THE CENTRALITY OF THE GOSPEL

Hold fast to the Gospel for it is of First Importance
1 Corinthians 15:1-4
1Co 15:1-4 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, HOPEFUL PRAYERS My 2 Hopeful Prayers for this message: 1) Christians – that the Holy Spirit would rekindle your faith and love for Jesus and His Gospel would be repositioned at front and center, and 2) Unbelievers – that the Holy Spirit would open your eyes and you would finally see this new sight, open up your ears and you would finally hear this new sound, fill your heart with the light and the knowledge of Jesus Christ and you would finally understand this new truth, and God would make you alive in Christ Jesus and you would repent of your sins and believe on Jesus Christ and embrace Him as your Lord, Savior, and Treasure. INTRODUCTION “The cross is the blazing fire at which the flame of our love is kindled. We have to get near enough to it for its sparks to fall on us” - John Stott. When something is central, it is of utmost importance. It is the defining feature. It is the motivating factor. It is the life-force of the object at hand. Everything flows from it and to it. It contains all necessity and desire. It alone is the focus and pivot of everything. Just as the sun is typically viewed as the center of our universe, so God is at the center of reality. Just as the heart is at the center of the human body giving it vitality, so is the very Gospel of God at the center of all things. Why? Because God is the Gospel. He is the ‘good news’. He is the promise of eternal life. So then God is perfectly pleased with His Gospel, because it is the glory of Himself and the reflection of His image in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 4:4,6). The very center of the Gospel is God in the flesh, Jesus Christ, and all that He is through His Son. Therefore since God is the Gospel and the Gospel is about the God-man, Jesus Christ, then the Gospel must by necessity be at the center of everything; especially the life of the believer. KEY: Since God is the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, so is His Gospel. The Gospel transcends time, space, and matter. It is not bound by human will, intellect or emotions. No finite force can even touch the Gospel without the authority and intervention of the infinite wise and holy God. It cannot be boxed or cornered or shaken. The Gospel is eternal. It is fully wise and fully powerful because it is God’s news, and He will not let it be thwarted, surpassed, or stopped. Therefore, the Gospel is as crucial at the beginning of the Christian life

(regeneration=being born again) and during the middle (sanctification), as it is at the end (glorification). No one ever moves past the Gospel! No one ever rises above the Gospel! The Christian life is not a race towards “spirituality” or “religious elitism”, but a journey to the ” ” cross. God uses the Gospel to save us, sanctify us, and glorify us. His means is His end, and His end is His means. Let me clarify: we need Christ at every step in our lives. We begin at the cross, dwell there, and end at the cross-bearer! Christ is our beginning, He is our sufficient middle, and He is the fulfilling end. He is the center! The Gospel must be the very “heartbeat” in the soul of every believer. Just as sin and hatred towards God was the fueling nucleus in every sinner, so also the Gospel is the “life-blood” of every child of God. When God creates us anew and makes us born again, our heart no longer beats to the drum of sin, but for His glory. However, every true believer struggles with his own sin, namely idolatry, thereby making this refocus of the centrality of the Gospel all out war. As Paul described his battle in Romans 7:22-23: 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. The Christian life is a daily fight for the centrality of our hearts. Every single day of our Christian life is war. Every single Christian is in the middle of a violent and bloody fight for his faith. The majority of this daily battle is fought predominantly on one main battlefield: the MIND. Every day we wrestle and struggle with our greatest and most ruthless enemy: SELF/ FLESH. Therefore, everyday we must have our MINDS and HEARTS renewed and transformed. Because everyday we have the dangerous tendency to submit to the greatest ally to our FLESH: FORGETFULNESS. Yes each day calls for the reminder of some of the most obvious yet important truths. Because often times we forget the most obvious and crucial truths. Why? Because our FLESH, the World, and Satan want nothing less than to make us focus on our self and to forget the main thing: the GOSPEL! The same Gospel that was preached to us, that we heard, that we believed and received, is the one in which we are to STAND and HOLD FAST TO or our belief is in vain. It is to be central. Why? Because this same Gospel is OF FIRST IMPORTANCE! And it is this same glorious, life-saving Gospel that is to renew and transform our minds and hearts daily. But regardless of who or what seems to be central, the Gospel is central. And it remains powerfully central despite our feelings, our thoughts, or our sins. Our job is to keep it central in our hearts and minds. It certainly won’t come naturally for us to be so Gospel-centered. Each day brings cries from endless voices vying for our attention and devotion. The voice we hear most often tends to be our own. And our own voice often lies to us, tricks us, fools us, distracts us, ensnares us, and captivates us, does it not? If only we could learn to talk to ourselves more than we listened to ourselves. Everyday we subject ourselves and are subjected to man-centered thinking, feelings, philosophy, theology, methods, problem solving, and world-views. So what are we to do? Get back to true reality. Have our perception changed: We can’t make the Gospel the center, but only see it as where it is: at the Center of the universe. And God is the one that opens our eyes to the glorious liberating reality of such centrality.

