The Gospel Sermon

"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures." 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

In this verse I want to consider three phrases and using those I seek to expound the gospel. The first one is this which Paul  says :

"of first importance"

The greatest truth in the Bible is the the truth of the gospel. The foundational basic truth of Christianity is the principal and greatest truth of Christianity. It is sad that today many Christians are swayed by the charismatic obsession for 'amusing' new truths. Be not caught in that rat race among preachers and their followers. Most of these people have done away with the gospel. There is no gospel in their preaching or teaching. No gospel in their exhortations or encouragements. There is no wonder, awe or being captivated and mastered by the gospel in their lives.

I have been like that in my blind years, but by the grace of God, I can tell you there is no greater, deeper and captivating truth than the gospel. What most people consider as baby steps is no baby steps. You can never exhaust this truth. Its deeper than you think. There is so much to study and see on what Christ did on the cross. Like one man of God said, you will in fact spend an eternity to learn fully what happened on the cross. The manifold wisdom of God in this plan of redemption, the manifold perfections of Christ's work - we will never ever come to a place where we can do away with these precious truths and move onto some greater doctrine. There is no greater doctrine than this.

So my dear believer brethren gathered here, please do not think I am preaching only for the sinners gathered here. I am preaching to you all - saints and sinners all alike. Its always profitable and blessed to hear this good news.

In this verse it is clear that in the apostle's heart the gospel is of utmost importance.

Now secondly the apostle explains what this  gospel is and it is first of all

"that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures"

Now it is a historical fact that a person by the name of Jesus of Nazareth was crucified. There is no dispute over that fact, as even Jewish historian record that.The relevant question we need to ask is : what does that mean? For as you know, in the Roman world, the worst criminals were crucified and many such criminals have been crucified. Then what is so special of Jesus? Why is His crucifixion such a great thing?

Why did He die?

Well in the first place, why did He come to earth?

For the Bible is clear that Jesus used to teach His disciples and told even publicly to his critics that He came from heaven and has always been equal with God. In other words Jesus affirmed the truth that He is God who has come in flesh. So the question is now: Why did Jesus leave heaven and come to earth? What necessitated it?

Well the answer is because the wrath of God is upon us.

Now you might ask well what does that mean? What do you mean the wrath of God is upon us?

Yes I know we all ask that question. For from childhood we are taught that God is love and He loves us all. Moreover we live in a culture which says that God is a harmless, Santa Claus up in heaven. Thus in reality, God is just a cosmic butler for most of us.

But I submit to you that this is not what the Bible says about God. The word of God presents a truly different truth of God. It says that God is a holy God. It says that God has an absolute character and because of that He hates everything contrary to His character. In fact the Bible is very clear that God cannot love anything which is not like Himself. Thus He hates everything that is contrary to His ways and nature.

Do you love marriage? Don't you hate divorce. Do you love babies? Don't you hate abortion.

You - a person with no absolute characteristics has love and hate towards things. Think about God who is absolute in all His attributes. When the Bible says God is holy. He is absolutely perfectly holy. In other words He absolutely perfectly hates unholiness.

Now in answering what wrath is, let me answer why did God create?
Most Sunday school books and other manuals teach these days that God created to have fellowship with man. That is not a scripturally sound answer.

For it denies two great truths of God in the Bible. First of all, God is a triune God - which means though He is one - He exists in three persons - The Father, The Son and The Spirit. Not three gods, but One God - who has three persons. That is beyond our intellect to understand. However know this - they are in perfect fellowship with each other. So to say that God created man for fellowship is to say that He was lonely before creation. Thus it denies a second truth - that God is a God of aseity (Acts 17:25). That simply means He is in no need of anything outside Himself. God is self sufficient. He is not served by any hands of man. God did not create so that creation will do a favor to God. No. He created so that something apart from Him will taste and see His goodness and greatness and proclaim and declare it. For the praise of His glory, all things were created. All things were created to know Him and thus produce praise for His glory. (Col 1:16)

So He created all things. Yes stars, mountains, animals and plants, planets, sun and moon and Yes even you. But His chief creation - the one He created with all the faculties and capacities to know Him more than all other creatures and thus praise Him better than all other - yes mankind, through the deceit of the Evil one rebelled against God. Thus from the first man - we are a bunch of rebels. No we have not sought Him. No not one among us seeks after Him. (Rom 3:11)

You might say well man has always sought God. Don't you see religion everywhere - even among illiterate barbarians and tribals? Yes that is true but brother man has always sought the benefit of God, not God. He has never sought God. To see and savor God and thus proclaim His praise has never been our agenda. Check your own affections. Where is God in your affections?

