Some people think that being a good neighbor is serving the Lord, but then just leave it at that. Others feel that living a ‘gospel’ lifestyle is good enough so proclaiming the gospel to your neighbor is not necessary. Some still, avoid conversations about spiritual things and justify themselves with ideas like “my neighbor sees my gospel lifestyle” or “I do nice things for my neighbor, so they see God through that”. But is that actually serving and Glorifying God and actually loving your neighbor; Are we actually taking the REAL opportunities that God places us in to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ?
To be quite frank, those examples above are not being faithful to the Lord. There is no such thing as a ‘gospel lifestyle’ because The Gospel is a spoken message that we are called to speak and teach. The second example does mean anything at all really; atheists and Buddhist monks can do ‘nice’ things for their neighbor too; but both are in vain because the person and work of Jesus is still not made known.
Some Christians fail to see the opportunities to participate in God’s eternal plan for their neighbor. Other times, they recognize an opportunity but for one excuse or another, they justify not taking advantage of the observation. Largely in part to the fact they fail to understand how immensely important that opportunity is and how vast the weight and value of it really is. Serving the Lord is being faithfully pro-active.
THE IMPORTANCE, VALUE, AND WEIGHT
If you the person you were speaking with was going to die a horrific death driving to Walmart following meeting with you; would you not try and stop them from going to Walmart? or at least warn them? See, that is just a risk of physical death. What if the risk was ETERNAL DEATH AND ETERNAL SEPARATION FROM GOD. Isn’t that important enough to have some sort of urgency to proclaim the gospel to them? Is their physical AND spiritual rightness with God worth the conversation and gospel presentation? Isn’t the responsibility and calling to proclaiming the greatest message in all the universe, that you hold, heavy enough to give to someone who needs it?
If Christians DO understand the importance, value and weight of the gospel, why then do some not proclaim it when there is an obvious opportunity and invitation to do so? For a number of reasons.
- They don’t actually LOVE their neighbor enough to have a uncomfortable spiritual conversation.
- They don’t actually trust that God is sovereign and the Holy Spirit will guide their mind and the heart of their neighbor. They trust more in themselves, and that is the reason why they are more insecure about having an uncomfortable spiritual conversation; because THEY might mess it up.
- They don’t actually believe in the truth and power of the Gospel message.
- They are too concerned and worried about how they will look or what their neighbor will think of them.
There is a 5th reason for why some do not serve the Lord and give witness of the Gospel:
5. They do love their neighbor, they trust God, believe in the truth and power of the Gospel, and are not concerned about what their neighbor thinks; they just don’t know what to say or how to say it. They are unaware of how easy and simple it actually is.
WHAT IS A REAL OPPORTUNITY?
What is meant by a REAL Opportunity is not going door to door or yelling on the street corner. Though real opportunities may come from those, Lord willing. A real opportunity to give a gospel presentation is when the subject, situation, and individuals are willing and conducive to the discussion. If, in a natural conversation, your neighbor says something like “hey, I got a question…” and its a spiritual question; boom, that is a wide open door for a gospel conversation and presentation. That is a NATURAL and INVITING, REAL opportunity to glorify God and proclaim the Gospel. Even uninviting/hostel natural invitations into spiritual conversations can be real opportunities.
Sometimes, some people just want to debate and argue. But does that matter? Sometimes the Lords wants others around who are listening to hear the message; even if the debater is unwilling to listen or accept the message. Sometimes, in the debaters mind, they refuse the message, but in their heart, they hear it; and it effects them at a later date. The point is, God’s Will will be done over all the hearers no matter the situation. A REAL opportunity can be a nice and intimate conversation with a peaceful neighbor that happened naturally in a conversation OR a real opportunity can be forced on your lap in a hostel situation where you are called on by a aggressive individual to give your ‘opinion’. Either way, it was in God’s Will for YOU to give an account for the truth that is in you; the person and work of Jesus Christ — the gospel.
SEEING THE REAL OPPORTUNITY
Being able to spot the opportunity, in a lot of ways, is God himself tapping you on the shoulder and pointing to the situation; making you aware of the opportunity. If it was not for God, we would never realize or be aware of the opportunity. BUT, WHEN, we do see the opportunity, we are put in a spot of decision. To act on that opportunity or run/hide from it. We run and hide from it for the reasons previously listed above.
WHAT DO WE SAY?
