Praise God for the Gospel and the Church!Sunday, March 26, 2006
The gospel frees us from having to feel as if we must hide our sin all the time. Isn't that a horrible feeling? Oh, how I hate it! I hate it with a passion! That terrible sense that I've done something wrong and I can't let anyone find out about it is destructive to my life and to my family's life. But the gospel is more destructive, for it destroys that powerful feeling of bondage to the fear of man. Praise God for the gospel!!!
The biggest reason why in times past I have hidden my sin rather than go public with it is because I cared so much about what other people thought about me....more so than I did about what God thinks of me. If I let anyone find out what I did, what will they think of me? If they know what I really did, how will they respond? Well, I can tell you this from experience: if you do go public with it, to spouse, trusted friends, pastor, spiritual leader, etc. and you are treated harshly, given the cold shoulder, or made to feel enstranged.....you're in the wrong place.
That's where the church comes in. The church is designed by God to help us with our sin by applying the gospel. The church is the school of the gospel. You confess your sin publicly there to those whom God has brought into your life, and you will find immense freedom from that sin. And what is more, the church is also there to prevent you from returning to the sin and hiding there again. You should desire to be in a local fellowship then which has a proper view of sin as something that not only offends a holy God, but is also something that a holy God forgave by punishing His Son for it instead of you! Praise God for the church!!!
You want to be in place where the people rejoice as did David in Psalm 32. No translation says it better, in my opinion, than the New Living Translation:
Oh, what joy for thosewhose rebellion is forgiven,whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for thosewhose record the LORD has cleared of sin,whose lives are lived in complete honesty! When I refused to confess my sin,I was weak and miserable,and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, "I will confess my rebellion to the LORD."And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.The place where all of this talking goes on is in the New Testament local church. It is a place where we confess our sins to one another that we may be healed (James 5:16), just as David was. It is the environment where we humbly hold each other accountable, taking each other's burdens on as our own (Galatians 6:1-2). It is the context in which we daily encourage one another against the decietfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13) and toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:28-29). It is all this and a whole lot more!
Sin makes us want to hide in it and hide it from others. The gospel makes us want to reveal it to Jesus for forgiveness. The church makes us want to reveal it to others for healing and repentance. Praise God for the gospel and the church!
The two function together like two sides of a coin. You cannot have one without the other. So if you find yourself in a local fellowship where there is no gospel, then by all biblical rites, your church should not be called a church!
Conversely, if you say you love the gospel and seek to cherish it with your life yet are not committed to a local fellowship, then by the same biblical rites, your gospel should not be called the gospel.
They have not, cannot, do not, and never will work without each other. The gospel is a baptism into a body of believers. And the body of believers are all committed together to helping each other walk in the gospel. Grab hold of them both and never let go. Praise God for the gospel and the church!!!!