The Personal Importance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
How important is the gospel of Jesus Christ to you compared with material "blessings?"
2001 William R. Cunningham
How excited are you about your eternal life and how important is the gospel of Jesus Christ to you? We live in a world that is materialistic by nature. Even in the Christian and/or church community we hear of how God wants to bless us with things (money, cars, possessions, etc.). We are bombarded with teachings, preachings, and lessons on how God wants to lavish us with gifts-material things. Now these do have their place as we live on this earth because we need material things. However, I am constantly reminded of what Jesus taught in Matthew Chapter six. Consider what He said.
19 "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where
moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;
What we have to keep in mind is that the Kingdom of God is of utmost importance to us? It is more meaningful than any material possessions that you might have or wish you had. What could possibly be more comforting and secure than knowing that you are a true Christian in that you will spend eternity with the Father-starting now? God is with you now and not just after you die (leave this earth). Your eternal life began the moment you were born again. What could be more comforting and encouraging than knowing that the creator of all that exists loves you and has sacrificed Jesus Christ so that you might be with Him?
I recently read an article where Janet Jackson said in so many words that happiness and acceptance of self does not come with fame or money. She said that she felt depressed and yet she had so much fame and fortune. How many times have you heard of rich people that were unhappy or unfulfilled? Unfortunately, the only people that know that riches are not the answer are the rich. Those who are not rich still believe that having an abundance of things will be the answer to all of their problems. They think that the most important thing in their lives is financial security. If they only knew the truth.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is of great importance especially to those that aren't saved. However, it is equally important to the saved because it is the foundation of the Christian faith. In it lies the "secret" of the Kingdom of God, namely, that God wants us to be with Him.
In this lesson we are going to discuss the personal importance of the gospel of Christ. There are numerous teachings on prosperity, tithing, faith, blessings, etc. There is unfortunately a disproportionate amount of teachings on the fundamentals of the Christian faith, at least in public ministries (TV evangelists, radio programs, websites, etc.).
You will hear few ministries in the public declare the true blessings of salvation. Instead you will hear advertisements for their tapes and books, teachings on prosperity, how to get an abundance of material things, speaking in tongues, etc. We need Jesus more than anything else so Jesus is of great importance to us. Christ is our way to the Father and therefore we should give Him much more attention in our lives. Ultimate, as Solomon said, our whole duty is to fear (reverence) and obey God and not treat him like a grocery store or magician that gives us our every wish whenever we make demands. How important is the gospel to you personally?
Let me give you a little background information before we dive into the scriptures for our lesson. Paul and his party were sent out to preach the gospel and they later arrived at Antioch. Now Paul and his party went to the synagogue on the Sabbath and sat down (Note that Christians met on the first day of the week and not the seventh). Paul and his party were asked if they had any exhortation for the people after the law and the prophets were read. Paul stood up and basically explained how the man Jesus Christ, whom the Jews crucified, was indeed the Messiah that was spoken about in the Jewish scriptures.
The service at the synagogue ended and people began to disperse. This brings us to the beginning of our scripture lesson.
Acts 13:42 through Acts 13:52 (NKJV) So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, "It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us:
'I have set you as a light to the Gentiles,
Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region. But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and came to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
Acts 14:1 (NKJV) Now it happened in Iconium that they went together to the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude both of the Jews and of the Greeks believed.
Let's first go over the particulars of these verses and then we will summarize them for the message that they give us.
Synagogue: A synagogue was basically a meeting place of Jews for worship, prayer, and instruction. Actually, the word synagogue originates from a Greek word that meant a gathering of people. It later came to be known exclusively as a gathering or congregation of Jewish people for worship. The synagogue itself actually had many other community functions such as a place where children learned to read. An equivalent of the synagogue is the Christian church meetings.
Gentile: This was a term used by Jewish people to refer to foreigners or anyone that were not part of the Jewish race. It later came to be known as a non-Jew.
Proselyte: A proselyte was a convert to the Jewish religion of Judaism. Of course a proselyte was not Jewish.
Sabbath: The seventh day of the week. This is a very holy day in Judaism, the Jewish religion. No work was to be done on this day along with other ordinances originating from Moses and the Ten Commandments.
Let's now look at the series of events given to us by the above scriptures.
Note in particular verses 42 and 48 of chapter 13. The gentiles (non-Jewish) were so excited about the word of God that Paul preached that they begged Paul to preach more on the next Sabbath. What did they want to hear? They wanted to hear the Word of Life that Paul was preaching. They wanted to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ that they heard, which was to them very good news. Something happened on the inside of them as they heard the gospel and they were hungry for more.
This reminds me of a few parables of Jesus Christ.
