And I am sure that, when I come to you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.
St. Paul has been stating his plans as regards the future, and especially regarding his intended visit to Rome. There is much that is uncertain. But one thing was a certainty to him. "I am sure that, when I come to you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ." Had Paul any grounds for this expectation? Was his confidence warranted by facts? Let us see. About two years after this he came to Rome a prisoner. What was his chief occupation then? Preparing his defence? No. "Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him ' (Acts 28:31). There were two elements in his confident expectation.
I. HIS CONFIDENCE IN THE BLESSING OF THE GOSPEL. "The fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ." St. Paul felt that the best blessing he could bring to any city, or any people whom he visited, was the blessing of the gospel. Four features in the gospel have made it a blessing to the world.
1. It is a gospel of love and mercy. This was a new message to the world. What a contrast to the cruel gods of heathenism is the merciful God whom the gospel proclaims!
2. It is a gospel of salvation. It not only shows us the evil of sin and the guilt of it, but it tells us of a Saviour. Here is its transcendent superiority over the best of the heathen religions. Not only so, but the Saviour of whom it speaks is a Divine Saviour. He is able to save to the uttermost all who come unto God through him.
3. It is a gospel of everlasting life. What hopes it opens up! What a stimulus it gives us to exertion to remember that they that are faithful unto death shall receive the crown of life that fadeth not away! It teaches us that this life is eternal in its consequences, and thus exercises a purifying and elevating influence upon the lives of men. What comfort it brings to the bereaved to know that the grave does not end all, but that there is another and a better life beyond! The hope of the agnostic has recently been expressed in a popular novel, 'John Ward, Preacher.' The heroine expresses her hope for the future by speaking of it as "an eternal sleep." Where is the stimulus to exertion there? Where is there any comfort for the bereaved? When death is drawing nigh, the dying Christian and those who are to be left behind can appreciate the blessing of that gospel which has brought life and immortality to light.
4. It is a gospel of light and guidance. It points out to us the path of duty. It gives us not only wise precepts, but the personal example of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here also it transcends all human systems of religion and morality. The best of human teachers have not been free from imperfection and sin. Christ alone can truly say, "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life." He alone has the right to say to us - a right vindicated not only by his Divine authority, but by his perfect character - "Follow me." The influence of Jesus Christ and his example is one of the most precious blessings of the gospel. In the year 1876 the centennial of the United States was celebrated. General Grant was then president. The editors of the Sunday School Times wrote to him, requesting him to give them a message for children and youth in their centennial number. In his reply he said, "My advice to Sunday schools, no matter of what denomination, is - Hold fast to the Bible as the sheet-anchor of your liberties, write its precepts on your hearts, and practise them in your lives. To the influence of this book are we indebted for all the progress made in true civilization, and to this we must look as our guide in the future." He, too, had confidence in the gospel, and in the blessings which it brings to the individual and the nation.
II. HIS CONFIDENCE IN THE CHRISTIAN'S POWER TO COMMUNICATE THIS BLESSING. The apostle's words express not only his belief in the blessing of the gospel, but also his confidence that he can and will communicate that blessing. "I am sure that, when I crone to you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ." And yet it was not a confidence in self, in his own lemming or eloquence. It was a confidence in Christ. He knew whom he had believed. Twenty-five years he had been serving him, and he had more than once proved the Divine power of Christ's presence and help. Our power to communicate the blessings of the gospel depends on two things.
1. A personal knowledge of the gospel.
2. Constant communion with Christ. A life of prayer is indispensable if we would live a life of usefulness. These two things, personal knowledge of the gospel and personal communion with Christ, will make us independent of time and circumstances. They impart strength and confidence. It was all the same to St. Paul how or when he went to Rome. As if he said, "No matter how, no matter when I come to you, one thing I am sure of, that I shall bring the rich blessing of Christ's gospel with me." As a matter of fact, he came there as a prisoner, but even thus he brought a blessing. Whether we are rich or poor, learned or unlearned, we shall be sure to carry a blessing to the circles in which we move, if only we have first of all experienced the power of the gospel in our own hearts, and then realize our constant dependence upon Christ. There are two ways in which we can communicate this blessing.
1. By our Christian character. The Corinthian Christians became living epistles (2 Corinthians 3:2, 3). Their changed life was a remarkable testimony to the power of the gospel.
2. By our personal testimony. If we know by personal experience the preciousness of Christ and the blessings of the gospel, let us be more ready to proclaim them to others. - C.H.I.
Parallel VersesKJV: And I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.