Posts tagged ‘gospel’

We Smell Like Something

Scientists, through diligent research, have concluded that our olfactory senses (smell) are the ones most closely linked to our memories. There are many things, such as a the smell of certain foods cooking, that bring back many fond memories from long ago during the Christmas season. Unfortunately, there are also specific odors that are linked to horrible memories and can send people into panic attacks or make them physically ill. Such is the power of olfactory memory.

In the same way, our spiritual lives have memories. Certain songs bring back memories of worship services with my father leading singing, or of times of worship at Sierra Bible Camp. Various Bible verses bring to mind situations in life where they became especially poignant. And spiritual memories can encourage or discourage us in our walk with God. Likewise, the Gospel message has a lasting effect on those who have heard it. You see, no matter what happened at the time, there was either a positive or a negative response to that message. Paul is speaking of such things in his second letter to the church at Corinth.

14 Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.15 For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:16 To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ. (2 Corinthians 2:14-17 KJV))

In later years, we can look back with gratitude on a lesson we heard that “sealed the deal” for us and elicited a response to the Gospel. Many, with deep regret, will look back at the judgment, and perhaps for all eternity, on squandered chances to respond with obedience and faith. Whenever the Gospel message is preached, due to the power of the “living and active” Word of God (Hebrew 2:14), we are enabled to respond, and do so. To ignore the message or brush it off, is to reject the message. We are confronted with decisions of eternal consequence, so our response needs to be carefully weighed, in light of its eternal consequences.

The Gospel message is seen as offensive by those who reject it. That is true because it causes such discomfort when our pride is wounded by our sin being exposed. The Gospel says that we are dead in sins (Ephesians 2:1) and we don’t like that. It offends us to find out we have been duped by the “father of lies” (John 8:44) and that as a consequence we are doomed to eternal destruction. In that way, it is an aroma of “death unto death” (v. 16).

But we have another option. We can repent and believe the Gospel. If we can set aside our pride and admit to our spiritual bankruptcy before God, we can be saved. For the Gospel does not end with a message of death and destruction. It continues with a message of hope and new life in Christ Jesus!  We learn about His offer of life, and if we respond in obedience we are graced with eternal life. Thus, in the case of those who are saved, it is a message of “life unto life” (v. 16). What we have to decide is which type of message it will be for each of us!

But there is another warning here for those who proclaim the message. It is not to be corrupted, watered down, or peddled. I really like the way the Amplified Bible translates verse 17:

17 For we are not, like so many, [like hucksters making a trade of] peddling God’s Word [shortchanging and adulterating the divine message]; but like [men] of sincerity and the purest motive, as [commissioned and sent] by God, we speak [His message] in Christ (the Messiah), in the [very] sight and presence of God.

The Apostles did not use the message for personal gain. I often wonder whether Jesus or the Apostles, had they been with us today, would have made money by selling their teaching series on CD or DVD to their partners. No, they had a threefold commission to preach the Gospel.

They were:

1.        Sincere and had pure motives. There was no thought of personal gain or of being popular and accepted by the culture.

2.        Commissioned and sent by God. Their only thought was to be faithful to the God who commissioned them. They were not consumed with thoughts of making the message more palatable for their listeners or of marketing their ministries.

3.        They spoke the message in Christ, in the sight of God. Their sole mission was to be pleasing to God. They also kept themselves cognizant of the fact that God was watching over all that they did and would hold them accountable for completing the work he had sent them to do.

So yes, we all smell like something. Our message will have, not only different, but completely opposite effects on those who hear us. So rather that water down the message, realize that it only matters what God thinks of us, and that our reward is not determined by our popularity with men, but our faithfulness to God.

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Bloody Hands

What happens if they don’t know? You know who I mean. The people all over the world, possibly billions, who now exist and will never once hear about Jesus Christ, much less get an accurate presentation of the Gospel. Are they going to be lost forever and spend an eternity in torment? Will the just die and cease to exist? These are sobering questions, but I think there are some things we, as those who are saved, need to address as well.

Take a look at what Jehovah God said to the prophet Ezekiel because I believe there is a principle here that applies to us now.

When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand. But if you on your part warn a wicked man to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your life. (Ezekiel 33:8, 9 NASB)

A more pertinent question to ask ourselves is this: what will happen to the church as a whole, and to us individually, if those who have never heard are not reached with the Gospel? It’s not like we haven’t been given a command to each them. As we used to say in the military, we have been given a direct order!

