GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 616 • February 21, 2021
PREACH THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST
I’ve often been confronted, perhaps you have too, by apparently serious persons – professed Christians as well as agnostics, atheists, and anti-religionists – who say, “Just preach the gospel – nothing else, not politics or culture or tradition or church doctrine but only the gospel of Christ.” It may be persuasive in any and all religions, but it will probably be disregarded in certain cultural and political systems today. There are in fact some theocratic systems where religion and politics are one and the same (theocracy does not apply exclusively to the Judeo-Christian religions). Islam is theocratic. Several of the current “isms” (including both Catholicism and Protestantism) would impose theocracy if they could do it successfully by making their version of the law of God also the law of the land and of the world. Continue reading
Like a parent with their child, there are times when God asks questions or makes requests and the point has nothing to do with gaining knowledge for himself – the point has to do with the gaining of knowledge for the other half of the conversation.
For example, John 4:16-19 says, “Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here. The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.”
Jesus already knew about the woman’s marriage situation. He didn’t ask her his question to find out the truth. Jesus asked his question to see if she was willing to acknowledge the truth. And that acknowledgement led to an understanding about the truth of Jesus.
This same truth remains with us. We’re not forced to answer the personal questions and requests of the gospel in order to allow God to learn more about us … answering the questions and requests of the gospel causes us to learn more about ourselves (Acts 5:1-3; 10:13-15; 24:25; 26:14).
Jesus knows everything there is to know about us (Isaiah 46:10), but answering his questions reveals how much we want to know about him. Think about that the next time you find Jesus asking someone a question.
“Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.” (John 2:23-25 NKJV)
#Jesus #Devotional #Gospel
G. Stewart wrote in his daily devotional today: “Chapter 7 contains the longest single speech in the Book of Acts, and perhaps the most important.” At the same time, Tom Olbricht, who recently passed away, maintained in his book, His Love Compels,, “The most complete is Peter’s sermon to Cornelius and his household” in Acts 10 (p. 21). He used this sermon for the main points of his work on the message of the NT. At any rate, it is true that “the gospel story is … fleshed out from the basic apostolic preaching” (ibid.).
Peter’s sermon to Cornelius might be considered key, since it is the first one preached to Gentiles and covers more ground than Acts 7, in which Stephen recounts the story of Israel’s rejection of God. The message to the world is the message of Christ who came and died and formed a people, who sent his Spirit for worldwide mission, and who will return to gather his people to himself in heaven for eternal life.
I want you to recall both the predictions foretold by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles. 2 Peter 3.2 NET.
Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny
Your faith and love have arisen from the hope laid up for you in heaven, which you have heard about in the message of truth, the gospel that has come to you. Just as in the entire world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, so it has also been bearing fruit and growing among you from the first day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth. You learned the gospel from Epaphras, our dear fellow slave – a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf – who also told us of your love in the Spirit. Colossians 1.5-8
With what do you identify? When you analyze your thoughts and emotions, what do you find? Do you find that your faith and love have risen? Do you find that you are at the end of a dark tunnel where you see no light at the end? Do you find that you are just maintaining the status quo?
For the Christian, the realization that this world is not our home makes a huge difference. Our hope is in heaven. The gospel that is the message of truth brings us this hope making it possible for our faith and love to grow. Just as Epaphras taught the gospel to the Colossians, we should be teaching and sharing the gospel with all who will listen. This message brings hope to a world that has very little. It is a message that is not stagnant, but living and growing. Just as a seed that is planted sprouts, grows, and bears fruit, the gospel brings about growth in the lives of those who embrace its truth.
There is one other thing about this growth that is important. The gospel must be shared and taught to bring about this growth. The growth is not only for the one being taught, but occurs in the life of the one who is doing the teaching the world over. Are you teaching others about the hope that you have? Do you feel that you have stagnated in your faith? Perhaps you need to start spreading the good news.
#risingjoy #Colossians #gospel
Here’s a little 3×5 card that puts the gospel squarely (or rectangularly) centered in God and his activity.
#gospel #God #salvation
“For I do not do the good I want, but I do the very evil I do not want!”
Paul shows the futility of human struggle against sin in this chapter. Man may intend to do go, but he winds up committing the sin he has rejected.
The final declaration of the chapter ends this exercise in frustration. It is a must read. It leads into the rich victory of chapter 8.
#votd #Romans #gospel
The Greek words behind “gospel” and “evangelism” come from the same root. It’s easy to explain in Portuguese: “gospel” is evangelho and “evangelism” is evangelismo. You can’t have one without the other.
The English word “evangel,” for gospel, does exist, but nobody uses it. Maybe someone can start a campaign to revive it. Or, maybe better, start using “Good News” for gospel and “Good Newsism” for evangelism. Or maybe not.
