Grace For The Journey
Now that we have studied the five Gospel threads what do we do with them? How do we weave these truths into our daily conversations? I want to suggest several steps we can take that will help us weave the Gospel threads into our conversation and life.
Minimize your conversations about temporal things.
Weave this gospel thread into the fabric of your everyday conversations. We must not stay silent about the long forever that lies ahead. It is important that we minimize our conversations about temporal things. We are so inundated with the temporary. And if you listen to much of our conversations, they’re mostly about the temporary. We spend most of our time talking about things that don’t matter. Think of all the topics that dominate our conversations that are temporary … the weather, food, sports, etc. Satan’s strategy is to blind minds in our culture to what really matters forever. Obviously, I’m not saying it’s wrong to mention the weather, or food, or sports, but minimize — talk less about — temporal things.
Maximize your conversations about eternal things.
Talk more about what matters. Go below the surface. This is the whole point of this series. How can we take everyday conversations about things in this world and point to eternal realities beyond this world? Just spend some time this week reflecting on your conversations. When you’re driving, when you lie down in bed at night, think, “What did I say today that will matter forever?” And as you reflect, resolve to be a man or woman that talks about things that matter.
And then look for opportunities to express an eternal perspective on circumstances and events and situations around you. Point blank: It changes the way you talk, and email, and text, and twitter when you realize that the people you’re communicating with are going to spend the next quadrillion years either in heaven or hell.
CALL People to Turn and Trust …
We are not fully sharing the gospel until we call people to respond to the Gospel. We are not sharing this Good News for information sake. We’re sharing this Good News in order that people might turn from their sin and themselves and trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord. And if someone is going to come to Christ, then we must call them to faith in Christ. Our eternal destinies hinge, not on simply knowing about Jesus, but on our response to Jesus.
Clarify the gospel.
So before you call someone to turn from their sin and themselves and trust in Christ as Savior and Lord, you want to make sure that you have shared the gospel. The gospel of who God is, and who we are, what we have done, what God has done, and what it means to turn from our sin and put your faith in Him, and why this is important.
“What is the gospel that I have to share?”
It’s the Good News of a just, holy, gracious God who looks upon sinful men and women who’ve rebelled against Him, are separated from Him, and are dead without Him. This merciful, loving, and gracious God sent His Son, Jesus, fully God and fully man, to live the life we could not live, to die the death we deserve to die, and to conquer the enemy we cannot conquer, so that everyone who turns and trusts in Him will be restored to God forever. We want to make this gospel clear, so we want to share this.
Ask the person if they have any questions about the gospel. You are gauging clarity of communication here. So you’re asking, “Does this make sense?” And if they say, “No,” then obviously you go deeper into the gospel thread that may not make sense or may need clarification. At the same time, if they say, “Yes,” then ask if they have ever turned from their sin and themselves and trusted in Jesus as Savior and Lord.
Now obviously, I’m encouraging you to use language here that corresponds with the gospel as we’ve seen it up to this point, instead of just encouraging someone to accept Christ or believe in Christ. These words can often be skewed in people’s minds to mean mere intellectual assent. So we want to call people to repent and believe, to turn from their sin and themselves and to trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord.
Now this is where things obviously get personal, in an important way, where we ask a friend or family member or co-worker, “Have you ever turned from your sin and yourself and trusted in Jesus as Savior and Lord?” And if they say “Yes,” then obviously you would affirm them and encourage them. Or maybe, with a cultural Christian who might say “yes” to this question but there may not be much fruit from their life, you might ask, “Well, what does this look like in your life?” and begin to explore more of what actually following Christ entails.
But if they say “No,” then the clear follow-up question is asking if they would like to turn from their sin and themselves and trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord now. They may say, “No.” I’ve had numerous conversations with friends who come to that point and say, “No, I’m not ready to do that.” And obviously I emphasize the importance of the gospel and tell them I am there for them, with them, if they would ever like to talk more about this. And then I obviously continually pray for them.