When was the last time you got excited about who God is? Sir, listen to me carefully, I did not ask when was the last time you got excited about what God will do for you, but rather about who God is? Does His majesty and supremacy bring awe in your heart? Do you tremble before Him? Do you pause and  take delight in  Him?

That is all proof that we are a wretched and sinful company. We have forgotten our creator. We have turned our backs to our Maker and live this life for own pleasure and ends alone. We are open rebels, who love our autonomy.

Hence I tell you what the Bible says, that God's wrath is upon us. His furious anger is upon every sinner. Its just a matter of time for some of us to experience that first hand in hell. Yes there is a hell. All these jokes which people tell about hell, these theologians who deny eternal torment and even those silly charlatans who come on Christian tv who never preach on hell, they all openly deny that God has a character - a true character of absolute perfect attributes. For God has to hate sin and be angry with sinners or else He is a phony God.

I submit to you that God is the absolute reality. There are no flaws in Him. He is what He is. There is no change in His character. He is holy and loves righteousness. He hates everything contrary to His character and hates unrighteousness.

So let me tell you the truth that all of our ways are abominable and detestable. We are a bunch of depraved, fallen God haters and know this, judgment is waiting us. By our treason and open rebellion, we have offended God personally. God as a person has been hurt and offended by our sinful lives. Know this too - no amount of good works or religion will appease God's anger towards you. You ask well why not preacher? Well simply because God's anger is not upon you because you have done some bad things here and there. Your greatest sin is this : by your rebellion and autonomous living where God is no where in your affections, you have offended Him. He means nothing to you. His nature means nothing to you. His ways means nothing to you. His word means nothing to you. and above all His glory means nothing to you. So His anger is upon you. You were created to serve Him with gladness, but you have till today only served you alone. You have belittled the great Lord and so He is offended by you.

So I tell you no good works done by you - the offending one, shall appease His wrath. How dare you think - you for whom God as a person means nothing, will by some puny little good works escape hell? How foolish is that thought?

Well some among you might say " but preacher I did not choose to be so, its all because Adam sinned. why are you blaming me?"

It is true that this is all because of Adam's sin. But that does not free you from the evil that is in you. And I tell you, given more time and right circumstances, all the evil in you will manifest outside in sinful deeds. So it is not unjust to hold you accountable even now before you have done all the evil you can do.

Now the question we have been trying to answer is : Why did Jesus come to earth? I said He came because the wrath of God is upon us.

Since we are a depraved and sinful company, He came to be our Savior. Now please note, Jesus came to save us from the wrath of God - so that the original plan of God - that of us being those who know Him and praise His glory, would be re-established. So Jesus came to earth so that He might have a people saved form this sinful pool of humanity - who shall then become that blessed people of God.

Please note our hopelessness. For God to revive His plan for creation, the Son of God had to leave the heavens. There is no other way. Do you see our hopelessness? If we be saved from the wrath of God, then there is only one way and that is for the Son of God to come to earth. Apart from that blessed way of our God, there is no hope for any escape from divine wrath.

So sinner let your ears be open to what you hear. For this is your only hope of salvation from that furious fate of falling into the hands of the living God.

Now we need to ask the question :why Jesus died on the cross?

The relevant question as I told in the beginning is what is so special of Jesus dying on the cross? What happened on the cross?

Well in plain terms as a sacrifice for sinners.

On the cross, the divine wrath that should have fallen on us fell on Him. In great love for us, God made Jesus a substitute for us on the cross. The wrath and judgment that should have fallen on us, fell on Him. He joyfully accepted this as He bore our sins - for our salvation.

Now you might ask : how can that accomplish salvation?

Well when the justice and wrath of God has been satisfied, He can freely offer us His grace and make us His children who can know Him fully as we were meant to be. For the great obstacle of God from showing His grace upon a sinful company like us - the wrath of God will thus be appeased in all its fullness. Thus a Substitute bearing the wrath of God for us shall accomplish our salvation.

Now another one will ask: but how can that be just? Even in a human court, if a criminal is found guilty and say his mom, comes and says punish me and let my son go, we will not do it. For it is not just. Any judge who chooses to do something like that is an unjust one. Then how come God does it?

