Here’s a little 3×5 card that puts the gospel squarely (or rectangularly) centered in God and his activity.
“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.
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?
“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.
“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
“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.
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?
“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?
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
“For you yourselves know, brothers and sisters, about our coming to you—it has not proven to be purposeless.”
1 Thessalonians 2.1
When the gospel is preached, God brings forth fruit. The truth is not without effect. Paul recalled the conversion of the Thessalonians. His work among them was the best answer to critics who charged him with disinterest or hidden motives.
How does our work show our purpose and motives? How can you be sure that the gospel will bear fruit?
“Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went” Acts 8:4.
This statement has always run counter to what I’ve observed in the my two decades of ministry. If evangelism is to happen, then every factor in people’s lives have to be perfect. After things are going well in the marriage, with the kids, with finances, at work, and with friends, then life is stable enough to think about telling someone else about Jesus. But, as long as even just one piece of our life’s puzzle is out of place, then we shrink back into ourselves to lick our wounds and figure it out.
Guess how often Satan is going to make sure that you have a struggle going on if it will keep God’s people from preaching the gospel? Always.
Not Christians in the first century! Like coals of a fire when a large log is thrown onto them, they spread and catch onto other tinder. How frustrated Satan must have been during the early decades of Jesus’ church! Nothing he threw at them worked; those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.
How could that be us again? We tell of other things that are important to us. The gospel must become important. Our faith must grow.
Are you telling the gospel?
“Now those who had been forced to scatter went around proclaiming the good news of the word.”
All except the apostles were forced to leave Jerusalem because of the persecution launched after Stephen’s death.
The Good News is what got them persecuted, but because all the saints understood that they had been give a mission by the Lord, they continued to proclaim it.
Christians must try to teach Bible truth and correct “those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:24-26 NKJV). Those who contradict Bible place themselves in opposition, and need to “know the truth,” because some are not “straightforward about the truth of the gospel” (Galatians 2:14 NKJV). They are ensnared of the Devil and need to “come to their senses,” or be sane, again! The Devil’s doctrine “captivates,” but knowledge of God’s truth, frees a person to do God’s will.” Repentance is that change of heart that will make the difference. God “now commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30 NKJV).
This is Johnny Polk, with “Words of Wisdom” brought to you by the Oneida church of Christ.