Scripture Entry on Galatians 1:6-9

Galatians 1:6-9 has been a treasure trove for me over the last week and yet I feel as if there is much more to refine and be refined by.  It is my anticipation that even in writing this journal entry that God would be pleased to run me through the laver of these Gospel verses.  I will state the implied verses and then offer my thoughts concerning them before attempting to succinctly summarize them at the last.  Vv. 6-7, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.”  This cries out to me, “Know the pure Gospel and stand fast in it.”  

First, it appears that Christian professors (in the old sense of the word) are not impervious to the assaults of the devil.  Paul admits that he is astonished by these frivolous Galatians who having received the pure Gospel of grace (v. 9), are now turning to a different message.  Applicably, they might not have given much attention to the pure Gospel at first so that when a false message came they were not equipped to stand fast.  How sound are we today in our understanding of God’s free grace?  Do we know it so soundly that we would repudiate the intrusion of anything else that masqueraded itself as God’s Gospel?  Would we be able to defend the Gospel like the bold Philippians (1:6-8)?  There is a pure Gospel and we must know it intimately, – “(He) called you in the grace of Christ.”  This Gospel is God’s Gospel.  God calls the sinner in the grace of Christ.  By the phrase “in the grace of Christ” we are to ascertain that Christ alone saves, that God’s effectual call comes in no other way than in Christ’s grace, and therefore, that this unequivocally negates the possibility of human superiority as a means of salvation, – but this is exactly what they were turning to, – circumcision and the Mosaic law.  

Second, we must notice the heresy involved, be warned, and prepared for Gospel warfare.  The Holy Spirit does not waist words.  Paul’s sentence is very pointed.  He writes that they were deserting “him” and turning to “a different gospel.”  They were deserting a Person in turning to a false message.  It is as the title to John Piper’s book goes, that “God is the Gospel.”  In desertion, they were not turning from an idle message but from the living God to a dead word.  They were making hash of God and the exclusive provision that He has made so that we might be reconciled to Him.  This is practically if not doctrinally easy for us.  For we think much of the Gospel that saves us by grace through faith in Christ at a point in time, but after that point in time we swoon back into days, months, seasons, traditions, pride, and self-righteousness as the vehicles that “take us home from there.”  But it is not so!  Humanly speaking, remove Christ from me this day, and this day I have merited hell.  So the grace of Christ must be our daily creed, hope, pursuit, and means of fruit.  “Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?” (Galatians 3:2)  Verse 7 stands to warn us and move us into the discernment required of us in vv. 8-9.  The point of this verse is that there is one Gospel, – one true and pure Gospel of the grace of Christ, – but many distorters.  This serves to warn us both to be on our guard against any other message and any promoter of it.  It helps that we are here warned so that we might be prepared for the fight, for we are not so taken by surprise when we know the enemy is alive and nearby.

Verses 8-9 seek to equip us with discernment. “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.  As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.”  This is a word to preachers: mind the biblical Gospel lest we trespass against God and injure God’s people as well as our own souls.  Beyond this Paul means to call our attention to the pure Gospel.  There is a Gospel that is “the one we preached to you” and “the one you received.”  The call is to remember the apostolic teaching concerning the Gospel of Christ’s grace so that anything contrary to it might be immediately repudiated.  Moreover, the message validates or condemns the messenger.  Whoever proclaims a contrary Gospel is to be accursed.  There is a battle for the pure Gospel.  This battle ensues within evangelical Christianity, the world (with its principalities and powers), and even the daily practices of the doctrinally sound.  The good news is that there is a pure Gospel to fight for, a Gospel that belongs to God.  Paul writes to the Philippians that they were to “with one mind (strive) side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents,” 1:27-28.  Others strive against; Christians strive for the Gospel!

