Forward all the way . . .

Special Edition – December 24, 2019

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

They said to Him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to me, and whoever comes to Me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent me. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who looks on the Son, and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. –John 6:32-40

From Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum, I have fully preached [proclaimed] the Gospel of Christ. –Romans 15:19

God sent His Son to be born into humanity, with the intense purpose to reach a sick world. God was extending His grace and mercy, making salvation available through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus came to be born, then die for us—a sinful people.

When David Livingstone volunteered as a missionary with the London Missionary Society in 1839, they asked him where he would like to go. “Anywhere,” he said, “so long as it is forward!” When Livingstone reached Africa he was haunted by the smoke of a thousand villages, that he saw in the distance.

That was also Paul’s motivation, his drive and passion was to carry the Good News of Jesus Christ forward to people who had not heard the Gospel.

Paul got the message; have we?

[It strikes me as strange that churches schedule “retreats.” Churches should schedule “advances” not retreats. The Gospel is designed to advance, not move backward! The church is to be a forward moving church!]

Jerusalem is the advance point of the ministry of the Gospel. Paul had a greater regard for Jerusalem’s people who needed the Gospel, than Jerusalem had regard for Paul. From the time of Paul’s conversion in 33 AD, someone has figured out (from the Book of Acts) that he and his companions advanced, traveled, over 10,000 miles – over 4800 by land, and 5200 by sea. It seems, also, that he possibly made a trip to Spain. He advanced, traveled, without the aid of a bike, bus, car, plane, or even a modern powered sea vessel.

He did not have Dr. Scholl’s shoe inserts, a smart phone (or even a dumb phone like mine), an umbrella, bottled water, or other amenities.

From Jerusalem to Illyricum (Albania and Yugoslavia), he traveled about 1400 miles. He mentions two geographical spots – why? I cannot help but think it is because he wants to challenge us with the extensive advance of the Gospel. From Jew to Gentile, from the Middle East to Europe; from a religious center to a pagan country; from big city to rural areas; from Hebrew culture to Greek and Latin influences, Paul advances the Gospel.

Go for it Paul!

Why are we not doing the same?

Paul sees the big picture [do we?]. Go into all the world. Nothing provincial or bigoted, just advance the Gospel to everyone. His statement at the beginning of Romans carries weight throughout the book: For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek!

Contemplate the comprehensiveness of what he says, I have fully proclaimed the Gospel of Christ. We in our theological zeal call this the divine initiative tied in with human get-up-and-go.

Back to David Livingstone.

Whatever way my life can be spent best to promote [read, “advance”] the glory of our gracious God, I feel desirous to adopt it. I did not come to Africa to be suspended on the tail of anyone, and what is of infinitely more importance as a motive to immediate action; souls are perishing while I have no power (not knowing their language nor culture0 to point them to the Cross. I am convinced that the Gospel has lost none of its pristine efficacy.

Are you in forward mode . . . or backward mode? There is no middle of the road.

A thought from Paul Tripp . . . Come Let Us Adore Him

The Way, the Truth, and the Life was in the manger, causing angels to rejoice, Mary to wonder, shepherds to worship, and us to have hope.

The Christmas story shows that Hope of the universe comes in the Person of Christ. Hope is Who the angels sing about; Hope lies in the manger. Hope causes Mary to wonder in her heart. It is Hope the shepherds worship. Hope is presented with gifts from the Magi who had traveled so far, to meet a Hope like no other.

The Advent story is the story of Hope, it chronicles the coming to earth of the One who is our Hope, Jesus. For a people born in sin, and for a world damaged by sin, there simply could not be any other source of rescue. The inescapable condition of sin infects every single human being and has scarred every aspect of the cosmos, that cries out for one thing, and one thing alone: Divine intervention.

Our Hope has a Name; His Name is Jesus!

As Jesus traveled on this earth, He came to do God’s will. Being born. Confronting people with truth. Willingly dying (He came to die). Providing our salvation, if we but would simply respond to the Holy Spirit’s call.

On Wednesday, December 25th, many of us will celebrate Christmas with family and friends. It is a time of gift-giving. The absolute best gift anyone could receive this Christmas is salvation in Christ.

Paul got the message; have we?

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