44"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
45"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, 46who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
These parables illustrate the great "value" or worth of the Kingdom of God to us. It demonstrates the importance of God's Kingdom in our lives. How important is the gospel of Christ to you? Notice that the gentiles weren't excited about healing, prosperity, speaking in tongues, spiritual gifts, or blessings. They were simply excited about the prospects of eternal life. They saw what was of greatest value, namely the Kingdom of God.
Also, some Jewish people, who practiced Judaism, also believed the gospel and were converted to Christianity. As a matter of fact, the first Christians were mostly Jewish. They believed the gospel in that they were convinced that Jesus Christ was indeed the Messiah that they had been reading about in their scriptures.
Consider the following scripture.
Matthew 6:33 (NKJV) But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
The kingdom of God should be of highest priority in our pursuits in life. Also note that Jesus gives the secret of having your needs met, which incidentally isn't tithing, giving to the pastor, or church attendance, among other things. The secret of having your needs met is simply to pursue God above all else and God will then take care of you. Why? Because you will understand how God's Kingdom operates and you will begin to operate according to it.
Consider another example of the importance and impact of the Word of God.
John 4:28 through John 4:30 (NKJV) The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, "Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?" Then they went out of the city and came to Him.
John 4:39 through John 4:42 (NKJV) And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, "He told me all that I ever did." So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His own word. Then they said to the woman, "Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world."
The Samaritan women heard the Word of God directly from Jesus Christ. She then had gone and told the men of her town what she was told. They believed her for her own words sake. However, they wanted to hear from Christ himself so they invited him to stay in town for a few days. They then believed the Word of God not because of the women but because they heard it for themselves.
We too have this capability to hear the Word of Christ from Jesus himself. How? We have the Bible, which records the teachings and works of Christ. We don't have to believe someone merely because of that person's religious affiliation or authority. We can believe the words of Christ for ourselves because we can access them directly. We don't have to believe people above the Word of God because the Word is readily available to us all.
Do you know the truth or just what you were told? Do you know the teachings of Christ through someone else or have you read and understood them yourself? I encourage you to study the Bible and learn the Kingdom of God for yourself. Your understanding and appreciation for the salvation through Christ will be greatly edified and you might obtain a new perspective on things in your life. You will definitely learn that material things aren't all they are cracked up to be by Christian preachers. The most important thing to you is eternal life.
Consider another scripture.
Acts 10:1 through Acts 10:8 (NKJV) There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, "Cornelius!" And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, "What is it, lord?" So he said to him, "Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do." And when the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continually. So when he had explained all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa.
Acts 10:34 through Acts 10:44 (NKJV) Then Peter opened his mouth and said: "In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ-He is Lord of all-that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins." While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.
Cornelius was a centurion. However, he was an upright man and God respected that. Notice that even though he was upright and gave to the poor that he was lacking something. He sent for Peter (Simon) so that he might hear the Word of God. He was lacking salvation, which came through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Cornelius was saved after he heard the gospel of Christ.
What is the gospel of Jesus Christ anyway? Do you know what the gospel is? After all, how can the gospel be important to you or how can you share it with others if you don't know what it is?
Etymology of the word Gospel: The word gospel originates from the Hebrew word Bisar (basar). Bisar means to proclaim victory in battle and it stems from the position of the Hebrews that it was because of God's divine interaction that they were victorious in battle (See 2 Samuel 4:10). From about 300 B.C. until after the time of Christ many Greek-speaking Jews translated their Hebrew Bible into Greek. The word that was used to translate Bisar was euangelizesthai, which had a meaning very similar to basar. However about the time the New Testament was written euangelizesthai had evolved into a different meaning. It simply meant, "to proclaim." A noun form of the verb euangelizesthai was formed: euaggelion. The noun euaggelion was used by Christians to describe the good news of Jesus.
The earliest English translations of the Bible used the Anglo-Saxon word godspell to translate the noun euaggelion. Godspell meant "the story about a god" and was used because the story about Jesus Christ was Good News (a good message). Later as English developed the word Godspell was shortened to Gospel and the original Anglo-Saxon meaning was lost with this change.
Now since euaggelion was specific to the good news of Jesus Christ, some translators used other words to translate the word basar in the Old Testament to avoid the confusion that may occur by references to Jesus Christ in the Old Testament. Therefore, they used other words to distinguish the good news of Jesus Christ and the good news promised by the prophets. These translators often use glad tidings or an equivalent for the Hebrew basar.
The Gospel, according to Paul, is the power of God. Recalling our previous discussion of the word gospel, we see that the gospel is really the story about Jesus Christ. This includes how he was born of a virgin, died on the cross for us, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven to the Father.
There is more to the gospel then merely good news. It is good news because it is the gospel. There is more to the gospel then the words spoken. The Holy Spirit is active when the Word of God is spoken. See my study "The Power of God: His Holy Spirit" for more information on this topic.
The Great Deception
My purpose in ministry is to pursue and promote the truth in God's word. My perspective of things has been drastically changed after viewing the scriptures in the light of the way things really are. We would love to believe that by faith we could obtain a new car or house from God. True we can, but it will require effort on our part. See my lesson, "The Process to Practical Blessings" for more information on that.
