Text: Nehemiah 8:1-9
The Gospel of Christ is attacked on all sides today, but how sad that it is being distorted by those who ought to be preaching and upholding it! The foundation of Christian belief and practice is nothing more or less than the Holy Bible. Anything beyond that is heresy.
When the people of Judah returned to Jerusalem they found their beloved city in ruins and immediately set themselves to rebuilding the walls. The most important job was not in fact the rebuilding of defensive walls, but the rebuilding of their spiritual foundation. This is why they gathered together to hear Ezra the scribe preach the word of God. His preaching convicted and blessed them, so they began to worship and praise the Lord. “And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground” (Nehemiah 8:6). The preaching of truth caused the people to glorify God.
In this study we will look at a few reasons why the Gospel is as vital in this generation as it was in Nehemiah’s day.
The Gospel glorifies God
The Gospel of Christ is not just good news, it is the absolute truth that saves a soul from sin and damnation. The very first mention of the Gospel in the New Testament reads, “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people” (Matthew 4:23). We see then that God is glorified when people are set free from all kinds of bondages through the preaching of His word.
Everything we do must be done for the glory of God. This means that we ought to honour, praise, exalt and magnify Him in all things, which obviously includes preaching and teaching His word. When a preachers is full of self-esteem and self-worth he seeks to be in the limelight and at the centre of people’s focus. His preaching will be all about who he is, what his vision is and his accomplishments. Basically Christ is just a side issue and of less importance than the preacher’s inflated opinion of himself. The true man of God does not preach about himself but instead points his listeners to the only one who can save their souls. All the glory, no matter how insignificant it might be to us, must go to the Lord. “That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:6).
The Gospel reveals Jesus
God the Father cannot be glorified more than when the Gospel of Christ is faithfully preached with the power of His Spirit. Those who hear us teach and preach should not gather to be entertained with gimmicks, rather they must come to see Jesus. “Sir, we would see Jesus” (John 12:21). It is the preacher’s responsibility to point the people to Christ. The Lord is clearly seen when the minister steps out of the way and fades from view. “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). The preaching of God’s word has nothing to do with grammar, eloquence or education, instead true preaching starts with the anointing of the Holy Spirit on the preacher’s life. Until we can say with the apostle Paul, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Galatians 2:20), we are not in the right spiritual condition to minister God’s word.
If our intention is to reveal Jesus then the Lord will both bless and prosper our ministry. This is what the apostles, revivalists and missionaries set out to do, so no wonder they saw the results that we only long to see. “Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel” (Ephesians 3:5-6). The more we tell others more about Christ and less about ourselves, the more chance they have in coming to saving faith in Him. “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 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. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord” (2 Corinthians 4:3-5).
The Gospel makes sense
If we preach ourselves then our listeners will eventually find fault and become disenchanted, but if we reveal Christ to them they will understand for themselves and go on to bring others to salvation. By nature man is unable to come to an understanding of the truth without the power of the Holy Spirit. “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness” (Ephesians 4:17-19). As soon as a preacher reveals Jesus the light of the Gospel illuminates the sinner’s mind and the word spoken makes sense. “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). This is the direct working of the Holy Spirit on that person’s soul. “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).
The Gospel motivates
The purpose of the Gospel is not just to inform others about our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, for it must include instruction for godly living. The word of God demands a response from those who hear it, but not merely mental assent, instead there must be the corresponding action on our part. The angel who spoke to Cornelius told him to send for Peter for “he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do” (Acts 10:6). Maybe we do not like being told what to do, but there it is, that is part of what Gospel preaching is all about. Sound preaching always motivates us to turn away from everything that displeases God. “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2 Timothy 2:19). The word of God never sanctions laziness in our lives, and it is certain that God never purposed for His people to sit down and do nothing. It does not matter how young or old we are, we can God has a work for us to do. The twelve year old Jesus said, “I must be about my Father’s business” (Luke 2:49). Then Gospel gets us going. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:19-20).
Why the Gospel? Because it is the method God uses to bring souls to salvation. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Romans 1:16). The Gospel in and of itself cannot actually save anyone, but it points the sinner to the only one who can redeem him or her. That said, it does save believers who act upon it from the countless snares the evil one has set to destroy their faith. Simply put; if the Gospel is not preached, then souls will not be saved and the saints will not “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14).