About Jesus Steve Sweetman
seems to me that in many Christian circles we downplay
some central elements of the gospel of Christ.
Sin and repentance are two examples.
Talk of sin and repentance is too negative for our
"hyper-positive confession" churches.
It's too bad John the Baptist missed out on this "hyper-
positive confession" teaching.
It would have made his life much easier.
Instead of being a lonely voice crying in the desert, he could
have been a renowned conference speaker at the Jerusalem Hilton.
Greek word "hamartia" is translated as sin in the New
Testament. The simplest
definition of this word is "to miss the mark".
We've all heard that before, but there's more to understanding a
Greek word than its simplest meaning.
More often than not, the context of a word gives further clarity
to its meaning. With this in
mind, "hamartia" is used three ways in the New Testament.
It's used in reference to specific sins; to an external power
that has influence over us; and to our sinful nature.
and Eve's failure to obey God resulted in God pronouncing judgment, not
only on them, but on everyone born after them.
Subsequently, all human beings are born sinful.
Our nature, right to the core of who we are, is sinful.
That's why God judged the earth with a flood.
That's why He wiped out
people don't think a loving God hates anything. Look up the word
"hate" for yourself in
a concordance. You'll see that's not so.
Here are some examples. In Psalm 5:5 God hates all men who do
wrong. In Psalm 45:7 God
hates unrighteousness. In
Isaiah 61:8 God hates robbery and iniquity. In
Malachi 2:16 God hates the unfaithfulness that results in divorce.
5:21 and 22 reads, "I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I
cannot stand your assemblies … Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps!" What?
Did I read that right? God
hates something religious. Can
that really be? I
wonder if He hates any of our religious gatherings today?
Anyway, you get my point. In
case you think that's just Old Testament, lets turn to Romans.
you want to understand the basic concepts of the gospel, you must study
the New Testament book of Romans. It
won't take long for you to see that God hasn't changed since Old
Testament days. In Romans,
Paul explain the gospel in a logical and systematic way.
He sets forth the important and central elements of the gospel
that we should cherish. The
first element of the gospel he speaks about is God's wrath and our sin.
That's only logical. If
we don't know we're sinners, we won't know we need a Saviour.
That's why talking about God's wrath, our sin, and repentance is
important, even though it's unpopular in some pulpits. A
"positive confession" that ignores God's wrath and sin might
be fine for the Oprah Winfrey show, but it's not fine for the pulpit. In
today's world, the idea that God can be angry is seen as a relic from a
polytheistic past period of time, when people viewed the gods as being
angry. That's not what the
Paul's opening remarks, he begins his discussion in Romans 1:18.
The NIV reads, "the wrath of God is being revealed from
heaven against all the godlessness and
wickedness of men ..."
Paul would have failed homiletics in Bible college for
beginning his message with such a negative thought.
Homiletics is the art of preaching, and you're taught not to lose
your audience in your opening statement.
Greek word translated as wrath in this verse and elsewhere in the New
Testament doesn't simply mean being angry.
It implies an uncontrollable explosion, or outburst of
"serious anger". It's
a much stronger word than simple anger.
Like a volcano, God's wrath can't be contained. It explodes with
violent and devastating force. That
may be hard for us to understand, but the book of
Revelation shows this to be true.
God is just as capable of exploding with horrific wrath as He is
capable of expressing unprecedented love.
1:21 and 22 state that man's thinking became futile, and his heart was
darkened with foolishness. Paul
says we're foolish because we've exchanged the Biblical understanding of
who God is for our own man-made understanding. In
times past this was expressed in stone and wooden idols.
Today it's expressed in our humanistic mental concepts of who God
is that look nothing like the God of the Bible.
Both are equally sinful.
1:24 says that God gives us over to sin.
Simply put, God says, "if you want to sin, go ahead and sin
all you want. Just remember
the consequences." Romans
1:28 says we have a "depraved mind".
Paul probably lost a few intellectuals with that one.
It looks like we're all mentally impaired to one degree or
might want to study Romans chapters 1 through 3 yourself.
I'm just hitting some high-lights, or should I say some
2:2 states that God will judge the sinner and that His judgment is based
on truth. There's the word
truth again. God does judge,
and His judgment is according to truth, not love.
Romans 2:5 Paul says that every time we sin, we store up wrath for the
day of judgment. Every time
we sin, a bit more wrath is set aside for us.
Of course there is a way to escape this judgment.
I'll get to that later.
Romans 2:8 Paul says that those who are self-seeking, who follow evil
instead of truth will experience both God's wrath and His anger. Paul
clearly differentiates between wrath and anger here by noting they are
two different things.
Romans 2:17, into chapter 3, Paul says that religious people aren't any
better than the blatant sinner. Romans
3: 8 and 9 says that the religious man is under the power of sin just as
much as anyone else. We're
all in the same boat when it comes to sin, and that boat is in the
process of sinking.
you think all that is bad, read the scathing report of man's condition
found in Romans 3:8 through 18. It
paints a dismal picture of us. The
conclusion is found in Romans 3:20. I
know it's not socially acceptable, but Paul says we're all sinners.
You're a sinner. I'm
a sinner. Everyone's a
just pointed out a few verses from one passage of Scripture.
I could say more. I'm
sure you get the picture by now. I
hope you don't fall into a deep depression because of what I said, and
please don't jump off a tall building.
There are some really unbelievable good things I will share later
that should make your heart leap with exceeding joy.
I just want us to understand that the degree to which we can
begin to understand the almighty, powerful, and just nature of God is
the degree to which we can begin to understand and appreciate His love.