The Gospel of Beauty, Goodness and Truth: Truth!
Today I want to share part three of this message: “The Gospel of Beauty, Goodness and Truth!”
We have talked about the story that influences your life. The big God story that helps shape you and it helps you discover your identity and purpose.
Most people that I know came to the Lord, because we were burdened by sin and needed a Savior. We wanted to be spared the wrath of God and avoid being sent to Hell. On some level, we wanted a Savior to help us with our sin.
Now consider, the story shouldn’t start with our sin problem, but rather a God who created and put the first human beings in a paradise. He wanted to provide for their every need. The original story starts with Beauty, Goodness and Truth. But Adam and Eve sinned and chose to eat the forbidden fruit. Their sin set it up that everyone born after them would be born with a sin-nature.
So, sin is a problem, and God lovingly sent His only Son Jesus to be our Savior. He came to pay the penalty for our sin and die in our place; we call that thesubstitutionary death and atonement of Jesus Christ; it is a necessary part of the story. Unfortunately, it seems to get distorted and can become a Fear Based Story. The Fear Based Story often leaves people with guilt, shame and fear. They worry that their salvation is incomplete, “have I done enough, am I good enough? and they are robbed of the joy of their salvation!
I want to be clear. A belief and understanding of the substitutionary death and atonement is a necessary part of the story. You and I need to believe that Jesus died for you.
I would rather tell a “Loved Based Story!” God sent us His one and only Son to demonstrate His great love for us. Here is a very simple definition of Love, Love is to will and act for the good of another person!” To give your life to the story, the Gospel, it needs to have Beauty, Goodness and Truth! Beauty, Goodness and Truth, all three are necessary to help complete the story, and all three complement Love. That is the story worth sharing, and that is the story worth living into it!
When you see something that is beautiful in creation, and you say, “Wow!” The experience, or that moment is God trying to get your attention so that you think of Him! God creates the sunrise and sunset everyday--painting a picture for your enjoyment--to bend down and reach out to touch you.
Last week I talked about the Goodness of God, that God’s goodness goes before us to prepare our way and protect us. God’s goodness is freely given to improve your life and make you whole. That is something, I wish we would all put our minds to understanding that God’s love for you is meant to improve your life, build your character, bring to reality the fruits of the Spirit, and draw you closer to God.
For two weeks I have been sharing this concept of truth: Truth is aligned with reality. You can count on truth. It works, so when you interact with truth, we say: “Yes!”
Now let’s focus on our passage from John 8, and the Truth will make you Free!” “The truth will set you free” is a common saying in academic circles that want to promote academic freedom and the power of learning. Many universities have this statement emblazoned on a sign on the entrance of a building. But “the truth will set you free” did not originate in academia; Jesus said it in John 8:32. In context, Jesus’ statement has nothing to do with classroom learning.
John 8:32 “and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
Jesus is not saying any truth you can learn will make you free. You have to keep it in the context that includes verse 31.
John 8:31-32 Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
True discipleship is more than intellectual assent; those who are “really” followers of Christ will “hold to” His Word. That means they will believe his teaching and everything he says. And they will also obey His teachings. Action is proof of faith (cf. James 2:17).
True disciples of Jesus believe that He speaks the truth about God and the Scriptures.
John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.
Verse 32 begins with, “Then you will know the truth.” “You” refers to those who are true disciples of Jesus. True disciples will know the truth. More than that, their eyes are opened to a greater understanding of the truth (cf. 1 John 5:20).
The truth Jesus’ disciples receive brings with it freedom. Jesus continues, “And the truth will set you free” (verse 32). At that point in history, the Jews were under the rule of the Roman government. When Jesus said the truth would set them free, however, He was not talking about political freedom (though the following verses indicate that’s how the Jews took it). Jesus provides the best commentary for His own statement in verse 34. Jesus explains,
John 8:34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. Being a slave to sin is the ultimate bondage.
The freedom Jesus offers is a spiritual freedom from the bondage of sin—that is, release from the lifestyle of habitual lawlessness. He continues with an analogy:
John 8:35-36 The slave does not continue in the house for ever; the son continues forever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.
“Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever” (verse 35). The people would have understood Jesus to mean that they were not members of God’s family, despite their biological relationship to Abraham (verse 37), because they were slaves to sin. If they were to become disciples of Jesus, they would know the truth of their condition and the truth about Christ, and Jesus would set them free. Believers would be freed from their bondage and brought into the family of God.
Jesus is the Truth (John 14:6). Knowing the Truth will set one at liberty—free from sin, free from condemnation, and free from death (Romans 6:22; 8:1–2). Jesus sets us free from sin, free from condemnation and free from death--that is amazing!
Jesus embodies truth. His teachings and actions were liberating and life giving. Over and over again we see in the Gospels that Jesus came to fulfill the Old Testament story. Nobody expected that the resolution to the story would require his death on a cross.
So along comes Saul of Tarsus a Pharisee who knows and loves the Old Testament story. He is persecuting the Christians because Jesus and his actions don’t seem to fit the story. Then on the road to Damascus Saul is struck by a dazzling light and falls to the ground. From within the light comes a voice. “Saul, Saul why are you persecuting me?” Saul said, “Who are you, Lord?” See, he calls him Lord, because he instinctively knows it is the Messiah! The answer: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” That statement began to unlock the whole Old Testament story for Paul.
Let’s quickly look at Paul’s Gospel;
2 Timothy 2:8 “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David, as preached in my gospel.” Do you like that? It’s short and powerful.
Jesus Christ: Christ is not Jesus’ last name. It his title: God’s Anointed in the Greek and Messiah in the Hebrew.
Jesus Christ, risen from the dead: Jesus conquered the sin and the grave.
descended from David = King: Jesus is a descendant of King David and is the fulfillment of the promise that one of his descendants would reign forever.
The Greek word for Gospel Euangelion was used by the Romans to proclaim and edict of the King. So, the Gospel of Jesus is that He is King! He comes to establish his kingdom on the earth!
Let’s look at Good Friday.
Romans 5:10“For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.”
Good Friday is about the reconciliation of the world. Jesus is reconciling us to God; not God is really angry at you and you need to appease Him. We are the ones who rebelled and chose to move away from God. We are the ones who need to be reconciled to God. Jesus lovingly and willingly allowed himself to be nailed to the cross. As he reconciled us to God, he also defeated all the powers that are against us.
At 6:00 pm. on Good Friday the Revolution began!
John 12:31 Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the ruler of this world be cast out.” When Jesus became the perfect sacrifice for sin, he paid the penalty for sin and totally defeated death. He then received the authority to rule the earth and cast Satan down.
Look at Paul’s statement in Colossians 2:14-15
Col. 2:14-15 “having canceled the bond which stood against us with its legal demands; this he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in him.”
Jesus disarmed principalities and powers that then made it possible for us to be fully human. In the Greek mind those powers were “Mammon, Aphrodite and Mars”; which we would say, he defeated “money, sex and power!” We worship and covet money, sex and power thinking they will satisfy us and make us whole--but they can’t fulfill the human longing like what Jesus will show us in his kingdom
Our Gospel, our story is more than a story about forgiveness. We have a story that includes death being defeated and people learning how-to live-in God’s abundance, where love, grace and mercy touch our lives every day. When we realize God’s manifest presence in our lives, we experience peace and joy.
The Love Based Story includes a Jesus, as the Son of God, who knows how to identify with your emotions and feelings, with your situation, your burden, your pain, your despair. He has gone to the cross, visited Hades and come back to life so that he can look you in the eye and say, “I know what you have been through and I am here to show you the way. I have come to you to give you life. And I speak the truth, you can count on it! I came to share my love with you!”
That’s what makes the Love Based Story so amazing. God knows every degree of shame, humiliation, betrayal, rejection, loss and pain and He can say: “I have overcome!”
So, in the Love Based Story: you become a part of the story. You are a story: a never to be repeated story of God’s love and grace!
Do you have a God shaped story that guides your life, gives you power and hope, peace and joy and tells you: You are loved? God loves you. This I know for the Bible tells me so!
May Grace and Peace be multiplied to you,
God Bless you,