Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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by George C. Clark
“I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God.”
There are, unfortunately, multitudes whose understanding is that the Bible is the gospel of Christ. This, according to Paul’s words in our text, obviously is not true. The gospel, said Paul, is the power of God. The Bible is only a tool given by God to lead us to the gospel. Paul wrote to Timothy, “From childhood, you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to make you wise concerning salvation,” going on to say, “All Scripture is inspired by God, and useful for doctrine, for verification, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2Tim. 3:15). Paul also taught that “whatever was written before was written for our learning, so that through patience and the comfort of the Scriptures, we might have hope” (Rom. 15:4). Every true believer has found the preceding statements of Paul to be nothing less than absolute truth.
Paul insisted that the gospel of Christ is in power, not in word (1Cor. 4:20). To all the apostles, where there was no miracle-working power, there was no gospel. We see a large number of people today who, like the Pharisees of old, claim to love the Scriptures, but they hate the gospel itself, the power of God. They do not understand that it is their attitude toward the power of God, not their attitude toward the Bible, which reveals what they really think and feel about God. Both the scriptures and the gospel point men to salvation; yet, they are not the self-same thing. Jesus used the Scriptures and preached the gospel by the power of God. The Scriptures are inspired writings that tell about God’s power; they are not the power itself.
To be sure, the gospel, or the power of God, would be inconceivable to any of us who had not first heard about it through the Scriptures, directly or indirectly; still, the Scriptures themselves are not the gospel; they merely tell about it. In speaking about the Gentiles’ first hearing the gospel, Peter said, “God made choice among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles were to hear the word of the gospel, and believe” (Acts 15:7). The gospel came, in this case, from Peter’s mouth; and yet, when we read in Acts 10 of the event itself, we find that at no time did Peter quote a scripture when speaking to those Gentiles. Peter was moved by the power of the Spirit to speak fresh and holy words from God. Yes, the gospel is preached, as Peter himself said, “with the holy Spirit sent down from heaven,” not with a book. Paul agreed, saying, “Our gospel did not come to you in word only but also in power” (1Thess. 1:5). But what exactly did Paul mean by the word power?
Not a few have thought that by “power”, Paul was referring to his chain of convincing thoughts, his oratorical excellence, which his great mind was able to produce. But we need only to hear Paul’s own words to prove this wrong, for he said, “Now, when I came to you, brothers, I did not come with lofty speech or wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. . . . And my message and my preaching were not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and power, so that your faith might not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God ” (1Cor. 2:1, 4–5).
It is amazing how many people put faith in the wisdom of men and their profound theologies rather than in the power of God. Jesus said: “He who believes in me, the works that I do, he will also do; and he will do greater works than these because I am going to my Father” (Jn. 14:12). Praise God! It is God’s power, my friends, which distinguishes the true gospel from every false one. In Matthew 10:1, we read: “When he [Jesus] had called for his twelve disciples, he gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every sickness.” This is what Paul meant when he said he came not with excellency of speech, but in demonstration of the Spirit and power. Most Christian churches entirely omit the power of God, the real gospel, using instead the “word only” system. “These are they,” Jude reminds us, “who cause division, sensual, not having the Spirit” (Jude 19). Come out from among them, brothers and sisters!
The apostle Paul must be credited with coining the phrase, “the full gospel”, for he wrote in Romans 15:19, “I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.” Now, if Paul fully preached the gospel, then he must have preached the full gospel. Furthermore, he clearly expressed himself as to what he thought of one’s not preaching the full gospel. Here are his words, and they are quite appropriate to those today who, in “word only”, declare Jesus’ miraculous deeds, and those of the apostles. Listen once more, my Reader, to this fiery evangelist, as he asserts, “I will not presume to speak of any of the things that Christ has not wrought through me” (Rom. 15:18). Here, Paul is saying, in effect, that “The hard-working farmer ought to be first to partake of the fruits” (2Tim. 2:6). In other words, one must receive something before he can actually give it. One can bear true witness to the lordship of Christ only to the extent that he knows his power.
This same apostle gives us a timely warning in his letter to the Galatians by saying, “There are certain men who trouble you, determined to pervert the gospel of Christ” (Gal. 1:7). One has only to look about today to see such perversion, as well as the multitudes that are being misled by it. I wholeheartedly agree with Paul, that “If it be that our gospel [the full gospel] is veiled, it is veiled by those who are being lost, by whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unfaithful so that they cannot behold the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God ” (2Cor. 4:3–4).
Matthew tells us that “Jesus traveled about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, AND preaching the good news of the kingdom, AND healing every disease and every sickness” (Mt. 4:23) This, my Reader, is the gospel of Christ, the true, full gospel, the gospel that Paul had in mind in Romans 10:15 when he asked that profound question: “How shall they preach except they be sent?” Sent by whom? That is the question, my Reader. Turning now to the Scriptures, let us see if we can find the answer.
In Matthew 10:1, 5–8, we read: “When he [Jesus] had called for his twelve disciples, he gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every sickness. These twelve, Jesus sent out after he had charged them, saying, ‘Don’t go out to the way of Gentiles, and don’t go into a city of Samaritans. Go instead to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Heal the sick; cleanse the leapers; cast out demons. Freely you’ve received; freely give.’ ”
This same apostolic gospel is for us. Needless to say, thousands upon thousands have established a “word only” ministry of their own, a ministry without the power and signs that Jesus said would follow all true believers. In his letter to Titus, Paul mentioned men who “profess to know God, but by works, they deny Him” (Titus 1:16). Oh, how many thousands there are today who are saying that they know the Lord; yet, they are denying by their dead works the power and signs which Jesus said would follow those who believe! He told his disciples after his resurrection, “Go into all the world, and preach the gospel [the power of God] to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be damned. These signs will accompany those who believe: In my name, they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mk. 16:15–18). Clearly, our Lord intended for the unrepealable gospel which he preached to be preached and practiced by all who believe on him. “THIS GOSPEL of the kingdom,” Jesus declared in Matthew 24:14, “will be preached in all the earth for a witness to all nations, and then, the end will come.” Jesus, our great living Intercessor, knew only too well that the Scriptures, alone, would never bring conviction on the hearts of people. Nothing but the liberating power of God avails to that end.
My Reader, when the real gospel of Christ is preached, miracles happen. In other words, the power of God, when truly present, produces miracles. Paul, in 1Corinthians 12:10, even calls the preaching of the gospel “the working of miracles.” No sooner do we speak of Christ and his apostles than we are compelled to think of miracles, for they were all preachers of the true gospel. May God help us to do as well as they did in communicating to mankind the true, full gospel of Christ! Amen!