Let me introduce you to an old friend of mine. His name is Johnny Gospel. In the eyes of the world, Johnny is just an ordinary fellow, maybe even a little odd, but in the eyes of all faithful Christians, he is a fine, outstanding example of what it means to be a Christian. You might even know Johnny. He could well be a member of the congregation where you attend. Well, let me just describe him for you.
One thing is sure, Johnny knows his Bible (II Tim. 2:15). If you ask a Bible question, Johnny can tell you where to find the answer (II Pet. 3:21). He studies his Bible daily so he is very familiar with it (Acts 17:11). No, formally he is not a scholar–he doesn’t hold a theological degree–but he has learned so much from his daily studies, that you might sometimes mistake him for one. Of course, he doesn’t know everything there is to know but he knows enough that he could tell you whether the gist of some statement is scriptural or not.
Naturally, Johnny loves the word of God (Psalm 119:97). It really upsets him when he hears the word of God distorted or misapplied (Acts 17:16). Recently, in Bible class, he heard another member of the Lord’s church advance a view in favor of some unscriptural action. He politely waited for someone else to correct the man, but no one did. So, he took it upon himself to stand up for the truth (I Cor. 16:13). When he did, others joined with him. It is not that Johnny is argumentative, he is simply jealous of the truth and concerned about the souls of men.
Johnny is constantly engaging people in discussions about the word of God (Matt. 28:18-20). Because he carries a New Testament with him wherever he goes and because he often pulls it out and reads it, many ask him about it (Acts 17:11). Most often, at work, on breaks, Johnny will have co-workers come and ask him about the Bible. People always come to Johnny Gospel when they have questions about the Bible or Christianity because they know he is a dedicated and knowledgeable, New Testament Christian. When ever he gets the opportunity, he holds Bible studies with people who are interested (Acts 8:4). Quite a number of people have obeyed the gospel because Johnny Gospel was there on the spot.
Johnny also has unimpeachable character (I Pet. 1:15,16). He is an example to all who get to know him. His speech, whether in private or in public, is always exemplary (Col. 4:6). He pays his bills on time and, if the cashier at the local store gives more change than he deserves, he returns the money just as soon as he knows about it (I Pet. 2:12). He is always polite and kind and tenderhearted and forgiving (Eph. 4:32). Johnny is also known as a man of prayer (I Thess. 5:17). The one thing you know about Johnny Gospel is that whether he is in public or in private, he always is a follower of the Lord (Rev. 2:10).
Johnny’s wife and children are exemplary, as well (Eph. 6:1-3). His children go to Bible class eagerly, have their work ready and participate in the class heartily. Even outside the church building, in school or with their friends, Johnny’s children always do him proud. They dress modestly, they speak respectfully, they refuse to do things that might bring shame either on him or the Lord’s church. They are known in the community as good and decent children and because of that they are trusted.
His wife is also faithful to the Lord (Prov. 31:10-31). She is just as concerned about the truth and the condition of the Lord’s church as is he. She participates in the work of the church, helps those who are in need, encourages her husband as a Christian, teaches her children by word and by example and is well respected in the community and in the church (Tit. 2:3-5). She rises early to begin the chores and help her husband. She does not seek her own pleasure first but that of her husband and children, just as they do hers.
There is so much more that can and should be said about Johnny Gospel, but one thing we know: we need more like him in the church. If more people were like Johnny Gospel, the world, and especially the church, would be in much better and a safer condition.
Eric L. Padgett