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Go Tell It On The Mountain

In this last week of the Christmas season, we have in mind the Christmas Carol, “Go Tell It on the Mountain.”

“Go Tell It on the Mountain” is an African-American spiritual song. We do not know the original author. Around 1865, in the time of the Civil War, John Wesley Work, Jr. compiled and published many African-America songs. “Go Tell It on the Mountain” is one of the many songs he gathered. Since publication, it has been sung and recorded by many Gospel and secular performers. It is considered a Christmas carol as its original lyrics celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

As the concluding message for the Advent season, we will focus on the refrain.

Go, tell it on the mountain,
over the hills and everywhere;
go, tell it on the mountain
that Jesus Christ is born

The news of God becoming a man to save the world is remarkable. There is no greater news. It is highly unusual to keep profound and impacting news a secret. It is natural for us to repeat the news to others. Go tell it on the mountain.

The Biblical inspiration for the refrain is Isaiah 52:7, which says, “How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news.” The Apostle Paul quotes Isaiah in Romans chapter 10 (verse 15), after describing the process of how people become saved.

Paul makes the statement:

 “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

And then, he follows up the statement with four rhetorical questions explaining how the Gospel of Christ is spread.

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” (Romans 10:14-15)

Paul understands these questions. Paul was sent. Paul preached. People heard. People believed and were saved. This was Paul’s life. Paul has beautiful feet.

The main idea of the message this morning is, “Go tell it everywhere that Jesus Christ is born.”

The Good News must be Believed

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? (Romans 10:14)

What they must believe is in Romans 10:8-9

… the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved Romans 10:8-9)

It is important to realize that when sharing the Gospel, it is essential to ask people to respond. The Gospel message is incomplete without telling people they need to respond.

The gospel issues an ultimatum. It is not a song we can listen to and then go on about our life. It is not like hearing the news as a piece of information.  One must do more than hear the Gospel; a person must confess and believe.

Confess Jesus is Lord

The right response to the gospel is to confess we are sinners, we confess that we sin against God. We confess Jesus is Lord, and we must obey Him. He is Lord of lords and the supreme authority above all things.

Believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead

Along with the confession comes the belief that God raised Jesus from the dead. We must believe Jesus paid the penalty of death for our sins on the cross. He died, was buried, and rose from the dead. His resurrection proves He has victory over sin and death and offers eternal life to all who believe in Him.

Many people miss an important word in verse nine, which is “heart.” We need to let people know that to be a Christian, they need to believe in the heart. The heart is the seat of our emotions, desires, passions, and will. From our heart springs forth our plans, words, and actions. Those who believe in Jesus from the heart treasure everything about Jesus and it is evident in their lives.

Example 1 of believing in the heart:

Mom: Time for supper.

Child: Okay (spoken in a humdrum manner).

Mom: We’re having pizza.

Child: YAAAAYYYYY, I love pizza, thank you so much mom, you are the greatest!

Because pizza is in the heart, the child runs to supper, expresses joy on their face, and their mouth shouts, “yay,” gratitude comes from their lips, and they are obedient to the command of the mother so their heart gets what their heart desires.

Example 2 of believing from the heart:

Many of you know, I love pottery. I converted a room in my basement into a pottery studio. I use spare money on clay and glazes. I am on the lookout for pottery ideas. I spend hours thinking about and doing pottery. Our house is full of pottery pieces. The love of pottery in my heart is seen in my life. My friends know pottery is in my heart. I receive many gifts this Christmas that are pottery related. I “heart” pottery.

Whatever is in our hearts shows in our lives. The gospel calls people to treasure Christ above all things in their hearts.

Those who preach the gospel must tell those who hear the gospel to respond with a confession from the mouth and belief from the heart.

In order to believe, the gospel must be heard. And, to be heard, the gospel must be preached.

The Good News must be told

How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14)

The Greek word for preacher is keryx which means someone who proclaims or announces. John the Baptist is a keryx. All Christians are to be preachers who proclaim the Gospel.

The Bible commands every child of God to make known His glory by proclamation. There are over 350 commands in Scripture to declare the goodness of God to all the people.

The Bible says to give a confession, declare, extol, have lips which praise, make known His works, share the message, be a messenger, open your mouth, give praise with your voice, proclaim, speak forth, tell, testify, give voice, be a witness, and preach the good news of good things.

It is essential to know that the Gospel must be spoken because it is popular for Christians to believe their lifestyle, the way they live, is equal to sharing the Gospel. 

“Preach the gospel always, if necessary use words.” St. Francis of Asissi (wrongly attributed)

The famous saying implies the Gospel is preached by doing good works. This method is called “lifestyle evangelism” and is based upon Matthew 5:16, which says

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

Be nice at work, be polite, and considerate at the supermarket, do random acts of kindness, show generosity, make your neighbors cookies. (keep doing those things)

There is no scriptural basis to replace Gospel proclamation with lifestyle evangelism.

