The Power of the Gospel

I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
– Philippians 1:12-14

This Sunday during the New Members Class we share our testimonies of salvation and how God continues to work in our lives. We always think of our testimonies as our stories but really it is God’s great story of sending His Son to sacrifice Himself on the cross and then to rise from the dead. There is power in the Gospel! The message of Christ changes lives! The beautiful thing about the Gospel is that it knows no boundaries. It does not matter the life situation, the background, or even the eloquence of the speaker; God’s Spirit can break down any wall and lives will be changed.

One great example is Paul, who was a murderer of Christians. While Paul was on his way to persecute Christians he met Jesus and Paul’s life was changed. Paul wrote many of the books within the New Testament, and one of those books is Philippians. In Philippians Paul talks about this great power of the Gospel. In Chapter 1 of Philippians Paul mentions two examples of the Power of the Gospel. The first is Paul’s situation of being in jail. Jail is often a broken place full of hopelessness, especially during Paul’s time. Yet the Gospel breaks through the situation, and Paul makes it known that throughout the whole imperial guard the Gospel has gone out. The second situation is the speakers themselves. Paul says that some are not preaching with the right motives, yet Paul says, “…whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.” The Power of the Gospel breaks through any situation, the darkness of prison or the poor motives of the speaker.

The Gospel brings eternal life and it knows no boundaries; no matter the situation, the truth of the Gospel does not stop. This gives us strength to speak Jesus Christ to those God brings into our lives. People need to know the Gospel, people need to meet Christ. That is why we serve, go on Mission Trips, go to Breaking Bread, and much more. Paul in Romans says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Who do you know that needs to hear the Gospel? By that I don’t mean just invite them to Church, but God wants you to share. Don’t be ashamed of the Gospel. Speak truth and watch God break down the walls.

Samuel

And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.” – 1 Samuel 3:8-10

If you’re a parent I’m sure you’ve had the experience in which you were calling one of your children but they would not respond. You call them and maybe they hear you, or maybe they don’t hear you, so you keep calling over and over again. Usually this can lead to frustration within the relationship.

God and Samuel find themselves in an almost similar situation. Samuel has laid down for the night to rest and he hears what he believes to be Eli calling out for him. So he runs in and asks Eli what he wants. Eli says that he had not called for him. This happens two more times and each time Samuel thinks Eli has called for him. By the third time, Eli catches on to what is happening. He realizes that it is God calling out to Samuel. Eli instructs Samuel to answer the Lord next time he hears the voice. A fourth time now Samuel hears the voice, and instead of running to Eli, Samuel says these great words: “Speak, for your servant hears.” Samuel now understands who is calling him and he responds to the Lord and seeks what He wants. The Lord tells Samuel a difficult message, that God has rejected the sons of Eli. This is a hard message for Samuel to pass on to Eli, but he is faithful to God’s words to him.

The story points out that God had not spoken much to his people at this point. It even points out that Samuel did not yet know the Lord, so all these things led to confusion for Samuel. Samuel heard the voice but he didn’t know it was God calling to him. So often in our lives we can seek out God’s plan and yet miss it simply because we weren’t listening. We don’t hear God’s voice in the same way as Samuel; instead we hear it through His Word, through prayer, and through the counsel of other believers. In those areas we know that God still speaks, often all He wants is for us to acknowledge that we hear him and we desire to listen for what He has for us. That is the second lesson from Samuel. He was faithful. He did not get the most uplifting message from God, yet when Eli asked, he knew he had to tell even though he didn’t want to. God desires that we are faithful to him. That we follow through and live the life to which he has called believers. Sometimes it can be easy, other times it can be difficult. Yet in everything, God wants us to acknowledge Him and be faithful to His instruction. God wants us to repeat the same word as Samuel: “Speak, for your servant hears.”