How should we proclaim the gospel ‘Jesus Christ as Lord’ to those who are perishing? (Part 2)
In 2 Cor. 4:5, Paul explains the role of the evangelist. “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” Today, I will attempt to show how v. 6 should be the driving force of v. 5. “God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (v. 6). God is passionate about his glory in all things, including the gospel. Rom. 9:22-23 teaches us that God has deferred his wrath with patience “in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he prepared beforehand for glory” by his grace through the Son.
Whoever serves, [let him do it] as one who serves by the strength which God supplies–in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen (l Pet. 4:11).
In this second post concerning the role of the evangelist, I aim to briefly show the manner in which we should proclaim the gospel “by the strength which God supplies” for the glory of God.
In Acts 2:14-41, Peter was filled with the strength supplied by the Holy Spirit. He boldly proclaimed the truth of the gospel at Pentecost, shortly after Jesus was killed by the lawless sinners he was preaching to. 3,000 were ‘cut to the heart,’ believed and repented of their sins that day as God shone in their hearts “to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
I believe Peter’s sermon in Acts 2:14-41 is a model proclamation of the gospel, for the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. His sermon at Pentecost was centered on the Scriptures (cf. 2:17-21, 25-28, 34-35), Christ-centered, and boldly proclaimed. Peter was passionate about the all-surpassing beauty and glory of the gospel of Christ when he spoke before the assembly. Therefore, in v. 36, he expounds Psalm 110:1, saying, “Let all of the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
At the moment Peter said, “God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” v. 37 says, “Now . . . they were cut to the heart” (also cf. Acts 16:14b). Jesus explains the role of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in John 16:14-15. “[The Spirit of truth] will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you” (cf. John 15:26). Therefore, 3,000 believed after Peter preached at Pentecost because the Holy Spirit ‘cut to the heart’ all of those whom God “shone in [their] hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,” who is both Lord and Christ. In other words, the Holy Spirit ‘cut to the heart’ of those who believed that day to declare to them they were Christ’s.
Paul, who wrote Rom. 11:36 (“For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”) also wrote “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” Do you preach the gospel like Peter and Paul? You should. I am not suggesting it is necessary that we proclaim the gospel exactly this way, but it is important we tell the old, old story in a way that keeps Christ at the center and honors what the Bible says about Jesus. All other forms of persuasion should be peripheral to the gospel news, including apologetics and our testimonies. “For what we proclaim in not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord . . .” Please do not hear me the wrong way. I am not saying apologetics or our testimonies should not serve evangelism. They should. However, they should never take the place of the gospel news.
Hopefully this post will help you as an evangelist to preach the supremacy of Christ and his all-satisfying sacrificial death on the cross, on our behalf, for the forgiveness of sins, in a way that magnifies the glory of God by your passion to tell people about it.
- God plans to fill the earth with the knowledge of his glory: “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Hab. 2:14).
- Jesus desires that his sheep see and enjoy his glory: “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24).
- God forgives sins for his name’s sake: “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25).
- God put forward Jesus to vindicate the glory of his righteousness: “[God put Jesus] put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:25-26).
- He chose his children for the praise of his glorious grace: “. . . he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:4-6).
Brothers and sisters reading, tell the gospel with these things burning in your bones. Tell it to your friends, co-workers, Sunday School class, or whoever you meet.
Scripture texts about the glory of God were taken from John Piper’s list of biblical texts that show God’s zeal for his own glory (November 24, 2007).