Sharing the Gospel – part 2

Most churches share the gospel, but its anemic at best. Or at least that is the way it seems.

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So Yesterday I ranted a little about how some churches present the gospel. In essence, I fear that the main issues is being lost in the shuffle towards relevancy and hipness.

Today I want to just wrap up with another thought about how churches present the gospel to people today.

The Urgent Situation

What do I mean here? What I mean is this: if the goal of gospel sharing is the good life, and if the obstacle from getting your good life is your sin, and if Jesus came to get that obstacle out of the way, then a person only as to be motivated enough to want it. Right? Sounds like a late night infomercial really.

Just make this decision to trust Christ (which is not what they say). Just pray this prayer with us. But this does not capture the urgency with which sinners need to hear the gospel.

The truth is, sinners are in extreme danger. You see if I were to speak with you,  I would gently and tenderly beg you to listen to me.

Your are a sinner, and that sin has offended a Holy God. This Holy God will by no means let the guilty go unpunished, but instead he will out of holy anger, punish the law breakers for all eternity in hell. It is a real place and it exists. And I plead with you, do not continue to ignore God and continue to run from him, because in his great grace he has provided a solution. He sent his own Son in the likeness of mankind. Jesus Christ came into the world to live a perfect life. And at the right time, He was betrayed, spat upon, and nailed to a cross. He took upon himself the punishment that God was ready to dish out to us. Jesus took our place on the cross; he took our sin, so that we could take his righteousness. And the only escape from God’s wrath,  is to take the righteousness of Jesus by faith, and submit yourself to the loving king who died for you.

OBJECTION

Some will object and say, “But God wants a relationship with us, right?” Yes, he absolutely wants a relationship with you, but one where you are servant and he is king. Your greatest happiness will be found in magnifying his name through loving service to the king. The Gospel does not invite you to your self-fulfillment dreams, it invites you to serve the agenda of Christ.

Conclusion

I’m not trying to be contentious. But I am trying to help myself and those around me to be faithful to the preaching of the gospel. Unfortunately, we have sold out the gospel in the name of relevance. We are not evil men who long to do this, but we are simply mistaken about the heart of man. If we really understood the nature of man, all of our relevancy issues we fight over, would be resolved.

So let me plead with you, if you are in the position to share the gospel, never forget the gospel’s greatness news is that Christ has died for sins according to the Scriptures. He has risen from the dead, and he comes to give new life to anyone he desires to.

 

Sharing the Gospel – A rant, part 1

Most churches share the gospel, but its anemic at best. Or at least that is the way it seems.

Most churches share the gospel, but its anemic at best. Or at least that is the way it seems. I have searched through and listened to sermons, read gospel messages. And I find it disturbing how churches and pastors miss a couple of important truths.

Take for instance these words of encouragement for people to trust Christ:

Man is sinful and separated from God. Therefore, he cannot know and experience God’s love and plan for his life.

This is true as far as it goes; it just doesn’t go very far. Think about it from a different perspective. Suppose you are in the doctor’s office. He has something to tell you and it’s not  good news. He says,

Well, the disease is going to make things hard for your family. So you really can’t get your family that big, dream house, unless you take this medicine.

I know maybe this is a little sarcastic, but I think the point is clear. If the disease is some terminal disease, the doctor is really sugar coating the news to the extent where you’re distracted from the core issue in man’s condition and from how urgent man’s situation is.

The Core Issue in man’s condition.

In salvation, what is the core issue?

  • Is it that you are failing to live up to your potential?
  • Is it that you are missing out on the biggest chance of a lifetime?
  • Is it that you are losing precious time to really have a good life?

The Bible is clear, the core issue is sin and the consequences of that sin.

Romans 3:23 – For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

  • Falling short of God’s Glory is all about doing things NOT for God’s glory. No sinner wants God to be magnified. So even the sinners best actions are sinful, because they are not for God’s glory.
  • Sin is the idea that we have broken God’s law. Yes, there is a law, and we have broken it. Sin is not missing the law. It’s breaking it.

Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

  • Yes, the wages of sin is death and that does mean spiritual separation from God, sort of. Because God is omnipresent, there is no place we can go to get away from him. The Psalmist in Psalm 139, says that God is even in Sheol (the place of the dead). What’s my point? If we broke God’s Law, death is execution. It is not just some simple separation. People who are married get separated all the time. So, that doesn’t sound too bad, but the truth is, without Christ we are under the wrath of God (John 3:36)
  • So when we share the gospel, this is what we need to keep in mind. Our condition is that we are sinners who have broken God’s law and we deserve punishment.

OBJECTION

I know someone is going to say, but hey these churches baptize a lot of people don’t they? Well yes, but is it true conversion when a person “trusts” in a God who is not angry with them, is there to help them with their problems, or is there to give them a wonderful life?

Is it even the same God? Just because a group of people have many baptisms, does not mean those baptized truly understood the gospel.

Tomorrow, I will write briefly the second half of this post on the urgency.

Suffering, Part 4 – So I should…?

Jesus designs our suffering for us so that we and those around us might center our lives on the gospel, so that HE might be glorified.

I am trying to weave together several studies I have done on the issues of suffering, particularly as I have studied through the Gospel of John chapter 11.

Here is a “table of contents” if you want to check out the other articles first before reading this one:

  1. Suffering Part 1
  2. Suffering Part 2
  3. Suffering Part 3

When you read through, at least Part 3, I think there are a couple of implications of these truths that we ought to draw out a little bit.

