Pastoral 2017

Unashamed of the Gospel

Written by Rev (Dr) Prabhudas Koshy Sunday, 30 July 2017

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Christianity has spread all over the world because of men who have unashamedly gone forth to preach the Gospel everywhere. Hence, we can say that the history of the church is the history of valiant men of faith. Chief among those men is certainly the apostle Paul, who said in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”

Paul was an unashamed preacher of the Gospel. It was then a very unpopular thing to be a preacher of the Gospel. However, he travelled from city to city, together with a team of fellow believers, and preached Christ with unashamed boldness. He wrote, “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness” (1 Corinthians 1:23). Though the wise of this world rejected the Gospel as foolishness, it has been Paul’s joyous passion.

Paul was often ridiculed and persecuted for preaching the Gospel, but he was not at all embarrassed to suffer for the sake of the Gospel. He recounted in 2 Timothy 1:11-12, “Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed”.

He frequently mentioned His sufferings to other Christians in order to exhort them to be like him for the cause of the Gospel. He urged Timothy, “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God” (2 Timothy 1:8). Likewise, he reminded the Corinthian believers, “We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised. Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; and labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day” (1 Corinthians 4:10-13); “Nevertheless we … suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ” (1 Corinthians 9:12).

Feelings of shame and fear are not helpful at all in the work of the Gospel. Those who are ashamed of the Gospel are a hindrance to the work of the Lord. Dear brethren, in these days we are witnessing an increasing aversion to the Gospel of Christ everywhere. Sadly, the unpopularity of the Gospel has compelled many Christians and preachers to compromise the content and delivery of the Gospel. They try to make the Gospel inoffensive. But such a gospel is not the Gospel of God (cf. Romans 1:1) or the Gospel of Christ (cf. Romans 1:9, 16), but the gospel of man, which cannot save sinners!

What is your personal feelings concerning the Gospel? Would you say “I am not ashamed”? Without a bold determination, we cannot make progress in the Gospel work, in the face of extreme ridicule and opposition. In the past, men and women suffered much to hand down to us the Gospel of salvation. Today, it is our duty to preach the Gospel. We cannot fail. So let us not cower and falter in our duty to preach the word of salvation. If the people in the church would fail to preach the Gospel, there will be none other to do it.

We who have received the salvific blessings of the Gospel have a great responsibility to declare it. We are entrusted with the Gospel, that it may be preached. Let our resolve be clear and well expressed like Paul, who said, “for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16).

Our motivation to preach the Gospel in all circumstances is its power to save sinners. Paul said about the Gospel that “it is the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16b). The power of the Gospel is “the power of God”. Through the Gospel, the resources of God’s infinite power work to save sinners from the bondage of sin. The Gospel is the way through which God exerts His omnipotent power for the quickening of souls that are dead in trespasses and sins. It is the efficacious or mighty plan of God, by which His power goes forth to save, and by which all the obstacles to man’s redemption are taken away.

In 1 Corinthians 1:18, Paul said, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” Again he wrote in the same chapter in 1 Corinthians, “But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (vv. 24-25).

The fact that the Gospel is the power of God implies some profound truths about the Gospel. Firstly, the Gospel is completely God’s plan, and not a device of man. Secondly, it is the perfect and effectual means to the salvation of sinners. Thirdly, the Gospel is mighty; and hence it is called “power”, and “the power of God”. The Gospel is not at all feeble or ineffectual, but it is “mighty … to the pulling down of strong holds” (2 Corinthians 10:4). It has shown its power to be applicable to every degree of sin and every combination of wickedness. Nothing can make the Gospel void from saving God’s elect.

The Gospel guarantees complete deliverance from sin and hell, for it is “unto salvation”. By the power of God in the Gospel, those who trust in it shall be saved to the uttermost (cf. Hebrew 7:25). The Gospel also offers salvation to everyone who believes – “to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16c). Salvation is offered to everyone who believes in the Gospel of Christ. Those who reject the Gospel will not be saved, for it is the only way of salvation. But salvation is conferred on all who receive it by faith. One’s racial or social background would not prevent one from being saved upon faith in Christ. Jews and Gentiles alike can receive salvation by faith in the Gospel of Christ.

The phrase “to the Jew first” does not suggest that Jews are better or that they have preference over the Greeks when it comes to salvation. It simply indicates that the Gospel came to the Jews before the Greeks through the ministry of Jesus Christ (Matthew 10:5-7) and the Apostles (Acts 3:26). “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:12-13).

So dear brethren, “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ … that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27).