Sunday, November 07, 2010

The Gospel is Dynamite

Gospel Power

Romans 1:16-17: 
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

In these two verses Paul defines for us what the Gospel is. The Gospel is the Lord Jesus Christ, in His blessed person and in His mighty work. To lose Jesus is to lose the Gospel. One of the strangest things in the religious life of the world is that the world would like to have Christianity without Christ. It would like to get rid of Jesus and at the same time keep the Gospel. The world would like to have good news from God without the Son of God. Christians must stand with the Apostle Paul and proclaim that apart from Jesus Christ, God has no good news for any man. Eliminate Him, and there remains no good news for the world, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of fiery indignation. (Hebrews 10:26-27)

In stating the Gospel as he has here, Paul has used some great words. He talks about power, God, Salvation, righteousness, faith and the just. And then he talks of life. Seven powerful words! It is Jesus Christ the Son of God, who gives meaning and value to these words; take Him out of these words and nothing is left but empty words and high sounding phrases.

Let us look at these seven words a little closely.

Ø Paul says: “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the POWER ...” But what about power? “Christ is the power of God” (First Corinthians 1:2); that is what makes the Gospel the power of God!

Ø The next word is “GOD.” First Timothy 3:16 declares that Christ was God manifested in the flesh, for He is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15). How much would you know about God if you did not have Christ?

Ø Next Paul declared; “the power of God unto SALVATION” Simeon, the old man, took Mary’s child in his arms and looked up into heaven and said, “Mine eyes have seen Your salvation” (Luke 2:30). Jesus is our Salvation!

Ø The fourth word – the centre of the seven great words is “RIGHTEOUSNESS”. Paul declared in First Corinthians 1:30; “Jesus ... is made unto us wisdom and righteousness”

Ø The fifth word is “FAITH” “Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2) Without Him, we would not have any faith.

Ø The next expression is “JUST” in which Paul quotes from the Old Testament. Acts 22:14 speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ as “the just One” Romans 5:9 declares that in His blood we are justified (declared just). There would not be any such thing as a just man except for Him.

Ø The last word is “LIFE” John 6:51 reads: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any man eats of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” So the word life occurs three times in one verse.
From the foregoing, it becomes evident that Christ is everything. When we take Him out, you have nothing left of the Gospel; you have lost the power, you have lost God that gave the Gospel; the salvation that the gospel brings; the righteousness that it reveals. The faith by which we appropriate it; the justification and worse still, we have lost life.

The Gospel is the Power of God

The first statement that Paul makes about the Gospel is “the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation”. He does not say the Gospel contains power, or that it is powerful, or that it has power, or that it exerts power. He only says “the Gospel is the power”

Power has a way of influencing those who come close to it. It is awe inspiring. When you see electricity at work, you cannot but admit that it is powerful.

I want us to read together, one of the most condensed statements of the Gospel in First Corinthians 15:1-4.
“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the Gospel which I presented to you, which you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you – unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,...” 
In that passage is the entire Gospel: Jesus Christ, His death for sins, His resurrection from the dead. This is the Gospel in less than two verses and about twenty-six words. Those words contain the most amazing power that is known in the universe today – the power of God which can save men’s souls and change their lives This power can take a sinner who is depraved in mind, body, and soul; a man who is spiritually dead, with no thoughts of God, bound by the law of choice and nature to an eternal hell and can arrest his course, cleanse him from all sin, make him righteous in the sight of God, raise him up with Jesus, and guarantee him future glory and happiness forever. What a marvellous, awesome thing the Gospel is! What we are saying is this, you can go out to the street now, stop the first man you meet on the street, and say, “Jesus died for your sins and rose again from the dead for your justification, and if he believes it, instantly his sins are blotted out forever. He stands righteous before God, and the eternal life of God enters into his soul” The words which you have spoken have been the power of God.

Someone will say, “Hey Silas, that’s too simple to be true – is it possible that mere words can save the soul of man?” In Acts 11:13-14, the angel came to Cornelius and said to Cornelius to send to Joppa for Simon Peter, who would come and “tell you words whereby you and all your house shall be saved.” God said words would save him, and they did. Peter came to the house of Cornelius, and they were all gathered together waiting for him. He began to speak words and the record says: “While Peter yet spoke these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word” (Acts 10:44); and they were saved! Peter had nothing we do not have today. We have the same words of the same Gospel, and it has the same power – to save the souls of men.

The Greek word which is translated power in Romans 1:16 is the word “dunamis”. From that Greek word we derive our English words – Dynamite, Dynamo, and Dynamic. It is possible therefore to translate Romans 1:16 thus: I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the dynamite of God unto Salvation” or if you like it, you can even say “it is the dynamo of God” Those two English words are very appropriate words with which to describe the mighty power of the Gospel, for the power of the Gospel has two aspects. Dynamite is a destructive power, it blows things to pieces. A dynamo has a constructive power, it produces energy. The Gospel too tears down, it blows to pieces the old life; but at the same time, it has the constructive power to build up the new life. It is absolutely true that the Gospel is not only the dynamite of God but the dynamo too.

