THE HIDDEN GOSPEL
Dr. Chuck DeVane, Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
January 6, 2019
31 And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. 32 For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. 33 And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.” 34 But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.
— Luke 18:31-34, ESV
At this point in Luke’s telling of the gospel, our Lord Jesus Christ knew He was “going up to Jerusalem” for the last time. He knew He was going to die. He faced death with sincere courage and a strong sense of purpose. Jesus knew that death is part of life and there is life after death. His life and death is the gospel, the gospel that seemed to be hidden from even His closest disciples at the time.
So, before entering the ancient city to culminate the greatest story ever told, Jesus preaches the gospel to His disciples, plain and simple, again, for the third time. After the first time (ref. Luke 9:21ff), Simon Peter told Jesus He was crazy. After the second time (ref. Luke 9:43ff), they still did not understand. After this third time of clearly communicating thelife, death, and resurrection of the Messiah, “This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.”
Even to those who should have understood the best and believed the most, the gospel was hidden. And so it is today, from those near and far from the cross of Jesus Christ. As you hear it now, the gospel is either hidden to you, or is it hidden in you.
The Gospel is Hidden
Good people hide good things for good reasons. People hide valuables in secret places and safes. People hide presents in closets or wrap them underneath paper. People hide chocolates from their husbands who would otherwise eat them and gain weight. Some good things need to be hidden.
But good news should never be hidden. Do people keep their wedding, their children’s or grandchildren’s birth, their cure from disease, their great new job, or other such good news a secret? No, good news is generally told far and wide. So why is the best news of all, thegospel of Jesus Christ, still hidden from so many today?
Sometimes Satan hides the gospel. According to the familiar parable of the soils, the gospelgets hidden from people who hear it when “the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved” (ref. Luke 8:12). Satan also pollutes the planet with plenty of dark pleasures and temporal riches that obscure the light of the gospel and keep it out of sight. Let’s blame the devil for hiding the gospel.
Let’s blame the human race, too. The reason those first disciples couldn’t see the gospel at this juncture was because they were looking for a different kind of Messiah. They did not see the need for one who would suffer and die, but rather wanted a political and military savior to liberate them from high taxes and bad government. People’s ears itch today for ahealth and wealth messiah, rather than one who requires repentance and faith.
Above all, however, is the God who is above all who hides the gospel. He has hidden it in out of the way places, like Bethlehem and Nazareth and even Jerusalem. He has hidden it in parables, stories Jesus told which should be plain as day yet people cannot seem to figure them out. He has hidden it from the hard, sinful hearts of men, who “although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (ref. Romans 1:21). And God has hidden the gospel in His own sovereignty, for Jesus Himself said, “All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (ref. Matthew 11:27).
Yes, God is the main One who hides the gospel. But, He hides it in plain sight.
The Gospel in Plain Sight
God has sown seeds of the gospel for everyone to see in creation, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (ref. Romans 1:20). Creation is incredibly beautiful and inescapably corrupt. God makes life but death has crept in. Something is wrong, and that something or some things include sin, rebellion, disobedience, hatred, alienation from one another, separation from God, and death. Thereality of bad news is the beginning of the good news.
So God came to the planet He made, and hid the gospel in the plain sight of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of His Son, the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. When Paul preached the gospel to King Agrippa, he preached what the word of God says about the gospel of Jesus Christ and added, “This thing was not done in a corner” (ref. Acts 26:26). There is more fulfilled prophecy and physical evidence for the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ than for any other person who has ever lived on this planet. Jesus is the gospel for all the world to see, yet most people remain blind.
For those who cannot see it, they can read it, upon the pages of billions of Bibles distributed around the world. Sure, some Bibles have to be hidden and smuggled into places like China and the darkest reaches of the Muslim world. But most of the time in most of the world, the word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ are available for all to see, read, and obey.
Finally, when the gospel is hidden in the human heart, it produces a life of love and devotion for all the world to see. The Psalmist wrote, “I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation” (ref. Psalm 40:10). What Peter preached to Christian women is good for all Christians, “Let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart” (ref. 1 Peter 3:4). Or, take the Apostle Paul as your paradigm of hope in the gospel, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (ref. Romans 1:16).
When we live the gospel, we give the gospel. When we give the gospel, other people can live, too, abundantly and eternally, in Christ. So hide the gospel in plain sight in your life.
Never shrink back from sharing your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Every person in your life should know that you are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. If they do not, remedy it before another year is gone. You might become the “x” on their treasure map one day.
Aa long as you are living and breathing, align your life by the living and breathing word of God. Do not disqualify yourself as a witness for Christ by brazenly breaking the clear commandments of Scripture. Licentiousness blurs the gospel in the eyes of onlookers, legalism makes it unpalatable to those who would otherwise taste the good news, but lovingly obeying the word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ shines a light for all to see, just as Christ commanded.
Take your stand in the Lord’s church on the Lord’s Day. It is hard to take someone’s Christianity seriously if they do not publicly and regularly engage in corporate worship. Christianity is much more than religion, but it is not less. Hypocrisy, laziness, and thesmallness of the average church is making the gospel hard to see in our society. Be part of the solution, not the problem.
“You are writing a Gospel, A chapter each day,
By deeds that you do, By words that you say.
Men read what you write, Whether faithless or true;
Say, what is the Gospel, According to you?”
Live your life and face your death with courage and purpose, like Jesus. Live the gospel. Tell the gospel. Hide the gospel in your heart. Then it will not remain hidden to the world around you.
Copyright Â© 2019 Lake Hamilton Baptist Church, All rights reserved.
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Dr. Charles F. "Chuck" DeVane, Jr., is the Pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas. His weekly sermon article, "The Gospel Truth," has been published in newspapers in Arkansas and Georgia. Dr. DeVane is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and has served in the pastorate for over 20 years. Contact Pastor Chuck at PastorChuck@lakehamiltonbaptistchurch.org