Well the answer is this: Quite contrary to the illustration, the Substitute here is the very Judge of all judges Himself - the One who has sentenced this punishment and One has authority to decide who suffers what. Hence He willingly choosing to become the Substitute to bear the punishment He Himself has pronounced is no sign of injustice. On the contrary, it is the sign of His great love for us. Also it is the proof that we are a depraved and lost company.

Apart from Jesus dying for us, there lies no other way of appeasing God's wrath that justly hangs over everyone of us.

So what happened on the cross?

Turn yourself to Romans 5:7-8

"For one will scarcely die for a righteous person--though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die-- but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Note three types of people mentioned in this verse - the righteous, the good and the sinner. The verse says no one has to die for a righteous man, for  he is already righteous requiring no death. Perhaps one would dare to die for a good man. So the logic is for a sinner, no one will offer his life. The apostle then says, but that is how God shows His love towards us. Christ died for us - Us who are not righteous or good, but sinners. Note our depravity so clearly stated here. Do you hear me? From this verse do you hear what the Bible says about man? Man is not righteous, not even good. Man is a sinner. That is his right title. I am sick of people telling me that men are basically good, only circumstances and bad company or some ill fate made him bad. That is not in the Bible. The Bible says - we are not righteous, we are not also good. Hear that again and again. We are not basically good. We are sinners.

We are basically evil people, who by the great mercy of God looks good. The moment He withdraws His restraining mercy from you - you will explode with all your vileness and be a monster.

Please come to grips with this truth. We are sinners. We have broken every command of God. We have thus transgressed against our God. But thats not all. We have thus offended our God, for the Law and commands are a revelation of His own very nature. Thus by belittling and ignoring His commands and laws, we have in effect belittled and offended Him.

But do you see the truth of the love of God in the same verse. It is for such a detestable, depraved company of enemies like us, that Christ chose to become a Substitute and spare us from the just wrath of God. Do you see the love of God that is displayed on the Cross?

Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones said the following on these verses

"That is the kind of person for whom Christ has died. ‘Not the righteous - sinners Jesus came to call.’ Not the good men and the lovable, but the vile and the hateful!…It is only as we realize this, that we are able to follow the Apostle’s argument. The argument is this. God proves His love toward us in that, while we were like that, when we deserved the wrath of God in His justice, and punishment and perdition and banishment out of His sight, God actually sent His Son to die for us. If that does not prove the love of God to us, nothing ever will, nothing ever can. The people who have appreciated the love of God most have always been those who have realized their sinfulness most”

Now one of you might ask "well preacher what do you mean by Jesus dying on the cross for us. what do you actually mean by suffering God's wrath for us? What exactly did Christ suffer on the cross?"

I must confess that this is a question which I have thought many times in my own life. The answer I have found is this. On the cross, when upon Him were laid the guilt of our sins, the furious anger and hatred of God in all its thrust fell on Him. He endured the tempest of the wrath of God in all its fullness. He drank the cup of God's wrath and drank to its very dregs. He was forsaken and thus He endured that banishment and torment we ought to have experienced.

Who other than Christ can endure such a thing? Which man can accomplish what Christ did? Who can endure the wrath of God? Only the mighty Son of God can do such a thing.

Also one important thing about a substitutionary sacrifice was this. When God told His people the Jews to make sacrifices for their sins - which by the way were all shadows pointing to the real sacrifice of all - the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. He told His people that the animal offered should be unblemished. In other words, the Substitute should be a perfect, righteous one. Who other than Christ can be so? Can any man climb on a cross and die there and tell God to pour His wrath on him, forsake him  and thus count that as a sacrifice to save men? No. Why? Well because his death will not please the Lord. For that man if he dies will just suffer the wrath of God for his own sins. He will just die for his own sins, for he himself is  a sinner.

So the substitute had to be one against whom God has no wrath. One whose sacrifice will please the Lord. Who other than the sinless, perfect Son of God can do it?

So dear sinner, listen with all your ears. God came in flesh, to die on your behalf and bore your guilt and paid the price of bearing the wrath - which you should have suffered. Why? To save you. To pardon you and then to redeem you from your evil nature. To make you a new man for whom God is everything. To grant you grace which He cannot give unless His wrath has been removed from you.

So what did Jesus accomplish on the cross?

On the cross He bought your salvation. He bought grace for you by removing the wrath of God against you. That is what crucifixion is all about. If you would believe, then your eternal destiny was changed and secured on the cross. Yes, if you  would believe you will see that your entire life on this earth and in the age to come, is hanging precisely on what God did through His Son Lord Jesus Christ on that cross in Calvary.

