A missionary came to a village carrying a Bible in the language of the people there, intending to preach the gospel to them. But the people of that village were suspicious of strangers and killed the missionary before he had a chance to say one word to them. Years later another missionary came to that same village. When he began to talk to one of the men there, he was amazed to find that the man knew about Jesus Christ. The missionary asked how he had come to know the gospel. The man took him to his home and showed him a most extraordinary sight. The walls of the home were papered with pages of the Bible left there by the earlier missionary.
A Jewish man married a Christian woman who often spoke to him of Christ her Savior, but he remained an unbeliever. Then while serving as a diplomat in a foreign country, the man was taken captive and held as a hostage. There he spent his days in a room by himself with nothing to occupy his mind. In an effort to retain his sanity, the man went back in his mind as far as he could remember and tried to recall everything in his life. In the course of this exercise he began to think of the gospel witness brought to him by his wife, and he became a believer.
Both of these stories show the power of the gospel and the secondary importance of the human agent who brings it. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ that is the power of God for salvation. It is the Holy Spirit working through the gospel who turns man’s heart from unbelief to faith. The preacher–the witness who brings the gospel to another–is an ambassador. When we preach the gospel, we are ambassadors of the King, carrying the King’s message. We are not responsible for the content of the message; we are not to apologize for it; nor are we to alter it in any way. We can add nothing to the message. We cannot force anyone to believe it. Our role is that of a servant.
A Feature Of God’s Plan
But this servant’s role is by no means to be despised. The missionary carrying the Bible or the wife witnessing to her husband are features of God’s plan to bring the message of salvation in Christ to the world. Christ has ordained that His gospel be taken to humanity by human preachers. When God wanted Cornelius, the Roman centurion, to hear the gospel, He sent an angel to him. But the angel did not preach Christ. He told Cornelius to send for Peter, who came and preached Christ to Cornelius and his household and baptized them (Acts 10).
The calling of a preacher or witness is a high one. This is what Paul emphasizes when he says, “We are ambassadors for Christ” (2 Cor. 5:20). In the original text Christ is placed first in the sentence: “For Christ we are ambassadors.”
As representatives of the King, we bring a noble message, offering great gifts: the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. As ambassadors of the King we speak with royal authority. Jesus says to those who proclaim His gospel, “He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me” (Lk. 10:16).
As ambassadors we also have an interest in the message that we bring. We are not like the messenger boy who delivers an envelope but knows nothing of what is in it. We know and believe the gospel that we bring to others. We ourselves possess the blessings it offers. We love those to whom we bring the gospel and earnestly desire that they should believe it and be saved.
It is considered a great honor to be appointed an ambassador to represent a president or prime minister. It is a far greater honor and privilege to serve as an ambassador for the King of kings, to carry in our hands–and on our heart and lips–the life-giving gospel.
–Pastor John Klatt