We're in a series where we will see how the gospel of Jesus affects every area of our lives. Each post will look at how the truth of the gospel changes how we view a certain aspect of life and its implication in our lives.
"The gospel is not just the ABCs but the A to Z of the Christian life. It's inaccurate to think the gospel is what saves non-Christians, and then Christians mature by trying hard to live according to biblical principles. It is more accurate to say that we are saved by believing the gospel, and then we are transformed in every part of our minds, hearts, and lives by believing the gospel more and more deeply as life goes on." -Tim Keller
In this series, we've been trying to do just that. We're trying to see how the gospel doesn't just get our sins forgiven and an eternal destination with Jesus, although it does do that. But it also is the means by which we are transformed in every area of our lives, hence the name of this blog: The Gospel Changes EVERYTHING.
Apart from the gospel, most people fall into two views when thinking about witness (and by this I mean sharing one's faith/proselytizing/evangelizing). The first way to view it is through a legalistic, moral, or ethic lens: "I must witness because I'm right and they're wrong." The second way to view it is through a relativistic lens: "I can't witness because that would be wrong." Let's unpack these two views and then see how the gospel changes our view of witness, gives us a third and better way.
With the moralistic view, I witness because I am enlightened and correct and you are not. Have you ever encountered this person (or maybe you've been this person)? Even if what they're saying has some merit or is intriguing, most people can rarely get beyond the offensive and arrogant presentation. And often the motivation of the evangelism is not love but rather superiority.
In the pragmatic or relativistic view, there is no true religion or faith out there thus there is no need to evangelize. Or they might say that religion is good for the individual but it should stay private as to not offend anyone. Or they might say that all religion is true and all paths ultimately lead to the same place. All three of these responses look down on witness. In this worldview, one should not witness at all.
But the gospel frees us from both having to witness out of guilt and also from not being allowed to witness. We are naturally compelled to share the gospel. Not because we have to as a chore. Not holding back because it is taboo. But out of the generosity we've experience in Christ, the Spirit prompts us to want to share that. In an ever greater way than someone who gushes about a new movie or restaurant they've experienced, Christians can't help but tell others about the freedom, forgiveness, and love they've experienced in Jesus.
"Our dealings with others reflect humility because we know we are saved only by grace alone, not because of our superior insight or character. We are hopeful about everyone, even the 'hard cases,' because we're saved only because of grace, not because we were people likely to become Christians" (Tim Keller).
Apart from the gospel, we can be terrified that the eternal destination of someone's soul rests in our sinless example or perfect argument. If we don't reflect Christ perfectly, they might reject the gospel. If I don't have an answer to every potential question or if I stumble on my words, they might reject Jesus. I distinctly remember being paralyzed thinking these exact thoughts. But the gospel frees us from the burden of thinking is is all about us. Jesus is the one who saves. It is the Spirit that melts hearts of stone. It is the Father who woos lost people to himself.
And I can't screw that up. Not with my, at times, hypocritical life. Not with my weak or unrehearsed presentation of the gospel. God is sovereign over salvation and even though he chooses to use us to be a part of that, we cannot thwart his grace. Isn't that great news?!? It is out of that great news that we can feel free to witness, evangelize, and share the good news of Jesus' death and resurrection with a humble confidence.
So be free in the gospel to witness, share your faith, and evangelize those who don't know Jesus yet. You don't have to. You're not going to lose your salvation if you don't. But you're invited to join the King of the Universe on his rescue mission. He's called you to share and herald the greatest news this world has ever heard! Salvation is possible. Forgiveness of sin is possible. Reconciliation with God is possible. True and full life (both now and for eternity) is possible. The renewal of all things is possible. And it all comes through Jesus Christ! Let the power and beauty of that gospel compel you to want to spread that news to as many people as He lets you!
SPENCER PETERSON / COMMUNITY LIFE PASTOR