Kevin Hay

Taking Up the Sacred Mantle: The Church’s Gospel Authority

Christ has entrusted the church with the responsibility to identify who is making a credible profession of faith in Christ, based upon their life and testimony, and who is therefore baptized into the visible body of believers known as the church. This is a major aspect of what church membership is all about. It’s about individual believers expressing a desire to be united to a true, biblically sound church, and in turn, that church mutually affirming professing believers as members of the body with all the privileges and responsibilities that come with that reciprocal relationship. 

What authority does the church have in the world? Not only is this an important question, but it’s a question that has been at the center of recent conversations concerning the topic of  Christian Nationalism. Yet, when we consider the purpose of the local church, we must understand that this is also a question that gets to the very heart of the church’s God-ordained foundation and function. Therefore, the more specific question we need to be asking is this: What authority has Christ given the church? 
As we prepare to answer that question, we need to begin in the Old Testament. There, we discover that, under the Old Covenant, three offices comprised the divinely designated representatives of God. Those representatives of heaven included the prophets, who declared, “Thus says the Lord,” as they spoke to the people of God on behalf of God (Isa 4:22). It included the priests, who mediated the Old Covenant through sacrifices (Lev 9:15). And it included the kings, who ruled and reigned over the children of Israel (2 Sam 2:4). But now, through the New Covenant, Jesus has been revealed to be the fulfillment of all three of those Old Testament offices. He was and is the ultimate Prophet, Priest, and King. As the Word of God made flesh, Jesus is the Prophet who always proclaims the truth of God (Deut 18:15; John 1:1). As the Mediator of a new and eternal covenant, he is the High Priest, who himself has become our once, for-all-time, sacrifice (Heb 4:14). And as the one who reigns from heaven and will reign on earth, he is the King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev 9:16).
Like a divine rope with three strands, it is by this three-fold office that the crucified, resurrected, and ascended Christ now leads his church to carry out the gospel mission, as his ambassadors and representatives upon the earth. As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:17–21:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
The Authority to Make Disciples
So, when was this ambassadorial authority given to Christ’s followers? To see that, we turn our attention to the gospel of Matthew. As we do, it’s worth noting that Matthew’s gospel is primarily focused on helping Jewish believers understand how Jesus, the Messiah and King, has inaugurated his Kingdom and how he expects his Kingdom citizens to live and operate. Of course, as Jesus enters the scene of redemptive history, as recorded in the gospels, he is doing so as the one who has all authority. And, with that authority, he makes a fundamental shift in who represents heaven on earth.
We find that exact moment in Chapter 28 of Matthew’s gospel. Even before his crucifixion, Jesus had commanded his disciples to meet him in Galilee after he was raised from the dead (Mark 14:28). Following that instruction, along with a helpful reminder from an angel at the tomb, the disciples meet the resurrected Christ on a mountain in Galilee (Mark 16:7). As he appears to them, Jesus begins by establishing his all-encompassing authority, declaring, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (v. 18). Notice, that no domain is excluded in this proclamation. Jesus is saying, unequivocally, that everyone and everything, both in heaven and on earth, is within the realm of his sovereign rule and reign. And it will be upon this basis that Jesus grants his disciples the authority to make disciples. 
We see this sacred mantle delivered by Christ in verses 19–20. Jesus says:
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
This monumental mission has traditionally been called the Great Commission. Notice that the apostles, who will go on to become the very foundation of the church, are not given a mission to be mercenaries who create converts by force. They’re not called to be vigilantes of law and order who wield the sword of retributive justice. And, they’re not called to obtain political power in order to overthrow the Roman Empire. No, the sacred mantle Christ entrusts to his disciples is the divine authority to proclaim the Word of God and shepherd the people of God for the glory of God. 
In short, disciples are entrusted with the privilege and responsibility to make disciples. We accomplish this, first and foremost, by proclaiming the gospel from our neighborhoods to the nations. Salvation comes only through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, so we must share the good news with everyone in our spheres of contact and influence (Rom 10:13–17). From there, as Jesus explains, disciple making involves baptizing believers in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This public profession of faith and identification with the risen Christ and his church, is the believer’s first act of obedience to Christ. This, then, leads to the culminating portion of Christ’s commission, which is teaching believers to continue submitting to Christ’s lordship in all things, with the accompanying promise that he will always be with us. 
The Authority to Affirm Believers
Thus, it is the church of Jesus Christ, with her Lord as the Head, who now represents heaven on earth (Eph 5:23). As Christ’s ambassadors, the church now bears the weight of the sacred mantle, appointed to fulfill a calling of eternal significance. Yet, one of the great challenges found within the responsibility to make disciples is the existence of imposters. Like Satan himself, who disguises himself as an angel of light, there are imposters in this world who claim to be genuine believers in Jesus Christ, and fellow representatives of heaven, but are not (2 Cor 11:14–15). Jesus warned us of these people and provided the criteria by which to discern their true spiritual identity (Matt 7:15–20).
It is for this reason that the church has also been given the authority to affirm true believers, which we find prescribed in Matthew 16.
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Finish Well

