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Monday, January 30, 2012

Romans 1:16

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"The Glorious Gospel"

"The glorious gospel of the blessed God, which He entrusted to me" (1 Timothy 1:11). "Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God" (Romans 1:1). "I am so eager to preach the gospel" (Romans 1:15). "I am not ashamed of the gospel" (Romans 1:16).

Jesus FilmThe "Jesus" film has been a remarkable tool in the proclamation of the Gospel all over the world. Wendy Murray Zoba writes: “In Peru, during the insurgence of the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path), a Wycliffe couple was traveling to show the "Jesus" film in a village. Their vehicle was intercepted by the Senderos, and they feared for their lives (with just cause). Instead of killing them, however, the terrorists decided to seize their equipment, including the film projector. The husband boldly suggested that they might as well take the film reels too.

Sometime later, a man contacted them to say that he had been among the Senderos who had robbed them. He told them they watched the film seven times (out of sheer boredom), and some had been converted through it. He came to apologize and to tell of his ministry in preaching and evangelism!

Among words rich in theological meaning but increasingly cheapened is the word "gospel". For instance I came across a blog named, "The Gospel of Good Cooking" and a news headline, "The gospel of Occupy Wall Street."

The GospelThe Gospel is foundationally the truth concerning the mission of Jesus Christ to earth and very specifically His atoning death, burial, and bodily resurrection. (See 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). For many who have been in Bible-preaching churches it's the old, old story but one we should be hearing and preaching unceasingly; to use the words from an old hymn "for those who know it best, seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest."

I find this succinct description helpful: "The Gospel of Christ is the message of how Jesus is the promised Messiah and how He was conceived in Mary's womb by the Holy Spirit and was born the Son of God and how He received the Holy Spirit and went forth for 3½ years preaching and doing great miracles and wonders by the power of the Father. At the end of the 3½ years Jesus fulfilled His ministry by dying on the cross for our sins on the cross of Calvary and was resurrected from the dead 3 days later by the Father."  This Gospel is surely at the very core of the true church, "contending earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3)

Romans 1 page from BibleLet us consider three attitudes that Paul expressed concerning this Gospel in the first chapter of Romans. As I read them I ask God that they would be mine as well.

1) "Set apart for the gospel" What sets you apart? People who know me may consider the suspenders that I'm almost always wearing sets me apart (utilitarian purpose in keeping my pants up!) People try so many outward things to set them apart, but Paul states that he is "set apart for the gospel of God."  We may not all be called into vocational ministry but we should all be set apart for the gospel!

2) "Eager to preach the gospel" Paul demonstrates this abundantly following his miraculous conversion to Christ. In 1 Corinthians 9:16 he states, "Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!" It would seem that preachers can readily apply this, but we should all be prepared and eager to share the Gospel.

"Not ashamed of the gospel" This in my view is one of the greatest verses in the Bible and an essential truth to live by.  The world has always been hostile to the truth that is in Christ Jesus. Paul certainly experienced this hostility and many times paid a price for his unwavering commitment to preaching the Gospel. This hostility can contribute to feelings of embarrassment, apology, or even shame to those who preach the Gospel, if they're not well-grounded in the Scriptures. The evidence is overwhelming that this hostility is increasing as is commonly expressed in various settings and on numerous fronts. And sadly many are compromising the message in order to be acceptable to the world.

Paul wrote to the Ephesian believers, "Surely you heard of Him and were taught in Him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus" (Ephesians 4:21).  The "apostle's teaching", expressed in the Scriptures, form the foundation for genuine Christian discipleship. It is surely the faith delivered to the saints once for all that Jude in verse 3 instructs us to earnestly contend for.

As our world plunges into wickedness and now shamelessly revels in it and even promotes it, Christ's true church needs to stand firm for the Gospel. Today, as individuals scattered around the world, let us proclaim unashamedly the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the only power of God for salvation from sin!

We have a choice today. Do we stand up for the gospel of Jesus Christ?  Or do we pursue the ever-changing philosophies and trends of our day? We really can't do both, since trying to do so will bring about compromise, frustration, lack of effectiveness and the real possibility of falling away from the truth once for all entrusted to the saints.

That's why I am not ashamed of the Gospel,
The Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I am not afraid to be counted,
But I'm willing to give my life,
Now I'm ready to be all He wants me to be.
Give up the wrong for the right,
I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, the philosophies, trends, and mind-set of the world stands in great contrast to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Your Word tells us that those who are not for You are against You. We can't walk on both sides of the fence so we are faced with a choice we must make; the same kind of choice Joshua gave to the Israelites thousands of years ago. We must choose whether to follow after the gods of this world and forsake You or we must forsake the world and devote ourselves to You. Father, I choose to follow after You; You who reconciled me to Yourself through Jesus. You have proven Yourself trustworthy for Your promises are true. You provide the power and presence of Your Holy Spirit to lead me and direct my every path. Your Word illumines my every thought. I choose You today, exclusively and eternally! Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"What Is The Gospel?"  A short message by R.C. Sproul (For those who may desire a brief but deeper theological explanation.)

"The Glorious Gospel"  A sermon by C.H. Spurgeon
(For those who may desire a longer and even  deeper theological explanation!!!)  Imagine that large crowds gathered to hear a message like this w/o the aid of sound reinforcement or PowerPoint visual aids!

"I Am Not Ashamed Of The Gospel"
  Video  Heritage Singers with lyrics

"I'm Not Ashamed"  Video  Newsboys

"Tell Me The Story Of Jesus/I Love To Tell The Story"  Video  Homecoming

Story regarding converted terrorists: Wendy Murray Zoba, “Bill Bright’s Wonderful Plan for the World,” Christianity Today, no. 14 (July 1997), 24; as cited in Larson, Choice Contemporary Stories and Illustrations, 103.

References to examples in the paragraph of how the word "gospel" is being cheapened and misused (I am not recommending these sites!!!)
"The Gospel of Good Cooking"
"The gospel of Occupy Wall Street"

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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