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Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
(2 Timothy 2:15)
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1Timothy 2:3-4
Before I begin this week’s Bible lesson I want to welcome you to HBS and then thank you all for joining us in our of study of God’s Word. If you’ll please open your Bible and turn to Romans chapter 10, we’ll get this thing started.
I’ve mentioned this numerous times during our study of the book of Romans but there’s no harm in bringing it up again, especially since we have new people visiting us frequently. Romans is a “gold mine” of Biblical truth and spiritual nuggets of information concerning Grace Age doctrine. Some of these “nuggets” are easily gathered in and some have to be mined – you have to “dig deeper” to understand Paul’s meaning. With this in mind, I intend to “hang around” verse 15 a bit longer because even though it’s not specifically stated here true Believers have a responsibility to share the gospel with unsaved people.
15: How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!” (Isaiah 52:7)
I mentioned earlier that after Jesus Christ’s resurrection God the Father introduced a process into His plan of salvation that included 5 things:
Whoever (Jew or Gentile) will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.
But…how are they to call on Him in whom they have not believed?
How are they to believe in Him of whom they have not heard?
How will they hear without a preacher?
How will they preach unless they are sent?
Please understand the only thing NEW about this concept in Scripture is the inclusion of Gentiles in God’s plan of salvation. Throughout the Old Testament God used ordinary men to communicate His message to those who needed to hear it. Moses is the strongest example of this teaching. Then there were the major and minor prophets, and I also used Jonah in the last lesson as an example. The word of the LORD came to Jonah with the command to preach against the wickedness of Nineveh, the capital city of the Assyrian kingdom – a gentile nation and an Old Testament exception for God worked primarily with His chosen people (Jonah 1:1-2).
Then there’s the twelve apostles, chosen by Jesus Christ Himself, these also serve as an excellent example for they too were “sent” to preach the gospel of the kingdom to Jew only (Matthew 10:5-7). Then we have the entire Book of Acts which demonstrates that God can do amazing things though ordinary people when He empowers them through His Spirit.
Note that I’ve been using the expression ordinary men and not extraordinary men. God was able to use fishermen, a tax collector, a physician, and a tent maker, to summon up but a few, to turn His world upside down (Acts 17:6). God got the attention of a Christian-hating persecutor and changed his heart and his life. He became the leading Church planter, and evangelist of his day, and he wrote 14 of the 27 books in the New Testament. I believe Paul wrote the book of Hebrews, so I credit him for 14 books and not 13.
Christians tend to think of Moses, Peter, James, John, and Paul, etc. as extraordinary individuals – super saints, if you will. But they were not. These were ordinary folks, working stiffs just like us. Don’t put them on pedestals. They don’t “belong” there and they would be uncomfortable with the very idea! Refer to them as servants of the one true God as an alternative.
Jesus Christ didn’t select the religious leaders of His day to be His apostles did you ever wonder why? He didn’t seek the wisest of men to be His disciples either. Jesus Christ sought and chose several poor, dirty, odorous fishermen…and Paul reveals one of the reasons why: but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God (1 Corinthians 1:27-29).
God can and does do the same through you and me (ordinary individuals) – by changing our hearts, empowering us by the Holy Spirit, and giving us a passion to spread the good news of salvation through Christ Jesus. But God must go before us, so pray specifically for the ones you want God to transform before you “go.” If we try to accomplish this thing on our own, in our own power, we’re not going to be successful. For only God “thaw” an individual’s hardened heart (Acts 16:14).
(God) desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4) and He has ordained that Believers will bear His message. Every born-again Believer has the responsibility to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, i.e. to share the good news of Jesus Christ crucified with the unsaved without reservation or prejudice.
Evangelism in Theory and In Practice
According to a recent Barna Group poll, when asked if they have a personal responsibility to share their faith with others, 73% of born again Christians said yes. When this conviction is put into practice, however, the numbers shift downward. Only half (52%) of true Believers say they actually did share the Gospel at least once this past year to someone with different beliefs, in the hope that they might accept Jesus Christ as their Savior.
What is the Gospel
Many true Believers would gladly approach others with God’s message of free grace if they only knew what it was. Although sincere about their beliefs, they’ve never received instructions about the Gospel or how to share it properly with others. To be sure there is a renegade gospel in America today that says to ask “Jesus into your heart” to be saved. This is a false gospel. There is another false gospel which instructs the individual to, “Make a full surrender to God. Amend your ways. Ask Jesus to change your life. Make a commitment to Christ” to be saved. These vows will not do, my friends.
I never grow weary of pointed the individual to Scripture for the best definition of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The only gospel that has the power to save! Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
There it is – the gospel of Jesus Christ; in its entirety - His death, burial, and resurrection. The only way to be saved is to acknowledge your sinful state and receive the Gospel as payment for your sins. That’s the good news! Jesus died, was buried and rose again after 3 days and all those who choose to believe on Him are justified before God. The word justified in Scripture means, “just as if you never sinned.” That’s Amazing Grace!
