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The Mystery Of The Gospel

(Mystery, in the Scriptures, denotes that which is only known through revelation to those taught by the Holy Spirit.)

It needed a revelation from God indeed to enable men to discern the purposes of God in the gospel, to show clearly how and why Christ came to be made sin so that sinners might be saved. Without the assurance from the Word of God, men would not understand that God was giving to them an understanding of the only method whereby men can have their sins forgiven.

The word "gospel" occurs over and over again in the New Testament Scriptures. It means the "Good Spell," and the word "Spell" is the old Anglo-Saxon word for "story," hence the "good tidings "or the " good news." The original word translated" gospel" has been taken over into the English language with little alteration evangel - which has the same meaning. Hence the "evangelist" is the preacher of the good tidings. It is God's good tidings of salvation for the perishing, by the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

This good news is summarized in such well-known passages of Scripture as John 3.16, 1 Corinthians 15.1-5, and Romans 5.8.

It is the " gospel of God " (Romans 1.1), literally " The gospel out of God." God is the Author, the Source of the gospel.

It is the " gospel of the grace of God " (Acts 20.24), the unmerited favour of God. William Cowper said that when he read the words "justified freely by His grace," " My eyes filled with tears ; transports choked my utterance, I could only look to heaven in silent fear, overflowing with love and wonder."

It is "the gospel of the glory of the blessed God " (1 Timothy 1.11), because it unfolds and magnifies the God of glory.

It is the "gospel of His Son" (Romans 1.9), His only begotten Son, whom God spared not (Romans 8.32). "It pleased God," says the apostle, "to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles " (Galatians 1. 16).

It is " the gospel of Christ " (Philippians 1.27), for if Christ had not been raised there would be no gospel at all, we would still be in our sins (1 Corinthians 15. 17). Christ lives, as Peter declared in Acts 2.36, "God hath made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified." He is now exalted, at God's right hand, a Prince and a Saviour, who is able to save to the uttermost.

There is only one true gospel, though there are many false, socalled, gospels. So sure of his ground was the apostle Paul that he wrote, "Though... an angel from heaven should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema (accursed) " (Galatians 1.8). Very early in the history of the churches, various perversions and counterfeits of the one true gospel appeared. Virulent errors concerning both the Manhood and the Deity of the Lord had crept into the churches. A "gospel" that minimises the Lordship of Christ, that denies His Deity, misrepresents His vicarious death, detracts from His atoning work, denies His glorious resurrection is " another gospel." There are two Greek words for " another." One means " another of the same kind," which is used in John 14.16, but the word in Galatians 1.7 means "another of a different kind." This "other gospel" was a counterfeit, and the marks of a counterfeit are similarity without reality.

The strongest censure is brought against those who do not preach

the gospel in its purity. What a dreadful thing it is to impart wrong gospel

information, especially when it may bring damnation to the soul instead of salvation! The Lord described such preachers as "blind leaders of the blind."

The gospel is true because it emanates from God. It is not man-conceived, but God-revealed. He is the source. The apostle makes it abundantly clear that it came to him by revelation from heaven. He received it not " from man," nor was he taught it, " but," says he, "it came to me through revelation of Jesus Christ" (Galatians 1.12). The gospel is superlative, for it is. unique. It is the only true revelation from God. No wonder the apostle so ardently defended the gospel, that for which he not only suffered privations, suffering hardship unto bonds, "as a malefactor" (2 Timothy 2.9), and as generally understood suffered a martyr's death!

The gospel must be preached not only by lip but by life. "Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel"; yea, "I do all things for the gospel's sake," writes the apostle in 1 Corinthians 9.16, 23. The great commission has never been repealed, and as long as the Lord's word, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation" (Mark 16.15), remains in the Scriptures, it is our responsibility to comply with our Lord's command.

The gospel is for all, and must be preached to all. "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10. 13). That word " whosoever is one of the great universals of the gospel. In this appeal we have the whole range of the gospel, but scarcely has he begun that declaration than the apostle catches himself up with self-assessment, and begins to put the question "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach, except they be sent?" (R6mans 10.14, 15). That persistent How? How? How? demands an answer. What is the answer? Living men! Spirit-filled witnesses

The printed page, however useful, must never take the place, never be a substitute, for the living messenger. The printed page makes a man an inquirer, but the living voice makes it clearer and more convincing. To Philip's enquiry, "Understandest thou what thou readest ? ", the eunuch replied, "How can I, except someone shall guide me?"(Acts 8.30, 31). And so the evangelist, with a living message, enlightened his understanding. God uses men to make the message of the gospel vital and communicative.

Bunyan, in his apt way, gives us an illustration of this. Before Christian, his pilgrim, sets out, he has a book, he reads it with an inquiring mind, but with perplexity. He becomes an anxiety both to himself and his household. One day he is out in the green fields reading the Book that has both gripped and thrilled him, but has also saddened him. He cannot see the way through until there meets him a man called Evangelist. It was when Evangelist made the message live, that Bunyan's pilgrim found the Wicket Gate.

In the presentation of the gospel it is well ever to keep in mind the nature of Paul's message at Corinth - "Jesus Christ, and Him crucified," also his attitude of mind. "I ... came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming td you the mystery of God and I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling" (1 Corinthians 2.1-3). Why? Was he afraid? Ah no! His desire, the burden of his heart, was that the faith of these intellectual Greeks would stand in the power of God, for "the gospel is the power of God unto salvation."

Accurate knowledge of the Word should be associated with a heart of compassion. When our Lord beheld the multitudes as sheep not having a shepherd, as sheep going astray, His heart of compassion was moved. Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, cries,-" Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!

(Jeremiah 9.1). The poet says

Oft when the word is on me to deliver,

Lifts the illusion and the truth lies bare,

Desert or throng, the city or the river,

Melts in a lucid paradise of air,

Only like souls I see the folk thereunder,

Bound who should conquer, slaves who should be kings

Hearing their one hope with an empty wonder,

Sadly contented in a show of things.

Then, with a rush, the intolerable craving

Shivers throughout me like a trumpet call,

Oh to save these to perish for their saving,

Die for their life, be offered for them all."

Now to Him that is able to stablish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which hath been kept in silence through times eternal, but now is manifested, "to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever. Amen " (Romans 16. 25-27).