through faith in Christ, we are adopted into the household of God. Community is not option, it is necessary. We are the body of Christ, needed and in need, to be built up together. We are family so we must be relational loving one another
We are DISCIPLES | Men & Women of the Way We are deeply committed to obeying Jesus. Motivated by the Cross and the Resurrection, we make use of the power of Christ in us to live out His character. Over time, we submit more and more aspects of our lives to the Lordship of Jesus. Our identity in Christ transforms the way we think and act. We more regularly practice (e.g. as husbands, wives, friends, workers, etc.) who we are in position through Christ. If we are disciples we must be followers of, and centered on, the person and work of Jesus Christ.
We are AMBASSADORS | Missionaries to the world God sent His son, Jesus, to live within the culture. He worked, ate and interacted among the people; living in such a way that those around him could see and experience what God was truly like. Jesus came to restore man’s relationship with God. In the same way, this is not our home. Ministry is not maintenance but mission. We are called out of the world and sent into it. In Christ, we are missionaries sent into our culture to restore all things to God through Jesus. What begins in our hearts flows to our homes and must extend into our city region and beyond. We are ambassadors we must be on mission in the world
PART IV | The Gospel is Valuable: Our Core Values
GOSPEL TRUTH | the truth of Jesus Gospel truth brings God and His Word to bear in our lives. God's Word distinguishes the Christian message from other religions, philosophies, or ideologies that make truth claims about meaning and purpose. Gospel truth is not another ideological alternative; it is submission to the absolute truth of God, foundational to all of life. Gospel truth is not purely a set of historical facts, it is truth personified in a man. Gospel truth is news of what God has done to accomplish salvation through Jesus Christ in history. Gospel truth helps us grow in every way, empowers us to overcome any barrier, and equips us to solve every problem we encounter. Sermons Studies, counseling, discipleship, leadership.
GOSPEL COMMUNITY| the family of Jesus Gospel Community brings people to God. God creates men and women in His image to live in community together, imitating the eternal relationship shared by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the trinity. Gospel Community is a gathering of people in loving submission to one another, fulfilling their God-intended role to love Him and His people. Gospel Community proclaims their faith in Gospel Truth by how they actively love one another. Gospel Community is where no one is so sinful to not be engaged where they are and yet everyone is loved enough to not to be allowed to remain as they are. Gospel Community exists as an expression of God's Kingdom on earth. ROAD GROUPS
GOSPEL LIVNG | the work of Jesus Gospel Living brings God's Lordship to our lives. God conforms us to the image of His Son, calling us to a life in total submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Gospel living is a life of self-denial lived for the approval of God, not men. Gospel Living is a life of humility, sacrificing the pleasures of the world to love and serve, and in so doing, finding deeper pleasure in God. Gospel Living is a life of continuous worship, glorifying God in everything big and small. Gospel living is a life on mission, fulfilling His call to go into the world and make disciples.
We believe that Gospel Truth, Gospel Community, and Gospel Living summarizes a three-fold pattern the Bible gives every Christian called to follow Jesus. Whenever we undervalue or ignore any one of these areas, we lose our sense of purpose and our source of joy in the life of our church. We believe calling the church to simultaneously pursue these realities creates the necessary tension required to walk in the fullness of the life Jesus saves us to live. What happens when one of these values is removed? | Unhealthy Churches
Gospel Living + Gospel Community – Gospel Truth = Liberal, and Syncretized Christianity This is when the church denies the gospel but celebrates community. They are so concerned with being cultural relevant that they neglect the gospel. They build a community designed to accommodate sin versus confront it and end up compromising God’s truth. Having rejected the authority of Scripture, they are now governed by the praises or criticisms of culture.
Gospel Truth + Gospel Community – Gospel Living = Traditional, Fundamentalist, and Separated Christianity This is when the church becomes more devoted to themselves, their traditions, and programs, than the gospel. Even though they are doctrinally strong, they are completely separated from the world. They can be hypocritical, hyper-critical, and self-righteous. Any evangelism they might do is called “outreach” because they are not close enough to be friends with unbelievers to begin with.
Family Recipe | Our Vision for a Healthy Church We believe that the local church is designed to function as a family. The experience of Damascus Road embodied in our name provides a surface level snapshot of what we value demonstrating the transforming power of the Gospel. Our core values are shaped and informed by the Gospel. We do not simply value truth, community, and living—it is a particular truth, a particular kind of community, and a particular way of living that follows the example of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. These core values are the central and most essential qualities of our being. Regardless of culture, context, or how our family grows or changes, these values should remain the same. These phrases define what is most important in guiding our decisions actively pursuing our vision for the church and accomplish our mission in the community. Our core values are what we believe, applied to action.
Now we will move to a time of response to God’s word, Singing old and new songs, for Christians coming forward to take communion remembering the cross, and giving our tithes and offering cheerful, sacrificial, intentional response to a God who joyfully intentionally sacrificed everything in Jesus so we could be made new. Then we will go and continue to daily walk the path He has prepared for all who simply Trust Jesus!