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19, 20 NASB)

But are we sitting back and hoping, maybe even praying, that someone else will reach them? Or do we let ourselves off the hook by saying we are not missionaries, so it’s not our job? Just put a little money in the offering plate and send support if we have a personal acquaintance or family member overseas and we are covered, right? No!

It is an indictment of the Church that Jesus gave the Great Commission nearly 2,000 years ago and we have yet to obey it.

Oh, we have partially obeyed it to be sure. There have been great mission successes in the past and many are presently happening. And those individuals will receive their heavenly reward. But by and large the work remains to be completed. The Bible has a term for partial obedience — “disobedience”!

So what is the solution?

Actively pray
There is no surer way to be praying within the will of God than to be praying for what He has already said He desires. When the prayer of our heart lines up with God’s heart then we can pray in confidence. Many foreign and indigenous Christians are spreading the Gospel in hostile areas and need our prayers. They are also in areas of danger medically. We can water the seeds of the Word with our prayers.

Actively give
Have you ever noticed that missionaries always seem to need funding? While the Gospel is free, sending workers to preach and teach it is not. In addition, there are those who would be able to preach full time who are local if only they had additional support. Back when more people used them, it was said that your checkbook reflects your priorities. Perhaps it is time to put our wallets where our hearts are.

Actually go
The Great Commission is very plain. If we stay home, it should be because of a specific reason. The default position for the Great Commission is to go! And even if we cannot go around the world, we can go to those around us. While it is true that we are to set a good example, it is not a means of evangelism! Our behavior adorns the Gospel and makes it credible. Unless we are talking about a believing wife reaching her husband, we are to be actively evangelizing. Jesus is our example, and He came to SEEK and save the lost. The is no room there for a “let them come to us” strategy with God.

This is serious business, and we need to stop focusing on peripheral issues and get about the mission. While hands in the past may have been bloody, ours need not be so. Lets make it our goal to have it not even occur to our children to ask about those who have never heard, because there aren’t any. Love demands that we give everyone a chance to hear the Message at least once. Many, if not most, may reject it, but God will not require their blood from our hands.

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Mission Accomplished

Some things in life are done on a regular or even a continual basis. And in our spiritual walk with God, there are disciplines that we cultivate that aid our spiritual growth. Our Father in heaven also has things which he is constantly repeating, like forgiveness, salvation, and guiding His children. What I want to take a look at now, though, are things that God has done in Christ that are accomplished events, and will never be repeated because they are permanent I their effect.

Christ has delivered the Gospel and founded His church.
“Dear friends, although I have been eager to write to you about our common salvation, I now feel compelled instead to write to encourage you to contend earnestly for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” (Jude 1:3 NET)
This verse in the little letter of Jude deals a lethal blow to the teachings of those who claim that the Gospel has been lost and that we need a new revelation. There is no plan to reintroduce the Gospel after a time of complete apostasy and darkness. That is also why Jesus was able to say to Peter in Matthew 16:18 that, “you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18 ESV)
Jesus also promised that he would be with us always, even to the end of the age just before His ascension in Matthew 28.
The Canon is closed, and the revelation of His will is complete. There is no need to give heed to those who claim new revelation.

But there is another thing that has been done once for all. Christ has shed His precious blood and eternally completed the sacrifice for our salvation.
The Holy Spirit put it this way through the Hebrew writer:

“And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:10-14 ESV)

The sacrifice that was made to secure our forgiveness was made once for all time, and it needs no repetition. In fact, to try and repeat it on a weekly or even daily basis is to cheapen the value of the original sacrifice! Nor is there a need to continually offer that sacrifice to God, for Jesus offered it and has already sat down. That’s generally how you know when someone has finished something. They return to their rightful place and sit down! Thus, when His mission was completed, Jesus was able to cry out “It is finished” as a confirmation that he had suffered enough and shed enough of His blood to fully accomplish that which He was sent to do. We dare not try to continue that sacrifice or repeat that sacrifice today.

In the future, there will be another work that will be accomplished once and for all. That will be the eternal judgment after death that will determine our eternal condition.

“And these shall go away into eternal punishment: but the righteous into eternal life.”(Matthew 25:46 ASV)

Yes, our condition will be one of eternal bliss or eternal destruction. There is no indication that either of these destinies will be temporary or changeable. Thankfully, we can decide that destination today. According to Romans 6, If you are buried with him in baptism, you will rise to walk in newness of life and be on the road to Heaven. What could possibly be big enough to keep you from doing that today?

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