The Light of the Gospel

14 August 2011

"But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel"- 2 Timothy 1:10

"Helen Keller was blind and deaf from the age of two, had lived a life of isolation, unable to speak. She didn't even know words she could not hear, unable to know what a word was. She was taught to communicate by a dedicated teacher in a process that has inspired people ever since. She learned to speak, to read, to write. She went to college and graduated with honors … In one of her letters, Helen told Bishop Brooks that she had always known about God, even before she had any words. Even before she could call God anything, she knew God was there. She didn't know what ‘It' was. God had no name to her … She had no concept of a name. But in her darkness and isolation, she knew she was not alone. Someone was with her. She felt God's love. And when she received the gift of language and heard about God, she said she already knew."(Internet article on Helen Keller).

The experience of Helen Keller, though uncommon due to her disabilities, attests to the Holy Scriptures in no uncertain terms. According to Paul, the purpose of the scriptures is to give light, not life. This is true whether they are read, or preached. Jesus taught the same thing when He said, "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me."(John 5:39). Helen Keller had spiritual life before the Bishop shared the gospel message with her. What she received was light upon the life she already possessed … light to learn that her redeemer's name was Jesus.

That is the purpose of the gospel. It does not create anything. But it is powerful, powerful enough to reveal things that we would never see by the light of nature. This is what Paul wanted Timothy, the young preacher to never forget. The gospel does not give life, nor immortality. But it does bring the life and immortality that God's people possess to light!

We have learned in our study of 1st Timothy, that much of what Paul wrote to Timothy was due to problems already occurring in the church. If Paul thought that Timothy could get off track doctrinally, and begin to think that the gospel could give spiritual life to a person dead in sin, the same error could occur in the minds of other preachers. Surely, we have seen this error through the ages.

If men would just think about the absurdity of this, as well as, what the Bible declares, they would see their error. After all, what can a dead man do to obtain life? A dead man can do nothing. He can't see a light, and he wouldn't know it if a light was shining in his face. He is dead. The same spiritual concept is true concerning the gospel of Jesus Christ.

But let us never diminish the power of the gospel. We see it in the conversion of over 3000 people at Pentecost. It is no wonder that men might attribute life to the gospel when they have heard about 3000 men cry, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?"

But the careful reader will notice that the Bible is specific to describe these men at Pentecost as "devout" (2:5). This is the adjective used to describe the men that carried Steven to his burial (Acts 8:2). It is the same word used to describe the just man, Simeon, who was waiting for the consolation of Israel (Luke 2:25). It is used to describe the first Gentile convert, Cornelius(Acts 10). The word literally means pious. This is certainly not a description of a person who is spiritually dead. Nowhere in the Bible is it used in that way. It is a title of honor.

The gospel shines the light on the heart. It reveals the hidden Man of the heart, Christ in you, the hope of glory. Like Helen Keller, He has taken up His abode in the heart and until the gospel is preached, we do not understand why we are not like the world. When the gospel is preached, we can say as Helen did, "He is there, I just didn't know His name."

The gospel reveals our sins as well, just as it did to those on the day of Pentecost when Peter also said, "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." The Holy Spirit can set up a holy terror in the souls of God's people when they see their hopeless condition apart from the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Thus, the best evidence a person has of their calling (spiritual life) is a knowledge of their sin, and their need for Christ.

I have asked people that have sworn to me that the gospel gave them life if they knew the exact moment they were born again. None of them have been able to answer that question. Most just say they remember the time that they chose to follow Jesus. Thought they do not realize it, that is conversion, not regeneration.

The gospel is not an offer to a person who is dead to obtain life. It is not an offer at all. The gospel is the happy declaration that Jesus rose from the grave, and all that he has conquered death, and removed the sins of His people. This means that He is a successful Savior. Preaching a Christ that has really and truly saved no one, but is waiting for men to do all they can is preaching no Savior at all. It is really preaching up man.

It is a commandment for us to carry the gospel to every place that God opens a door. We are to preach to every creature not knowing who will respond. But we know that only those who have been quickened by the effectual operation of the Holy Spirit are the only ones that can, or will respond. Thus, we know they belong to God. I reiterate Paul's words to the church at Thessalonica, "Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we are among you for your sake."(1 Thes. 1:4,5). How did Paul know that these were elected of God? Because the gospel came to them in power, not as it would to dead people.

I have had many say to me, "Why do you bother to preach if you do not think the gospel is used to get people to heaven, to give them spiritual life?" I will never forget what one of our faithful sisters said to a doctor when he said that to her. She wittingly responded, "Why do you preach to your people every Sunday if they are already regenerated?" Enough said.

The preaching of the gospel does the same for sheep every time they hear it. It does not make them sheep. But it does feed the hungry soul. It will the first time that we hear that His name is Jesus. And it will every time His name is preached. As the songwriter as declared, "How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a believers ear." And if we have been taught by the Holy Spirit of our fallen estate, the best sheep food in the world is grace!

--NMP

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