A local gospel

“through Him we have obtained grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among the nations for His name among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ. Romans 1:5-6

In our last episode we talked about the gospel being a global message.  But it is also a local message. Often I have heard people speak of traveling to distant lands to share the gospel. It is a somewhat glamorous and adventurous sounding thing to be a missionary.  But it always seemed strange to me when these same people wouldn’t share it in their own city. 

I went on one international mission trip a number of years ago.  It was a wonderful week and the people were so very responsive to the gospel.  And then I came back home and it was over.  A few years after that I became heavily burdened for my own city and for seven years I was heavily involved in local evangelism.  I was a missionary to my own city.

In Mark chapter 5 there is a very dramatic story of a demon possessed man whose life had been absolutely wrecked and humiliated by the devil.  Nobody had been able to help him.  They could only try to restrain him.  But Jesus came and set that hopeless man free.

Mark 5:18-20 And when He got into the boat, he who had been demon-possessed begged Him that he might be with Him. However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.” And he departed and began to proclaim in Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him; and all marveled.

Jesus turned this man into a local missionary.  He sent him among those who knew him and had seen his tormented life with a message and demonstration of freedom.

For those who may feel called to bring the gospel to foreign lands, I really do appreciate that work of God in you.  But while you are waiting to go there, go here.  Bring the gospel to your family, friends and workplace.  Go into the streets of your city and preach as boldly there as you hope to overseas.  The lost and dying are everywhere.  If you don’t care about those nearest to you then you are not ready yet for those far away.

Lord, give us your heart for the world. Even that part of the world we live in every day.

A global gospel

“through Him we have obtained grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among the nations for His name.” Romans 1:5

When Jesus was physically on the earth His ministry was almost entirely to the Jews.  They were, after all, the chosen people.  In fact, the first time Peter took the gospel to a Gentile (Cornelius the Centurion), there was a bit of contention about it.

“Now the apostles and brethren who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision contended with him, saying, “You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them!” Acts 11:1-3

So Peter explained the whole thing to them starting with the vision he had from God that he should not consider unclean what God had cleansed, the summons to Cornelius’s house, and their eager reception of the gospel and the Holy Spirit.  I love the response in verse 18:

When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”

Every time I read that passage I can almost imagine what it was like to be there.  A holy hush came over the room as the largeness of God’s plan was revealed.  And it was startling.

This was something new to them, but not to God.  It was always part of His plan that this great salvation should be for the Jew and the Gentile.  Jesus Christ is worthy of the whole world.

Isaiah 49:6 Indeed He says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, And to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’

Jesus reiterated this in Mark 16:15 when He said  “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”

Every people group, every ethnicity, every race are to hear the gospel of grace.  The offer is extended to all, with no distinctions made.  There have been perversions of the gospel that have excluded some people or created artificial hierarchies in the kingdom.  These are all antichrist.  We see a picture of the kingdom Jesus is building when we get a peek into heaven:

Revelation 7:9-10 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

It is a beautiful multi-colored kingdom that Jesus is building. Diverse but unified in the glory of the lamb. So preach the gospel everywhere and to all people. Let the Lord be magnified among the nations. Bring His salvation to the ends of the earth.