Privilege and Authority

Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us”. 
Romans 12:3 NLT

Is Paul getting a little ahead of himself, by claiming that he can effectively speak for God? He claimed that he had “privilege and authority”, a status not given by a societal or governmental process, but by God Himself. The problem for some people is that they do not observe, or participate in, the process that provides such authority. In history, many people have claimed that they have some special power or mandate given to them by God, and, through that, they have gone on to deceive people and lead them down a path that is nothing to do with God at all. The Bible accounts call them false prophets, and Jesus warned about them, as we read in Matthew 7:15, “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves”. So how can we validate Paul’s claim that God had given him His authority?

In the Matthew 7 account, Jesus went on to teach His disciples how they can avoid being misled by these false prophets. Matthew 7:16-17, “You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit”. And He finishes the section by saying, “Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions” (Matthew 7:20).

So back to Paul. He claimed that Jesus had appointed him to his ministry. “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him” (1 Timothy 1:12). Romans 1:1, “This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News”. Paul was obviously recognised as an Apostle by the other Apostles at that time. Paul met with the leaders of the Church in Jerusalem, and we read in Galatians 2:7-8, “Instead, they saw that God had given me the responsibility of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as he had given Peter the responsibility of preaching to the Jews. For the same God who worked through Peter as the apostle to the Jews also worked through me as the apostle to the Gentiles”. There are other verses in the New Testament that confirm Paul’s appointment as an Apostle, so we can rest assured that he did indeed have God’s authority, and he considered it a privilege.

If we apply the false prophet test to Paul, it soon becomes very clear that his single-mindedness in furthering the work of the Gospel throughout the Eastern Mediterranean region and beyond, often at great personal cost, was indisputable. No bad fruit there at all. And as a legacy Paul left us with his letters, that have shaped and instructed disciples ever since.

We believers, pilgrims for Christ, also have the same authority that Paul had. We read in Matthew 28:18-20, “Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age””. The early disciples were given the authority to make more disciples, who go on to make even more. And that process has been continuing ever since.

So, the question is, how many disciples have we made? We have Jesus’ request, His mandate, and authority to do so. Hmmm… 

Father God. Please forgive us for our lethargy in spreading the Gospel to those around us. We pray for Your guidance to take us the the right people, at the right time, so that we too can obey Your instructions to make disciples. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

The Full Number

“I want you to understand this mystery, dear brothers and sisters, so that you will not feel proud about yourselves. Some of the people of Israel have hard hearts, but this will last only until the full number of Gentiles comes to Christ.”
Romans 11:25 NLT

Paul unfurls a mystery before his readers. He said that while the people of Israel, the Jews, refuse the Gospel, the gentiles will benefit from God’s grace. But this won’t last forever, because there is a limit on the number of Gentiles who will come to Christ. The obvious question, of course, is – how many is the “full number”? Is God close to achieving that number? We don’t know – only God does. But there is coming a day when God will decree enough! And then we will see the hearts of the Jews responding at last to their Messiah. 

Jesus said, as recorded in Matthew 24:14, “And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.” The implication is that the “full number of Gentiles” won’t be achieved until the whole world, including all nations and people groups, have heard the “Good News about the Kingdom”. One statement that people who try to find fault with God suggest is that He isn’t fair, because there is always the possibility that someone, somewhere, will never hear the Gospel, implying that they will be denied the opportunity to respond to God. A good answer is perhaps the suggestion that if this concerns them then they should sign up to be a missionary just in case, and go and search out remote peoples and nations tucked away in some inaccessible corner of the globe. But, almost as a catch all, Paul wrote in Romans 1:20, “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God”. Jesus said that the Gospel will be preached everywhere, but Paul follows that up by the thought that people don’t really have an excuse if they fail to respond to God. One day, we will all stand before God but secure in the knowledge that He will certainly always be fair. People will only ever be judged on what they know, not what they don’t know. And we can rest assured that everyone will be judged by what they know, not what they don’t know.

We currently live in a season of grace. The full number of Gentiles as not yet been reached – we know that, because we do not yet see the wholesale softening of the hearts of the Jews. But it won’t be long. The number of different translations of the Bible is staggering. The extent and reach of the Gospel is as never before. There is a feeling of urgency in spiritual realms, and we can see the end time story unfolding and aligning itself to world events, just as the old Apostle John wrote in the book of Revelation. So how prepared are we? And how are we communicating that feeling of urgency within our families and communities? Do we pray everyday for God to wake up those around us and soften their hearts so that they will feel the gentle wind of the Spirit flowing around them and through them?

