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What Is It All About?

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For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. -- Romans 1: 16 (NIV)


What is this great experiment known as Christianity all about? What is it that turned the world upside down, led by simple people against great opposition? Why would people willing lay down their own lives for the sake of this fledgling religion, so many centuries ago? Willingly beheaded or crucified upside down on behalf of this obscure carpenter from Nazareth. In other religions we have to pursue God but in Christianity -- God pursued us! In other religions we must achieve some standard of work but in Christianity it is all about the grace of God. Don't fall for the lie Satan has planted in the hearts of men in this world that all paths lead to heaven -- they do not. Don't fall for the faux enlightenment that says "whatever works for everyone is fine." That is not a courageous position but a cop out. What this is and always has been about is the fundamental belief that there has to be something more than this whisper of a life. There has to be something better than this existence. The truly Good News is that there is more. Some modern snake oil salesmen will try to sell you on this being your best life now but how sad if that were true. No beloved, our best life awaits us in eternity and that eternal hope is what this is all about:


"Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.-- John 14: 1-3 (NIV)


If the eternal hope of life everlasting is what this pursuit has always been about then what is the key to that hope? In Hinduism you have to navigate through a caste system of five levels of reincarnation, achieving some level of good works in each to advance but also being able to slip backwards if you are deemed "bad" enough. In Mormonism, if you kept all of the ordinances of the church you get to go to the top tier of heaven and rule over your own planet. In fact, in all other religions, they key to what this is all about lies within the individual. If they attain some malleable level of behavior and works -- heaven awaits. Christianity is the only religion that says the key is not within us but within a God who forgives us. The key verse today reminds us of what this is really all about. Why we get up and go to church on Sunday. Why we serve in ministries. Why we strive to help others, turn the other cheek, and show the love of Christ in a world gone mad. When we boil it right down beloved, what this is really all about is the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. The key verse often is exposited to deal with not being ashamed of the Gospel, but for today, let's look at what immediately follows the word "Gospel." The Gospel is the power of God that brings salvation to all who believe! We complicate so much with our religiosity but the core remains all that is needed. In order to achieve the eternal promise all mankind has chased throughout the millennia we need to believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That is what it is all about.


Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: 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,   - 1Corinthians 15: 1-4 (NIV)

This is the Gospel in all of its glory and simplicity. Man makes things harder than they need be. Religion adds things to it that God never intended. Eternal life is all about the Gospel and the Gospel message is simply that Jesus Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose on the third day. We can get into all sorts of deep theology off of this simplicity but this Gospel is what saves. This is where the true power of God lies. Note here in these verses from Paul's first letter to the Church at Corinth that he acknowledges that we can believe in vain. We can set our beliefs in something other than the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know it is politically incorrect but Mormons do not believe in the true Gospel and thus have believed in vain. The same for Hindus. The same for Jehovah Witnesses, atheists, or anyone else who has taken their stand on a false Gospel. That includes some in the church beloved. Saying the name of Christ is not enough. Believing portions of the Gospel is not enough. It will not have the power to save then. Salad bar Christianity, where you pick what you like and discard what makes you uncomfortable does not have the power to save.


You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder. -- James 2: 19 (NIV)


If you only have a partial belief are you comfortable with a partial salvation? I know I wouldn't be. A partial salvation is no salvation at all. Sitting in a church building every week is not assurance either. There is ample evidence that a great many churches are simply not preaching the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the only way to the Father. Modern secularism has infected the church and deceived a great many leaders into thinking that they control what only God controls. That they can compromise the key to salvation, the Gospel, in the alleged pursuit of "saving as many for Christ as possible." It does not work that way. Reaching people with a compromised Gospel delivers unto them a compromised salvation, which is no salvation at all. Remember, the people on the last day who say "Lord Lord" only to be turned away by Christ are people who fancied themselves as Christians. The devil has convinced us that our sincerity, our intentions, or our heart is enough. Let me assure you it is not. You can be sincere and sincerely wrong. God does not care about our intentions but rather our obedience. King Saul was ordered by God to destroy the Amalekites and instead he saved the best of the plunder and spared their king. According to his defense, his intentions were to glorify God:

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