The Work of the Gospel
The terms ‘missionary’ or ‘mission work’ are not Scriptural terms but terms that grew out of religious organizations, sending out adepts on missions whether social or religious. How different the work of the Gospel, or ‘ministry’ is, ‘…the work whereunto the Spirit has set them apart’ (Acts 13:2).
The work is the LORD’s to do. Any that He sets apart for the work is by His choosing, sending, and sustaining. We are but to pray the LORD of the Harvest that HE send forth labourers into His harvest, Matthew 9:38. Here are 10 qualities of a true Gospel work.
1. The work of the Gospel is to exalt Christ and not ourselves- v.15, “And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein…” When the hearers would exalt Paul and Barnabas, they deflected the glory to the LORD alone, knowing themselves to be sinners of like nature as those that would exalt them.
2. The work of the Gospel is to call sinners to the Sovereign Christ and LORD- v. 16, “Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.”Nations are the LORD’S to do with what He will, passing by some, and turning others to Christ in faith.
3. The work of the Gospel is to declare the mercy of God for undeserving sinners- v. 17, “Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.”Whether God ever reveals Christ in any sinners at all, by His grace, He still is a merciful God in withholding judgment, even for a time, and nurturing and providing for the worst reprobate.
4. The work of the Gospel is to point sinners to the ONE unique sacrifice of the LORD Jesus- v. 18, “And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them.” While these would have offered sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas, they vehemently restrained them, knowing that only ONE sacrifice is acceptable to God…that of His Son the LORD Jesus, for salvation, justification, pardon and glorification before God.
5. The work of the Gospel will bring opposition from natural minded religionists- v.19, “And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.”Works religionists will always oppose the message of grace in Christ Jesus.
6. The work of the Gospel will advance, as God has purposed, in spite of men’s opposition- v. 20,“Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.” Natural minded men may attempt to stop the message of Christ, but none can stay His hand or say unto Him, “What doest Thou?” (Daniel 4:35)
7. The work of the Gospel is not only in the converting of sinners but in confirming them in the grace of God- v. 21-22, “And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” The electing, redeeming, justifying, calling, and keeping are the LORD’s!
8. The work of the Gospel is in the raising up of congregations under the leadership of men appointed for the well being of those congregations- v. 23, And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the LORD, on whom they believed.”Elders minister unto the LORD and oversee as undershepherds the sheep of the Great Shepherd and Bishop of their souls, 1 Peter 2:25.
9. The work of the Gospel is in following the LORD’S direction as to where, when and how He purposes- v. 24-26, “And after they had passed throughout Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia. And when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down into Attalia: And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled.”These did not organize and strategize, but followed the LORD’s lead where His Spirit directed.
10. The work of the Gospel always accomplishes what God purposed– v. 27, “And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.”
Pastor Ken Wimer
"Afresh, precious, precious Jesus, I resign this body to You, for doing or suffering, for living or dying. Will You accept it? Will You use me for Your glory more than heretofore, that You may have some little return for all the benefits You have done to me? Oh, do grant this request; my heart longs for it, my spirit pleads for it; and "if You will, You can." You know the hot temptation of which I am the subject. Bring Your glory out of it, and keep me from the evil, and it shall be well." - Ruth Bryan