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Getting the Gospel Right

October 5, 2015

going out1 Thessalonians 2:3 is possibly the greatest summation of the characteristics of a faithful gospel witness. “For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile:” As a Christian goes into the world with the gospel must have the right message, the right motives and use the right means.

The message of the gospel is true. The gospel is not a presentation of what Peter calls, “cunningly devised fables.” The gospel is the truth. When Paul say s in 1 Thessalonians 2:1 that his entrance into them was not in vain, he is describing the content of the message he preached. He did not preach an empty, worthless lie promoting itself as the gospel. Paul was not a fraud promising eternal life based on some wild story he had conjured up. Paul was preaching the truth! The gospel is no fraud and its truth is unaffected by popular opinion. When it is believed, received, rejected, scorned, stifled or persecuted the truth remains true. All who give the gospel are proclaiming eternal truth.

The message must be the truth of the gospel and the motives must be pure. Many false teachers preach religious messages for riches or power. The gospel must be preached for the pleasure of God. The supreme motivation of the gospel must be love for God. Is that not obedience to the first commandment? “Love the Lord thy God will all thy heart,  with all thy soul and with all thy mind.” Should not the gospel be preached because we love God above all else? Should not the gospel be preached because the greatest desire of your heart is to do that which pleases and exalts God?

The message is true, the motives must be pure and the means have to be honest. Craft, schemes, trickery, manipulation and entrapment are all improper methods to employ in the spread of the gospel. Much of the modern model of ministry growth is built upon artful trickery with the gospel. The message of salvation gets hidden behind a carefully crafted screen of entertainment, good deeds, charisma, activity, impressive presentations or even shocking words. Once the person is enthralled with the program or has bought into the enterprise, then the gospel is given. Even worse, many change the truths of the gospel to accomodate the desires of the audience. Hard truths are neglected and forceful calls to genuine faith are forsaken. The gospel is a message to be communicated, not marketed, pandered or sold.

The message of the gospel is not second after people have bought into our product, our gathering, our people, our method or our vision. Paul told the Corinthians he preached to them the gospel “first of all.” The gospel is the starting point. The difficult truths  have to be presented up front so those who follow Christ will be genuine and persevering followers. The goal of the preaching of the gospel is to glorify God by calling men to salvation. The gospel cannot be emptied of its difficult truths. Bait and switch, cunning and trickery, manipulation and theatrics have no place in the Christian’s witness. As you go out with the gospel, go out with boldness and without fear. Go out preaching the right message with the right motives using the right means. When you preach God’s gospel for God’s glory He will work powerfully in the hearts of your hearers.

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