GOOD NEWS IN THREE WORDS
These are my notes for teaching at the Cornerstone on Sunday, April 19, 2020.
THE HEART OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH
Hello everyone. It's good to be with you again to talk about Good News. At the heart of the Christian faith, there is a message we call Good News. This message centers on Jesus. He is God who came into the world in human form.
That's very good news because Jesus reveals the heart of God, and it is a heart of love for us. Jesus is God who came into the world looking for us, pursuing us, in order bring us back home into a relationship with him.
The Bible tells us about this in, for example 2 Corinthians 5:
(2 Corinthians 5:18-19) And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them.
Last week, we focused on the good news in one word: Jesus. Today, I want us to focus on the good news in three words: Jesus is Lord.
JESUS IS LORD
For the first Christians, using the phrase "Jesus is Lord" was a way to:
Express faith in Jesus as God:
(John 20:27-29) Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” 28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Trust in Jesus for salvation:
(Romans 10:8-9) The message concerning faith that we proclaim: 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Describe Jesus to spiritual seekers (especially Jews):
(Acts 2:36) Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.
(Acts 10:36) You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.
Set Jesus apart from everyone else - exalted and ruling over all:
(Philippians 2:9-11) Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
FOLLOWING JESUS AS LORD
The Meaning of Lord
After Jesus rose from the dead, his disciples discovered what it means that Jesus is Lord. He was still lord in the sense that he was their leader and teacher. But now he is LORD in the sense that he is God and he has conquered death and sin and evil. He is ruling over the world and the universe (Ephesians 1:19-23). He is the King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16).
That's why I call myself a Jesus-follower. I mean that I am committed to Jesus as my Lord/God and I follow his life and his teachings.
Why Is "Jesus Is Lord" Good News?
First, "Jesus is Lord" is good news because it tells us that God has come into the world in the Lord Jesus. He is God with skin on and he is looking for a relationship with us. That's such good news.
(John 10:14-16) “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.
The second reason that "Jesus is Lord" is good news is that every benefit God wants for us: his love, new life, forgiveness, hope, and so on are all available in and through the LORD Jesus:
(Ephesians 1:2-3) Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
The third reason what "Jesus is Lord" is good news is that we are not left fumbling and stumbling through life. Jesus is a good, loving, and true guide to our very best life: a life of love. But only if we submit to him as Lord and imitate his life and apply his teaching.
When we follow him as Lord, over time he reformats our desires, thoughts, and decisions to his will and ways. We imitate his life and we apply his teachings to our daily lives. We follow Jesus - not as a once in a lifetime decision - but as a daily habit.
Jesus explained it this way:
(Matthew 11:28-30) Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Usually, we focus on finding rest from the grind of religion with its impossible demands. BUT! Did you notice how Jesus wants us to find that rest?
First, spiritual rest is found in Jesus himself - his person, life, and teachings: "I will give you rest."
Then, it is found in surrender to Jesus: "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me." The yoke is a farming metaphor of an ox and plow. Just as the farmer directs the ox, so we submit to Jesus as he directs our lives.
CONCLUSION: FOCUS ON JESUS AS LORD
If you are trying to find God, then I urge you to focus on Jesus who is Lord. There are some great books written about him, but I believe the best place to start for most people is the Gospel of John in the New Testament. This will give you some deep insights into Jesus - his life and teachings - that will eventually bring you to your own confession that Jesus is Lord.
If you're already a confessing Christian, let me ask you a serious question: do you acknowledge that Jesus is Lord? The reason I ask is because many people dabble in Jesus and sort of sample him and call themselves Christians, but they never commit to Jesus, never take on his yoke, and never follow him and his teachings. Unfortunately, that approach ignores that Jesus is Lord and it misses out on the life Jesus wants to give us. God's gifts come in and through the LORD Jesus. Commit your life to Jesus; that's when you'll discover the good news in three words: Jesus is Lord.