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Romans Series #3[i]
Title: What is it
to preach the Gospel?
Text: Romans 1:1-17
Subject: The Place of Gospel Preaching
In the Call of the Holy Spirit
Reading: Romans 10:1-17
I received a letter from a preacher yesterday. I want to read a portion of it to you, because it is directly related to my message this morning.
“Dear Pastor Fortner,
I really appreciate being able to come to you with some questions that have arisen in my spiritual life and ministry. I really have no pastor to ask these things. They have somewhat disowned me. When you have time could you please help me with the ending of a message, preaching the gospel, compelling men and women to come to Christ? Do you have an inquiry room such like Spurgeon did? Do you ask troubled souls to maybe seek you out?
I know for sure we can't save them nor make them. I am totally against this ‘soul winning’ foolishness. I do believe we are to witness and warn sinners of the wrath of God and plead to men and women to flee to Christ our hiding place. Do you wait until the sinner receives assurance from the Lord that they have been saved, then make that profession public?
Thanks for any help you may be able to give. S___ B_______”
This is what I wrote in response.
“Every faithful Gospel preacher is troubled by these matters of great importance. The great problem is in us. We have a great desire, inspired of God, to see sinners converted by his grace. Therefore we pray and study with diligence, and ardently devote ourselves to the preaching of the Gospel. We have another fleshly, carnal lust for success, desiring to see things happen. Therefore we are tempted to employ the use of carnal pressures to get people to make a profession of faith. We need to remind ourselves incessantly, asking God the Holy Ghost to burn it in our hearts, that it is Christ who builds his Church and adds to it daily such as should be saved. This he does by the preaching of the Gospel.
Seek God’s message, God’s power, and God’s grace to faithfully preach the Gospel. Preach it with heartfelt passion. Then wait. God will save his elect by the Gospel. Everything added to the church by any other means is wood, hay, and stubble. When God saves a sinner, that sinner will know it. Then, and only then, should faith in Christ be professed by believer’s baptism.
God be with you tomorrow, my brother. Pray, study, pray, preach Christ crucified, pray, and wait for God to work.”
Perhaps that will help you to see that my subject is one of immense importance. — What is it to preach the Gospel? That is the title of my message. — What is it to preach the Gospel? May God the Holy Spirit be our Teacher. As you care for your soul and care for the souls of those you influence, give me your attention. Everything I have to say is, I repeat, of immense importance.
The salvation of God’s elect is sure. It is a matter of absolute certainty. Every sinner chosen of God unto salvation shall be saved. Eternal election is the work of God the Father in salvation. The particular, effectual redemption of the elect is the work of God the Son in salvation. And effectual calling, or irresistible grace, is the work of God the Holy Spirit in salvation. Sinners cannot be saved without the Father’s sovereign election, the Son’s effectual, blood redemption, and the Spirit’s effectual, irresistible call. Every chosen sinner was redeemed at Calvary. Every chosen, redeemed sinner shall be called by the Spirit. And every chosen, redeemed, called sinner comes to Christ in faith and has eternal life. There is no possibility that any sinner can be chosen by God the Father, redeemed by God the Son, and called by God the Holy Spirit, and yet perish in hell at last! To teach such nonsense is blasphemy! Such blasphemy exalts Satan above God, the free-will of man above the omnipotent will of God, and makes the triune God an utter failure in his purpose, work, and grace. It cannot be embraced or tolerated by anyone who knows God.
Gospel Preaching Vital
It is certain that God will save his elect; and this too is certain: — God will save his elect by the preaching of the Gospel. I have shown you repeatedly that no one is saved apart from the effectual call of God the Holy Ghost. We rejoice to sing with the inspired psalmist, — “Blessed is the man whom thou choosest and causest to approach unto thee!”
I have also shown you repeatedly that no one is ever saved in this Gospel age apart from the preaching of the Gospel. Do not let anyone deceive you in this matter. The issue is not whether or not God can save his people without the use of means. The issue is whether or not he will. We know that he will not because he has revealed it plainly in his Word. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. It pleased God to save his elect by the foolishness of Gospel preaching. All who are begotten of God are begotten of him by the Gospel. All who are born again are born again by the incorruptible seed of God’s Word, which is preached to them by the Gospel. These things are so plainly revealed in Holy Scripture that there is no excuse for error regarding them (Romans 10:17; 1 Corinthians 1:21; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23-25). Those who teach that God saves sinners apart from the preaching of the Gospel fly in the face of Holy Scripture. It is therefore no surprise to see them favor emotionalism, experiences, dreams, customs, and religious tradition above the Word of God.
Proposition: The preaching of the Gospel is God’s chosen, ordained means of grace, by which he calls chosen, redeemed sinners to life and faith in Christ by the irresistible power and grace of the Holy Spirit.
Divisions: If the preaching of the Gospel is, as the New Testament universally declares that it is, vital to the salvation of lost souls, then no questions can possibly be more important and pressing than the three questions I want to answer in this message.
1. Who preaches the Gospel?
2. What is the Gospel?
3. What is it to preach the Gospel?
I want you to open your Bibles to Romans chapter one, and just hold them open on your laps as I show you the answers to these three questions from the Word of God.
