We often times take the Gospel of Jesus Christ for granted. We seldom, if ever, think of all the blood, sweat, and tears that have been expended for the sake of the Gospel. We go about our daily affairs as if nothing had ever happened. The Gospel of Jesus Christ has always been around. How it came down to us rarely enters our minds.
In our text, the apostle Paul reminds the Christians at the church in Corinth of the Gospel’s cost. It didn’t come to them without any sacrifice involved. That’s why he strongly encourages them to hang on to the Gospel. It cost God’s servants a great deal to bring the Gospel to them. Paul gives a list of all the hardships he encountered as a result of spreading the Gospel. He endured imprisonment, hunger, beatings, catastrophes, and so on for the sake of ensuring that the Gospel reached the Corinthian church--and eventually us. Now he encourages them to hang on to the Gospel so that all he endured wasn’t for nothing. They should value the Gospel with their lives.
These same words of encouragement are intended for us as well. In a world where the emphasis is on material success, and individualism and humanism reign supreme, it’s easy to devalue the Gospel and pack it away in the closet to forget about it. Unfortunately, at times, we don’t value the Gospel. We need the same reminder that Paul gave the Corinthian church.
What would we do if the Gospel we sometimes take for granted were taken away from us? That is a possibility. God could take His word away from us. Maybe some of us think, "Not a big deal. I still have food on the table, clothes on my back, and a roof over my head." We’ll see where that kind of attitude gets us when we’re six feet under, because we all will be, eventually. If God took the Gospel away from us right now, how would we come to know Him and be saved? The Gospel is more necessary than we sometimes are willing to acknowledge. Praise God He hasn’t taken it away from us.
If we think we can get along just fine in life without the Gospel and God’s word, think again. We aren’t going to live on this earth forever, no matter how invincible we may think we are. We will appear before God. Without the Gospel, we won’t enter heaven. Maybe that’s not a concern now, but I guarantee you, it certainly will be on the Last Day. But the catch is that on the Last Day it’s going to be too late to have a change of heart all of sudden toward the Gospel. So what’s my point? Believe the Gospel now and treasure it with all of our heart.
Again, if we don’t value the Gospel, it could be taken away from us. This is a law of life, so to speak. When there isn’t a demand for something, it disappears, right? Look at what happened with the Kodak Company. It used to be one of the biggest companies in our country. But then along came the digital camera. That meant there was no longer a need or demand for camera film. Eventually, Kodak stopped making film and went into bankruptcy. Not too long ago the company came out of bankruptcy, but it no longer produces film for cameras. Do we get my point? If we don’t demand the Gospel, it could be taken away from us.
What are we telling Jesus when we take the Gospel for granted? Well, in essence, we’re telling Him that His sacrifice on the cross doesn’t mean that much to us. "Who cares if it cost you your life, Jesus. I got other things to occupy my mind. There are other things more valuable than you." Maybe it’s time we evaluate where the Gospel stands in our lives. Are we taking the Gospel for granted and extremely undervaluing the cost to our Savior?
That is certainly happening in our country--and even in our own church body. Our synod is shrinking. In some areas of the United States our synod has shrunk by at least 25% in the last decade. Maybe the Lord is sending us message through these statistics. If people aren’t interested in the Gospel, then why not shut down churches and other places of worship. Maybe God is saying, "I’ll take the Gospel away from them." Perhaps this is the message God is sending us. I hope this will wake us up.
Sometimes we have to lose something before we begin to appreciate it. At times, that can be a sad lesson and irony. We take God’s blessing of a home for granted. While we had the home, we did nothing but complain about it. Now it has burned down to the ground, and we don’t have a place to live. Oh how much we now appreciate that home. We’re singing a different tune now. Or, we complained about our job. Just last month we got laid off. The bills are piling up. "Boy, I sure wish I had my job." I could go on with other examples. I think we get my point. Maybe that is what it will take for us to appreciate the Gospel.
I do, however, want to commend those of us who have a passion for the Gospel, who don’t take it for granted and fully realize what life would be like without the Gospel. I pray that God will continue to bless those of us who treasure the Gospel, his word. It’s people like you who have ensured that the Gospel is transmitted to the next generation. Maybe we don’t see the reward of passing the Gospel on right now in our lives, but have patience. When we are standing before God, He will say, "Well done, good and faithful servants." Ensuring that the Gospel is still around isn’t a vain endeavor.
I hope God will incite a desire to appreciate the Gospel in those of us who presently don’t. It’s not too late to repent and ask the Lord for forgiveness. And He will forgive us. That is what the Gospel is all about.
Let’s think about the cost to our Lord. We don’t hesitate to think about the cost when comes to our own affairs. When we want to put an addition on our house or our church, don’t we think about the cost? When we buy a car, don’t we take into account the cost? Most normal people do. Let’s think about the cost of the Gospel so that we won’t take it for granted and so that we will develop a deep appreciation for it.
If we have a deep appreciation for the Gospel we will be more inclined to support it so that the next generation may be blessed by it. We will be concerned about the Gospel’s existence and take steps to ensure it will still be around.
Praise God for the saints of the previous generation who understood the cost of the Gospel to Jesus and did what they could so that the Gospel could reach our generation. We owe them much gratitude.
I hope successive generations will be able to say the same about our generation. I hope they will be very grateful for all of our efforts at preserving the Gospel for them. This is the kind of legacy I want to leave behind. Don’t you? I hope we do. Without the Gospel in the world, our world would be a barren place. People would be without hope. Is that the kind of world we want to pass on to the future?
We Christians can make a difference in the lives of people even though many today laugh at our efforts. God has chosen to use the Gospel to save the world. It may seem ridiculous to many people. If people want to laugh and berate the Gospel, that is their choice. But in the end, God will prevail, and the laughs of those who deride the Gospel will be turned into tears.
If the Gospel were of little importance to God, He wouldn’t have died for us. It cost Jesus His life. So it must be of colossal importance to God. If it means that much to Him, it must mean that much to us.
I pray that the cost of the Gospel, which was Jesus’ life, will compel us to value the Gospel and not take it for granted. The Gospel means life for those of us who believe it. May it continue to be around for us and our children and their children.