Yet this is not the case with the majority of Christianity today. Or as my dad accurately calls it, “religianity”. Just stop and think, what is at the center of the life of the average Christian today? What does he hold fast to? What is of first importance to him? Going to “church”? Ministry? Theology? Vacation Bible School? 5th Sunday fellowships? 3rd Sunday sings? Visitation? Worship styles? Or even more secular things like: work, school, family, friends, fellowship, vacation, hobbies, shopping, TV, recreation, leisure, etc. And all of these are not inherently evil. Yet is it not the good things in life that most often become the dearest idols in our heart? And why, as Christians, is this so? Why do we view our Christian life as one in which Christ is just a prayer at the beginning, a friend in time of need, or a distant Lord soon to return? His centrality is replaced by other things; anything really. I am convinced that this is THE most dangerous and life-threatening tragedy among the Church today: the Gospel’s centrality is not a reality. Do we see the cross as infinitely ’ valuable for all of life, or only necessary at the beginning to secure the end? Have we relaxed our grip on the Gospel? Do we now see the Gospel as of least importance or only crucial for unbelievers to get saved by? The cure for this idolatrous thinking and living will come only with a radical change of heart. God must enact His heart-regenerating work in some, and His mind-transforming work in others. Some need simply to be born again to see this saving truth. While others simply need to destroy their idols and come back to the cross they’ve insisted on leaving. If for one moment our body decided that it would be best to glean life from our gall bladder rather than our heart, we would die. If the solar system decided that it would be best rather to gain energy, light, and heat from Pluto or the Moon, we would be in really rough shape. The sun must be the blazing center. The heart must be the beating center. The cross and therefore the Gospel must be the burning flame that lights our hearts afire with life. The Gospel will only have power if it remains central. It must be the focus of our attention and efforts. It must be the labor of our work. It must be the object of our affections. It alone must be what we center our very lives on because it alone is what gave us life and continues to give us life. Or have we forgotten that without the cross, we would be experiencing God’s righteous wrath and judgment? Hell burns pretty hot for those who have no righteousness. And who has righteousness without the cross of Christ? The Cross is infinitely and eternally necessary to sustain all of life. ANALOGY In light of Rob’s analogy last Sunday of Subversive Grace, which comes in and uproots the weed of sin and supplants the grace of God to push up and out our sin and reveal more grace, I want to offer my own Gospel Gardening analogy: “Have you ever heard of that 2-in-1 lawn care stuff that simultaneously kills weeds and fertilizes grass? I think that it is an excellent example of what the Gospel does. The rain of God’s Subversive Grace pours down into our sinful soiled hearts to root out all of the nasty weeds and thorns of sin, while at the same time the seed of the Gospel fertilizes our hearts to blossom holiness and righteousness and faith, in order to bear fruit for His glory! That is the Gospel and Subversive Grace.”