Paul wrote about the mystery of how God made the Gospel available to the Gentiles. Our gratitude can know no limits. God’s love for His family, regardless of their origin, is mixed with His grace to reach everyone who is open to Him. It is a mystery no more. It is reality.

Dear Father God. Once again we thank You for Your grace and love. Please lead us to anyone who has not yet responded positively to Your Good News. Over our lives we have planted many Gospel seeds. Please bring on a time of harvest before the final click of Your salvation clock. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Openly Confessing

“If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.”
Romans 10:9-10 NLT

Paul announces two behaviours in these verses that will lead a hearer to salvation. It is useful to note the emphasis on “will” and “are”. Salvation is a word often used to describe our future relationship with God, free from condemnation and hell. There will be a day when everyone will stand before God to give an account of their lives, as we read in 2 Corinthians 5:10, “For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body”. Thankfully, those Christians whose names are recorded in the Book of Life will escape an otherwise terrible verdict from the Judge, who will otherwise consign the defendants to a place where they don’t want to go. Jesus knew about such a book, when He said to His disciples, “However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). More was written by John in his Revelation, “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. … Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:12,15).

So, we pilgrims have publicly made a confession of our faith, that “Jesus is Lord”. And Paul writes that if we sincerely believe “that God raised [Jesus] from the dead” in our hearts, then we will be saved, at some time in the future. Paul goes on to repeat what he has just written, to emphasise that believing leads to a right standing before God and this, coupled with an open confession, means we are saved. All good? So we stood before the congregation in our churches, perhaps at the time of our baptism, and made an open confession of our belief that Jesus died for us. Some churches call it a testimony. And I’m sure that, when we said it, we meant it. So that means we are saved, and will be saved, doesn’t it? Well, I’m not so sure.

The tense Paul used when he wrote these verses implies a continuing behaviour, not just a once only experience. So perhaps it might be a bit nearer the truth to consider Romans 10:9 as reading, “If you openly go on declaring that Jesus is Lord …” and “go on believing in your heart…”. Just think about it. Imagine the scenario of someone who makes a public confession of their faith in church on a Sunday but then, on the Monday, returns to their old sinful lives, effectively nullifying their testimony. Will they still be saved? This brings us into the “once saved always saved” argument, which is beyond the scope of this blog. I personally believe that through the grace of God we are saved and will be saved, should we confess our sins and believe in our hearts, as Paul wrote. And God, who sees the end from the beginning, sees right into our hearts and knows how sincere we are. However, someone who once made such a confession, no matter how real or otherwise, can also choose to abandon said confession by neglect or downright denial. It’s a matter of their choice, which God, in the end, will honour, no matter how reluctantly. But no-one really knows what will happen when we come before God. Martin Luther is credited with making the following statement, “First, there will be people in heaven I did not expect to be there. Second, there will be people not present in heaven that I was certain would be there. Third is the greatest surprise of all—that I will be there myself!

There is only one way that we can be saved. In Acts 4:12, we read, “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved“. That is why Jesus came to this world. He Himself said, “ … I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). What Jesus said is totally exclusive. No other adherent of any other religion can be saved, unless they come to Jesus. That is why our mission as pilgrims in this world is so important, and why Christians suffer so much persecution. The devil does not want anyone to find Jesus and believe in Him, but other religions don’t trouble him much.

Today, in our workplaces, our communities, our families, let us declare our faith in God. Our lost and dying world needs to hear our messages of hope. All the other declarations and beliefs people hold, though they may be very important, will not lead to their eternal salvation.

Dear Father. You have ordained us to share what Your Son did for mankind. What a Saviour! You are an amazing God! How can we neglect such an important task? Amen.

