Oh the power of the Gospel to transform lives! Right now, a flood of names are running through my mind, lives that have been revolutionized – dramatically changed – through the message of the Gospel! One such name I was reminded of this morning was my own grandfather, Ephraim Robert Bartel, a German immigrant, known for being “a hard man” – hard, mean, demanding to his wife, his children and others who knew him. I’ve heard the stories – my father shared some of them with me, there were rumors in our community, my aunt struggled to forgive him… But one day he responded to the gospel and my pastor as a boy, Leon Mitchell, testified, “I’ve never seen such a dramatic change in a person’s life!” From “hard” to tender, from scowling and frightening to children to kind and generous with them! What a change! (See the picture of Ronan Assembly of God with Grandpa Bartel, after his conversion, circled… There are some Bartel boys in the picture too. :-))
No wonder Apostle Paul exclaimed in Romans 1, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to EVERYONE who believes!” (1:16)
That powerful message – the message of God’s provision to forgive our sins and transform our lives through what Jesus accomplished through His death on the cross and His resurrection – must be treated with integrity! It must never be compromised, distorted or diluted! In fact, this morning I read a passage that emphasized precisely that point… Here’s what the Apostle Paul said about His personal ethics and integrity in sharing the Gospel…
“Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. We have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways! We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled (or hidden), it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world (Satan) has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness!” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (From 2 Corinthians 4:1–6 ESV)
So this morning after reading that passage – and reflecting on it’s truth – I found myself saying, “Oh Lord, may what Apostle Paul had to say personally always be true of me! May I always communicate and share the Gospel with integrity!” I have to admit, I also felt concern for those who claim to share the Gospel but distort it, dilute it, compromise it, and use it for personal advantage! Shame on anyone who does that – God, Himself will hold them accountable!
Oh the power of the gospel! The same power and Person who spoke light into existence at creation, through the Gospel speaks “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God” into the lives of people today and they are TRANSFORMED! A “new creation” in Christ Jesus – “the old has passed away – behold the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Oh the power of the Gospel!