The Gospel-Live It
Isaiah 61:1-3 1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion– to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.
So the Prophet Isaiah foretold the job description of Jesus, the Messiah, hundreds of years before His birth. To help people make the connection that Jesus was the Messiah, He himself picked up a copy of the job description from Isaiah 61 and read it out loud in the synagogue in Luke 4:18-19. He was helping people understand that a different kind of life was possible because He was and is life.
Through His proclamation Jesus was setting the stage for the invitation for people to follow Him not only into believing something and knowing something, but into a way of living something they had not yet known. For it is one thing to KNOW the Gospel and an entirely different thing to LIVE the Gospel. Both involve a choice. Both involve faith. One is foundational to the next. You have to know and believe something before you can live it, but often many people who know and believe don’t apply that information and take the next step to live out their knowing. The Gospel….You can both KNOW and LIVE it.
Just what is this Gospel way of living about? This Gospel invitation is an invitation to at least four ways of being:
- First of all, to live out the Gospel is to live happy. Verse one details that part of
the Jesus’ way of life includes receiving Good News. Good news is happy news. I remember finding out that we were expecting our first child. I couldn’t wait to share the good news. I called someone at 2 am and woke them up to tell them! I couldn’t help myself! Even though I was packing on the pounds, I walked around like I was on clouds of air. This good news brought us great happiness. I was carrying something on the inside of my body and spirit that I knew would impact my life in a good way at the end of those nine months.What was happening on the inside of me would change my life in a good way forever!
The good news of a child coming into our home gave us a new focus. We spent a lot of time reading about babies and names and “What to Expect When You are Expecting.” We rearranged things in our home to accommodate another person. Our little princess was the topic of lots of conversation between the two of us and with other people. There was an element of excitement that was constant, even though I had a high risk pregnancy, even though it wasn’t easy. Even though I got huger than huge and could hardly walk by the end, I experienced happiness and joy the entire nine months because I was carrying this good news about our baby girl around in my belly and was about to see this Good News become something even better as I gave birth. I literally carried Good News around on the inside of me for 9 months and good went to great the moment I got to see my sweet girl’s face.
What I’m trying to portray in my home-made illustration this morning is that even though life itself can be difficult, if we receive the Good News of the Gospel into our lives, there is an element, there is a dimension, there is a quality of happiness and contentment and anticipation about things going from Good to Great or as Jewell Harrison says, “From gooder to gooder” that we literally walk around with everyday. The Gospel message is happy news that we receive on the inside that impacts our outside everyday life.
Specifically, our text says that Jesus came to give “Good News” to the poor. (vs 1) The reference to the poor is more of an illustration than a literal verse about Jesus only bringing good news to those who are financially impoverished. The poor are but an illustration in these verses of people who could use some good news. People who struggle financially or who are strapped to a lot of debt would welcome good news about a change in their financial situation.
People who understand we are all spiritually impoverished without the Lord are those who welcome the Good News of the Gospel. When people say that Jesus changed their life for the better they are saying that a blessedness, a happiness that is deeper than the world’s definition of happy, became an anchor for their life. Here is the essence of this Good News: Something happened over 2000 years ago and the reality and power of that event can be experienced in your heart and life today and every day of your life.
You see, the Good News is more than salvation and freedom from sin which is obviously incredible. But the Good News is the reality that you can know God, and you never have to be alone in life’s difficulties because once you accept Christ and seek to follow Him, He comes to live on the inside of you forever in a way that perpetuates this GOOD NEWS! Because Christ lives in me, I never have to panic. Because Christ lives in me, I am never without hope. Because Christ lives in me, I have access to unlimited power and resources. Because Christ lives in me, I can have courage. Because Christ lives in me, one day I will be out of here and headed into a perfect eternal scenario that is better than my best day here times infinity!
So, if you are going to live out the Gospel in your life to a watching world, show them the difference it makes to have Christ in your life. Rather than be led by our emotions and allow our circumstances to dictate how we are to respond to people and circumstances, let’s allow what has happened on the inside of our hearts to help us respond in faith and confidence and contentment on the outside of our lives rather than be swept into this culture that is so quick to believe “the sky is falling” every other day.
- To live out the Gospel is to live whole.
