the gospel of christ beyond boundaries

Cultural Awareness Week – Condensed Sermon
A call for a sincere commitment to preach the Gospel of Christ
2 Corinthians 10:12-18 (NIV)
General William Booth, founder of our Salvation Army, went beyond the boundaries
in his commitment to help the needy. William Booth’s motto was “Go for souls and go for
the worst.” With a passionate speech and a militant faith he marched to the beat of drums and
trumpets to the worst neighborhoods in the cities of England looking for the alcoholics, the
prostitutes, the oppressed, the abused, and the poor. All of them found hope under the flag of
the Salvation Army.
The so-called “East London” was a labyrinth of poverty, misery, corruption,
alcoholism, and prostitution. Many British factories treated their employees as slaves. Such
vile conditions convinced Booth that God wanted him to go “beyond” in his work for those
people. Therefore, for 47 years he crossed all types of boundaries, and extended his borders
looking for the worst. Only in this way was he able to embrace souls with God’s Word. He
was often insulted, threatened, and stoned for his Christian service, but nothing stopped him
from going beyond those boundaries in his ministry and speaking of Christ to the so called
“worst” in the cities.
William Booth wrote: “Some men's ambition is art. Some men's ambition
is fame. Some men's ambition is gold. My ambition is the souls of men” (1 Corinthians
Since the time of Jesus, throughout the ministry of his disciples and apostles, and up
to our time, the church itself and religious leaders often have stood in opposition to sharing
the Gospel of Christ. Plots, false accusations, envy, persecution, torture and death are the
price disciples and apostles, as well as Jesus Christ himself, paid for preaching the
forgiveness of sins, salvation, and sanctity for the lost and the sinners.
Those religious leaders (High priests, scribes, Pharisees, etc.) who taught in the
synagogues, presided over the ceremonies in the Temple, and led the Sanhedrin credited
themselves with the right to decide who could be called a child of God and who should be
granted the forgiveness of sins. Greeks, Gentiles, Samaritans, tax collectors, lepers, and
prostitutes were some of those who were not worthy to be part of God’s people, and besides,
nobody had the authority other than the religious leaders to embrace them with God’s Word,
love, and mercy.
What a great injustice was committed by those religious leaders because they assumed
and manipulated the knowledge of God and his law to “stop” the redeeming work of the
Gospel of Christ to all.
But one day, the Lord Jesus, in front of a scene of false judgment and injustice, spoke
to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with
you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this
city” (Acts 18:9-10, NIV). In other words, in this text, God is telling Paul: “Don’t stop, you
must go beyond so that the field of action among all of you is greatly widened.”
In the selected Scripture for this sermon: 2 Corinthians, chapter 10, verses 12 to 18,
the apostle Paul tries to prevent the Corinthian church from dividing due to the influence of
false doctrines. It is for this reason that he faces harsh opposition, criticism, accusations,
disqualification, and obstacles from those false apostles.
Cultural Awareness Week – Condensed Sermon
The Judaizers came boasting of work they never did. Those false apostles compared
themselves with themselves, assumed all moral and spiritual authority, and took credit for the
establishment of the work in Corinth when the real founder was Paul. These false teachers
were members of a “mutual admiration society” since they compared themselves with
themselves and, therefore, had an exaggerated concept of themselves. This attitude was
linked to an extreme religious pride based on Phariseeism in the New Testament. With their
attitude, they demonstrated a type of “patriotism” that opposed the message of reconciliation
and service to God in Corinth and other regions beyond.
These false leaders didn’t approve of Paul and his disciples carrying the Gospel of
Christ to other regions, but Paul’s common practice was to take the Gospel to where nobody
had gone before. After reflecting upon and considering his call and commitment to the work
of Christ, Paul answers the false apostles with a clear and straightforward appeal about the
true purpose and motivation that inspired him to preach the Gospel of Christ: salvation is
available to all. The truth is that God loves all peoples and wants to pour over them his
forgiveness and mercy.
Paul’s call to go “beyond” relates to the continuous work of taking the Gospel to
the entire world. Paul’s words about preaching the Gospel in “other places far beyond
you” (NLT) reveal he was never satisfied with reserving the message for the benefit of the
Christian community, including the religious leaders.
The message in 2 Corinthians chapter 10 is an appeal to the detractors of the Gospel
who were in the church of Corinth. It clearly states what the true motives for the ministry
must be: loyalty and love.
Paul, with his ardent zeal for God’s work, defends and proclaims the mandate given
clearly to the church of Christ: “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19);
“preach the Gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15); “repentance for the forgiveness of sins
will be preached in his [Jesus’] name” (Luke 24:47); It is difficult to understand that the
religious leaders themselves opposed the great commission.
