Share the Good News – Romans 10:13-15

For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” – Romans 10:13-15 NIV

All who call on the name of the Lord (proclaiming him as Lord and believing God raised him from the dead) will be saved. This promise is not just for the few, but is for all. But there is a catch. How can folks call on the name of someone they have not heard about?

This passage emphasizes the importance of sharing the good news with the world around us. Without hearing the good news, people cannot accept it. It is easy to think that people in the US have ample opportunity to hear the gospel, and in a sense they do. But who do they hear it from? I can’t say that I ever hear the real gospel proclaimed apart from a church sponsored event, and many times not even then. So if a person never went to church, which is true of most people where I live, they would never really hear the gospel. They will only know what is portrayed on the popular media and news, and that is generally not the gospel of the Bible. Even in the US, people need us to share the good news with them.

How beautiful the feet of those who will share the good news of Jesus with the people around them. What a blessing to know that you have been instrumental in someone coming into the kingdom of God.

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Calling Matthew – Matthew 9:9

As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. – Matthew 9:9 ESV

On the Jewish ladder of society, tax collectors were about as low as one could go. Tax collectors were traitors to the Jewish people, collecting taxes for the Roman occupying force as well as enriching their own pockets. It is quite likely that Matthew had no friends other than fellow outcasts of society. That makes this event all the more significant. What would happen to Jesus reputation when others found out that he was hanging out with a hated tax collector? Would it cost him in the latest popularity poll? Would he have a revolt within his closest followers?

Jesus seemed not to care if others approved of his choice in disciples. Nor, I suspect, did he check first with those he had previously called to see if they could work with him. Instead, Jesus simply called this hated tax collector to follow him. And Matthew, like the four fishermen earlier, left his former occupation behind and followed Jesus, inviting those he knew to come and meet his new Lord.

I must confess that I am not comfortable interacting with some segments of our society. Lord, give to me a heart that would love like you do, and eyes that would be blind to the outward appearance but open to seeing people the way that you do.

Dressed in Camel’s Hair – Matthew 3:4

Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. – Matthew 3:4-6 ESV

John the Baptist came to prepare the way of the Lord, announcing the arrival of God’s anointed one. If I had been in John’s place, it is likely that I would have thought Jerusalem would be a better place to make the announcement. And I would probably have tried to make myself more presentable to the people I was trying to reach. But John did neither of those things. He setup out in the wilderness, and he dressed more like Elijah than a respectable preacher. And yet the crowds flocked to him from all over the region, and many confessed their sins and were baptized.

Today it is tempting to appeal to people using the latest in technology and the entertainment world, seeing ourselves as just one voice among many, and trying to out compete the others. But John’s example tells us that so long as the Holy Spirit is leading and working through us, and we are faithful to him, that we do not need to focus so hard on appealing to the crowds. There is nothing wrong with using technology, but the power of our message and appeal should be in the Holy Spirit, not in our professionalism or human appeal. It is the Holy Spirit who calls people to salvation, not our presentation.

A Star in the East – Matthew 2:1-2

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” – Matthew 2:1-2 ESV

Matthew starts his birth narrative with the familiar story of the wise men from the east who followed a star to Jesus. Who were these wise men from the east? It is likely that they were Zoroastrian astrologers from Persia, outside of the Roman empire. What was the star they followed? There are many explanations: a supernova, a nova, a comet, an eclipse, a planetary alignment, or an angel with a flashlight. Ultimately we don’t know what this ‘star’ was. But it was something that had meaning to these astrologers, telling them of the birth of a king. And it led them to make a long, dangerous, and arduous journey, carrying costly gifts to give to the new king.

I find it interesting that in this most Jewish of the gospels, that right off the bat we see the rejection of Jesus by the ruling establishment, while he is worshipped by foreign adherents of another religion. The star called these men to come and worship Jesus, and they followed it until they found him. Likewise, God’s Spirit calls on all men to bow before the Lord of all creation in worship and surrender. If we follow that star (the Holy Spirit) wherever it leads, we will find eternal life. If, like most people at Jesus birth, we ignore the star, we will remain in darkness.

