Paul’s message emphasized the gospel to the lost and grace to the saved. That is a wonderful paradigm for any minister or ministry to adopt. As I’ve studied the life of Paul, particularly in his later years, I find two prominent themes woven like threads through the tapestry of his ministry.
First, to the lost he presented the Gospel: “Let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses” (Acts 13:38–39).
Imagine the impact our churches would have on our communities if each Christian committed to sharing the Gospel once a week with someone who expresses a need.
Second, his message included large doses of grace for the saved. Just as the lost don’t understand the Gospel, the saved rarely understand grace. There are few activities more exhausting and less rewarding than Christians attempting to please the people around them by maintaining impossible legalistic demands. What a tragic trap, and thousands are caught in it. When will we ever learn? Grace has set us free! That message streamed often through the sermons and personal testimonies of the apostle Paul.
The lost need to hear how they can go from the island of debris, filled with misery and guilt, to the land of peace and forgiveness, flowing with mercy and grace. We build those bridges when we lovingly and patiently communicate the Gospel. You don’t have to have a seminary degree. You don’t have to know a lot of the religious vocabulary. In your own authentic, honest, and unguarded manner, share with people what Christ has done for you. Who knows? It may not be long before you will know the joy of leading a lost sinner from the darkness of death’s dungeon across the bridge to the liberating hope of new life in Christ. Once they’ve arrived, release them. Release them into the magnificent freedom that grace provides. Don’t smother them with a bunch of rules and regulations that put them on probation and keep them in that holding tank until they “get their lives straightened out.”; Making us holy is the Spirit’s work. You be faithful to dispense the Gospel to the lost and grace to the saved. Then leave the results in the Lord’s hands.
Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.