Paul used the word gospel twice in this verse but both had very different meanings. The first meant the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ…that by way of His death, burial, and resurrection, we might have eternal life. The second gospel could not have been farther from that truth. It was distinctly different and deceptive and was leading the Church of Galatia astray. In II Corinthians 11:13-15, Paul called these teachers, “false apostles and servants of Satan masquerading as apostles of Christ.” They came proclaiming a ‘new and improved’ Gospel Message that was categorically incorrect and flawed, but the people were accepting it. Paul here was charging them to be vigilant and discerning…for if the message did not proclaim justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone…it was a false gospel.
What was John telling the Church in Sardis they needed to remember? It was the Gospel Message…the Good News of Jesus. We should never discount or dismiss the wonder-working power of the Gospel. For within its message is the Holy Spirit at work in hearts and minds. And when we hear and receive the Good News, it’s then our responsibility to obey and repent. For true repentance is a moral reorientation of our soul…a acknowledging of the error of our ways and a turning towards truth and righteousness…of turning to God.
The Apostle Paul was telling the Church in Corinth to focus on the Gospel Message, not on the person that had presented it. There was disunity and infighting in the Church depending on who they had heard the Gospel from…Paul or Apollos. Paul wanted them to move on from that and rather center their minds on the Good News of Jesus…not on man. For too many times we can get caught up by a dynamic, charismatic personality and end up following the person… not Jesus. For if you think about it, the Gospel Message doesn’t need theatrics or drama for it to be powerful and life-changing. All it needs is an obedient soul sharing its story.
This week our Bible Study Group wrestled with this verse…The Great Commission, and with Evangelism. While we all agreed that Christians everywhere are called to share the Good News of the Gospel with others…we also readily acknowledged the intimidation it can bring. So why are so many of us uncomfortable to evangelize? Let’s look at it from a completely different perspective…so forget yourself and your hangups, and think of it from the other person’s view. Imagine you are a beggar telling another starving beggar where they can go and find bread…you wouldn’t have a problem with that, right? You’d be happy to share that information so they might eat and live. And that fellow beggar would be appreciative of your actions simply because you hadn’t hoarded or hidden the source from him. Telling others about Jesus should be just as easy. For we should be eager to share good news.
The content of the Gospel Message…the Good News of Jesus doesn’t change. What does change when you share it with others is the context and circumstances surrounding it. When people see you going through difficult times with grace and peace…they’ll be very curious. They’ll be watching you and wondering where you get your strength and hope. It’s then that you can share the Gospel Message through your personal struggle… which can only have an tremendously powerful impact on the listener.
Someday I’ll get right with God. At some time in the future I’ll give my heart to Him…but not yet. I’ve got too much I want to do, and I don’t want the rules and regulations of being a Christian to hinder me. I’m young and I want to just have fun. Sound like you? You’ve been holding God at arms length…knowing what you should do, but wanting to wait till you’re “old” to commit. But consider this – someday may never come for you – your future may end today, and this is why now is the time to be serious about your eternal salvation. When we’re young we have this grandiose vision of immortality, and the future goes on forever…but in an instant…this can all change. That’s why the Gospel Message is for you today…the forgiveness of your sins is for now, not someday. Don’t wait until tomorrow to make that decision you know you need to make today…for you may be running out of tomorrows.
If you’ve been in any form of the military, or defended your country in any capacity…I want to personally thank you for your service. For I know many of you have never been recognized and appreciated for what you did. It takes a certain character make-up to be a good soldier…a certain firm stand and persistence to face adversity day in and day out…a certain firm determination to get the mission done. By the time Paul wrote this second letter to Timothy he was well acquainted with the life of a soldier…for he wrote this letter from prison. So Paul couldn’t help but watch the Roman soldiers as they worked around him…drawing inspiration from their mindset and resolve. This is why he exhorted Timothy to be a good soldier…enduring hardship, fighting the good fight, and holding on to his faith until his mission was accomplished.
Most Believers have a tough time sharing with others the Good News of Jesus. We think we need a memorized speech…or a fancy, persuasive dialog before we even attempt to talk to others. Or in our fleshly wisdom, we think we must first somehow “have it all together” ourselves before we even consider sharing the Gospel message. But the Good News of Jesus Christ really has nothing to do about our communication skills and more about showing God’s love to others. Simple words of encouragement, and sharing about our own struggles go a long way to prompt others to feel comfortable and ask questions. So remember, it’s not about the messenger, but the Message…and it’s not about the communication, but the Cross.
The god of this age, Satan, has fogged over the minds of unbelievers…dulling their perception of God and causing them to be indifferent and apathetic. In I Corinthians 1:18, Paul says that the message of the Cross sounds like foolishness to the unbeliever…something so ridiculous and stupid as not to be believed. It’s only when the light of the Gospel breaks through this fog, dawning upon the minds of unbelievers that they can see clearly the uncertain path before them. The Gospel message is called the Good News for a reason…it’s not only proclaiming the Kingdom of God and salvation through Christ, but it’s the truth piercing through the fog, illuminating our wretchedness, but also offering forgiveness, peace, and hope.
The term season in this Scripture doesn’t refer to a period of time …it refers rather to us. We need to be ready to share the Gospel with others whether we feel like it or not. If we only reached out to others with the Good News of Jesus when we felt ready and confident…we’ll probably not do it very often. And if we wait for some giant spark of inspiration or emotion to come upon us first…we’ll probably wait a long time, and meanwhile, miss many opportunities . One of my fondest memories of leading an elderly neighbor to the Lord was also during one of the lowest points of my life. Grief, sadness, and depression hung over me like a dark cloud when the Lord told me to go speak to this man. “Lord,” I asked. “I can hardly function as a human being, how can I possibly go and talk to this man about Jesus?” But I obeyed, and this man accepted Jesus into his life…only to meet his Savior later that day in heaven.