ENCOURAGEMENT FOR EVANGELISTS
The GOSPEL Who Is It For?
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.” Romans 1:16 NKJV
Sometimes I preach the gospel in congregations where I expect that everyone is saved. I do this to reassure and encourage those who are believers, and because the gospel that saves us is also the gospel that restores our fellowship with the Lord when we are away from Him. I have had some interesting experiences doing this.
For The Unsure Some people have told me that they never knew that they could have full assurance of salvation on this side of eternity. They did-n’t realize that the Bible was written so that we might actually know and not merely hope that we have eternal life. Others have told me that they invite the Lord into their hearts over and over again to make sure they are saved. When I tell them they don’t have to do this if they’ve really trusted in Christ, they look at me like I am from Mars.
In preaching I’ve used John 5:24 to emphasize that when you trust Christ you really do have everlasting life: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My Word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” I’ve had old people come to me asking where that verse was in the Bible. When I repeat it for them they write it down. They seem to be hearing it for the first time.
After I tell them how I was reached with the gospel, I’ve had people ask me to explain how I could have believed that the Bible was true when I was young and not become a biblical believer until I was twenty years old.
They don’t seem to understand the difference between believing that the Bible is true and actually trusting in the promise of salvation by grace through faith in Christ.
For The Unclear Some people tell me that they have always believed. They mean that they were born in faith and not in sin and unbelief. They think they were never lost. I understand that many people don’t remember the date when they were saved. Many people don’t remember coming to Christ as vividly as Paul did when he was saved on the Damascus road. But the Bible says that we are “brought forth in iniquity” (Ps. 51:5). We weren’t born believing. Jesus said, “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3:3). We are saved when we trust Christ, are born again and converted. These things happen at some point in time.
For The Unaware I am going to start asking my friends privately if they actually believe in eternal punishment for the unbeliever. I get the impression from some writers and preachers today that warning people about hell is counter-productive. It’s all right to warn people about cancer, global warming, drinking and driving, and smoking; but it’s apparently not cool to warn them about hell, and encourage them “to flee from the wrath to come” (Mt. 3:7). This is really dangerous!
I am convinced that the gospel is still the power of God unto salvation to all who believe it (Rom. 1:16). The unsaved desperately need it, and Christians should really enjoy it. The gospel should never appear confusing, unclear or unnecessary. By the grace of God, I am going to continue preaching the gospel, knowing that sometimes those most blessed are the ones we least expect to benefit from it.
By Bruce Collins
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org