EXPOSITION I. Audience – Who is Paul addressing? 1 Cor 15:1 – “Now I would remind you, brothers…” • Believers, more specifically the believers of the church of Corinth. ◦ This destroys the popular line of thinking that says the Gospel is only for unbelievers; the Gospel is to be preached solely for salvation; the Gospel is ‘how to get saved’. ◦ Yes the Gospel is infinitely necessary for unbelievers to be saved, but believers also have a great need for the Gospel. Why then is it important for believers to hear the Gospel? The Gospel is necessary for the believer’s ongoing sanctification and perseverance in the faith. Hearing the Gospel brings faith: saving faith to unbelievers, and renewing faith to believers. This is why Paul says: Eager to preach the Gospel to Romans because he knows it is the power of God… Rom 1 (15) So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. (16) For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (17) For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, "The righteous shall live by faith." Ready to share the Gospel with Thessalonians due to love for them... 1Th 2:8 So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. Boldly asks Galatians if they were saved and perfected by hearing and believing the Gospel or through the flesh by keeping the law? Gal 3 (2) Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? (3) Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? (4) Did you suffer so many things in vain--if indeed it was in vain? (5) Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith -- (6) just as Abraham "believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness"? Honestly tells the Romans that faith in Christ comes from hearing, and hearing comes by the Word of Christ, the Gospel… Rom 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

II. Reminder – Believers need constant Reminders of THE Gospel 1Co 15:1-2 Now I would remind you (“make known to you” – KJV), 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. (ESV) • The Problem: the Corinthian believers had forgotten the Gospel! • What does Paul remind them of? The Gospel. • What Gospel? ◦ The one he preached to them. (the one they heard) ◦ The one they received. (the one they believed) ◦ The one in which they stand. (Firmly founded in) ◦ The one by which they are being saved. (IF hold fast to word I preached) • Why the reminder? Rejection of Resurrection. • Scriptural Pattern and Precedent - Rejection of truth = unbelief, and unbelief  FORGETFULNESS. • How Serious? If Christ is not raised, our faith is in vain. No resurrection of Christ = pointless faith. Pointless faith = believing in nothing and for nothing. They believe different from what Paul preached to them. 1Co 15:12-20 (12) Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, (which is the Gospel we proclaimed and preached to you, the one you received, the one you stand firm in, but now it appears you are not holding fast to) how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? The destructive trickling down result of their rejection of/unbelief in/forgetfulness for the Gospel they originally heard. But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. (14) And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. (15) We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. (16) For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. (17) And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. (18) Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. (19) If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. (20) But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. III. Hold Fast – Believers must constantly Hold Fast to THE Gospel 1Co 15:2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you-unless you believed in vain.

• Their Problem? Forgetting the Gospel, the one they heard preached, received, and stood firm in. • Paul’s Solution? Hold fast. • Hold fast to what? To the word. • What word? The word I preached to you, the one by which you are being saved. • Why? Secure salvation and a belief that is full of worth and purpose. If they do not hold fast to this Gospel of first importance, they believed in vain, and are not being saved. • How can I believe not in vain (for a reason, with a purpose) and be saved? Hold fast to the Gospel you first heard preached and received and stood firm in. • What does “Hold Fast To” mean? Kat-ekh’-o = hold down, make toward, possess, retain, seize on, take, withhold. To tighten your grip on, to not relax your grip of, cling to dearly, to grasp tightly, etc. It makes me think of what Jesus said in Mat 11:12, “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force”. Violent here meaning forceful and with passion, taking the kingdom of heaven with passion, force, and zeal! Striving to enter in to the narrow gate and pressing into the kingdom. Making war against all thoughts against God, taking vengeance on our flesh, killing our sin, denying ourselves, and taking up our cross to follow Christ. This is how we are to “hold fast to” the Gospel! Like it really matters because it does! • Hold fast or else let go with ease the Gospel preached to you and believe in vain. • Guard the Gospel entrusted to us – Paul exhorted Timothy (2 Tim 1:14) to guard the good deposit entrusted to him. Guard, protect, watch out for, secure, take captive, hold up, keep the Gospel. • Holding Fast with JOY and DESIRE! Not a begrudging holding fast. IV. First Importance – Believers must SEE the Gospel as Chiefly Important 1Co 15:3-4 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, • What? Forgetting the Gospel. • How? Holding fast to the Gospel. • Why? First Importance. Paul delivered the news as he received it. And he delivered it as of first importance because he received it as first importance: directly from Jesus Christ. And Jesus told him to go and suffer many things for His name’s sake. Jesus set him apart for this most important thing. • What did he deliver and receive that is of first importance? The Gospel! Namely, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.

