Archive for the ‘Gospel’ Category

December 21st, 2015

The Trajectory of the Gospel

“It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery. And Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him healed him.” Acts 28:8 (ESV)

The gospel is a message of enormous significance on a number of levels. The gospel is certainly about the actions of Christ, providing a means by which we as sinners can be reconciled to God, the Father, worshiping Him as we were created to do, but it is also concerned with much more than simply the means of salvation. The gospel is further concerned with where such an act, i.e. Christ’s resurrection, will take all of creation. The gospel is about the restoration of all things! As Paul himself writes in Ephesians 1:9-10, the gospel is about the Lord “making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (ESV).

Paul wasn’t just concerned with proclamation; no, he was concerned about incarnation. He wanted the gospel to take up root in him, so that as with Christ the Word of God could dwell among all the peoples of the earth. He was concerned with poverty. He was concerned with sickness. He was concerned with every effect of the fall, seeing their eradication as further evidence of Christ’s victory over all sin.

You and I have the same ministry. We are called to proclaim first, yes, as Christ’s witnesses but we are also called to care. We are called to minister to the least of these as if we were ministering to Jesus Himself. Are you fully embodying the gospel? Or are you only partially concerned with its progression? We must be about telling people about Jesus, but we should also be concerned with showing them about the victory we have in Him.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Monday, December 21st, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Acts, Gospel, Restoration.
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December 12th, 2015

A Generous God Deserves a Generous People

“…for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.” 2 Corinthians 8:2 (ESV)

We are to be a generous people, reflecting the heart of our very generous God! The people of Macedonia knew this, demonstrating an unusual combination of joy in the midst of poverty. That coupling would for many of us lead to bitterness and doubt. For them, however, a different reaction was seen most certainly rooted in a proper gospel perspective. You see, the people of Macedonia knew that the same God who provided for their sins in the coming of Christ would most certainly provide for their earthly needs as well. They would give what they had, trusting that the Lord would do for them what He had done for His people in the time of the Exodus and countless other times as recorded in Scripture.

Do we have that same kind of trust in the Lord’s faithfulness today? We often equate blessing with monetary blessings, but the Lord often asks us to sacrifice that which we value most dearly to remind us of our great need for and dependence upon Him. Would you still be joyful in the midst of extreme poverty? Or would you be like the rich, young ruler who could not bring himself to part with his possessions in order to inherit the Kingdom of God?

May we care more about the spreading of the gospel than our personal wealth! Now, we should not ignore our responsibilities as spouses and parents, but we should consider it a privilege to give sacrificially as an act of worship to our God who has so richly blessed us in the giving of His only Begotten! May we heed the word of Paul and follow the example of the gospel in being a generous people.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Saturday, December 12th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category 2 Corinthians, Generosity, Gospel.
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December 11th, 2015

Are You a Recommendation to the Gospel?

“You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God.” 2 Corinthians 3:2-4 (ESV)

Paul takes a moment in the middle of his accounting of his triumph in Christ over various trials to explicitly state his intention for such writing. He writes to the Corinthian Church that His purpose is not to commend himself in his apostleship but rather to commend Christ for His glorious provision in the midst of any circumstance. As for Paul, he needs no further commendation, such as a letter, for his efficacious work is evidenced in the men and women who are living transformed lives as a result of the message Paul shared and the resulting favor of the Holy Spirit. They are his referent!

Would your life be able to be used by Paul as a reference to the power of the Holy Spirit? If Paul’s apostleship were being called into question today, could he point to you as evidence of the truth of the power of the gospel? We must be more than moral people; we must be more than people of good will. We must be a transformed people, acknowledging failures and our complete dependency upon the grace provided by the sacrifice of Christ. If we fail here, then we will fail to affirm the very message we say is unique. May we commit today to embody the truth of Christ’s completely satisfying nature, forsaking all other things for the gift of knowing  Him!

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Friday, December 11th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category 2 Corinthians, Example, Gospel.
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December 10th, 2015

The Gospel is of First Importance

“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you–unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures…” 1 Corinthians 15:1-3 (ESV)

The Church has one message: the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are to continually proclaim the substitutionary work of Christ on the cross for our sins and His unique ability to do so. We are further to proclaim His resurrection from the dead, demonstrating not only His atoning work but also His victory over every effect of sin including death. Every single issue we face as fallen humanity can be faced with the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ!

The danger for us is that we think if we talk about the gospel too much that people will grow tired of hearing it. We think we have to help the gospel out by making it flashier or more relevant. My friend, be weary of this trend, for the gospel has never been in danger of being irrelevant. No, as in the time of Paul, it is still of first importance. Do you have bitterness in your heart toward someone who wronged you? Look at the message of the gospel and seek to forgive as Christ forgave. Do you have strife in your marriage? Strive to be gracious to one another as Christ was gracious to us. Do you have a loved one in the midst of a terminal illness? Remember that Christ has overcome the grave, removing the sting from death!