The Word of God is Dynamite
Once the great Evangelist Billy Graham sent his New Testament to a book-binder and instructed him to write on the edge of the book “The New Testament”; the book-binder after binding the New Testament felt that the edge was too little to contain the full words “The New Testament” so he wrote “TNT”. When Billy Graham came to collect the book, he at first felt offended that the book-binder did not write what he said. On a second thought, he exclaimed, “Indeed, this is God’s TNT!” (TNT is Tri-Nitro-Toluene” an essential ingredient in all bombs)

Power is a dangerous thing if it is not handled carefully. Electricity is very useful; it lights our cities, cooks our food, washes our clothes, but if a man handles it carelessly, it will blow him to pieces. This is equally true of the Gospel. Let men beware how they handle it; it is a “saviour of life unto life, and death unto death” (Second Corinthians 2:16) To the man who receives the Gospel and has the right attitude toward it, it will bring the life of the eternal God into his soul; but to the man who turns his back on it, it spells eternal death to his soul.

One of the things you hear said so much today is that the Church has no power. The diagnosticians and experts are running around in circles trying to find what the matter is and discover a remedy so that the Church may recover its lost power. They tell us that all the Churches must unite; that they must hold the young people; that they must get into politics; that they must teach the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man; that they must cease preaching the theological dogmas of the Bible. All these are mere quick remedies. If the Church has lost its power, it is because it has lost the Gospel, because the Gospel is the power. God has invested His power in the truth we preach. The Church is not power, nor the preacher nor the members in the pew nor methods, organizations and money. “Some say we ought to pray more. When we pray more, we will have more power.” That is true; but the most astounding spectacle in all the universe is an apostate Church, which having cast away the true Gospel; is now on its knees praying to God for power. An astonishing contradiction; and yet that is the tragic situation today: on the one hand throwing away the power, and then on the other, praying for it. It is like going into a cave and praying for sunlight; or going on a hunger strike and praying for food; refusing to breathe and at the same time praying for air. It must make the angels to weep and the devil laugh.

The Gospel is for everyone that believes

To add on to the first: “It is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” The Gospel is for everyone. The word Greek in the text was a term very often used by the Jews to mean all the Gentiles. The Gospel has no racial boundaries. It even ignores degrees of goodness or badness. The ignorant and the wise, the high and the low – the Gospel is for all. It is like the air we breathe, the rain that falls from heaven – it is for everybody.

Paul is going to write later that “all have sinned,” but before he does that the Holy Spirit made him to write first that there is power of salvation in the Gospel. In other words, before he shows that every man is a sinner, he tells that the Gospel saves sinners.

The sole condition attached is faith. The Gospel is “to everyone that believes”. There is no other condition. The Gospel is not the power of God to everyone who is circumcised or baptised, or who keeps the law; “it is the power of God unto everyone that believes”; that is the only condition. If any other condition were attached to the receiving of the Gospel, then it would not be for everybody. For if God required any work or character before a man could receive the Gospel and be blessed by it, then certain individuals would be excluded. There is one thing that everyone (man, woman, and child) can do, and that is believe. No matter where you are, what you are, you can believe, you can trust.

What does faith mean? Faith is nothing complex. But faith is just the simple, trusting acceptance of what God gives. God says, “I give” and the heart responds, “I take”. An illiterate once said that “faith is the hand of the heart” compare this with what Paul says in Romans 10:10: “With the heart man believes unto righteousness.”

The Gospel is a Revelation

Then we come to the last statement -“For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith” . That is the secret of the power of the Gospel. Verses 16 and 17 can never be read apart. The explanation of the Gospel’s power is in the 17th verse. The Gospel is the power of God for salvation because in the Gospel is a revelation and that revelation is a manifestation of the righteousness of God; that is the reason the Gospel has the power to save a sinner. Man has no righteousness; but God, in the gospel, has provided righteousness, and He gives that to man if he will only take it. This fact makes Christianity different from every other religion the world has ever seen. Every great scheme to save men has failed on just one point: its success depended on man’s righteousness, when in reality there is no righteousness in man. Christianity attacks the problem at this point of righteousness; it recognizes that man has no righteousness and then brings the righteousness of God and clothes the man in that righteousness and saves him.

Paul was preaching not a plan, not a philosophy, but a person – the Lord Jesus Christ – in preaching the Gospel.. When he says, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel,” in reality he is saying, “I am not ashamed of Jesus” for Jesus is the Gospel. There is an echo there of those words of our Lord, “Whosoever ... shall be ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38). Paul says’ “I am not ashamed of Him” and he never was ashamed of his Lord nor of the Gospel that told of his Lord. Paul was called to stand before the dignitaries of the world, before the high priest of Israel, before the philosophers of Athens, before the governor, the emperors of Rome, even before Caesar himself, and not once in the record can be found the blush of shame upon his face for his Lord. Almost the last word we have from him was written to Timothy, from his dungeon in Rome, with the chain upon his hands; and he wrote this: “For the which cause I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.” (Second Timothy 1:12)

May we go out as Paul did, with a Gospel that is the power of God for salvation, and not be ashamed of it – or rather , I would say, not be ashamed of Him, for that is who it is. May the Lord Himself help us!

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