Abraham’s Children

“Well then, has God failed to fulfil his promise to Israel? No, for not all who are born into the nation of Israel are truly members of God’s people! Being descendants of Abraham doesn’t make them truly Abraham’s children. For the Scriptures say, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted,” though Abraham had other children, too.”
Romans 9:6-7 NLT

A Muslim man I once worked with said to me one day that we were really spiritual brothers because we both worshiped the same God. But these verses in Romans 9 are clear about the distinction between Abraham’s children. The Jewish nation was descended from Isaac alone. Although Ishmael was Abraham’s son, he was not part of God’s promises. We Christians also claim to be “children of God”, but most of us aren’t descended from Isaac either. Does that mean Muslims and Christians are outside of God’s favour? No it doesn’t, because the Gospel message in the Bible is clear, that everyone has the opportunity to become members of God’s family. This is true for both the Jews and non-Jews. Remember the verse, “For God so loved the world …”? No-one is excluded from God’s grace. We are all part of the “world”. Everyone is able to kneel before the cross at Calvary in repentance for their sins, and receive forgiveness and mercy. We read in John 1:12, “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God”. Jesus primarily came to bring His message of the Kingdom of God to His own people, the Jews. In Matthew 15:24 we read, “Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel””. However, in John 10:16 Jesus seemed to imply that He was the Shepherd of other peoples as well. We read in John 10:16, “I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd”. In 1 John 2:2 we read, “He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world”. 

By the way, referring back to my Muslim work colleague, his claim that we both worship the same God isn’t valid. The differences between the. two faiths is most stark with the Christian belief in the Trinity, God the Father, His Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. The Muslim God, Allah, is a single being, and any talk of the Trinity is blasphemy to them. They consider that Jesus was a prophet, but not God.

But that is not to say that a Muslim cannot find Jesus. God Himself said through Paul in his letter to Timothy that everyone has the opportunity to be saved. We read in 1 Timothy 2:3-6, “This is good and pleases God our Saviour, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. For, There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time”. 

So, sadly for my Muslim colleague, we are not spiritual brothers at all. But we pilgrims must never build a wall, keeping us separated from society around us. We are of course not of the world, but the lost and hopeless people we are in contact with, our friends and neighbours, need to hear about the love and grace of God. Unless they hear it from us, they may never hear it at all.

Dear Father. You gave us an important job to do in this lost and dying world. Please embolden us to share Your message of Good News with anyone You lead us to. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

A Conclusion?

“Well then, should we conclude that we Jews are better than others? No, not at all, for we have already shown that all people, whether Jews or Gentiles, are under the power of sin. As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous— not even one.”
Romans 3:9-10 NLT

Paul is finally reaching a conclusion to his rant about his fellow Jews. We don’t know how it was received in the Roman church, but hopefully there were positive outcomes. He asked the question if Jews were better than Gentiles, and then quite emphatically stated that they weren’t, because all people “are under the power of sin”, regardless of their heritage. And, to support his conclusion, he quotes verses from Psalms 14 and 53.

Psalm 14, a Davidic psalm, starts with a rather depressing theme about those who turn their backs on God, as being foolish. Verses 2 and 3 read, “The Lord looks down from heaven on the entire human race; he looks to see if anyone is truly wise, if anyone seeks God. But no, all have turned away; all have become corrupt. No one does good, not a single one”! If David had just stopped there then there would have been no hope for anyone, let alone God’s people. The only logical outcome would have been another flood to enable God to start again, in the hope that the next race of people would behave better. Thankfully, of course, God made a covenant that He would never wipe out sinful humanity again. And David went on in Psalm 14 to record three things about God’s people. David wrote, “… for God is with those who obey him … the Lord will protect his people … the Lord restores his people” (Psalm 14:5-7).

But Paul, in his letter to the Romans, was laying the foundations for what he was about to say in the chapters and verses to come. It all started with sin, he said. The powerful hold that sin has over mankind. If it was just left there then there would be no hope, regardless of who their ancestors were, whether Jew or Gentile. But we pilgrims today have the benefit of a handbook of examples and instructions, to enable us to live a life free of the power of sin. Over it all, and through the sacrifice of Jesus at Calvary, we can respond to Paul and say that we stand righteous before God, because Jesus took on board mankind’s sin and unrighteousness. He knew that when he wrote this letter, and in the days and weeks to come we too will follow his very clear and detailed thinking.

Dear God. We thank You for Your servant Paul, and his willingness to record what You were saying to the early church. Please help us too to listen to Paul’s words and act upon them. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Reward or Penalty?

