Frustration. It’s what so many of us encounter when we are sharing the Good News of the Savior. We want, so desperately, those we speak with to grasp and accept the message of salvation, because it’s as much for them as it ever was for us.
Good grief! All we’re wanting to do, is present God’s love and have people believe it! Is that too much to ask?
Apparently. But here’s something good for each of us to hold on to: There are countless hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people in the U.S. that WILL accept Jesus as Savior and Lord … IF … the Gospel is correctly explained. I believe that many of us, though—especially those of us who have been in the faith for a long while—don’t know how to effectively accomplish that explanation with these younger generations. And, on top of that, the majority of non-believers just don’t see what all the fuss is about, anyway.
The “fuss,” of course, is that we want everyone to come to Heaven with us! We don’t want people to die without a relationship with Jesus and end up in everlasting pain, separated both from God and those who love them.
Our proper starting point, is understanding that the current state of mind of so many (maybe most) non-believers, when it comes to the Bible (usually without reading its content), is: “It’s a fairy tale. It’s archaic. It’s rules and judgmentalism from another time that doesn’t have a place in today’s society. Besides since science disproves the Bible, the idea of needing God is irrelevant.”
Good news! Irrespective of this mindset, many of these people are still willing to listen, if the right person, with the right heart, will engage them in a logical conversation, starting where they are knowledge-wise on the subject. Right now, they just don’t understand why the Gospel is relevant.
- Why Jesus?
- Why do I need to be forgiven?
- I don’t see the big deal behind what you keep calling sin. I do more good than bad in my life.
- Some of the things you consider sin are just my personal preferences and not a big deal.
- I don’t know that I want to live on clouds in the sky, if that’s what Heaven is all about.
- Hell is on Earth, not in it.
- Only one way? Your approach to religion is so narrow-minded. There are many paths to God.
- Religion is just a way to keep the people in submission to institutions who want their money.
You’ve heard some of those, haven’t you? Certainly some are excuses to break away from the conversation, but the beliefs in science, many other ways to God, and moral relativism are what they’ve been taught—ver and over—by both secular institutions and those who preach that the Gospel is too narrow, too restrictive.
Do these arguments mean there should be some suitable compromises, especially on the “only one way” message of salvation? A newly-designed, more-palatable version of the Gospel that will be more acceptable by the majority of unbelievers?
That is definitely not the solution. I think you’ll agree that truth should never be compromised. Diluted truth is a road map to wishy-washy beliefs.
There is a solution, though. We can reach out to the lost at their level of current understanding of the Bible, and have rational—logical—conversations.
It’s so easy for us to have a nice, little pre-packaged version of the Gospel to present to the lost. Heck, a few verses from the third, sixth, and tenth chapters of Romans and the third chapter of the book of John, provide everything we need to make sure people understand. Right?
Well … maybe not.
But what does it take, today, to win someone to Jesus, an age in which those who are willing to listen don’t understand who Jesus is? Sure, most know the name, but they know next to nothing about the person.
So, where do we start in order to convey who Jesus is?
We begin with Genesis.
My friends, we have to go ALL THE WAY BACK to the beginning. All of us need to understand “Original Sin.” If this doesn’t get fully explained, the need for Jesus is lost on minds of those who can’t seem to understand our urgency for them.
In my first novel, Deliver Us from Darkness, one of my main characters hears the full Gospel explained for the very first time. This is the explanation that is laid out before him:
“I’m going to extend to you an invitation in a moment. An invitation to ask Jesus Christ to come into your lives. But first, I want all of you to know what the Bible has to say about all of this. And to do that, we’ve got to start at the beginning.
“You see, the earth as we know it wasn’t always broken. When God first created it, it was utterly perfect. A perfect Adam & Eve had a perfect relationship with God. They all shared a perfect love. There was also no death, no sickness, and no sin.
“God had told Adam that if he ate the fruit of a certain tree that he would die. Later, Satan tempted Eve and told her that God was holding back on them and that if they would eat that fruit they wouldn’t die, but that their eyes would be opened and they would be like God. She fell for it and got her husband to fall for it, too.
“That first sin caused the whole of God’s perfect creation to shift. Death was introduced, both spiritual and physical. Chaos erupted in, and through, the first family. Every succeeding generation has perpetuated that chaos. Every murder, every misuse of sex, every false religion, every war, and every disease … all of it … is a result of that original sin.
“Remember, I said that spiritual death was also introduced. You see, Hell was not created for man. It was created for the devil and his angels. However, God cannot allow sin to do to Heaven what it first did to Earth, so no man or woman, boy or girl, will ever be allowed to bring it in.
“After that original sin was committed, God took the life of a spotless animal, shedding its blood in order to cover the guilt of Adam and Eve. Scripture makes it clear; ‘without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin.’ By doing that, God was showing Adam and Eve that he still cared about them; that they still mattered. He also showed that there was a high price to pay for sin: The blood of an innocent.
