A Simple Way to Share Your Faith


The hardest part of sharing the gospel (for me) is starting the conversation. Like most Christians, I love to talk about Jesus and the truth of the Scriptures, but it is hard to get the conversation going. So, I’ve tried to identify easy “connections” between the Bible and everyday life. One of the most natural connections to everyday life is found in John 3:16.

Share Christ Christian Evangelism Salvation PersecutionJohn 3:16 is a great place for starting gospel conversations because it is easily remembered. Most Christians memorize John 3:16 early in their Christian walk. More than a few pastors, scholars, and teachers have recognized how clearly the gospel is present in this simple verse:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

To begin with, John 3:16 gets immediately to the heart of the human problem: Perishing. From birth, we are perishing apart from the life-giving, resurrection power of Jesus Christ. This concept of perishing operates as a great connector from the mundane world of human existence to the heavenly glories of Christ and His kingdom. Here’s how to make that connection plain.

Have you ever heard your friends talk about their problems? Have you ever had family members dump their emotions on you, venting about their frustrations? Have you ever heard your colleagues bemoaning some injustice in the world? Yes, yes, yes! Of course, you have. Each of these experiences exists on account of the Fall of humankind from peace with God.

In other words, all problems are ultimately rooted in the singular problem of our being at odds with God: the Fall. Because of the Fall, we are all mired in sin, stuck in a web of deceit, sinfulness, and death. The problem, ultimately, is that we are perishing. We are in the darkness and hating the light because of our own evil deeds (John 3:19-20).  We are living as human beings in the world, but we are under the curse of death. That is our problem. We are perishing.

God’s provisionto remedy the curse and reconcile us to Himself, giving us life instead of death, is nothing less than Jesus Christ. God so loved…that He gave Christ to be a payment for our sins. The problem is that we are perishing under the curse. The Provision from God is Christ Himself, who came to satisfy the payment price for our sins and purchase for us the remedy for death.

The problem is that we are perishing in our sin under the curse of death. The provision is Christ who came to pay the price for us. And now there is a promisefrom God. The promise is eternal life. God so loved that He gave with the purpose and intent that whoever believes will NOT perish, but HAVE eternal life. Christ remedies the curse of death with the sure, purchased promise of eternal life in His name.

In this simple way, this one common verse is able to move you from a perennial problem (sin, death) to an eternal solution (eternal life in Jesus’s name). You are likely already familiar with John 3:16 so there is no need to get anxious about “what should I say” or “how should I start”? Just start with John 3:16 and cover the problem (perishing); God’s provision (Christ); and the promise of a new life (eternal life).  Problem, Provision, Promise. There’s the gospel from John 3:16. Now, let’s go share it!

Can Watching a Horror Film Save Your Soul?


William Peter Blatty, the son of Lebanese immigrants from New York, won an Oscar and three Golden Globes for his famous movie, The Exorcist. Before this film, Blatty’s success was limited. Most likely, the success of The Exorcist exceeded even his wild imagination. It turns out, the success of that movie extends beyond the material world and into the spiritual. God moves in a mysterious way his wonders to perform.

Exorcist Salvation While Blatty was touring and doing interviews about his movie, a street kid from Los Angeles was studying martial arts. Mr. E grew up in the city, in a home which included daily beatings from his dad for both him and his mother. Mr. E was cruelly made tough. He could take a hit. And he learned to deliver one as well.

Nevertheless, the streets were hard. So, Mr. E decided that he could not yet match everyone on the streets. He had been fighting since he was a kid in grammar school. And he knew there were kids tougher than he was. Sort of foreshadowing the MMA/UFC movement, Mr. E decided he needed the extra advantage martial arts could give him.

Feeling relatively secure with his fighting abilities and martial arts training, Mr. E was beginning to trust himself more and more in the concrete jungle of inner-city LA.  Drugs, violence, and a cock-of-the-walk swagger characterized the young man’s life, until his friends took him to see this “bad” movie (Bad meant then what sick means now). The movie, in his words, “literally scared the hell out of me.”

The young man wasn’t scared because he realized the demonic powers might really exist. He knew such forces of evil were real. He was scared because of how much sense the movie made to him. He was scared because he felt like he knew these demonic powers. The movie made Mr. E realize that no amount of martial arts sophistry—no degree of toughness or physical power—could enable him to stand against the forces of evil.

The next Sunday—not knowing what else to do—Mr. E went to a local church and asked someone there to tell him whether God had the power to overcome the forces of evil. Can you imagine stepping out of Sunday school and being asked such a question by a troubled young man? What glorious Providence!

The young man went home after the service and devoured the Bible he was given, reading the gospels with such a liberating force that he knew he was saved before he reached the Great Commission of Matthew 28. His life was transformed, and his soul secured in the rest of Christ.

