God’s Testimony > Our Testimony
We tend to have a tendency to share our testimonies instead of the gospel. After all, no one can say that we’re wrong, right?
We are to present people the gospel instead of “feel good” 21st century mantra. We are not to make evangelism more palatable by dodging the heavy issues of sin and hell. For example, people can say, “I was alone and now I have my small group and friends. My church is great. I love my life now. God has just blessed me so much.”
Don ‘t get me wrong. Testimonies are awesome. After all, what is more exciting than being dead and brought back to life? The problem is that we tend to focus testimonies on us, instead of our Father. The heroes of the New Testament suffered terrible injustices in their testimonies- illness, persecution, financial troubles, stonings, and death.
Arguments, testimonies , personal experiences cannot permeate a heart of stone (Ezekiel 36:26). Only the Word of God can pierce through that.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.- Hebrews 4:12
(Random tangent- too many times people talk about their testimonies and how bad they were before they were saved. ->This leaves people thinking, “Woahhh that person was a drug dealer before !”-> which leaves their identity found in their past, and not in Christ. Instead of dwelling on the past, it should be equal parts of 1) before saved 2) when saved 3) after Talk about the transforming power of grace, striving for holiness, fighting against sin, and taking an active role in sanctification. NOT just dwelling in your past)
Please do not substitute your testimony for the gospel. We are to present Christ with Scripture! Our stories are not more applicable than the Word of God Himself. We can never wield the Bible unless we read it! So let us come to the Word with humble, teachable, and repentant hearts. Eager to learn. Eager to share the saving power of the gospel (Romans 1:16)!
The gospel tells me that there is not only hope in my trials, but purpose to them- This is because the gospel teaches me that God’s great goal is not superficial, circumstantial happiness, but joyful holiness. So I can trust that He is using my trials and struggles to change and transform me, to grow my faith, and sanctify my heart. Trials are not the absence of His love, but a great display of His love. And because the gospel reminds me of this devastating love of God, I know that it is impossible for him to allow anything in my life that is not an aspect of His love. So I can pray for God to do the miraculous, but be absolutely at ease if he doesn’t, because I trust that His plan for my life is brought in love. Only the gospel allows me to go through difficulties and still be a rest in my soul.
We are actively being freed from the power of sin:
A) Jesus is human king —> Jesus is divine king
B) Jesus’ entrance (Matthew 21:1)—>
Jesus re-enters (Matthew 28:18)
D) Jesus’ birth (Matthew 1:25) —> Jesus’ resurrection (Matthew 28:5)
C) Many babies die so 1 baby is saved (Matthew 2:16-19)—>1 man dies so that many people are saved (Matthew 27)
God is doing something about sin and we are on His side.
Let’s see what God’s word says in Romans 1:18-2:16
According to this passage, God has made Himself knowable to all men and are therefore without excuse. Instead of turning to him, they turn to their dark and evil desires, worshiping the creation rather than the Creator. Because of this, God allows such men to continue on ravaging themselves by denying or at least not acknowledging His obvious existence. They understand that they deserve death yet promote such activities. We condemn those who break the law (ex. the Ten Commandments), yet we ourselves break it. The Gentiles, whom God did not give the physical manifestation of the Law (ex. the tablets to Moses on Mount Sinai) obey the law, showing that God has given general revelation inside of man of Himself and what He requires.
In other words, they have already decided to deny the most important aspect of the gospel: The acknowledgement of the Holy One of Israel, His perfect, righteous standard of living and their failure to live up to it. They deny the need of a Savior and are therefore foolish in their thinking.
All men cannot respond to the gospel because we are dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:5, Colossians 2:13). A dead man has no choice. He can’t say, “Hey, today I want to get up and walk.” The unregenerate person is dead in their sins (Romans 5:12) can’t even comprehend the gospel unless God draws us to Him. The Bible also says that we were slaves to sin but are now set free to be slaves to righteousness. (Romans 6:18) A slave has no choice. They can’t decide to wander off and be free. They do whatever their master tells them to and before we were saved, our master was sin.
We are totally depraved (not utterly depraved) so we do have hope. Because of The Fall, we are all sinful. Because we are all sinful, none of us will ever choose God. We will always choose sin. When given a choice, we choose sin. The Bible is pretty clear that we cannot respond to the gospel unless God draws us to Him (because we will always choose sin when given a choice). Since the unregenerate person is dead in their sins (Romans 5:12), they don’t know. Man is still responsible even though God is Sovereign. A man’s will is not necessarily free because we are totally depraved. We are so in love with sin that we can’t choose God. So the unbeliever cannot know God (1 Corinthians 2:14; 2 Corinthians 4:4, Ephesians 4:18, Romans 8:7; Romans 3:9) but he/she is held accountable for their sin though. We are so in love with sin so we can’t choose God. However that is not an excuse and since God is a just and holy God, he cannot tolerate sin. We have a bondage to sin but we are still held responsible to repent. God has to hold everyone accountable because He is just and holy so it would be outside of His character not to judge us.
