A Plea for the Preaching of the Gospel
Jim Paul, Portal Village Assembly, Port Colborne, Ontario, [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
EDITOR’S NOTE: Our thanks to Jim Paul for issuing a timely call to evangelism, to have a personal desire to reach the lost, and to present to them the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In the last decade there has been a sad move away from the preaching of the gospel in many assemblies. This decreased activity can keep our gospel hidden to them that are lost. The mandate given to the disciples by the risen Lord was evidently continued in the early churches. In Romans chapter 1 verse 15, Paul says, ‘I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also’. In the Philippians he commends them for their fellowship, furtherance, defence of the gospel and rejoices that Christ is preached! He praises them for holding forth the word of life. Let’s look at a few aspects regarding it.
WHAT IS THE GOSPEL?
It is a Divine Revelation
In Galatians chapter 1 verses 11-12, Paul makes known ‘the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ’. Peter, in response to the Lord’s question, ‘Whom say ye that I am?’ answered, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God’, Matt. 16. 15-16. This testimony brought a response from the Saviour, ‘Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee but my Father which is in heaven’, v. 17. Jesus elevates the message to a higher level for it did not come from earth but from heaven itself.
It is a Declaration of Truth
1 Corinthians chapter 15 gives us the doctrine of the resurrection, beginning with these words, ‘Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved’, vv. 1-2. John, in his first Epistle chapter 1, brings to us the eternal Word of life which was manifested to them in that He was seen, heard and handled by them. John goes on to say, ‘That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ’, 1 John 1. 3.
It is a Mystery Unfolded
The Epistle to the Ephesians was written to make all men (mankind) see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ. That mystery was made known by Paul, receiving grace to preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. Jew and Gentile would be brought together into one body! No world leader has ever ac-complished reconciliation by removing the barriers between Jew and Gentile, so making peace. Through the death of our Lord on the cross peace has been made, and both can live harmoniously in one body, the church.
It is the Counsel of God
Paul, gathering together the elders of Ephesus in Acts chapter 20, brings before them his life and testimony. He opens his heart to reveal to them how he kept nothing back that was profitable for them. He says, ‘I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God’, v. 27. Within the framework of his teaching he preached publicly and from house to house ‘repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ’, v. 21. By this he fulfilled the charge committed to him and he was free from the blood of all men.
It is Good News
The most common interpretation of the gospel is that it is good news! Is there not a need to hear some good news today? Of all the words ever spoken there is none so sublime, so simple, so solemn, or as sweet as the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is true for the saint and, particularly, for the sinner searching after God. This article is not looking solely at its content but the great need to reach out to the lost and preach it!
WHY SHOULD WE PREACH THE GOSPEL?
Before He left this world the Lord Jesus gave His disciples a royal command to fulfill. To those men He gave the commission to preach the gospel to every creature, beginning at Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria then unto the uttermost part of the earth. What an amazing responsibility; and we are indebted to them for the commitment to do what He asked them to do. He promised to be with them unto the end of the age! Dear saints, we have not come to the end of that age yet! So are we continuing to carry on with the task until it is completed?
We should preach because the need is great! In 2 Corinthians chapter 4 verses 3-4 we read, ‘If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost’. In 2 Corinthians chapter 6 verse 2 we find that for mankind the time is short and, in 2 Peter chapter 3 verse 9, the Lord ‘is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance’. What a plight the human race is in; they are like sheep without a shepherd. The Lord, looking upon them in that lost condition, was moved with com-passion. Have we grown so cold in heart towards them that are perishing that we have we ceased to be touched by their sad and hopeless condition?
Another reason is we have a debt to pay! Paul, in Romans chapter 1 verse 14, says, ‘I am a debtor both to the Greeks (Gentiles), and to the Barbarians; both to the wise and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also’.
Finally, consideration of gospel preaching is given as to its impact on the lives of the saints. Gospel series/campaigns have had profound effects on assembly life. Some of the blessings received when the gospel is preached in this way are given in scripture. Paul, in 1 Corinthians chapter 1 verse 18, says, ‘For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God’. That dynamic power through preaching not only cleanses the soul but changes the lives of those who are saved! In Romans chapter 16 verse 25 he says, ‘Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ’. What a wonderful way to strengthen faith and exercise saints in relation to the lost. This, along with the weekly remembrance of the Lord, and good Bible teaching, made the assemblies what they are today!
In Colossian chapter 1 verse 5, he speaks of ‘the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel’. Each time the gospel is preached it keeps alive that glorious hope we have in an eternal heaven, awaiting our arrival when this life is over. It also provides milk necessary for spiritual growth. Peter says, ‘As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby’, 2. 2. How will the young in the faith ever become gospel preachers if they never hear it preached to sinners in need of a Saviour?
In Ephesians chapter 6 verse 13, Paul speaks about putting on the whole armour of God. Part of that armour in is having ‘your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace’, v. 15. If we take away the feet (foundation) the whole body collapses. Have we lost our individual exercise to reach to the lost? Brethren, it is a serious thing to remove the foun-dation by stopping preaching the gospel!
Finally, it brings a sense of unity and purpose to the local assembly. ‘Stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel’. Paul, in Galatians chapter 2 verses 4-5, contends with those false brethren for this reason, ‘That the truth of the gospel might continue with you’. Let us keep those things in the forefront and count it a joy to reach out to the lost and proclaim the blessed truth of the gospel to them.
AUTHOR PROFILE: JIM PAUL and his wife, Elizabeth, were commended to full-time service in 1981 by the Broxburn assembly in Scotland. In 1991 the assemblies at Bridlewood and Rideauview, Ottawa added their commendation to serve the Lord in North America in preaching the gospel and ministering the word of God. Along with itinerant preaching Jim is involved in camp work, hospital chaplaincy, children’s work and, for many years, in prison ministry. They are in fellowship with the Portal Village Assembly, Port Colborne, Ontario, and have two married children and two grandchildren.