Christians are told that God wants them to be rich and have an abundance of possessions. We are told that if we tithe we will be blessed with abundance. We are told that if we give generously that we will be lavished with so much that we won't be able to contain it all. Yes there is a blessing in giving and even in tithing to some extent. However, if your pursuit is for the abundance of possessions then you have missed the mark. You don't realize the importance of the Kingdom of God. You don't realize how important the gospel is because it is in a sense the key to the Kingdom of God. Jesus said that we could only enter or even conceive of the Kingdom of God if we are born again (John 3:5-8). We cannot be born again unless we hear the gospel of Christ. Consider what Paul said.
Romans 10:14 through Romans 10:15 (NKJV) 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? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? ..
The bottom line is that material things are not the key to life and therefore are not the most important thing to you, though it may appear that way. Sure you might want a new home or a new car and it is great for you to pursue these things. However, realize that these things are only temporal and should not be pursued as a panacea of life. Only Christ is the true panacea (or cure all). Material things might come and go but Jesus is forever-He is eternal and our eternal life rests in Him.
If our life's goal is to have an abundance of things then we pursue those things at the expense of the Kingdom of God. Notice what Jesus said about this.
Matthew 6:24 (NKJV) "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
If your goal in life is to have an abundance of possessions then your goal in life is not to have a personal and intimate relationship with God, which means you won't pursue God. Your God will be your possessions. You will in a sense be an idolater.
So do not be deceived by preachers and teachers that convince you that God's duty to you is to make you rich or to give you the abundant life. It is not God's job to give you an abundance of material possessions. It is due to His love that He has provided salvation to you. What could possibly be more important than eternal life with the Father?
I should point out that if you really don't know God then it follows that He nor His Kingdom, or those things pertaining to it, would be important to you. Do you know God? Do you have an intimate relationship with God? Is He really important to you or are you stressed out and driven to have more and more stuff? Think about it because your life depends on it.
The Value of the Gospel and Eternal Life
What am I saying here? The importance of spiritual things (pertaining to the Kingdom of God) is meaningless to us unless we make it meaningful. If left alone, we will pursue only the things of this world and put on a fa ade of pursuing God by such things as tithing, going to church every Sunday, and the religious talk and rituals that church folk usually perform.
We have to realize that the Kingdom of God and thus the gospel of Christ are important and then make it important in our lives. Whatever we practice is what we will do and be good at. If we practice the pursuit of the things of the world then we will be good at that pursuit and therefore strive to get all this world has to offer. If, on the other hand, we pursue the things of God then we will realize how much more important the Kingdom is and how insignificant the things of the world are compared to eternal life. Consider the following scripture.
John 6:27 (NKJV) Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him."
Matthew 6:33 (NKJV) But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
It is God's Kingdom that is more valuable than anything on this earth. It is the gospel that can get people into God's Kingdom (via salvation) and therefore of great value. The gospel is the power of God and that power flows even after the moment we believe in Jesus Christ and enter eternal life.
The gospel is not a license to demand riches and glory from God, as some would have you believe. The gospel is not the way into salvation for the benefit of having an abundance of things. The gospel of Christ is important because it is the key to entering salvation. It is the power of God. It is a spiritual blessing if the gospel is positively received.
Eternal life is far greater in all respects than anything that this world has to offer. Eternal life is-eternal! Anything that this world offers is only temporal and therefore an illusion since the time of possession is insignificant compared to eternity.
What Are You Going To Do?
What are you going to do to ensure that the gospel and thus the Kingdom of God is important to you and of great value? One thing that is necessary is to spend more time with the LORD so that the reality of the existence of God is real to you. Here are some suggestions.
The main thing to do is to realize how important that gospel and the Kingdom of God really is to you and simply implement that value in your life.
What could be more important than those things that pertain to eternal life? What could therefore be more important then the gospel of Jesus Christ and hence the Kingdom of God? Nothing! Jesus Christ is more important to you than anything else whether you realize or accept it or not. He is more important than the abundant life that you were deceived into believing is important and the right of Christians. He is more important than any new car or new house that you might acquire.
People have died for the sake of hearing and preaching the gospel. People have risked their lives and given up all that they own to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. Why? They believe that it was so important that they had to share it. Others have to know of the greatness of the Kingdom of God and Jesus Christ.
How important is the Kingdom of God to you? Are you seeking the abundant life of material possessions or are you seeking the Kingdom of God and his righteousness? Seek the Lord. Seek the righteousness of God. Know the true value of the gospel of Christ to you and therefore to others, non-Christians and Christians. Pursue those things that are eternal and not give so much credence to those things that are temporal and therefore an illusion. Reckon the gospel of Christ as the most important thing to you-It is! Amen.
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