Lifestyle evangelism operates on the assumption people view Christians as role models. We all know Muslims, Mormons, or secular law-abiding good citizens. Muslims and Mormons make great neighbors. They are polite, well-behaved, and hard workers. When it comes to lifestyle, it isn’t easy to pick the Christian out from the Muslim or Mormon.

Only one thing separates Christianity from other religions, and that is the message of the Gospel. The Gospel says we are not good, and we need a Savior.

The Bible teaches that the world will hate us. They will not hate us for building schools, feeding the hungry, helping the homeless, being polite at the supermarket, or because we are good citizens. They will hate us because we declare Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and no one may go to the Father except by Him.

We are not saying that we have permission to live as a poor example. We have no permission to live an ungodly lifestyle, be selfish, or lazy. Our lifestyle reflects our message. We need to “walk the talk.” The Bible teaches the world will blaspheme God if we are ungodly in our behavior. Our lifestyle matters.

None of us live a life that is so godly that other people will look at us and fall on their knees, begging God for mercy. We need to preach the message of the cross of Christ.

But, a lifestyle without words is not preaching.

Preach the Gospel always, using words because words are indispensable.

Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Romans 10:17

The Gospel must be heard.

Jesus said that His sheep hear His voice, and He knows them, and they will follow Him (John 10:27-28). We need to have confidence in the Gospel because it is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16). Have confidence when proclaiming the Gospel message. God’s sheep will hear His voice.

Unfortunately, not everyone wants to hear the Gospel.

For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? (2 Corinthians 2:15-16)

To some, we smell like life. But to others, we smell like death. We don’t like smelling like death. We are tempted to remove the smell of death. Sin smells like death, so don’t talk about sin. God’s wrath and hell smell like death, so we shy away from talking about hell or the wrath of God.

Who is adequate for these things; proclaiming judgment of eternal life and eternal death?

The Good News must be sent

The song says, “GO tell it on the mountain.” Go.

The Great Commission says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.  Go, therefore …” (Matthew 28:18-19).

Paul asks, How will they preach unless they are sent? (Romans 10:15)

The implication of Paul’s question is clear. To reach people with the good news, someone has to go.

Often, we think bringing people to church fulfills this passage. Bringing people here is not being sent. The phrase, sent, (apostellō) implies an intentional going. The stress of the definition is commissioning to go. The going is obedient to the authority of Jesus.

If we are to be disciples, we are to imitate Jesus. Jesus preached the Gospel from house to house and in many villages throughout Israel. His disciples imitated Jesus after His death and resurrection, and they continued spreading the Gospel to Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, Antioch, Ephesus, Philippi, Corinth, and Rome.

Because of preachers who obeyed the Great Commission, we are here today, 5540 miles removed from Jerusalem, hearing the good news of salvation. Praise God for the saints who are willing to go.

We are to send the Gospel out until the end of the age.  Jesus said, “the gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).

Our mission as a church is to equip each person to be sent with the Gospel.

Preachers of Good News Are Beautiful

Paul finishes with a verse from the Old Testament as a proof text to support his argument.

Paul paraphrases Isaiah 52:7 when he says, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” (Romans 10:15).

How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who announces peace and brings good news of happiness,
Who announces salvation, and says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” (Isaiah 52:7)

It is helpful to understand the significance of having beautiful feet. [1]

The feet are not the most attractive part of the body. In Biblical times, the roads are filthy, and the lack of socks and the use of sandals make feet unattractive. When entering a home, the lowest of the servants wash the feet of visitors. John the Baptist tells Jesus he is unworthy to untie his sandals.

In Jesus’ culture, to show the sole of the foot to someone is considered an insult. If we want to insult someone for their lack of hospitality, we shake the dust off our feet in their presence. “To speak with the feet” is considered abusive or obscene in many eastern cultures.

“To sit at the feet” is to occupy the place of someone we are learning from; it is a lower position. If we desire to be at someone’s feet, it is a very high compliment. James warns against making the poor people of the church by telling them to take a lowly place at the feet of the wealthier members of the congregation (James 2:3).

The point made by the verse is that God declares messengers of the Gospel as beautiful, even their feet are beautiful. From the crown of their head to the soles of their feet, Gospel messengers are a jewel of precious value in God’s eyes. The feet of Gospel preachers are beautiful because they walk according to the will of God.

The proclamation in Isaiah is made regarding the release of the Israelites from Babylonian captivity. The good news of eternal life in Christ is greater news!

“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” (Romans 10:15)

Those who bring the good news of good things have beautiful feet because God declares it so. God’s declaration that we have beautiful feet is not dependent upon the response of the hearer. The hearer may reject the news, but the feet are still beautiful.

Be sent to preach the good news to those who will hear. Tell others to sell all they have so they may purchase the field with the treasure, sell all your other pearls because we have found the Pearl of great price.  Proclaim to the nations, Our God Reigns.

[1] Information about the feet taken from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia