Christ commissioned His disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel.
He did not tell them to merely go and preach. He was specific. They were to preach the gospel. They did, and “the world was turned upside down.”
That commission is still in effect. If we are disciples of Jesus we are to preach the gospel. But something seems to have gone wrong. There is a lot of preaching but not a lot of preaching the gospel. People are told that they are not close enough to God, or they are not committed enough, or they are holding back. Notice the subject of such messages is the people. It is not Christ and His cross. You can go to Bible-believing churches for weeks on end and not hear the gospel.
The danger is that those who listen will endeavor to be better. They may go forward and pray. They may make promises to do better. But this formula for godliness is a form of trying to be righteous by letter. It is like going back to the law. “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace” (Gal. 5:4). Sadly, too many sincere folk have this
“nose to the grindstone” concept of godliness.
In contrast, the gospel of Jesus Christ holds out for true righteousness. At the center is Jesus and His cross. “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30).
Several years ago I was giving care to an elderly retired physician. Since he had expressed interest in the Christian creed, I asked if I could read the Bible to him. He agreed. I chose passages that explained the gospel, how that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again. I explained John 3:16. Then we prayed. He invited Christ into his heart as Lord and savior. He made a couple memorable statements. “I didn’t know that you could talk to God like that!” And then he thought of a friend of his who had come into some disgrace recently. “I must write Tom about this! There is hope for him!”
It may be that in his past busy and very worldly life the doctor brushed away the message of the gospel, but now he quieted down enough to see his need as a sinner to find the Savior. Here is where Jesus is our wisdom. “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:23,24).
Here too is our possibility of righteousness. We have 12-step programs, counseling sessions, seminars on addiction, and some of the worst statistics in my memory of church men, including clergy, who are enmeshed in porn or other vices. Is there not a gospel that is strong enough to not only forgive but also deliver? Yes! Our Lord Jesus Christ “shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:8).
Four decades ago a college student became confused regarding sexual matters. He knew it was wrong to look with lustful intent on women. So he began ogling men. He was in our fellowship group and I was unaware of his struggle until in a very public meeting he told his story and ended it by giving praise to God that through Jesus he was delivered from that perversion. He graduated and later on married. The last I had word, he has been faithful in righteousness for all the intervening years.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is also our hope of sanctification. “Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate” (Heb. 13:12). Just as we go to the cross for the forgiveness of sins, we go to the cross for cleansing of our hearts from the nature which caused us to sin in the first place. For sanctification, go to the middle cross on Mt. Calvary. There the Savior suffered, bled and died. His was a full atonement for us. Look to the cross!
These words from Russell Carter give some of the scope of what was there.
Standing on the promises I now can see
Perfect, present cleansing in the blood for me:
Standing in the liberty where Christ makes free,
Standing on the promises of God.
In Jesus and His cross we also have redemption. “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Gal. 1:7). The price of our redemption was high, but not too high for Him to willingly spend from “the riches of His grace.”
So here we have the gospel answering all of the needs of men. If a person is deficient and needs help, it is in the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we are not pointing needy people to Christ and His cross, we are neglecting the power of God. Reading a text from the Bible and then using that as a launching pad for a man-made essay usually with three points is a sorry excuse for preaching.
When the Bible tells us to preach the word, it is giving us an assignment that is awesome in its responsibility and scope. What word is it that we are to preach?
Peter tells us. “But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you” (1 Peter 1:25b).
We are admonished to “rightly divide the word of truth.” On a text by text message that includes giving the right context, identifying the people it is specifically addressing, and observing the relevant historical milieu of the passage. There is a larger scope to rightly dividing the word. How does it fit in to the message of Christ and His cross? We are on this side of Calvary. We need gospel preachers who will remember that as they craft their sermons. Otherwise they may be ashamed when called to account for their preaching.
These are momentous times. Evil men and seducers are getting worse and worse. At the same time it seems that the church is weakening in its godliness and influence. In the 1990’s a major newspaper editorial lamented the sad cultural slide into a kind of moral wilderness. And then it made this rather shocking observation. “We look to the church and it is just like us.” The answer to this is an army of preachers who will take seriously the great commission. “Go into all the world and preach the gospel.”
A young preacher ministering in a difficult setting recently sent me this text: “I wanted to let you know I have done my best to preach the gospel in every message and in the last 3 months we have gained 4 new converts.” The gospel is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe, even among a culture that is very reluctant to change.
For any who would be a disciple of Jesus, there is a strong incentive to preach the gospel. The apostle Paul put it like this:” 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!” (1 Cor. 9:16).
Wanted: Gospel Preachers!