If your church does not regularly share the gospel, maybe they don’t know it as well as they think they do.
Half a Gospel
General William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, was about the most fervent and passionate man I’ve read about in witnessing to the lost. He once said, “Most Christian organizations would like to send their workers to Bible College for five years. I would like to send our workers to hell for five minutes. That would prepare them for a lifetime of compassionate ministry.” Shortly before his death in 1912 he said, “The chief danger that confronts the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, heaven without hell.” Sadly, many pastors have watered down the gospel message making it a Pablum of inoffensive messages that have no meat, but just basic elementary platitudes like “God loves you,” “Come as you are,” and “Just give your heart to Jesus,” even though this is not how the gospel is presented. Yes, God loves us, but He loves those who have trusted in Christ, and is opposed to all who reject the Son. By taking out the need for repentance, confession of sin, the need to strive for holy living, and making the priority of our lives to glorify God, we’ve rendered the gospel into a Dr. “feel good” talk program that only addresses the outside and not the inside. Why did Jesus speak so much about hell? It was because He cared enough to warn people about the wrath to come. One of the most unloving things you can do is to be silent about Christ, and giving only half the gospel is like saying a half-truth, and a half-truth is a whole lie, so half a gospel is no gospel at all. Jesus reveals what the gospel is. It was just “after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:14-15). The gospel is not just “believe” because even the demons believe, (James 2:19) but they’ve never repented. I can believe in chairs but if I never sit in them, have I really trusted in them? The point is, I must act on that belief.
Saved From What?
I had a friend who years ago picked up a hitchhiker and asked where the young man was going. He said he was on his way to his aunts to stay until he enrolled in a local college for the summer, so my friend asked him, “Have you been saved?” to which the young man asked, “Saved from what?” That’s a good question. If you were to ask a believer what they thought that they had been saved from, you might hear a variety of answers: We are saved from our sins, we are saved from hell, but what are we really saved from? We are saved from God! And more precisely, we are sparred the wrath of God. God has not appointed us to wrath anymore (1st Thess 5:9), and that’s good because, “It’s a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb 10:31). The Greek word for “fearful” is “inspiring fear, terrible, formidable,” and “affected with fear,” and we’re left with this rhetorical question: Who can deliver out the hands of an angry God!? Jesus alone can deliver us from God’s wrath, and He has done so for everyone who’s trusted in Him. Jesus tried telling the self-righteous that it was God Who they should fear and not man, and said “do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt 1:28). If you are not saved, imagine being called before God, and having rejected Jesus Christ, and in some cases, having insulted His character and blasphemed His name, you now stand alone before Him. You have no advocate and no one to represent you. Without your trusting in Christ, the wrath of God that was placed on Jesus will then be placed on you. Can anyone imagine a worse scenario? But this happens every day. Multiple thousands of people die and are judged (Heb 9:27). There is no escaping the wrath of God except through Christ.
Today, over 150,000 people will die, and that is a very conservative figure since more may be added from terrorist acts or natural disasters, so using the conservative number, that’s over six thousand an hour and approximately one hundred every minute. About 1/3rd of the world is Christian (about 2.4 billion), and these people represent not only the largest group on earth, but also represent the world’s largest religion, although that number might be too high because not everyone who professes to be a believer truly is a believer (Matt 7:21-23), but what this means is that today, at minimum, over 100,000 people will die outside of faith in Christ, meaning their souls will be condemned since after death, comes the judgment (Heb 9:27), so my question is; “How can we sit idly by while so many are slipping into this hopeless eternity?” Where are the weeping Jeremiahs today? Surely it grieves the heart of God to see thousands of people lost every day, and we know that God “takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked” (Ezk 18:32).
Charles Spurgeon is another man I admire because he had a huge heart for the lost. He said, “If you are a true follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, you cannot be at ease while souls are being lost! I fear that it would not matter in the least to some professors whether a whole nation was lost or saved! They would be just as comfortable, whatever happened. But they who have the spirit of Christ and are in sympathy with Him, have hearts of companion, so that the loss of any one sinner fills them with dismay—and the penitence of any one sinner makes their heart rejoice with exceeding joy” (1903, Sermon #2821)! Charles Spurgeon also said, “Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you are not saved yourself. Be sure of that.” I know that’s very strong, and you may not agree with him, but we must preach about the wrath of God and the reality of hell because Jesus did. The grace of God is not relevant until it’s placed against the wrath of God. This was the heart of Frances Crosby who wrote, “Rescue the Perishing,” singing, “Rescue the perishing, care for the dying, Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave; Weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen, Tell them of Jesus, the mighty to save.”
Law to the Proud
If I were a doctor and came out and handed you a prescription, you’d probably be surprised and think, you don’t need this because you feel just fine, but if I came to you and showed you some x-rays and blood tests which indicated you have a fatal disease, you’d suddenly become very interested in the medicine. That’s what the law does in moving us to see the value of grace….it is law to the proud and grace to the humble. The law shows us what sin is (Rom 7:7, and “Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God” (Rom 3:19). In other words, it takes our excuses away, like saying, “I’m a good person,” when in fact, we’re all guilty before God. If someone says they’re a good person, I would say maybe they do some good things, but no…we’re not good (Rom 3:10-12). Only God is good. The law is designed to show us the impossibility of keeping it. That doesn’t mean we don’t strive to live by it, but we know we can never keep it perfectly. Only Jesus did, and we need His righteousness attributed to us (2nd Cor 5:21).
How well do you know the gospel? What if you had to share it with a dying person? What if, right after calling 911, you saw a man who has been in a terrible car accident and may have only about three minutes to live, if that? Could anyone explain how they might be saved in less than three minutes? If they can’t, then they don’t know the gospel well enough to explain it. It would be beneficial to know certain Scriptures like Romans 10:9-13, Acts 4:12, and Acts 16:30-31, Romans 3:10-12, 23, 6:23, 1st Corinthians 15:3-4, 2nd Corinthians 5:21, and a few others. The last time I checked, over 76% of people who don’t attend church had never been asked, meaning the fields are ripe but the laborers are few. Are you willing to be used by God to seek the lost? Do you know the gospel well enough to share it?
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.