Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Paul's Gospel included Bethlehem as well as Calvary.


“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”
                                                                                                1 Cor. 2:1-5

Paul’s method and message while he was working among the Corinthians was to intentionally live and speak the gospel. If a person was snatched from the influence of the deviant religious and moral quagmire of the Corinthian culture, it would be the gospel that did it and not Paul’s personality, winsomeness, well-communicated thoughts on leadership principles or a well-marketed “Jesus” brand.  Paul relied fully upon the gospel that he personally embraced and proclaimed to beckon sinners to the Savior's side. There was no single polished method that was “successful” in seeing mature disciples developed but there was a powerful message.  The gospel initiates, facilitates and empowers the process of disciplemaking.

For Paul and for us, the gospel is the incarnation, life, ministry, teaching, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We cannot confine it simply to the cross or Him crucified. To reduce the gospel to the event of the cross is to truncate the mission of Christ to make disciples. This is why Paul states that he “determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” The gospel is more than Calvary. It is Bethlehem, Nazareth, Capernaum, Jericho, Cana, Sea of Galilee and Samaria as well. The whole account of the person and work of Jesus Christ serves not only as the message but also the method by which this life-transforming message would be transmitted throughout the world and across the generations to come.

The substance of Paul’s disciplemaking method was the person and work of Jesus Christ as the message and the model for the mission. If we choose to not approach our day-to-day relationships (family, work, school, recreation and commerce) with gospel intentionality we are missing a God-given opportunity to obey Him by making disciples.  Jesus initiated the method, gave it a life-changing message and entrusted the mission to his followers, and promised He would be with us. Paul understood and obeyed. Will we?

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