AN OLD GOSPEL EVER NEW
1 Cor 15:1-8
In the late 1950's Billy Graham held an evangelistic crusade in New York City. The meeting drew record crowds and thousands made public decisions concerning their relationships with Jesus Christ. Billy Graham preached the gospel in its purest and simplest form. Reinhold Niebuhr, Professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York, was asked what he thought about the Graham Crusade, and he said "Graham's preaching has set back Christianity 200 years." Billy Graham was asked his response to Niebuhr's statement, and he replied "if we have set back Christianity 200 years, we have failed, for our intent was to take it back 1900 years and to the cross."
The gospel is old, but it is also new. The text points out some facets
about this gospel as Paul states (1) The gospel is a place to stand. (2)
The gospel is a saving gospel and (3) The gospel is a scriptural gospel.
Follow in your Bible as we develop these truths.
1. An Old Gospel Ever New; Is a gospel on which to . . STAND. v.1.
In verse one Paul relates that this gospel is good for the preacher to preach. He can make his stand on the gospel and therefore the people have a place to stand. There are very definitely some fundamentals that do not change. They are absolutes if you please. This text is 1900 years old and yet is as new as the morning news. The gospel is eternally relevant because men's basic need do not change.
We work with a very old alphabet and an even older mathematical system that are still good and useful. Even more so the gospel is a place for preacher and people to stand and the Bible encourages us to stand. Notice I Cor. 16:13; Phil 1:7 & 16-17; II Thes. 2:14-15.
When I was a pastor in Southern CA, I was active in the ministerial alliance of Huntington Beach-Fountain Valley. On one occasion, a pastor asked the group of ministers to relate our major concerns. One of the more outspoken pastors said, "I am concerned about the environment and especially what to do with used Styrofoam." It reminded me of the minister who was preaching on a street corner and was being interrupted by a heckler who kept saying "what about shamrocks," the preacher finally said, "On Christ the solid rock I stand all other rocks are sham rocks."
The gospel gives a person a place to stand but if the preacher doesn't
make known the gospel the people will not have a place to stand. Dr. Peter
Marshall in a famous prayer before the Congress prayed, "Give these men
something to stand for less they fall for anything." The old gospel that
is never new is a place to stand. Notice also that this gospel is a saving
II. An Old Gospel Ever New; Is a . .Saving Gospel v. 2-3
Paul states by which also you are saved." But what does it mean to be saved or to have a saving gospel. Most of the time the Bible does an excellent job of explaining itself, therefore let's look at some other verses that use the term saved. Turn in your Bible to the following verses of scripture: Mr. 1:21, 18:11; Luke 19:10; John 3:17; Acts 4:12; I Cor 1:21; I Tim. 1:15. Allowing the Bible to be its own commentary on its message of salvation is like allowing gold to tell you its gold.
A saving gospel is one that can change hearts. It is a gospel that preaches about the saving work of Christ and extends an invitation to all who hear so that they might believe and receive.
But notice the word "if" in the second verse. Here Paul represents the conditional aspect of salvation. A person is not saved just because Jesus came to save them. The fact that Jesus is the way of salvation must be received and truly believed. It must be a heart belief and not just a head or intellectual belief. Last Tuesday night I believed the Cardinals would win game 6 of the World Series. Then I believed they would win the 7th game, but today I can dogmatically say they are the World Champions. When the "if" of this saving gospel is changed to an "I know" then the conditional aspect is gone and you have crowned Jesus King and Lord in your life.
How important is this saving gospel? In verse three, Paul says, "it is as of first importance." When the church lists her priorities she better have the gospel and the sharing of it as number one. If she doesn't, she will in a few generations, cease to be. Therefore, the gospel saves individuals who in turn keep the church in ministry.
One week ago, I preached a series of sermons in Petersburg, Ill. The pastor pointed out to me a young lady and said she is a brand new Christian. She has only been saved three weeks. He then related that the lady came forward when the invitation hymn was sung and said, "I didn't come here today to get saved, I came to get someone off my back, but after hearing the message I want to be saved."
The gospel is a saving gospel. It transforms people when they accept
Jesus as Lord. It changes people. Are you saved? This old, but new gospel
is a scriptural gospel. Notice the last part of verse three, as it is developed
in the next sermon point.
III. An Old Gospel Ever New; Is a . . Scriptural Gospel. v. 3-8
The gospel is scriptural or it is not the gospel. Paul states in verse three that Christ died according to the scriptures. (He was referring to the Old Testament and the prophecies about Christ.) The word gospel means "good news" and death alone is not good news. In verse four the gospel fact of Christ's resurrection is presented and that makes His death "good news" for He is not dead, but alive.
The gospel has two ingredients; the death and resurrection of Christ. If you talk about the death and resurrection of Christ, you are talking gospel. The gospel is not some gift of the Spirit or some blessing or joy of the Christian life. The gospel is functional. The gospel never changes and the church that preaches the gospel never will have to take a back seat to Satan. However Satan will try to get the church to either add or take away from the pure and simple gospel of scripture. Christ died to redeem, but He lives to intercede. The verse could be emphasized "Christ died, but He is not dead; He was buried, but He is not in the grave; He was raised, and He is alive now." That is the gospel message and it is based in the scriptures.
A little lad from a non-Christian family began attending Sunday school one Christmas time. He drank in the words of the teacher as the lessons advanced from the birth of the Saviour through his ministry and death. Often he begged his mother to come to church, but, possessed by a morbid fear of death, she refused terrified lest the preacher say something about dying. Easter came, and with the story of the risen Christ. After the lesson the little fellow rushed home with shining face. "Oh Mother, you needn't be afraid of dying anymore, for Jesus went right through the tomb and left a light behind him."
The gospel story is a happy story. Although it centers in the death of Christ, it doesn't stop there, it goes on with the resurrection. It was foretold in the O.T. scriptures, it was told in the N, T. scriptures, and it is told today. Will you believe?
The Old Gospel ever New is:
A Standing Gospel
A Saving Gospel
A Scriptural Gospel
Will you acknowledge the Christ of this Gospel as your Lord today. Please
do it now as we sing:
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And Beyond! Amen? Amen!