Gospel Meetings (II) Purposes

Connie W. Adams
Akron, Ohio

Every gospel meeting should be designed for the proclamation of truth. Perverted gospels have no power to save. If a congregation does not want the whole truth, or a preacher is unwilling all the truth then a meeting is a waste of time. The preaching of truth may work to the accomplishment of several laudable ends. It is the purpose of this article to discuss at least some of them.

(I) Glorify God. When the Jewish brethren heard that the Gentiles had received the gospel "they held their peace, and glorified God" (Acts 11:18). When the churches of Judea learned "That he who persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed", Paul added "And they glorified God in me." (Gal. 1:23-24) "If any man speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." (1 Pet. 4: 11). The gospel is the good news which apprises man of the grace of God (Acts 20:24) and thus moves man to glorify God for his mercy.

(2) Exalt Christ. Peter preached that Jesus Christ was at the right hand of God, exalted (Acts 2:33). "Wherefore God hath highly exalted him..."(Phil. 2:9) As Christians walk worthy of their calling and engage in the work of faith these results in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ being glorified. (2 Thes. 1:11-12). Surely it is a work of faith for arrangements to be made for the gospel to be preached. Paul said he "determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified" (1 Cor. 2: 2). This did not mean that Paul only talked about the crucifixion in his preaching. The redemption of Calvary was, and is, central to the gospel account. Without it, nothing else has meaning. In 1 Cor. 2 Paul used the expression in contrast to the wisdom of men, and excellency of speech as the hope of salvation. The object of his preaching was that their faith might not stand in the wisdom of men, "but in the power of God" (verse 5). The gospel is God's power to save (Rom. 1:16), and when it is preached, Christ is exalted. In Rom. 10:13-18 Paul raised a series of questions one of which was, "how shall they believe in him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?" (v. 14) Faith in Christ is instilled when the gospel is preached.

(3) Honor the Word of God. A faithful man will "preach the word." (2 Tim. 4:2). He will recognize the difference between his opinion and what the Lord said. When a man preaches a whole sermon and scarcely refers to the word of God, then he has an over-exalted opinion of himself. When Paul preached that God purposed to save the Gentiles through the gospel "they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life (Acts 13:47-48). Paul urged the Thessalonians to pray "that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified...." (2 Thes. 3:1 ). The scattered saints went everywhere "preaching the word." (Acts Bi8:4). Philip "began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus." (Acts 8:35) The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all)."(Acts10:36). At Salamis they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews (Acts 13: 5). Paul and Silas, spake unto the jailer the word of the Lord with the result that he believed in with all his house. (Acts 16:32-34). Paul spent a year and six months in Corinth "teaching the word of God among them.(Acts 18:11). In the school of Tyrannus in Ephesus Paul disputed daily, "And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks." (Acts 19:9-10)

Sensational subjects, pretty little pep talks with spiritual overtones, a generous array of human wisdom sprinkled with well told anecdotes, death bed stories, and personal experiences may attract the worldly minded to some degree, but such preaching will not build faith in God or Christ. Men need the word of God now as much as ever. Any gospel meeting which does not intend to accomplish these purposes will be a failure in God's sight from the beginning, regardless of how men count success.

(4)Save the Sinner. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." (Rom. 3: 23). "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." {Rom. 6:23). "But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost." (2 Cor. 4:3). At the coming of our Lord he will take vengeance on them "that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power." (2 Thes. 1:6-9).

Men are lost because of sin. In his grace, God has provided the gospel as the remedy. But it must be preached. In every city and country community, in every factory, office or field, in every block on every street and in nearly every house the world over, there are persons accountable before God who have never obeyed the gospel. If we do not have people to come to hear it during a gospel meeting, it is not because there are no lost men who need it. It is because they either are too hard hearted to be interested, or else we have not so lived as to command the respect of those whom we know to be lost. Too many of our gospel meetings find too few in attendance who are outside of Christ. We often preach to half a house full of the most faithful members of the church together with the faithful few from near-by congregations who will support other meetings. These need to be instructed, but too little effort is put forth to go out and bring in the alien sinner. There are many who are looking for the truth and would accept if we would make the effort to teach them. Don't say "the day of gospel meetings is over." How many reading this article obeyed the gospel in a meeting?

(5) Edify the Christian. Timothy was told to put brethren in remembrance of certain things that he might be a "good minister of Jesus Christ."(I Tim. 4:6). No Bible student knows it all in spite of the fact that we have some who act like they think so). Old truths need to be kept before our minds. There may be areas of God's word explored in a meeting which even the more mature Bible students had not really studied. For some years the Brown Street church has had a meeting every year in which the preacher is requested to direct his lessons to the church. Some congregations have planned meetings with a different speaker each night, discussing a topic of importance for the Christian. Often, the weaker members who need edifying the most, will not attend a meeting. There is a joy and enthusiasm generated in a meeting when the brethren all do their best to attend, to bring others, to join heartily in the singing, and to show their interest in the preaching of the word. This within itself is edifying. Even the elders of the church at Ephesus needed to be built up for Paul commended them to God, and the word of his grace "which is able to build you up, and give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified." (Acts 20:32)

Just as long as the faithful preaching of the truth glorifies God, exalts Christ, honors the word of God, points the way of salvation to the sinner and edifies the Christian, then just that long there will be a need for gospel meetings.


November 20, 1969

Gospel Meetings (III) The Singing