What A Gospel Meeting Does – Part 1
“The day of the gospel meeting is over.” “Gospel meetings are no longer effective.” “We need to find alternatives to our gospel meeting.” “Gospel meetings are just not what they used to be.” These are some of the statements that are made by elders, preachers, and members regarding gospel meetings in our 21st-century society. These feelings have led many churches to quit having gospel meetings altogether. Some churches have not had a gospel meeting in years.
In this article, we want to look at the subject: “What A Gospel Meeting Should Do.” By the end of this article, it is hoped that we will come to understand that a gospel meeting has many, many noble purposes. These purposes are Scriptural. They should cause us to be eager in our efforts to promote and support the gospel meeting being held by our local congregation. We will consider ten things a gospel meeting does.
#1: A gospel meeting obeys God’s command to preach the gospel. “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (II Tim. 4:2).
#2: A gospel meeting sows the seed of God’s Word into the hearts of men and women. “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (Ps. 126:5-6). “But that on good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15).
#3: A gospel meeting enlightens the mind. “The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes” (Ps. 19:8). “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding to the simple” (Ps. 119:130).
#4: A gospel meeting warns the wicked. “Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears” (Acts 20:31). “Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ” (Col. 1:28).
#5: A gospel meeting confronts false doctrine. “And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: to whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you” (Gal. 2:4-5). “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 3-4).
The Christian: A Priest At God’s Altar – Part 3
In the last two installments of this study, we looked at the Christian as a priest. We noted three words in connection with being a priest- honor, holiness, and hopefulness. In this last installment we are examining hopefulness.
The tribe of Levi, from which the priests came, was unique among the tribes of Israel. One of the ways that they were unique was in their inheritance. As you recall, the other tribes inherited a certain parcel of ground. The Levites did not. They were going to dwell among the tribes. Their inheritance was the Lord. We read, ““The priests, the Levites—all the tribe of Levi—shall have no part nor inheritance with Israel; they shall eat the offerings of the LORD made by fire, and His portion. Therefore they shall have no inheritance among their brethren; the LORD is their inheritance, as He said to them” (Deuteronomy 18:1-2). The Lord was their hope. They were trusting in Him to provide for them.
Today, our hope as New Testament priests is in the Lord. To the Colossian Christians, Paul wrote, “I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:24-27). Christ is the hope within us. Later, Peter would write, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). Because of Christ’s resurrection, we have a living hope. Again, Peter wrote, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet. 1:3). We have a living hope because we have a living Lord. Jesus declared, “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death” (Rev. 1:18). As priests today, our hope is not in a parcel of land here. It is in Christ.
In the three installments of this study, we have seen that it is a great honor to be a priest, that it requires great holiness to be a priest, and that there is great hope in being a priest. Let’s serve at God’s altar with great favor, great fear, and great fervent fervor.
The Christian: A Priest At God’s Altar – Part 2
In the last installment of this study, we began considering the Christian as a priest. We noted three words in connection with being a priest - honor, holiness, and hopefulness. In this installment we are examining holiness.
I suppose that no concept is as closely connected with being a priest as holiness. Obviously, when we think of priests in the Old Testament, the book of Leviticus comes to mind. Consider the holiness that it associated with this work: “They shall be holy to their God and not profane the name of their God, for they offer the offerings of the LORD made by fire, and the bread of their God; therefore they shall be holy…Therefore you shall consecrate him, for he offers the bread of your God. He shall be holy to you, for I the LORD, who sanctify you, am holy” (Lev. 21:6, 8). To prepare them for the holy work that God had for them to do, blood was shed for them and applied to them. We read, “You shall also take the other ram, and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands on the head of the ram. Then you shall kill the ram, and take some of its blood and put it on the tip of the right ear of Aaron and on the tip of the right ear of his sons, on the thumb of their right hand and on the big toe of their right foot, and sprinkle the blood all around on the altar. And you shall take some of the blood that is on the altar, and some of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it on Aaron and on his garments, on his sons and on the garments of his sons with him; and he and his garments shall be hallowed, and his sons and his sons’ garments with him” (Exod. 29:19-21). The garments of the priests were to be kept spotless. A scene from the book of Zechariah pictures this for us. We read, “Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel. Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, “Take away the filthy garments from him.” And to him He said, “See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.” And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head, and they put the clothes on him. And the Angel of the LORD stood by” (Zech. 3:1-5).
We see these same characteristics in New Testament priests (Christians). We read, “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:13-16). Again, Peter wrote, “You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5). Like Old Testament priests, New Testament priests are consecrated by blood. However, it is better blood than that of bulls and goats - the blood of Christ. We read, “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied” (1 Pet. 1:1-2; cf. 1:18-19). Our garments also are to be unspotted by the world. James wrote, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (Jam. 1:27).
