Sunday, March 20, 2011

Our Prophetic Role: Spreading the Gospel

This message is part of a sermon series. For the rest of the sermon series go to  A Royal Priesthood

sleeping on duty

1 Timothy 2:1-7; Psalm 60:1-12

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle — I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying — a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

God, You have cast us off; You have broken us down; You have been displeased; Oh, restore us again! You have made the earth tremble; You have broken it; Heal its breaches, for it is shaking. You have shown Your people hard things; You have made us drink the wine of confusion. You have given a banner to those who fear You, That it may be displayed because of the truth. That Your beloved may be delivered, Save with Your right hand, and hear me. God has spoken in His holiness: “I will rejoice; I will divide Shechem and measure out the Valley of Succoth. Gilead is Mine, and Manasseh is Mine; Ephraim also is the helmet for My head; Judah is My lawgiver. Moab is My wash pot; Over Edom I will cast My shoe; Philistia, shout in triumph because of Me.” Who will bring me to the strong city? Who will lead me to Edom? Is it not You, O God, who cast us off? And You, O God, who did not go out with our armies? Give us help from trouble, For the help of man is useless. Through God we will do valiantly, For it is He who shall tread down our enemies. NKJV

In our two earlier discussions, we had looked at prayer as the duty of the Christian in times of national crisis. We have seen him on his knees to win the men and women “for whom Christ also died”. We have seen him changing lives as he works in partnership with the Holy Spirit. We have seen him causing the rulers and all those in authority change their policies and making us to live godly and peaceable lives. We have seen him, like Christ, making intercession for all men because this is “good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour”. We have ended the last discussion on the note that “God our Saviour will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”

To help us continue this thought on God’s desire that all men be saved, let us again quote from Ezekiel 33:11:
“Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD,’I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’”(NKJV) 
This expresses God’s attitude towards all men everywhere. But, and this is a very big ‘BUT’ indeed, their salvation depends upon their coming to the knowledge of the truth – that is, believing the Gospel. Yes, God desires that all men should be saved, and He has made provision whereby all may be saved if they will: “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (First Timothy 2:3-5 NKJV). This is the Gospel. They will not come to the knowledge of the truth when we, like Jonah, are busy sleeping at the “down-below” of the ship when the ship is being tossed in the very wild storm and men are crying for help from gods which are no God. We here need to do two things:

1. We must be priests - praying, interceding and supplicating on their behalf

2. We must be like prophets – carrying the Gospel, the whole truth of God to them or they perish.

We must change our attitude to the dying world, to the unbeliever. It is our responsibility to carry the burden of the sinking world, bad rulers and governments to the Lord our Saviour and carry the Gospel of Christ to the world. But how shall they hear “For whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” 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? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:13-15 NKJV)

There is one God. All other objects that men worship as gods are only idols; they are powerless to save. There is “one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus”. He it is who came down from heaven and took humanity into union with His deity in order to make God known to men, and to give Himself a ransom for all. Now He has gone back to God on behalf of men. He ever lives to intercede for us. The Bible does not know of any other mediator. We can see how they err when the Roman Catholic faith talks of Virgin Mary or any of the saints or angels as mediators. They do not function in that capacity.

Read: Jesus Says to Rome

Our Lord Jesus Christ alone stands between us and God, even as His work on the Cross is the only ground of our salvation; He who desires to know God, to be assured of sins forgiven is directed to Jesus by the Holy Spirit speaking through His Word. “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”(Acts 4:12 NKJV) And thank God, no other is needed; that name is all sufficient. He came to earth to give His life a ransom for us. He tells us Himself that “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28 (NKJV)

Some may think that the word “many” there indicates that His redemption is not available for all, but the Holy Spirit negates that thought by what we read here in verse 6 “Who gave Himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time” While it is true that only those who believe on Him will be actually redeemed; yet He gave Himself an available ransom for all. If ever you are lost eternally it will not be because God was not ready to save you; if you are shut away from the Home of the Blessed for the ages to come, it will not be because there was not a welcome for you if you had come by way of the Calvary’s Cross. There is no other way, no other salvation than through the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that work avails for you if you will come and put your trust in Him who accomplished it.

This is the message which Paul carried through the world. “Whereunto I am ordained a preacher and an apostle — a teacher of the gentiles in faith and verity” God Himself ordained Paul to this ministry. “I have appeared unto you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of these things which you have seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto you” (Acts 26:16)

Let us not forget we are discussing the priestly role and perhaps the prophetic role of the Christian (Church) in our world today. We have seen that Paul recognized this as his sole duty especially as he thinks of the Gentile world – those outside the commonwealth of God’s nations. Paul was not alone in this role.

In Psalm 60, Israel was passing through a crisis as their Edomite brothers attack them and take advantage of them. The Psalmist did not sit to bemoan the situation or criticize the army or bring curse upon the enemies; but he rather recognized the hand of God in the whole situation (vv 1-3). In verse 4, he recognizes that God has given to them a banner to rally round to – the truthfulness and trustworthiness of God Himself. In verse 5, he offers a prayer to God asking for the deliverance of the people. In verses 9-12, he recognizes only God can lead His people against the fortified city, only God can go forth with their army against their foes for the help of man is vain. He recognizes that with God they shall do valiantly, but as at now as in verse 10, "God has cast us off and has not gone with our armies".

The situation of Israel then is akin to our situation today. God has let His people experience hard times and things. God has made us drink wine that makes us reel. There is only one solution – the Christian should now rise up from his sleep at the bottom of the ship that is being tossed by the storm and call upon His God who has promised to hear when we call. Let us look at it all in 2 Chronicles 7:14: “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”(NKJV) The solution to our problem is within us and very readily available. But it will be made manifest the day we, as Christians, begin to pray. Revival can start with the few of us here and sweep through the land. God has made you “A Royal Priesthood, a chosen generation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvellous light.” Are we prepared to be all that in this crisis torn dark world? 

God help us!

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