“The Gift of the Gospel”
Charles Spurgeon once said, “Where the gospel is fully and powerfully preached, with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, our churches do not only hold their own, but win converts; but when that which constitutes their strength is gone-we mean when the gospel is concealed, and the life of prayer is slighted-the whole thing becomes a mere form and fiction. For this thing our heart is sore grieved.
How true are those words. What we need in this church age today is the whole and pure gospel preached. Not what people WANT to hear, but what they NEED to hear. We are not interested in creating and maintaining a “user-friendly” church, but a church that is designed after the WORD and WILL of God!
The word and the will of God is designed to speak LIFE into it’s hearers. At any stage, it is LIFE giving word.
The idea that, as some NEW CHURCH preachers have presented, “Different times require different messages,” is erroneous. Never before has there been such a need for pure, undefiled WORD like today! IT IS the power of God unto salvation! It’s what leads people to be saved. When the word is preached, people are healed. When the word is preached, lives are restored, answers are given, reproof and rebuke is administered, salvation is presented and obtained!
Biblical preaching, as compared to a user-friendly method, was God centered, sin exposing, self-convicting and life-challenging! It is the direct oposite of today’s light, informal sermons that Christianize self-help and entertain better then they convict.
There are so many illustrations in today’s market-sensitive sermons that the hearer forgets the biblical truth that is being illustrated. I fear that today, so many anecdotes are being administered, that the hearer knows the pastor or the preacher better than they know the Lord Jesus Christ…and that’s a problem!
I know that preachers are necessary to HEAR the gospel…
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
The disclaimer is that they cannot preach, or should not, unless they are SENT! And sent preachers preach CHRIST and HIS GOSPEL! Not themselves and their gospel! Personality driven messages grow masses, not churches!
We don’t need personality driven messages or churches. This is the church! It is your church. I know I am your pastor and I love you…I hope you love me…I REALLY DO! BUT, I don’t want you coming here for me…you should come here for Jesus! He’s the one that wrote the book I am preaching from. He’s the one I preach about! He’s the one that can deliver on every point where I will only fail miserably.
If we let it, what’s going on in the world today, and the decline of things that we already know are happening, can make it easier to listen to the Sunday sermon than to read the Sunday paper. It’s so practical that there is hardly anything to practice.
Nominal Christians today leave most churches feeling upbeat. That’s not always a bad thing…of course. But the word of God was not designed to always leave you with a feeling that your self-esteem is safely intact. Often, we need to be made aware that there is still a chance, as long as you are breathing, that you could walk back into the life God saved you from.
You have that power. That temptation is still there. And without the power and the word of God in your life, it will happen before you know it! It can even happen and you NOT EVEN KNOW IT!
Today, our hearts and minds have become soothed with “sound-bite” theology. But the word of God needs to penetrate our comfort zones. Pastors and preachers today are met with the temptation to deliver messages geared around work, and kids and success…because that’s where you are living! But before we realize it, we are giving folks what they want and not what they need.
This is not just a message for preachers tonight! It’s for the church! We need an attitude that beckons for preachers to penetrate our comfort zones. As a church, we need to realize that we cannot follow market driven strategies and messages and be faithful to scripture!
All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
The fulfillment of scripture is what the life of Jesus was all about and continues to be about. The prophets of old looked for it and the apostles carried it out! this should be the goal of every preacher today. Not to mold it to the times, but to watch them be fulfilled BECAUSE of the times.
You got troubles…the answer is in there! You got trials…it’s in there! You need healing…it’s in there! IT’S IN HERE! We can’t be afraid to hear or preach this truth! It will save your life!!!
If we are concerned with hurting someone’s feelings, we cannot fearlessly proclaim the whole counsel of God! Timely messages can be good every now and again. But often, we are at odds with the timeless truth’s of the Bible!
If I take my cue for a sermon from USA today to be relevant rather than the voice and the word of God, I can find myself preaching what will, tomorrow, be yesterday’s news!
And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, [saying], In thee shall all nations be blessed.
These are timeless truths, not bottled by time!!! It’s the scripture that tells us who were are and are to be!
But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
The apostle Paul understood this, and it’s what gave him a deep passion for the gospel.
It was the reason for his conversion. He said he was “set apart” for the gospel. Are we set apart for the gospel? In the first three scriptures, Paul clues us in on his role in this whole thing.
Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called [to be] an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,
(Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,)
Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;
Paul said, “all the prophets talked about looked for concerning Jesus, I am separated, or set apart, to preach about. What they said would happen has and is happening, and I’m here to proclaim it as a witness. Paul viewed his preaching of the gospel as serving the Lord.
For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;
His service to God was IN the gospel! Paul could not wait to get to Rome and preach!!! And then, he let’s us in on why he is so excited to preach!
Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.
For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;
See, Paul was not talking about imparting a spiritual gift, like the ones outlined in I Corinthians 12 and Romans 12.
He was eager to preach the gospel AS a gift itself. A spiritual gift that would establish them! That was his view of the truth!
He wasn’t anxious to get to Rome to sightsee, or to renew old personal relationships! It was to preach! To speak life into the ears of his hearers! He also knew he was certain to become a target in a Christianity opposed militant city. He wasn’t running from persecution elsewhere either. He was anxious to speak life!
He knew as long as he was preaching, he was serving God! But interestingly, that word serve there is the Greek word, “latreuo”, which is the same word translated in Philippians 3:3 as the word, WORSHIP!
For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
Paul served God, or better, WORSHIPPED God by preaching the gospel!
For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!
Often, preachers view preaching like the prophet Jeremiah did. “I don’t wanna say it, but I can’t help it because it is like fire shut up in my bones!” But, what would happen if preachers, AND CHURCHES viewed the preached gospel as WORSHIP? If I don’t worship, I will fail! If the church doesn’t worship WITH the preached gospel…it fails!
Paul said, “This word is a gift! And I can not WAIT to deliver it to you!” Because he knew, that if he preached it and they received it, and they, together worshiped…great things would happen! THIS is the relationship between the gospel and the church!
Paul eventually made it there, but at a very dear price. Brought there in chains bound to Roman guards. He wrote to the Philippians while at Rome.
All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household.
He wrote that while under house arrest. Even under those trying circumstances, Paul was faithfully preaching and declaring the gospel! He was a compulsive…PREACHER! He knew, personally, no other kind of ministry.
When I was first called to preach, I was asked by my pastor, “how do you know your supposed to preach?” My reply was this, “Because I can’t see myself doing anything else!” It wasn’t my words, necessarily, that convinced him. It was the look in my eye. He knew, that I loved it more than life. It WAS and IS my life. the thought of doing anything else terrifies me! But this is my worship!
As Paul said, I am a debtor to all that are lost! To know that this truth will set men free and to conceal it, would be a sin. To have had the experience with it in my own life and not tell somebody. To have been spiritually raised from the dead and to not speak life into someone else’s life would be wrong on every level. Isn’t it the same with you?
You may not be a preacher, but you are called to proclaim what you know. To speak life into the ears of all those who are dead. To speak life and miracles into the lives of others around you!
Your brother or sister could be going through something that they need a word concerning. Why don’t you serve and worship God and speak life to them? Give them the gift of the gospel!!!