The second part of verse one includes this in Jesus’ job description: “He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted.” I shared the Sunday before Thanksgiving about a time in my life that left me brokenhearted. What I learned through that experience of healing was something I had known in my head, but it could only be experienced in my heart once my heart had been broken. Here it is: People will fail us, but God never will, and when people fail us God is more than enough to sustain and heal us.
Too often, however, we get hurt and stay hurt. We ruminate on the hurt. We rehearse the hurt over and over in our mind. We share the hurt with others sometimes not because we want prayer and God’s perspective on the situation, but we do so in order to get validation that we have a right to be hurt because of course, “misery loves company.” We allow the hurt to build unhealthy walls in our lives. We allow the hurt to cut us off from people. We allow the hurt to redefine our future. We allow the hurt to hold us back and minimize us. We allow our hurt to cause us to live angry and bitter. Internal pain negatively impacts our physical health, our sleep, our job performance, our relationships, and our quality of life in general.You see, brokenhearted people, if they stay brokenhearted, will live broken lives.
God wants to bring healing to our broken hearts in order to help us live healed and whole lives. He wants to strengthen us. We are the ones the Bible calls “overcomers.” We are the ones who can have victory in our lives. The process of overcoming involves healing. Do you want to be healed this morning?
You may be familiar with 1 Samuel 16:7 that says, “The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”Yes, He searches the condition of our hearts when it comes to dealing with sin in our lives. Yes, He searches the condition of our hearts when it comes to our sincerity in our walk with Him. Yes, He searches the conditions of our hearts when it comes to our dependence upon Him and whether or not we should be put in certain positions, but He isn’t just interested in your heart for salvation purposes or for leadership possibilities.
God is interested in your heart because what breaks your heart breaks His. When you hurt, He is hurting with you. Like a parent who enters into the pain their child is feeling when there is hurt or disappointment or feelings of rejection or betrayal, God is in tune with our suffering and pain. It moves Him. We parents may wish we could do something to make things better when our kids are brokenhearted. But we serve a God CAN do something when His kids are brokenhearted. He can bring healing and transformation that causes us to become better and stronger because of what we have endured than we would have been had we never had a broken heart in the first place! That which Satan would use to destroy us, God uses for our benefit as He draws close to heal us. (Romans 8:28)
When God brings healing for our broken hearts He gives us a capacity to see things from a different perspective. Even when we have been unjustly and horrifically wronged, He shows us how we can frame what has happened in a way that helps us move forward and out of a place of despair. He gives us an eternal perspective. He shows us how what we have been through can become a tool for us to help others. As we desire His healing and surrender to His healing He will bring people into our lives that bring His healing ministry to us in personal and practical ways. That is why we offer support groups like Divorce Care and Grief Share. The healing power of Christ comes often through His people, His body, as we come alongside one another in times of difficulty.
And before we move on, let me just suggest this one extra thought about brokenness. Perhaps it is when we are brokenhearted that we have the ability to see Jesus even more clearly.The Luke 24 passage about the two unknown disciples who were headed back home on the Emmaus Road following Jesus’ crucifixion were heartbroken. Jesus joined them on their walk. They didn’t invite Him to journey with them. I guess they didn’t know they could or should. They didn’t really expect Him to be available as He had been crucified. So they didn’t look for Him to offer any insight into their brokenhearted experience.
Let me reiterate this idea. Jesus joined them in their brokenness. Sometimes we don’t think to ask for Jesus to show up when we are brokenhearted. Sometimes our pain clouds our minds about what would be the right way to deal with something, but that’s ok, because Jesus is good at inviting Himself into our situation when we belong to Him. It was in the breaking of bread with these two unknown disciples that they clearly SAW Him and that changed everything. Through broken bread, broken people saw Jesus as He entered into their broken story.
Perhaps you are brokenhearted this morning. Perhaps you may even feel like damaged goods, like someone no one would want to hang with. Jesus is stepping your way. He is drawing close. Open the eyes of your heart to see Him. He has healing words to share, and healing people to share with you to offer His support.
To live out the Gospel is to live whole. Christian, give your broken heart to Jesus so He can do a wonderful, healing work in your life.
- To live out the Gospel is to live free.
The end of verse one details this aspect of the Messiah’s job description: He would“Proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.”