Transitions in pastoral ministry are sometimes outside of our control. Regardless of the specific details, we must always remember to rest in the reality that God is sovereign. We may not be able to dictate the duration or our direction, but we can determine our actions.  As we consider the example of Paul, whose life was purchased by the Savior and empowered by the Spirit, may we always seek to finish well.

Unlike God, who is immutable, human beings experience change. It’s an integral element of our human experience. Recognizing our sinfulness, we’re grateful for the ability to change, as the sanctifying work of God’s Spirit is increasingly shaping and molding us to be more like Christ (2 Cor 3:18).
In addition, the Lord has designed our world to undergo perpetual change (Gen 8:22). For most of us, we’re no longer experiencing the warm evenings associated with summer. Instead, we’ve recently begun to feel the cool, crisp air of autumn. Looking around, we see the vibrant colors of leaves changing and falling. The breathtaking beauty of this convergence of seasons reminds us that our sovereign God orchestrates the timing of all things with profound precision. It also helps us to remember, even when life is challenging, that the seasons and circumstances of our lives are completely under his lordship and control. As the nineteenth-century Dutch theologian, Abraham Kuyper, so famously said:
There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!’1
This reality is especially comforting when we encounter life’s transitions. Whether we’re leaving one job and beginning another, moving from one community to another, or perhaps retiring from a career and preparing for a new season of life, transitions are inevitable. This concept is also true for pastoral and ministry assignments, as we see evidenced in the life of the Apostle Paul. Throughout Paul’s life as a minister of the gospel, the Lord was sovereignly directing his path every step of the way. Paul often had plans for ministry, but the changing circumstances providentially dictated when and where Paul would travel next (Acts 16:6).
In Acts 20, we find an example of how Paul navigated these ministry transitions. For context, while embarking on his third missionary journey, the Apostle spent time ministering in Ephesus and ran into a great deal of hostility. A riot broke out in Ephesus after Paul preached the gospel, which precipitated the need to leave Ephesus earlier than he had planned. Yet, through it all, even though the circumstances and seasons of Paul’s life were ever-changing and often unpredictable, what didn’t change, by God’s grace, was his Kingdom-centered perspective.
He Provides Encouragement
We see the Apostle’s approach in the first two verses of Acts 20. It says there:
After the uproar ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and after encouraging them, he said farewell and departed for Macedonia. When he had gone through those regions and had given them much encouragement, he came to Greece (Acts 20:1-2)
Notice, first, that as God moves Paul around, from place to place, even very rapidly at times, the Apostle does not focus on personal rejection or allow himself to be swallowed up by self-pity. Instead, during these seasons of transition, Paul seeks to be an encouragement to others. He’s intentionally coming alongside the saints who are serving and ministering in various places, and he’s finding ways to build them up and strengthen them in their faith.
Why is this important? Well, because believers don’t always do a very good job of encouraging one another. In fact, discouragement comes quite naturally to us. We do that in a variety of ways:

By being harsh or overly critical
By disrespecting and offending
By being envious and jealous
By failing to show patience
By gossiping

These are just a few of the ways believers can sometimes discourage one another, and they’re all like a poison to the health of the local church. Yet, encouragement is something we all need, especially during times of transition (Rom 1:11-12). So, regardless of the circumstances, rather than being self-focused, let’s be Kingdom-focused and fight for encouragement.
He Desires to be an Example
The leadership Paul displayed in this account is remarkable. Picking the text up at verse 17, it says:
Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him. And when they came to him, he said to them: ‘You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ’  (Acts 20:17-21).
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The Glory of Christ’s Church

As we consider our calling as the Church of the living God, may we begin by recognizing how God sees us in Christ. May we start by realizing what God has declared about the purpose and nature of the Church, not settling for something that falls far short of the divine reality, but instead, setting our gaze upon the glorious certainty of what God is actually accomplishing through His Son.

