What does it mean to preach the gospel?
Preaching the gospel is the greatest task any individual can be given. The gospel affects lives for all eternity!
The gospel is clearly defined in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Jesus Christ died on the cross for sinful man, he was buried and rose again the third day. This good news details the love of God. Sin must be punished, but Christ died for our sins, therefore God can justly forgive all that believe the gospel. The God of the Bible is a just judge that must punish transgression of his word. Yet this same God is love, he is merciful and gracious, he sent his only begotten Son to pay for man’s transgression. We now have the option to escape condemnation, all that is required is that we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ! Yet, how do we get this news to a world of lost sinners?
Jesus instructs his disciples to preach the gospel.
In Mark 16:15 Jesus is risen from the dead. He meets with his disciples giving them instructions to preach the gospel to every creature, then he ascends back into heaven. The Lord did not stay here on earth to spread the gospel himself. In his stead, he has enabled his disciples to carry out that task. In Acts 1:8, Jesus informs his disciples that the Holy Ghost would be given to them so they can be witnesses of him throughout the entire world.
A side note I would like to be certain to point out, if the instruction is to preach the gospel to every creature, then that would exclude no one! No exception is to be made for cultural background, no exception for skin color, no exception for financial status and no exception for religious beliefs. All men everywhere need the gospel of Jesus Christ! Men and women that are disciples of Jesus have been instructed to go into the world and preach that gospel to every creature. So then whatever personal bias we may have as individuals get left at the door when we enter the realm of Bible-believing Christianity.
Preaching the gospel is fulfilling a debt to society.
“I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. 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.”
The apostle Pual, often considered the greatest Christian to ever live, thought himself responsible to preach the gospel to every man. It seemed to him to be a debt that he owed, and he intended to pay his debt to society. The faithful apostle went about spreading the gospel everywhere he went. Consider for a moment what Jesus Christ sacrificed to pay for man’s sin. He left the perfection of heaven and took upon him a body of flesh. He lived the life of a carpenter, working hard to pay his own way. After living a hard life of labor in the desert, he willingly went to the cross and died for sinful men. He loved this world enough to pay for the sin of every man, we are instructed to inform them their debt has been paid! All that is left for you to do is to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.
What does it mean to preach the gospel?
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:13-17). What then does it mean to preach the gospel? 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 tells us specifically what the gospel is, and we know we are to preach it because the passage also tells us it is to be preached. The end goal, I suppose you could say, is to have the recipient, with a believing heart, call on the name of the Lord.
God promised, “whosoever” can be saved. Once again there is no room for exclusion, God is no respecter of persons. Either you have called on the name of the Lord for the salvation of your soul, or you have not. Whosoever, this is a wonderful choice of terms, it literally means “all without exception.” “Shall call,” the Lord could not have made it any easier. A gospel so simple makes religion look silly and makes legalistic men angry. The fact of the matter is that with the heart man believeth and with the mouth, confession is made, God made it so simple!
How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?
Now let us discuss the crux of the issue. If confession is made from a heart that believes, how can a person call upon the Lord if they do not believe in him? 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 warns us against vain belief. Many are so willing to perform lip service having never trusted in Jesus. Confession with the mouth is not the full answer, it is only part of the answer.
And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?
The passage continues, confession without belief is insufficient but how can any person believe if they have not heard? Of course, this is only logical, the problem is that biblical logic often defies religious experience. We are always expected to trust the word of God in all matters pertaining to life and godliness. Therefore if a person has a religious experience that is contrary to what is written in scripture, repent of the experience and believe the Bible. As a street preacher, I have the wonderful privilege of preaching the gospel to many creatures. So often when questioning someone about the status of their salvation, or their relationship with God such confident answers are put forth. Which on the surface seems like a good thing. The problem is the god so often described meets none of the characteristics of the God of the Bible. The question is not have you heard of the god of your religion, or worse the god of your imagination. It is essential that you believe in the God of the Bible, as dictated by him in his word. A person cannot confess if they have not believed, and they cannot believe if they have not heard.
And how shall they hear without a preacher?
Now the pieces all come together. A Saved, born again disciple of Jesus Christ, further obeys the Lord by going into all the world and preaching the gospel to every creature. When a Christian takes the gospel of Jesus Christ and preaches it to the world, the world is then confronted with the truth and forced to make a decision. Romans 10:17 beautifully sums it up, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” In order for a person to truly have faith, the object of that faith must be the truth of the precepts found in the Bible. If a person should ever find themselves in a place in which they need their faith to increase, more time with the word of God is the solution. In order to confess, the person must believe. In order to believe the person must have heard, and in order to hear there must be someone to preach the gospel.
A biblical example of preaching God’s word.
Remember Jonah? After he was regurgitated by that great fish, he finally decided to obey God go preach to Nineveh. While Jonah is not the greatest example of a servant of God, there is a certain aspect of the book of Jonah that will make our current study more clear.
“And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey. And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.” (Jonah 3:1-5)
Reading these verses we see the exact progression described in Romans 10.
- First, a preacher was sent by God to preach.
- He was given the words that he was to preach by God. He did not make up his own, or “interpret” the word of God. He preached what God asked him to preach.
- Having obeyed, and preached the words God gave him, the people heard what God had to say to them.
- Hearing God’s words, they believed, repented and great revival came to Nineveh.
Preaching the gospel pleases God.
“For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” (1 Corinthians 1:21). The gospel is preached because it pleases God to use man in that way. If this world, blinded by their own wisdom does not know God, then how will they learn of him? The Bible makes clear that all men, at least starting out, know exactly who God is. But, after a number of years in the public school system learning the atheistic wisdom of this world, they are educated out of a common understanding of God. As a result, the world by wisdom knew not God. Yet, much like Jonah being sent to Nineveh, it pleases God when his preachers go into the world that no longer knows him and preaches his gospel to every creature.
God repented of his intent to destroy Nineveh when those people repented of their wicked ways and believed what Jonah preached to them. God will save each and every sinner that will turn from his wicked ways and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. The gospel message is not politics, not natural medicine, not a religious activity, not creeds or membership; the gospel message is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for your sin!
Saved men and women have a desire to preach the gospel.
“For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16). A theme throughout the New Testament is that of new believers soon after trusting in Jesus giving their testimony of salvation publicly. A testimony is simply an explanation of the way you came to know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour. As long as you came to know the Lord through biblical means, then the testimony is a wonderful way to give the gospel. Every Christian has been given the ministry of reconciliation, and you are expected to get out into this world and preach the gospel. Participate in tract distribution, give out Bibles, record a salvation sermon and pass them out, share gospel links online, do all that you can to get the gospel to this world!
Each day is filled with a wonderful opportunity to tell someone about Jesus Christ and the sacrifice he made for us. That is what it means to preach the gospel. Go to the ones you love, work with, your neighbors, your friends and then to complete strangers. Everyone will not be excited to hear, but some will believe. Consider this, to them that believe, their sins will be forgiven and their soul will be saved for all eternity, simply because you told them about the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
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