On the other hand, they may say, “Yes.” But either way, the key is – Let the Holy Spirit work. Only the Spirit of God can draw someone to turn from sin and self and trust in Christ as Savior and Lord. So let the Holy Spirit work. Our goal is not to manipulate some decision here.
If they say, “Yes, I want to turn from my sin and myself and trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord,” then invite them to call out to God to save them. If they see God for who He is, their sin for what it is, themselves for who they are, and Christ for who He is and what He has done, then by the grace of God through the Spirit of God, they are more than able to call out in repentance and faith. So let them do so. You don’t need to tell them the exact words to say at that point. Their getting words exactly right is not even necessary. The Spirit has turned their hearts toward Christ, so let them call out to God to save them.
Then, as the Spirit draws people to Christ, lead them as a new follower of Christ. This is where we remember that we don’t want to manufacture decisions for Jesus in some kind of mechanical, programmatic way. Instead, we do want to make disciples. We want to encourage them to be baptized and then we teach to follow Christ by obeying His Word
In closing, I want to ask three personal questions.
Question #1: Do we realize people’s condition?
There are seven billion people in the world. According to the most liberal of statistics, about 1/3 of the world claims to be Christian. Even if all of these are followers of Christ, which is extremely doubtful, there are still 4.5 billion people on the planet today who are under the judgment of God, and when they die, they will go to hell forever.
4.5 billion people!
We don’t have time to waste our lives and our families, and we don’t have time to waste the resources of our local church on a nice, comfortable, Christian spin on the American dream, on what makes us comfortable, and what fits best with our preferences.
There is an urgency to eternity here.
We’ve got to make more sacrifices in our lives, our families, our budgets , and our church budget and our programs and our priorities. We can’t do business as usual while people plunge into hell here in our city and among the nations.
Questions #2: Do we possess the heart of Christ?
There are some messed up people in our communities and churches; people scarred and stained by sin with so much self-indulgence and self-righteousness. But God has changed our lives. He has reached down His hand of sovereign mercy and grace in so many creative ways in our lives, He has saved us, He’s transformed our hearts, and He has turned our lives upside down with His mercy. So my question for us is:
Do we long to see Him do the same in others’ lives?
Surely we who know the love of Christ in our own lives are now compelled by the heart of Christ for others’ lives! Compelled by the heart of the One who gave His life on a cross to now risk our reputation, face our fears, overcome awkwardness, whatever it takes, to lay down our lives for others to know this gospel.
Questions #3: Do we want our lives to count?
When I ask this question, I’m thinking about Paul in Acts 20: “Compelled by the Holy Spirit, I’m preaching the gospel.” And he said, “I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me.”
“This is what I want my life to count for,” Paul said.
“One thing; this is the task I’m living for: Testifying to the gospel of the grace of God.”
This is what drove Paul. He didn’t care about comfort, safety, or security in this world. He wanted his life to count for the spread of the gospel in this world because he knew that would count forever. Oh, God help us to see this!
We are bombarded with the temporary. Make money, get stuff, be comfortable, have fun, etc. In the middle of it all, we struggle to see the urgency of eternity. But it’s there. folks, we stand on the porch of eternity. If the gospel we believe is true, then even the youngest child at most has 80 or 90 years left. Eighty or 90 years to be followed by thousands upon thousands upon millions upon millions upon billions upon trillions of years!
Will we look back ten trillion years from now and wish we’d made more money? Wish we’d been more comfortable? Wish we’d lived more for ourselves? No. Not at all. John Piper said, “When you know the truth about what happens to you after you die, and you believe it, and you are satisfied with all that God will be for you in the ages to come, that truth makes you free indeed. Free from the short, shallow, suicidal pleasures of sin, and free for the sacrifices of mission and ministry that cause people to give glory to our Father in heaven.”
I want to challenge us today as to surrender our lives to God and ask Him to make us count for the spread of His gospel in our city and to the ends of the earth. This is the only possible reaction for a people who believe in the character of God, the sinfulness of man, the sufficiency of Christ, the necessity of faith, and the urgency of eternity.
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”