Summary: Paul said, "Woe is unto me if I preach not the Gospel." This not only speaks to ministers, but confronts the laity of their responsibility to share the good news.
I want to spend a few minutes tonight looking at this verse, even dissecting it a little bit, to bring it into an applicable understanding for all of us. Because when we read words like “preach,” and we do not have a life calling to stand in a pulpit like myself, we can sometimes shrink back from such verses, and try and slide out from under any responsibility to live out what those verses declare. But I want us to look at this verse tonight, and see that we all have a responsibility to proclaim the good news. And I want to continue to apply this to evangelism, or winning the lost to Christ. I want us to do this a few words at a time.
“For though I preach the gospel…” Let’s look at two words: 1. Preach. 2. Gospel. First, the word “preach” means “to announce, to proclaim, to declare, or to herald.” When you look up the English version of the word, “preach” not only means to sermonize, or lecture, but it also means to talk, to speak, to address someone. And so the word “preach,” while it definitely is applicable to those who stand in churches, or tents, or wherever, and proclaim the Gospel, it is also applicable to all of those who have the ability to communicate with other people.
Now, I’ve talked somewhat in the past about the sin of silence. And we talked about how that what you proclaim, and the passion with which you do it, is dependent upon what you perceive. If you perceive the spiritual plight of men, that they are dying, and going to hell, then that will affect what you proclaim and how you proclaim it. Romans 10:14 says, “How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” One thing is certain: Words unspoken cannot be heard. And if hearing is a prerequisite for believing, then we must understand that preaching - talking and speaking - the word, is a prerequisite for hearing. People will not hear without a preacher. So, we must preach - talk, speak, proclaim.
Secondly, Paul tells us what we must “preach,” and that is “the gospel.” The word “gospel” means “good news.” The first word tells us what we are to do - talk, speak - and the second tells us what should be coming from our mouths. *Not condemnation. Not judgmental attitudes. We are to preach the gospel, the good news. I have heard people say, “We need to make the gospel good news again.” No we don’t. The gospel IS good news. So if what’s being shared isn’t good news, then it isn’t the gospel. There is no way the gospel cannot be good news. That is it’s very core and meaning. It is good news!
So, we have to tell the good news of salvation from our sins. The good news of grace. The good news of God’s love. The good news of God’s forgiveness. The good news of the way of escaping the wrath of God. *It isn’t enough to tell someone they’re dying and going to hell. We do them a great disservice and injustice, and we do the kingdom harm, if all we proclaim is the punishment that awaits sinners, without telling sinners how they can be pardoned and become saints. *I don’t know about you, but I am living proof that God can take nothing, and make something; He can make a sinner into a saint, and a chump into his child. That’s good news for me, and that’s the message we have to get to the world!
Listen to me: Being a witness is not so much about knowing the Word of God (though we need that), as it is knowing the WORK of God that has occurred in your life! You don’t have to have a theological degree to be a witness. You don’t need a PHD to share the good news of Jesus Christ. *A PHD is like the curl in a pig’s tail: A little more fancy, but no more pig!
But then Paul goes on and says, “For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of.” That means “I have nothing to boast and brag about.” Paul tells us here the attitude that must accompany the proclaiming of good news. It is to be an attitude of humility, and not haughtiness. It’s not to be done in pride, arrogance, or self-importance. *I have about got sick listening to some Christians brag about what they’ve done, and how they’ve worked, and what they think they’ve accomplished. Jesus said that when we do things to be seen by men, to have something to brag about, then we already have our reward for doing it. We need to remember that we have nothing to glory of. Nothing is anymore of a turnoff than a proud preacher and a boastful believer.