“He will judge everyone according to what they have done. He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honour and immortality that God offers. But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness.”
Romans‬ ‭2‬:‭6‬-‭8‬ ‭NLT

Paul said that God will judge everyone “according to what they have done”. But when will this happen? There is an argument that says God’s courtroom is active continually, justice administered through our courts. But that was not what Paul was referring to. We must look to a passage of Scripture in Revelation to find out the background to his thinking. We read in Revelation 20:11-12, “And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books”. There are four things we learn from these verses. Firstly, the act of God’s judgement won’t take place until after we have died. Secondly, there is a reward for those who have done well when they were alive. Thirdly, He will be very angry with those “who live for themselves”, and, fourthly, and perhaps most worryingly, everything we have ever done will have been written down. 

Paul said that God will give “eternal life to those who keep on doing good”. This could be rather contentious for some Christians, because they imply that if we once were doing good, but then stopped, God’s offer of eternal life might be jeopardised. The phrase, “keep on” is in the same tense as in 1 Corinthians 1:19, “The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God”. We are “being saved” – present continuous tense. Salvation didn’t happen once and then all was ok for evermore. Salvation is a continuous process, and it won’t be completed until the day we are welcomed into Heaven. In Philippians 2:12b, Paul wrote, “… continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling”. 

Jesus told the story of the sheep and the goats, which we can read in Matthew 25. The parable starts off with a picture of the “Son of Man”, who we know is Jesus, sitting on a throne. The story continues,, “All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left”. (Matthew 25:32-33). This event happens after the Second Coming of Jesus, so it must have taken place at the start of the Millennium, as described in Revelation 20. But who are the sheep and the goats? We read that those who, because of their relationship with Jesus, went about their lives helping others, particularly those disadvantaged in life, were designated as “sheep”, and those who claimed to have a relationship with Jesus, or no relationship at all, but lived a selfish, unhelpful life, were called the “goats”. 

In our verses from Romans today, we have the same division of people – those who “keep on doing good” and those who “live for themselves”. Paul’s equivalent of the sheep and goats. The outcome is the same as it was in Jesus’ story. We read about the sheep in Matthew 25:34-36, “Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was ill and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me””. Jesus then continued to describe the goats, those standing to His left. In Matthew 25:41-43 we read, “Then he will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was ill and in prison and you did not look after me””. Jesus finished His story with the warning that the sheep, the righteous ones, will end up enjoying eternal life, but the goats will sadly find themselves eternally punished. 

As an aside, we should note that those who kept on doing good were not saved by their good works, but did them because of their relationship with Jesus. An important distinction because we know we are saved by grace, not by works. We read in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no-one can boast”. 

We have a choice in life. It’s black and white. Heaven or hell. I know what I want, and, through faith in God, I know where I am heading. We Christian pilgrims with the same conviction must tell others around us about the choice they have, and particularly that if they don’t make a choice, the default is hell. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:11, “Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others. God knows we are sincere, and I hope you know this, too”. We might not be the most popular down the pub, but one day, those who make the right choice will be eternally grateful. 

Dear Father God. Please lead us to those who are at the point of making the choice between life and death. And we pray for those who we are already reaching out to, that Your Spirit will touch them with Your love, drawing them to Yourself. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


“For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.””
Romans‬ ‭1‬:‭16‬-‭17‬ ‭NLT

Paul wrote in our verses today that “This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith”. It’s all about faith. We know that we cannot put the Gospel under the spotlight of a human machine, to inspect its constituent parts. To disinter how it is made. We cannot undertake a human experiment to prove that there is a life after death. We pilgrims believe the Good News. Unreservedly. We know intuitively that it is true. And although we sometimes may have doubts and wonder in amazement how something so good could be true, we always fall back on our faith in the One who said it will happen.

Even when we receive a negative response to our attempts in sharing the Gospel, there is no shame in trying. When we tell someone about the Good News of Jesus, we are venturing into another dimension, where values are different. A spiritual message to a natural person will fail to connect, most of the time. To someone struggling to survive in their natural life, particularly in today’s climate of increasing interest rates, food cost inflation, inability to see a GP, and so on, the thought about where we end up after death to them perhaps seems somehow irrelevant. So we need to remember that the Good News is more than a few words. The Apostle James wrote, “What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?” (James 2:14-16).

