26 Sep Quarter Four Lesson Two
Going Deeper in the Gospel
In our last lesson, we studied the most important subject in the Bible (and indeed in our own lives, and the lives of our students, and in the whole world): the gospel of Jesus Christ. We saw from 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 that the gospel is made up of two parts: 1. the death of Jesus Christ for our sins, and 2. the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
We want to reiterate that those who are fruitful in ministry, who God uses to reproduce spiritual life in others, are those who are committed to giving out the gospel at every opportunity. They have come to know that the gospel message is the power of God (Romans 1:16-17) for both salvation and sanctification and so they liberally share the good news both with those who do not know Christ and those who are struggling to grow and mature in their faith.
Sometimes, as people begin growing in the Lord, they have a tendency to relegate the gospel to an inferior role, believing that the gospel is only somehow basic Christianity and that we are to move on to deeper teachings. This has the effect of removing the power from their ministry, and leaving them with nothing that truly changes the lives of those to whom they minister. We must be careful to never leave the gospel behind, but rather grow in it, learn how to apply it to different situations, and learn how to go deeper in it.
There is an excellent illustration of this principle. A small company in the early days of gold mining in South Africa sank shaft after shaft in different locations, finding only a small amount of gold in each shaft. Ultimately, the prospectors discovered that all they needed to have done was to go deeper in the first shaft for, as they did so, they found gold in abundance. Roy Hession wrote that he found this to be true in the spiritual life also. “I testify that although I have tried all sorts of different shafts, hoping for greater results in my life, Christ has now become the end of all my searching. Revival for me has meant coming back to the place where I first began, and I intend to stay there. Tell me not of any other way. I need to go deeper at His cross – much deeper.”
As we desire to grow into fatherhood, becoming those who intimately know God and who impart spiritual life to others, it is important to know that God works through the cross drawing people to Christ, saving them from their sins, cleansing them by His blood, and transforming them to live by His grace. As we saw in the last lesson, we who were sunk and lost in sin are found and raised by the power of the cross. Therefore, we must never forget the gospel, nor move beyond it. There is “gold in abundance” at the foot of the cross, and we must go deeper at His cross, much deeper.
Today if you have your Bible handy we’re going to take a quick tour of the Book of 1 Corinthians. We’re going to specifically note all the problems that the Corinthian church had in it, and we’re going to do this for a very interesting reason which I will show later.
So take a second now and read through the following Scriptures and note what problem the Apostle Paul is addressing in each of them.
Question 1. What problem is Paul addressing in chapters 1 and 2 of 1 Corinthians (specifically notice chapter 1 verses 10-17)?
Question 2. What problem is Paul addressing in 1 Corinthians chapter 3 (specifically notice verses 1-5)?
Question 3. What problem is Paul addressing in 1 Corinthians chapter 4 (specifically notice verses 18-24)?
Question 4. What problem is Paul addressing in 1 Corinthians chapter 5?
Question 5. What problems is Paul addressing in 1 Corinthians chapter 6 verses 1-8?
Question 6. What problems is Paul addressing in 1 Corinthians chapter 6 verses 9-20?
We could keep going throughout the book, but to make a summary of the problems we’ve seen so far, in chapters 1 and 2 Paul addresses divisions in the church. In chapter 3, he addresses the immaturity of the Corinthians. In chapter 4, Paul speaks to them about their arrogance and pride. In chapter 5, he addresses the issue of immorality. In chapter 6, he addresses lawsuits among believers and also drunkenness, homosexuality, greed, slandering, swindling, etc.
To make a long story short, the church at Corinth was filled with sin issues.
So why did we take the time to look at all the problems in the Corinthian church? Because I want us to see what Paul’s solution is to each and every one of these problems. It is the same solution to each one, and Paul states what that solution is toward the beginning of his letter.
Question 7. Please write out 1 Corinthians chapter 2 verse 2 right here:
Now isn’t that amazing? That Paul would use nothing but “Christ crucified” to address the issues of division, immaturity, immorality, addiction, lawsuits, etc.? Why today we have psychologists and psychiatrists that have much to say about people who struggle with these areas, including many labels (not to mention medications) they would place on people like this. But apparently Paul had so much confidence in the power of the gospel that he decided to bring no other message to the Corinthians than that. The problems in the Corinthian church were so many and so deep that nothing but the cross could fix them all.
Question 8. Why do you think that Paul resolved to “know nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified” as he dealt with the deep and varied issues in the Corinthian church?
If we were to continue our study of 1 Corinthians we would see that Paul did indeed use the cross of Jesus Christ as the fix for these men and women in the Corinthian church. We can find direct references to the gospel every time Paul addresses an issue with them.
So now the question is: if the gospel was the solution for every problem in the Corinthian church, why do we need anything more than that today? The answer is, we don’t!