1st — Who preaches the Gospel?
We cannot do better, when we look for an example of a Gospel preacher, than the Apostle Paul. Look at verse one, and see how this inspired man describes himself and thus describes all who truly preach the Gospel.
Romans 1:1 “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the Gospel of God.”
“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ” — That man who truly preaches the Gospel, that man who always preaches the Gospel, that man who preaches the whole Gospel and that exclusively is A SERVANT OF JESUS CHRIST.
Gospel preachers are the willing, voluntary bond-slaves of the Son of God. Notice how Paul describes himself. It is not, Rev. Paul, Dr. Paul, Father Paul, or Pope Paul, but “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ.” This man counted it his highest honor to be a servant of Christ, not the servant, but a servant. He was just one servant among many; but he was a servant.
“Called to be an apostle (messenger)” — Gospel preachers are called and gifted of God to be his messengers, MEN SENT WITH HIS MESSAGE.
A Gospel preacher is a man with a message, a message from God, a message burning in his soul, which he must deliver. He is a man with a messianic call, a messianic purpose, and a messianic mandate.
Note: If you ever run across a man with a mandate from God, or a man who even thinks he has a mandate from God, you will not have to guess about it. You will know it. He will fit no mold, bow to no pressure, surrender no ground, make no compromise. Why should he? He is has a mandate from God! That makes him utterly uncontrollable by anyone, except God who sent him.
· Moses had a mandate from God.
· John the Baptist had a mandate from God.
Look at verse one again. I will tell you something else about that man who truly preaches the Gospel. He is a servant of Jesus Christ, a divinely called messenger of Jesus Christ — And he is…
“Separated unto the Gospel” — God’s servants, true Gospel preachers are men who are separated unto the Gospel.
I could spend a good bit of time here. A good bit of time needs to be spent here. God’s servants do not take this business of being God’s servants lightly. They are men separated unto the Gospel.
· By God’s Decree — (Like Jeremiah and Paul)
· By God’s Call
· By God’s Gifts
· By God the Holy Spirit though His Church (Acts 13:2)
· By God’s Placement
· By Their Own, Ever Increasing Devotion and Determination (Romans 1:9-17)
That man who preaches the Gospel of Christ is like Abraham’s servant, who was sent to get a bride for his son Isaac. He will not be distracted from his work by either pleasure or pressure.
Romans 1:9-17 “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the Gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers; 10 Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; 12 That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. 13 Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles. 14 I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. 15 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the Gospel to you that are at Rome also. 16 For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”
Who preaches the Gospel? Those men who are servants of Jesus Christ and called messengers of God almighty, are men who are separated unto the Gospel of God.
If you will look at Romans one again, in verses 1-6, you will see the answer to this second question…
2nd — What is the Gospel?
There are many other texts of Scripture which could be used to show the answer to this question; but for our purposes at this time, and for the sake of brevity, let’s stay with Romans one.
Romans 1:1-6 “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the Gospel of God, 2 (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) 3 Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; 4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: 5 By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name: 6 Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ.”
In these six verses of Scripture the Holy Spirit has given us five distinct, identifying characteristics of the Gospel. Mark them carefully. Learn what they mean. Any gospel which fails to measure up to this standard is a false gospel and those who preach it are false prophets.
There are not many Gospels, but one, and that one Gospel is “the Gospel’ which is “of God”.
· It came from God.
· It reveals God.
· It is made known by God.
· It brings sinners to God.
· It glorifies and exalts God.
The Gospel revealed in the New Testament is the Gospel promised, portrayed, and typified in the Old Testament. As I said a moment ago, there is only one Gospel, not two. God did not save sinners by works in the Old Testament. He saved them by grace, just like he does today.
Noah was saved by grace, not by works. The Scriptures do not say that God found grace in the eyes of Noah, but that Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Enoch walked with God just like we do, by faith in Christ. Abraham was saved the same way we are. He believed God, he believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Gospel is good news about a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not a set of doctrines, a proposition, or an offer. It is the blessed good news of the Person, work, and accomplishments of our Lord Jesus Christ. Look at this description of Christ, given by God the Holy Spirit.
· He is the Son of God, God the Son, the second Person of the Holy Trinity (1 John 5:7).
· He Jesus, our Savior, Deliverer, and Redeemer (Matthew 1:21).
· He is the Christ, Jehovah’s Servant, his Elect, the Messiah, that One of whom it is written, “He shall not fail!”
· He who is God our Savior is our Lord, the sovereign Monarch of the universe (John 17:2; Romans 14:9).
· He of whom the Gospel speaks is God the eternal Son who was “made of the seed of David, according to the flesh.”
He was “made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law”. Being made a man, he was made a man according to the direct, royal line of King David, to sit upon his throne forever.
Here is a litmus test by which we must judge all religion, all doctrine, and all preaching. If it exalts the Lord Jesus Christ and the free grace of God in him, it is according to the Gospel of God. If it exalts man, his will, his works, or his religious deeds, it is of the devil, the father of lies, the flatterer and deceiver of men’s souls.
