When you see a bulldozer or a jackhammer in action, do you ever think about where their power really comes from? What good would those pieces of equipment be if they didn’t have a power source? Would they be able to do any of the things that they do without power? Does the source of their power get enough credit for what it does, or have we elevated the equipment to a status that it might not deserve?
This past Wednesday night, after bible classes, we witnessed two of our young people put on Christ in baptism! Lindsay Brooke Nease and Grant Duncan made this wonderful and life-changing decision and we rejoiced with the angels in heaven, as they became part of God’s family! Why did this happen? Was it because of their parents and the way they raised them? Was it their bible class teachers? What about their peers in the Church? Obviously, all of these things may have had an influence on their decision, but I don’t believe that those things deserve the actual “credit.” Their decision reminded me – once again - of the power of the gospel!
We are told in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…”
Let’s consider a couple of truths about the power of the gospel:
1. The gospel is more powerful than our presentation of it – How many times have we thought to ourselves, “That person will never become a Christian?” Maybe we say or think these things because we haven’t been able to convince these people to obey the gospel, or maybe it’s because we think that they are simply too entrenched in sin to change their life. We would be wise to remember that the power of the gospel is in the “good news” of what Jesus did on the cross, and not in our “words of eloquent wisdom” as we present it (I Cor. 1:17a). In fact, when we begin to think that the power of the gospel rests in our ability to communicate it in some kind of creative, fancy, “eloquent” way, we actually empty the cross of Christ of its power (I Cor. 1:17b)!!
The gospel is the “seed” that you and I “sow.” It is going to fall onto many different kinds of “soil,” but the picture that is painted in this famous parable (Mt. 13; Mk. 4; Lk. 8) is that the sower’s job is simply to “sow” the seed, which literally means, “to scatter” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). That doesn’t sound very “fancy” or “eloquent,” does it? Of course we should be careful in our presentation of the gospel to those who desperately need it, because we are required to teach and share the gospel accurately and lovingly (Col. 4:5-6); but the message of the gospel is so simple that we would do well to remember that our presentation of the gospel is not the source of its power!
2. The gospel is more powerful than the Church – This may sound strange at first, but let me explain…
The Church is made up of people, right? If we are being honest, people are imperfect (yes, all of us), and will inevitably and always be a disappointment if we look to them as the source of our faith, our hope, or the forgiveness from our sins. In fact, if you and I are counting on the power and influence of the Church to cause our young people – or any people, for that matter - to give their lives to Christ, we may come up short! This isn’t to say that the Church can’t be a powerful influence when it comes to spreading the gospel, but the Church is not the source of that power, is it?
After all, our young people are smart enough to see the problems within the Church, aren’t they? Do we really think that they don’t see some of our issues with one another? Of course they do, and those who decide to obey the gospel of Jesus Christ are the ones who can look past the imperfections within the Lord’s Church and see their need for something more perfect, more reliable, and more powerful! I can tell you – in no uncertain terms - that by the time a young person is in the “youth group” (which is the approximate time that many of them begin to consider obeying the gospel), they have begun to see some of the problems and issues within the Church. They may see gossip, exclusion, cliques, worldliness, hypocrisy, and all manner of sinful behavior; and they will see this in the lives of those who call themselves “Christians.” Does this mean that these “Christians” are all lost? Not necessarily. Perhaps these Christians are simply struggling with sin and slowly maturing in their faith, or perhaps they just need more teaching and encouragement. In some cases, though, these obvious imperfections in the Church can cause a young person to turn away from the gospel instead of towards it; they effectively “cut off their nose to spite their face.” Thank God that the gospel is powerful enough to cut through all of our imperfections and point the lost to someone who IS perfect!
As we celebrate our new brother and sister in Christ this week, we give all glory to God and to His Son Jesus Christ, who has given us a living hope through the good news of His death, burial and resurrection!
Let’s be good and faithful “sowers” of the gospel and share this good news with someone this week; and let’s pray that its power will land on “good soil!”