“For thousands of years, God accepted the blood of animals to cover the sins of people, but the sacrifices were only good for one year. Each year, the people were again reminded of the high cost that had to be paid for what they had done. God, though, had a plan that would result in one final sacrifice; one last shedding of blood. This last sacrifice wouldn’t just cover sin for one year; it would wash it away forever.
“Listen to Romans, chapter three, verse twenty-three: ‘All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.’ Romans, chapter six, verse twenty-three says that ‘the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.’
“See? All of us—every single one of us—has fallen short. There is not one single person in this room, or on this earth, that deserves anything other than eternal punishment. No amount of doing good can save you. It is only through Christ, and the shedding of his perfect blood, that we can have salvation—the forgiveness of our sins that will allow us into God’s kingdom instead of Hell.
“Some of you have been beat over the head with religious dos and don’ts. You feel like God is up there on his throne with a big hammer just waiting for the next time you do something wrong so he can make an example of you. But, that’s not how it is!
“Listen to what Jesus, himself, said: ‘God loved the world so much, that he sent his one, and only, Son, so that whoever would believe in him would not know eternal punishment, but, instead, would know eternal life!’ He went on to say, ‘God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but that the world, through him, might be saved.’”
To make a message clearer for these younger generations, I don’t think that’s a lot of additional information to share alongside the verses from Romans and John. And, logically, doesn’t that additional information cause even you to have a greater appreciation for the message of the Gospel?
Everyone we talk to will readily admit that the world isn’t perfect, but very few will be able to explain why. They believe it’s always been this way, because “we’re only human.” They don’t understand that being human used to equal perfection. Being human still is the greatest thing about creation, in the eyes and heart of God. We were—we are, in the mind of God—worth painful solution He came up with to rescue us from the consequences of both “original sin” and our own individually-created sin.
Freedom and the restoration of the broken heart; those, and more, are the end result of a decision for Christ. We know that! But in order to help others know that, we have to get back to the basics; the basics that include the very beginning.
Learn how to effectively explain the Gospel in terms and language that people will understand. I suggest using a version of the Bible that is written in modern English (unless, of course, you are witnessing to someone whose primary language can best be served by a Bible in their language).
Though the days are darker, and the avenues to reach people are more difficult, we still need to make a difference for the Kingdom of God. Remember, this Earth is not our real home, which brings up another point.
For many people, the idea of Heaven is not attractive. Not at all. And based on the descriptions that I’ve heard Christians give, I cannot blame them at all!
Let’s be honest with ourselves, who actually wants to…
- live forever in clouds?
- spend eternity singing?
- be forced to play and listen to harps?
- live forever without a body?
- be sexless?
- not recognize other people?
- give up the green grasses and blue skies of Earth?
- live an existence without animals?
In the words of author John Eldredge, “It sounds like Hell to me.” And I agree with him!
Along with our need to get back to the roots of why everyone needs salvation, we need to also become literate about what Heaven really is and what it will be like. For the sake of brevity, I’ll just make a few points, and I’ll leave the rest up to your need and curiosity to research.
- There are two heavens. One is what we might want to call the “intermediate heaven.” It is where we, who are Christians, go when we leave our physical bodies behind. According to Scripture, there will be a sense of physical existence. There will be tables to sit at and food to eat during the “Wedding Feast of the Lamb.” We will recognize other believers. According to the book of the Revelation, we will be able to identify those who were martyred for the cause of Christ. And, certainly, there is a lot more about the “intermediate heaven” to discover.
- The eternal Heaven, is NOT in the air or clouds someplace. According to the book of Revelation, after a 1,000-year reign of Christ on Earth, God will restore Earth to perfection again. Why? Because we are going to get the Kingdom back! The Kingdom that Adam and Eve lost! Imagine living on a perfect Earth, not ever having to worry about death! What adventures will we have together?
- We will be reunited with our physical bodies after a resurrection of the dead takes place (the Rapture, whether it’s a Pre-Trib, Mid-Trib, or Pre-Wrath event). Imagine getting your body back without any defects! Without any pain! Without any scars! Everyone will be beautiful and perfect to one another, yet completely recognizable.
- Everyone will still have purposes and jobs to fulfill, but we will be doing what we were made for, and we’ll be a part of what makes our hearts come fully alive! Imagine having a purpose without tedium! Purpose and pleasure together!
- Imagine an Earth with all of its resources fully available again. In our past, we were able to make it to the moon. Think about where we’ll be able to go (if we desire to) that is so far beyond the moon that we can’t even comprehend the distance or the experience!
My friends, are you excited about Heaven? Are your “thoughts on things above,” as Scripture directs?
Do both yourself and the Kingdom a big favor: Equip yourselves with information on both of these subjects: the full Gospel and Heaven. Not only will you be better capable of explaining salvation, but you’ll also come away from your studies so much more heartened!
In the words of the Apostle Paul, who also spoke about what to expect after exiting this present life, “Encourage each other with these words.”
Now, go out and make a difference, Church!