2005-07-11 - Changelessness
Originally Published 2002-10-21
1 Thessalonians 2:3,4 For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit; but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men but God, who examines our hearts.
Paul is here defending his ministry. He says that his ministry is not something that stems from his own merits, but rather, he says that he has been entrusted with the gospel. The one who has entrusted him with the gospel is none other than God Himself, and it is His sovereign grace and authority that have made Paul approved for what he has been called to do. Paul gives the glory for his ministry to the Source of his ability to minister, and in so doing, sets an appropriate example for us to follow.
He says that he has been entrusted with the gospel. The essence of his ministry was the gospel of salvation. Since the ministry of Paul was centered in the gospel, it is crucial that we know what the gospel is. It is not, as many are prone to think, a code of ethics or morals. Rather, the gospel is really a system of doctrine that concerns God, man and their relation with each other, in view of sin and Christ. The gospel is the good news of a plan of salvation revealed in the Bible, and applied to our hearts by the Holy Spirit. When Paul says that he has been "entrusted with the gospel," he is claiming that he is a steward of the truths of salvation, as revealed by God.
The gospel is changeless. I have been in the desert and on a glacier in Iceland. The gospel is the same in both places. Heat can't scorch the gospel, and cold can't make it numb. I have been in some of the largest cathedrals in Europe, and in a country church that couldn't even seat 10 people. The gospel is the same in both places. It has nothing to do with position in life. I have heard homeless men articulate the gospel more clearly than some of the wealthiest people I have ever met. The gospel is the same in Africa as it is in China or Mexico City. It is the same in the Northwest territories of Canada, and in the heart of New York City.
The gospel is the free offer of forgiveness from sin, to all who will come to Christ in repentance and faith. It is, as John 3:16 tells us, for "whosoever." And it was the gospel with which Paul was entrusted in his ministry. To some extent, as those who maintain the same faith that Paul held, the gospel has also been entrusted to us. The gospel lives on, beyond Paul's ministry through us. Paul has died, and so will we, but the gospel goes on, through the power of God and His sustaining power. It is a wonder to know that God, in His plan, uses us to maintain His cause and the cause of the gospel in the world.
An interesting quote:
"The Bible, which ranges over a period of four thousand years, records but one instance of a death-bed conversion." William Guthrie
Soli Deo Gloria,