The comprehensive scope of the gospel of Christ


The gospel, or “good news”, about Christ is very, very good news because the truth about human beings without Him is so horribly bad.

Every person who is born is born helpless. On this point surely there can be no disagreement. Our precious babies must be cared for in every way. They must be fed, diapers changed, bathed, carried, calmed when they are uncomfortable because they can’t speak, and the list goes on. Babies, even the strongest and brightest are equally helpless. As they grow, gain strength and agility, and learn, slowly they become less dependent on Mom and Dad. Soon they begin to talk, to walk, and do a variety of the cutest things. Then, all too soon for most parents and grandparents, they grow up and are out of the house and on their own. (Some not soon enough)

When children mature into teens and young adults they are still just as profoundly helpless but in a totally different way. Some of them will still lean on dear old Mom and Dad and Gran and Pap longer than anyone wishes, but apart from that each person old enough to do what they know to be wrong. and do it any way. share some problems they are helpless to cure of their own resources. This is true in every place on the earth in every culture and in every tribe and tongue.

Humans are ungodly and can’t do anything to become godly.

Humans are unrighteousness and can’t do anything to become righteous.

Humans are alienated from God and can’t do anything to be reconciled to Him.

Humans are everyone going to die and can do nothing to avoid dying.

Humans will face the wrath of God and can do nothing to avoid that wrath.

Humans have the capacity to commit all kinds of offences against God and His law and can do nothing about it.

The Bible is unambiguous and crystal clear about the condition of a person without God. The bad news about our universal condition is indeed very bad! The precise reason the gospel of Christ is such joyous good news is this, every human problem announced in the Bible about sinful people is gloriously solved in Christ alone. Owing only to His work for sinners the ungodly can be made godly, the unrighteous can be made righteous, aliens can be reconciled to God, physical death will only be the grand entrance into life everlasting, those facing the just wrath of God will not be appointed to wrath, and the penalty, power, and even the presence of sin will be taken away, and knowing God forever will be their joy! This is the best good news possible! No other good news compares.

These passages of Scripture give a broad view of the good news for sinners. What I say, or any person for that matter, is only relevant to the degree what he or she says can be confirmed by the Word of God. So, what does the Bible say about the things I have mentioned?

Romans 1:14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.

The great Apostle Paul knew a personal obligation to share the good news about Jesus with everyone possible. To “Greeks” and “barbarians”, to “wise” and to “foolish” and even to those who were already God’s people, “you also who are in Rome”. Some translations use the word “debtor” for the phrase “under obligation”. Paul felt he owed everyone the good news and he intended to pay that debt.

So why was Paul so “eager” to preach the good news? “..it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” it. Jews and Greeks alike (the whole of humanity) need to be saved from themselves and their helpless and hopeless condition, and here it is! “The righteousness of God is revealed” in the gospel! Here is good news for unrighteous people, God reveals His righteousness to those who believe the good news about Jesus and his work. 

Later in his letter to the Romans Paul gives more good news!

Romans 5:For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

This is a remarkable passage! If every seminarian and every Bible school student and every preacher/teacher trainee understood this wonderful passage our churches would be far different. Vibrant missions works will never happen unless those who go understand the gospel of Christ for sinners.

God meets us where we are, in “weakness”. He comes to us in our present condition, “ungodly”. He works for us while we are still “sinners”. It is very good news that Christ died for the “ungodly” because that is all of us! He didn’t ask us to reform ourselves. He did not ask that we prove ourselves by doing good, going to church, etc. No! Christ died for ungodly sinners. That’s you! That’s me!

You and I might die for a good friend, for a good person, but not for an enemy, not for a bad person. But God’s love is not like our love. It is bigger and better! God put his love on display for the whole creation by dying for sinners! But what does his death mean to me, to you?

“We are justified by his blood”. This means that when Christ bled and died on the cross you and I were “set right” with God. We, though sinful to the core, are declared not guilty based wholly upon the sacrificial death of Jesus. The old song asks “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus” and so it is. We are not approved by God because of our performance but by Christ’s performance. Never forget, this saving work of Christ was done for you but outside of you. You were totally helpless to fix your broken condition.

But there’s much more! “much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.” What wonderful news! We sinners were facing the wrath of God! Through Christ we will be saved from the wrath of God. The time will come when the fury of God’s just wrath against sin, against those who ignore his love and continue in their evil ways, will be poured out without measure. I don’t pretend to know all that entails but it is very, very bad.