We have to Change our Thinking

Often non-Christians and even some immature Christians will at least pronounce their frustration with suffering and God’s seemingly lack of care. They will blame God for not doing something about the suffering, or they will begin to think wrongly about God as they try to justify all of these thoughts in their minds.

  • Some will think perhaps God is not strong enough to do something about suffering
  • Some will think perhaps God is not all-seeing enough to know that suffering is coming
  • Some will think perhaps God is not good and just won’t do something about suffering.

But all three of these thoughts are not proper for Christians to think. God is powerful, God is all knowing, and God is good. So you cannot shift the blame of suffering to some lack in God. God designs suffering for a purpose, and so we ought to change the way we think about suffering and God. He is strong, omniscient, and good.

We have to Center our thinking

We have to center our thinking on the gospel.

In Part 3 we concluded with this thought:

Jesus designs our suffering for us so that we and those around us might center our lives on the gospel, so that HE might be glorified.

So how does this work? What exactly does this mean? What do I need to do? Two things.

Suffering displays the gospel to others.

When we are suffering, and we lean in and rest on Christ or our solace and comfort in suffering, then God uses suffering to display the gospel to those around us.

Jack suffered from severe pain in his cancer, but no nurse made it off shift without hearing the gospel from this pain drenched man. In his suffering, he trusted himself to Christ, knowing there was a purpose, and he used every opportunity he could to point to Christ.

Suffering drives us to the gospel.

Often for Christians, suffering exposes sins that were lying dormant under the surface. When suffering comes we find ourselves surprised by our response, our wickedness, and our anger. So the suffering reminds us of our sin.

But we can come running to him in the middle of our suffering, and we can know that he has paid for our sinful response. Because the point of suffering is to drive us to the gospel.

 

 

Sometimes you need a reframe

One of the great things about preaching is that God uses it to reframe our perspectives. That means that we are looking at life through one set of glasses, and we need a new pair. We need for God to rip off the old pair, to give us the new pair, and to help us live out what he has called us to.

Here is a sermon that God can use to rip off your old pair of glasses.

Judging, the Gospel, and Parenting

Parents, we must call out our children’s sin so that they can hear the gospel.

To Judge or Not to Judge?

Do you think this culture understands Matthew 7 as well as they pretend? Many want to demand that “you judge not” However, how should this be understood?

I think two things must be done. First, I want to give a brief explanation of this passage and its context. Second I want to talk about the Law and the Gospel.

First

Christ positively commanded this. Jesus declares we are not supposed to judge. “Judge” can mean: decided, prefer, evaluate, hold a view, make a legal decision, condemn, or rule. However, the meaning must be determined by the context, and in this passage the context is this little illustration that Jesus gives.

Here I am with this giant 2×4 sticking out of my eye. I can’t get dressed, I can’t sleep. I can’t walk through a door normally. I can’t sit behind the wheel to drive my car. I can stand at the sink to brush my teeth. Just how am I supposed to take a spec out of someone else’s eye? But the illustration continues. Jesus demands of the hypocrite to remove the LOG and THEN get the spec out of the eye of the brother.

Now if you can’t tell the connections, let me draw them for you. Judging someone else is the same as getting the spec out of their eye. So, if we go back to “Judge not, lest you be judged” I think it is obvious that we see two types of judgement.

  • Removed the plank already type of judgment
  • Not removed the plank type of judgment

So judge not is not all types and kinds of judgment, but it is a boastful, proud, unaware type of judgment.

And Jesus even demands that you pull the log out first and then pull the spec. In other words, there is a command to judge and a command to NOT judge. So don’t judge in this manner, but judge in this other manner.

Second

We can apply this truth as we think about the Law and the gospel and parenting. Without a clear view of the law in my mind and heart for my own heart – the gospel is nothing.

How will I know what sin is if I don’t see the law clearly? Most would define sin as break God’s law. So if I don’t judge myself and my heart by the law, then I cannot know sin and if I cannot know sin, I cannot know the Gospel. The law gives no life, instead the law kills. The law slays; the law flays open the conscience to the reality that we are wicked law breakers before God.

And this is when the gospel needs to be preached.  This is when we need to declare that by Christ we are saved from the wrath of God. Jesus’ substituted himself for us on the cross. He died FOR us, in our place, and the wrath of God covered him for us. He who knew no sin, became sin for us. That which is punished and destroyed by God, Christ, became punishment for us.

So, in raising children, it takes both the law and the gospel. When our child rebels against our authority, refusing to do what we have said, then that child stands condemned by the law of God that commands children obey their parents.

If we take the route that says, judge not lest you be judged, meaning I never point out sin, then I will never confront their sin. If I do that, then I can never offer that child the hope of the gospel. I must just let them go and do what they want, and I must offer some weak gospel that says, “Dear, Jesus loves you and wants to be your best friend.”

What a shock it will be when one day she learns, “if I don’t become friends with Jesus he will punish me? why? I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Pointing out what is wrong in the manner that Jesus commands is like the gentle surgeon who gentle tells his patient he has a terminal illness. He is fearful, but he has the truth and perhaps some hope.

Parents, we must call out our children’s sin so that they can hear the gospel. However, we must do so only with the log pulling attitude. If you don’t think you have sin, then you have no business correcting your kids.