Lord's Day Evening Meditations July 20, 2003

The A B C of the Gospel

We are living in a day of remarkable advances in all the branches of science and knowledge. It is the accomplishment of the prophecy of Daniel: "Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." Dan. 12:4. Our grandparents didn't even dream of space travel, heart transplants, or computers, but today they are things that we take for granted. However, as knowledge in all the branches of science increases, the knowledge of the Word of God is decreasing. It used to be that children were all given some instruction and training in the basics of Christianity, but it is no longer so. A large portion of the present generation of children growing up, are growing up as heathens, with no knowledge whatever of even the most basic and elementary truths of the gospel. With this thought in mind, I'm going to speak about the gospel tonight in its very simplest form - the A B C of the gospel.

A "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." Rom. 3:23. This is a basic and most important truth. I am a sinner; you are a sinner; everyone has sinned (except the Lord Jesus). The idea of sin is considered old fashioned and outdated, but if man has changed his outlook, God hasn't changed His. We have come short of God's glory, and cannot enter there. How many sins caused Adam to be put out of the garden? One. And it wasn't murder or some great glaring fault. It was a simple act of disobedience to the will of God; that is sin. It wrecked the first creation - "As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin." Not one sin will enter God's glory above, and you and I are guilty before God. "He that believeth not is condemned already." John 3:18. The sentence has been pronounced, though not yet put into effect, on those who do not believe.

B "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." Acts 16:31. Because we are sinners and are shut out of heaven, there is only one alternative - to be sent to the lake of fire for eternity. This is a frightening prospect, but there is good news for sinners. That is what the word "gospel" means - good news, and the good news is that God does not want anyone to perish; He has made a way so that all can be saved. That way is basically two things: 1) "Believe," which is faith, and 2) "on the Lord Jesus Christ," which is a person. The Lord Jesus said, "I am the door." There are many entrances to hell, but only one to heaven, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.

C "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matt. 11:28. This is an invitation. Have you accepted it? There is only one way to heaven, but it is open to all, because the invitation is to all. The Lord invites all to come to Him to receive from Him the richest of all blessings. Why won't people come? In the parable of the marriage feast, those invited "began to make excuse." They didn't want to go, and so they made excuses. One of the reasons why people don't accept the Lord's invitation is because they have believed Satan's lie. From the very beginning Satan has spread a lie about God. He made out that God was evil, wanting to hurt His creature, and that he, Satan, was man's best friend. People still believe that today and blame God for all their troubles, whereas Satan is the cause, and God is holding out a loving offer of salvation and blessing.

Another reason why people reject the Lord's invitation is that they know their lives are full of sin; they know that the Lord wants to take them out of their sin, but they prefer their sin to the Lord! Well, those who choose their sins rather than the Lord will spend eternity with those sins and their consequences. Think of the word "come" this way:

C - children come

O - old folks come

M - middle-aged folks come

E - everybody come!

D "Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." Matt. 25:41. These words will be spoken by the same One Who has said, "Come unto Me," and I sincerely hope that no one here tonight will ever hear those words. The context of those words is the future judgment of the living nations, but it will be the same Judge Who will judge all of the lost. Notice that the "everlasting fire" was not prepared for man; it was made "for the devil and his angels," but man, in his stubbornness, and deceived by Satan, chooses to go there. It is not considered polite to scare people by talking about hell, but it is a truth in the Bible.

"Depart from Me" - that is to be shut out from God for all eternity. Nobody knows what it is to be entirely without God. "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above." James 1:17. Paul preached to those who had never heard of the true God that "He left not Himself without witness, in that He did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness." Acts 14:17. All good things come from Him. What will it be to be entirely without Him for eternity! Today He still calls, "Come unto Me."

E "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." Rev. 22:20. One of these days, what is described in 1 Thess. 4:16 - 17 will take place. All who have recognized that they were sinners, and who have come to the Lord Jesus for salvation, will hear the call, will be changed, and will meet the Lord in the air, to be taken home for ever. That will be a most wonderful moment! But suppose that it were to happen here tonight and there was one unsaved person here. That one person would be left alone, and the door of heaven would be closed to them for ever. All those who have heard the invitation, and refused it, after the Lord has come, will no longer have any opportunity to be saved. For those who are saved, that wonderful moment will mean the end of all problems, trials, and pain, etc., and the beginning of endless joy and bliss.

F "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Rom. 6:23. If we serve sin, then we receive what we have earned, what we deserve - not only the death of the body, but eternal banishment from the presence of God. However, God has a wonderful gift to give: "eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." This stresses a most important truth which Satan has so successfully denied: salvation is a gift! It cannot be earned nor deserved. It must be received freely as a gift "through Jesus Christ our Lord," or it will not be received at all.

G "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16. This is probably the best known verse in the Bible. It contains all the basic truths of the gospel in a few simple words: the love of God, the gift of God, the offer to "whosoever," the need of faith, the warning of judgment, and the result of believing - "everlasting life." If you have not already memorized this verse, I recommend that you do so.

H "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?" Heb. 2:3. Do you know the answer to this question? There is no answer, because there is no escape! When we spoke of the letter C and the Lord's invitation "Come," we mentioned how most people reject that invitation for various reasons. But in this verse there is another word: "neglect." Some people know that this is all true and that they need to come to the Lord, but they put it off. You know how it is with things that we should do and sincerely mean to do - they get put off until tomorrow, or next week, or next time. We mean to do them, but . . . With things of this life, it may not be too important, but don't do that with the matter of your soul's salvation. If you neglect it until it is too late, then there will be no escape. A young boy said to his mother, "Mom, tomorrow I'll be good." The mother replied, "Child, I understand what you are saying. Tomorrow, means never." "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." 2 Cor. 6:2. S.L.