Gospel is profound, yet simple, Mohler tells students

Communications Staff — February 5, 2004

The world’s greatest need is to recognize the profound simplicity of the Gospel, R. Albert Mohler Jr. said Jan. 27 in his spring convocation address at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Preaching from John 3:1-21, the Southern Seminary president told students that Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus serves as a model of how Christians must proclaim new life in Christ as the radical but simple solution to human sinfulness.

“The radical nature of what it means to be born again defies conventional wisdom,” he said. “That’s what makes the Gospel of Jesus Christ so utterly unique. It’s not a gospel of self-improvement. It’s not a gospel of mere transformation.

“We were dead in our trespasses and sins, and we were regenerated by the power of God through the ministry of the Holy Spirit predicated upon the Word of Christ.”

Often Christians shy away from confronting lost people with the claims the Gospel, Mohler said. But the seriousness of sin demands that Christians have a ministry of confrontation.

“We must confront people with the reality of their need for Christ,” he said. “We must confront persons with the diagnosis that they are sinners, and we must help them to see that that sin leads to death.”

Merely confronting people with their spiritual need, however, is not the totality of a Christian’s task, Mohler said. Christians must also tell unbelievers that Christ is the source of eternal life.

Out of God’s great love for people, He sent His Son to die on a cross and grants life to “whosoever believes in Him,” Mohler said.

“We can say on Scriptural authority that God loves the world. What was the ultimate purpose for which God created the world? What was the ultimate purpose behind the Gospel? God’s glory.

“But God’s glory is demonstrated in His love for the world. And for this cause, we can look at every single person on earth and speak to them in unequivocal terms that God loves them. And we can speak to them of the necessity that they must be born again, and we can call them to faith in Christ.”

“We proclaim the truth to all persons everywhere: you must be born again. And we do so with the urgent prayer that they will come to faith in Christ. And we do so compelled by knowledge that in the heart of God was a love for the world that led Him to send His only Son.”

Juxtaposed with God’s loving offer of salvation to all who believe though, is the reality of condemnation for those who remain in their sin, Mohler said.

Because of our sin “condemnation is already the verdict. Condemnation is already deserved, and condemnation is already inscribed,” he said. “God sent His Son as a response to the condemnation of the world, and those who do not unite with Christ through faith remain condemned.

“(God) sent His Son because the world was condemned already,” Mohler said. “And without the Son there was no hope. Without the Son there was no life.”

While those without new life in Christ remain condemned, those who accept God’s offer of salvation will experience changed lives, he said. The Bible teaches that a community of born-again Christians should be an illustration of God’s ability to transform lives radically.

“We must be a testimony to regeneration,” Mohler said. “There must be a transformation that is so remarkable that it can only be explained as spiritual transformation that is reducible to regeneration.”

Nicodemus experienced such a transformation, Mohler said. In John 19, Nicodemus demonstrated his transformed life by publicly identifying with Jesus and preparing His body for burial.

Nicodemus “may have come to Jesus under the cover of darkness,” he said. “But this man I believe has seen the light. … He comes and he identifies with Jesus, and here we understand that it’s not enough to come to Jesus under the cover of darkness. Those who are born again will be known as the followers of Jesus in the light of day.”

The story of Nicodemus should ultimately remind Christians that the need for the Gospel is urgent, he said.

“When we share the Gospel one-on-one, when we proclaim the Gospel from the pulpit we are speaking to people who, if they know not Christ, are condemned already,” he said. “We are speaking to those who literally are perishing. We are speaking to those who already are under the condemnation of God’s eternal judgment. We are speaking to those who are already without hope in this world or the world to come except for the Gospel, except for the miracle of regeneration.

“There is no more urgent message. There is no more profoundly simple message than this.”

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