We are continuing our study of "the gospel" at Mizzou tonight. Our topic tonight is "The gospel must be obeyed." At several points, the apostles make it clear that there are consequences for disobedience to the gospel.
In the context of discussing those who persecuting the believers in Thessalonica, Paul talks about the judgment that is coming on those persecutors.
2 Thessalonians 1.8 – He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
This states that the gospel is something to be obeyed. We also see this from the apostle Peter, once again in the context of believers being persecuted.
1 Peter 4.17 – For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household (Peter is discussing those who are suffering for the faith according to God’s will); and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
There are those who do not obey the gospel. And they seem to be persecutors of believers and they will be judged most severely. Both of these verses discuss the negative outcomes of not obeying the gospel. There is another verse that discusses the positive example of obedience to the gospel. Paul writes to the Corinthians, commending them for their financial gift to believers in need in Jerusalem.
2 Corinthians 9.13 – Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, people will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.
As we read that verse, obedience seems to flow out of one’s acceptance of the message concerning/from Christ. Okay, we are supposed to obey the gospel, but what exactly are we to obey? Up until now, most of our understanding of the gospel has been about Christ. What specifically are we to obey?
If we remember back to our second lesson, one of the first messages from Jesus concerning the gospel was repentance –
Mark 1.15 – The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news.
The word “repent” means to change your mind. It often had the connotation of a new relationship with God that impacted all spheres of life. It dealt with the question of one’s standing before God. This repentance was calling for obedience to the will of God; trust in God and the rejection of false gods; it was turning aside from everything ungodly. What would it look like to be obedient to the will of God? If we believe that the gospel message is centered in the fact that Jesus is the King, then we should be obedient to his commands. How could we do that?
How do we let these verses inform the idea that we should “obey the gospel”?
Mark 12.28-31 – Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.
John 13.34-35 – A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
John 14.15 – If you love me, keep my commands.
We see here that an essential element of a study of the gospel is that it must be obeyed. There are consequences for those who do not obey the gospel. Obedience to the gospel entails repentance and striving to live according to Jesus’ commands and the most important of those commands are to love God and to love one another.