Finally, the apostle says the second part of the good news, the resurrection of our Lord Jesus.  He says

"that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day"

Everywhere you look in the Bible, it says God resurrected Jesus Christ. Nowhere will you read Jesus resurrecting Himself. Why is this important?

The resurrection of Jesus Christ by God is the public vindication of Jesus Christ by God. Here is God commending Christ to all of us. Here is God telling us that the Jesus whom we crucified is now both Christ and Lord of all.

Romans 1:4 says And declared [to be] the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:

Here it is clear that Jesus Christ was declared or marked out as the Son of God, when God resurrected Him from the dead.

Also in Romans 4:25  it says Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

Here it is clear that Jesus Christ died for our sins and our justification was completed when God, the Father raised Him from the dead. So our justification is completed when God raised Jesus Christ from the grave.

Also take a concordance and check any NT verse on resurrection, it is always phrased as "God raised". It always affirm that it was God the Father who raised Jesus Christ, though Jesus could have done it on His own. The Bible thus teaches that the resurrection is the beginning of the exaltation of the Son of God by God. Please note that it is the same Father who forsook the Son on the cross who does all these. Hence for the Father to do all these, the judgment of our sins which was laid on Christ must have been appeased. Hence resurrection is a vindication or a divine declaration that Christ has indeed completed His work on the cross. Also in Acts 2:24-36, it is presented as a commendation of God to the same people who rejected Him. Listen to what the Apostles preached there. They said "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." Notice it is God who did this. It is God who exalts Christ and commends Him to you as your Savior.

Again in Acts 4:10-12,  Apostle Peter says that God attested this truth that there is no salvation in any other name; no name given under heaven by which we may be saved, but by the name of Christ, by raising Him from the dead.

Sinner if you therefore desire to be saved from the just wrath of God, then there is only one way - the way that same God has provided for you in love. Lord Jesus Christ. He alone is the way.

And so God now commands that all men everywhere to repent. For now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

Repent of your sins, your selfish autonomous living, your spurning of His word, your hatred towards Him, your rebellion towards Him. your evil deeds and your evil nature, your lack of supreme love for Him. Repent.

Repent of all your trust in your good works. Repent that you sought to buy grace by good works. Repent that you thought to appease God by your good works.

Repent of your negligence to confess that you are what the Bible says you are - a sinner. Repent of your self confidence and pride. Repent of your high thoughts about yourself. .

The Lord says through His prophet Isaiah in Isa 48:9:
"For the sake of My name I delay My wrath, and for My praise I restrain it for you, In order not to cut you off”

Repent sinner! When God has delayed His wrath from falling upon you and in mercy is commending Christ - your only hope of deliverance from His judgment - why do you want to reject this message? Why do you want to neglect this as mere religious lie and propaganda?

If you sense so, that only proves that your heart is still hard and the gospel proclamation you heard tonight has done nothing to you. Well then you are still in danger and on your way to divine retribution.

But if any of you sense a renewal in your heart - a desire to quit your sins and throw yourself on Jesus, a thirst to be cleansed, a passion to know Christ, a sorrow over your offensive ways and that of hurting your Maker, a sense of eternal realities like who God really is, His wrath, His holiness, His love - you have never experienced before in life, a cry in your heart to let your eternal destiny swing on Another's work.

Does anyone over here sense any of these? Then I believe God is doing a regenerative work in your heart. Because the Bible says the same Jesus who got resurrected after forty days ascended into the heavens and sat at the right hand of the Father and all glory, honor, and dominion over all is His. There in the Holy of holies, He stands as a High Priest with His own blood and intercedes for the ones whom He died for. As a result of His mediatory work, He reaps the reward of His sufferings on the cross - the salvation of sinners like you. Every sinner that is drawn to the gospel is drawn so because of His intercession, says the Bible in Hebrews 7:25

So sinner, repent  of your sins and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repent, cry out to God and throw yourselves upon the sufficiency of Christ. For He is mighty to save you.

"Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other."
Isaiah 45:22

"and everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
Acts 2:21

Sinner, come to Christ who alone can save you. He alone bore your sins on the cross and accomplished your redemption. Come and receive it. Its yours in Christ. Do not be foolish and stay away from Him. All other hope of escaping wrath and judgment for your sins are vain hope. No sure ground to stand. Come to Christ. Repent of all your other plans to save yourself. Put all your confidence on Christ alone. Let Him have you completely. Let grace be yours and all glory be His.


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By Jay Dharan
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