• Paul based everything on the Gospel because it was the Gospel of God! It’s God’s Gospel. • Paul loved brothers because of the Gospel • Paul planted churches on the Gospel • Paul was a missionary to the Gospel • Paul was set apart for the Gospel of God (Rom 1:1) • Paul served God in his spirit with the Gospel (Rom 1:9) • Paul received his gospel not from man, nor was he taught it, but by a revelation of Jesus Christ (Gal 1:12) • Paul a bondservant of Jesus Christ (Rom 1:1) • Paul called as an apostle by the will of God (intro to letters) • Paul suffered for the Gospel • Paul labored and toiled in, through, and for the Gospel • Paul defended the Gospel • Paul was sent by Christ to preach the Gospel (1 Cor 1:17) • Paul was ready to die for the Gospel The Gospel for Paul was at the center of his theology and life! Paul kept the main thing the main thing. Because he knew that “the main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing”. ILLUSTRATION Let me bring all of this to bearing on us this morning, lest we leave here oblivious to the point and arrogantly conclude, “Well I’m glad I’m not like those Corinthians”. All of us here struggle daily to keep the Gospel the main thing. The reason is simple: SIN. Our flesh, the world, and Satan are battling against us pushing away the Gospel from our hearts, farther and farther away each day. V. Why We Forget the Gospel: Three Main Reasons 1. Forgotten your Life before the Gospel – Who you once were? What you used to be? The exceeding sinfulness and power of sin. (too often Christians forget/ignorant of an accurate picture of the Nature of Man, of who Man is to his core without Christ) • • • • • • • Totally effected by the sin of Adam and Eve and therefore totally lost Born and conceived in your mother’s womb in iniquity That you are a sinner not because you sin, but sin because you are a sinner! Blind to seeing truth Deaf to hearing truth Mute to speaking of truth Darkened heart to understanding truth

• Dead in trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience-- among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. • Desperately wicked heart above all things • Slave to Sin and Unrighteousness • Fallen short of the glory of God • Worshipped Creation not the Creator • Hostile to God, enemy to Him, and at all out war with Him • Enemies to God in our mind through wicked works • Self-righteous • Prideful • Unbelieving • Idolaters – with a Factory of Idols for a heart, producing them on a daily basis • Darkened in your understanding • Foolish in your thinking • Not honor God or give Him all glory due His name • Finding joy in idols and anything under the sun instead of Joy in God • Getting bread from idols instead of the Bread of Life, and water from broken clay pots instead of the Living Water that always satisfies and leaves none thirsty or hungry! • Blasphemers • Filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice, envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, and ruthless. • Storing up God’s righteous judgment • Object of the fierce and angry wrath of a holy God • Sexually immoral, thieves, greedy, drunkards, revilers, swindlers • Under death sentence • Cursed by the law • Headed for and deserved Hell forever • Blinded by the God of this world (Satan) to be kept from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God… the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. • Desiring self over God, evil over good, trusting in your own works based righteousness. • Deceived into thinking you were saved by going through the motions or trusting in a superstitious version of regeneration or a emotionally enhanced experience • Playing the church crowd and the Christian game, and so on and so on…. Maybe you just need to be reminded of where you came from and who you were before the Cross intervened into your heart and the Gospel pierced your blind eyes, deaf ears, and dark

heart with light and truth? Be reminded this morning of who you once were and therefore what you were saved from. Now don’t dwell in your sin as an end, but only as the means to take you where you need to go: The Cross! 2. Forgotten the Power of the Gospel – What happened on that Cross? What did the Cross accomplish objectively in you and through you? What did the Gospel do to you, in you, through you, and for you? How did the Gospel transform you? Focus on who you are now and who you have been made to be because of the Gospel and its power over sin. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Eyes that see Ears that hear Heart that understands the mystery once hidden Born again by the Spirit Slaves to sin  Slaves of Righteousness Bondage to sin  Bondage to your Savior Set free for freedom IN Christ Bought and purchased by the blood of Jesus Rescued from the Wrath and Judgment of God Escaped the power of sin and death Released from the burden and death of the law Purified stained heart Cleansed soul from sin Washed clean by the Word Forgave Sins Forgot Sins Justified by Faith in Gospel Sanctified by Hearing and Faith in Gospel Removed condemnation Gave you the righteousness of Christ Jesus Declared perfect, holy, and blameless before God Granted Eternal Life Secured Resurrection from the Dead with Jesus Access to God’s Throne Ability to Pray, speak, ask of God Enabled to worship Him freely Destroyed idols Given you love for others Reason/Purpose to live Adopted Child of God Joint heirs with Jesus Christ Saints by calling Unleashed the Power, Presence of God