But what can I do
Throughout the Midwest there’s an egg company which prints Bible verses inside every carton of eggs it sells. These folks are planting the seed of God’s Word in the hearts and minds of people every day. What a great idea! I know of people who hand out Bible tracks to trick-or-treaters on Halloween. I’ve seen 1Corinthians 15:1-4 on return address labels. Prayer groups pray specifically for the names of individuals who need to know Jesus Christ. These are little things but we know mighty oaks begin with but a small acorn.
God’s gospel has been set in on our hearts and He didn’t intend for it to remain there. After receiving a bit of good news, do you retain it or keep it to yourself? When your child was born, or your grand-child, did you receive this news and then go on about your business or did you proceed to inform everyone within ear shot? I’m sure I know the answer to that question. Jesus Christ saved you from eternal separation from a loving God and suffering that defies description and you don’t want to share this good news with others who are lost and in line to suffer this fate? That’s the equivalent of watching a house burn up, knowing there’s people inside sleeping, without sounding the alarm!
Romans 10:17 instructs us that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. You don’t need to be articulate in speech, a talented writer, or a theologian to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. You just need to tell the lost sinners that they need Christ’s righteousness, because they have nothing to offer God. They are morally bankrupt!
What Matters to God Should Matter to us
Since God is interested in all these folks, then we should be like-minded for souls are in peril. True Believers need to think like Jesus thinks and more importantly they need to love like Jesus loves…For the love of Christ controls us, have concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).
How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard?
And how will they hear without a preacher?
Therefore, the “go” of the gospel is man’s responsibility and charity begins at home.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is God’s message; He is the originator of it and it has been commissioned to the world. To fulfill its purpose this life-saving message needs a messenger and this messenger must be sent to those who need to hear it – the lost.
No greater need exists today and there is no greater challenge before us, because Satan is winning the fight for souls and people by and large aren’t even aware there’s a spiritual battle raging (Matthew 7:13-14). Scripture teaches us that there are two kingdoms that humanity must deal with at this present time. The kingdom of Light is one and the kingdom of darkness is the other (Colossians 1:12-13).
God the Father has commissioned Jesus Christ to be the King over the kingdom of Light and Satan (the father of lies) has been permitted to be the king over the kingdom of darkness. Those who are in the kingdom of darkness, and this includes the majority of people living today, have no idea they belong to this kingdom and are subject to Satan’s authority and power. This suits Satan. These people won’t figure it out until after they die, which is too late and Satan intends to keep them “blinded” and “deceived.” He permits them to establish their own “little kingdom” within his – this may be referred to as the kingdom of “self.” This keeps people from desiring to be redeemed and translated into Jesus Christ’s kingdom of Light.
Even though Scripture says that few (not many) people will choose to know Jesus Christ personally and receive God’s free gift of grace this doesn’t mean the gospel is restricted in anyway. Everyone needs to hear it. God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth and not just “some.”
HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!
People spend a good deal of time and money trying to make feet look good but after all is said and done they’re just feet. But while the feet are not necessarily attractive they are instruments of “travel” and God intended his evangelists to “go” with His message.
Using Paul as an example, he traveled on three missionary journeys which covered many miles and many cities, but he also remained in Ephesus for over 3 years doing the Lord’s work. In every instance, while on the move or hunkered down in a city, he preached Jesus Christ crucified and taught doctrine to those who needed to hear it.
God chose the lowly feet as the proper analogy for evangelist, preachers, and teachers.
Note that He did not select the brain (human wisdom), hands, (ingenuity), the tongue (oratory), or physical beauty, but the feet. The reason for this may not be so obvious but the truth is: God didn’t want His message convoluted or obscured by the messenger.
The gospel glorifies God through Jesus Christ; philosophy elevates the philosopher.
The Holy Spirit teaches us that the cross is central to salvation and the messenger is incidental. Put another way, the messenger is content to remain in the shadows; they promote the gospel and not themselves or their work. It’s not about us; it’s about what Jesus Christ has done for us. They keep the Main thing the Main thing!
Our Apostle Paul writes: For I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me. What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel. For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some (1 Corinthians 9:16-22).
Paul realized too that he must, Count all things lost for Christ – More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ (Philippians 3:7-8).
I can’t think of a better messenger or a better example than Paul for he was willing to be a “foot” soldier for Jesus Christ. I like this analogy because it strips away everything that is absolutely non-essential. A soldier travels to the front, where the battle rages, carrying only what he needs for survival and to get the job done. His feet take him there and wherever he needs to “go.” He sleeps on the ground or in a fox hole. Rarely is there a roof over his head. If there is time, if there is food, he’ll eat. His attention is on the mission and defeating the enemy and God is his closest companion…there are no “atheists in foxholes.” So, onward Christian soldiers…
(To be continued)
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