193. WOE, IF WE PREACH NOT THE GOSPEL
(The Information & Edification Series – Batch 4)
In 1 Corinthians 9:16, the apostle Paul (previously known as Saul) stated: “For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, WOE is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!“
Interestingly, the apostle Paul did not say woe unto me if I don’t preach about breakthrough and promotion and financial advancement or how to get ahead, up the career ladder, how to get that blessing or how to get a man and be successful in a relationship but “…WOE is unto me, if I preach not THE GOSPEL!”
Notably, he did not say, woe is unto me if I remain single, if I never get married and if I never have children but “...WOE is unto me, if preach not THE GOSPEL!”
At the centre of the gospel is the Lord Jesus Christ. He has given it to be preached and indeed, he is the very subject. The gospel is simply, that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for the sins of the world, rose up again from the dead on the third day and is now offering the free gift of salvation (eternal life) to whosoever believes this testimony, demonstrated in confession with the mouth that Jesus is indeed Lord, repenting from all sins and willingly submitting himself under the leadership and Lordship of Jesus Christ.
The gospel is therefore, in simple words, the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is that which declares that, through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, salvation has been extended by grace to all mankind and is available to whosoever will believe on Him, the Son of the true and living God.
In 2 Timothy 1:8-10, Paul told Timothy:
- “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, 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.”
Paul himself declared in Romans 1:16, “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.”
In 2 Timothy 2:8, Paul wrote, “Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel.”
Any thing else or any other subject that is not about the saving grace of God through Jesus Christ his Son is therefore not the gospel. Preaching anything contrary to the name of Jesus is not the gospel, no matter how many people, having itching ears are eager to hear it.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 prophesied of mankind:
- “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
Sadly, this time has come. People purporting to be preaching the gospel, have taken away from the gospel, added to the gospel and changed the gospel altogether, advancing, not the purposes of Christ but that of the spirit of antichrist.
In Galatians 1:6-12, Paul told the Galatians:
- “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”
Now the gospel of the scriptures, the true gospel, is referred to synonymously in the Bible as ‘the gospel of Christ’, ‘the gospel of Jesus Christ’, ‘the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ’, ‘the gospel of God’, ‘the glorious gospel of the blessed God’ and ‘the gospel of peace’. It is also referred to as ‘the testimony of God’, ‘the testimony of our Lord’ and ‘the testimony of Jesus’ (2 Timothy 1:8; Corinthians 9:13; 2 Corinthians 10:14; 2 Corinthians 11:7; Galatians 1:7; Philippians 1:27; Ephesians 6:15; 1 Thessalonians 2:2,9;1 Timothy 1:11; 1 Peter 4:17′; Revelations 19:10; 1 Corinthians 2:1).
This gospel (which is about Jesus Christ) is not man-made, subject to change or fashioned according to the scheme of men but was given by God the Father and Jesus Christ his Son, to be declared faithfully without any tampering, by those he has called and chosen (believers), to others. Paul was aware of this fact, stating in his writings on different occasions:
- “But as WE WERE ALLOWED OF GOD TO BE PUT IN TRUST with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.” (1 Thessalonians 2:4)
- “According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, WHICH WAS COMMITTED TO MY TRUST. And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath ENABLED ME, for that he COUNTED ME faithful, PUTTING ME INTO THE MINISTRY.” (1 Timothy 1:11)
- “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you THE TESTIMONY OF GOD. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, BUT IN DEMONSTRATION OF THE SPIRIT AND OF POWER: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, WHICH GOD ORDAINED before the world unto our glory.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-7)
- “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I NEITHER RECEIVED IT OF MAN, NEITHER WAS I TAUGHT IT, BUT BY THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST…But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and CALLED ME BY HIS GRACE, To reveal his Son in me, THAT I MIGHT PREACH HIM AMONG THE HEATHEN; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood…” (Galatians 1:10-12)
It was with this divine charge in mind, that Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:16 declared, “…Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” Were he to have delivered any other message contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ or to pursue some other distraction to the detriment of the gospel or just remain silent, he considered himself to be cursed.
He no doubt recounted how he came to be given this wondrous commission, he who was once a blasphemer of the gospel, one that commissioned and encouraged the killing of those who believed that Jesus Christ was alive after having died and was Lord and one who sought to undermine Christianity, while promoting and advocating for the teachings of the Old Testament law (Judaism).
In Acts 26:9-23, when before king Agrippa and explaining his story, Paul told him:
- “I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.
- Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me. And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
- And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, UNTO WHOM NOW I SEND THEE, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
- Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I WAS NOT DISOBEDIENT UNTO THE HEAVENLY VISION: But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance… Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, SAYING NONE OTHER THINGS THAN those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: THAT CHRIST SHOULD SUFFER, and THAT HE SHOULD BE THE FIRST THAT SHOULD RISE FROM THE DEAD, and SHOULD SHEW LIGHT unto the people, and to the Gentiles.”
In Acts 9, it states of Paul’s encounter with the Lord Jesus:
- “And he trembling and astonished said, LORD, WHAT WILT THOU HAVE ME TO DO? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and IT SHALL BE TOLD THEE WHAT THOU MUST DO. And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.”
In gratitude to the Lord for showing him the light (both figuratively and literally), so that he could believe the truth that indeed, Jesus Christ was Lord and had risen from the dead, in 1 Timothy 1:12-14, Paul stated in his writings:
- “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.”
As an outpouring of his gratitude and because he could not be disobedient to the commission that he had been given by the Lord Jesus, Paul then went on to preach “…none other things than…” the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 26:22- 23)
Paul received a direct commission from Jesus Christ, to deliver HIS gospel to the world, so that in hearing, people could also believe the testimony of Jesus and access salvation, which was freely being offered, by faith. In response, Paul did not hide this light that he had received under a bushel but went forth in obedience and faithfully preached the message that he had been given by the Lord.
Similarly, today, all believers are charged with the same mandate. Jesus may not have appeared to us directly as he did with Paul but he nonetheless gave us an indirect commission. In Mark 16:15, he told his eleven disciples, “…Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”
This mandate was not just to the eleven and to Paul but to all believers, including those in our present day. For example, in 2 Timothy 4:1-2, Paul wrote to Timothy, a believer to whom he had apparently communicated the gospel and therefore referred to as “…my own son in the faith…” (1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2; 2;2), telling him:
- “I CHARGE THEE THEREFORE BEFORE GOD, AND THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; PREACH THE WORD; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”
Earlier, in 2 Timothy 2:1-2, he wrote to him: “…And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”
In verse 11 of chapter 4, he instructed Timothy to bring Mark when coming, “…for he is profitable to me for the ministry.”
Jesus Christ has therefore given all believers, past, present and future, the commission, to go into the world and preach the gospel. Although this commission was not delivered directly to us as it was with Paul and Jesus’ eleven disciples, the indirect commission is equally as important. For, it remains, that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life and no man can come to the Father but by him (John 14:6).
Spreading the gospel is not just limited to men but to all believers, including women and children.
When one thinks of preaching today, one may be inclined to think of taking to a platform in a formal suit and communicating the message to those in attendance, typically in an indoor, formal Church setting. However, preaching means simply to declare the truth of God’s message, which is salvation through Jesus Christ his Son.
This does not require a platform or a congregation. While women are debarred by scripture from taking up leadership positions in the Church, usurping the God-given authority of men and teaching them (male believers the Word of God), they too are called to go into all the world with the gospel of salvation. They are to spread the truth of God’s salvation to the people they meet on a day-to-day basis. This requires no formality, no platform, no title and no position of leadership. It requires no large numbers of people gathered together. The gospel can be presented in its simplicity, on a one-on-one basis, to any one who would hear, whether this be in a taxi, at work (at opportune times), on the phone, through e-mail, in a blog or other form of social media or in conversation with a random passer by.
It requires no fancy words, no long speech and no fancy setting, only a heart that is willing to share the good news that was received.