Freedom.John 8:36-“For if the Son sets you free you will be free indeed.”We can live FREE in every way. God can free our hearts from sin. He can free our minds from self-destructive and anxious thoughts. He can free our bodies from compulsive and addictive behaviors. He can free us from the approval of other people.
Living out the Gospel means we live and walk in this kind of freedom. Galatians 5:1 tells us that it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. He doesn’t want you to be oppressed or controlled or mastered by anything that will limit you or steal life from you.
The way to enjoy this kind of freedom is to be submitted to God and His purposes. He has power to break every chain in your life. Everything you wish you could stop doing,He has the power to enable you to stop doing. Everything you wish you could start doing, He has the power to enable you to start doing.
Psalm 119:45-“I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.”
What are God’s precepts? They are His way of doing life. You see, when we live by God’s standards we maintain our freedom. But wait a minute, doesn’t the fact that God have rules mean that our freedom is restricted? Not at all! God’s rules are the rules that enable us to live as free as possible. Satan’s strategy and the rules that come with a sinful lifestyle take the freedom we were created to enjoy in Christ away from us.
Galatians 5:13-14, 13 You, my brothers, were called to be free.
Romans 8:1-2 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”
If you are in Christ, you are NOT what has happened to you, and you are not what you have done. You can be free from your past and free from who you have become because of what you have done.
God in Christ has come to give you freedom to become like Christ. He has come to free you from oppressive and heavy emotions, like condemnation, shame and judgment. He has come to free you from addictions that will destroy your finances, your friendships and your future. Get free and stay free by following God’s precepts! Stop turning to the things of this world for security and satisfaction. They can’t and won’t provide either.
In many ways we are a lot like the people of Jeremiah’s time as God leveled this against them: Jeremiah 2:13 “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”
When you try to get what you need for life from that which is broken it will lead you to compromise your freedom because it will send you to fake wells, broken cisterns and into all kinds of experiences and relationships that are full of empty promises, deception and entrapment right into the grip of Satan and sin. You were made for more than what has happened to and you were made for more than what you have turned to in order to cope with what has happened to you. You were made for freedom, the freedom to love and know and serve God. Choosing to live out the Gospel means choosing that kind of life!
- Finally, to live out the Gospel is to live strong.
The end of verse 3 says Christ can enable us to be strong and unmoving in our faith. “They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.”So, for those who follow Christ I guess the best compliment to us would be “Nice roots.” J (get it? Tree, roots?) Oh well. We are to be strong, permanent, fixed in our faith and unbending to the ways of the world. We are to be established as believers, not wishy washy people who are Jesus people one day and living some other way on Monday. We are to stand tall and stand out for the display of God’s splendor.
But notice what is said in the verse that follows verse three. Isaiah 61:4-They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.
What does it mean that we would rebuild ancient ruins and restore devastated places and renew ruined cities? This is what it means: As we are oaks of righteousness, as we are living strong, as we are uncompromising in our beliefs, we will play a role in transforming the community around us. We will be a witness that is compelling to unbelievers. We will serve and help in places that need restoration. We will be a part of renewal in our culture during our very lifetimes. God is displaying His splendor through His people who live strong lives!
Listen, we live in a time when the foundation of faith in America has been destroyed. This generation is being born into a spiritual wasteland. What once was valued and shared now lies in ruins. God is looking for some people who will choose to live out the Gospel, who will choose to be like a tree planted by streams of living water who will yield fruit in its season and who won’t be moved by every wind and wave of doctrine and drama that comes down the pike. Grow strong. Stand strong. Live strong that others will come to know the same happy, whole, and free life you have come to enjoy in Christ.
I want to close with the closing verses of the book of Jude. If you can, turn there quickly. There is only one chapter in the book of Jude and it is right before Revelation, the last book of the Bible.
Jude 1:17-25 17 But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18 They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” 19 These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. 20 But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. 21 Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. 22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear–hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. 24 To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy– 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
Build yourselves up in your most holy faith. This is the time to get into the spiritual gym. This is the time to ramp up and amp up your prayer life and your devotional life and to push yourself to demonstrate what God’s love look like and to speak His words of life over all you come into contact with. Live strong.
If I can wrap this up into one final thought it is simply this: To live out the Gospel means to let Jesus do His job description in your life. Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit wants to bring happiness, wholeness, freedom and strength to your life that His splendor would be seen in the world today. The Gospel. Live it.