In summary, there are wolves in sheep’s clothing who preach a kind of gospel that sounds appealing to the pride of men.  This gospel is religious, meritorious, measurable, traditional, and human.  It is not God’s pure Gospel.  This Gospel is centered on the grace of Christ.  It reveals the absolute depravity of man to save himself.  In its place the cross of Christ is erected as the only means of salvation.  On the cross Christ made a perfect substitutionary satisfaction for sin so that sinners would be reconciled to God on the basis of faith in Christ alone.  This is the Gospel that we must contend for with all earnestness, – in our teaching, preaching, living, suffering, dying, – precisely because the doing of these things belongs to the grace we have been given in Christ our Lord.  Let us hold fast the pure Gospel and strive for the faith of this Gospel.  Eternity is at stake.  Let us worship God now in His majesty.  He has called us in the grace of Christ, therefore, let us contend mightily for it with the grace He supplies.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Orange Glory or Bust?

In honor of some of my friends (Barley and J.P. Harmon, etc.) I am going to include on this blog a post that will only occur once every year.  It is one week from the kickoff of another college football season.  Anyone who has read this blog who doesn’t know me too well should know this – I’m an avid college football fan and I haven’t missed a Clemson home game since 1986.  I can already hear the “Idolatry” chants.  Perhaps!  Or just an insane hobby, or in Clemson’s case, another reason to focus more on the CERTAIN hope of glory in Christ.  After all, Clemson football is nationally known for its “oh so close and yet so far away” persona.  I don’t do it often, but I’m going to lay out exactly what will happen for Clemson this year (at least until they actually kickoff, – then my guarantee is removed!)  So, Barley be kind, – I did give your Gamecocks some love.  P, you are my witness to past prognostication greatness.  With those qualifiers out of the way, HERE IS EXACTLY HOW IT IS GOING TO HAPPEN:

1.  The Georgia Dome will be rocking next Saturday to the tune of 80,000 orange clad and crimson colored spectators.  The lines will make the difference in this clash.  Typically that hasn’t panned out well for Clemson.  However, the senior leadership of Harper, Davis, Kelly, Scott and Hamlin will be just enough as the preseason ACC favorites squeak by a middle of the road SEC opponent.  Clemson – 24 Alabama – 16.

2.  The next week brings RIVAL Citadel.  Citadel?  Citadel!  The awesome frosh class for Clemson will run roughshod in this one.  Clemson – 55 The Citadel – 6.

3.  N.C. State comes to Death Valley having already played and almost upset South Carolina a couple weeks prior.  Clemson is good; State is not as good.  It is in Death Valley!  But this has meant a big “L” for the Tigers in the past.  Seriously, State is two years away, and Clemson has all of the offensive components working in this game.  Clemson – 45 N.C. State – 17.

4.  S.C. State is next on the slate.  That’s not a typo, – “S”.C. State.  Say no more, – Clemson rolls up another twinkie.  Clemson -63 S.C. State – 7.

5.  Now we get into the season a bit.  Clemson stands 4-0 in convincing fashion against nobody better than average.  Maryland is capable of winning this matchup.  Clemson is flying high having not yet lost.  Maryland has issues up front and at quarterback.  Davis, Spiller, and Harper combine for 250 yards rushing and the Terps hide away in their shells.  Clemson – 38  Maryland – 17.

6.  This week brings Clemson’s FIRST true away game at Wake Forest.  The Deac’s are considered a threat in the Atlantic Division.  This is a set up game for Clemson.  Every Tiger fan is scared of this one, – seriously!  And everyone is picking Wake!  That is why I won’t.  It will be close for 2 and half quarters before Clemson runs away 31-20.

7.  Week 7 brings the Tigers back to the Valley against Georgia Tech’s new option assault.  This is a tweener game and one that the Tigers normally overlook.  Road games against Boston College and Florida State loom.  Clemson looks ahead for 50 minutes of this game and then realizes, “Hey, we’ve got to get moving.”  And they will with two late scores for separation.  Clemson – 28  GT – 17.