The church is responsible and the pastors are the tools through which God elevates his
Gospel; therefore, it is important to examine the true motives for serving the Lord in his
The spiritual secret of an abundant life within the church is to “go beyond” the
ordinary, never accepting a routine and inactive life in our roles as pastors, leaders and
members. This experience and lesson from Paul alerts us to the obstacles and challenges that
sometimes arise from the church itself when we share the Gospel of Christ, and how these
contradict the mission that the Gospel changes and transforms a world of wickedness and
The question arises: What should we do as Christians, when we face opposition
and obstacles to preaching the Gospel of Christ? As Christians, we must assume three
actions to go beyond the boundaries and fulfill the great commission: “Therefore go and
make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and
of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).
(verses 12-13, NIV).
In this passage, Paul responds to the criticism and opposition of other leaders of the
church in Corinth. They judged Paul for his physical appearance, his past, his lack of
knowledge, and for his work as a follower of Christ. The leaders claimed that Paul had no
Cultural Awareness Week – Condensed Sermon
authority or legitimacy to say he was the founder of the church in Corinth, which was going
through a crisis at that time.
Paul criticizes this type of attitude in Galatians 6:3-4 (NIV): “If anyone thinks they
are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own
actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to
someone else.”
Besides, these false apostles attributed the growth of the church to themselves and
were not interested in preaching the Gospel in other regions. Reality was that the false
apostles had clearly exceeded their boundaries in order to overstep and nullify Paul’s work.
By entering the church in Corinth as intruders, the false apostles had crossed Paul’s
boundary, which was the boundary God had determined for him. God had brought him to the
Corinthians as their genuine apostle.
Paul had the power that comes from God to surpass the boundary that came from
criticism and opposition, so he replies: “We, however, will not boast beyond proper
boundaries, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned
to us, a sphere that also includes you.”
As a leader, Paul was very sure of “the sphere of service God himself has assigned to
us” and this was outside the church where the lost were. These false apostles declared
themselves enemies of Paul’s ministry, but Paul still demonstrated love for them, and the true
nature of his calling to them, just as Christ did in Matthew 5:43-48, NIV.
As with Paul’s experience, what are those “boundaries” that prevent us from
fulfilling the great commission to make disciples for Christ through evangelism? What
are those boundaries that prevent us from loving our neighbor?
In Luke10:25-37, there is a wonderful truth, an eternal teaching that can help us see
more clearly the value of going beyond the boundaries to spread God’s message. It is the
Good Samaritan parable, taught by Jesus to an expert in the law who tried to test him by
asking: “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Then Jesus replied: “What is written
in the Law? How do you read it?” And the man cited: “‘Love the Lord your God with all
your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and,
‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Then Jesus replied: “You have answered correctly. Do
this and you will live.” But the expert in the law wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus,
“And who is my neighbor?” Instead of getting involved in abstract terms, Jesus presented a
teaching about the true responsibility of being a servant of God, presenting it by way of a
parable. When the teaching was over, the scholar understood that “our neighbor is everyone
who needs us, anyone we can help.”
According to Jesus’ parable, the expert in the law treated the wounded man as a topic
for discussion; the robbers, as an exploitation object; the priests, as a problem to be avoided;
and the Levite, as a curious object. Only the Samaritan treated him as a person who should be
If we cannot follow the most important of the commandments, to “‘Love the Lord
your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all
your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Mark 12:28–34), how
can we boast of our spiritual authority within the church, showing love for the one who is out
there, and enslaved by Satan?
Paul gets to the core of the problem for the Corinthians: the real purpose of those false
apostles was to teach false doctrines, and of course, this was not for the spiritual benefit of
the Corinthians or the other regions where they wanted to expand their sphere of influence,
invading others’ territory with their false teachings.
Cultural Awareness Week – Condensed Sermon
That is why Paul had to act quickly, with perseverance and authority. In 2 Timothy
4:2, he says, “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct,
rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.”
If we are truly intentional in spreading the Gospel of Christ we must go beyond all
types of boundaries. Those boundaries are there to prevent the advance of the Gospel, but we
must go forward and cross them to spread the Gospel of Christ. If we don’t go beyond the
boundaries to share the Gospel of Christ, Satan will do his job, reaching those places to kill,
rob, and destroy.
(verses 14-15).
Paul would not give up. God’s call to him as representative to the Gentiles still
included the church in Corinth, but also, that authority did not get him involved, nor in the
way of, other people’s work. Galatians 2:8: “For God, who was at work in Peter as an
apostle to the circumcised, was also at work in me as an apostle to the Gentiles.”
Paul’s attitude was extraordinary as he responded with humility and strength to the
false leaders: “We did get as far as you with the Gospel of Christ.” This proves God had
legitimized Paul’s commission by producing fruit in Corinth. This is the privilege granted to
us when we extend our borders with the Gospel of Christ. But the false teachers wanted the
credit for themselves. On the contrary, Paul did recognize the work of others within the
church: “Neither do we go beyond our boundaries by boasting of work done by others.”
In order to extend our borders spreading the Gospel of Christ, we must leave aside all
selfishness and recognize and value the work of everyone in the church. In our times, the
church faces the challenge to enlarge its territory.
