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THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL (31) JESUS CHRIST, THE CHIEF CORNERSTONE
During the Sunday service, Pastor (Mrs) Silvia Lia Leigh continued preaching about the power of the Gospel. Her main text was taken from the Books of Romans and Hebrews: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith…“The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Rom 1:16, 17; Ps 118:22-24)
The Book of Romans was written by the Apostle Paul to the Christians in Rome, who were mostly Gentile believers, The Book of Romans is not the first Book written by Paul (The first Letter He wrote was 1 Thessalonians). The Holy Spirit inserted the Book of Romans immediately after the Book of Acts because of its importance in presenting the major doctrines of salvation. In the history of the Church, God has used the Book of Romans more than any other Book in the Bible to ignite revival. Many great men and women of God have been converted thru the Book of Romans.
*St Augustine of Hippo (354-430) was the greatest Christian in the time between Apostle Paul and the Protestant Revolution. He was born in Algeria, Africa. His mother was a committed Christian who prayed for him every day. His father was a pagan who became saved on his death bed. He was a highly intelligent and well-educated man. He was a great Philosopher and a Professor but lived an immoral life. He was an alcoholic and a fornicator. One day, he heard a child’s voice telling him: ‘Pick up and read!’. He saw a Bible. He opened it at Romans 13. He read: “Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Romans 13:13, 14). Immediately, the Holy Spirit touched his heart and he believed. He repented of all his sins. He became born again. He wrote many Christians books. There was a man called Pelagius who preached error about the Christian faith. Pelagius was an English man who moved to Rome. He said that the original sin did not pollute human nature and that men have the free will to achieve human perfection without God’s Grace. He said that babies are born sinless. Augustine withstood him and using the doctrines of the Book of Romans proved him wrong. As you can see, God used Augustine when the church was still ‘a baby’ to defend it and keep its faith pure.
* John Chrysostom (347-407), the archbishop of Constantinople, was one of the early Church fathers. He wrote many books defending the Faith. He said about the Book of Romans: “Romans is the chief part of the New Testament and the very purest Gospel”. He memorized the Book of Romans and he encouraged all believers to do the same. He said that the more you study it the sweeter and more powerful it becomes!
*Martin Luther (1483-1546) was a Roman Catholic Monk and a Professor or Theology. In 1515 he was teaching his students the Book of Romans. He went to the Vatican to offer a sacrifice of humility. As he was climbing the stairs on his knees, the Holy Spirit illumined his mind and he saw that salvation is by faith in Jesus Christ alone. The Holy Spirit revealed to him Romans 1:17. He believed, and he was saved. He said that he felt as he was born again and that he entered thru the gates into Paradise. He led the Protestant Revolution. The Roman Catholic Church was divided. Many evangelical denominations started from that time on.
*John Bunyan (1628-1688) was born in England. He was born in a poor family and he was not well educated. He wrote the most famous book next to the Bible. It is called The Pilgrim Progress. which is the no one best seller He was a rebellious youth. But God touched him, and he got converted while reading the Bible, especially this verse: “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:38, 39). Because of his conversion, he suffered much. He was sent to jail where he wrote The Pilgrim Progress. This is a lesson taken from his life: while secular education is good, the greatest gift is salvation. The Holy Spirit will empower you to be a man (woman) of God. Another lesson is this: preaching doctrine is good, but it must be accompanied by application!
*John Wesley (1703-1791) was an English theologian and evangelist. He was the leader of a revival movement within the Church of England known as Methodism. He composed many Christian songs. He came from a Christian family. He was traveling to Georgia, US, to be a pastor there. During the journey there was a great storm. The ship was tossed thru and from. He met a group of German Moravian Christians who were truly born again. They were not afraid of death. They continue to sing choruses and have fellowship even during the storm. That is when John Wesley knew that he was not born again. He came back to England and he visited the church from where these Moravian Christians came from. They preached to him and prayed for him that he may be saved. Back to England, he became troubled. He was a pastor but not saved. He was invited to a home where some few brethren, every week, did Bible study. One of them stood to read Martin Luther’s Commentary on the Book of Romans. Suddenly, John Wesley felt the Holy Spirit coming to him. He said: “On the 24th of May 1738, about a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and He saved me from the law of sin and death.” John Wesley became a mighty warrior for the cause of Christ! He had problems with the Anglican Church because of his new doctrines. He never left the Anglican Church but after his death, his followers founded the Methodist denomination. John Wesley said: “The world is my parish”—a phrase that later became a slogan of Methodist missionaries. Wesley, in fact, never slowed down until he died. He preached and prayed to the end! He traveled over 4,000 miles annually, ridding on a horse, preaching some 40,000 sermons in his lifetime. Glory!
I AM NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL!
