Is Our Gospel Hid?

We’re all familiar with the VBS tune, “This little light of mine.” We sing this song so as to let our children know that they need to be good examples and positive influences in the world around them. This song also reminds us to practice what we preach and let our light shine too. In addition to letting our light shine, however, we need to be concerned about supplying the appropriate information to those who need the message of the gospel. Paul the apostle was so confident regarding both his example and the efforts that he made at preaching the gospel that he made this statement in 2 Corinthians 4:3, “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost.” Several lessons come to mind from such a statement.

First, do we hide God’s word from others or do we share it freely? Paul could say that he hadn’t hid God’s word. In fact, he said in Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” What about us? Are we ashamed of the gospel? When the subject comes up do we avert our eyes? Do we look to get out of the conversation? Do we change the subject? Truly, our behavior is revealing as to what we truly think about God’s message. We ought never be guilty of hiding the gospel from others. It is their only hope for salvation!

Second, can such a statement be made regarding our efforts to preach and teach the gospel? Have we so effectively preached God’s word to those around us that we can truly say that no one whom we have encountered is unaware of the truths of the gospel? If we have, then that is truly a wonderful goal to have reached. If we haven’t, then there is work for us to do. Let’s consider Jesus statement to the disciples in John 4:35 “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.” God has spread before us a great harvest! Our job is to go into the fields and reap what God has given. Let’s be about the Lord’s work!

Third, perhaps there are some around us with whom we have shared the gospel message and yet, they have rejected it. That would put us in the same situation in which Paul was in. Paul said regarding these individuals, “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Yes, there are some who will reject the message. But that’s not really our problem. Jesus never promised that every single person to whom we preach the gospel would respond favorably to it. In fact, He said the opposite, namely, that more would reject it than accept it. In Matthew 7:13 Jesus said, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat” and more often than not, Jesus would teach and then end with the statement, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” What did that mean? It meant that if you are of a willing and ready mind, then listen to the message and apply it. Otherwise, too bad. It is sad that some will not hear and obey the gospel message, but that’s a fact that we’ve been told about and we must accept it.

So, what category are you in? Are you hiding the gospel? Are you preaching it to those who haven’t receive it yet? Have you preached it and it has been rejected? Regardless, let us realize that there is always someone somewhere who needs to hear the message. If we’ve exhausted the location that we are in, we can move on to other places. If we’ve just started, then let’s get busy watering what’s been planted. If we’re not doing anything, then let’s get out of our comfort zone and do something. We all can do something to further His kingdom. Won’t you start working today?

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The Ubiquity of New Testament Teaching

Recently someone asked, more or less, the following question: “How do we know that the things that were done in one church in the first century were done in the other churches as well?” That’s a good question because if we can’t know that the things practiced, say, in Corinth, were also practiced in Rome, then we can’t really know that we ought to practice the same things that they practiced in religion today. Ultimately, this would mean that we could do whatever we wanted to do in “worship” to God, which many people in the denominational world are doing in our day and age. And that there basically would be no identifying marks of the New Testament church, since the instruction from one congregation wouldn’t necessarily apply to another.

The word “ubiquitous” isn’t a common word, but it is a current word. It is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as meaning, “Being or seeming to be everywhere at the same time.” The idea of the word is that if something is ubiquitous, then it is common to all places. That’s the idea that we are examining in relationship to New Testament teaching. Was it common in all churches? Was it something that was taught not merely to one congregation, but to all of them? Let’s see if we can find a scriptural answer.

First, we must understand that Jesus intended the message of the gospel to be ubiquitous. In Matthew 28:19, Luke 24:47, and Mark 16:15, Jesus made it clear that he wanted the message of the gospel preached to all nations. This included the message related to the kingdom of God (the church, Matthew 16:18,19) because the teaching and preaching regarding the kingdom was part of the gospel message (see Matthew 4:23, 9:35). In fact, Jesus expected this teaching to go to all nations prior to the destruction of Jerusalem. He said in Matthew 24:14 “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations�.” Jesus certainly expected the teaching and preaching of the gospel to be ubiquitous.

