For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
The gospel is the power of God for salvation! But, man can handle the gospel in ways that do more harm than good. That is not God’s intent for the GOOD NEWS. The good news is to be wielded in a way that wins people to Christ, not drive them away. Yet there are those that would abuse the power of the gospel.
First we have to understand what the gospel is. Peter explained the gospel on the day of Pentecost; “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. Acts 2:22-24 The gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ.
Peter let the people of Israel know it was their sins that put Jesus on the cross; Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Acts 2:36
Then the people respond to the gospel; “Brothers, what shall we do?” Acts 2:37 Realizing their sin, they wanted to know what to do about it.
Peter let them know; “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” Acts 2:38,39
They responded; So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. Acts 2:41
Those that heard the gospel and felt its power responded to the gospel of Christ, not to his church. The church didn’t exist until they became the church. They were wooed by Jesus, not by His church. The church didn’t exist yet. They became disciples of Jesus because they realized their sin and his sacrifice for for their sins.
Many a good intentioned followers of Jesus confuse the gospel and the church as being one and the same. But they are not. All too often folks try to lead people to the church instead of to Jesus. They believe they’re sharing the gospel, but they’re not. The gospel is the power of God for salvation, not the church. The church is made up of those that have responded positively to the gospel and seek to follow the teachings of Jesus and his apostles. The church is the collective body of disciples of Jesus, the church can’t save only the gospel can.
Jesus himself has told us how to wield the gospel. Jesus said… “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:19-20a We are to make disciples, that is to teach them about Jesus and what he has done on the cross. When they believe in that good news then they respond to it by being baptized. After that then the church (fellow disciples) teach them the rest of what Jesus wants them to know as members of the church. What is the “church” it is the assembled called out believers.
Those that respond to the gospel are responding to the call of God… For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself as Peter said. God calls people to himself through his Son Jesus. Jesus himself said; “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” John 12:32 He was speaking of his crucifixion and atoning sacrifice.
We must always remember its our job as disciples to point others to Jesus and let them respond to him. When they have the the Lord will add them to the church. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:47b The gospel is powerful in and of itself, we just need to share it. It has the power to bring one to salvation.
© 2015 Leo J. Woodman