8.  Oh, Boston College.  3 for 3 against Clemson.  All three have been heart-breakers.  Last year’s drama kept Clemson from the ACC championship game.  I smell revenge in the air.  Finally, Clemson gets over the BC hump and moves forward to an 8-0 record.  By now they are in the top 4 in the country.  Clemson – 33 BC – 24.

9.  I can here that Indian drum thumping already.  Florida State in Tallahassee.  A top 4 ranking on the line as well as new national title dreams.  This sounds familiar, like in 2000, when Clemson at 8-0 lost to Georgia Tech on a last second touchdown from George Godsey.  The next week they were pulverized by FSU, 54-7.  That’s not going to happen here.  Let’s face it, FSU is down for the count.  Talent?  How about terrible evaluations.  Clemson has FSU’s number, – 3 years in a row and Clemson is just better.  It’s starting to shape up nicely for Clemson.  Clemson – 27 FSU – 14.

10.  Duke.  Duke?  Duke!  Alright, so they’ll be better under the tutelage of David Cutcliffe, – just not good enough to beat Clemson in the Valley with so much on the line.  Closer than expected and a wake up call for the Burnt Orange.  Clemson – 34 Duke – 20.

11.  Oh, Virginia.  Is this the misstep?  On the road in Charlottesville.  Virginia’s style of play will really bother Clemson in this game.  They are a pro-form team.  Two capable running mates and good tight ends.  If this program weren’t in disarray they would normally beat Clemson on this day in this setting, – because Clemson is Clemson.  This is the miracle game that goes Clemson’s way as a last second field goal goes through for a 19-17 victory.  Whewwwww!

12.  The ACC title game already sown up, Clemson is playing for a spot in the national championship game against rival South Carolina.  I can’t sleep the night before.  I’m sweating all day.  My insides are twisted.  My mind is already pessimistically thinking, “If Carolina wins we’ll never, ever hear the end of this, – how they ruined our perfect season.”  The game is close.  Too close.  Fans are fainting.  Clemson pulls through at home.  Sorry Barley, I’m going for it, – Clemson – 27 USC – 17.

12-0!  Now, since I am usually 1 or two off I should call for 10-2 or 11-1.  But, call orange tinted glasses if you want, – Clemson is better than every team that it plays this season.  Of course, they have been each of the past 3 years also.  Call me crazy but 10-2 seems like the worst case scenario.  12-0 the best case.  Should I go 11-1?  Nah, it’s college football season and the Tigers are running down the hill to Tiger Rag right into your living room, – 12-0!  Fight Tigers, fight Tigers, fight, fight, fight!!!!!!!!  Bring it on!

A Stroll with Christ

Communion with God is an immeasurable grace.  However, there must be a means of measuring its immediate effects.  These effects are inwardly known, loved, and embraced.  The activity of them, however, remains to be seen, practiced, and applied to the lives of others.  For example, I spent a morning and a significant portion of the afternoon having fellowship with Christ.  Simply to say that I have had fellowship with Christ is that immeasurable grace.  That the Son invites me to dine with Him is unspeakably awesome.  The immediate effects of this communion were realized in evangelical prayer, meditation, sermon reading, and the study of Galatians 1:6-7. 

By this I offered up to God the lost souls of many amongst my family and friends.  Christ inclined me to be burdened for them.  As odd as it sounds I was also drawn to several ants that were marching about my feet.  Therefore, I spent some time observing them as the Scriptures teach us to do.  By them I was encouraged to look at my sloth and to examine my disciplines.  By these creatures beneath me my gaze was cast Godward.  Christ exhorted me to greater focus and depth in ministry and ministry preparation.  I read John Calvin’s sermon on Galatians 1:1-2 and found great exhortation to a sober watchfulness.  In days past I found myself deceptively inclined to believe the message because of the man preaching it.  I think this is a common deception.  Calvin made use of Paul’s word to the Galatians to remind me of the superiority of Jesus Christ and what accords with His doctrine.  Christ taught me of the depth with which I ought to aim in studying and recognizing His authoritative Word. 