What is the Church? If someone were to ask you that question, how would you respond? Would you reference the difference between the local and universal Church? Would you explain where your particular church is located? Maybe you would talk about the people who make up your church. Or, perhaps you would describe the programs and activities that your church is engaged in. Whatever your answer to that question may be, Scripture provides us with a number of descriptions which help us understand the nature and identity of the Church.
The Church is the Body of Christ
In Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthian believers, he writes to them, saying:
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body (1 Cor 12:12-20).
Certainly, the most familiar of all the metaphors and descriptions for the Church found in Scripture, is the body. God, in his infinite wisdom and grace, has provided us with reference points, if you will, in order to better help us understand who and what the Church is. In doing so, he takes something far beyond our mind’s comprehension and brings it down to a level that we can begin to consider. Like a loving and patient father, our God stoops down, as it were, and provides us with descriptions we can understand.
Here, in 1 Corinthians 12, he does so through the Apostle Paul by referencing our own human bodies. The point of comparison is simply to say that just as the human body is one entity, yet has many members, such as ears, eyes, feet, and hands, so it is with the Church. The universal Church is one entity, yet it is comprised of believers from every nation, language, and people group of the world, with Christ as the Head (Col 1:18, Rev 7:9).
Now, there is certainly a profound mystery found within this metaphor, as we also find it utilized in the book of Romans, Ephesians, and Colossians, and recognize that in some unfathomable way we are spiritually united to Christ, who is seated at the right hand of the Father (Eph 2:6). Yet, at least one thing is obvious. This glorious description of the Church stands in blatant contradiction to the division and individualism found to be so prevalent in our culture, today. The Church of Christ is a living, active body of believers who are dependent upon their Head and upon one another.
The Church is the Temple of God
Turning our attention to the next description of the Church we find in God’s Word, the Apostle Paul writes to the Ephesian believers, saying:
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit (Eph 2:19-22).
The magnificence of this metaphor should not be overlooked. Since every genuine believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, Paul uses the picture of a temple to explain that the Church is being built as a place where God, himself, lives both now and for eternity. Testifying to the Spirit’s divine authorship, the Apostle Peter echoes this same idea, saying:
As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Pet 2:4-5).
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The Church’s Cosmic Mission

From the human perspective, however, God is doing all of these amazing things through the message of the gospel. The Church, motivated by God’s glory and empowered by God’s grace, reaches out and impacts the lives of those around them by heralding the good news of what Jesus has done. According to his grace, God saves sinners and is glorified. This is why we exist as the church. This is our eternal purpose. May we come to realize the divine mystery of the gospel, be driven by the divine motivation of our calling, and more consistently and effectively carry out our mission, by God’s grace, and for God’s glory.