Our faith in God transforms the way we disseminate the Good News. We do not communicate a few dusty and lifeless sentences in the hope that, somehow, they will acquire life in the telling. We have the Holy Spirit within us, cheering us on, bringing our faith and enthusiasm into the light of day, transforming the devil’s gloom with the glorious light of the Gospel. Bringing hope into the lives of the hopeless. Our words will be dripping with the very Words of God Himself, as we, in faith, simply share our own stories of how we met our wonderful Saviour, Jesus. We need to remember the work of the Holy Spirit in the sharing of the Good News. We read in John 16:8, “And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment“. We do the sharing. The Holy Spirit brings conviction to the hearer. Also, we must not be afraid of bringing relevant Scriptures into stories. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires“. And if the person with whom we are sharing has practical needs, part of our sharing is to help them in any way we can.

Paul finishes these verses in Romans 1 with a reference to Habakkuk 2:4. The prophet Habakkuk was disturbed by his observation that God was going to use the cruel Babylonians to judge the Israelites. He cries out, “O Lord my God, my Holy One, you who are eternal— surely you do not plan to wipe us out? O Lord, our Rock, you have sent these Babylonians to correct us, to punish us for our many sins“. (Habakkuk 1:12). And God replied to him, “Look at the proud! They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked. But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God“. (Habakkuk 2:4). In the end, we pilgrims live in the light of God’s righteousness, as we continue close to the One who gave us the Good News. We live a life that will never end.

Dear Father God. On our knees we worship You today. Deeply grateful for all You have done for us. Amen.

The Power of God

“For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.””
Romans‬ ‭1‬:‭16‬-‭17‬ ‭NLT

Paul said to his Roman readers, that the “Good News about Christ” “is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes”. What is this power? Some have wondered if Paul, having preached in the seat of Greek power in Athens, now wanted to do the same in the Roman power-centre, Rome itself. We know that God created the universe and all that is in it. His power is indisputable. And He came up with a plan to save human beings, who have been blighted by sin and wickedness, enabling them to become what God wanted them to be in the first place – His friends and family. Now that is something that will need power. God’s rescue plan for humanity was painful, costing Him the life of His Son, Jesus. It involved a wonderful act of substitution, where Jesus took on our sins and instead gave us His righteousness. That’s power. By an act of our will, we believed in God and His saving grace, and by doing so we were assured of eternal life. That’s power. 

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:18, “The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God“. That is so true! I remember sharing about the cross of Jesus and all that He did through His willing sacrifice, with a workmate. But their response was that many people were crucified in those grim and dark days, so what was the big deal! What was so special about this man Jesus. And at a stroke the person slammed shut the door that would have given him access into Heaven. At the time I questioned my communication skills, but then remembered that the enemy will get in the way of the Gospel if he can. In 2 Corinthians 4:4, Paul wrote, “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God“. 

But, undeterred, we pilgrims continue to unashamedly share the Good News about Jesus with those we meet. We pray that the seeds we sow may take root in people’s spirits, where they will grow and finally emerge into the light of day with a decision to follow Jesus. God’s power will never be eclipsed by the devil’s ploys. And we pray that the power of God will be seen at work in our lives. Wherever we are and whatever we are doing.

Father God. You are the Power. And Your work in our lives is a demonstration of how powerful You are. We wonder sometimes why You bother with us but that makes Your power even more obvious. We are so grateful. Amen.


“For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.””
Romans‬ ‭1‬:‭16‬-‭17‬ ‭NLT

Why should anyone be ashamed about the Gospel? A life changing discovery is surely nothing to be ashamed of. Take someone like Alexander Fleming, who discovered penicillin, a discovery which has had an enormous impact on saving lives, otherwise blighted by bacteriological diseases. Nothing there to be ashamed of. In fact, his discovery has been developed and extended, to the benefit of mankind present here on Earth, in our generations. A discovery to be shouted from the rooftops with gratitude and pride. So how much more the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that will save far more lives than penicillin can. An antibiotic might save lives in our existence here on earth, but those people who benefit will still die a natural death one day. The Gospel has eternal benefits. Jesus said, “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NLT).

A common response to sharing the Gospel, in my experience, is one of ridicule and rejection. People dismiss the Good News as being somehow disconnected from reality, something archaic and irrelevant in today’s techno-world. People see the benefits of an antibiotic because people get better. How can belief in a few words have any benefit, they say. Give us some proof, and we’ll believe then. Even the Son of God, Jesus Himself, came up against such a response. In Matthew 16:1 we read, “One day the Pharisees and Sadducees came to test Jesus, demanding that he show them a miraculous sign from heaven to prove his authority”. People want proof of what God can offer in a form that they can see with their natural eyes. But we are dealing here with a far more important world – God’s world. A spiritual world.