When the Church stops proclaiming the gospel, it will have forfeited its power, for only in the gospel do we have anything of significance to say. Speak forward boldly this message today, delivering it as of first importance as you received it.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Thursday, December 10th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category 1 Corinthians, Christ, Gospel.
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December 8th, 2015

The Lord’s Supper

“When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk.” 1 Corinthians 11:20-21 (ESV)

The Lord’s Supper, an ordinance established by Christ Himself in His last days of ministry upon the earth, is meant to be a reflection of His tremendous provision and sacrifice for the good of all of humanity. As we take the elements, both the drink and the bread, we are to remember how Christ’s body was broken for our sin and how His blood was poured out for our redemption. This event is a tremendously solemn occasion and should not be taken in vain, as doing so would communicate falsely about the most important act in all of human history.

It’s no wonder, then, that Paul reacts so strongly in our passage for today regarding the Corinthian Church’s mishandling of the supper. They were using it as a means to once again show the strong division between those who were rich and those who were poor, making the lesser of the two feel their inferiority. What act could be more contrary to the message of the gospel, in which He who was the richest of all became poor for the sake of the poor? Paul, then, says to these new believers that their supper is no commemoration at all, but rather an act of sinful indulgence.

The people of God should look different. Our rich and our poor should not have their economic status worn as a badge of either pride or shame, respectively. Rather, we must as the Church remember our common spiritual poverty before the Lord and His generous provision on our behalf. That message unites us in spite of any other earthly distinction. Commit today to see people as the Lord’s Supper intends them to be seen: men and women all in need of a glorious and generous Savior!

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Tuesday, December 8th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category 1 Corinthians, Gospel, The Lord's Supper.
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December 1st, 2015

A Different Gospel

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel–” Galatians 1:6 (ESV)

Paul’s epistle to the people of Galatia has a very different beginning than his other epistles. Normally, there is a section of commendation in which Paul encourages the church in its faithfulness to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Here, however, Paul includes no section of thanksgiving, preferring instead to immediately address a dangerous issue both to the church in Galatia and the advance of the gospel as a whole.

The Galatians found themselves in the midst of a familiar struggle in the early formation of the New Testament people, disagreeing about the place of traditional Judaism in the face of this new theology rooted in the grace of Christ. This disagreement was so profound that it was causing division and motivating some, so-called “Judaizers,” to demand Gentile converts to be circumcised in order to be considered Christians. This act of man to secure salvation, however, is inherently opposed to the message of the gospel that Paul proclaimed. Salvation is entirely an act of God; man has no part in the securing of salvation, as he would then be able to share in the glory that is both God’s alone and the primary motivation for the act of the gospel in the first place. To say, then, that someone must perform a ritual in order to add to Christ’s salvation makes the gospel indifferent news rather than good news, for truly nothing has changed.

We must guard against adding to the message of grace inherent to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Either it is entirely a work of the Lord or it is not. Paul’s concern is legitimate, for when we add to the simplicity of salvation by grace through faith, we truly change the central message of the New Testament, for earned salvation is inherently impossible, as we could never earn enough to satisfy the wrath of God. Rejoice in the grace given by the Lord through Jesus and seek to work in response to that grace rather than participate in securing it.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Tuesday, December 1st, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Galatians, Gospel, Grace.
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November 27th, 2015

The Gospel is for All People

“‘If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?’ When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, ‘Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.’” Acts 11:18-19 (ESV)

We can easily be entrapped by our context. We assume, at least in the way that we act, that the world is everywhere as it is where we are and that people, generally, are the same as well. Within this assumption lies an ember of pride, suggesting that we are the center of the universe and everything that occurs is for our benefit. This is the nature of the self, to think the world is concerned with me above all else. The gospel must challenge that assumption within us, however. We are not more special than any other person God created, for He created us equal. We all have the same need of Him, both for satisfaction and salvation. We must not assume, as the early Jewish leaders of the Church, that the gospel is reserved for us alone; rather, we must give our lives to the realization that the gospel is for all people and all people need to hear it.

Are you engaging this tendency to consider yourself greater than the rest of humanity? How so? Are you actively seeking out friendships with people that are different than you? Are you descending or ascending the socioeconomic status ladder to show the equality of the gospel? Are you building relationships with nationals in other countries who are sacrificing to build the Kingdom of God in their context? Otherwise, you may say you believe that the gospel is for all people, but are you truly evidencing your belief in action?

