Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Power of the Gospel

What's your purpose in life? What are your goals? You may be in college and your goal is to achieve a good GPA, or maybe you're just looking for that dream job, a spouse a nice car? These aren't bad goals at all but there is a goal not listed here that should be our primary goal in life. The Bible defines this goal in Mark 16:15 - And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation." There you go, that should be your main goal in life - share the gospel every your day every opportunity that you have. You say that's crazy. No that's biblical.  Is that verse not compelling enough for you to want to reach others for the gospel? If not maybe this will.

Romans 1:16-17. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith. AS it is written, the righteous shall live faith.” 

Here, Paul, the author of Romans is bringing the gospel message to people who had not yet had apostolic teaching. It’s the theme of the book of Romans. It comes in the first chapter right after Paul expresses his love for the people he addresses. The book of Romans may be known as the gospel epistle. This should give us more than enough motivation to witness to the lost all around us. We are given here three reasons/motivations for why we should be confident in witnessing.

First, Christians must witness with confidence because the gospel has the Power of God to save. Many Christians today, even some of you in this reading this have this fear of witnessing that can stem from any number of reasons, but Paul clearly states there is simply no reason to be shy or timid about witnessing. Paul emphasizes this by saying “I am not ashamed, I am not ashamed. Do you hear that confidence? Let me say it one more time. I. am.  Not. Ashamed. This word ashamed has a negative connotation to it: it’s defined as being convicted that something is wrong. So obviously Paul is confident that he is preaching truth. My favorite definition of ashamed is as follows; Ashamed: unwilling or restrained because of fear of shame ridicule, or disapproval. So Paul says “I am not ashamed of the repercussions of sharing this gospel with you. “I can handle criticism, being looked as weird, persecution, and even death, for the gospel” Ladies and gentleman, can you say that about yourself? Paul said he was not ashamed! But what was his motivation? His motivation was the nature of the gospel: that it has the power of God to save. What do you think when you hear power? For some of you guys, you’re idea of power may be a defensive lineman just destroying the running back, tackling him with massive force that you just makes your wives or girlfriends cringe. What about storm, a hurricane, something that can’t be stopped? Most of you are familiar with hurricane Katrina that hit land a few years ago, completely devastating some coastal and rural areas. The power that Paul is talking about is a completely different kind of power and it’s a greater power. It’s a power like no one, nothing in nature can produce, its miraculous power. The gospel of Jesus Christ has a unique, unimaginable power fellow believers. We are talking about the Power of the God who made the heavens and earth with a breath! You’ve all heard “And God said let there be light, and there was light” but how many of you actually let that sink in; that he spoke and it came to be! II Timothy 3:16 informs us that all scripture is God breathed; he breathed out the Word and it has his power! Isaiah 55:11 – the word of God will never return void. This isn’t a little rains storm that you can avoid, this is an oncoming category 5 hurricane, something that in its path, its going to effect you one way or another! Whether the gospel shatters what you believe, as a hurricane would take down the foundation of a house, or if it’s just a little cleanup of litter, or standing water…in other words if the Gospel of Jesus Christ merely makes you think…it has an effect. And what does the gospel have the power to do… SAVE!!! What does it save you from? Death; a spiritual death. Romans 1:18, saysFor the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”  Romans 6:23 states “the wages of sin is death;”(it saves you from death as this verse continues), “but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord!” We are saved from damnation. PS. 9:17…”the wicked shall be turned into hell.” I am saved and You're saved if you believe in the Scripture. This so affected Paul that he says “I'm not intimidated by men, I am not fearful of ridicule, because the gospel I preach is backed by the power of God, and will save you from eternal damnation!! By the way a side note; that’s love. Jesus tells us to love our neighbor, and what better way to show love then to preach a gospel that has the power to snatch you from the grip of hell into the loving arms of Jesus Christ. When you witness and you don’t have the confidence that you can be an effective witness for Christ, remember you are preaching a powerful word, not your word but God’s. Take up the attitude of Paul and say, I don’t care if I'm criticized, I don’t care if I am looked at as weird, if I am made an outcast,I will witness using the Word that will effect everyone who hears it. This summer I had the opportunity to work at an amazon warehouse and I worked with many unbelievers. I decided to ask God to enable me to be unashamedly vocal about my faith; and he granted me that privilege. On one occasion a coworker just looked me and said “you’re such a Jesus freak.” Without missing a beat, I said yes I am, I love Jesus." That is one coworker that never liked me, but he was clearly effected by my testimony, and he knew there was something different about me. That is a very mild example of ridicule because of sharing the gospel unashamedly. We can’t be afraid of being looked at as Jesus freaks. We can’t be afraid of anything that might occur to us while witnessing. The Gospel that we preach has the power to save, and we cannot keep that to ourselves