Lastly, I spent time studying, journaling, meditating, and praying through Galatians 1:6-7.  I’ll leave my notes from this study for a Scripture entry to come.  The overwhelming theme of these verses concerns the Christians preparation for warfare.  There is one true and pure Gospel, but there are many dissenters and distorters.  The Christian is to take care that he does not desert God and turn to a “different gospel,” which Paul quickly qualifies by writing that it is really no gospel at all.  In this text there is an intimate connection that the Holy Spirit illumined for me, and it is the connectivity that exists between God (whom they were deserting) and the gospel (in this case, a false message unto slavery).  Paul does not say that they were turning from God to another “god”, but from God to another “gospel”.  I think it underlines an important principle:  Whom we believe is connected to what we believe, and the link between believing God and believing the pure Gospel is authentic salvation, – this God has “called you in the grace of Christ.”  Grace!  Grace beckons us to hold fast to the pure Gospel of Christ, and to have it set in our hearts and on our tongues with a great earnestness and evangelical defensiveness. 

In summary, the time I spent with my Lord today was full and rich and sweet.  I walked with Christ and talked with Christ, and am now convinced that this must be a regular part of my week.  It was a time of real refreshment.  It was the fulfillment of that injunction to hunger and thirst for righteousness, and of that promise – we shall be satisfied.  (And) although that ultimate fulfillment will come in glory, yet the foretaste of it is rapturously sweet.  For this I thank my God and look forward to many more lengthened strolls with my Wonderful Counselor.

Life Entry

Due to this semester’s workload my blogging will be rather inconsistent.  However, I am taking a class on personal and spiritual disciplines that requires me to write a journal throughout the semester as a way to measure my practice of these disciplines.  This journal will consist of 9 pairs (18 total) entries on Life and Scripture or Bible (9 on Life and how it is to be viewed from Scripture; 9 on the Bible and personal devotional illumination, etc.).  For this reason, many of my posts will simply consist of these entries, as well as 10 other “designated” entries that will cover three complete book review entries, an entry on practiced fasting, evangelism, chapel, 4 hours of silence and solitude, etc.  I hope that you will find these edifying.  I will begin by posting the “life entry” that I typed from today.  Without further writing…

Life Entry,- August 19, 2008 – 543 words

I write this afternoon in a state of elation over the immediacy and goodness of my God.  Since early February my wife, Jenny, and I have been asking the Lord to provide the means of selling our house in South Carolina in anticipation of our move to Louisville.  Until today God, in His infinite wisdom, had not done so.  Last night we prayed very specifically that God would make a way in the inward parts of the most recent visitors to our house, impressing it upon them to make an offer.  This morning I prayed alone that our Father might this very day effect the selling of our house in light of His provisional name and thus His nature and disposition towards His children in Christ.  This afternoon, on my way home from campus, I prayed asking God to forgive any of my idle words with regard to this situation.  Furthermore, seeing a new dimension to the equation, I asked the Lord to provide a place for us in Louisville that would not cripple us financially so long as our home remained unsold, – but I also told Him that I know that He is Sovereignly wise (He already knows this of course), and so I thanked Him for all that we have learned of Him, of ourselves, of grace, mercy, prayer and dependence upon Him, and for all of the godly people that we have met here that we perhaps wouldn’t have met otherwise (only God knows).  I concluded by affirming that God could  provide the means of selling this very hour, and so I asked of Him that He would do just that, and that He might grant that this prayer would be the prayer of faith that He is pleased to answer in Jesus’ name.  When I walked through the door of our friends apartment (they have graciously put us up for a time such as this), I found my wife grinning from ear to ear, – this morning an offer came in on our house!  Together we wept, and thanked our God who answered my last prayer within five minutes of “Amen.”  Granted we are extremely blessed and not at all in the impoverished situation of that wonderful little Philippian church, but Paul’s resounding conclusion in 4:19 became alive for us this day, – “And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus,” such that we worship Him with Paul, “To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen,” 4:20.  In a sense our heavenly Father has bound Himself to provide for His children for the sake of His covenant with Christ in us.  There is no greater measure of love and Fatherly provision, – He has given His Son, and called us to be in Him, such that we are adopted and He obligated to provide aid for us (need) as we move forward in the advance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I now pray that the offer will go through, that our experience of His grace will forever soften us to others, and that we will be able to more intimately and really bear witness of His grace in Christ alone.  Amen.

