The Gospel of Jesus Christ has been my passion since I first believed it about 18 years ago.
As we have been looking at the Sayings of Jesus in our Sunday Morning messages we have come to the need of understanding what it means to preach or to share the Gospel. What is the Gospel? What is its main point? As we saw in the morning message from Matthew 10:34 we are all (if we call ourselves Christian) to preach the Gospel no matter what the response to our message is. (see yesterday’s post)
My ministry in preaching the Gospel and teaching others to do so is in a significant way, fueled by a study I did in the book of Job many years ago. I know, Job and evangelism may not seem like a likely combination in the minds of many Christians. I am not trying to come up with something new here or the twist the Scriptures to fit my own preconceived notions. Think about it for a moment. What is the story of Job really about?
Job is a “righteous” man. As a matter of fact even God says, “There is none like him in all the earth.” But let me ask, is one saved by being good? If you know what the Bible says about this you must immediately say no.
Romans 3:10-11 As it is written: “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NO, NOT ONE; 11 THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS; THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS AFTER GOD.
God allows and even instigates Job’s bout with suffering. Read Job 1-2 and see it for yourself. God challenges the devil to assault Job, but God has an ultimate purpose in the assault. As it all transpires Job’s friends come and rather than comfort him they antagonize him and increase his misery. What should be a time of mourning and comforting becomes a shouting match and a vexation to Job. (Job 3-31)
All the while in the background there is a silent and solitary figure, a young man who hesitates to speak his piece.
Job 32:1-4 So these three men ceased answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. 2 Then the wrath of Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, was aroused against Job; his wrath was aroused because he justified himself rather than God. 3 Also against his three friends his wrath was aroused, because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job. 4 Now because they were years older than he, Elihu had waited to speak to Job.
When Elihu does finally come forward he corrects both Job and his friends. He corrects the main flaws that are present in the human understanding of God and His relation to fallen humanity.
(1) Job’s friends believe that God is chastising Job for some great hidden sin. He might just as well “fess up” and get it over with. This is the view of many people in this world. God is a God of retribution and every “bad” thing that happens is due to His retaliatory nature. When I was a kid, surrounded by an unbelieving family, some of few remembrances of discussions of God were at the point was when I would trip or stub my toe or something like that. It was always said, “You must have been bad and gotten away with it an now God got you for it.”
(2) Job’s view, “I am a good person and God should always be nice to me.” Another common misunderstanding of God. This is the complaint of the atheist, “If God is loving and all-powerful then there should be no suffering in the world.” Here we deny or forget that we live under the curse of sin. God did indeed make the world perfect, but man rebelled against the command of God and brought judgment upon himself and the whole of creation. Calamity is one result of the Fall. Remember, as good as Job was, “There is none righteous, no not one….”
So, what is the point of Job’s suffering then?
James 5:11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord–that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.
It was, according to James in the New Testament, to be “compassionate and merciful.” I can hear you saying now, “WHAT? You call that compassion and mercy? God took away his family, his wealth and his health and then tortured him with abuse from his friends and his wife. How is that compassion and mercy?” It is at this point in the Life of Job that he is ready to hear the words of the young man Elihu. This is the mercy of God. He brings Job to the end of himself and humbles him to be corrected by a young man. And so from Job 32-37 he guides Job and his friends to the point where they are ready to receive the truth about God in their situation. In Job 38-41, the Lord begins rebuking Job for his pride and puts him in his place and in Job 42, Job responds very differently;
Job 42:5-6 “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. 6 Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes.”
Job goes from a superficial knowledge of God to a real face to face encounter with Him. He acknowledges his sin and ascribes righteousness to God in his situation. This is due to the ministry of this man Elihu. Listen to how he describes his ministry to Job and his friends;
Job 33:23-24 “If there is a messenger for him, A mediator, one among a thousand, To show man His uprightness, 24 Then He is gracious to him, and says, ‘Deliver him from going down to the Pit; I have found a ransom’;
Elihu is a messenger to Job, He delivers to him the message of God. He is also a mediator or an interpreter. He makes sure that Job understands the message. He is one among a thousand and so there are not many who understand the message and can communicate it to others. Finally he gets to the content of the message, “To show man His uprightness.” That is to prove to man that whatever his situation is, God is still righteous.
The Gospel is ultimately about the righteousness of God. He is rightly offended by our sin and our nature of sin as inherited from our first father, Adam. If everyone in the world went to hell God would still be just and loving. He created us, gave us food, clothing and other people to love. We rejected His Law and His provision for restoration, yet in His patience He still gave us rain and sunshine and people to love, happiness and contentment when He might have just been done with it and sent us all straight to hell. Being Just by nature He cannot overlook our sin and rebellion and yet He made a way to maintain His justice and yet extend His mercy;
Romans 3:24-26 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Patiently putting up with our sin, He sent His only Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and on account of sin, and He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:3-4) In Jesus Christ, sin was properly judged as He willingly took our sin upon Himself, the only sufficient Sacrifice to atone for the sins of the world. It was a Sacrifice of Ultimate value because it was God of very God who was sacrificed. It was a real sacrifice in that God was in the form of a man when it happened. The Justice of God was met, the mercy of God was served and the offer of salvation was given to the world.
You say again, “Wait a minute, Job lived over 1,500 years before Jesus.” Yes he did, yet he looked forward to the same Redeemer we look back to.
Hebrews 4:3 For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: “SO I SWORE IN MY WRATH, ‘THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST,’ ” although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
The work of redemption is eternal. God planned it before the world was made and God’s plans are as good as done. Jesus said to the pharisees, “Abraham rejoiced to see My day and he saw it and was glad.” In Job’s story we see a man that was a truly good man but seemed to rely upon his own righteousness a little too much. We see God bringing calamity upon him in His mercy to help him see things more clearly. We see God providing the right man at the right time to communicate the message of God clearly, that God is righteous and it is Job that has erred. And then we see the grace of God bring restoration and grace to Job and his friends. The Gospel is the Righteousness of God. It is none other. It must be communicated to a world that is self-righteous and does not get it. If you know Christ you are called to be 1 in 1000.
You can listen to audio of this message by clicking the link below
In Christ! Kevin