A hindrance to many is the fact that no-one, apart from Jesus, has returned from Heaven to say that the Good News is truth. Jesus told the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. We read in Luke 16:19-21, “Jesus said, “There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen and who lived each day in luxury. At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores. As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores”. After they had both died, as the parable goes, the Rich Man ended up in hell, and Lazarus with Abraham in Heaven. The Rich Man realised his mistake, and, in anguish in the flames of hell, he asked Abraham to send the poor man, Lazarus, back to earth so that he could warn the Rich Man’s brothers. And we read the response in Luke 16:29-31, ““But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’ “The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’ “But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”” 

Because Jesus said that He has the words of eternal life, we pilgrims believe it. Because we have faith in the One who died for our sins at Calvary we have no reason to be ashamed when we share the Good News. Instead, we can speak about it boldly, because God said it. And there is no greater mandate. Ever.

Dear God. You had a plan, that through Jesus human beings would have access to eternal life with You. Please help us share that Good News with those around us, with boldness and certainty. In Jesus’ name. Amen,

Good News

“For I have a great sense of obligation to people in both the civilised world and the rest of the world, to the educated and uneducated alike. So I am eager to come to you in Rome, too, to preach the Good News.”
Romans‬ ‭1‬:‭14‬-‭15‬ ‭NLT

Paul was a driven man. His encounter with the living Jesus totally upset his world. At that encounter he discovered how wrong he was in persecuting the early Christians, and he was overwhelmed by the love and grace of God, in giving him a second chance. I have met people, or heard about people, in the past to whom the enormity of their sins, when suddenly exposed, when realisation strikes, who find a new purpose in life, and they cannot stop telling other people about what God has done for them. But was Paul unique in his “great sense of obligation” or is this something we all should have?

There are many different ways in which we can serve our Lord and Master, Jesus. He taught much, during His three short years here on Planet Earth, about the Kingdom of God, or, as Matthew put it, the Kingdom of Heaven. When Jesus came to Palestine, birthed as a human being, He brought Heaven with Him, and reminded everyone He met that it was close at hand. Right at the start of His ministry, Matthew recorded, “From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”” (Matthew 4:17). And in the next chapter, early on in His Sermon on the Mount, He reminded His followers about their obligation to be “salt and light” wherever they lived. At that time Jesus brought Heaven closer to earth, after a long disassociation that started with the fall of man in the Genesis account, and, because Jesus is still alive today, the closeness of Heaven remains. We live in a season of God’s grace, and because of that we must take every opportunity to share what Jesus has done for us. We won’t all receive a calling like Paul, to convert the world to Christianity, but in our own living spheres we can serve God faithfully.

Paul’s reference to both the “civilised world and the rest of the world” embraced all peoples everywhere. Anyone who was human was included. And it continues today. Paul may be long dead, but his mission lives on. With world migration so prevalent, more than it has been in any previous period in history, opportunities to share about Jesus are increasing. And we know that once all have heard the Gospel, the end will come. Jesus said in Matthew 24:14, “And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come”. We are not quite there yet, but that event is getting ever closer. God does not want any to be able to say, when they stand before Him, that they were never told about Jesus.

Paul continues to remind his readers that he made no distinction between the “educated and uneducated”. The wonderful thing about the Gospel is that nobody needs a theological degree to understand it. Its message of forgiveness and love, of breathtaking grace, can connect with everyone. But some will ask about babies or those with learning difficulties. I believe that God’s grace extends even to them, with a love and mercy that befits Him. 

We pilgrims must also have a “great sense of obligation“, as Paul did. What else can we have when we know and understand all that Jesus did for us at Calvary. The Good News is just that, and it shines like a beacon in a world riven by huge quantities of bad news. And the more we share it, the closer will come the End Times and the new Heaven and earth we read about in Revelation. Paul was eager in his mission. So must we be while we can.

Dear Father God. The death and resurrection of Jesus is really Good News. We pray for opportunities to share it with those around us. Please open their hearts to receive Your gracious gift, the salvation of their souls. In Jesus’ name. Amen.