A Practical Look At Justification By Faith

This may take some explanation, but I have recently thought that the doctrine and experience of justification by faith alone in Christ alone might just be the key to the selling of our house (?).  Let me say here that I absolutely repudiate the prosperity Gospel, – it is the acid reflux of American Christianity.  What I mean to say is that justification by faith glorifies Christ by the Spirit as supremely beautiful and surpassingly valuable, – and in Him I rejoice alone.  But I mean to think through the practical, nitty-gritty existential element of the doctrine, in this case, that at least my prayers should be shaped by this biblical truth is becoming paramount.  On a larger scale, I’m thinking that this crucial element of the Gospel is the key to every situational reality in the life of the Christian and all who would believe.  That it carries with it an element of the activity of faith, – through which faith in Jesus and vital union and communion with Him we have been and will be justified before God.  I have simply chosen to use our dormant house as an example to think through.

I have been long convinced that the Gospel is useful for more than just conversion.  This conviction began to swim around in my mind after listening to some of John Piper’s sermons from Romans 1:16-17.  A while later I heard him remark that he found justification by faith to be essential in the pursuit of successful marriages, – marriages?  Yep, marriages!  And I thought, “What does this mean?”  It puzzled me to say the least, and it didn’t help that I never heard his explanation of this connection.

Nevertheless, as I continued to pray I found my prayers co-mingling with my own human limitations.  In my prayers I found myself calling on a Sovereign God who rules the market place, but in my conversation I found myself saying, “Well, if it doesn’t sell by such and such a time…if only these people would be prepared to make an offer…the market is just so bad right now…etc.”  In practice I regulated the selling of our house to days, months, people, money, and law, etc.  

God convicted me recently that I was being wholly dependent upon these things to sell our house, – a right time, a right person, a right place, a right situation, – all the while there was my Sovereign God.  He created time, people, places, and market trends, and thus He transcends them and operates above them and orchestrates all events for His purpose and glory.  

So how does justification by faith play into this everyday situation?  I remarked earlier that I have been long convinced that the Gospel is more than just the message that converts people.  Indeed, it is that, but it is more than just that.  It is the message that the Christian lives on practically from day to day.  We are both converted and sanctified by its power.  To experience the reality of justification by faith is to be vitally united to Jesus, – we are “in Christ”, – and as such we are now led by the Spirit of Christ into new (Christ-like) patterns of thought, affection, tastes, desires, and loves, etc., and this newness of “Christ in us the hope of glory” will result in a practical change towards a God-centeredness in all things.  Often times, however, after we have believed we turn back practically to rules and regulations and, consequently, to the limiting of our Lord and Sovereign Savior, Jesus Christ.  We tend to confine God to circumstances.  Having been saved by grace through faith, we turn again to natural means of thinking and acting out everyday experiences of life.

Justification by faith teaches us (a) of God’s Sovereign grace, (b) that human rules and regulations are not the means of salvation or conversion or sanctification, (c) that vital union to Jesus Christ by faith is that means, (d) and that being right with God through faith we know Him who having done the most impossible thing (humanly speaking), namely, justifying sinners, is on that basis justified before His children as the God who is Sovereignly able to meet every need that we may genuinely have.  It also solidifies for us our absolute unworthiness apart from Christ to call on God for anything, – we are sinners who needed saving, and God has done this freely in Christ.  If this is our God, then why does our normative behavior look so….natural and not so….dependent upon Sovereign grace (supernatural)?