Additionally, when God gives us a particular area of ministry, we must finish the
work in that territory. For example, when Paul met with the elders of the church in Ephesus
to say goodbye (Acts 20:17). Even though Paul said this to the church in Ephesus, he could
have said the same to all the churches he had founded, including the church in Corinth. Paul
planted humbly and with “many tears,” but he never ran away, he never gave up. The
message of salvation was too important, so he didn’t miss any occasion to announce it.
Paul didn’t do anything in secret; everybody knew his message and his methods. He
served the Lord, not man. He was a humble leader, not a proud dictator. He knew what it was
to water with tears the seed of the Word (Acts 20:19, 31). Paul preached God’s advice
publicly and house to house. He preached to all people and exalted Jesus Christ. This is the
model for the church and its leaders to prevent falling in the “comfort zone” within the
ministry; on the contrary, they must extend their borders with the Gospel of Christ.
In 1 Chronicles 4:10, we find the powerful prayer of a man who wanted to do
something extraordinary with his life. “Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ‘Oh that you
would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from
harm so that I will be free from pain.’ And God granted his request.”
In his prayer, Jabez acknowledged God as the true center of his life. When we pray
for God’s blessing, we must also ask him to take his legitimate position as Lord over our life,
our family, our work, and our ministry.
“To expand our borders” is a vital decision to expand God’s kingdom on earth. Let’s
not wait for Satan to take the lead to go beyond our borders and to win the battle to destroy
God’s people. Can you enlarge your territory? Your territory can be your family, your
neighborhood, your workplace, your ministry, your city, your college or university, etc.
GLORY! (verses 16-18)
Cultural Awareness Week – Condensed Sermon
God gave Paul a particular field of ministry, which he completed, but afterwards
he moved on to “preach the Gospel in the regions beyond” and to embrace others with
the good news of salvation (v. 16). While the false apostles shrouded themselves with
their own arguments, Paul was determined to continue his work to embrace others.
Paul suggested to the Corinthians that his presence was not necessary there because
their faith had grown. It was time for Paul to expand his ministry to other regions, like Rome,
as he had indicated in Acts 19:21.
In verse 16, Paul reveals two weak topics that are often observed when preaching the
Gospel: first, is the tendency of the religious leaders to compete among themselves, and,
second, is the tendency to take advantage of the ministry work others have done beforehand.
It’s really easy to take the Gospel of Christ where the price of evangelism has already
been paid. But, Paul says, where were those “great teachers” when I risked my life to start the
church in Corinth? Anyone can come after the hard work has been done, criticize the founder
and receive all the glory!
Paul was not afraid to embrace the greatest tasks; God had called him to work without
caring for the dangers awaiting him. He went to places where people were hostile to the
Gospel. Paul endured hardship and many other pains inflicted upon his body. He was stoned,
jailed, and flogged.
Paul’s custom was to take the Gospel where nobody else had gone before (Romans
15:20), but the Judaizers custom was to invade someone else’s territory and take over the
work that had already been done, and even destroy it with their false doctrines, double
standards, and false spirituality.
Paul was wise enough to leave the matter of praise to God alone. In verse 17, he
makes a reference to Jeremiah 9:24: “‘Let the one who boasts boast about this: that they
have the understanding to know me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and
righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the LORD.”
The apostle Paul was willing to wait for God’s “well done!” And we must do so, too.
Paul yearned to embrace others with the Word and the love of Christ. He had experienced the
blessing to see Gentiles and Greeks transformed by the Gospel of Christ. That was his life’s
purpose: to embrace others. That is why the personal, cultural, and geographical barriers
were not an obstacle for him. During that time of criticism, instead of giving up, Paul makes
clear his desire to establish more churches and that those churches would contribute to each
other to strengthen Christ’s work in the area.
Embracing others with the Gospel of Christ starts by accepting that all we do is for
God’s glory and honor. We do not expect benefits or recognition.
Malachi the prophet said, “You will see it with your own eyes and say, ‘Great is
the Lord—even beyond the borders of Israel!’” (1:5).
The Lord has spoken clearly on the mission of the church: Christians must assume
three actions to go beyond the boundaries and fulfill the great commission to preach the
Gospel of Christ: We must go beyond our boundaries, we must extend our borders and we
must embrace others with the Gospel of Christ for his glory!
God’s work involves many individuals with a variety of gifts and abilities. There are
no superstars in this task, only team members who perform their specific duties. Paul founded
the church in Corinth and Apollos built on that foundation. Tragically, the believers at
Corinth had divided into groups, offering loyalty to different false apostles.
As ambassadors of the message of Christ, we must understand that the Gospel of
Jesus Christ is the only reassuring response for the anxious and restless heart. Also, the
beautiful truth of the Gospel of Christ is that it changes everything.
Cultural Awareness Week – Condensed Sermon
Romans 10:14-15: “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in?
And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear
without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As
it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’”
Let’s preach the Gospel of Christ beyond boundaries.
The Holy Spirit makes the church go “beyond boundaries.” Amen.