In Romans 16:26 Paul explicitly declares that it is the “command of the eternal God” (v. 26) that we take the glorious, good news of the gospel to every tribe and tongue and people and nation. In other words, evangelism and mission are not optional! If you wonder why here at Bridgeway we have devoted at least 12% of our income to missions, both local and global, both to church plants and ministries that make the gospel known around the world, here is the answer.
Why do we care about what our missionaries and church planters are doing in Japan and in the Czech Republic and in Turkey and in India and in England and in Slovenia and in Germany and even here in the ever-increasingly pagan United States of America? It is because this is the “command” of our eternal God!
And how do we do this? It isn’t only by contributing financial support. It is primarily through “the preaching of Jesus Christ” (v. 25). There is no gospel, no good news, no hope for anything of eternal benefit unless Jesus is made known in our preaching and in our teaching and in our writing and in our conversations over coffee with neighbors. And don’t ever think that gospel “preaching” is restricted to apostles like Paul or to pastors like me. This is the responsibility of every Christian man and woman.
So, why do we preach Jesus Christ, as Paul says in v. 25? Why do we not preach social justice and environmental care and nuclear disarmament or any number of other messages that we hear about so often today? We preach Jesus Christ because all the blessings and treasures and benefits and resources and experiences of joy and satisfaction and peace and hope are found only in him. When you get him, you get them! Paul said it in Colossians 2, that in Christ “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3). In Ephesians 3 Paul spoke of “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8). It is in Christ that we find “every spiritual blessing” (Eph.1:3).
And what precisely are these riches and treasures that are found only in Christ? Where do I begin? Allow me to direct your attention to . . .
His immutability, the simple but glorious truth that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and therefore he is one on whom you can rely always to be there, forever the same, unchanging in his character and kindness.
His empathy, the simple but glorious truth that whatever you are facing and whatever you experience, Jesus knows and understands and is always present to supply you with whatever you need to survive and thrive.
His deity, the simple but glorious truth that Jesus is himself eternal God, one with the Father and the Holy Spirit in the fellowship of the Trinity.
His humanity, the simple but glorious truth that Jesus is also no less a human being, a man, one who has shown us in his life and in his dependence on the Holy Spirit how we too can exceed our finite limitations to walk and minister in the power of signs and wonders.
His humility, the simple but glorious truth that Jesus stooped low to reach us, that he did not count equality with God or the eternal glory that he shared with the Father and the Spirit something that should prevent him from taking on himself the likeness of men so that he might be our great redeemer and Lord.
His love, the simple but glorious truth that in spite of the fact that we are all hell-deserving sinners he set his saving affection on us and continues to love us without fail through all the ups and downs and highs and lows of life.
His beauty, the simple but glorious truth that in Christ Jesus we see the majesty of the one who is both God and man; we see the glory of the incarnate Word who became flesh for us.
His authority, the simple but glorious truth that all demonic powers and every human institution has been put underneath his feet and that because we are in him and are seated with him in heavenly places, they are also subject to us.
His eternality, the simple but glorious truth that there never was a time when he was not; that God the Son, who became Jesus, the God-man, has always existed, who said to the Pharisees, “before Abraham was born, I am!”
His wisdom, something Paul explicitly mentions here in v. 27, the simple but glorious truth that he never lacks for the best and most efficient and most God-glorifying way to accomplish whatever purpose he undertakes or whatever goal he has in mind.
His providence, the simple but glorious truth that it is by the hand of the risen and exalted Christ that the world and all it contains is directed by his power to bring to consummation the kingdom of God in the earth and in heaven; in his providence we can rest assured, as Paul said in Romans 8:28, that he is working all things together for our ultimate good.
His kindness, the simple but glorious truth that we see everywhere in the four gospels, as he mingles with social outcasts and forgives repentant prostitutes and tax-collectors.
His compassion, which is consistently said in the four gospels to be the reason why he touches lepers and cleanses them, restores sight to blind eyes, gives strength to once paralyzed legs, opens the ears of the deaf and raises the dead.
His holiness, the simple but glorious truth that although he was tempted in all things just as we are, he never sinned, not once, but always submitted himself to the will of the Father.
His faithfulness, the simple but glorious truth that he always did what the Father desired and that he will be faithful to us to fulfill every promise ever made.
And perhaps most important of all, his determination to endure the suffering of the cross and by doing so to exhaust in himself the wrath of God that we so richly deserved and to make it possible for our sins to be forgiven.
Where do I stop? Can I not also mention the treasure and riches of his patience and long-suffering and grace and forgiveness and mercy and tender-hearted ways and his justice and righteousness and yes, even his wrath. All the treasures of glory and power and wisdom and knowledge are in him and only in him. This is why we preach Jesus Christ!