The important thing is that we understand that evangelism is part and parcel of the gospel. You cannot be a defender, protector, and preserver of the gospel without being a proclaimer of it. If it isn’t shared, it isn’t gospel. If I don’t share it and teach it, I’m not being faithful to the God who gave it.
“I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not do so.”
While Jesus was being transfigured (glorified), nine of the disciples apparently tried to glorify themselves rather than serve their Lord and help their fellow man. They failed to do the very thing Jesus had given them authority and power to do.
The world needs our message. We have been given the authority and power to teach. Will we fail?
#votd #Luke #gospel
“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is useless; you are still in your sins.”
1 Corinthians 15.17
Denial of the resurrection undermines the entire gospel. The power of God is shown in raising Jesus from the dead. In this way he provided proof of the value of the cross.
No part of the gospel may be denied. It all stands or falls together. The Incarnation, the Crucifixion, the Ascension, the present Reign of Christ in the church, his Second Coming, are essential elements of God’s Good News.
#votd #1-Corinthians #gospel #resurrection
“If evangelists were not supported, then many people would never have an opportunity to hear and obey the gospel. Those who live the gospel know this. Diotrephes’ behavior, however, was disrupting the evangelistic function of the body of Christ because he was threatening Gaius and others who supported the preaching of the gospel. In contrast to living the gospel, he was doing evil by obstructing the evangelistic function of the body of Christ.” —Roger Dickson
#gospel #evangelism #mission
“Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin.”
What Paul preached came from God. It alone is true. Therefore, it cannot be modified in any way. Whoever changes it stands under God’s condemnation, because he gave it to save.
Is what the Bible says the only truth about God and plan of redemption? Yes! No other book, no other message, carries the divine stamp. Philosophies and theologies are useless to save.
#votd #Galatians #gospel
The people who fuel bad ideas are often the very people trying to destroy them. Experts will argue against a bad idea until they are blue in the face and then get exasperated when people continue to believe them. But they fail to realize they spent 90 percent of their time discussing why a bad idea is false and only 10 percent explaining how a good idea is true. In other words, they gave the bulk of their time and attention to a bad idea.
What is someone more likely to remember? The thing you spent 90 percent of your time talking about? Or the thing you spent 10 percent of the time talking about? Experts wonder why people continue to believe bad ideas, but fail to realize that they are giving bad ideas far too much airtime.
Thus, we get to one of the key features of debunking wrong beliefs:
The best thing that can happen to a bad idea is that it is forgotten. The best thing that can happen to a good idea is that it is shared. Don’t waste time explaining why bad ideas are bad. Instead, explain why good ideas are good.
Spend your energy explaining why good ideas are right, not what bad ideas are wrong. Do not fan the flame of ignorance and stupidity. Spread intelligent ideas.
Thus, it is better to pour your energy into good ideas and let bad ideas fade away. —James Clear
Is there something to apply here to the preaching and teaching of the gospel?
I recall a teacher, in a course on denominational doctrines, saying that the best way to refute a false teaching was to put forth positively what the Bible teaches on the subject. I forgot much of what we studied in that course, but that principle has always stuck with me, even in moments when I didn’t practice it in the best way.
“After calling the apostles back, they had them beaten. They ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, then let them go.”
Acts 5.40 CEB
From the beginning, the faith encountered opposition. The gospel challenges vested interests by calling all to repentance and offering Christ as the only way.
What now? When persecuted (or to avoid it to start with), do we keep quiet to keep from rocking the boat? Or do we proclaim Christ as fervently as ever?
#votd #Acts #gospel
“Paul replied, ‘I pray to God that whether in a short or a long time not only you but also all those who are listening to me today could become such as I am, except for these chains.'”
The apostle Paul used his time before King Agrippa, when he was supposed to offer his defense, to proclaim the gospel. He was open about his purpose to save others.
Do we spend our time making friends before proclaiming the gospel, thinking that we must build relationships first? Or are we open about our purpose, to teach others how to be saved?
#votd #evangelism #gospel
Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
(1 John 3:21-22 ESV)
Возлюбленные! если сердце наше не осуждает нас, то мы имеем дерзновение к Богу, и, чего ни попросим, получим от Него, потому что соблюдаем заповеди Его и делаем благоугодное пред Ним. (1-e Иоанна 3:21-22 Russian)
O LORD my God, hear the prayers of every person who has faith enough to cry out to you in praises of thanksgiving and sincere requests. Thank you dear Father for the easy availability of your Scriptures that contain the greatest treasure on earth – the keys to eternal life through faith in your beloved Son. Help all the Transformed of the earth to live in such a righteous manner that the gospel message will remain the most attractive story in print. Give us lucid minds so that we will retell the great story of love over and over to people who are in need of salvation and hope that never dies. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.
David Binkley, Sr. Gospel Minister
Cedar Key Church of Christ