God has not called everyone to preach the gospel but He has called all believers, individually and corporately, to promote the gospel. John Dickson has written a book called "Promoting the Gospel." In this book he shows that the Bible identifies 6 key areas in which we can promote the gospel.
Prayer is the most frequently urged activity for promoting the gospel. In Colossians 4 Paul instructs the Colossians:
2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. 3 At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— 4 that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.
In those biblical texts concerning our role in prayer two principal themes emerge.
First, we are to be praying for people who have yet to be persuaded to faith in Christ so that they might be saved. So Paul writes in Romans 10:1 "Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved." We’re to pray then for unbelievers.
Second, we are to be praying for the ongoing work of those whose task it is to evangelise unbelievers. Paul writes in Ephesians 6:19 "pray also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak." Therfore we are to promote the gospel by praying for those who are doing the work of the gospel, here and around the world. Many of us will not feel confident speaking to others about the message of salvation but all of us can feel confident speaking to God about the salvation of others.
And so we need to make evangelistic prayer a priority in our lives. If there are people you’d like us to pray for that you’re helping to engage with the gospel then let us know.
This point is really about showing what we value by financing it. Paul opens his letter to the Philippians with these words:
1:1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.
Paul’s thanks for the Philippians was fuelled by their gospel partnership. In Chapter 4 it becomes clear that he wasn’t talking merely about prayerful support or encouraging words he was talking about cash.
This point is really about being active as a loving community. Jesus said,
14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
The theme of the light of the world was well known in Jesus’ day. It fell to Israel and in particular city of Jerusalem and her inhabitants to prove to the nations that their Lord was the God of the whole world. In Matthew 5 Jesus picked up this idea of a world saving light and applied it to his disciples. And so the task of promoting God’s salvation to the ends of the earth became the mission of Jesus’ followers. The effect of the world saving light would be that the nations would give glory to God. In other words they would pay God the respect that He deserves. Jesus expected that the world would be brought to its knees in worship by witnessing the good deeds of the church. The word translated ‘you’ in verse 14 is plural. Jesus had in mind that the acts of kindness and goodness of his collective followers would illuminate a watching world. We need to be wary here and not misunderstand Jesus’ advice. He’s not telling us to pursue good works because it’s an effective strategy for softening up people who have yet to be persuaded by the gospel. It’s because good deeds are an essential fruit of following Christ that they so powerfully promote the gospel.
In our efforts to be faithful followers of Christ we’re also commending the gospel to others. Simply by doing the normal sort of things we’d expect of Christians we’re promoting the gospel.
This point is really about individually deciding to live for Christ. It’s the individual application of Jesus’ point in Matthew 5.
2:1 But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. 2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behaviour, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. 6 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. 9 Slaves are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour.
Paul states his point in negative and positive terms. Negatively in verses 5 and 8, he argues that godly behaviour can silence our critics. Imagine the effect if some of the strongest critics of the Christian faith had Christians for neighbours who were just terrific. Paul then puts his point in positive terms in verse 10. Good works promote the Word of God. When people look at who we are and how we live they’ll learn something about our Father in heaven. In naming us as His children God has put His reputation in our hands.
We’re the public face of the Kingdom of God and what we are and how we behave will affect what people think of God. But that’s a terrific opportunity. Implication Some of us may be the only Christian others know. That’s a terrific opportunity to show them how wonderful it is to know God, the forgiveness of sins, live for Christ and be confident in the present and also about the future.
This point is really about recapturing our Sunday meetings for the gospel. To the Corinthians Paul writes,
23 If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds? 24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, 25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you. 26 What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.
In chapter 14 of his letter to the troublesome congregation at Corinth Paul gets to the stage in his argument where he must explain that our gifts must be used for the sake of others in seeking to build them up. He describes a situation where someone walks in off the street to check out what’s going on. If what is happening is unintelligible he’ll think we’re all mad and find it easy to dismiss what’s happening. But if what happens is intelligible they’ll be troubled, intrigued and convicted and realise that there’s something different about this gathering. So Paul stresses the missionary significance of normal, intelligent congregational spoken contributions. It happens in our singing, our relaxed conversations over coffee, when we pray together at the end of the meeting and in our regular preaching and teaching times.
We’ve perhaps forgotten the significance of our Sunday meeting for the visitors who regularly turn up to see what we’re doing. There’s a temptation to underplay the importance of what we do as Christians every week as we gather together as church. We may have got out of the habit of asking people to come to church either expecting them to come or expecting them to enjoy it. Now of course, if we’re not enthusiastic about what happens at church we’re unlikely to invite anyone along. In our own assessment of what happens here we must be wary of substituting professionalism for authenticity. If we’re looking for professional perfection we’ve come to the wrong church. Almost everything we do here is work in progress, as we ourselves are. Nothing we do is done as well as it could be but it’s done because we believe it matters. I think people recognise that sort of integrity. In fact people are more forgiving than we think after all no one comes to church expecting it to compete with the entertainment on offer in the world. Usually they’re just delighted to hear someone talk about spiritual things in a way that they can understand. But if we undertake to improving the quality of everything we do in the church meeting will we also commit to inviting friends to some of the things that we do on a Sunday?
You can promote the gospel by being here, listening and engaging in what we are doing whether that's singing our hearts out, concentrating when we pray, taking notes in the teaching and preaching times.
This point is really about being prepared to speak to others about Jesus. Many of us ask what, when and how does the Lord require me to speak up about my faith. Some ask out of zeal because they’re straining at the leash to be let loose on an unsuspecting world. Others ask out of fear because we’re worried that we might be asked to do more than we can imagine we can handle. There are two New Testament passages that are instructive for us. In Colossians 4 and 1 Peter 3 the apostles Paul and Peter urge us to be prepared to give an answer to everyone. This is 1 Peter 3.
13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; 16 yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behaviour in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
Peter reminds us that we each have a responsibility to answer for the faith. It is important for you to be able to give a logical explanation for the hope that you have in the face of the darkest moments in life. How would you explain it to someone who asks? By telling the truth about the hope that the gospel gives you, you are promoting the gospel.
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