What Is The Gospel According To Proverbs?
September 24, 2017 | Randy Smith
What Is The Gospel According To Proverbs?Proverbs 20:9
Sunday, September 24, 2017 • 2017 Outdoor Service
Pastor Randy Smith
We are so blessed Grace Bible Church! Frequently I walk around the building and I think to myself, "I can't believe the Lord gave us this incredible facility!" After seven years it is easily something we can take for granted.
Something else we can also take for granted, something far greater than a temporary building, is our eternal salvation. How often do you pause to think about it? Personally loved by the Creator. Sovereign care to work all your difficulties for good. Hope, joy and peace in this world. Salvation from hell and the promise of eternal life with God in heaven. There is no greater gift!
The Gospel, the message of salvation is a gift. It teaches about the greatness of Jesus Christ's work to forgive and redeem people who do not deserve it. We don't put our faith in the message. We put our faith in the One the message speaks about and we faithfully share the "good news" with others.
As you know, we have spent the past two months studying the biblical book called Proverbs. Proverbs is 31 chapters containing collected sayings of wisdom.
Proverbs talks about the greatness of a message, especially a message from God. "A trustworthy witness will not lie" (4:5). Of God's Words, Proverbs says, "Every word of God is tested" (30:5) and therefore we should not "add to His words" (30:6). It even talks about the blessedness of those who deliver a good message. "A man has joy in…a timely word" (15:23). "Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest is a faithful messenger to those who send him" (25:13).
So this week in my study I attempted to put these two thoughts together. I asked myself the question, what is the message of the Gospel according to the Book of Proverbs? In other words, how does Proverbs, assembled roughly 500 years before Jesus Christ, share the message of salvation found in Jesus Christ? This morning I would like to share with you what I discovered.
1. The Holiness Of God
Five points I'd like to cover with you this morning, four necessary components of the Gospel and the fifth one will be the necessary fruit the Gospel produces.
Let's begin with the first point, "Holiness of God."
All theological discussions must begin with a correct understanding of God. Who is God? Is He only loving whereby He is obligated to take everyone to heaven, with the possible exception of a few really bad apples? What must we do to enter into His presence? What's He looking for in us? Is it good deeds? Religion? The discussion of salvation must begin with the question, "Who is God?"
According to the Bible, specifically Proverbs here, God is holy. That means that He is separate from His creation. That means that He cannot sin, hates sin and must judge sin.
Listen to Proverbs 6. "There are six things which the LORD hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers (6:16-19). Did you hear that? God "hates" sin. Proverbs uses the word, "abomination."
Why? Because all sin is against His righteous nature. 16:12 says, "It is an abomination for kings to commit wicked acts, for a throne is established on righteousness." God is the King of all kings. He is righteous and by nature must judge all that is unrighteous.
This is the God we stand before right now. People want to believe in evolution because they believe is removes their accountability before God. The Bible will have none of that. 22:2, "The rich and the poor have a common bond, the LORD is the maker of them all."
Are you prepared to meet this God? Well, to answer that question we need to now examine what the Bible says about us. If we are holy, there are no worries. If we are not holy, we have much to be concerned about.
2. The Depravity Of Man
The second point of the Gospel is the "Depravity of Man." From cover-to-cover the Bible makes it clear that man is far from meeting the perfect holy standard God requires. Furthermore, there is no escape.
5:21, "For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the LORD, and He watches all his paths." The Lord's sees everything you do. And again, His grading is not on a curve. It's not, "Well, you tried" or "You did better than most." It is commands based on His character that we are expected to meet in-line with His righteous character? Therefore all humans are in trouble because all humans are not righteous. Still not convinced?
13:5, "A righteous man hates falsehood." How much more does God? You ever told a lie? A white lie? An exaggeration?
20:6, "Who can find a trustworthy man?" The answer is, you can't. We all have broken a promise.
14:2, "He who walks in his uprightness fears the LORD." You perfectly upright? Never an immoral action or thought?
16:5, "Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; assuredly, he will not be unpunished." Pride, which is an abomination to the Lord, will not go unpunished. I can't add to that one!
11:20 says, "The perverse in heart are an abomination to the LORD."
Still unconvinced you can't meet the Lord's acceptance based on your actions? How about this one? 16:2, "All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, but the LORD weighs the motives." Wait? What? Even my motives are seen and taken into account by the Lord? Yes, because the Lord is primarily concerned with the heart. Are all your motives always pure? 17:3, "The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests hearts" (cf. 24:12).
Conclusion? 20:9, "Who can say, 'I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin?'" Answer: No one!
Now, you're probably thinking to yourself at this point, why did I come out this morning to hear that? I thought church was supposed to build me up, encourage me. I thought you said this message is about the Gospel what you referred to earlier as the "Good News." Yes, the Gospel is "Good News," but we can't get to the good news until we talk about the bad news because apart from the bad news we will see no need for the good news.
