Focal Passage: 1 Cor. 4:1-5; Gal. 1:6-10; 1 Thess. 2:7-12
“Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master,” (Matthew 25:21). That’s what we want to hear when we stand before God. That judgment comes out of Jesus’ “Parable of the Talents.” Literally, a “talent” in that parable is a measure of money, but I believe, parabolically-speaking, it represents anything that God has made us stewards over — time, money, aptitude, family, position, etc. We’re to be faithful with what He’s put us over, and the entire point of that parable is that God will hold us accountable for our stewardship.
One of the most precious things God has entrusted us with is the gospel, which is the Good News that all who believe on Jesus will be saved from God’s wrath by grace through faith in Jesus. Think about the weightiness of God making us stewards of the gospel. God has determined to use us in His work to save mankind such that our gospel proclamation is necessary. Paul says it so clearly in Romans 10:12-14:
- For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.” How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?
Notice what Paul is teaching here: every person who calls on the name of Jesus will be saved, but no one can call on the name of Jesus and be saved until they hear the gospel from a preacher. That truth means that regardless of your stance on the doctrine of election as to whether it’s conditional or unconditional, you must believe that nobody is saved unless they hear the gospel and that all who want to be saved will be saved. Furthermore, it’s important to realize that “preacher” isn’t talking about just pastors. It’s every saved person who’s obedient to proclaim the gospel. Nobody will be saved if you and I don’t preach the gospel, which means other people’s salvation is dependent at least upon our proclamation. No proclamation = no salvation. That’s a weighty stewardship, and we’ll be held accountable for it.
Unfortunately, many think they are proclaiming the gospel when in fact they are not. Let me briefly point to three of many I could list that gospel proclamation is not. First, gospel proclamation is not your testimony. Your testimony can be a powerful addition, giving credence to the gospel’s power, but it’s not the gospel. Second, gospel proclamation is not inviting somebody to church. I know what you’re thinking, “If I can get them to church, they’ll hear the gospel and get saved.” What if they won’t come or the gospel isn’t clearly given when they do come? You’ve simply invited them to potentially hear a gospel proclamation instead of proclaiming it yourself as God has commanded you. Finally, gospel proclamation is not simply saying, “You need to be saved.” It’s true that lost people do need to be saved, but why? Saved from what or whom? How? Sometimes we assume people know these things, and increasingly they don’t. I recently shared the gospel with a young man right here in Middle Tennessee who said, “I’ve never heard that in my life.”
So, what is faithful gospel proclamation? It has three parts:
- Demonstrate lovingly through the Law and Scripture that the person is a sinner deserving of and destined for Hell when they die.
- Proclaim emphatically that God has made a way through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus for the person to escape Hell and have life everlasting in Heaven.
- Invite them passionately to receive the gospel by repenting of their sin and believing on Jesus until they die so they’ll be saved.
May you and I be faithful stewards of the gospel as we pursue God’s agenda, bringing many to glory with us!
-This article first appeared in the May 18 edition of the Baptist and Reflector, the official newspaper of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, as a commentary on the May 22, 2011 LifeWay Sunday School curriculum Bible Studies for Life, and can be accessed through the B&R website at http://www.tnbaptist.org/BRARticle.asp?ID=3836. The article has been slightly edited here for westmainbaptist.com.