2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.
and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
One of the things I completely love about the Word of God is that you can read the same section repeatedly, and the Lord will speak to you in different ways as you mature in Christ. I'm sure you, like me, have had many such moments where you've read a Scripture in a new way, or a familiar verse takes on a new angle depending on where you are in your walk. Isn't it just amazing?
The reason I'm writing this post is because this happened for me a few weeks, and it was related to the power and imperative of preaching the gospel. I feel like it's a timely message for everyone in the body of Christ.
A few weeks ago the Lord prompted me to revisit the Book of Acts, which I had studied a bit through BSF last year. During the BSF course, much of the conversation centered on the fact that the book should have been called the Acts of the Holy Spirit, which is certainly true, as the Holy Spirit's presence is so amazing throughout this outstanding book. As I revisited this book recently, however, I took note of the order in which the Holy Spirit worked, in other words, when the Holy Spirit showed up. As I re-read this amazing book, I was struck by something:
The Holy Spirit always showed up after the Word of God was preached.
At first, I didn't think it was much of a pattern. I thought it was just a time or two. But then I took my yellow highlighter out and decided to highlight all the times that the apostles preached the gospel, and I was surprised. Not only was it the sole focus of their lives, but it was only after they preached that the manifestation of the Spirit came. This, of course, got me thinking.
How many believers are hungry to experience the power and fullness of God in their lives? How many desire to see miracles, healings, and the gifts of the Spirit? And, how many believers are actually preaching the gospel?
Sure, many believers have great conversations with unbelievers and pray for people, which is a necessary thing as it leads people one step closer to knowing Jesus. But, what would change if we took on the same attitude that the early church had, and focused on exclusively sharing the gospel from a place of being on fire to see God's kingdom come. What if we had the drive to preach the gospel every day, from a place of love of urgency?
I know as I read and highlighted in yellow all the times that the Book of Acts said that one of the apostles preached the gospel, I felt insight bubbling up inside of me. You see, the gospel is what it's ALL about. The gospel, or good news, is much more than a simple story that we repeat to make sure we're on the right side of our faith. In fact, it's infinitely more than that. It is the embodiment of our faith. It is the reason that so many millions of people have died throughout the centuries. It is the power to set people free and bring them into God's beautiful presence for all of eternity. It is the story of God's redemptive love for each and every single person who has and will ever live.
The gospel is the demonstration of God's earnest desire to reconcile us to Himself for all eternity. And it is the most exciting and beautiful and compelling thing that exists.
This thread of our collective history is what captured the imaginations and hearts of every single apostle and evangelist that ever took the step of leaving everything to partner with God on this amazing redemptive story. It's also the single most targeted activity of spiritual warfare by the enemy, and perhaps that's why so few believers actually intentionally go out to share the gospel.
Isn't it remarkable that at the end of Ephesians 6, as Paul writes about the nature of spiritual warfare, that he asks the readers of the epistle to pray for him to preach the gospel with boldness. He recognizes that much of the spiritual warfare directed against him (and, in actuality, against us as well) was because of his calling to preach the gospel. In fact, for every believer with that inkling, it's exactly what the enemy wants - to distract us, to install a fear of man within us, to cause us to shriek back when opportunities to preach the truth come into our path. This is the constantly shifting, yet single most important strategic location in the spiritual war: the conversation about the gospel.
So, like Paul, we should all be asking for others to pray for us to boldly declare the gospel. It is the power to save. And for those that don't make preaching the gospel a high priority in their evangelism or ministries, I suggest pausing and evaluating why. It's time to reflect on these things, invite the Holy Spirit to teach us how to do better, and get out there and watch God work in amazing ways.
In these crazy and uncertain times, I believe that the Lord wants to bless us and show us His power through the Holy Spirit. He wants to do this in partnership with us, and it's only through our preaching of the gospel that people this partnership can be complete in its fullness.
I invite you to seriously ask yourself these questions and reflect on what you can do to change:
Am I going far enough in sharing the gospel with others? If not, why not?
What do I have to surrender to go further to meet the will of God?
What is stopping me from sharing the gospel, and what do I have to do to move beyond that?
Thanks for reading, and may God bless you.
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.