We are saved by his life. Christ died for us reconciling us to God and because He was raised from the dead he promises we too shall live. Because he lives I live. Because he can not die I can not die. I am saved by his life!

But there’s even more! Better than being justified, better than being saved from God’s wrath, better than being reconciled to God, and even better than knowing we will be saved by his life is that we can rejoice in God forever! 

Yes, God saves us from our sins. Yes, God saves us from wrath to come. Yes, God makes us righteous. Yes, God gives us eternal life! But far better than these things is that God intends that we have joy. Joy whose source is Jesus, joy unending, joy unfettered by worldly affairs. joy forever, joy to the full!

Life present you with some questions you can’t answer? Jesus is the answer!

There is no life gone to far. There is no sinner to sinful. There is no rebellion to rebellious. There is no one to far away from God.

Christ died for you. He died for your sins. Why not receive the benefits of Christ’s saving work for you? Repent of living to please yourself. How is it working out for you? Turn your whole being over to Him. Believe that God came in flesh, lived a perfect life and offered that perfect life as a sacrifice for you, and took upon him all of your dirty sins, then died the death you deserved. On the 3rd day Jesus arose from the grave alive to die no more and by his life you too can live, free from the guilt and penalty of sin and made righteous as He is righteous. All of your greatest needs are met only in Christ and the cross of his death and his triumphant resurrection.

This is GOOD NEWS!

Royce Ogle
Monroe, LA

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Have you received the word?


Isn’t is odd how you can read passages in the Bible, for years, and suddenly see something you had before overlooked? Recently as I was reading through Acts I noticed some reoccurring phrases that for some reason my mind had up to then simply dismissed. Those phrases are, “received his word”, and “received the word of God”. This experience is sort of like detectives I see on TV who work “cold cases”. An ambitious detective will pull the files of an unsolved crime and begin sorting through and analyzing all of the evidence in that file. Many, many times I have either seen on TV or read in the news about some case forgotten long ago that was solved because someone cared enough to give the evidence another critical look and the detective saw something others had overlooked time and time again. I don’t ever remember anyone discussing the appearance of these phrases, “received his word” and “received the word of God”, as they appear in Acts 2, 8, and 11.

Each time they appear they have a specific meaning, and the same meaning, that I think gives the texts some needed context that is not there if they are ignored. The first appears in Acts 2. Every church of Christ member knows part of chapter 2 very well and most Christians know parts of it, but maybe not this part of it.

The setting is a festival in the city of Jerusalem in the first century. It is Pentecost and seven weeks since Jesus rose from the dead. Pentecost was a Jewish holiday/festival celebrating the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai. The scene was alive with celebration as people from all across the known world converged on Jerusalem to observe Pentecost, to renew old acquaintances, and likely even to see family. This festival had been celebrated for many years and people knew what to expect, it was a good time! But this year, this Pentecost, things would be very different. They were there to celebrate Law but God was about to lay some Grace on them.

When the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples the scene was so boisterous and noisy and the followers of Jesus so out of the ordinary that many people took notice and were sure those men had just had too much wine and were drunk. Not the case! Peter stood up and gave an explanation. “These men aren’t drunk as you think, it’s early in the morning”. He announced that a prophecy was being fulfilled before there very eyes. It as from Joel concerning the coming of the Holy Spirit and the results of that coming. He concluded the quote with these words, “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Acts 2:21) Then Peter starts preaching about Jesus quoting David and making the case that Jesus had been raised from the dead and was indeed the Christ of God they were looking for. He put the blame for the crucifixion of Jesus squarely on them! 

Upon hearing this shocking news, these Jews asked, “What shall we do?”  Then comes the familiar text of Acts 2:28, “ And Peter said to them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Many people evidently stopped reading there. A doctrine of salvation has been built largely upon this one verse and in the minds of many it trumps all others. As one man recently put it, “Any verse of Scripture that seems to contradict Acts 2:38 is “iffy” “. Well, I suggest that since Peter didn’t stop there we shouldn’t either. 

Peter first said “repent”. This is important. “Repent” of what and how? Well, repent of your unbelief! You have rejected Jesus the Christ, the Messiah of God and had him killed, Peter accused them twice of the murder of Jesus. After they were convicted of their sins and convinced of the truth about Jesus (“cut to the heart”) they first needed to repent of their unbelief and believe what Peter had preached. And they did. They “received the Word” Peter preached. Salvation is by grace through faith and these men obviously repented and believed and then were baptized. It is always that order, repentance and faith in Jesus first, and then baptism. The Bible is very clear about this. Notice in Acts 2:41a,So those who received his word were baptized”.  Those who received his word were those who had believed Peter’s preaching, the prophecy of Joel and of David. They had repented of unbelief and had put their faith in the Christ. That is what it means to “receive the Word”.

