Why Share the Gospel?
The Apostle Paul stated that he was unashamed of the gospel. Why? Romans 1:16 gives the answer:
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation of everyone who believes, first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
The gospel is the power of God for salvation. It is the only means God has given by which a person can have eternal life. What could be more important than that? Belief transforms a heart dominated by rebellion and selfishness into a heart that loves God and His will. Ultimately, belief changes a person’s destiny from hell to heaven. The gospel is powerful! When I am ashamed of it, it shows that I have lost sight of its transforming ability.
In the gospels Jesus is recorded as speaking of hell 33 times. Every person you see today will either spend eternity in a lovely, glorious state of eternal bliss or in a terrible state of suffering that never ends. When I see people I want to view them in this way. The gospel tells us what it is that will determine their destination.
William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, had a vision of a dark and stormy ocean full of screaming, cursing, drowning people. On a great rock was a platform where a few people were rescuing those in the water and pulling them to safety. However the vast majority on the platform were entertaining themselves, or preoccupied with things like making money, while myriads struggled in the water right before their eyes.
William Booth’s vision may seem overly dramatic but in reality it is not. We live in the midst of an emergency situation. People who do not believe the gospel are in grave danger.
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:17-18).
There is a 20
Century story about a non-believing man addressing a minister who had spoken of hell. Addressing the preacher he said, “Sir, if I believed what you and the church of God say that you believe, even if England were covered with broken glass from coast to coast, I would walk over it, if need be, on hands and knees and think it worthwhile living, just to save one soul from an eternal hell like that!”
Though we don’t have the power to “save” people, we have both the privilege and the obligation to share the truth of the gospel. I want to encourage you to take the risk of sharing Jesus with friends, relatives, and neighbors and possibly even strangers.
Some would say that sharing with strangers, as I have made a habit of doing in the last couple years, is ineffective. I used to believe that myself. I fully support the practice of building relationships with non-believers and thereby earning the right to speak. But hundreds of meaningful encounters with people I do not know have convinced me that talking with strangers is also appropriate.
For example, at Willamalane Park in Springfield my friend and I spoke about the gospel with a group that included a 17 year-old boy. He followed us as we spoke to others in the park. It became clear that the Holy Spirit was doing a drawing work in his heart and we were able to lead him to Christ as we sat on a picnic bench.
Once at the Eugene Transit Station, a middle-aged man asked about a scenario in which one person had lived a good life but was
religious while another was a rapist or murderer who had come to faith. He asked, “Do you believe that the good man would be condemned but the murderer/rapist would be forgiven?” Like most humans who want to earn their way to heaven through being a good person, the concept of grace being shown to a sinner was offensive to him. He was somewhat hostile at first but eventually his attitude softened. He told us about his daughter and son-in-law who were Christians and how he admired them. By the end of our conversation, he was open to my suggestion that he read the gospel of John.
Many Christians believe that we should simply live lives of love and integrity and only rarely speak the words of the gospel. When I was a new Christian I shared my faith with a family member. When my mother heard about it and was not impressed with what I had done. She said, in reference to my Father, who passed away when I was 14, “Your Dad never had to speak about his faith, he just lived it.”
But I ask you, Is it biblical to say: “Live it but don’t speak it”? Certainly how we live is very important. We don’t want poor behavior in our lives to cancel out the gospel message we share. But we
called to proclaim the good news. I could not begin to cite all the passages that teach or imply that we should
the message. Here are a couple of them:
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned (Mark 16:15-16).
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:
that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
(2 Cor. 5:17-19).
In my own life, I came to realize that just trying to “let my life speak” did not lead to many conversations about Jesus. I don’t want to come to the end of my life only to have talked to a
people about the Lord. Rather, I want to be like Paul who said:
However, 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 - the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace (Acts 20:24)
Don’t you desire that same kind of sold-out commitment to testifying to the gospel of God’s grace?
Next week: “Our Struggle to Obey the Great Commission”
Copyright Ed Skipper 2013