Preach the Gospel
A proper understanding of the gospel is fuel for radical discipleship and radical mission. In the book of 1 Thessalonians Paul writes to the church, “We know brothers that you have been loved by God, and chosen by him, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and with full conviction.” In other words these were not people like those from Jesus’ parable who spring up to life because of joy for the word, but wither away and die as soon as the sun and the wind beat against it because they had no root. Paul is saying I know that is not you, I know you really understand the gospel. And the way I know it is because it moved you to full conviction.
In the rest of 1 Thessalonians chapter one he lays out what full convicition looks like. He goes on to say, “you turned from idols to serve the living God.”And, “You became a follower of us and the Lord because you received the Word in much affliction so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.” Finally he says, “From you the Word of the Lord has sounded forth everywhere.”
If you really understand the gospel, that you were dead in sins and separated from God, that you were an enemy of God, and that Jesus came a did what you could never do. He lived a sinless life. He died on the cross to pay for your sins so that you could be reconciled to God. If you really get that, then radical discipleship comes next. You will lose anything. You will turn from idols to serve the living God.
Jesus says the kingdom of God is like a man who finds a treasure and buries it in a field. He then sells all of his possessions to purchase that field. When you know what you are getting in Christ, you will be willing to lose anything for it. Then you become a follower. You receive the Word. As Paul says to the Thessalonians, “You received it as what it is, the Word of God which is at work in you.” Then you become an example. Paul says to the Thessalonians, “you became an example because you received the word in affliction.” We become the greatest example when we follow Christ when the suffering comes. Finally, Pauls says, “The Word of the Lord sounds forth from you.” This is the radical mission part. If you understand the gospel, you will go out from your Macedonia and Achaia. You will leave your comfort zone and go to people who do not look like you, dress like you, or talk like you. The gospel is a sending gospel. It will call you out of your comfort zone to tell others.
If you understand the gospel, you will lose all to follow Christ.
Afshin Ziafat is the Pastor of Providence Church in Frisco, TX, and guest instructor at the Kanakuk Institute.