So must witness unashamedly because we know the gospel has the power to save, but there are two parts to every conversation; we share the gospel but with whom? Who can legitimately receive the gospel?  The answer is, everyone
  Christians must witness to everyone because the gospel is a gift that is open to anyone who trusts in it. Romans 1:16 continues: "to everyone who believes; to the Jew first and also to the Greek." Jewish people are easy enough to define; the Jews were God’s chosen people, and there are still many practicing Jews today. The Greeks, also translated gentile, were defined as anyone who was not Jewish. So this encompasses every living soul. So who is left out? Who are we not supposed to witness too? That’s a group that doesn’t exist. We are all wicked sinners that deserve the wrath of God but the gift of the gospel is open to ALL who believe because of what His Son did for them. Your race, your background, none of that matters; if you fit into the Jew or gentile category, you can receive the gospel of Jesus Christ! Why wouldn't you witness to someone? Did you know unsaved people are headed for a spiritual death? Of course you did, I mentioned that in my first point. Think of it this way; if you saw someone about to commit suicide, would you not try to stop them? You see someone on top of a roof getting ready to jump and its obvious once they make that jump, there is no turning back; they are going to die. Wouldn’t you try to talk them out of it regardless of who it was? I hope you would say yes! Some of you might say, well if it was a complete stranger, why would I care? Have you thought about the fact that if one of your family members or friends were about to commit suicide you would want someone to attempt to stop them? That complete stranger is someone’s brother, sister, mother, father, friend, whatever. They have family members that would hope someone else would step in and talk them out of killing themselves. In the same way unsaved people who are living ungodly lives apart from Christ are headed for hell and guess what; once they get there, there is no turning back. People are headed for hell, don’t you want to stop that? Don’t you want to influence someone to be saved? It doesn’t matter who they are, you do not want to see them die do you? Of course not! That is why we witness to everyone! Wouldn’t you tell that person on the roof there is so much to live for? Witnessing is the same way! People can live for Christ. This passage also explains how to be saved; believe; that’s it. There’s no special feat to be performed, believe: that’s confidence in the truth, or existence of something. If you believe in the gospel you will be saved. John 3:16 tells us that whoever believes in Jesus will inherit eternal life! So when you are witnessing you can tell about the simplicity of the reception of the gospel...believe in this and you will be saved. This is the simplest solution that you will ever face in life. You don’t go to work and your boss says “well since you showed up to work and you think you deserve money I’ll pay you.” That would be nice but no, you have required work to do. You can’t drive to a gas station and have the owner say “since you believe you need gas, go ahead and pump it in to your car.” Again, this would be nice but no, you must pay. Yet you come to Christ and he says “Since you believe in me you’re are saved.” It is not your job to work in hearts, it is your job to witness and be committed to witnessing. Remember, the Word that you share has power and truth that takes no complicated process to receive. The command is simple; believe.

So we are witnessing under God’s power, we’re witnessing to all because salvation is an open invitation, but what effect is the gospel supposed to have? Why is it worth telling? There must be an effect otherwise the gospel would be worthless right? What difference does it make?

 Christians must witness because the gospel’s effect is righteous living. The gospel enables us to live righteously by faith. What does it mean to live righteously? It means acting in accord with divine or moral law; being free from sin. We can live in such a way that we choose good over evil, we choose not to sin! The other half of this equation is we live righteously by faith. What’s faith? Let’s look at Hebrews 11:1 for our definition; it’s the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. To simplify that, faith is being sure of our hope in the Lord and being convinced that God, though unseen, exists, and Jesus Christ died on the cross for us, even though it’s not an event that you can just go on youtube and search Jesus Christ, and see him being crucified. Quite frankly it would be tough to see, as some of you know from watching the Mel Gibson Film, “The Passion of the Christ,” and I don’t know that you would want too see the actual crucifixion. I want you to understand something here: it effects both sides, you and the person you are witnessing too. Notice the little phrase here “from faith to faith” in verse 17. This is a phrase that has baffled many interpreters and commentators. The most accurate definition, I believe, is that it takes faith both to witness and to receive the gospel. This faith only comes from living righteously by God’s standards. As we see at the end of verse 17, “The righteous will live by faith.” So what does it mean to live righteously; it means very simply obeying God and his Word. In this instance for the one who is witnessing it means obeying the command in  Matthew 28:19-20 to teach all nations. If we are witnessing we are being obedient to God, and we are living righteously because, by faith, we are believing that the Gospel has power, that it is true, and we are sharing it! We were made righteous the minute we became saved. Christ's sacrifice on the cross set us free, made us righteous, and it continues our entire lives. Be committed to living righteously!

So I’ve given you three reasons to witness from this passage. Many of you till now have not been committed to witnessing because you just don’t trust you will know what to say. I’m not judging you for that!! God is very forgiving, so let that give you peace. So now what? Ok, study the scriptures, but you must trust that the gospel has power, and it’s not your words that save, but the power of God. Others of you just don’t know who to witness to, but you learned that you need to witness to everyone you come in contact with. Still others of you just saw no value in witnessing but you know now that it is a command in Scripture and to not witness is a lack of obedience and therefore a lack of love for God and for others. So, live righteously by witnessing to all because the power of God will save men! Let me just wrap up by saying this; witnessing doesn’t come naturally to most people. You have to train for effective witnessing, just like an athlete has to be trained to play a sport. It takes practice. Here’s the good news; you have the enablement of the Holy Spirit, the power of God! Behind every good athlete is a good coach, behind the effective testimony for Christ, is what; a knowledge of the Word and reliance on the strength of Christ. You’re out of excuses. Be committed to witnessing. The chancellor of Bob Jones University, Dr. Bob Jones III, says, “the most sobering reality in the world today is that people are dying and going to hell today.” Are you going to stand idly by as others who are facing the same fate that you were before you were saved, stand at the entrance to the gate of hell, or are you going to witness and allow yourself to be used of God to bring people to heaven’s gate? Witness for Christ. When you do that righteous living will naturally be falling into place. You’ll be obedient to Christ. As you see people being saved, you will be filled with joy, and you will want to please Christ even more! That should motivate you to want to live righteously. Righteous living and witnessing must go together! Witness, and be committed to righteous living; 

No comments:

Post a Comment