Several years ago, I read a story that has stayed with me. The author described an event in his family’s life, writing the following:
A few years ago Lisa and I took our four children on a day trip to Cunningham Falls State Park in Western Maryland. As we were leaving, a kind, elderly gentleman urged us not to head back toward Baltimore until we got a good look at the sky on what promised to be a crystal clear evening. “You’ll never be able to see such a pretty sight back in the city with all that haze and light pollution blocking your view,” he warned us. We gladly took his advice, stopping at a Dairy Queen drive-through and finding the nearest overlook off Route 70. We sat there in the fading light, finishing our cones, talking and anticipating the natural beauty we were about to behold. As dusk settled in, however, so did our grip on reality: we realized we wouldn’t have been able to see a meteor shooting ten feet away because we were looking through the smudged windshield of a well-used minivan belonging to a family with four small children.
Fortunately, with a little glass cleaner from the glove compartment and the roll of paper towels no family minivan should ever be without, Lisa was able to remove years of nasty film formed by the mysterious substances of childhood. In minutes, the glass was so clean that it blended imperceptibly with the world just outside. As the darkness of a summer evening fell, our family was mesmerized by the stunning splendor of a full moon, vivid in the western Maryland sky and set among what seemed like twice as many stars as there ought to be. We sat in speechless awe as the heavens declared God’s glory. And not once did anyone say, “What a beautifully clear windshield!”1
That story is such a great illustration of God’s purpose for the Church. Although we, as sinful human beings, are prone to smudge up the proverbial windshield, causing our focus to be hindered by many distractions, the Word of God provides us with a glorious picture of the grand, redemptive purpose God has given the Church. If we can simply catch a glimpse of that purpose, then it will radically transform and motivate us to effectively carry out our God ordained mission. There is arguably no better place to see that mission more clearly than in the book of Ephesians.
The Mystery has been Revealed for the Church
Beginning in chapter 3 of Paul’s letter, the Apostle writes:
For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel (Eph 3:1-6).
For the sake of context, a great deal of enmity and hostility existed between the Jews and Gentiles in Paul’s day. The Jews saw themselves as God’s chosen people. They viewed their standing as righteous before God and directly in the center of all his plans and purposes. Their view of the Gentiles, however, was just the opposite. Although they knew the promises God made to bless the Gentiles (Is 49:6), their predominate attitude was one of arrogance. Many saw their Gentile neighbors as nothing more than second-class citizens, at best. Against that backdrop, Paul wanted the church to understand that God has revealed a great mystery.
So, what is the mystery? It is that through the gospel, God has provided a way of reconciliation to all humanity, not just for the Jews but also for the Gentiles. In other words, Jews and Gentiles who savingly trust in Jesus are on equal footing before God. Now, for many Jews, this was entirely inconceivable. They couldn’t imagine a scenario in which they would be spiritually equal with the Gentiles. Yet, just as God revealed to Abraham, this was his plan all along (Gen 17:5-7, Gal 3:8). So, throughout redemptive history, God was revealing more and more about this mystery until it was fully unveiled in Christ. As Paul quoted from the prophet Hosea in the ninth chapter of Romans:
Those who were not my people I will call “my people,” and her who was not beloved I will call “beloved.” And in the very place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” there they will be called “sons of the living God” (Rom 9:25-26).
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The Sheep Need Shepherds

We serve a God who has designed the church with very specific features and functions. In his divine wisdom, he has planned out the integral parts of the church for particular purposes. Yet, because he loves us, he has also established that design with our spiritual advantage and joy in mind. Therefore, whether we’ve been called to be elders who will give an account for those souls entrusted to our care, or we’ve simply been called to submit to the care of those who have, Scripture is abundantly clear that the sheep need shepherds.

Throughout Scripture, there are certain themes that show up again and again. One of those is the concept of shepherd. The job of a shepherd was to care for a flock of sheep. Shepherds were tasked with the responsibility of protecting the sheep from predators and guiding them to good pastures for eating and suitable streams for drinking. As we read the Bible, especially the Old Testament, we realize that many of the men God called to carry out his plans and purposes were shepherds by trade. Abraham was a shepherd. Isaac was a shepherd. Jacob was a shepherd. Moses was a shepherd. David was a shepherd, and of course, Jesus revealed himself to be the good shepherd (John 10:11). In fact, in the Psalms, even God is referred to as the shepherd of Israel (Ps 80:1), and the children of God are called the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand (Ps 95:7).
This rich, biblical theme is important to understand as we consider the words of Peter in 1 Peter 5:1–5. There, the apostle writes to believers who have been scattered to different areas throughout the Roman Empire due to persecution, saying:
So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed:shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Pastor John MacArthur, in his commentary on 1 Peter, provides us with valuable details regarding the context of Peter’s words in this letter. He says there:
As Peter penned this epistle, the dark clouds of the first great outbreak of official persecution, instigated by the insane Emperor Nero, were already gathering on the horizon. Seeking scapegoats to divert the public’s suspicion that he had started the great fire of July A.D. 64 that devastated Rome, Nero pinned the blame on the Christians, whom he already perceived as enemies of Rome, because they would worship none but Christ. As a result, they were encased in wax and burned at the stake to light his gardens, crucified, and thrown to wild beasts.1
So, what does all of this have to do with shepherds? Well, in light of the historical context, Peter’s purpose for writing this letter is really three-fold:

It’s to encourage these believers to remain steadfast in their faith in the face of the persecution they are experiencing.
It’s to remind them of the special privilege they have been given as children of God, although they do not currently see it or feel it.
And, finally, it’s to remind them as individual believers, and as churches, how they are called to live and function in the midst of everything they’re experiencing.

