Power of the Gospel Easter 2020

The Power of the Gospel

Romans 1:16

I think all of us would agree that this is the most unique Easter Sunday that we have ever experienced. As I reflect on the significance of this Resurrection morning, I am more keenly aware and more convinced TODAY than ever before concerning the POWER of the GOSPEL. When I was a sophomore in high school I had a personal experience with Romans 1:16, and as a result it has become my life verse. That verse IMPACTED my life then and continues to encourage and amaze me almost daily. It says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.”

Let me briefly EXPLAIN my personal experience. As a teenager I was struggling with the issue of “Can you be cool, an athlete & popular and also be a good Christian. I was at a local sporting event where the participants were Alabama football players. A linebacker named Paul Crane gave me his autograph and signed Romans 1:16. I didn’t know what that verse said so I couldn’t wait to get home and look it up. It impacted my life in a profound way as God confirmed to me; “You put me first, seek after me and I will take care of all the rest.” I can testify that He has been faithful over the years and there is power in the gospel when you make it a priority.

The power of the gospel flows through the conduit of the CROSS and RESURRECTION! From Genesis to Revelation the Bible is a book of redemption and it records the stories of men and women who embraced the gospel and who walked by faith as they “looked unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2) The author of Hebrews honors the faith and obedience of so many, some named and many unnamed, who lived and died by the power of the gospel. We are familiar with the famous names like Noah, Abraham, the Patriarchs, Moses, David, Gideon, Samson, just to mention a few. However, the great Hall of Faith chapter (Hebrews 11) mentions the deeds of many whose names we do not know, known only by those who held the ropes as their frail bodies were lowered into an unmarked grave. Yet, the Scriptures in Hebrews, “of whom the world was not worthy…and all these having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise [that is, on this earth]. God having provided something better for us…” (vv. 39-40) Concerning Hebrews 11, Tim Keesee in his book “A Company of Heroes” observes, “…the chapter [Hebrews 11] is not a display of human of greatness but rather one that magnifies God’s grace.” (p. 20) Their redemption stories reveal the power of the gospel on display through human frailty.

And throughout history the life changing power of the gospel has been demonstrated through average men and women as well. As a young Christian I read the stories of these ordinary men and women, who faced extraordinary obstacles day after day, yet by the power of the gospel; a gospel accomplished through the cross and resurrection, they walked by the power and presence of the Living Savior. As I spent time with these people through the pages of their biographies, I was awakened to real heroes, unlike the superficial and shallow lives of people promoted as heroes, as these rare individuals proved there is another way to live, and die!

People like:

  • Bill Wallace (China)
  • Jim Elliot (Ecuador); The Edge of the Spear
  • David Livingstone (Africa)
  • So many, many more

These men and women lived and died through the power of the gospel!

Today I have a different vantage point and it has blessed my life with a greater appreciation of the power of the gospel. In my journeys across the globe I see those who are alive by His life and I stand in awe as they face death threats, live under the dominance of corrupt governments, endure persecution & poverty and minister among deeply entrenched godless religions and pagan customs.

People like:

  • Mitch & Carol Mitchell (S Africa & Zimbabwe); who planted a church in a garbage dump called Engozi Mine
  • Dumi & Salomi Ndvolu (Bulawayo, Zimbabwe); who planted the Gospel Rescue Mission church and by last count, that church has sent our pastors and started 53 other churches
  • Henry Seeverrii (Jingi, Uganda)
  • Joseph & Josephine Olowo (Kampala, Uganda); he born again out of Islam and face death threats almost daily for many
  • Andre & Andretta (South Africa); started the Africa 4 Jesus ministry that rescues young adults from a lifestyle corrupted by chemical and relational abuse
  • Norman & Gabi Schaeffer (South Africa); a mainstream pastor who continues in retirement to disciple and encourage young leaders
  • This is just a sample of the Savior’s army who live by His resurrected life.

And, there are the countless numbers of pastors whose faces I see at night when I lay down in a bed with clean sheets and a place my face on a nice soft pillow; luxuries they do not have. They walk or ride bicycles on dirt roads for miles and miles to attend an encouragement conference, arrive wearing baggy trousers, a wrinkled shirt and shoes with holes. Yet, their faces are adorned with a huge smile; their white teeth glistening, contrasted against a beautiful black face. They labor in obscurity as faithful foot soldiers in the army of the Lord Jesus. Each and every day they live by the Life of the Living One who embraced the CROSS with joy and whose triumphal resurrection conquered sin, death, the grave and hell.

Oh, I tell you there is life changing, transforming POWER in the gospel!

Each of us has experienced the celebration of many Resurrection Sundays but this one is different, in fact, special I think. I saw a post on FB the other day that said, “This Easter Sunday will be different but for the first time it will be like the early disciples experienced who huddled in small groups; many of them fearful, not knowing what would happen next.” They didn’t fear a virus but a hostile Roman government and determined religious authorities. “ Our world is different. There are new fears & tears, new threats, challenging changes that come with steep learning curves. But because He died…because He arose there is no foe we cannot face with courage.

  1. is my EASTER PRAYER that we understand the resurrection is the key to faith over fear, reward over risk, and God’s path to experiencing a death-defying joy in the midst of panic and pain.

I PRAY that we will embrace the power of the gospel and accept the reality of the resurrection and the grandeur of our citizenship in the kingdom of God as Paul described, “For the Kingdom of God is not in word but in power.” (1 Corinthians 4:20)

I close with a common greeting, that served as both a salutation and good-bye, used by the first century believers and recorded at the close of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church (1 Corinthians 16:22) was “Maranath!” It is a strange Greek construction that poses difficulty in verb translation. Literally it means; “The Lord has come and is to come.” Or, as I am fond of saying: “The King has come and everything changed; His Kingdom is here and nothing can compare.”

 

                                                                                                                                                                                    (Easter April 2020)          Ldw