One other important thing before I leave chapter 2. Peter told those who listened that the promises he gave were to “everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself” (Acts 2:39b) . There are two things to take note of  in this 2nd chapter of Acts. First, Peter preached to everyone who had ears. And so it is with us. We are to herald the good news about Jesus to anyone and everyone possible. We are to peach to the whole word, every creature! There is no doubt about that. But, what is just as true is that not everyone will repent. Not everyone will “receive the Word”. Not everyone will believe on Christ. Not everyone will be baptized. The ones who will “receive the Word” are those whom the Lord our God calls to himself. Not one more and not one less. This truth is repeated over and over in the Scriptures.

” So those who received his word were baptized..” Acts 2:41a

Now lets look at Acts chapter 8. Phillip travels to Samaria and preaches Christ to the people. And, the Bible says “the crowds with one accord paid attention to what Peter was preaching. There were unclean spirits coming out of people, others were being healed and many believed on the  Lord and were baptized. One man was mentioned by name for he was a hard case I suppose, but God saved him too. A man named Simon had the attention of the people for a long time. He practiced magic and people feared him. But he too believed after hearing Phillip preach the kingdom of God and about the Christ. God meets people where they are and saves who he will, the down and out, the rich and the poor at his discretion.

The story continues that when the church leaders at Jerusalem heard that the people of Samaria “had received the word of God” they sent Peter and John to minister to them. It’s the same story as Acts 2. Someone preaches Christ, some repent and believe “receiving the Word”, and are baptized. The narrative is a bit different here in chapter 8 in that the Samaritans did not receive the Holy Spirit until Peter and John came and laid hands on them. So we might not want to be so rigid about using Acts 2:38 as a blanket, once size fits all promise, it clearly isn’t. In Acts 2 Peter preaches, they repent and believe (received the Word) and were baptized and I’m sure they received the Holy Spirit as Peter said. In Acts 8 Phillip preaches, the people believe (receive the Word) and are baptized and don’t receive the Holy Spirit. Then as we will see later in Acts when Peter preached to Cornelius and his folks they too believed and while Peter was preaching Christ they received the Holy Spirit. An unusual set of facts. Why did God do it this way? I don’t have a clue! I only know he did it. What is common in all three cases is that the people heard Christ preached, they “received the word” and were then baptized.

Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God…” Acts 8:14a

Now to chapter 11. Peter has had a vision, three times, that convinced him that God loved Gentiles as much as Jews and that he should go to them with the gospel. You can read the story in Acts 10. It was after his sermon about Jesus, and after they had received the gift of the Holy Spirit that Peter asked (my paraphrase..) “Can anybody think of a reason why we shouldn’t baptize these people? They received the Holy Spirit just like we did when we believed!” So Peter baptized them. It is worth mentioning that Peter ended his sermon with this sentence. “To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:43) This was true in Acts 2, in Acts 8, in Acts 10, and in Monroe, Louisiana today. I can think of no reason to try to qualify these words of the Apostle Peter to our ancient ancestors, the first Gentiles to be saved by grace.

The story continues,this was a huge deal! A few days ago a Jew wouldn’t even speak to a Gentile and now they are calling them brothers and baptizing those who believed the gospel. Chapter 11 begins with the apostles and brothers hearing that the Gentiles also “had received the word of God”. There is that phrase once more. The text says “…the Gentiles also had received the word of God”. Also? Yes, the saved Jews, Peter and the other brothers and Apostles were saved the same way as the Gentiles, they “received the Word of God”. They accepted it by believing it!.

In Acts 11:4-17 Peter carefully detailed the story of his going to the Gentiles and what happened when he preached the gospel to them. When Peter finished you could have heard a pin drop. They were completely silent for a time. And then they gave glory to God! That section ends with these words,  “And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.” (vs 18b) Remember earlier how God calls some to himself? He also gives repentance to those he calls. The Bible is clear about this. Some he hardens and some he softens. He is God and can do what he will. It is repentance that leads to life. Unless a person repents of his or her unbelief, receiving the Word by faith, that person will remain alienated from God.

Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God.” Acts 11:1

We Christians are to publish the Word of God across the world to every person possible. The gracious offer of the gospel from God is addressed to “whosoever will..” Some of those to whom we preach Christ will “receive the Word”, only some of them, not all, will repent of their unbelief. There is someone there, someone yonder, who waits to hear and receive the Word of God. They will not hear until we tell it.

Royce Ogle
Monroe, LA

 

Knowing Christ is the only cure for racism


One day each year Americans officially acknowledge our racist past. On Martin Luther King Day government offices and schools close and black folks have parades and speeches and white people and others go play golf, do some chores around the house, and see an editorial in the local newspaper about racial reconciliation or the lack of it.

Our beloved United States of America has a history of racism that us both ugly and undeniable. We hear far more about how badly African-Americans have been treated than any other because it is more current. But God help us if we forget how our forefathers treated the indigenous Indians who had lived on this continent long before they arrived here. And, let’s not forget the way we treated the Japanese and other Orientals after Pearl Harbor. We rounded them up like cattle and stripped them of their dignity and freedom. Even though our actions were driven by fear in their case, and greed in the case of the Native Americans, it was nonetheless racist.

Some you who are young adults might not know this but Americans didn’t invent racism. I could give a short history lesson about Europeans, Africans, the middle east and on and on but the fact that racial problems exist is well established, and on that we can all agree. Even some of our most quoted and admired Biblical characters were guilty.

Peter was a Jew and loud and proud. He was not unlike almost everyone he knew because his friends and closest associates were all Jews too. God would change that. In the Bible in Acts 10 is the story of God giving brother Peter a vision that would rock his world.

Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. 10 And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance 11 and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” 15 And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” 16 This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.” (Acts 10:9b-16)

Standing at the gate were messengers from an Italian army centurion, a Gentile named Cornelius. When Peter heard what they had to say he invited them in.

The first lesson for Peter, and for us about racial differences is this. What God has made clean, do not call uncommon. This object lesson was not only for Peter but for others as well including you and me. God made a decision that Peter would go preach Christ to the Gentiles and that they would believe. (Acts 15:7) It was God who chooses sons and daughters from every tongue and tribe and place and those who are chosen are “one” in Christ.

It was none other than Jesus himself who modeled what Peter and others of God’s people would eventually do. Remember the story of Jesus speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well? He went out of his way, (literally) to meet that woman who was not a Jew and had a sordid past and was at the present time living with a guy who was not her husband. God chose her to make clean.

In what I think is the most remarkable prayer in the Bible, Jesus prayed that his followers would be united, that they would be one. After Jesus had interceded for his followers he then prayed for you and me. He prayed for us!

20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me,that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. (John 17:20-23)

You see, only in Christ can every difference be either put aside or celebrated.  Someone has said “The ground is level at the foot of the cross“. I get it. When we stand there with people from other races, from other faith heritages, we stand in grace. It is our common union with Christ that joins us with others. In Him alone teeming millions are made one.

News outlets report daily of the slaughter of people whose only offence is wrong race or wrong religion. It is as old as human history and it will not end until God makes everything over. “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself” and when the result of that work is fully realized there will be no more fighting over racial differences.

Until then, we must guard our hearts and do the hard work of loving people different from us. Peter started off well. He was obedient to his calling to take the good news about Jesus to the Gentiles. And, he defended them and God’s plan to the church leaders who were themselves pious yet wicked sinners. But, as time went on Peter fell into the trap of loving the praise of men more than the will of God. Paul tells the story in his letter to the Galatians.

11 But when Cephas (Peter) came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” (Galatians 2:11-14)

Peter was a hypocrite. I am sometimes a hypocrite too. If we care more about what the leadership of the church thinks, or some family member, our a boss at work than what God has said and modeled we are headed for trouble.

The Christians across town, or in my pew, doesn’t have to look like me, or dress like me, or sing like me, or…..anything else to be my spiritual siblings. If our dialogue with our brothers and sisters centers more on Christ and his grace and less on religion, politics, and culture we will be far closer to being the people God intends.

As followers of Jesus you and I don’t have the luxury of choosing who we will love and accept. Our marching orders are to love everyone!

Let’s be aggressively loving like Jesus did. We will be better for it and our part of the world will be a better place to live. I’ll end with one more Scripture passage.

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. (Romans 15:5)

Royce Ogle

 

 

 

Preacher, Are you making actors or disciples?


Christians are supposed to be good people, right? So preaching to them, teaching them to be good must then be good, right? Maybe good but not best.