Now this might seem confusing as in it seems like man has no say in the matter. However, John Piper gives a very helpful example. Hopefully this will clarify this topic. Say you are physically chained to a chair. I command you to get up and you really want to get up. You keep trying but you are unable to. If I punish you from not getting up, that would be grossly unjust. But let’s say you are sitting in a comfy, warm massage chair that feels absolutely wonderful. I ask you to stand up and you say, “I don’t want to stand up” since you love sitting in the chair so much that it rises to a moral inability. We are the problem. When you say respond to the gospel “freely” we are able to respond (as in the comfy chair) but we don’t because of our sinful nature. The Bible commands us to repent and believe but it doesn’t say that we are unable to (Acts 17:30). A command kind of implies a moral ability in that this is what a man should do.
The Bible commands us to repent because God is a righteous and holy God (1 Peter 1:16). Although man doesn’t obey God, it is not because of God but it is our own refusal to obey God (total inability). Since the beginning, man despised and hated God’s commands and chose evil and sin instead. Man has his own his own willful disobedience and God made us capable of doing good (nonbelievers do have common grace and a moral conscience). God commands us to repent of our sin and put our faith in Christ because it is for our own good and out of His holy character!
I would recommend Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer, and Easy Chairs, Hard Words by Douglass Wilson.
This is a heavy topic and we will never fully understand God’s Sovereignty with our limited human minds in this life. However we can trust in the sovereignty of God and His faithfulness to save all of His elect in whatever manner He so pleases and chooses.
In the sermon today, Pastor Nick brought up an excellent example(s) of the apostle Paul growing in humility through grace.
1. In the beginning of Paul’s ministry, he calls himself “the least of the apostles.” (1 Corinthians 15:9)
2. In the middle of Paul’s ministry, he calls himself “the least of the saints.” (Ephesians 3:8)
3. Towards the end of Paul’s ministry, he calls himself “the chief of sinners.” (1 Timothy 1:15)
“Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words.”
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.- Romans 10:14-17
We often look down on people who look down on people. We often cry out that Jesus died for the the sinners, prostitutes, and tax collectors! Very rarely do we have compassion on the self righteous, the Pharisees, and the legalists. Remember- we were once lost like them. They need the gospel just like everyone else (Romans 2).
Law and Gospel.
“Only he is an orthodox teacher who not only presents all articles of faith in accordance with Scripture, but also rightly distinguishes from each other the Law and Gospel.” -Walther
The law is good, glorious, true, perfect, knowable, holy (Isaiah 42:21, Psalm 19:7-9). We are to follow it because the law is a reflection of God. There is nothing wrong with the law. On the contrary, the law shows what is wrong with us because we violated the holiness of God.
Why the law? Galatians 3:19 asks. Paul answers this a few verses later in Galatians 3:23-25.
”To develop a great expectation and necessity for the Redeemer.To develop a great expectation and necessity for the Redeemer by revealing human sinfulness to the degree that it would create the desperation in men that drives them to the Savior.” - John MacArthur
The law does not and cannot generate what it commands. Jesus intensifies the Old Testament law. He sharpens the spear of the law so that it plunges deeper into our hearts and drives us to repentance and faith in Him.
Be pefect as your heavenly Father is perfect- Matthew 5:48
We are condemned without excuse, recourse, or any way out (law). The law is to love God and love your neighbor (Luke 10:27). We cannot worship God perfectly and be perfect. But, there is good news- the Gospel. The law condemns us and drives us to Jesus, who becomes our righteousness. We are saved through faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8). Our realization of our inability to fulfill the law opens our eyes to our need for Jesus.
“If you cheat on law, you cheat on gospel.” - Justin Holcomb
We must have a high law and a high gospel.
When we lament the apparent injustice of pain and suffering, how often do we forget that the very good thing in a fallen world is wholly a gift of God’s mercy and grace? We think to question God when bridges fall but not to wonder at his grace that every bridge does not. Every fit of laughter, every detectable morsel of food, and every single smile is the result of his mercy and grace; He owes us none of it. Now let me tell you why this is is terrifying. If this is true, we have nothing with which to negotiate with him, nothing to bargain with. But it has been my experience that most evangelicals believe Christians are in a bargaining position. We carry an insidious prosperity gospel around in our dark, little, entitled hearts. We come to the throne and say, “I’ll do this, and you’ll do that. And if I do this for you, then you’ll do that for me.” In the end God says, “You keep trying to pay me off with stuff that’s already mine.” Some of us even try to bargain with our lives. But God says, “Please. I’ll take that life if I want. I’m God.