Introduction: The Greek word for gospel is euangelion. Vine defines euangelion as: "Originally denoted a reward for good tidings; later, the idea of reward dropped, and the word stood for "the good news" itself. The Eng. word "gospel," i.e. "good message," is the equivalent of euangelion (Eng., "evangel"). In the NT it denotes the "good tidings" of the Kingdom of God and of salvation through Christ, to be received by faith, on the basis of His expiatory death, His burial, resurrection, and ascension, e.g., Acts 15:7; 20:24; 1 Pet. 4:17" (Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words). Walter Scott, preacher during the 1800's who was of an analytical mind, coined the expression "the gospel consists of facts to be believed, commands to be obeyed, and promises to be anticipated" (cp. I Cor. 15: 3, 4; Acts 2: 38). Dignity is defined as "Formal grave" (RHCD). Roget's' Thesaurus provides "solemnity and gravity" as synonyms of dignity. Vine comments thus on "grave" (semnos) as used in the scriptures: " first denoted "reverend, august, venerable" (akin to sebomai, "to reverence"); then, "serious, grave," whether of persons, 1 Tim. 3:8,11 (deacons and their wives); Titus 2:2 (aged men); or things, Phil. 4:8, RV, "honorable" (marg., "reverend"), AV, "honest." Trench (Syn. xcii) points out that "grave" and "gravity" fail to cover the full meaning of their original; "the word we want is one in which the sense of gravity and dignity is combined." Cremer describes it as denoting what inspires reverence and awe, and says that semnos and hosios, "holy, consecrated," are only secondary designations of the conception of holiness. "The word points to seriousness of purpose and to self-respect in conduct" (Moule) " (Ibid.) (See addendum for further introduction.)
1. The gospel presents sin
A. Sin is universal (Rom. 3: 10, 23; Gal. 23: 22).
a. Sin is a violation of God's law (I Jn. 3: 4).
b.What is funny about sin? How can a clown atmosphere be congruous with sin?
II. The gospel tells how Jesus died for sin
A. No other sacrifice would suffice for sin but Jesus shed blood (Matt. 26: 28, Rom. 5: 6-8, Heb. 7: 27, 9: 13, 14, 26, 28).
III. The gospel reveals salvation
A. God does not want any to perish and He has made provision for man's salvation (2 Pet. 3: 9, Matt. 1: 21, Tit. 2: 11-14, I Jn. 2: 1, Jn. 10: 10).
IV. Declares how to live holy lives
A. The gospel is our standard for how to live (Gal. 2: 14, Tit. 2: 11-14).
a. Speech, thoughts and conduct in general are governed by the gospel (Eph. 4: 29; Phili. 4: 8; Eph. 4: 1).
V. The gospel makes know Jesus' Lordship
A. Jesus has all authority (Matt. 28: 18). We are to do what he says (Matt. 7: 21-24).
a. It is foolish to call on Jesus and refuse to obey him (Lk. 6: 46).
VI. Tells of Jesus' return and judgment
A. Jesus is going to return (Acts 1: 11). In connection with Jesus' return will be the Judgment (Matt. 25: 31-46).
VII. The gospel discloses man's final destiny
A. All men shall be judged by the gospel and in keeping with how they have lived (Jn. 12: 48; Rom. 2: 6-9).
Conclusion: The gospel demands a basic atmosphere of gravity and seriousness (stress each point again, notice the nature). Not an atmosphere of frivolity!
Addendum: The church where I preach received the following advertisement. It reads: "The purpose of this letter is to introduce you to my ministry and to offer my clowning services to your church. My character is Uncle Goo, a hobo clown who loves working with children. I am available for church outings, picnics, vacation bible school programs, children's church programs, and for any other need of a clown. The program I offer is one of balloon sculptures, puppet shows with a gospel message and gospel clown skits. At your request, these programs can be tailored to whatever denomination of which your church is a member." This sermon was preached with the aid of an overhead transparency. I also had a graphic of a clown, Uncle Goo, on the transparency along with the points. We usually make application of such a sermon to denominationalism; however, I have on more than one occasion, seen the same basic climate in the church! (Don Martin.)