“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Romans 1:16
Oswald J. Smith was born on November 8, 1889, near Odessa, Ontario as the eldest of ten children. His early years were troubled by ill health and a delicate constitution. He was once out of school for two whole years after a bout of pneumonia. He said, “It was generally accepted that I hadn’t many more days on this earth.” In spite of dire predictions, he did survive frightening illnesses and grew into a young man. On January 28, 1906, during a Crusade in Toronto, Smith committed his life to the Lord and from that time, his burning desire to preach the gospel became the focus of his life. He later founded the Peoples Church in Toronto.
Smith is also quoted to have said, “No one has the right to hear the gospel twice, while there remains someone who has not heard it once.” Missions became his great passion! Like the apostle Paul, it was his great ambition to preach where Christ was not known, so that he would not be building on another’s foundation (Romans 15:20).
While that desire is extremely admirable, yet the saying above fails to acknowledge that the gospel does more than bring justification, it also brings sanctification and glorification. In the well known words of Romans 1:16, Paul tells us that the gospel is the power of God to salvation for all who believe! And “salvation” includes not only one’s initial salvation, but one’s ongoing transformation into the likeness of Christ, and even one’s future state of glory in life eternal. All of that takes place by the power of God in the gospel!
For that reason, the gospel is as necessary for believers to hear again and again, as it is for unbelievers to hear for the first time! While sanctification includes our efforts, yet it is ultimately only by the power of the gospel that our hearts and lives can truly be transformed. Jerry Bridges has said, “We must always keep focused on the gospel. It is in the nature of sanctification that as we grow, we see more and more of our sinfulness. Instead of driving us to discouragement, though, this should drive us to the gospel. That is why we need to preach the gospel to ourselves every day.”
Hallelujah! What a Saviour!