“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God…”
As it is commonly known, the word gospel means “good news.” What “good news” was given to you? Was it the power of God? The Scriptures tell us that the gospel isn’t a matter of clever speech but of “demonstration of the Spirit and power” (1 Cor. 2.4).
There is a reason for this. “So that, your faith would not rest upon the wisdom of men but on the power of God (1 Cor. 2.5).”
This shows us, that some people’s faith can rest and does rest upon the wisdom of men. What does this mean? Some people believe because it was cleverly explained to them. And after they weighed out the religious options and benefits, they chose Christianity. People search for a religion and when they find whatever one seems right in their eyes, they “sign up” and change their lives accordingly. They live somewhat happy having satisfied their religious itch. But they fail to realize that Christianity is not a change of life, but an exchange of life.
This does not and will not lead to a life that actually possesses power. It is the mere following of religious teachings, systems of forgiveness and rules, while professing hope in an afterlife. All of which, most religions emphasize.
When you have received the gospel as the power of God in your life, then you really have life in Him. “He who has the Son has life (1 John 5.12).” It is undeniable. Your devotion is not to a change of life catering to Christian teachings. Your devotion is that a higher quality of existence has entered into you and you now have a hatred for sin and a real love for Jesus inside of you. Colossians 2.6 tells us that, “as we have received Him, so walk in Him.” Our relationship with God is based upon our receiving of Him through the power of the Gospel. We walk in the same continuous power.
The gospel is the “power of God”. It is not “like” the power of God. It is not “the way to” the power of God. “It is the power of God.”
How can a message be the “power of God”? The message is power simply because the message is a Man. Jesus Christ is the gospel of God. The gospel is not merely about Christ, it is Christ (Hebrews 1.1). He is the Word of God. He is the message of God to the world. The good news of Jesus Christ is that deliverance and power, forgiveness and peace, hope and love are found in a Man, not a thinking pattern. Jesus said, “I am the truth.”
Notice that the Apostles didn’t preach about Christ. They preached Christ Himself (Acts 5.42;17.3;2Cor. 4.5). As T. Austin Sparks noted, “God speaks Himself.” This is how men are born again. They couldn’t possibly be born from above by a nominal belief system or by adherence to correct thinking patterns. Doctrine has never saved a person. Salvation only comes by the power of God, who is Christ, God’s speaking, coming into you by faith or your surrender to Him. Paul told Titus that God, “manifested His Word (Jesus) through preaching…” (Titus 1.3). The gospel is the manifestation of Christ. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness, made His light shine in our hearts to give us the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (2 Cor. 4.6).”
Christ is the light (John 8.12), giving us a relationship with God by divine enlightenment.
Christ is the life (John 14.6), giving us an eternal quality of existence.
Christ is the way (John 14.6), revealing not only the route to the Father, but also the way of life for those born of the Spirit.
Christ is the truth (John 14.6), the perfect wholeness of life and existence.
To preach Christ is to bring men into contact with Him who is power! It is the reconciliation of God and man. It is impossible to meet Him without fatal damage to your old life. He is power! Freedom is in a man, not a belief system, religion or an attempt to make a life change. The gospel is the power of God, for it is the meeting of man and God, in Jesus Christ, to all who will cast themselves upon Him in absolute (which is to say genuine) faith.
Eric Gilmour is an Associate Editor for Voice of Revolution, overseeing Revival & Evangelism.
Last night’s message was a call to authenticity, to reality, because God is the God of truth, and when we move off and away from that place, and come to unreality, His Spirit is not there, and we therefore compensate for it by turning up the dials, which further deepens the unreality, and puts the church in a lamentable place and condition.
Editor’s Note: Introduction to the VOR Series The Basics.
You believe that the Bible is the word of God, that Jesus is the Son of God, and that only those who place their faith in Jesus will find salvation after death. As a Christian, you believe these propositions not because they make you feel good, but because you think that they are true. Before I point out some of the problems with these beliefs, I would like to acknowledge that there are many points on which you and I agree. We agree, for instance, that if one of us is right, the other is wrong. The Bible is either the word of God, or it isn’t. Either Jesus offers humanity the one, true path to salvation (John 14:6) or he does not. We agree that to be a true Christian is to believe all other faiths are mistaken, and profoundly so. If Christianity is correct, and I persist in my unbelief, I should expect to suffer the torments of hell. Worse still, I have persuaded others, and many close to me, to reject the very idea of God. They too will languish in “eternal fire” (Matthew 24:41). If the basic doctrine of Christianity is correct, I have misused my life in the worst conceivable way. I admit this without a single caveat. The fact that my continuous and public rejection of Christianity does not worry me in the least should suggest to you just how inadequate I think your reasons for being a Christian are.