• Gave the promised Holy Spirit • Given something that angels long to look upon • And so on, and so on, and so on…… Maybe you just need to be reminded of the Power of the Gospel; of what has happened to you and in you because of hearing and believing the Gospel. Maybe you need to meditate more often on the Gospel’s effect on you in the HERE and NOW. When you hear it, does it bring back to your heart and mind the reality of these truths? The fact that God saved/rescued you from Himself, by Himself, through Himself, to Himself, and for Himself should put you in awe and wonder and fear. Look then to the Cross again, dwell there a while, move in to these Gospel Truths and cling tightly to them as yours. 3. Forgotten the Sufficiency of the Gospel – As you have looked back on who you were before the Gospel and now who you are because of the Gospel, think of your present need for the Gospel. Do you see your need for it even now? Is it enough for you or insufficient to your needs? Does the Gospel have the ability to suffice for your needs? It did Paul… 1Co 2:1-2 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. (2) For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. Php 3:7-8 but whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. (8) Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ… The Gospel of Jesus Christ is to be solely sufficient to all of life, because it alone is sufficient for all of life. This is not a health, wealth, prosperity meaning of the Gospel but a soul-satisfying meaning of the Gospel. It was enough to save, is more than enough to sustain, and will be eternally enough to fulfill. The Gospel is not only all we need but all we have! Nothing else is more adequate or capable to meet the needs and wants of men. It alone will meet the needs and fulfill the desires of the believer. It does not struggle to be pleasurable or fight to sustain, but is by nature a treasure. Because of its nature, the believer gets all of his life from this treasure therefore exulting in it and exalting it as his treasure. It suffices as more than enough. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will not be disappointed, but will thirst and hunger no more if they drink of the living water and eat of the bread of Jesus Christ. The Cross is everything! So if it satisfies, I run to it, embrace it, cling to it, and never leave it! Everything I have and am therefore points to it as my supreme treasure. SELF EXAMINATION • Arrogance/Pride – I don’t need to hear the Gospel. I know it well. I am plenty familiar with the Cross; too familiar if you ask me. I’ve moved on to more scholarly things and

less elementary things like Eschatology, Ecclesiology, God’s Sovereignty, the Doctrines of Grace, Supralapsarianism and Infralapsarianism. I already got saved by the Gospel, I don’t need it anymore. Preach to someone who needs to hear it; someone who is lost. ◦ Repent and seek humility from the Cross. And know that all boasting is in the Cross, nothing else. • Ignorant/Undisciplined – I don’t study much. I don’t read my bible enough to know really. I don’t know much, but the Gospel is for getting saved. I know its important in order to get saved. Right? What else is it for? ◦ See this Christian life as what it is: WAR. And fight to know intimately this Gospel. Push yourself to nothing but knowing Christ and Him crucified! • Lazy/Apathetic/Bored – I really am not in the mood. I don’t always wanna hear about the Gospel. I don’t have much interest at the moment. I know its important but I’ve got others things to worry about. I am a bit cold or desensitized to the Gospel. It does not have much of an effect on me. ◦ Pray for illumination from God’s Word about your sin and revelation of Jesus Christ as Lord, Savior and Treasure. Pray for God to help you redeem your time and use it wisely for Him. Ask God to burn a zeal and fire in your heart and see the Gospel as the Greatest News and Treasure in all of Creation, because it is! • Deceived/Unbelieving – This is not the Gospel I’ve always heard. This is not what I believe about the Gospel. I do not understand this Gospel. The Gospel I know says something different. ◦ Run to the cross of Jesus Christ. Test yourself to see if you’re in the faith, unless you find that fail the test. Read, read, and re-read God’s Word until God gives you wisdom and truth and sends you His Holy Spirit and opens your eyes to the Gospel! Go back and test the Gospel you first heard, the one that you received and believed are being saved by. HOW: PRACTICAL APPLICATION 1. Reflect back on your conversion experience 2. Read or listen to others’ conversion experience 3. Share your testimony with others, a lot 4. Meditate daily on the Cross 5. Study and Memorize Gospel Truths – study the ‘shuns’… 1. Substitution – Christ took my place 2. Propitiation – Christ took my just punishment and judgment 3. Expiation – Christ took away my sins 4. Justification – God makes me just due to my faith in Jesus 5. Salvation – God saves me when I repent and believe the Gospel 6. Sanctification – God perfects me by His Spirit 7. Redemption – once far now brought near to God 8. Reconciliation – brought into fellowship and agreement with God 9. Peace – No longer at war with God

