by Steven Chan
8 May 2011
When the prophet Isaiah realized that his guilt had been taken away and his sin atoned for, he immediately responded to God’s call to preach to the people:-
“And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” (Isa 6:7-8)
Deeply felt gratitude for God’s mercy is a powerful motivation for one to be a preacher of the Word. It was probably the same feeling of gratitude that motivated and ener- gized the apostle Paul to work unceasingly in His kingdom:
”I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”(1Tim 1:12 -15)
So, in 1Cor 9:16, the apostle Paul declared: “For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” Notice that he viewed preaching the gospel as a necessity and not an optional matter; in fact, he pronounced “woe” unto himself if he failed to preach the gospel! Such was his deep-felt obligation towards the preaching of the gospel.
Paul was not alone in being moved to preach the gospel which was the task our Lord gave to each and every one who profess to be His disciple, as stated in Matt. 28:18-20: “And Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” And so, it is recorded thus of the first century Christians: “And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ” (Acts 5:42) – and when they were persecuted and “were scattered abroad”, they “went every where preaching the word” (Acts 8:4).
Jesus came to this world to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10) and He gave His life a ransom for many (Matt 20:28) – and so, when He called His first disciples, He said to them: “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” (Mark 1:17). And while Jesus went about all Galilee, “healing all manner of sickness and all manner of dis- ease among the people” (Mat 4:23), it should be noted that He healed while He was on His mission of “teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom” – He said unto them, ‘I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent’. (Luke 4:43). Healing and helping people were secondary to His main purpose of teaching and preaching the gospel for which He would lay down His life so that those who would accept His free gift of salvation by faith & obedience may receive eternal life. The preaching of the gospel was not a secondary objective in His life – and it ought not to be a secondary objective in our lives too.
As far as the apostle Paul was concerned, he did all for the sake of the gospel: “To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.”(1Cor 9:22 -23). In other words, everything he did in his life was for the sake of the gospel that was his guiding principle or purpose in his life – not just his church life or his family life – but all of his life – whether school or college life, or social life or work/career life or marital life! What do we do it all for? What is the central unifying purpose of our lives? Listen again to the exhortation to each of us by our beloved apostle Paul:
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.” (1Cor 10:31-33). He exhorts every one of us to do everything to God’s glo- ry and that requires us to do everything not for our personal benefits but for the benefit of many others – specifically that they may be saved! Is that how we are living our lives today? That is: For God’s glory by actively seeking the salvation of many!?
If we seek to be truly disciples of Jesus, then we need to listen to what He has to say about proving ourselves to be His disciples: “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”(John 15:8)
According to Jesus we cannot be fruitful in our discipleship if we do not abide in Him and in His Word:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Eve- ry branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” Brethren, beware, fruitlessness in our lives will result in us being taken and thrown away! This is what our Lord has said clearly and unequivocally. But Jesus assures us that if we abide in Him and His Words abide in us, then we will bear much fruit and our prayers will also be answered. So, the question for each one of us is whether we are truly abiding in Jesus and letting His Word abide in us (John 8:31,32)?
How does one abide in Jesus? According to the Bible, one abides in Jesus when one walks in the same way He walks: “By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” (1John 2:6). When we walk in the same way He walked we will also keep the teachings of Jesus Christ: “Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father.”(1John 2:24) “Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.”(2 John 9). There’s no room for new teachings or teachings that are not found in the Bible or so-called progressive revelations. The faith has been once-for-all delivered by Jesus Christ and through His apostles. (Jude 3; Heb 2:3,4; John 17:8; Rev 22:18,19).
If we seek to walk as He walked, thereby abiding in Him and being empowered by Him to bear much fruit and glorify God, we need to do the following:-
1. Resolve to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness – so that the saving of souls being God’s will becomes ours too ( Matt 6:33; Luke 9:23, 57-62; 14:26-33);
Resolve to study the Scriptures so as to be able to preach the Word and to handle the scriptures accurately and thereby we can preach the gospel mightily as God’s power unto salvation (2 Tim 2:15; 2:24; 4:2; Rom 1:16; Acts 17:11; Heb 4:12-13; Psa 1; 119:97-105; Eph 6:17);
2. Resolve to pray fervently and unceasingly for God’s blessings and guidance as we live our lives for His glory through our paramount unifying objective of seeking to save souls for eternity (1 Thess 5:17; Phil 4:6; Heb 4:16; James 1:5; 4:2-4)
3. Resolve to live our lives such that it will not cause offence or be a stumbling block to anyone seeking to be saved (I Cor 10:31-33) (we need to put away our unwholesome language, our sinful, selfish or worldly lifestyle – 2 Tim 2:21-26; Col 3:5-9; James 4:4); and
4. Resolve to live our lives in such a pleasing way that will positively influence may to be saved (1 Cor 9:22-23; 10:33)
5. Resolve to use every means available to us to save as going the second mile with some people or using the methods/channels within the limits of the scriptures. As an example, Bro Ronnie Lee, Sis Lily Tan and the Sunday School Team have used banner-advertising so powerfully to reach out not just to children but adults as well.
The Bible says: “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” (Prov 11:30). “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone one brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and
will cover a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19-20).
If you have not been living your life in the manner as outlined above, then we urge you to delay no more and start today to prove yourselves to be truly disciples of Christ by bearing much fruit and thereby glorifying Him through abiding in Him and letting His Word abide in you (John 15:8).