Today, this street kid no longer fights with his fists and his feet. He no longer needs the empty crutch of martial arts to protect him. He no longer craves the drugs that once drove his fleshly desires—he flushed two bags of dope the day he read the gospels. And he never went back.

Mr. E has earned college and seminary degrees and pastors a church in a growing suburb outside of LA. His life has been surrendered to fight the good fight of faith, a fight which has love as its aim and eternal security as its prize. Blatty may in fact be glad to know his movie played a part , but I doubt he ever expected The Exorcist to lead to the saving of a man’s soul.

What Are the Top Two Priorities for the Local Church?


English: Church of Jesus Christ (Zion's Branch...

Church Building in Independence, Missouri.

This Sunday, I will finish a 6 week series on the New Testament concept of the church. When Christ sought to establish the instrument through which He would sustain His redemptive work to its completion, He founded the church, called both His body and His bride. Christ’s church must accomplish Christ’s purposes and should honor her Lord. How does she do this properly? What ought to be her priorities?

I am interested to hear some responses. Obviously, because I am preaching on this Sunday, I have my own opinions. I think the two greatest priorities for the church are worship and fellowship, but I understand I have my work cut out for me. There are many other possible answers. Some would hope the Church would first be salt and light, shaping the culture (this would be the Reclaiming America crowd).

Others would argue for the urgency of evangelism. Who could deny the immediate necessity of reaching out to more than 3 billion souls who are presently destined to perish, apart from hearing a word of hope through the gospel of Jesus Christ? What about those who argue that social action is our top priority–feeding the hungry and serving the needy? And still others would say that missions work–sending the gospel to the unreached corners of the globe–is that which is most important. So, what are the top two priorities for the local church?

Why All Christians Must Witness


In many countries around the world, there is a kind of “tolerance” of religions which says that you can believe what you want as long as you don’t proselytize anyone else.  In other words, you can be a Christian, you just can’t tell anyone about it.  Sure, you can be a Christian privately but don’t bring it in public.

I am sure there are many in America who would like it if we adopted this “I-wish-you’d-just-shut-up” policy. They foolishly and naively think that there would be peace if only the Christians would be quiet about sin and forgiveness. But Christians aren’t the cause of the lack of peace.  And, even if we were, the plain fact of the matter is that we cannot be silent.  Several reasons have been offered to explain why the mute button doesn’t work with Christians.

 

Some would say the main reason we are not silent is that we are commanded by Christ to speak, to witness to the glory of God.  We are commanded by Christ to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Trinity and teaching them to observe everything that Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:18-20).  This is the Great Commission of the church.  Though some have argued that this was meant for the disciples only or for the first church only, that position has not convinced many in our day.  We understand that the first disciples were the first evangelists, but they were not the only evangelists.  Philip and Stephen and Barnabas and Timothy and Apollos and the woman at the well in John 4 are all examples of evangelism in action by those who were not Apostles.  And Acts 8 makes plain that those who are persecuted flee to another city, where they, naturally share the gospel.  Christians feel compelled by the commandments of Christ to share the good news with the world.

Christians are compelled by love, too.  Far beyond the mere command from Christ that His followers should make disciples of all nations is the compulsion in the believer to love others.  As Christ taught, the whole law is summed up in the compulsion to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love your neighbor as you love yourself (Matthew 22:37-40).  Because Christians have been loved by God (even though they deserved his wrath), they understand that love is freely given and not earned.  They are free to love all men, even the most unlovely among them.  So, Christians in love will share the love of Christ with others.

It only makes sense that Christians would be concerned for others.  After all, Christians have been where unbelievers are—strangers of God without hope.  We were captured by grace.  We tasted the bitter fruits of sin and were rescued from its destruction by the grace of God.  Therefore, without any haughtiness or pretense, we speak of the hope of Christ to others. Out of concern for their souls, we speak.  We desire for others to have what we have—peace with God and a certain hope over all things, even over death itself.  We would be callous and unloving if we did not want these priceless, eternal gifts to be available to others.

So, to put the matter in its simplest form, we witness because we are witnesses.  Christians cannot be silent because we are completely remade by the Word of God.  The Word has made us new creatures.  The Word has reshaped our minds, our hearts, our loves, our hopes, our priorities, and our joy.  So, how can the Word not be heard?  God’s Word always accomplishes the purpose for which it goes out. God’s Word will be heard.

To understand what I mean, try holding your breath. Oh, sure, you can do it for a while, maybe a minute or two, but not longer.  The reason is that our lungs are designed to breathe.  What they inhale, they must exhale.  And so it is with the church of God.  What she breathes in, she must breathe out.  And the individuals in the church breathe in the Word of God, and, so, they breathe out the Word of God.  It is that simple.  Christians share because they are Christians.

We are the light of the world. Light shines in the darkness.