Therefore, I have conceded to the Lord that He is Sovereign, – Sovereignly gracious, merciful, loving, true, good, and right, etc. and that He is able to do what He wants when He wants with His creation.  And that I am to be thankful that I know Him because of a cross, – that there I was justified by the faith that He would effect upon me in due time for the sake of Christ.  And so I am humbled.  I do not know when God will do this work for Jenny and me.  But I know Him, because He has known me.  And I am satisfied in His Sovereign grace; I rejoice in justification by faith as the practical cornerstone holding together every day, every difficulty, every situation, and I praise God for Christ in whom I am set free to trust my Sovereign from day to day with a real God-centeredness.  I can carry out my sojourn (spiritually and immediately) in the grace of Christ, and therefore, justification by faith has not so much to do with the selling of my house as much as it has to do with the spiritual life and communion imputed to me in Christ that enables me to trust God and to love God in the midst of that situation of life.  Here I will hang my hat for the time being.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Starting Southern Seminary

I will be writing part 7 of The Sinfulness of the Sin of Silence soon, but this moving to seminary thing is proving to be quite the handful.  But it has been a gracious experience, and one that I am excited to undergo by the grace and mercy of our God.

Jenny and I have moved a lot of our belongings to St. Matthews (Louisville), Kentucky.  I would ask that you continue to pray that God will provide all of the circumstances that are necessary for our house to sell in South Carolina.  Currently, God has blown us away by the love and working of his body, – in particular, David and Anna Lyles and how they have so freely and generously opened up their home to us.  For these things I am humbled before Christ, – and I honor Him for His grace.

Pray for us in this time of transition away from many loved family and friends.  Pray for my lovely bride that God would strengthen her in these days and encourage her in the faith and vision of His Word.  Pray for me that God would help me as I prepare to dive into my classes (and 15+ books) that above all I might come to Him, – to the feet of Jesus Christ my Lord and that I might know Him and be supremely mobilized in the Gospel for His name’s sake.

Thank you all in advance for your many prayers and petitions.  God has made previous supplications known to us by His powerful working in Christ.  I just want to know Him and I pray that you all will have such a hunger.  In the coming days I’ll return to typical posting, but for now, while we awesomely settle in uncomfortability where God is most glorified in our absolute dependence upon Him, may God bless you and keep you, may His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you and grant you peace, – in Jesus Christ the Lord.  Amen.

The Sinfulness of The Sin of Silence, Part 6: An Appendix and The Exclusivity of Means

I would like to add an appendix of sorts to the writings so far in this series.  I do not want to give the impression that we must be uncontrollably (and annoyingly) vocal at all times.  The Bible is quite clear that there are times to be silent.  Job certainly should have been silent concerning the intent and purpose of God insofar as he did not fully know them (Job 42:3).  God tells us in Psalm 46 that there are times that He would have us “be still, and know that (He) is God,” (46:10a), that is, our silence is sometimes the overflow of authentic worship, – when we are overwhelmed and awed at the majesty of our God.  James admonishes us to think before we speak and so to humbly and calmly seek out personal and corporate edification in the unity of God’s Word (James 1:19-20).  So we see that silence is biblical when it is practiced for the purposes of worship and counsel.

