The three articles which commence this series deal with the benefit which the assembly derives from preaching the gospel. Our writers are eminently qualified to deal with the subject. Clarence Black is an esteemed shepherd who has labored hard in the gospel. Our brother Crawford has given over half a century to making Christ known. Our brother David Oliver is highly respected and has been used of God in preaching the gospel.
It is clear from such Scriptures as Romans 1:13-15 that it is the mind of God that the gospel be preached as part of the assembly testimony. It has often been said that we will either evangelize or fossilize. An aged servant of the Lord, now home in heaven, said that if the assemblies do not win “new blood,” they will die!
It is the purpose of this article to delineate some of the ways in which the assembly, as well as the unsaved, profit from the consistent preaching of a clear gospel message.
The first purpose of any meeting is to bring glory to God and honor to Christ. With this in mind, it is important that we be careful as to what we say and how we say it. When the gospel is preached well, Christ is honored. But given that this is the primary purpose of any gathering, what are the other areas in which the assembly profits from the preaching of the gospel?
Promotion of Worship and Thanksgiving
When Christ and the cross are preached, our souls are warmed, our eyes filled with tears and our hearts are filled with worship. We have thanked God that we are hearing once again the message we have heard so often and love so well. Within our beings we have been caused to say, “How good is the God we adore.”
The Righteousness and Holiness of God Upheld
Before the good news of the gospel can be poured into a soul it is necessary to show the utter depravity of mankind and our accountability to God. This has a sobering effect on both the speaker and the hearer. The contrast between a righteous, holy God and an individual should bring about conviction of sin and repentance in both the sinners and in erring believers. This has resulted in the lost being saved, erring Christians being restored and, on occasion, an assembly cleansed of defilement.
Precious Souls Saved and Lives Changed
What an encouraging event it is to see a dear soul come under the conviction of sin and then to see the light of the gospel shine into a darkened soul, as the birth from above takes place. No one who has experienced the “birth pangs” in relation to some precious soul will ever forget the moment of delivery. In certain cases, marriages are saved and homes established. It is precious when the assembly shares in seeing them take their first steps of obedience in a public way as they are baptized and then gathered to that Name above every name, unto Him, outside the camp!
Development of Local Gift
We can thank God for the gift of the evangelist who goes to “regions beyond” with the gospel and who establishes a new work, having the joy of seeing new assemblies formed. We also thank God for giving such gifts to local assemblies. These men have an exercise to carry on assembly gospel testimony. We are confident that there is no where such gift can develop or even be recognized as it can in the assembly. I have had godly and able young men inquire as to the function of local gift, lamenting that gift is imported, preventing the development of gift locally.
Knowledge of God’s Word
In order to present a sound gospel message, the speaker must search the Scriptures and memorize verses so that an orderly presentation is possible and that texts can come to mind as required during the message. This concentrated study, with the help of the Holy Spirit, broadens the knowledge of the Word of God and of God Himself. This promotes spiritual growth in the individual, whether the preparation is for a gospel meeting, children’s meeting or Sunday School class. Coupled closely to this is what can be called, “seed for the sower.” It is interesting that as the gospel is preached, some careful listener who is responsible for presenting the gospel on occasion, may gain a new thought or insight which can be developed and used in a future message. Most who preach or teach would acknowledge this as their experience.
Increase in numbers should not be our chief reason for preaching the gospel. For the joy of the assembly, however, and the testimony in the community, it is nice when the assembly is thriving numerically. We should avoid pressure tactics at all costs. This results in “strange children.” We cannot do what only the Spirit of God can do (John 3:6). We should, however, be fervent in our gospel zeal and attempt to be in such a condition that the Holy Spirit can work ungrieved, and new faces can be seen in the assembly.
More Profitable Bible Readings and other Meetings
It is so enjoyable when there are newly saved people at the Bible readings or ministry meetings, with pencil and paper in hand waiting, like little birds, searching for the food they keenly anticipate. It makes the readings lively when they ask questions which no one else thought of asking. It also is a great joy to hear them arise and thank God for His Son, perhaps jarring us from the complacency into which we might be sliding.
Joy of the Lord’s People
When help has been evident in gospel meetings, even if no one professes to be saved, there is joy. This is because the gospel has been preached with power and Christ has been exalted. This is evident by the hearty conversation and the fellowship enjoyed at the conclusion of the preaching. When souls are saved, our joy is even greater.