Eternal life

St. Francis of Assisi is rumored to have said, “Preach the gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” This is an oft cited comment to insist on living out our faith actively and only speaking rarely. The problem with this quote is that to fulfill our mission, we must speak.

The Greek word for gospel is euangelion, and it means “good news.” News is shared verbally.

Jesus commissioned his followers to make disciples of all nations, baptizing and teaching. One cannot teach without speaking.

The early church spread, not only by being a good deeds community, but by sharing the good news. What is this news? It is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. It is the gospel account that Jesus is Lord and Savior.

According to J. I. Packer in his book Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, the gospel is made up of four specific truths.

  1. The gospel is a message about God and his holiness.
  2. The gospel is a message about man and his sinfulness.
  3. The gospel is a message about Jesus Christ.
  4. The gospel is a summons to repentance and faith.

Understood in this description is the reality that the gospel is a message. For the gospel to be shared, there are some things that must be said. God is holy and demands righteousness. Our problem is that we are sinners and cannot fulfill God’s standard of righteousness. God knew our dilemma and sent Jesus Chris to solve our sin problem. As the perfect Son of God who became our substitute on the cross, Jesus died for our sin and rose from the dead that we might have new life. This news invites a response. When we hear this news, we should repent (turn) from our sin and believe in Jesus alone as Savior and Lord.

The good news is something that we must share.

Our mission at Wilkesboro Baptist is to lead our neighbors and the nations to follow Jesus. In order for us to fulfill this mission, we must share the good news about Jesus with others.

You may be wondering, “But what do I share? Where do I begin? But what if I’m rejected? I’m afraid of what might happen?”

Remember this. The temporary discomfort you and I might experience in public witness is minuscule when compared to the permanent suffering unbelievers will experience in eternal separation from God.

Here are some basic practices we can all engage in to be more evangelistic.

Obey the Lord. Being evangelistic is a command. Instead of thinking about sharing the good news based on how we feel (nervous, afraid, unsure), we need to base it on obedience. When we share the gospel, we are obeying Christ. It is a spiritual discipline and a matter of growth. By the way, success in sharing the good news is sharing the good news. When we obey by sharing the gospel, we are successful. The results are up to God.

Pray for people. If you are unsure where to begin in your journey of being evangelistic, then pray. Pray for wisdom, discernment, courage, and opportunities. But even more, pray for unbelievers. Here is a post from a couple years back that highlights how we can pray for those who are lost. I have an ongoing list of unbelievers that I pray for. And God is faithful to regularly give me opportunities to reach out to them and talk with them.

Keep your eyes open for opportunities. Our circumstances provide numerous opportunities for evangelistic witness. When we suffer and handle it with patience and grace (the context of 1 Peter 3:15), we open the door for people to question why we have hope. Friendships, interactions, and opportunities abound for evangelistic encounters. Walks through your neighborhood, the sport or dance events of your children and grandchildren, conversations with co-workers, eating out, and many, many more situations are potential opportunities for gospel conversations. Our problem is not lack of opportunity. Our problem is that we are too often distracted by other things to consider the opportunities in front of us. In Acts 8, Philip offers us an evangelistic example on which we can model our witnessing. You can read some observations about Philip’s example as a witness here.

Ask questions. How do we transition from opportunity to gospel conversation? We can transition from “Hello” and “How are you?” to the gospel by asking insightful questions. Here are some examples although there are countless options: “How are you doing during this past year? What things are you doing to stay at peace? What do you think about all the difficulties we’ve experienced? What do you think about Jesus? Do you attend a church? If so, has your church/faith been helpful for you in the past year?” Open ended questions are preferable. Questions that engage the mind and heart of others open the door to gospel conversations.

Share who you know. I could have written, “Share what you know.” Both are appropriate. But ultimately, we are sharing not just the facts of the gospel, but a person-Jesus Christ. What is it you must share? J. I. Packer’s outline above is a good starting place. But if you’re not sure how to explain those truths, then just share Jesus. Tell how Jesus forgave you and redeemed you. Share about the new life you have and the eternal life you anticipate. Sharing the gospel can be as simple as sharing the Jesus that you met when you became his follower.