— Sam Harris: Letter to a Christian Nation
Sam Harris and the militant atheists of our day are not stupid. Neither are the Orthodox Jews, agnostics, theologically-liberal Christians, or the host of others who have openly rejected the message of the gospel. The burden of proof is on us, the disciples of Jesus, to tell the world His message, and prove that there is no reasonable response to that message other than to fall down and worship Him as Lord. The VOR series, The Basics, is my attempt at doing just that.
Obviously, not everyone will believe what we have to say, no matter how much evidence we provide, and God is not someone that is to be analyzed and discussed as if He were a mere concept, or a hat-in-hand deity in desperate need of people to believe in Him, just waiting to answer every arrogant and haughty “intellectual” question we can come up with… but giving silly, illogical, or inadequate reasons for believing this remarkably radical and supernatural message we carry gives respect neither to the message itself, nor the people to whom we bring it. As Paul said, if Messiah is not raised, we are of all men most to be pitied, for we are giving people false hope, and giving up our lives for a lie.
Let us then strive after the truth, wherever it may lead. For then, we will know the truth, and the truth shall set us free.
She stood in front of me with tears streaming down her face and asked the question that still resonates through every fiber of my heart: “How can you be so sure God is real and that He cares about me?” How do we know? There are so many voices in the world today…so many people who claim to have the truth. There are numerous religions–you can find a church, or community, or sect that upholds everything from believing in nothing to worshiping everything that breathes. How do we know what’s true? How can we sort through the counterfeits to find the substance that’s real; how do we know that the world isn’t right when it tells us we can believe in anything we want as long as it’s truth for ourselves?
As I’ve asked myself that question, I’ve seen the answer play out over and over again here in the work taking place in Costa Rica. In working with an inner healing ministry called Peniel (from Genesis 32:30: “I saw God face to face, and my soul was delivered”), I’m learning more and more about the truth. Jesus said, “I am THE Way; I am THE Truth; I am THE Life” (John 14:6). He also said, “You will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free” (John 8:32). Was this arrogance or confusion on His part? Many in the world around us would say, “Yes.” Still, what is true?
The truth is that every one of us is born already believing things about the world around us. Those beliefs can be correct, or they can be erroneous. In the same way that a computer is programmed, and the information programmed into the computer will result in a polished product or one that breaks down with the computer’s use, our brains receive input from the moment we are first conscious of the world around us. For example, if in our mother’s womb, we hear, “You aren’t wanted. Why were you born? This pregnancy is too hard,” we are born with the knowledge that our life is a burden. But is this true? God says that He created us (Psalm 139) and knows everything about us…He knows when we sit, and when we stand, and He has a purpose for our lives. He loves us. He wants us. He is glad that we are alive. Still, if we have received erroneous information from the world around us, we will react based upon those lies. Only the One who created us and meant us to come to life believing in the truth can restore those places deep inside of us that get lost along the way. In other words, we were meant to know Him–for Him to be our Truth (the standard by which we guide our lives), and in knowing Him, our hearts are made free of the burdens, and lies, and misguided reactions that so often trouble our daily lives.
Returning to the original example, as I prayed with my friend and the Lord showed her how He saw her birth and the world around her, for the first time, her heart came to life with the knowledge that God IS real. He created her heart, and He is able to heal it. For the first time, the fear went away, and she was able to sleep through the night in peace. She didn’t have to do anything to earn this, or try to work to put her heart back together. The One who created her knew in that moment how to heal each part.
So many things take place in this life…so many bumps and bruises happen along the way that attempt to teach us things about ourselves. There is one Voice that calls above all other voices, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and weighed down, and I will give you rest.” Will we let Him? Can we humble ourselves, and rest for a season from trying to save ourselves through good works or other religions; can we let Jesus be enough; will we dare to come face to face with Him and let His truth heal our souls? He is waiting, and if we ask Him, “Lord, do you care about me? Can you heal me?” The answer will always be, “Yes. I love you. I’m waiting for you. Come.”