The gospel of Jesus Christ is powerful; so powerful that it can make the vilest of sinners fall flat upon their face before Almighty God, who they had once rejected vehemently. The gospel is amazing, beautiful, and humbling stuff, though God hasn’t opened everyone’s eyes to see it that way. Only for us Christians and those who will one day be saved is it the most wonderful thing ever heard, (1 Corinthians 1:18 “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God.”)
So, what exactly is this “gospel”? (I could never expound on this subject enough, because it is too vast to even summarize) In short, it is the teaching or revelation of Christ; the “good news”. But before the gospel can be explained in full, we have to know why it is even needed:
Since the beginning, when the first man sinned, mankind has been under the condemnation of God, (Romans 5:12 “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and death spread to all men because all sinned.”). Because everyone breaks God’s perfect law by sinning, everyone is guilty and punishable, (Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”). The punishment for sin is death and then an eternity spent in eternal punishment, (Mathew 25:46 “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life!”). But since there is no way we can make ourselves righteous or cover our sins on our own, we are helpless; hopeless. Now, this is where the gospel takes center stage. The fact that all are guilty of sin and are condemned to spend eternity in hell is bad news, indeed. But God, out of His mercy, has made a way for sinful mankind to be forgiven and redeemed. He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to take the sins of His chosen on Himself through death on a cross; He took our punishment for us, (1 Peter 2:24 “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed.”). Because of Christ’s work on the cross, God ensures that all who believe in the name of Jesus will be forgiven, (Acts 10:43 “To Him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name.”). This is good news! Praise God for His mercy on us!
As Christians, we know what we have been saved from: eternal punishment; but what do we do with that knowledge? The knowledge of the truth of the gospel? Do we just live our lives satisfied that we have a relationship with Jesus, the Creator, and that we will live with Him in heaven, yet all the while shutting out the world? Or do we share Christ with others so that they might have that hope as well? Though our relationship with Christ is personal, it is not to be kept hidden.
Let’s say we had discovered the cure for cancer, and someone we knew was dying from it at that very moment. Wouldn’t we tell them about our discovery? Even if they rejected it? Of course we would! We aren’t that unconcerned. But, wait…don’t we know the “cure” for everlasting death and torment, (damnation, judgment)? Don’t we know that many people in the world, if God does not open their hearts and enable them to receive His Son, are headed straight for this eternal death? Doesn’t someone need to tell them about this “cure”, even if they reject it? Romans 10: 13-15 says, “For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’. How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are to hear without someone preaching? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’” So, someone must tell them. Someone shared the gospel with us once, whether it be our parents, pastor, friend, or just some random guy off the street. The point is, God used that person so that we would hear the truth; God then opened our eyes to believe. What if that person had never shared with us? We might have never heard the gospel! But, since God is sovereign, we heard; because someone told us us.
Actually, God commands us to share the good news with others. In Mark 16, Jesus tells the disciples in verse 4, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” You might think, “He was talking to the disciples, not me.” In a sense that is true; He was talking directly to the disciples, but the same applies for us. (I must point out, though, that while not all of us will be called to go preach the gospel in third-world countries, we are all to be obedient wherever God puts us. Wherever He has placed us is our mission field.) 1 Peter 3:15 says, “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you…” 2 Corinthians 5:20 says “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us…” Philemon 1:6 says, “And I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 9:16 says, “For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no grounds for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!” These few verses (I could give more) show that we are expected, if not commanded to share the gospel with others.
Ok. So we should share the gospel; but how? Well the latter part of 1 Peter 3:15 says, “…yet do it with gentleness and respect.” In other words, don’t run up to a guy on the street and start yelling and telling him that he is going to hell if he doesn’t repent. Colossians 4:5 says, “Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.” I think Jesus is the best example of how we should act toward unbelievers. Mathew 9:36 says, “When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” In this verse, we see Jesus’ compassion on the people; and, well, I think when an unbeliever approaches us, or vice versa, we should hold compassion for them; looking at them as captives to sin as we once were. Only by God’s mercy and grace are we not in their place anymore. To summarize this, I believe the best witness is that of a Christ centered life. If others around us see that we are actually living like Christ would, then they will be quicker to hear what we have to say when we share the gospel with them, (John 13:35).
So we know that the gospel is needed, that we are called to share it with others, and how we should share it; but what is stopping us? What is holding us back from proclaiming our Savior? It should be what totally consumes us! But why isn’t it? There are two reasons, I believe, why we are so hindered in sharing the gospel with others. First reason is that we are afraid of what people might think of us. This is especially true regarding people that we know very well. You see, a random person off the street will probably never see us again, but this is not so with a close acquaintance or relative. What if they get angry with us, or never want to speak with us again? What if we get mocked or ridiculed? We cannot let the fear of man rule our words, and we certainly cannot be ashamed of our Savior. In 2 Timothy 7: 8, Paul says to Timothy, “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord…”, and in Mark 8:38 Jesus says, “If anyone is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when He comes in His Father’s glory with the holy angels.” Wow! How many times have we been afraid or embarrassed to even mention the name of Jesus! If we struggle with this, then we have to ask God to give us boldness so that we can overcome our fear and all that deters us from proclaiming His name. Actually, in Acts Chapter 4, the believers did just that, (Acts 4:29 “And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak Your word with all boldness…”). There are many other scriptures which state that the believers either prayed for boldness, or went out boldly proclaiming the gospel. We should be the same way; though, if we are bold, we will probably lose people’s respect and esteem, but that is ok, because we fear God rather than man; God’s opinion of us matters more than what any person can say about us, good or bad.
The second reason for our lack of evangelism is that we are afraid that we might not say the right thing; afraid that we won’t lay out the gospel in a convincing way. First, I must point out that nothing we can say to someone can make them believe in Jesus; even the most comprehensive and convincing display of the gospel would be nothing to a hardened heart, for a person can only believe if God chooses to open their eyes to do so, (Romans 8). So the fear of not “Saying the right thing” must be abandoned, because God can use anything as simple as the name of Jesus to bring a heart to repentance. Though, I must say, we should probably have a good foundational knowledge of the gospel if we are to go around proclaiming it! Also, God gives us the Holy Spirit as a helper. God uses the Holy Spirit to convict and direct us, and also to convict others around us. Amazing accounts in Acts speak of how the believers were used in mighty ways through the Holy Spirit. Sometimes we think that we could never be as “spiritual” as the disciples and early believers were, but there really shouldn’t be a difference between them and us, because the Holy Spirit that lived inside of them, lives inside of us! Also, in Romans 8, Paul speaks of how the spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is the same one that lives inside of us. So, if God is for us, then who can be against us? (Romans 8:31). If we think about it, really, all of our fears are small and petty compared to the power of God.
So, am I always faithful in sharing the gospel? Certainly not! The reason why I am even writing this is because God has convicted me in this area. As I look around at our cold/dead American churches, I have realized that we need to start taking this “Jesus thing” seriously. So, who will join me in stepping out of this hazy fog of grey to live like the believers God intended us to be?