Paul wrote in Romans 1:16,
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 the Greek.
It is a verse so common to us, and yet one we fail to appreciate until we see its amazing manifestation.
Over my lifetime I have had the privilege by God’s providence to be able to talk to a lot of people about the gospel. I have no special message or attention-grabbing approach – just the simple gospel truth of Jesus’ saving blood. Sometimes I forget just how powerful a message that is to people who want to hear.
In John 3:19-21, Jesus said,
And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.
Most of the world loves the darkness, and does not seek the light. It is a common enough response in American culture that those we might try to teach simply do not seem interested in the gospel message. Why? They love the darkness, and see no reason to seek the light.
In John 7:17-18, Jesus said,
If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.
Those who want to serve the Lord will know the truth, but others will not. We witness every day the constant clash between flesh and spirit, the accompanying public displays and empty rhetoric that define this dichotomy: there are many who simply do not want to know the will of God, because it will conflict with their personal behavior, and they have no intention of changing that behavior. Such people fall into the category of those Paul describes in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12, where the Holy Spirit revealed that those who do not seek truth will be allowed to believe falsehood.
What does this have to do with responding to the simple gospel? Everything.
By God’s blessing hand I have been able to work in foreign countries on several occasions, and I have found people who love the light, who want to do what is true, who want to know God’s will, who believe in the Savior, who have good and honest hearts that are well prepared to receive the seed of the word of God. And they joyfully respond when the word is simply put to them, declaring over and over again, “I want to die with Christ.”
But one does not have to go to another continent to find such hearts. There are hearts like this everywhere – it is simply our task to find them. And when we do, we simply present the gospel and let it do its work. Because the power is in the gospel, not in our personal abilities or teaching talents.
Paul declared to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 2:1-2, that,
…when I came to you, brothers, [I] did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
Paul’s success was not because of his eloquence of speech, but because of the content of his message. If we desire to hear the gospel only from eloquent mouths – indeed, if we find certain speakers boring or uninteresting – we ought to consider who we are trying to attract with the gospel message. When it comes to the preaching of the gospel, oratory skills more often get in the way of the message, rather than enhancing it. And if we think one preacher is better than another because of his ability to turn a phrase or tell a joke, we have missed the point of Jesus’ commission to his apostles to “go into all the world and preach the gospel.”
Paul’s message to the Corinthians, and God’s exhortation to Paul in Acts 18:9-10, make clear this essential truth: preach the simple gospel in its entirety, and that will be enough to attract the kind of people God desires. That message, and its powerful impact on the lives of people, has been made clear to countless, selfless souls who have taken the simple gospel message in search of hearts that want to do right. The gospel is enough.
May grace reign in your life through righteousness.
– Bo Couchman