2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: 14 Whereunto he called you by our Gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Gospel is the good news of “How that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
1 Corinthians 15:1-4 (1) Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; (2) By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. (3) For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how 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.
Daniel 9:24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
Now, let me answer one more question, and I am done. This is a question I have been asked many, many times by preachers and others. It may be that some of you are yet confused about it. Here is the question…
3rd — What is it to
preach the Gospel?
Let me give you five answers to that question. I got these from Bro. Henry Mahan a long, long time ago. I know of no better answer to this very important question than this.
God never called a preacher to defend the Gospel, apologize for the Gospel, explain the Gospel, or adorn the Gospel. It is my job simply to declare the Gospel.
1 Corinthians 15:1-4 “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how 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:”
Our Gospel is the Gospel of God, not the Gospel of the Reformers, the Gospel of the Puritans, the Gospel of the Calvinists, or even the Gospel of the Baptists. That which I have preached to you is God’s message.
If the message I preach to you is just my message, then you may hear it or not hear it without consequence. But if the message I have delivered to your soul is God’s message, then you must hear and heed it, or suffer the consequences of ignoring and disobeying God.
We do not have one message for the lost and another for the saved. We do not have one message for children and another for adults. We do not have one message for one group and another for another group. Our message, the Gospel of God is a message for everyone. Our message is always the same…
· For Salvation and Sanctification.
· For Evangelism and Edification.
· For Conversion and Correction.
· For Conviction and Comfort.
· For Dead Sinners and Dying Saints.
Note: The minute we start to specialize we compromise. If you try to make the Gospel special for anyone or for any group of people, you have to make it palatable to that group; and you cannot make the Gospel palatable to sinners without compromising it.
Romans 2:16 “In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my Gospel.”
Romans 16:25 “Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my Gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began.”
2 Timothy 2:8 “Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my Gospel.”
I am not standing here talking to you about abstract religious, theological principles which I have learned from a book. I am preaching the message of God which has been inscribed upon my heart by the finger of God with fire and burned into my soul as with a white hot branding iron by the Word of God in the hands of God the Holy Spirit.
Those who preach the Gospel indifferently do not preach the Gospel. They only go through the motions of preaching. God’s servants do not preach with indifference, but with passion, as dying men to dying men.
Every time I preach, I pray that God the Holy Spirit will enable me to preach the Gospel to you as if I had just learned it today, as if you had never heard it before, as if you were sure never to hear it again, and as if I were certain that I would never preach it again. I pray for grace to preach with fire from heaven in my soul, because my prayer and my heart’s desire to God for you is that you may be saved. And I know that if God is pleased to save you, it will be by my Gospel. If he calls you from death to life, if he calls you to Christ, it will be by the Gospel which I preach to you in his dear name. Come, O Spirit of God, come. Call sinners to Christ by the Gospel, for the glory of God.
Remember — The Gospel is all about our Lord Jesus Christ. — “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Pearl of Great Price. Will you buy this Pearl, or will you pass it by? —— A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael. They would often sit together and admire the great works of art. When the Vietnam War broke out, the son went to war. He was very courageous and died in battle while rescuing another soldier. The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only son. About a month later, just before Christmas, there was a knock at the door. A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands. He said, “Sir, you don’t know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the heart and he died instantly. He often talked about you, and your love for art.” The young man held out this package. “I know this isn’t much. I’m not really a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this.” The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting. The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture. “Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me. It’s a gift.”
The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to his home he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had collected. The man died a few months later. There was to be a great auction of his paintings Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having an opportunity to purchase one for their collection. On the platform sat the painting of the son. The auctioneer pounded his gavel. “We will start the bidding with this picture of the son. Who will bid for this picture?” There was silence. Then a voice in the back of the room shouted, “We want to see the famous paintings. Skip this one.” But the auctioneer persisted. “Will somebody bid for this painting. Who will start the bidding? $100, $200?” Another voice said angrily. “We didn’t come to see this painting. We came to see the Van Gogh’s, the Rembrandt’s. Get on with the real bids!” But still the auctioneer continued. “The son! The son! Who’ll take the son?” Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was the longtime gardener of the man and his son. “I’ll give $10 for the painting.” Being a poor man, it was all he could afford. “We have $10, who will bid $20?” “Give it to him for $10. Let’s see the masters.” “$10 is the bid, won’t someone bid $20?” The crowd was becoming angry. They didn’t want the picture of the son. They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections. The auctioneer pounded the gavel. “Going once, twice, SOLD for $10!” A man sitting on the second row shouted, “Now let’s get on with the collection!” The auctioneer laid down his gavel. “I’m sorry, the auction is over.” “What about the paintings?” “I am sorry. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will. I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned. Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings. The man who took the son gets everything!”
So it is with the Christ of God. — He who gets the Son gets everything. Oh, may God give you grace to see the Son, value the Son, and trust the Son. — “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”
[i] Danville — Sunday Morning —February 9, 2014
San Diego Grace Church, San Diego, CA — (01/22/14)
Rescue Baptist Church, Rescue, CA — (01/26/14)