After receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit I encountered the inner strength and power to pursue what my heart had brought me to, and that is to serve the Lord in any way He chose the rest of my life. It was not long after that I woke up in the middle of the night out of a sound sleep with an awareness of His presence in my room like never before. I heard in what I can only describe as audible, because I heard it not from the inside as a thought or impression, but His voice in the room from His presence. I never saw Him, but His voice shook me to the core of my being. He said one simple phrase. “ I want you to teach the whole gospel.”
I knew this was my calling and purpose for the rest of my life and I was about 34 at the time. I did not grow up going to church, but I had heard of “ full gospel churches”. I pursued the meaning of this call, not so much trying to find what I should teach, but rather knowing the Lord as much as I could pursuing Him. I found myself hungry to experience everything the early church in Acts did as well as what Jesus did in His ministry. I learned about healing, deliverance, worship, the presence of God, prophecy, and the realm of heaven and it’s glory. But the only phrase even close to this comes from Acts 20: 27 where Paul told the Ephesians church, “ I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.” So I set out to know what that meant. To me it meant the eternal purpose of God through the Church and the mystery that Paul spoke of Christ in the church as the hope of glory.
I still believe that is what Paul was referring to. But considering the last 25 years in full time ministry and seeing what bears the most fruit, I have to say at times I had gotten focused on the parts not the whole. If you look at the word “counsel” in this verse in Acts 20:27, you will find it does mean purpose, but it especially refers “to the salvation of men through Christ”. It’s amazing how easy it is to complicate what Jesus meant to be simple. I am not saying to stop trusting in yourself to now live for Christ alone is easy, but it is simple. “If you lose your life for My sake AND THE GOSPEL, you will find it.” (Mark 8:35)
What does it mean to “teach the whole gospel?” I, like many other leaders had assumed for a long time Western Christians know what the gospel means and what the good news is. I think many have also assumed most cities have heard the gospel and only will respond to it if we do something benevolent that makes them change their minds about it. The truth is, most in the church don’t know what the gospel is, and so consequently neither do those in the world. Here is what Paul said the gospel of Christ is. In it’s simplest form it is this from 1 Corinthians 15:3-4: For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. But there is much more in the gospel than it’s simple meaning. I know there is much more in the gospel than I can ever see in this life. But let me start with what it meant to Paul in Romans 1:16 as Strong’s defines the word: “ the rewards for good news”. The rewards are found primarily in the power released upon receiving the gospel of Christ.
If you haven’t heard this already, I want to repeat it. Many Christians coin the phrase “born again” and don’t even know what Jesus actually said it means or it’s purpose. It means we can “see the kingdom of heaven.” It is sadly the same with the gospel and it’s power. Just as the gospel Paul preached according to Romans 1:16 is “the rewards for good news or “glad tidings”, so also the word power has a fuller meaning according to the gospel. It is no wonder that Paul says, “ For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for all those who believe.” Here are the rewards for good news that is in the power of the good news: The rewards are found in the word “dynamis.”
The Rewards For Good News in its Power (Dynamis)
1) strength power, ability
a) inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature, or which a person or thing exerts and puts forth
b) power for performing miracles
c) moral power and excellence of soul
d) the power and influence which belong to riches and wealth
e) power and resources arising from numbers
f) power consisting in or resting upon armies, forces, hosts
If I were to summarize the rewards of this power in the gospel I would say it like this. The good news of Christ when proclaimed releases a power that is in the good news. When believed and received, the gospel will give you the power and ability to live like God intended with the nature and virtue of Christ. It is a power to perform miracles, live a holy and righteous life, overcome sickness, oppression, and poverty. And it is the power to take the gifts God has given you and multiply them into blessings that bless others. It is finally a power inside of you that is greater than any evil or demonic force in the world to make you an over comer not just a survivor and certainly not a victim.
And all Jesus asked us to do concerning this good news is believe in Him who gave it to us instead of every worldly alternative. ( John 6:29 , “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”)
Believing (relying on, trusting in, and obeying) any other method, concept, or philosophy is like taking a prescription to treat symptoms instead of getting the cure. Mark 3 and Luke 6 tell us what we should be reaching for. “ And many sought to touch Him, and were made whole.” In Mark 5:21 we find a woman who pressed through the crowd to touch Jesus. She had a flow of blood for 12 years and had spent all her money on doctors, yet found no help. Her faith in Jesus was so strong that she believed even just touching his clothes would be enough to heal her. This picture drives home the point for me. Faith in anything other than Jesus and the gospel is like treating the symptoms but not getting the cure.
In the modern day western church we have offered “self help” programs, psychology, inner healing ministries, and a multitude of programs to help individuals and families. I am not saying they offer no help, because in many cases they do offer help. But they are not the cure. In the same way our present government and economic condition is past human answers alone, so is the human condition in general without Christ. Christ and the kingdom of heaven is the answer for what ails humanity and every city and nation. That’s why Jesus gave us a third great commandment. “ Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, making disciples and teaching them to observe all that I have taught you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
That is the mission of the church. You can be a good Christian organization and do other things. But I am not sure you can fairly call yourself a church unless you are responding to the mission of Jesus Christ to preach and teach the gospel. Why? Jesus saw it as the answer to what the need of humanity is. He was so focused, he spent three plus years teaching a rugged band of disciples and sending them to do the same knowing it would cost him his life. It was for that purpose Jesus went to the cross. How can we having received so great a salvation as a free gift focus on anything less than what Jesus died for? The gospel called glad tidings, or good news is the hope of mankind. The first and second commandments are the motivation and heart for the mission of teaching and proclaiming the good news. But the good news is the engine powered by the Holy Spirit that pulls the train. I will end with a quote from one of the premier evangelist of our day Reinhard Bonnke :
“The gospel is not a story which has been preserved like the story of Alexander the Great. It isn’t a mummified relic of the past. There’s no such thing as old electricity, or old wind, and there’s no such thing as an old gospel. The gospel is as ageless as life. It is not an antique, preserved by the church like the bones of a saint. God preserves the church. “In Him we live and move and have our being”. God’s Word is LIFE. “ REINHARD BONNKE
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