The Gospel of Christ

Robertson L. Whiteside, deceased

 

Jesus commanded his apostles to "go ... into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Paul exhorted Timothy: “The things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." (2 Timothy 2:2) "Preach the word.” "Let him that heareth say, Come.”  An awful responsi­bility rests upon the preacher, and the curses of God rests upon him if he does not fully preach the gospel of God. All Christians should feel enough interest in the salvation of humanity to become, as far as they can, preachers of the gospel of Christ.

In an important sense preachers are messengers.  They have a message to deliver-the most important message with which we have to do.  This message is not ours; it comes from the Supreme Being to his dependent creatures.  The preacher is not responsible for the nature of the message, is not responsible for the effect it has on those to whom it is sent; he is responsible alone for its faithful deliv­erance.  Why, then, will a preacher apologize to people for preaching the gospel to them?  Neither is it becoming in him to insult and abuse those to whom he delivers this mes­sage; he has no right to change it to suit his hearers.  On a certain occasion a class of young preachers wanted to get up a sermon on "Giving."  Their teacher, an experienced preacher, replied: "Brethren, it will not do to preach on that subject; if you do, the brethren will not like you."  That seems to me to be an insult both to God and to the brethren.  Did not that preacher assume to be wiser than God?  Are the brethren so worthless that they will not like us if we are faithful in delivering the message?  Such a time serving, policy­ seeking spirit will be condemned by all right thinking brethren.  Such a course is stealing God's word from the people.  "I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that steal my words every one from his neighbor." (Jeremiah 23:30)

Let us preach that which saves.  Paul never thought of preaching anything less than a full gospel.  "So as much as in me is. I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every­ one that believeth." (Romans 1:15, 16) Aside from God's power, there is no possibility of salvation; and his power to save is the gospel.  I would not limit God's power; he is all­ powerful.  By his power the worlds were created; by his power the worlds are kept in their places in space; by his power vegetation grows; by his power we live, move, and have our being.  But this power does not save us though it comes to all; it is physical power.  The power that saves is moral power, spiritual power; but it is none the less God's power.  God saves us by his power, the gospel; "for it is the power of God unto salvation." "Who shall tell thee words. whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved." (Acts 11:14)   "And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an in heritance among all them which are sanctified." (Acts 20:32) "Wherefore ... receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls." (James 1:21)

The apostles preached the gospel; they relied on it as God's appointed means of converting the world. Paul says: "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Of course no one believes that there is any power in the material of the Bible-in the binding, the paper, the type, the ink; the power is in the thoughts, the ideas, pre­sented to us in the Bible.  This power is exerted on all who drink in its thoughts.  It exerts no power over the heathen who has never heard it, and it exerts but little power over him who looks for the power to come some other way. It exerts a power over us for good to the extent that we place ourselves under the influence of its teaching.  The cyclone has no power over the man who is safely in his storm cellar; but it would be foolish for him to come out after the storm and confidently affirm that there was no power in the cyclone, but no more foolish than for a man who will not heed God's word to affirm that there is no converting power in it.  Such a one talks fluently of the insufficiency of the word of God; and of course he is not conscious of any power it has.  There is such a thing here as personal experience; and the man who takes the Bible as the full revelation of God's will, loves it studies it, meditates upon it, and tries faithfully to fulfill its requirements in his life-such a man never says that the word has no power in it. He knows better (the Bible has taught him better); he has realized its power in the up building of his own character; he has seen its transforming influence on the hearts and lives of his friends and neighbors.  The power of the word is no longer a theory to him; it is a living reality.  He never speaks slightly of God's commands; neither does he refer to the Bible as the mere word of God. Sentiments such as the following are ruling passions of his heart: "Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee ... Open thou mine eyes, that I might behold wondrous things out of thy law…Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counselors…This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me .... The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver... O how love I thy law!  It is my meditation all day... How sweet are thy words unto my taste!  Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" (Psalms 119:11, 18, 24, 50, 72, 97 103) "More to be desired are they than much fine gold: sweeter also than the honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned” “and in keeping of them there is great reward." (Psalms 19:10-11)