Bruce Ware – “The Gospel 101 – Our Need for the Gospel” – 2011 True Church Conference

Friday, February 18, 2011

Message 2 – Bruce Ware – “The Gospel 101 – Our Need for the Gospel”

Dr. Bruce Ware is a professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. The topic of his first message today is the gospel – the basics of the gospel, our need for the gospel, the basis of the gospel.

Why do we need the gospel? Because for many people grace is not amazing. We are concentrating on self, even in our churches. We sing a song entitled “Entitled Grace”. The gospel must be amazing.

What is the basis of the gospel? The gospel has three pillars, as a stool needs three legs. Then they must be joined together.

1) Humanity’s sinfulness. You cannot preach the Bible without preaching about sin.

a. sin is universal. Jews and Gentiles are sinful. All have turned aside. This is Paul’s message in Romans. When it is said that we fall short of the glory of God we should understand this to say that we fail to ascribe to God the glory due to Him and Him alone.

b. the penalty and power of sin. By sin we are found guilty. We have incurred the penalty of divine judgment and eternal condemnation. And the power of sins speaks of our abject slavery to sin. We are held captive by sin in life and are being lead to death if we are outside of Christ (see 2 Timothy 2:26).

c. the total inability of sinners to rescue themselves.  No flesh can be justified by the works of the law (see Galatians 2:21). No offering we can make can satisfy for the punishment of our sin (see Hebrews 10:4)

We rob our people of understanding when we don’t preach on sin. It is the greatest problem we have to deal with in our lives.

2) God’s holiness.  We must understand God’s holiness, righteousness, and justice. We must first understand that God is separated from us because He is holy. Righteousness is God’s holiness in action. It is God’s “right-ness” in what He speaks, what he does, what He thinks. He conforms perfectly to His holiness. And third God judges rightly because He is righteous.

a. God is the lawgiver. The One who sets the standards.

b. God is the judge. He hold’s his creatures accountable for their conformity to holy, moral standards (see Romans 2:6ff).

What is the relationship between our sin and God’s holiness?  God must judge our sin. Sin cannot be disregarded. God must deal with our sin to satisfy the full demand of justice. And this could be the end of the story. 2) Eternal death and condemnation is exactly what we deserve for our sins.

3. God’s mercy and grace.  Hopeless man is the target of God’s mercy (see Ephesians 2:1ff.) Grace is God’s kindness to those who are undeserving. A required gratuity is no gratuity at all (see Ephesians 2:8-9).

What is the relationship of God’s mercy and grace to our sinfulness? See Romans 9:15. It is God’s initiative to freely give mercy and grace to anyone He desires, and He did not have to do so. He has neither an external nor an internal obligation to show mercy and bestow grace.

But what is the relationship between the holiness of God and the mercy and grace of God. Grace and mercy cannot be shown in contradiction to the holiness of God. Therefore there was no compromise allowed in meting our mercy and grace at the expense of God’s holiness. God’s standard of holiness is not disregarded in any case. Therefore the cross – the cross fulfills the demands of God’s holiness and lets mercy and grace be shed on His people. And the ultimate aim of God’s mercy and grace is to produce holiness in His people – imputed holiness and experiential holiness.

God’s holiness, righteousness and justice are fully displayed at the cross. And God’s grace and mercy are likewise fully displayed at the cross.


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