Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Sharing the Gospel

The Westminster Shorter Catechism says that man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. Francis Shaeffer observed that there is an order to that. We must first glorify God in order to enjoy him. The church I am currently serving says that its mission is to glorify God by three means: Sharing the gospel, teaching the Word, and fellowshipping with each other. Why sharing the gospel and what do we mean by that?

Jesus’ final words to his disciples, according to Acts 1:8, were, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Revelation 12:11 says that believers conquered the Serpent of Old “by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” Too often we have thought of evangelism in the context of sales. We somehow think that, as believers, our job is to convince people to believe in Jesus. For some that is motivation, for others that is scary and intimidating. But that is not what we are called to do.

Matthew 28:19-20 says that because all authority in Heaven and earth rest on Jesus, we are to, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing . . . [and] teaching. . .” Notice two things. First, our job is to make disciples, not decisions. Second, making disciples involves baptizing and teaching, but not convincing. Evangelism is part of our larger purpose of making disciples. It is an early step in disciple-making, but it is not salesmanship. Evangelism is essentially witnessing to what we have seen and experienced. It is the Holy Spirit who will “convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (Jn 16:8).

It is our job to simply testify to what God is doing in our lives. When we say, “Sharing the gospel,” that is what we mean. The gospel is the Good News that in our brokenness, God took steps to restore us to life. As believers, our testimony is not that we prayed a prayer and now we’re going to Heaven. Our testimony is that we were broken, cut off from God, and without hope until we met Jesus. Perhaps the reason that we are so hesitant to share the gospel is because we have not truly experienced God’s grace in our own lives.

I put my faith in Christ as a young boy. When I took evangelism class in Bible College I was taught that our testimony involves the elements of who I was before Christ, how I came to faith in Christ, and who I am now. I struggled with that. As a young boy coming to faith in Christ I had no deep sense of sin or brokenness that led me to faith. I had no story of great sin. I felt, therefore, that I had no testimony. Two things changed that. First, I began to realize that my testimony was not who I had been before faith, but who I would have been without faith. I had a keen awareness of how broken my life would have been without Jesus. My testimony involved what God kept me from more than what he saved me out of.

Second, I had a crisis of faith as a young pastor. I felt that perhaps I wasn’t saved. I reasoned that if I was truly saved, I wouldn’t have the struggles I had, and I would be more disciplined in my faith. I was desperate and discouraged until one day I faced the real question: If I were to die and stand before God, and he were to ask my why he should let me into Heaven, what would I tell him? It was at that moment I realized that my only answer was that God said he would accept me because of Jesus. At that point I let go of my need to achieve some level of discipline or maturity and came to rest in the finished work of Christ on the cross.

Sharing the gospel is not about being a salesman. Sharing the gospel is simply about developing relationships with pre-believers and sharing our story. It is the job of the Holy Spirit to convince people. Sharing our testimony is what glorifies God. What is your testimony? How is God at work in your life today? If you have no testimony, perhaps you need to reassess your relationship to God. Who are you, and how has God changed the trajectory of your life?

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