In a word, the people of God were suffering and being scattered, but God had not left them without shepherds. The Lord had given them elders to care for their souls, and it is these elders that Peter addresses in 1 Peter 5:1-5.
The Biblical Role of Elders
Looking again at verse 1 of our text, Peter writes:
So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed:
Notice, first, that Peter writes with the presupposition that churches have elders. He’s not addressing a single elder, but rather, he is exhorting the elders among God’s people. So, let me ask you, does your church have a plurality of elders? Do you have a group of godly, qualified men who are prayerfully seeking to shepherd your congregation according to the Word of God, by the grace of God, for the glory of God? If the answer is no, the next question must be, why not?
In case anyone is tempted to think that this is an isolated assumption on the part of Peter, the reality is that a plurality of elders is the pattern for local churches in the Bible. For example, in Acts 14:23, we find Paul and Barnabas appointing a plurality of elders in every church they were ministering. Later, in Paul’s letter to Titus, he tells him that the reason he left him in Crete was that he “might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town.” (Titus 1:5).
Throughout the New Testament, there are three main titles that all refer to this same biblical office. Whether it’s elders, overseers, or shepherds, all three synonymous terms refer to a body of qualified men whom God has called to lead the church. In fact, Peter uses a form of all three terms in the first two verses of our text:
So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed:shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight. (1 Pet 5:1–2).
So, Peter is addressing this exhortation to those who hold the biblical office of elder, perhaps even with the words of the resurrected Christ echoing in his mind: “Feed my sheep” (John 21:17). In doing so, he wants them to look both backwards and forwards. Looking back, Peter wants his fellow shepherds to consider the sufferings of Christ. In doing so, he wants them to realize that nothing they are currently experiencing can compare to the full weight of God’s wrath being satisfied by Christ for their sins. Looking ahead, he wants them to consider the future crown of glory that is reserved for those who endure to the end because of what Christ has done.
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The Centrality of the Gospel

Healthy churches don’t just use the gospel as a tool they have been given. They don’t think or talk about the gospel like it is merely an addition to their lives. But rather, they cling to it, with every ounce of their collective being, because they know that without it, they are both hopeless and helpless. But with it, they know that they have the very power of God, himself, working in them and through them, for their good and his glory.

In Paul’s first recorded epistle to the church of Corinth, the Apostle was writing to a church plagued by disorder, divisions, and a host of difficulties. To put it mildly, the Corinthian church had major issues. However, as complicated as some of those issues were, their root cause was all the same: they had taken their eyes off the gospel. So, Paul wrote 1 Corinthians to put the church in order. He was writing to refocus their attention and to unify them around the gospel. But, of course, to be unified in the gospel, you must begin by getting the gospel right.
This is the fundamental premise of 1 Corinthians 15:1–2. Paul writes,
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
The gospel is not just another message. It is not a fable or some mythological tale, but rather it is the power of God unto salvation (1 Cor 1:18). The gospel is the good news of who God is and what he has done for us through his Son Jesus Christ. And therefore, it is this good news that all healthy churches are anchored to and empowered by.
Healthy Churches Know the Gospel
Paul begins by calling the church to remember the gospel. “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel…” (v. 1a). So, what is the gospel? Paul proceeds to tell them in verses 3–4:
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.
Therefore, at its most fundamental level, this is the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the saving message of Jesus’s substitutionary death, burial, and resurrection from the dead. And what does Paul say testifies to this reality? It is the sound doctrine which has been revealed to us by God in the Scriptures.
Too often, churches become distracted by secondary matters. Even with good intentions, their ecclesiastical eyes become preoccupied by peripheral issues. However, Paul makes it clear that the primary focus of every healthy church must be the gospel.
Healthy Churches Proclaim the Gospel
The pattern Paul puts forth, then, is one that both the Corinthian church and every other church should follow. Just as Paul proclaimed this gospel to them, they should be a people who proclaim this message to others. There are two specific verbs that are important to note from the text. Looking first at the beginning of verse three, Paul says, “For I delivered to you…”
So, notice that this is not a message Paul invented. This is a message that was authored by God. Paul is simply being faithful to convey it accurately. Therefore, delivering is a matter of stewardship. This, too, is the job of the church. The church has not been called to be innovative. We have simply been called to be faithful. So how do we do that?
Well, that leads us back to Paul’s reminder in verse 1: “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you.” This is a word that means “to herald” specifically good news. It is also the origin of our English word, “evangelize.”
Thus, the role of preaching is like that of the medieval town crier. Before the days of newspapers or modern media, it was the job of the town crier to stand up among the citizens of the town square and proclaim the news given to him by the king. It was the town crier’s job to deliver the news of victorious military battles, royal decrees, and the like.
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