My goal, however, has been to uncover our daily shortcomings in evangelism in hopes of showing the sinfulness of the sin of silence in relation to the Great Commission.  These posts have been designed not only to level personal excuses, but to dig up some biblical texts in order to make plain the importance of our Christian duty, the underlying (un)spiritual realities that stifle me quite often, and to examine them in such a way that we might be stirred again to passionate evangelism, and partnership in the Gospel of Christ.  In short, I often need to know and feel the sinfulness of my sin and failure (in this case, evangelistically) before God can truly use the acknowledgment of my disability, and inadequacy in such a way that glorifies the omnipotent ability and sufficiency of Jesus Christ and His grace, – when I am weak, then I am strong!  I hope this is obvious for you also.  To close this appendix, I would simply like to thank God for the awareness of my absolute inadequacy for ministry and daily Christian living.  I pray that I write this with all sincerity and with the purest humility, – I honor God for His grace.  Jesus is the surpassing power for any and all ministry.  Jesus crucified must be the message, for His Word is the exclusive source of true conversion, and transformation, and if it is the exclusive source and He the exclusive Savior, then God help us to make Christ and His Gospel the supreme and centralized priority of and in the Church, and outwards towards the world.  God, and God alone, makes things grow, gives life out of the dead, recreates sinners into saints, adopts the devil’s children into His own glorious family, – Christ and His Gospel eternally reigns preeminent as the exclusive source and power of these awesome works of God in the world.

With these things in mind, I would leave you with a verse to consider (sense I have pretty much covered ‘the exclusivity of the means’), – “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ,” Romans 10:17. 

Faith is impossible apart from the effectual hearing of the word of Christ.  It is possible to hear the word of Christ and not believe.  This kind of “hearing of the word of Christ” however (if it produces faith) is of a different origin, – a divine origin.  In 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5 Paul writes, “For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.”   In a room of 1,000, the gospel is sounded and the invitation given, “Come to Christ and find rest from your labor.”  Fifty respond; 950 do not.  Of the fifty, five are found true over the course of a year of steadfast Gospel labor.  Why?  What is the difference?  All 1000 “heard the word of Christ”; a year later, five stand true.  Why did the word of Christ produce faith in the five, short-lived feelings in the 45, and a greater judgment in the other 950?  Out of the 1000 that heard the Gospel with the physical ear, only five heard it with the spiritual ear, that is, the gospel came to them not only in word (it came in word, but not only in word) but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.  Paul attributes this to God’s sovereign election, – “we know that he has chosen…because our gospel came to you…(in this divine way)!”

Now why did I have to throw that in there?  So that I could come back here and say without hesitation that those five, although the elect of God before the Gospel came to them and faith was created, would never have believed without the hearing of the word of Christ.  It is not up to men or women or children to discriminate concerning whom to share the Gospel with!  And God’s sovereignty does not impede the invitation to come!  Rather it compels us!  They will not believe apart from the proclamation of the Gospel!  And thank God that a saving response is not contingent upon my eloquency of speech (or lack thereof)!  God saves sinners and He has ordained to do that through Christians who speak the word of Christ to the world, persuading them to be reconciled unto God through faith in Christ, and it will not happen any other way.  The Gospel must be shared because it is the exclusive means of creating faith in the heart of the elect sinner.

The sinfulness of the sin of our silence then is this, – no one will be saved apart from hearing the Gospel of Christ.  God uses the Gospel as it is spoken by wretches like me and you to convert sinners to Christ.  Do you profess Christ?  If that profession is authentic and validated by the witness of the Spirit in your life, then God intends to make use of you to be the vessel that carries the Gospel to any and every lost soul.  What are you doing with this means?  What are we doing with this great Gospel?  Be unbiblical if you want and continue to tell yourself that if God has elected sinners to save then it matters not whether you share the Gospel with them or not.  You’ve missed the point!  Evangelism is a command; sharing the Gospel a privilege and a joy.  God will not do it without the Gospel witness.  You, dear believer, carry that Gospel within your breast.  Why so silent?  Have you put on the shoes of readiness given by the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15)?  You must!  Faith comes through hearing and hearing through the word of Christ!  Let us speak exactly that, – not our own word, but the word of Jesus Christ!  And may God providentially bless your labor of grace in Jesus’ name.  Amen.