For example, when the Samaritan woman had her encounter with Jesus Christ at the well and was convinced that he was the Christ, excitedly, passionately, determinedly, she left her waterpots and went straight away into the city, telling others about him. So joyful was she as to the encounter that she had had and the treasure that she had just found, that it was impossible for her to keep it silent.
For as long as the Lord Jesus Christ remains excellent (which is forever), it is impossible to keep the truth that we know about him, silent. If we try, like Jeremiah, we will conclude:
- “…I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.”
Of the Samaritan woman and her encounter with Jesus, the Word of God states:
- “The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he… And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her? The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, COME, SEE A MAN, which told me all things that ever I did: IS NOT THIS THE CHRIST?” (John 4:25-29).
The scriptures give no insight as to her pace but I don’t believe she walked. I believe she ran. So joyful was she, at having found this truth and the one who could forgive not just her but the whole world of its sins, that she could do nothing else but declare the gospel to others, in its simplicity.
In two simple statements, she spread the Word about the Lord Jesus Christ and conveyed the essence of what we as believers are commissioned to preach. We too are called upon to obey the Lord’s commission and to tell the world at large, ‘Come, see a man…Is not this the Christ?’
All other activities that we engage ourselves in and call ministry, fade in comparison, when it comes to this simple, most important mandate.
In Philippians 4:3, Paul and Timothy, in writing to all the Philippian believers, stated:
- “And I entreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those WOMEN which LABOURED with me IN THE GOSPEL, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.”
Women are therefore not exempt from spreading the truth of the gospel in their every day lives but are also labourers in God’s spiritual vineyard, along with other believers.
Given the commission in which we as women are charged, the question is: Are we labouring to deliver the gospel to the lost, as we have been mandated to do by Jesus Christ? Are we, like Paul, being obedient to the commission or disobedient? Are we busying ourselves with every other activity for God’s Kingdom while neglecting the gospel itself?
It is important to remember, that no matter how much kindness we do for people, even if we feed them, clothe them and help them (which is good and which we are also called to do as Christians), if we don’t give them the message of SALVATION, then such persons will have been provided for in this life according to their human needs but remain lost, outside of Christ’s righteous covering and therefore, candidates for hell.
Of all the good things that we can do for the Lord therefore, sharing the gospel with the lost remains supreme. It ought not to be forgotten, neglected or put on the backburner of our list of ministry or day to day activities. Instead, it should be at the very core of our operations and the reason why we do what we do. It can be so easy for us to get distracted with ‘activities’ but it is the gospel that must remain central to the theme.
For, it is the gospel of Christ and nothing else that “…is the power of God unto SALVATION, to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17)
When it came to advancing the gospel, Jesus stated in Luke 10:2: “…The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.”
In 1 Corinthians 3:9-13, Paul told the Church at Corinth (comprising men, women and possibly children):
- “For we are labourers TOGETHER with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.
- According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let EVERY man take heed how he buildeth thereon. FOR OTHER FOUNDATION CAN NO MAN LAY THAN THAT IS LAID, WHICH IS JESUS CHRIST.…EVERY man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try EVERY man’s work of what sort it is.”
As I close, as I noted some years ago on another forum, if you’re not busy advancing God’s Kingdom, it’s because you’re busy advancing yours. This is serious food for thought.
Given what the Gospel of Christ is, how it is able to save wretched souls from hell and that undeniably, declaring it to the lost is a commission that Jesus Christ has given to us indirectly, as believers, we must get to that same place of realization, even as Paul did. In the face of opposition, an onslaught of false doctrines on every hand and side and life’s many distractions, like Paul, we must realize that we are the “…stewards of the mysteries of God…”, that “Moreover it is REQUIRED in stewards, that a man be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:1-2) and in light of the foregoing, like Paul, we should also adopt as our life philosophy:“…WOE is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!”
(Written on 28th July, 2021)
Today, I happened upon some powerful and thought-provoking quotes from a past man of God I had never heard of before, called Vance Havner. He was so brutally honest in his statements, that what he said was sure to ruffle some feathers within the Church walls. As one person once stated, “The truth is sometimes a harder pill to swallow than fiction.”
