Monday, November 17, 2014

The Gospel and the Christian

The New Testament describes the Gospel in different ways. In Acts 2):2 it is called “the gospel of the grace of God.” Romans 1:9, refers to the gospel as “the gospel of His Son,” and 1 Corinthian 9:12 “the gospel of Christ.” It is also described as “the gospel of God” (Romans 15:16), “the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4), “the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15), and “the eternal gospel” (Revelation 14:6). 

The word “gospel” literally means “good news.” The gospel, the “good news” is that Jesus Christ died to provide complete forgiveness of sins and rose again that those who believe might live forever! The apostle Paul laid this out in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”

But this truth ought to impact each and every Christian! It shouldn’t simply be an historical fact, but it ought to be a living reality that transforms the lives of those who believe the gospel! Let’s look at several ways the gospel ought to affect us.

First, once it has touched our lives we should proclaim it to others (Matthew 28:16-30). Why should we keep such good news to ourselves?

Second, we are to defend its veracity. Paul described himself as one “appointed for the defense of the gospel” (Phil. 1:16). Peter tells us to “make defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3:15).

Third, we are to reject any other gospel other than what the Bible describes as the Good News! Paul warn those in Galatia, "but even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed." The aged apostle John further warns us to be care of those who do not bring the doctrine of Christ, "Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him" (2 John 9-10).

Fourth, we are to work hard for the advance of the gospel. In Philippians 1:12, Paul speaks of the “furtherance of the gospel.” This word has the meaning of “striking forward.” It is the word used of a pioneer, and it is of the military advancing forward hacking a path through dense tree and underbrush. We are to advance the gospel in spite of difficulties!

Fifth, we are to enjoy the fellowship gospel with one another (Phil. 1:3-5). This has the idea of “partnership” or “having in common.” The Christians at Philippi were known for working together for the sake of the gospel!

Six, we must be ready to suffer for the sake of the gospel. Paul sought to encourage Timothy saying, “Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God” (2 Timothy 1:8). Peter in his first letter writes much about suffering for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Seventh, we are to make sure our lives do not hinder the gospel. Paul was careful not to do anything that would place an obstacle in the way of the progress of the gospel. He realized that he could by his lack of purpose and self-control could bring shame to the work of Christ (1 Corinthians 9:12, 26-27).

Eighth, we should never be ashamed of the gospel. Paul declared, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16).

Lastly, we are to realize that the power of the gospel does come from our cleverness or persuasiveness, but from the Holy Spirit. Paul admitted, “For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake” ( 1 Thess 1:5). We are only the channel which the Holy Spirit transmits the message of God’s love and His gospel through!

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