Thursday, October 9, 2008

One Gospel

Inverness Firth

You recollect that Paul went to Ephesus, and Ephesus, as a city, was besotted with a belief in sorcery. The people had given themselves up to practice magical arts. What is the right way to begin to preach at Ephesus? Deliver a course of lectures upon the impossibility and absurdity of such superstition? No, sir, nothing of the kind. Preach Christ, preach the gospel; and as Jesus Christ is lifted up they bring their magical books and make a bonfire of them in the open forum.

But here is a polished governor, Sergius Paulus, sitting upon the judgment seat. What shall be preached to him? Would it not be well to begin with a dissertation on politics, and to show that the Christian religion does not interfere with proper government, that it does not stir up the people to anarchy? No, sir, nothing of the kind. There is nothing for Sergius Paulus any more than there is for Elymas the sorcerer, but the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Paul goes to Athens. Now the Athenians are the most learned and philosophical of the whole race of men. What will Paul preach there? The gospel, the whole gospel, and nothing but the gospel. He may change his tones, but never his matter. It is the same remedy for the same disease, he the men what they may. He comes to Corinth, and here you have not only polished manners, but the very refinement of vice. It is a city, an emporium of trade, and a sort of central depot of sin. What then? Will he now, to please the trader, assume a different dialect? Not he! The Christ for Athens is the Christ for Corinth too. And now see him. He has come to Lycaonia, and is preaching at Lystra. Here is an ignorant set of people who worship an image. Why does he not begin by preaching of the deity? Why does he not talk to them of the Trinity in unity? Why does he not try and confute their notions about their gods? No, my dear sir, he will do nothing of the kind; that may be done incidentally, but the first and the last thing that Paul will do at Lystra is, there he will preach the gospel. O glorious gospel of the blessed God! Wherever we take thee thou art suited to the wants of men.

From a sermon entitled "The Cripple At Lystra." Flickr photo by Calum Davidson; some rights reserved.

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