Summary: Paul had a convicting burden for the Gospel that compelled him to preach and share the good news. Every believer should share that burden. Are we burdened for the Gospel, compelled to share?
The Burden for the Gospel
As we continue our series, A Gospel Centered Life, I want to address the need for a proper burden concerning the Gospel. In my estimation, our text reveals one of the most convicting, compelling, and honest statements the apostle Paul ever made. In order to fully appreciate what he has said, one must understand the context in which he spoke. This statement was written to the church in Corinth. They were a particularly carnal church, dealing with many issues and divisions. While Paul was loved and admired, he was also forced to defend his ministry among some in Corinth. His authority as an apostle was questioned, along with his motivation for ministry. The preceding verses reveal that Paul had addressed accusations regarding his compensation for ministry. Some apparently thought he was only in ministry for the monetary and material benefits.
Having addressed those accusations, Paul revealed his heart regarding the ministry, and the preaching of the Gospel in particular. He was not engaged in ministry for the material benefits, or to acquire any personal gain; he faithfully proclaimed the Gospel because he was burdened to do so. For Paul, there was no other reason for living.
I am aware that Paul was an apostle of the Lord. He served as an itinerant missionary, church planter, and a local pastor on many occasions. All are not called into “full time vocational” ministry, but the aspirations of Paul should be evident in the heart of every believer. There is a genuine lack of desire regarding the Gospel in our day. The burden to share the good news is not there as it should be. I will admit that my burden is lacking at times, and needs to be rekindled. I trust this text will renew our desire and rekindle our burden for the Gospel. I want to consider the assertions of Paul as we discuss: The Burden for the Gospel.
I. A Proper Awareness (16) – For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! In order to possess a genuine burden for the Gospel, we must first develop a proper awareness concerning the Gospel. This involves:
A. Our Position – Paul was not ashamed of his calling; he was a preacher of the Gospel, boldly proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ. He was well aware of the grace he had received in salvation. Through his encounter with the Lord, Paul had been placed within the body of Christ. His standing in the world had immediately and eternally changed. He was no longer his own. He no longer had the right to live as he pleased, pursuing his own desires. He was now in Christ, and Paul had a desire to please the Lord, fully surrendered to His will for his life.
One will never develop a genuine burden for the Gospel without recognition and appreciation for their position in Christ. Like Paul, we too have been delivered from the bondage of sin. Christ came to us, while we were yet in sin, revealing His great love for us, and offering salvation by grace through faith. At the moment we received Christ, our standing was immediately and eternally changed. We were transformed from a life of sin and despair into a life of hope and reconciliation. Our sin was forgiven and we were saved by His marvelous grace. We are now positioned in Christ, no longer our own. Such standing in the Lord should motivate us to share the Gospel with others. Like Paul we need to have a desire to please the Lord, fully surrendering to His will for our lives!
B. Our Perception (16) – For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of. Paul realized that although he was blessed to have an opportunity to preach the Gospel, he was nothing apart from Christ. Within himself, he had nothing to boast. He had enjoyed great success as far as ministry was concerned. The Lord had used him mightily to reach the unsaved. Churches were planted and thriving for the Lord. Young men had surrendered to preach, being mentored and trained by Paul. All of this was wonderful, but Paul knew he had not accomplished any of it. He was simply a vessel used of the Lord to advance the Kingdom. Paul had a burden to share the Gospel because he was aware of the grace he had received. If Christ was willing to offer salvation to one who had no desire for the church or the ways of God, He was willing to save anyone. Grace compelled Paul to proclaim the Gospel.
We need that type of perception today. Apart from Christ we have nothing to boast of. He alone provided for our salvation, willingly giving His life as the atonement for sin. He tasted death in our place, suffering the wrath of God so we wouldn’t have to. Christ alone is our reason for boasting. We have received much from Him and are expected to share what we have received. It has been said that sharing the Gospel is nothing more than one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread. I have received much in Christ, and I feel the need to share what I have received with those who have yet to be saved. He is the object of my affection, and I please Him when I share the good news of the Gospel with others!