When we act on the obvious and real opportunity; we keep in mind our hearer and where they are at in life. We consider their attitude and demeanor toward ‘religion’ and God. We ALWAYS want to be KIND in our words. Wise as a serpent and soft as a dove (Matthew 10:16). We know, as revealed by God in his Holy Word, that those who do not believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, are not saved. BUT we do NOT, as the first thing we say to them, that they are going to Hell. WHY NOT? Because there is no understanding of the vastness and horrible nature of Hell. To them, that is only a vain insult. Because there is no actual meaning or truth of Hell, your statement, even though maybe be true in some ways, has no actual kind value to them. It is vain and unfruitful to spit out all kinds of truths that have not realized value or meaning unless you are saved in the first place. That’s like explaining The Trinity to someone who doesn’t believe Jesus actually existed. Clearly a different issue needs to be addressed first; like the actual historic existence of Jesus. Without that, explaining The Trinity wouldn’t mean anything. This brings us to the next critical question:
WHERE DO WE START?
We want to be lovingly and kind-fully tactful in our approach to a genuine and real opportunity to proclaim the gospel to people outside of the church (Colossians 4:5-6; Matthew 10:16). We need to consider the person and situations. After we evaluate the person and situation we can better address their more urgent needs and issues. BUT no matter the different word choices and the unique dynamic issues each individual faces; there is one core and primary message to ALWAYS start with that is THE cause for changing hearts and minds of hearers: The GRACE of God.
THE GRACE OF GOD
This truth alone is responsible for the drawing, calling, convicting, converting, and unwavering faith of ALL believers. The GRACE of God impacts ALL aspects of life. It is also the one single truth that propels Christianity above ALL other man-centered religions. God’s UNMERITED FAVOR. The favor we DO NOT and CAN NOT earn. The favor that WE DO NOT and WILL NEVER deserve. The GRACE that we needed from birth till the day we leave this world. The GRACE that we need with how we interact with our neighbor and even how we interact with God himself. Without God’s Grace, this blog is useless, you reading this is pointless, and life itself is vain. BUT because God has been GRACIOUS toward us by allowing us to exist despite how offensive we are; here we are, discussing how to explain this kind of Grace to others. Without understanding the amazing Grace of a Holy and Just God, we can not really fully understand other truths. Why? Because understanding God’s Grace is understanding God’s eternal nature, motivations, purposes, and desires. From there, it NATURALLY leads to all primary truths of the Gospel message.
1. God sent his ONLY Son, Jesus, to live the life that we can not live. Why? Because God desires his creation to know him, love him, and worship him. Because we can not live the perfect life that a Holy and Just God requires. Because imperfection, corruption, and unholiness can not be in his perfect, uncorrupted and holy presence. Because God is perfectly just and right, unholiness needs to be addressed.
2. Jesus was crucified and physically died as the perfect payment for sin. Why? Because only the perfect value in Jesus can cover the cost of our imperfection and sin. Why? Because if we tried to pay for each others sins, sin would remain; and God’s justice would still require something to satisfy what was still remaining. Jesus, alone, satisfies the perfect justice of God because he alone is perfect.
3. Jesus rose from the dead three days later and appeared to the Apostles and over 500 people. Why? Because Jesus expressed how he is the Son of God, divine, holy, and in perfect union with God The Father; thus proving his power over absolute bodily death. Why? Because he is exactly who he said he is and purposely made witnesses of this fact for all time. Whom then went throughout the world, as instructed by Jesus, to proclaim this truth; the truth of who he is and what he did.
4. All whom believe in this truth, of the person and work of Jesus Christ, will be made new, spiritually alive, right before God, and given eternal life. Why? Because this was God’s plan for all those who believe. God desires mercy. Willing to forgive. Grants the free gift of salvation and eternal life. And did it all through his Son.
5. But, God, in his love and justice; gives people exactly want they desire. Either life with him through his Son, or life without him. Either way, the issue of unholiness and imperfection still has to be addressed at the end of this life. Why? Because God is perfectly Just and perfectly loving. BUT through his perfect GRACE he offers everyone the gift of his Son’s life for theirs so that they may have eternal life with him.
Explaining these 5 truths in light of God’s Sovereign Grace is the most loving conversation anyone can ever have in this life. Period. Debating evolution verses creationism, church worship styles, and if having a beer is a sin or not are SECONDARY to the gospel message.