Yet, he could afford to say it because he was standing on good authority, that authority being truth. Sometimes feathers need to be ruffled to awaken people out of their complacency and to lead them to a place of introspection and repentance.
Some of Mr. Havner’s quotes are applicable to the above topic and echo my sentiments so perfectly, that I felt that I must include them here. On separate occasions, he stated of the people who profess to be believers (and it is true):
- “Too many are willing to sit at God’s table, but not work in his field.”
- “The cause of Christ has been hurt more by Sunday-morning benchwarmers who pretend to love Christ, who call Him Lord but do not His commands, than by all the publicans and sinners. They say they are evangelical but not evangelistic. They glory in being… disciples of the Lowest Common Denominator. They traffic in unfelt truth and refuse to get excited over religion. Their ideal service is “a mild-mannered man standing before a group of mild-mannered people, exhorting everybody to be more mild-mannered”… How many nice, comfortable, lovely people rest smilingly in church pews, their conscience drugged, their wills paralyzed, in self-satisfied stupor, utterly unconscious of their danger while the Lord of the Lampstands warns them, “I am about to spit you out of My mouth.”
- “Too many Christians are stuffing themselves with gospel blessings while millions have never had a taste.”
- “I know that some are always studying the meaning of the fourth toe of the right foot of some beast in prophecy and have never used either foot to go and bring men to Christ. I do not know who the 666 is in Revelation but I know the world is sick, sick, sick and the best way to speed the Lord’s return is to win more souls for Him.”
- “The gospel is not something we go to Church to hear; It is something we go from Church to tell.”
- “We are not going to move this world by CRITICISM of it nor CONFORMITY to it, but by the COMBUSTION within it of lives ignited by the Spirit of God.”
- “Taking it easy is often the prelude to backsliding. Comfort precedes collapse.”
- “The vision must be followed by the venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps, we must step up the stairs.”
- “We are suffering today from a species of Christianity as dry as dust, as cold as ice, as pale as a corpse, and as dead as King Tut.”
- “It is better to wake up five hundred Christians than to convert five hundred sinners, for if five hundred Christians really wake up, they will win more than five hundred sinners.”
- “A Christian is not a depository of the truth; he’s a dispenser of the truth.”
- “…We need to get going for God. Faith in itself has no value unless it connects you with God. The Bible is constantly trying to wake us up: “Stir up the gift of God” (2 Tim. 1:6); “Break up your fallow ground” (Hos. 10:12); “Gird up the loins of your mind” (1 Peter 1:13). We need to take ourselves by the nape of the neck and make ourselves do what we know we ought to do, whether we feel like it or not.”
(Addendum written on 27th January, 2023. added to thereafter)
Dear Reader, if you found the above Article interesting, informative, edifying or beneficial, you may also be interested in reading the following:
- Note 20 – ‘Twelve Indicators Of A Healthy Church’
- Note 45 – ‘Sharing The Gospel Message’
- Note 109 – ‘Dear Christian, Is God Calling You To Do Something?’
- Note 111 – ‘What I Have Learned About Obeying God’s Call In Ministry’
- Note 156 – ‘Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea – My Humble View Of The Letters Of The Glorified Jesus To The Seven Churches – (Part 3)’
- Note 162 – ‘The Spirit Of Prophecy’
- Note 163 – ‘What Is The Gospel Of God?’
- Note 169 – ‘The Christian’s Mandate – Go’
- Note 187 – ‘Stirring Up The Gift – Getting God’s Work Done’
- Note 227 – ‘Is Jesus In Your Church?’
- Note 238 – ‘The Deplorably Pathetic Spiritual State Of Most Churches Today’
- Note 250 – ‘God Is Not Impressed By The Name Of Your Denomination’
Additionally, under the ‘SINGLE DAUGHTERS’ page:
- Note 248 – ‘A Light Above The Brightness Of The Sun’