March, 2013 Rev. Dr. Allen D. Churchill


“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

The question comes up, again and again. Is the good news of Jesus really effective? Is there substance in the church's central message? Does it work? There are two things to be said about this. First, if the Gospel is going to be relevant, if the good news of Jesus is going to be effective in a person's life, if the church's message is going to be substantial and life-transforming, it has to be tried. There has to be some integrity in the experiment of faith and faithfulness. You can't expect results in your own life or in someone else's if the Gospel is treated in a merely perfunctory manner. The seed has to be well sown, cultivated by prayer and practice, watered with the dew of divine grace, and then shared with others in the great threefold task of worship, work and witness. The effectiveness of the Gospel is, therefore, always conditional.

The second thing to be said about the relevancy and effectiveness of the good news of Jesus is this. Consider the evidence. Let the facts speak for themselves. I knew a young man who in his earlier days lived a checkered life. He was indifferent towards people and their feelings. He rode with a motorcycle gang. His marriage broke up. There seemed to be little future for him. One day he heard the Gospel, and he said: “That's for me!” His life changed. So did his lifestyle. His family life came together. There sprang up in his heart a new sensitivity towards people. Today he is at university preparing for the professional ministry. Ask him whether or not the message of the Bible is relevant and he would tell you simply and without hesitation: “I am a new person, with a singular and redemptive mission in life. Jesus Christ means everything to me!” I can give you the names of dozens of people whose lives have been transformed by the Gospel. They come from a variety of social backgrounds. They met Christ in a variety of circumstances and through a multitude of different kinds of witness. Some would describe their new-found life in Christ in terms of seeing life more clearly. Others in terms of renewed hope. Others in terms of personal assurance. All of them would relate their faith to a personal discovery of Jesus Christ and a committed relationship with him.

If you have any question at all about the faith of the great apostle of the church, St. Paul, you should read this paragraph in his second letter to the Corinthians (12:1-10). Here we have Paul, as one commentator says, laying bare his heart and showing us at one and the same time his glory and his pain. As the apostle lays out his credentials, which the ancient church and world seemed to be forever questioning, we have Paul referring to his own personal experience. If he was blessed with visions and and revelations of God, which most of us don't possess, he was also subject to temptations many of which we can understand and appreciate. It is in this kind of setting we discover that Paul's faith was real and that the Gospel is relevant and effective. He said: “My grace is sufficient for you......”