- Text: 1 Thess. 1:8.
- One of the primary works or responsibilities of the local congregation is evangelism. Cf. Ac. 11:19–26.
- In regard to this responsibility, each congregation has a name, a reputation.
- “I thank my God . . . because your faith is proclaimed in all the world” (Rom. 1:8).
- “For your obedience is known to all” (Rom. 16:19).
- What is this congregation’s name with respect to our evangelistic work? Are we known to be zealous . . . or indifferent?
- The church in Thessalonica had the kind of name every church needs to have — “For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything” (1 Thess. 1:8).
- What does the NT teach us about our congregational responsibility in the communication of the gospel?
I. We Ought to “Sound Forth” God’s Word Wherever We Can
- Jesus instructed the apostles: “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mk. 16:15).
- This would at least suggest that some “going” is involved in “sounding forth” the gospel.
- The limits of our responsibility reach beyond the territory occupied by our church buildings.
- Are we even “going into all” our communities, not to mention the world?
- The earliest Christians took the message of the gospel wherever they could: “Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word” (Ac. 8:4). Cf. “went everywhere preaching the word” (NKJV).
- “Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world” (Psa. 19:4).
- “But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for ‘Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world’ ” (Rom. 10:18).
- In the end, will any difference have been made in our community by the fact that we were here?
- We can’t compel our community to obey the gospel, but we can sound forth the word of the Lord such that everyone in our community knows we are here and what we stand for.
- It is a sad commentary on our “visibility” if the average citizen cannot give directions how to get to our building.
- We can be and must be “innocent of the blood” (Ac. 20:26) of all within our reach.
II. We Ought to Be “Fellow Workers for the Truth” (3 Jn. 8)
- The church is “a pillar and buttress of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). Cf. “the pillar and ground of the truth” (NKJV).
- The church is in the “broadcasting” business: our work is sowing seed.
- We have been taught in order that we might teach: “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2).
- Whatever else we do, we ought to be known for the eager and unselfish backing we give to the proclamation of the gospel to the lost — Phil. 1:3–5; 4:15,16. Cf. 3 Jn. 5–8.
- It needs to be known far and wide that this church stands foursquare for the preaching of the gospel — that it can be counted on to assist the spread of the gospel to the fullest of its ability, with whatever it takes to get the job done.
- We ought to be “fellow workers for the truth” (3 Jn. 8) with anybody who is faithfully communicating the word of God — this church ought to be a friend to anyone who is a friend of the gospel.
III. We Ought to Be Careful How We Communicate God’s Word
- Our “sounding forth” of the word of the Lord must be characterized by wisdom — Col. 4:5,6.
- We must learn how to talk effectively about spiritual things in language that can be clearly understood by those who have little experience thinking about spiritual matters.
- Paul said, “To the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Cor. 9:22).
- We need to balance candor and courtesy properly — Eph. 4:15; 1 Pt. 3:15. Cf. Eccl. 10:12; 12:10; Lk. 4:22.
- All things considered, we probably err on the side of not being candid enough — we need to communicate the gospel clearly. Cf. Ezek. 33:1–9.
- “Look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness” (Ac. 4:29).
- “[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” (Eph. 6:19,20).
- “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. 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 — that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak” (Col. 4:2–4).
- The wisdom to properly communicate the gospel is a thing that we ought to pray for — Jas. 1:5.
- The gospel is not a thing to keep to ourselves. Cf. “This day is a day of good news” (2 Kgs. 7:9).
- It must be the Lord’s work that we are concerned about, and not our own. “Whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies — in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Pt. 4:11).
- As long as there is anybody left who has not heard the message and made a decision for or against it, there will still be work for us to do. Cf. Isa. 6:11,12.
- If we are what we ought to be, there will be no question about whether the word of the Lord will be sounded forth: our light will shine and cannot be hidden. Cf. Mt. 5:14; Ac. 4:20.
- Paul’s prayer for his brethren was: “That you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15).
Gary Henry — WordPoints.com + AreYouaChristian.com