But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:15-16
This is a direct example for the church, and even more so for the leaders. There are two things for the church to be:
1) Very bold in our agenda
2) And for that agenda to always be ‘the Gospel’
What makes the church bold?
We are bold because God has given us grace. When I read this passage I hear the words ‘daily grace’ in my head; that every day we receive grace from God. If it were not so, it would be impossible for me to write these words. It would be impossible for me to do any kind of service in the church; every day I sin and am aware of it. But only because of grace can I push on and deliver the gospel.
If we believe the gospel is true then we have to be bold, because if we really do believe it then we understand the consequences for the person who doesn’t. People should see how we are not just bold in our message, but deeply concerned for their wellbeing. Which brings me to the next verse…
In the Old Testament, the household of God refers to the temple, but now God’s people are his temple. Judgment beginning with God’s house alludes to Ezekiel 9 and Malachi 3, where the Lord purifies his people. Judgment here is not him disciplining us, but it is him purifying and cleansing us. So, then, if the people of God need purifying, then surely the judgment of those who do not obey the gospel will be much more severe.
Are we better than the non-Christians out there? Have we done anything that makes us better people? Have we not sinned like them? By process of elimination there’d be a heap of non-Christians who are much better people than myself; they use their time better, or they love people better, etc. If we took my resume and theirs, they’d be winning!
But if God judges my non-Christian friend who has done more good works than me, they will be judged in the sense of damnation simply because they do not believe in the gospel of God! If we want to see the ultimate difference between us and them, we can find it in John 3:36:
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”
: At one point in our life, the wrath of God was upon us. But then at another point we believed in the Son, and the wrath of God vanished forever; that’s the difference. And only if they put their faith in Jesus and believe in his gospel will they be rid of this wrath that is over them… No matter how many good works they do. Works do not save; we are saved by complete grace. You know what happens to a Christian who still thinks they’re saved by works? They get burnt out. They may even leave the church out of despair.
You Christian need to live daily in the grace of God and out of that works will come. And you non-Christian must believe in the gospel, so that once your life passes you won’t have the wrath of God awaiting you, but the love of God instead. By the way, not going to hell isn’t the greatest thing about being a Christian. It is good, of course, but the ultimate good is that once we die we live in fellowship with God the Trinity.
One Church sees the Trinity this way:
“We believe that God is supremely joyful in the fellowship of the Trinity, each Person beholding and expressing His eternal and unsurpassed delight in the all-satisfying perfections of the triune God.” (Bethlehem Baptist Church)
: Notice those words – supremely joyful. Supreme means the best. Nothing tops it! And so, God is the absolute best at being happy. Because God is Trinity, and within the three Persons there is happiness, there is delight, there is absolute satisfaction and there is perfection. When we die, as Christians, the Trinity welcomes us into his fellowship. Not as Gods, like the Mormons believe, but as mere creatures who God has welcomed so kindly into his fellowship. That is why I believe the gospel. It’s not that I escape hell. It’s not that there will be no more pain. It’s not that there will be no more sin. All of those things are good, but what is tops is how we will finally be happy forever in the happiness of God. Finally.
This is the gospel. This is the good news!
But there’s only one problem… this good news is only for those who believe. And that is a problem if you don’t. All over the world there are millions of people who still have the wrath of God remaining over them and they desperately need the gospel of God… that brings us to the final verses.
The Gospel of God & Evangelism
But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. – 1 Thessalonians 2:2
So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God – 1 Thessalonians 2:8-9
The point of making sure we know the gospel rightly is that we can communicate it rightly. Paul knew the right gospel and in the first verse there you read how he had “boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God.” The same goes for us. We don’t have boldness on our own, but in God we do. It means that when we put our trust in him, he will respond to spiritually help us in communicating the gospel. We are not on our own.
In the second passage we see how Paul communicates the gospel:
1) He was affectionately desirous for the people. This means he cared for them a lot, and it was his desire that they believe in the gospel.
2) He was ready to give, not just the gospel, but also all of himself, because the people were that dear to him.
3) He worked hard and cared for his own ministry so that the people he wanted to know the gospel wouldn’t take on extra burden.
May we forever learn this gospel from Jesus, from Paul, and from the Holy Scriptures. May we not just “polish the rifle,” as Pastor Mark Driscoll once said, “but shoot with it too.”