I was driving down the A50 on my way to one of the Network cluster groups that we organise. As part of the New Springs UK national ministry I host a number of these groups in various parts of the country. Their purpose is to envision, empower and bring support to ministers and full time Christian workers who are on the frontline in the Kingdom of God.
Anyway, on this particular occasion I was travelling to the North Midlands and as I often do when I’m travelling – I was trying to use the time wisely by praying, thinking and listening to various leadership seminars on CD.
I had recently acquired a CD of Bill Hybels the minister of the 20,000 strong church congregation in America known as Willow Creek. It is actually located just outside Chicago. I often listen to his leadership seminars, I find them very inspiring and provoking. Bill was specifically addressing senior pastors in this particular teaching seminar and as usual it was well worth the listen – but to be honest what really grabbed my attention was ‘the bonus track’.
Sometimes Bill’s leadership CDs include a separate unrelated message – as I have indicated this is what they call ‘the bonus track’. This time it was a recording of a sermon Bill Hybels had preached at Willow Creek over the Easter period last month. He was simply sharing what is known as the gospel message. I always find it both refreshing and inspiring to hear a preacher preach the simple gospel of Jesus Christ. Sadly nowadays it is something that isn’t done half as much as it should be. As he spoke of the cross and the resurrection, the forgiveness of sin, salvation and how to receive the gift of eternal life, I found it relevant, vibrant, fresh and profoundly powerful.
You know, even after all these years of being a Christian, (it is now some forty five years since I first gave my life to the Lord Jesus Christ and invited Him to become my Lord and Saviour), I still find it incredibly touching when the true gospel message is preached with clarity and simplicity and under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. As I listened to Bill Hybels through my car CD player whilst traveling down that A50 dual carriageway, I was confronted again with the immensity of God’s unconditional love and I must confess I found myself profoundly moved, truly affected and deeply grateful and I couldn’t help but weep.
As I write this, I am reminded of the words of one of those very, very old hymns written by an American lady by the name of Mary D James in the mid-1800s. A hymn entitled, ‘Oh This Uttermost Salvation’. This is what she wrote…
‘Oh this uttermost salvation!
‘Tis a fountain full and free,
Pure, exhaustless, ever flowing,
Wondrous grace! it reaches me!
It reaches me! it reaches me!
Wondrous grace, it reaches me!
Pure, exhaustless, ever flowing,
Wondrous grace! it reaches me!’
OK it may be written in 19th century vernacular, but it sure does sum up exactly what the gospel message does to me every time I hear it preached or presented well. It reaches me!
You see, over the years I must have heard the gospel message preached a thousand times or more and I ask myself why on earth does it always reach right into the depths of my soul and have such an affect upon me? In the Bible – in the book of Romans, chapter 1 and verse 16 – it gives me the reason why. There it tells us plain and simple without any frills… ‘The gospel’ is nothing less than ‘the power of God unto salvation!’
This word gospel literally means ‘good news’ and there is no greater news than what Jesus offers. His good news, His gospel is not only life transforming but eternity changing as well. The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is the best news anyone will ever hear, and what a person does with that news will determine where that person spends their eternity.
You see the gospel of Jesus Christ is God’s rescue plan for ordinary people like you and me. He has worked it all out, He has done all that needs to be done and there is nothing more for us to do. Now that is good news!!
No wonder the Apostle Paul, again in Romans chapter 1, says he was not only ready to share the gospel but he was also eager to share the gospel without any shame whatsoever. And why? Because he knew, the gospel was and it still is the power of God that leads to salvation for everyone who believes!
When believed and applied the gospel of Jesus Christ is truly life transforming and hundreds of thousands of people alive today have experienced such a great transformation. And do you know what? It is no secret what Christ can do, what He’s done for others He can do for you! Now that is not only good news – it is great news!
This is a special month at New Springs because right through from start to finish we are putting on a number of special events that will enable us to share the wonderful gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in the best way we know how!
And of course, it would be remiss of me not to mention the fact that this month is General Election month. Political commentators are telling us this is the most fascinating and important election for decades. The political landscape has changed dramatically over the last five years since the last election. No longer is it as simple as being a two horse race. It looks like coalition and political pacts are here to stay. The truth is there are several minor parties such as the Lib Dems, UKIP, SNP, Plaid Cymru, and the Greens who relatively speaking will only win a handful of seats but could well end up with the overall balance of power! Who’d have thought it?
The big question is, when push comes to shove who will work with who? Don’t be surprised if there are a few surprises irrespective of what the various parties are saying prior to the election. It’s amazing how a sniff of power can cause a compromise of long held principles! Anyway, whatever you do, make sure you exercise your vote. You see it’s only those who turn out who can make a difference.
The political pundits keep telling us this election could change everything. They are wrong; it’s Jesus Christ and His glorious gospel that changes everything!
So, here’s to a great, if not fascinating month!