Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Woe is Me!
For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! (1 Corinthians 9:16 NKJV)
Preaching to the Saved
Recently I went to a gospel outreach where most of the people there were professing Christians, yet the preachers preached the Gospel.   They preached the good news after preaching the bad news.  They used words like sin, judgment, eternity, condemnation, and wrath.  Why would we anyone preach the Gospel to a crowd that is mostly born-again believers?  Let me explain why those of us who preach the Gospel do that.
First of all, not everyone that says that they are saved really understands what it means to be saved or born again.  Since faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God, the preaching of the Gospel is used by the Holy Spirit to sort out those who are truly saved from those who just “think” they are.  
Second, many people have been truly saved but they have made lifestyle choices that cause them to doubt their salvation.  The Gospel that reached them the first time is the Gospel that will restore them to full fellowship with the Lord.
Third, many people are saved but their understanding of what they have is shallow.  They need to be confirmed in what they believe.  That is what Paul did in the Roman epistle and what anonymous did for the Jews in the Hebrew epistle.  Notice those explanations of the doctrines of the Gospel are the longest epistles in the New Testament.
Fourth, hearing the Gospel preached helps others when they have the opportunity to preach the Gospel. 
And fifth, most people who are saved are thrilled when they hear the Gospel preached, particularly if that Gospel includes the personal testimony of the preacher.  Paul wrote to a fellow evangelist who traveled with Paul (who seems to be much younger than Paul and who seems to have been saved through Paul’s ministry) and he started his letter with his testimony.  He reminded Timothy that before he was saved he was a blasphemer.  He reminds Timothy of a faithful saying worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to SAVE sinners of whom Paul was chief.  Funny thing is, I suspect that Timothy had heard this before, probably many times, but we have no record of Timothy writing to Paul and saying please don’t bore me with that story.  I have heard it over and over again.  
Preaching to the Unsaved
Recently I was in a large congregation where visitors were being welcomed.  There were a large number of them there at that meeting.  However, there was nothing in the sermon that would have convinced me that I needed to be saved if I had been raised religious but without a clear understanding of the Gospel.  I kept thinking of Paul when he said, “Woe is me if I do not preach the Gospel.”  How are some of these Gospel preachers going to keep from being ashamed when they meet the Lord?  If all those visitors were truly saved, they should have been thrilled to hear the Gospel preached.  If they were not saved, they needed to hear that trusting Christ, the savior of sinners, puts away sin and gives us a reserved seat in heaven.  
I personally would not want to be the preacher who assumes that everyone in their audience is saved and who does not consider the fact that the Gospel is good for the Christian and is needed by the unsaved.  Every good sermon should be built on the foundation of the “how to be saved for eternity” Gospel.  Woe is the preacher who does not love the unsaved enough to preach the Gospel when the opportunity arises.
The Gospel that we preach when we do not know our audience does not have to be a confrontational Gospel that makes us seem like we have it together and nobody else does.  It can be a “this is what I have Gospel” and trusting Christ has made all the difference for me Gospel.  I think that is what Paul was doing when he wrote that his Gospel was faithful and worthy of all acceptance.  We who are saved need to get this right since eternal destinies are at stake.  I trust that we have not become so earthly oriented that we have forgotten about eternal consequences.
Bruce Collins
Meditation for the week of August 28, 2022

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