Grasping the Gospel: The Essence of Gospel Renewal

Northstar Church Blog

We began today’s service by observing the Lord’s Supper. Our Lead Pastor, Jeff Noble, led us into this time of worship. He reminded us that in spite of our decisions and choices to disobey, God sent his son Jesus for our salvation. Jeff pointed out that following Jesus really is about following, it is a verb requiring action on our part. It isn’t a one-time decision; it’s about being a disciple. Our observation of the Lord’s Supper is a reminder of our consistent need for Jesus in our life.

Today’s message was a continuation of our Gospel Growth series with a focus on The Essence of Gospel Renewel. Our Associate Pastor, Neal Nelson, delivered this sermon. [Listen here.]

Neal began by taking a step back and considering why fundamentally we all need the gospel.

  • The Gospel sets us free from the guilt and shame from attempting to please God through works
  • The Gospel releases others from our own “gospels”
  • The Gospel correctly paints a portrait of Jesus to our watching world
  • The Gospel saves us, through Jesus. It saves us from condemnation for our works and sins

The Gospel impacts every aspect of our life and who we are, to include: our relationships, love, parenting practices, family, attitudes about money, sexuality, our mental health (discouragement, depression), language. Neal pointed out that Jesus is our “Barlow lens” in life. When the world, politics, sin, and circumstances begin to confuse us, Jesus brings about clarify and redirects us to truth that is found in The Father.

What does “essence” even mean? It is the core, the basic part, or the substance. So today’s message and focus was on the core teachings of The Gospel– the truth that is the underlying and consistent thread.

The focal passage for this message, which points to the core of The Gospel, is found in Luke 15. In Luke 15 Jesus told three different parables all revolving around things that had been lost: a sheep (Luke 15:3-7), a coin (Luke 15:8-10), and a son (Luke 15:11-31). Any time Jesus speaks we must take note and prepare our hearts. For Jesus to tell three stories with the same theme amongst them is indicative of an especially significant truth that we should take to heart.

All three parables were told in front of the same group of people, which is explained in Luke 15:1-2.

Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and east with them.”

The group was composed of those that felt smug and self-righteous (the Pharisees) and those that felt lost, unworthy, and too far gone (the sinners and tax collectors). Jesus had a special message for both groups, contained within the parables he spoke that day.

In the Parable of the Prodigal son we see three main characters, with the following attributes:

  • The Father, who represents God
    • Generous, sinned against, life-giving, expectant, compassionate, forgiving, forgetful, and redemptive
  • The Son, who represents sinners and tax collectors
    • Rejected the father, self centered, self indulgent, dying, in crisis, defaults to “another gospel”, satisfied by being a servant, did not really know the father
  • The Begrudging Brother, who represents the scribes and Pharisees
    • Angry, isolated, envious, bitter, living like a slave, defaulted to works and righteousness, did not really know the father

This story paints a picture of extravagant love. As Jesus told this story and painted this beautiful picture of the essence of the gospel he knew that soon he would suffer and die because of God’s extravagant love. We are the beneficiaries of God’s extravagant love and the good news of the Gospel.

Pause and take a moment to examine your heart and how it is or is not aligned with the essence of The Gospel.

  • Do you resemble the begrudging brother?
    • Are you failing to embrace the gospel that is full of grace and extravagant love? Are you trying to please The Father with a series of works and reeling isolated, bitter, and enslaved?
    • The Son, who represents sinners and tax collectors
      1. Rejected the father, self centered, self indulgent, dying, in crisis, defaults to “another gospel”, satisfied by being a servant, did not really know the father
  • Are you living in the Father’s favor?
    • Are you resting in your relationship with The Father knowing that your works have no bearing on his extravagant love for you? Are you experiencing the life-giving blessings that come from consistently living as a disciple of Jesus Christ?

We would love to know where you find yourself and how we can support you in prayer—please reach out to us.