Secondly, we must note that Paul said that his message was ubiquitous. In 1 Corinthians 4:17, Paul wrote, “For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.” Paul told the church at Corinth that he was sending Timothy to them so that Timothy could teach them the same things that Paul had taught in every other church in which he had preached. It should be clear from this that the message that Paul took to each congregation was the same message. That means that when he instructed the church at Corinth to take up a collection upon the first day of the week (1 Corinthians 16:1,2) he also instructed all of the other congregations to do the same. This means that Paul’s observance of the Lord’s Supper at Troas upon the first day of the week (Acts 20:7) was also observed by every other congregation at which he had preached upon the first day of the week as well. Paul certainly believed that his preaching and teaching was ubiquitous.

Finally, we must apply this same message ubiquitously today. Paul told the elders at Ephesus in Acts 20:27, “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” Paul didn’t refuse to preach the entire message of the gospel and neither should we. We cannot afford to hold back part of the gospel message. We must be willing to teach all of it. That means we learn lessons from all of the churches in the New Testament and we can apply those lessons to our congregations today just as they were originally applied to the churches in the first century. Paul told Timothy, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” The scriptures certainly present the message within them as being ubiquitous.

Because the message of the gospel is ubiquitous, we have everything today that we need to be the kind of person that God wants us to be. We have all of the information we need to be the kind of church that God wants us to be. Let’s apply all of it appropriately (2 Timothy 2:15) and remember the counsel of the Psalmist in Psalm 119:160 “The sum of thy word is truth�” and the counsel of Jesus in Matthew 4:4, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” The teaching of the New Testament is ubiquitous in its application!

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The Greatest American

Some of you may know that the Discovery Channel is doing a series of television shows on “The Greatest American.” Through some process they have selected 100 different nominees for this title and through the month of June they will be airing a program that discusses these individuals. They will also be narrowing the focus down to twenty-five “finalists” and ultimately select “The Greatest American,” at least, according to their perspective.

Who would you select to be the “Greatest American?” Someone recently wrote and said they would select their mother and father because to them, those individuals are the greatest Americans that he has known. That’s pretty good thinking.

Often what we think of as the “greatest” isn’t based upon what truly has affected us as great, but what society as a whole pressures us to think of as “great.” The “great” must be someone who has achieved fame, is above average, esteemed highly, accomplished some great achievement, or attained special academic status. And while some may attain such levels in this life, the majority of the earth’s population simply won’t measure up, at least, according to the world’s standard.

How comforting then is it to know that God doesn’t have the same standard as the world. There was one occasion in the life of Jesus when his disciples took up this very question: “Who is the greatest?” (Matthew 18:1). The next few verses read: “And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:2-4).

At another opportunity, some disciples were arguing over who would sit on the right hand and left of Jesus in the kingdom. We read Jesus response in Matthew 20:25-28 “But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

It’s not the “great” who will be the “greatest” in God’s kingdom, but the one who humbles himself and becomes everyone else’s servant.

I’ve heard some ask, “Well, who might that ‘great’ one be? Who is the most humble? Who serves the most?” This is missing the point. It is just getting back to the same question the disciples had already asked, just in a different form. The point Jesus is making is that there is no one person who is “the greatest.” At the same time there may be many who are the “greatest.” How is that so?

What matters is our attitude. Even when we have served all that we can serve, we must still admit that we are unprofitable servants according to Luke 17:10. In that regard, we can never be the greatest. At the same time, we can be the greatest that we can be in the eyes of the Lord if we seek to love him with all of our heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37). In this way, God sees us as His children, each being what they can be to be pleasing to their father. So each of us can be the “greatest” and at the same time none of us will be “the greatest.”

In this regard, Micah 6:8 comes to mind. The people in Micah’s day were kind of asking this same question. They wanted to know what they could do to be the greatest. Would thousands of burnt offerings do it? How about 10,000 rivers of oil? What about sacrificing my firstborn? None of those things would have made them great, so far as God was concerned. Instead the reply is: “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Indeed, that’s what it takes to be the greatest.

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