This is the major theme of the Book of Romans: the Gospel of Christ; justification by faith alone! The Gospel is something everybody needs. This is because we are all born sinners. Christ Crucified is the only way God can forgive man. There is no other way. The rich and the poor, the educated and illiterate, are all the same before the Cross. Why did Paul say that he is not ashamed of the Gospel? There is a great temptation to be silent about the Gospel. The world hates and mocks it. Why? Man is born a sinner. He is ignorant of God and of his condition. He takes pride in education and moral achievements. He does not want to hear that the only way to heaven is to trust in a poor ‘Carpenter’, who was killed on a cross among thieves. The Gospel has no attraction to both Jews and Gentiles. It is a stumbling block and foolishness to them. The world loves philosophy, poems and literature. Not the preaching of the Gospel! The rich educated men hate it the most. Intellectual pride is the greatest stronghold against the Gospel. Many preachers have compromised the Gospel and they present Christ as a Hero for humanity, a great Teacher or a Helper during troubles. They avoid the Cross and what it represents! They are ashamed of the Cross. This ‘edited’ version of the Gospel is called ‘another Gospel’. It has no power to save or change men. To preach another Gospel brings God’s curse upon the preacher (Gal 1:6-12). The true Gospel humbles men. It reveals to them that they are born sinners; that they cannot save themselves. The natural men hate to be humbled. That is why they hate the Gospel. They want to take pride in saving themselves thru good works or religion. They hate to give all glory to God. The Gospel is not man’s idea, another philosophy or teaching invented by men. The Gospel is unique. It comes from heaven, from God. It is the way revealed from God on how a sinner should be saved. The righteousness offered to men is totally from God. It cannot be bought with money or by man’s effort. It comes by faith in the Gospel, Christ crucified and resurrected. Why should we not be ashamed of the Gospel? For only one reason: It is the only power of God unto salvation for all who believe! This is the reason that kills all fears of rejection and mockery from men!
JESUS CHRIST THE CHIEF CORNERSTONE “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps 118:22-24)Psalm 118 is the most quoted Psalm in the New Testament. Let us exalt Christ, the Chief Cornerstone! Christ’ resurrection confirmed His power to be God and Savior, as the Son of Man and Son of God. The fear of God must replace the fear of man! Because Christ arose, His mercy endures forever! What is the Chief Cornerstone? The builders must choose one stone to be use for the foundation. They will say ‘this one is not good… this one is good’. Since ancient times, builders have used cornerstones in their construction projects. A cornerstone was the principal stone, usually placed at the corner of an edifice, to guide the workers in their course. The cornerstone was usually one of the largest, the most solid, and the most carefully tested of any in the edifice. Once the cornerstone was set, it became the basis for determining every measurement in the remaining construction; everything was aligned to it. The Bible describes Jesus as the Chief Cornerstone that His church would be built upon. He is foundational. As the cornerstone of the building of the church, Jesus is our standard of measure and alignment. This stone called Jesus was rejected by the builders. But God set it in the highest place of prominence. Jesus went to the lowest and God raised Him to the highest place! From death to life! His story, the Gospel, is marvelous in our eyes! Because of His death and resurrection, His mercy towards us endures forever! Peter, stood before the Sanhedrin, after doing a miracle, and boldly, he said: “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:8-13). The Pharisees saw that Peter and the other disciples were un-educated men but that they have been with Jesus! To be with Jesus!!! This is the greatest recommendation for ministry! Why is God’s work marvelous in our eyes? Jesus and His Gospel have been rejected by men! Jesus humbled Himself so low and God raised Him so high! This is marvelous! It is not just learning a doctrine, but it is worship; it involves our emotions! It humbles us and gives us hope! Men choose handsome, socially privileged, well educated, and famous men for positions of authority! As a Man, Jesus was none of this! Men do not choose a poor carpenter to be their King or God! Jesus was born in a manger (not in a palace). The first smell baby Jesus felt was the smell of animals. His ministry was a little more than three years. He chose simple people to be his disciples. His glory was veiled before the world. The Son of God that had all that glory in heaven, set it aside and chose to live like an ordinary man. This is marvelous! Why did He set aside His glory? Because He loved His own. He did not want them to fall in love with His glory, or His riches. Jesus needed to die as a Man for men! His glory as God was always there but it was hidden by the flesh, in the body God prepared for Him! Jesus was like “The Secret Millionaire”- movie! This attitude is the opposite of the natural man’s lifestyle! As sinners, we want to look better than we are! We reject the strategy of Jesus, the ways of God! Paul preached in weakness but with the power of the Holy Spirit. “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Cor 2:4). Salvation, healing cannot be bought! The natural man has always rejected the Gospel. The preaching of the Word is power! Nations have changed by the preaching of the Gospel! Many have been saved! The Gospel gives glory to God and prepares men for heaven! It ignites worship! It brings revival! In heaven we shall worship God forever! This is the purpose of man! Jesus prayed before He died so that the glory that He had with the Father will be restored to Him. He never lost His glory, but it was hidden, covered by human body and ordinary clothes. “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (John 17:4, 5). The story of Jesus is the power of the Gospel. It is not enough for you to know it in your mind. It must move you! You must feel its holy transforming power. Are you born again? If not, then surrender your life to the Lord Jesus Christ! If yes, let us fall at His feet and adore our King! Worship the Lord!