It's like a man that has curable cancer. If he is never informed of his true physical condition, there will be no hope for recovery because he will see no need to pursue it. Sure, no doctor likes to break that news to someone, but it would be extremely unloving if he left a man with a death sentence upon him if there was a cure. The illness is the motivation to seek the cure. It's the same here!
Now, let's say this man is told he has cancer. Let's pretend goes in denial or he attacks the doctor who told him or he seeks an alternative remedy that will not bring healing. We'd say such responses are foolish. Yet people respond to the Gospel in the same foolish ways.
12:15, "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes." They scream, "I don't care what the Bible says. I'm not a bad person (c.f. 30:12) and I am offended at anyone or anything that would tell me otherwise." You see why he is called a "fool?"
Or how about 14:12, "There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death." "Okay, I agree with who I am before God, but it just doesn't seem right that a loving God would send me to hell. My good outweighs the bad. I've not committed any big sins. I've been to church most of my life." 14:12 again, "There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death."
My friends, it does not matter what you think or feel. All that matters is what a trustworthy God has revealed to you through His trustworthy Word. 21:30, "There is no wisdom and no understanding and no counsel against the LORD."
Have you, will you accept the fact that God is holy and therefore you and I have sinned against Him? In order to seek the remedy, you have you acknowledge your sickness. You and I have a sin problem that all the good deeds in the world can never take away.
14:9, "Fools mock at sin." 19:3, "The foolishness of man ruins his way, and his heart rages against the LORD." You can laugh off your sin as a fool or you as a fool can rage against the Lord or you can foolishly deny the reality. These are what we see so much of in the world today. Or you can humble yourself and turn to Him for His solution and the cure He provided for your most desperate need.
3. The Person And Work Of Christ
That takes us to our third point, "The Person and Work of Christ."
We have a sentence of spiritual death upon us, but according to 10:2, "Righteousness delivers from death." So there is a remedy for spiritual death. It's righteousness. We are condemned because we are unrighteous. But if we could be righteous enough we could be delivered. The problem is we can't. But maybe someone could on our behalf? Maybe someone as righteous as God could give us that righteousness as a gift? I suppose that would have to be God Himself. 12:28, "In the way of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death." What we need is righteousness!
But what about the sin problem? Obviously that needs to be taken away for us to be righteous. Remember 20:9? "Who can say, 'I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin?'" No one can say that, except God! So is it possible that the very God to whom we are accountable would love us so much to not only take away our sins, but give us His righteousness? Would God be that loving to make atonement for those who deserve His judgment? 16:6, "By lovingkindness and truth iniquity is atoned for."
The answer according to the New Testament is "yes," in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Trinity, came to earth and became man. In becoming man He could represent us. Only He could live the perfect life and present Himself to the Father as a sacrifice for our sins on the cross. He could then take ways our sins, by receiving the judgment we deserved. On His account, with the sins taken away, God could declare us righteous.
Does 17:17 find its ultimate fulfillment in our "elder brother," Jesus Christ? "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity."
4. Faith And Repentance
Now this is all wonderful, but it means nothing unless we appropriate it for ourselves. In other words, the cure for cancer can be there, but if you refuse the chemotherapy you will still die. Let me take you to the fourth point. We receive the work of Jesus Christ which brings the forgiveness of God through "Faith and Repentance."
So what is faith? Faith is belief. Faith is trusting God for the forgiveness that He has offered us in Christ. Faith is believing this message that we can be saved from His judgment though the means He has provided. Faith is rejecting our own goodness and trusting in God's goodness for salvation.
We see this concept taught in Proverbs. 3:5, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding." 16:20, "He who gives attention to the word will find good, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD." 18:10, "The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe."
And the other half of the coin is repentance. True faith is repentant faith, a desire by God's grace to turn away from our sin. Repentance is acknowledging our sinfulness and wanting to now live a holy life that seeks to please the God who did so much to bring us salvation.
1:7, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge." 19:23, "The fear of the LORD leads to life." 11:19, "He who is steadfast in righteousness will attain to life." 28:13, "He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion."
And when we are truly saved there will be evidence. The Bible calls it spiritual fruit. That was our fifth point, but I think I'll leave that for another sermon.
Before we go and enjoy our picnic, and I do sincerely hope all of you will stick around, I want you to consider how man has perverted this biblical message of salvation.
The holiness of God? What are we told? There is no God and if there is a God He is all-permissive, accepting of everyone regardless of their choices.
The depravity of man? We just evolved and thus we are not accountable to a Creator. And besides that, people are all basically good.
The person and work of Christ? There are many acceptable ways to God.
And faith and repentance? Believe whatever you want to believe. Ignore the teaching of the Bible. And if you do receive Christ, realize that we are all sinners and salvation by grace alone must mean that living a righteous life is optional.
14:12, "There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death" (c.f. 16:25). Are you trusting with all your heart in God's message for salvation? If not, will you embrace Jesus Christ for forgiveness right now? Will you depart today knowing that Christ is your Lord and Savior? 15:23, will you depart with "joy in [this] timely word?"