By Roland W. Keith
The gospel is called the word of life for at least two reasons— (1) It contains all we need to know to be granted eternal life in heaven (Ephesians 1:13), and (2) It is the springboard into the further teachings of Jesus Christ, the giver of that life.
Our Savior said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). In Mark, Jesus’ command was recorded as, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (16:15-16).
Jesus’ commanded His followers to spread the word. They were to proclaim the gospel, but more than that, they were instructed to teach all that He had commanded them, which would also include all that He would impart to them through the Holy Spirit after His ascension.
After an angel of the Lord freed them from prison, the apostles were instructed to “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life” (Acts 5:20). They were being directed to fulfill the mandate given to them by the Lord, even in adversity. Years later Paul wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). He would also tell the Romans, “For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of Whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? … So, faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (10:13-14, 17).
The word of life will enable those who hear, believe, and act on the word to walk on a new path in life, one with promises for the here and now, and beyond into eternity (Romans 6:3-4; 1:17; I Timothy 4:6-8). Jesus likened the person who accepts and obeys His word to a wise man, and the one who rejected His word to a foolish man (Matthew 7:24-29). It has been said that if there is no God the man who believes and obeys the word of God has still made his life better for his faith, and in the end loses nothing; but, if there is a God the one who rejects His word loses everything. That would be foolish and sad indeed.
For those of us who do believe we are to stand up for the “faith of the gospel” “in one spirit, with one mind” (Philippians 1:27). We have a responsibility to uphold the word, not only in our hearts, but in our actions (Matthew 5:14-16). Paul was astonished to hear that the Galatians were being so easily led away from the truth and exhorted them to hold to the faith (Galatians 1:6-9; Ch.s 3-5). The necessity of holding to the word was also made clear to the Corinthians when Paul wrote, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain (I Corinthians 15:1-2).
Such exhortation comes with the knowledge that we will be persecuted for our faith (II Timothy 3:12; John 15:18-20). When it happens, we must hold our heads up and demonstrate our faith and pride in our Lord (Mark 8:34, 38; Acts 5:41). Moreover, we must be willing to expose works of darkness (Ephesians 5:11), remembering that our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20).
At one point in our lives we all walked according to the world in varying degrees (Ephesians 2:1-3). We have all walked contrary to God’s will, at times perhaps even after we have put on the name of Christ, yet God has determined to save us if we will walk with His Son (John 3:16; Romans 3:23-26; James 1:18). We can be saved if we live by the word of life. We can be born again, as Peter wrote, “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for "All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever." And this word is the good news that was preached to you” (I Peter 1:22-25).
Hi! I'm Roland. I began writing after retiring from the Navy in 2015. I believe that we each should strive to learn from one another, by sharing our thoughts and ideas. As a writer my goal is to help other seekers of truth to find and grow in Christ.