The Christian: A Priest At God’s Altar – Part 1
As we have noted in previous lessons, there are many pictures of God’s people given in the Bible. These pictures help us to understand who God wants us to be and what God wants us to do. In past lessons, we examined the images of a farmer and a soldier. In this lesson, we are examining the image of a priest.
Christians are called priests several times in the Bible. Peter described Christians as a holy and royal priesthood and a royal priesthood. He wrote, “You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ…But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:5, 9). In similar fashion, John described us as kings and priests. He wrote, “To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Rev. 1:6). Three words stand out when we think of priests - honor, holiness, and hopefulness.
It is a great honor to be a priest at God’s altar. Peter wrote, “You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5). We get to be stones and servants in a spiritual house. We get to offer up spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God. We get to proclaim the praises of the One who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Pet. 2:9). It is a great honor to be God’s priest and to offer worship to Him. Peter spoke of Christians as chosen, royal, holy, and special (1 Peter. 2:9). Think of the selection of the Old Testament priest. In the book of Numbers, we read, “Therefore you and your sons with you shall attend to your priesthood for everything at the altar and behind the veil; and you shall serve. I give your priesthood to you as a gift for service, but the outsider who comes near shall be put to death” (Num. 18:7). In like manner, in the book of Deuteronomy, we read, “Then the priests, the sons of Levi, shall come near, for the LORD your God has chosen them to minister to Him and to bless in the name of the LORD; by their word every controversy and every assault shall be settled” (Deut. 21:5; cf. Joel 1:13-14). It was a great honor for the priests to be chosen to minister to God and to His people. The prophet Joel wrote, “Gird yourselves and lament, you priests; Wail, you who minister before the altar; Come, lie all night in sackcloth, You who minister to my God; For the grain offering and the drink offering Are withheld from the house of your God. Consecrate a fast, Call a sacred assembly; Gather the elders And all the inhabitants of the land Into the house of the LORD your God, And cry out to the LORD.” (Joel 1:13-14). Again, he wrote, “Let the priests, who minister to the LORD, Weep between the porch and the altar; Let them say, “Spare Your people, O LORD, And do not give Your heritage to reproach, That the nations should rule over them. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’” (Joel 2:17).
We should count it a great honor to be numbered among the priests today. We should count it a great honor to stand at the altar and to offer sacrifices to God.
The Christian: A Soldier In God’s Army – Part 2
The Bible gives us a number of pictures of the Christian. These pictures show us who God wants us to be and what God wants us to do. We began last week to notice the image of a soldier. What are some things we associate with soldiers?
Solidarity: There is a special bond that soldiers share because they have gone through many of the same things- training, separation, hardships. Furthermore, they often share similar values- honor, love of country, courage, etc. They will gladly risk their lives for each other. If necessary, they will even give their lives for each other. In like manner, there is a solidarity shared by spiritual soldiers. In the book of Philippians, Paul spoke of the bond that he shared with a soldier named Epaphroditus. He wrote, “Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need” (Phil. 2:25; cf. Phile. 2). Epaphroditus had been willing to risk his life for Paul and others. Paul wrote, “Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem; because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me.” (Phil. 2:29-30).
Sacrifice: Sacrifice is a word that we associate with soldiers. They sacrifice many things for the freedom of others. They sacrifice time with their families, holidays, nights and weekends, etc. A few even make the ultimate sacrifice. As you know, we have days of remembrance to remember the sacrifices they have made. Christian soldiers are also known for their sacrifices. In the book of Revelation, John wrote, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” (Rev. 12:11). The greatest love that any man can show is to willingly give his life for another. Jesus declared, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13). Priscilla and Aquila had done this for Paul. To the saints at Rome, Paul wrote, “Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.” (Rom. 16:3-4).
Submission: A final word that probably comes to mind when we think of soldiers is submission. The military operates by a system of rank. Those of lower rank submit to those of higher rank. Without this submission an army cannot function effectively. Of course, the same is true in spiritual soldiering. To Timothy, Paul wrote, “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier” (2 Tim. 2:4). The soldier strives to please his superior. To the saints at Corinth, Paul wrote, “Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.” (2 Cor. 5:9). In like manner, to the saints at Thessalonica, Paul wrote, “Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God;” (1 Thess. 4:1). Soldiers must not walk disorderly or out of rank (2 Thess. 3:6). They must walk in a manner worthy of their commander (Col. 1:10). They must submit (Jam. 4:7).
The Christian is a soldier. As a soldier, we should see strength, separation, solidarity, sacrifice, and submission in his life. Are you a good soldier of Jesus Christ?