10. Forgiveness 11. 6. Read Scripture with an eye tuned toward the Cross – 1. OT – look to the cross 2. NT – look back on the cross, at the cross, and to the return of the cross-bearer 7. Listen to music that exalts the Cross, not man – As Todd Friel once said, “if you can sing it to your boyfriend/girlfriend, its probably not lofty enough to be sung to God”. 8. Listen to good, old cross-centered hymns, and if you can’t find any, write your own: 1. Amazing Grace: Chorus: I once was lost, but now I’m found Was blind but now I see. I once was deaf, but now I hear His voice is calling me. Dead in transgressions slave to sin, From darkness into light. I once was far, but now I’m near The Father drew me here. The things I love I once did hate I hate what I did love. The Father made me born again Not flesh but from above. 9. Read good doctrinal and practical books on the Cross, often 1. John Stott’s, The Cross of Christ 2. John Piper’s, 50 Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die (hope to have free soon!) 3. John Owen, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ 10. Read biographies or writings of heroes of the faith 1. Charles Spurgeon 2. Jonathan Edwards 3. George Whitefield 4. John Owen 5. Thomas Watson 11. Most important: “Preach the Gospel to yourself everyday”, Jerry Bridges. 1. Talking of the cross 2. Thinking of the cross 3. Telling of the cross 4. Studying the cross 5. Listening to the cross (what it has to say) 6. Singing of the cross CONCLUSION

The cross was central to all of life for Paul. This is what Paul dedicated himself to constantly. This is what he determined to know nothing for: Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor 2:2). This is what Paul delivered as of “first importance” (1 Cor 15:3). Jesus Himself set his face before Jerusalem to die on a cross. For the joy set before Him he endured the cross. He knew He existed to give and display the glory of God and obey His heavenly Father. Jesus embodies the Gospel. Christ was born to bear His cross and die. Can you see how central this is? God created the Church through the Gospel, founded the Church on the Gospel and made its purpose to spread the Gospel. And the Church is filled with little Gospelites that should care about nothing but the same Gospel that called them. The same one they believe and received. The same one they stand firm in. They should hold fast to this Good News for dear life. Oh that we could keep the Gospel at the center where it is and where it belongs. Christian, labor joyfully to “keep the main thing the main thing”. It’s why we exist: to glory in the cross of Jesus Christ, the image of God! • Hearing how far we’ve come since hearing and believing this Gospel will pour into us more EMOTIONS: fresh faith, more love for Jesus, more gratitude for God’s grace, more captivation over the cross, more amazement over His mysterious mercy, more compassion and anguish for the lost world, more hatred for the sin that was damning us, more hope in the Christ who comes for us, more passion for the glory that was revealed to us….and more THINKING: good reminder of the true nature of man, destructive nature of sin, of exceeding sinfulness of sin, of the depth of our sin, of the damnation for our sin, of the deliverance from our sin, of the duty to destroy our sin, of the doom of sin, of the dread of sin, of the dumbness of sin, of the death of our sin, of the deliverer of our sin, of the death slayer for our sin, of the demander of our desires, duty, and devotion and how much He hates sin (look at the cross to see everything about the meaning of the Cross)