As Jesus went about his ministry on earth he was counter-culture and often at odds with the established status-quo of the religion of the Jews. He visited the homes of sinners, he ate with them, he went to parties with them. He was cross-cultural. He once went out of his way to encounter a woman hated and despised by the Jewish religionists because of her ethnicity. And he had an ongoing habit of in-your-face confrontations with the religious elite, even telling them they were children of the devil and did not know God.

Why would Jesus slam the best people in the Jewish community? They are the ones who never miss synagogue. When the doors open they are there. They are the ones who hold the Scriptures in high esteem, who meticulously copy it by hand, who memorize it, and pass it on to others. What pastor wouldn’t want church members like that? Not only did they hold the Scriptures in high regard, they kept its teachings, strictly! In fact, they had taken the ten commandments and developed over 600 more to make certain the ten were kept precisely. They were faultless people who prayed often, fasted, tithed, and live out what they preached. Isn’t that the hope of every pastor, elder, teacher?

If not, then why does the majority of Sunday morning sermons focus on behavior? Why is so much of what is preached aimed at the results mentioned above? I fear that many preachers are preaching “therapeutic moralistic deism” at the expense of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Oh yea, you still mention that Jesus died on the cross for our sins but you don’t go much further, not into the place Jesus did.

In what is considered his most important sermon Jesus made an astonishing statement to the listening crowd. In the gospel of Matthew chapter 5, after Jesus had spoken about the Law of God, and that he had not come to abolish it, but rather to fulfill it, he said this:

For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:20)

Can you imagine the look of horror on the faces of some of those who heard those words? What? Is Jesus demanding better law keeping than those who do it best? Is that what this is about? Is he crazy? Can anyone enter the kingdom of heaven?

This teaching comes very early in Jesus’ ministry and yet he is changing the paradigm of law keeping and morality. The old template was “do this” “don’t do that”. Jesus is introducing a new template for righteousness, “a new heart”. He moves the conversation from the external to the internal. He is laying the foundation for the transformation of the human condition from the inside out by the power of his worth and work.

Notice his direction. “You have heard that it was said…”, “But I say…”. Don’t forget, he is not suggesting that anyone take the law of God lightly. He has just established it’s validity and that keeping it is a non-negotiable. Let’s see what he says about murder for example.

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment”.
(Matthew 5:21)

You’re thinking, “I’ve got that one covered! I have never killed anyone. I’m not even a hunter, I wouldn’t kill anything.” But Jesus continues.

But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment… (and it get’s worse)
(Matthew 5:22a)

Do you see what Jesus has done here? He moved from the external action, murder, to an internal sin, anger. I can imagine the listeners thinking “I can never meet his standard of righteousness!”

There’s more. What about adultery? You reason, I have never been unfaithful to my wife, I have never had sex with another woman. I’m clean on this deal. Here’s the external rule.

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.
(Matthew 5:27a)

Here’s the internal rule.

But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart
(Matthew 5:28)

You see, folks can look good in the community. They are model Christians at the ball park, at the civic club, and even at church. If the rule of thumb is the external acts, (murder, adultery, lying, stealing, etc) and the positive side of the external (good works, tithing, leading a prayer before meals, visiting the sick, etc.) we are good people. But Jesus said…..

The point Jesus is making is that by human effort no one can be right enough to enter the kingdom of heaven. The heart must be changed.

The only way to stop adultery in it’s tracks is to have lust rooted out of the human heart by the application of the gospel of Christ by the Holy Spirit. The way to stop murder is to have anger rooted out of the heart so that it is replaced by love and long suffering.

In this sermon Jesus makes it plain as day that left to themselves no one will make it to heaven. Only those with a better righteousness than human behavior can produce will in fact enter the kingdom of heaven.

Don’t focus your teaching on trying to change the external behavior of your congregants. Instead, preach the good news about what Jesus has done for them. He was accounted as a sinner, dying for them, so that they may be accounted as righteous, and was raised from the dead putting an end to the dominance of sin and giving us the promise of living forever as His dear children.

Every sermon, every ministry, every method in our churches must be shaped and executed in view of the transforming power of the Christ who alone can give a new heart with new hope and a new ability to say no to sin and to love as Jesus did.

Preach the gospel. Love it, embrace it, wallow in it, make it who you are and what you do. It’s a life and death matter for those you preach to every week. Preach so that you are allowing God to change hearts as people come to put their whole trust in Jesus. Do what you do so that every word of praise, every hint of glory, goes not to the church or to you but to the Lord Jesus Christ.

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

(1 Corinthians 1:26-31)