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Friday, November 27th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Acts, Diversity, Gospel.
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September 13th, 2015

Sound the Alert

“So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me.” Ezekiel 33:7 (ESV)

God positioned Ezekiel as the watchman for the house of Israel. Ezekiel had a mandate from God to receive and declare God’s Word to the people. The divine responsibility was placed upon Ezekiel to sound the alert of God’s impending judgment. Ezekiel was entrusted with the message from God.

  • “For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.” 1 Thessalonians 2:3-4 (ESV)

You have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. You have been given the cure to the cancer of sin. God has armed you with the Good News of Jesus Christ so that you can join Him in His redemptive activity. What are you doing with the treasure you have been given?

Sound the alert. Everybody will spend forever somewhere. The only hope is for people to repent of their sin and place their faith in Jesus alone for salvation. You know the Truth! You have been delivered from the kingdom of darkness and placed in the kingdom of light. You are God’s workmanship and He has established you as a watchman to sound the alert. You have been given the assignment to share the bad news and the Good News. The bad news is that a person without Christ will spend eternity in hell. The Good News is that Jesus died to pay the penalty of our sin so that we do not have to go to hell. Sound the alert!

Riding HIS Wave,

Stephen Trammell
Lead Pastor

Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephentrammell

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, September 13th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Ezekiel, Gospel, Responsibility.
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August 21st, 2015

Seek the Welfare of the City

“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” Jeremiah 29:4-7 (ESV)

Jeremiah in this passage is addressing the false prophecy of Hananiah, who proclaimed to the Jewish people in chapter 28 that within two years of his prophecy the Lord would release His people from the yoke of Babylon. Jeremiah begs to differ, suggesting to his people that the Lord would not only leave them in captivity for longer than two years but would leave them there for generations. God’s people had rebelled and the punishment would not be light or fleeting.

In the meantime, though, Jeremiah delivers an interesting challenge from the Lord to His people, urging them to engage with the city of Babylon for its welfare and for their own. The likely reaction for many of the Jewish people would be to simply ride out the storm of captivity and never have anything to do with Babylon, creating a bubble of sorts to shield themselves from these gentiles. Yet, God commands them to act otherwise, knowing that if the people of God give benefit to their captors, they will receive benefits as well.

 For us today, a similar challenge exists. We are not in bondage to a foreign government as a people, but we do live in a culture that does not honor the Lord. We have a choice as God’s people about how to interact with that culture. Do we simply wait for God to come rescue us and live in a bubble or do we engage the culture for our mutual good? Isn’t it in the interest of the Church to have governments that protect life and help those in need? We, then, should engage God’s established, secular institutions for our mutual good rather than resisting the city altogether.

Ultimately, we are to take the gospel to all people and in all places and our government can help that cause or hurt it. Just look at the government in Iran. We should not be afraid of the city as the people of God. We should use it to help further the cause of Christ, for in fighting for the welfare of the city we too may find benefit for the Kingdom of God.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Friday, August 21st, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Culture, Gospel, Jeremiah.
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July 19th, 2015

The Wrath of God

“For behold, I will raise up against you a nation, O house of Israel,” declares the LORD, the God of hosts; “and they shall oppress you from Lebo-hamath to the Brook of the Arabah.” Amos 6:14 (ESV)

Throughout the prophets of the Old Testament, we see this overwhelming truth: the wrath of God is real, and it is also just. We don’t like to talk about God’s wrath, because it’s a scary thing. If we fail to acknowledge this aspect of God’s character, though, we present an incomplete picture of who God is and we miss the full beauty of the gospel.

In this particular passage, God is bringing wrath upon the nation of Israel for how those with power and means have transgressed their covenant with Him by forsaking the poor in their community. They have failed to represent God faithfully. As a result, His holiness and justice demand that their transgression be accounted for in judgment, which in this case will come from the Assyrian army, and He has every right to display His wrath against the faithlessness of man.

The story of Israel in Amos is our story as well. We too have offended the core of God by worshiping created things and neglecting the poor among us for selfish gain, whether directly or indirectly. We are, as Paul writes it in Ephesians 2:3, “children of wrath” and worthy of the coming destruction and judgment over all creation. The beauty of the gospel, though, is that while we deserved wrath, Jesus took that wrath upon Himself.  He became our propitiation, or wrath-bearer. Now we who are in Christ are free from condemnation and are able to experience fully the joy of being satisfied in Christ. Without acknowledging the wrath of God, we miss much of the beauty of Christ’s work in how He has so graciously taken our place.

Be mindful today for the wrath of God and thankful for how Jesus rescued you from it.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Pastor of Mobilization & Young Adults (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, July 19th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Amos, Gospel, Wrath.
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