If you’d like more information on what you can share about Jesus as Savior, scroll down through my blogs here in 2021. Every Wednesday this year, I’ve posted a weekly word. Most of them have been theological terms related to our salvation. These terms provide helpful content for sharing the good news.

If you’d like to go a little deeper, then follow the link to this podcast from my friend Dr. Craig Thompson. Craig regularly hosts the Ordinary Christian podcast where he addresses specific relatable issues within Christian life. In episode 42, Craig interviews Dr. Timothy Beougher, a professor and mentor of mine and Craig’s from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Beougher explains and relates personal evangelism for ordinary Christians. Craig’s podcast is helpful and relatable. Consider subscribing.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

This week’s word is a theological term, soteriology. It means the doctrine of salvation.

Previous posts on atonement, redemption, regeneration, election, and justification address various aspects of the doctrine of salvation. Future posts will unpack more specific aspects of the doctrine.

As a panoramic view of the mountains contains multifaceted views, colors, shadows, and wonder so the doctrine of soteriology is dynamic and beautiful. The aim of this post is to remind us of the wonder, grandeur, and multifaceted glory of the doctrine of soteriology.

We often think of the Bible as a book about salvation. And it is. But the Bible is about more than salvation for us, the Bible is a book about God and his glory. In God’s greatness and glory, he sent his only Son, Jesus Christ to earth. Jesus came to earth to reveal God (John 1:14), to show us God’s love (John 3:16), to set us free through the truth (John 8:32), and to offer us eternal life by knowing him (John 17:3). In truth, Jesus is the storyline of Scripture.

As regards humanity, Jesus came to earth to be our Savior and our Lord.

Why do we need this doctrine? Why do we need salvation?

The doctrine of soteriology connects with the doctrines of humanity (who we are), sin (why we need salvation), and Christ (the One who saves). We need salvation from Jesus Christ because we have been made in God’s image (Genesis 1:28). We need salvation from Jesus Christ because we are sinners who have broken God’s laws (Genesis 3; Romans 3:23). We need salvation because unless God saves, we are hopeless to save ourselves.

The various aspects of soteriology teach us glorious truths about our salvation.

  • In election we learn that God planned our salvation from eternity.
  • In regeneration we learn that God made us alive from our condition of being spiritually dead.
  • In atonement we learn that Jesus became our substitute so that our sin could be paid for.
  • In redemption we learn that God bought us out of our slavery to sin and freed us.
  • In justification we learn that God declares us righteous through Christ.
  • In sanctification we learn that God made us holy and is working in us to make us more like Christ.
  • In adoption we learn that God chose us to be in his family and has made us his heirs.
  • In union with Christ we learn that God has given us a unique personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
  • In glorification we learn that God will give us eternal, glorious bodies like that of the risen Christ.

And there are more aspects to salvation than just these.

We often ask, “Are you saved?” And that’s an appropriate question. But it is multifaceted and more glorious than we can possibly imagine.

The doctrine of soteriology puts us in our appropriate place in the universe. The glories, depths, and wonders of our salvation far exceed our own personal experiences in being saved. God’s work in salvation is eternal in its scope (from before creation until after consummation), universal in its extent (available for the entire world), costly in its accomplishment (Jesus gave his life), personal in its invitation (for you and for me), and glorious in its result (God’s redemption of us through Christ reveals his glory).

What do we do with this doctrine?

First, receive it. If you have not yet repented of your sin and trusted in Christ alone, then do so now. Admit you are a sinner. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ alone for your salvation. Commit your life to Jesus as Lord.

Second, worship from it. If you have received Jesus as Lord and Savior, then worship the God who did so much to bring you salvation. He is worthy. Let your salvation drive your worship of the Lord who loves you.

Third, learn about it. Don’t just be content that you are saved. Read Scripture, learn about God, go to church, listen in a small group, read good theological books. Our salvation is deeper and more glorious than we can ever fathom, and yet God gives us the privilege to know him and know his saving work in our lives.

Fourth, share it with others. Be thankful that God loves you, and sent Jesus to save you. But God does not just want to save you only. He sent Jesus to save the world. Be a witness to God’s saving work for someone else.