In Romans 1:16-17 we read,
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
Here we learn that the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. But do we really believe the gospel has the power to save everyone? Thabiti Anyabwile, one of the speakers at the T4G conference challenged us to believe the gospel has the power to save everyone. He spoke on 1 Timothy 1:12-17 and the title of his talk was: Will your gospel transform a terrorist?
In 1 Timothy 1:12-17 Paul is discussing who he was before his conversion to Christianity. As you know Paul heavily persecuted the church. In this text, he lists himself as the chief of all sinners. Even so, Christ saved him. He received God’s grace and mercy despite his persecution of the church.
The Underestimated Gospel
Often I think we, myself included, believe the gospel cannot save those who are that far gone. We do not really believe our gospel will transform a terrorist. The reason we believe that is because we underestimate the power of the gospel, which was the theme of the conference I attended.
The purpose of the conference was to show that the power of the gospel is not to be underestimated. It can, will, and does change those who we may believe are unchangeable. In order to show this, we heard a number of sermons, as well as testimonies about the power of the gospel. Some of these testimonies came from people who grew up in Christian homes, but others were from people who were power hungry, selfish, and only seeking to make a name for themselves. While others gave testimony that the gospel saved them from gang life, alcohol, and drugs.
The Articulated Gospel
Not only did we learn that the gospel has the power to save everyone, and that we should not underestimate its power to bring about change in a person’s life, we also learned that we must articulate the gospel to others. In other words, we must actually tell it to others.
And so, if we believe the gospel has the power to save even the worst of the worst, if we believe the gospel has the power to save a terrorist, then we must articulate it’s message to everyone in society. Never thinking that someone is too far gone, because when we start to think like that, we are underestimating the power of the gospel.
I want to challenge you, just as I have been challenged this week, to not underestimate the power of the gospel to save everyone. As well as I want to challenge you to articulate its message to all you come in contact with. For it is a message that took Paul from a hardened persecutor of the church, to its greatest advocate. May it do the same in someone’s life we take the time to tell this good news to. Don’t underestimate the power of the gospel!
Recently, I went to the Fort Worth Zoo. While I was there, I visited the Great Barrier Reef exhibit, where I watched two small sharks swimming in a tank. Supposedly, these sharks are from the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. They were transplanted from their home to an aquarium in Fort Worth Zoo where they spend their days swimming around and around. They are unable to leave their small aquarium, making it almost like a jail cell to them. They are held in bondage, limited by the glass walls the zoo erected in order to showcase them to the public. Most likely, these sharks do not know that they are encapsulated in a watery prison in Forth Worth, which exists thousands of miles away from their true home in Australia
Much like these sharks, those who have not accepted Christ as their Savior are in bondage, but believe they are free. However, no man apart from God is truly free. Instead, they are mastered and enslaved by sin (Rom. 6:14-15). Only by the saving work of Jesus Christ are we made free (Rom. 6:18).
What are we made free from?
We are free from the mastery of Satan and sin over our lives (1 John 5:19; Rom. 6:18). When we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, the bondage of sin is broken (Rom. 6:7). We are no longer mastered by sin (Rom. 6:14). Instead, we are free to make our own choices, choices that we could not make apart from Christ’s redeeming work in our heart, leaving us free to work for God’s glory and not our own glory.
If we do not profess Christ as our Savior, then we are in bondage. We may believe ourselves to be free, but we are not. We are actually driven and forced by an unredeemed heart. This means everything we do is tainted by sin.
It is a popular thing right now to send relief efforts to those in need, which is a good and needed charity, but is done for the wrong reason. Meaning we help the tsunami victims in Japan because we ultimately want to promote ourselves.
Another popular bandwagon that people jump on is social justice. Fighting for equality is an important task. However, without a redeemed heart, true equality will never be realized. In actuality, those working for equality will never see those they helped gain freedom as equals. Instead, they will continue to oppress the oppressed in order to glorify themselves.
Because the natural inclination of the human heart is to promote ourselves. And we cannot change that apart from the saving work of the Gospel. Only in the Gospel are we set free from the bondage of a sinful heart.
So then, only those who are truly redeemed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ are able to work and realize true equality without oppressing the people they helped because they are not seeking to glorify themselves; rather, they are working to glorify God.
As you can see, those who do not have a redeemed heart remain in bondage to sin and are not free, even though they believe themselves to be. Instead of freedom, they are enslaved by the Devil.
There is hope. True freedom comes through faith in Jesus Christ. Look to Him as your Savior, trust that He is the only one who can set you free from the grasp of Satan, and you will be free indeed.