Q. How does preaching the holy gospel open and close the kingdom of heaven?
A. According to the command of Christ: The Kingdom of Heaven is opened by proclaiming and publicly declaring to all believers, each and every one, that, as often as they accept the gospel promise in true faith, God, because of Christ’s merit, truly forgives all their sins. The Kingdom of Heaven is closed, however, by proclaiming and publicly declaring to unbelievers and hypocrites that, as long as they do not repent, the wrath of God and eternal condemnation rest on them. God’s judgment, both in this life and in the life to come, is based on this gospel testimony (1).
Read: (1) Matt. 16:19; John 3:31-36; 20:21-23.
I am terrible giving surprises and gifts. I get so excited that unless I make an effort, I end up spilling the beans. I get so excited about imagining the expression in the person’s face. The eyes. The smile. The shriek. The laughter. It makes me feel giddy. I simply can’t wait to experience the joy that the receiving person feels when I have a surprise. I bet you feel the same way! But what if I told you that you don’t have to wait anymore? You can give the best gift ever, every single day and wait and see what God does as we share Christ with others. Let’s study question 83 of The Heidelberg Catechism to see what this gift is and the power it has.
The Barna study of “Spiritual Conversations in a Digital Age” states that “a growing number of Christians don’t see sharing the good news as a personal responsibility. Three in 10 Christians who have had a conversation about faith say evangelism is the local church’s responsibility. In fact, when they asked, yes or no: Does every Christian have a responsibility to share their faith? Almost half of Christians disagreed! Lifeway shared the results of a study that showed that 61% of Christians haven’t shared the Gospel in the past 6 months! When it comes to sharing the Gospel, many of us believe that it is the pastor’s responsibility, it should be done only by “professional Christians” and increasingly, we think that our faith should be kept private. This tendency, dear sister, shows a lack of understanding of your calling in Christ.
See, Christianity is summed up in this statement: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. /this is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-29). It is not an ethereal, out there love that we show to an unknown deity. It is a love, rooted in the Gospel that allows us to understand that our Holy God has made a way for us to love Him in Christ and the outpouring of His love for us results in tangible actions that show love for God and for our neighbor. Out of that love, we engage in social justice issues. Out of that love, we look for ways to redeem culture around us. Out of that love, we give generously. But most importantly, out of that love, we sound the alarm of judgement and present The Gospel for salvation by faith in Christ alone. Sharing the Gospel is simply a love for God and a love for our neighbor and every single Christian is called to do so.
If we understood the power of The Gospel we would share it at every opportunity we get. Sister, we have been given the Keys to the Kingdom. People around us are running towards the flames of eternal hell and it is our privilege and our duty out of love for God and others, to share the antidote for this doom: namely, Christ.
If we had privy research for the cure of a deadly disease, if we had privy information regarding a terrible event, if we had privy information about a hidden treasure, then we would share it. It would be inhuman, unloving and disloyal if we didn’t. Then, why don’t we share the cure of sin, the escape from judgement of a Holy God, the treasure of The Gospel? Is it because we feel inadequate? Do we fear the judgement of others around us? Is it that we don’t understand that The Gospel brings from death to live? Or is it simply that we do not really believe in The Gospel’s power to save? Sister, why aren’t we sharing?
So today, as we close this teaching, I want to ask you to examine your heart and pray for a heart that is available and bold to share The Gospel, that is, the good news that Jesus saves sinners. I want to ask you to pray for daily opportunities to share The Gospel with people around you. And finally, sister, I want to ask you to pray for a heart that deeply loves and cherishes Christ and others so that we don’t become part of the 61% that doesn’t share the Gospel! May we wake up and understand the power and the joy that sharing The Gospel with others bring.