HOW TO BE PREPARED
Its not always how prepared you are but how confident you are in these truths. We need to study the gospel for ourselves as often as possible. We need to examine ourselves so that KNOW the person and works of Jesus Christ. Through this reinforced understanding and emboldened faith; we are confidently equipped to proclaim the gospel to others. In simple terms; study the gospel message. Know it. Preach it to your self. Study the following:
- 1 Corinthians 15:1-8
- Romans 1:1-5
THE ROMAN ROAD
This is a good string of verses that express the Gospel:
- Romans 3:23
- Romans 6:23
- Romans 10:9
- Romans 5:1
1 Peter 3:15 states “but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a
defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.”
NATURALLY ADDRESS OTHER ISSUES
Discussing the Grace of God and The Gospel will naturally be lead to addressing other issues like SIN or Jesus’ Divinity. Sometimes these side conversations can help shed more light on the gospel, but in some cases can distract from giving a full gospel message. It is important to address all questions but also to ensure that a full gospel message is heard. Some times it is best to first give the 5 primary truths, then go back and address questions.
A REAL LIFE SETTING
In a public setting, strive for more personal side conversations with someone who seems obviously interested. Pull people aside or get contact information with the agreement to discuss this deeper in a more private setting. If its an open public debate, keep in mind of the audience and everyone else who is listening and not just the person arguing and debating. In more local private settings, having personal direct conversations is most effective.
Inviting people to church won’t hurt and can be good; but church attendance has never saved anyone. Keep in mind the person who you are talking to, don’t invite them to church if they already made it clear they are not willing to attend church. Instead, host the spiritual conversation there at that time or at a later time at a location they are willing to go. The location is not important really, it is the conversation that is of utmost importance. Go wherever the Holy Spirit is leading.
THE HOLY SPIRIT
It is critical that we be sensitive to the leading of The Holy Spirit. He will lead us who to talk to, where to talk to them, and what to talk about. As we proclaim the gospel we NEED to understand that it is NOT us who are leading them to salvation. WE DO NOT lead anyone to salvation; God does. The Holy Spirit works through us as we are willing to be lead. Regardless, God’s Will is going to be done in that persons life whether we are willing to participate or not.
NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT
Because God’s Will will be done and we are just serving him and being used by The Holy Spirit for God’s Glory; we can’t mess it up. We may give the worst gospel presentation ever given but in what ever way God sees fit, may use any word we have spoken for the hearer. We may give the greatest gospel presentation ever given, but if God’s Will is not to draw that person to Himself, than there is no amount of perfectly elegant words we can use to change that fact. We are just a servant of The Lord seeking the best for our neighbor while seeking to Glorify God. We serve through proclaiming the gospel, the results of our service are completely up to God.
There may be a lot of questions left unanswered, there may be no one who seemed to be impacted by the gospel message; regardless, proclaiming the gospel is a success. How so? Well, we do not know the hearts and minds of all those who heard it. We can not be sure that all those who received it or rejected it truly feel that way on the inside. But all the possible results is NOT for us to know and decide. Our calling, purpose, and mission is to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. Once we have done that; we have done exactly what we were called to do; mission complete. Once his message is proclaimed in a kind loving way that reflects the glory and honor of God; God is glorified through us and that is a chief end in this life, to Glorify God. We can be completely satisfied that God’s Will will be done, He is glorified, we truly love our neighbor, and we have be a faithful servant!
Everything sounds good and dandy; except, Jesus already warned us that proclaiming his good news comes at a cost. People will hate us. He did not say may hate but WILL HATE. Because they HATE him (John 15:18-27). This is why he described himself as a sword that will pit father against son and mother against daughter (Matthew 10:34). Why? Because, ultimately, his message is divisive and exclusive. HE is THE ONLY way to God. HE is THE ONLY LIFE. He is THE ONLY TRUTH. And NO MAN can come to God UNLESS through HIM. Period. End of story. Sound negative? Well, given the 5 primary truths stated above; this is a GOOD THING. Good thing he is the only way because he is the only one who can; we cant no matter how hard we try. It gets exhausting, trying hard to be super religious- Jesus gives rest Its hard following rules and laws that we can’t maintain perfectly anyway- Jesus gives freedom. Good thing the price of sin fell on HIM and not you or I? Either He pays for our sin or we pay for it for eternity. That’s a nice free gift from God, if we are willing to accept it and believe it. Pray that we and our neighbor are drawn to The Son of God who is our Lord and Savior.
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