Consuming the Word – Rev 10:10

And I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it. It was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it my stomach was made bitter. – Revelation 10:10 ESV

As the Revelation continues, John sees an angel with a scroll that he is commanded to consume. So he takes the little scroll and eats it, finding it sweet in his mouth, but bitter in his stomach. After this he is told to once again prophesy to many peoples. This is very similar to what takes place in Ezekiel 2:8-3:3 where the prophet is given a scroll filled with words of woe, told to eat it, found the taste to be sweet, and then told to proclaim the words.

We are not prophets, at least not like Ezekiel and John, but I do believe that what they saw here has relevance to us today. Think of these scrolls as the word of God, the Bible. We need to consume it. Not just some parts of it, but entirely. We will find that the word of God is good and sweet as we read it. But how often do we find it bringing conviction to our own lives, making it appear less sweet, and sometimes even bitter. Or how often is it difficult and/or challenging to proclaim the message it calls us to proclaim to those around us? Surely it is bitter to talk to unsaved and unresponsive loved ones about the coming judgement of God.

So let’s follow the example of John, consuming the whole Word, making it a part of our lives. We will find it sweet at times, and bitter, or hard, at other times. But always it is good.

One Thing I Know – John 9:25

He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” – John 9:25 ESV

How many believers are afraid or unwilling to witness to others about Christ? I suspect that for many, if not most, the reason is either that they fear the consequences, or they don’t know what to say. And if you find yourself in the second camp this man serves as a shining example. Jesus had healed his eyes, enabling him to see for the first time in his life. But because the healing took place on the Sabbath the Jewish leaders were all up in arms and interrogated the healed man and his parents. His parents refused to testify as to how he was healed because of fear, the first reason given above. But fear did not stop the formerly blind man, nor did a lack of knowledge. He freely confessed what he didn’t know, and stuck to what he did, to what had happened to him; “I once was blind, but now I see.”

This is such a good example for all of us. Don’t get hung up on what you don’t know. Instead, be willing to share what the Lord has done for you (Mark 5:18-20). That is really what a witness is; one who shares what they have experienced.

Repentance and Faith – Acts 20:21

I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus. – Acts 20:21 NIV

While I know that this was not all that Paul taught, it was at the center of his proclamation. Theology is good and helpful for growing in our knowledge of God, and Paul gave us a lot of theology. Apologetics is also good, helping us to give answer to those who ask why we believe (1 Peter 3:15-16). But evangelism, proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ, is essential for reaching the lost world around us. And at the heart of the gospel is this call to turn to God in repentance, and trust your life to the lordship of Jesus. It is a call to surrender.

A Vigilant Watchman? – Acts 18:6

But when they opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent of it. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” – Acts 18:6 NIV

This passage is reminiscent of Ezekiel as a watchman (Ezek. 3:16-21), where God calls Ezekiel to warn the people of God’s judgement on their sin. If he warns them, then they are responsible for their response. If he does not warn them, then he bears responsibility for their blood. In this passage Paul has been testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah, filling the role of Ezekiel’s watchman. But many of them opposed his message and his response to them mirrors what Ezekiel might have said: I warned you and am innocent of the judgement that will fall on you; you bear responsibility for your blood.

I am not Ezekiel, nor am I Paul. But I wonder how much responsibility I have for those I could have shared Christ with, warning them about their impending judgement, and yet failed to do so?

Even on the Gentiles – Acts 10:45

The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. – Acts 10:45 NIV

Peter had been invited to the home of Cornelius, a Roman Centurion, a despised Gentile. And God instructed him to accept the invitation. Then, when Peter shared the gospel with Cornelius’ household, the Holy Spirit was poured out on them; they were saved. The response of those with Peter is priceless; the Holy Spirit has come ‘even on Gentiles’. Amazing!

Are there Gentiles in your life? People you would not expect God to accept, and would be shocked if they came to salvation? The lesson that Peter and those with him learned is that God is no respecter of persons (vv. 34-35); he accepts all who come to him regardless their background. The question then for me is, have I learned this lesson; am I willing to be used in calling them?

Being a Witness – Acts 1:8

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” – Acts 1:8 NIV

Was Jesus instruction to be his witnesses given solely to those who were gathered with him at the time, or is it broader than that? It was given specifically to those who were eyewitnesses of what he had taught and done. Their witness was critical to the early spread of Christianity. But while I am not an eyewitness of his life 2000 years ago, I can and should bear witness of what he has done in my life. Being a witness is not optional for a follower of Jesus.

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