As we minister to people today we will find that they have the same problems as the Corinthian church had. And if we want to be fruitful in ministry we will not point them to worldly counsel to address spiritual problems. We will not send them off to others to find help; instead, we will point them to the professional—Jesus Christ. Notice these passages of Scripture:
“He said, “If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you.” Exodus 15:26 (NIV)
“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him– the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD”– Isaiah 11:1-2 (NIV)
People you minister to need healing: healing from deep spiritual problems, healing from emotional wounds and psychological scars, healing from relational problems. Jesus says “I am the Lord Who heals you.”
People you minister to might have lived foolish lives, and they need wisdom and understanding; they have been weak and now they need counsel and power, they’ve been ignorant and now need knowledge and fear of the Lord. In Jesus Christ, and specifically through His gospel, can be found each of these things that perfectly match the need of those to whom you minister. We must be committed to giving out the gospel to these people, using the Scriptures to do so.
We must be careful to use the whole of the Bible in our counsel, finding the gospel in every place that we come to in Scripture. This is how we “go deeper” in the gospel, we see it everywhere and are able to apply it to the situation at hand. That is one of the aims of this quarter of study, to provide you with many, many examples of Scripture that you can hide away in your heart and bring out to use in ministering to hurting people.
So now that we know the cross of Jesus is God’s message to hurting people, sinful churches, even all of messed-up humanity, let’s take another look at the gospel as it is hidden in a mystery in the Old Testament. Please try to consider, when reading these passages, not only how they are to minister to your own heart, but how you might use them to minister to others as well:
Please read the following passage:
“The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 So they quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses replied, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the LORD to the test?” 3 But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?” 4 Then Moses cried out to the LORD, “What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.” 5 The LORD answered Moses, “Walk on ahead of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.” So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the LORD saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?” Exodus 17: 1-7 (NIV)
Question 9. How do we see this “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” in this passage?
When it comes to interpreting the Old Testament, we do not need a specific passage in the New Testament that tells us to interpret the Old Testament passage in light of the gospel. This is because there are numerous passages in the New Testament that tell us the entire Old Testament is one historical narrative after another with the gospel as the main theme of each (see John 5:45-47, Luke 24:44-47, 1 Corinthians 15:1-50).
However, for the above passage in Exodus 17, we do have a New Testament passage that tells us that Exodus 17 is referring to Jesus Christ and Him crucified. It just so happens to be in 1 Corinthians that we studied above. Notice:
For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 (NIV)
We are reminded, once again, that all passages in the Bible point to Jesus and the good news He brought us at Calvary, so let us now interpret the passage in Exodus 17 the way it was meant to be: the Israelites were thirsting and they cried out to Moses for help. God told Moses to strike a Rock and water would flow out for the people to drink.
Likewise, in this world, sinners are described as “thirsty”; that is, we are yearning and longing and have unmet needs while we are in sin. Possibly you can remember a time in your life when you turned to a sinful relationship, a substance such as alcohol or drugs, impurity, food, gambling, or numerous other things in an attempt to fill a void. This is what the Bible calls “thirst”.
And what is the solution? It is Jesus Christ as He was struck on the cross, as He poured out His life unto death for us. As Jesus died He purchased the Holy Spirit to live inside all who believe (see John 7:37-39), and the Holy Spirit is Living Water to quench the thirst of all who receive Him; just as when the Rock was struck in Exodus 17 the people were provided life-giving water to drink.
As you look up at the cross what you see is God the Father striking His Son, and the Son pouring out His life for you. This was done not only to save your soul, but also to quench your thirst, satisfy your desires, and fill your emptiness. On the cross, Jesus Christ said, “I thirst” (John 19:28) so that He could satisfy your thirst forever. Through His death, Jesus purchased, for you, the Holy Spirit Who now flows out of the cross into all who believe this message. God now meets the needs and satisfies the desires of all who thirst:
“The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the LORD will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.” Isaiah 41:17 (NIV)
“Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. John 6:35 (NIV)
“but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14 (NIV)
“On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.” John 7:37 (NIV)
“Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. 17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:16-17 (NIV)
Oh, how I praise God for the life-giving, thirst-quenching Holy Spirit Who lives in us; He meets every need we have and satisfies our hearts in the Lord Jesus. As we drink of Him, we can say with the Psalmist, “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light” (Psalm 36:9 NIV) and “As they make music they will sing, ‘All my fountains are in you’” (Psalm 87:7 NIV).
This historical narrative in Exodus chapter 17 reminds us yet again that the entire Bible points us to “Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” The gospel is indeed that which is “of first importance” both for believers and for unbelievers.
Question 10. Has this passage in Exodus 17 revealed anything to you today? Have you known in the past that this passage points directly to the cross? How will you use this passage to minister to people and give them the gospel?
As we continue on learning how to grow into being “parents,” those who impart spiritual life to others, we must remember that the gospel is the message that will transform the lives of people to whom you minister. As we will see in upcoming lessons, God works through the gospel and the way you live your life, to draw others to Jesus. Therefore, we give out the gospel to others, and we make sure that our own lives are being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. These two points—the gospel and the way we live—are the subject of the next lessons.