Learning something once doesn’t seem like it is enough.
At least that was Paul’s perspective regarding the gospel.
At the end of a long letter to the Corinthians, he makes an interesting statement: “I make known to you, brothers, the gospel…” (1 Corinthians 15:1).
This is a church that he planted on his second missionary journey (Acts 18:1–11). These are his very own people. Surely they heard the gospel when he came to them. In fact, he stayed there for a year and a half (v. 11).
So, how is it that he wants to “make known” the gospel to them? Did he not proclaim the gospel in the eighteen months that he was there? Is it because they forgot? Or perhaps their lives did not demonstrate that they fully understood? Maybe they just didn’t get it.
None of these seem to be an option however. Notice how he continues: “the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved” (1 Corinthians 15:1–2 ESV).
Paul did preach the gospel. The Corinthians did, in fact, receive the gospel. They were standing in the gospel and were being saved by the gospel. So why did Paul need to make it known again? There is a reason why I think he needed to make known the gospel to them:
The gospel leaks.
Bill Hybels a few years ago at The Leadership Summit used the picture of a bucket with small holes near the bottom to describe the vision of an organization. The point is that it is never enough to communicate the vision of your organization just once or even a few times. The reason is because “vision leaks.” The role of the leader is to be constantly communicating, and reminding, and restating what the vision is.
I think the same is true for the gospel. The gospel leaks. Sure, we may remember some of the basics facts, all the fragments of information that comprise the gospel. But the implications of those facts tend to drift away like a leaf floating down a stream. Many of us may be aware of the gospel’s basic form but are not seizing its power.
The gospel leaks. Perhaps it is time to refill our buckets with the gospel.
In the next series of posts we will explore the rest of this passage and others to remind ourselves of the gospel.