I just completed a year bible plan “ESV Study Bible” through YouVersion. As always, it is very rewarding to read the entire bible. I encourage you all to read it cover to cover, many, many times. Really, we have no excuse. Can you imagine what to say when meeting Jesus and he asks if we read his book! Remember, we all will give an account to God (Romans 14:12). I say this not in coercion, although we are warned, but as a reminder of the fruit that we receive from reading and studying what God has to tell us. Yes, we can pray to connect, and we should, but the Word of God is clear, specific communication directly from Him to us.
My next study will be a little different. I’m reading John MacArthur’s “One Perfect Life. The Complete Story of the Lord Jesus.” It is a
“one-of-a-kind composite harmony of the New Testament Gospels, blending the biblical material about the Lord Jesus into a single continuous narrative that will help you better understand the Scripture and grow stronger in the faith. Prophetic passages from the Old Testament and pertinent texts from the New Testament epistles are also incorporated into the story, revealing an unforgettable and glorious portrait of the Eternal Christ from Genesis to Revelation. No other harmony of the Gospels includes such extensive study notes to help you unpack the meaning of each verse.”
As you can probably guess, I am very excited about this. In fact, today’s lesson (#3) covered the cursing immediately after the fall. In it, we see Romans 8:20, “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it”. This just so happens to be a verse from the passage I studied last night in light of some Facebook posts I saw regarding all the recent earthquakes. Isn’t it simply amazing how verses get re-enforced like that?
So, are we ready for our response to the big question? Not quite yet. First, I want to better identify and understand my audience. I am required to speak of Jesus to everyone, regardless of how I feel they will receive it. The Gospel is intended for both those who believe (or will believe) as well as for those who don’t (or won’t).
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the the Greek.
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
Isaiah 6:9-10 And he said, “God, and say to this people: ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ Make the heart of this people dull, and their eyes heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.
Romans 10:15b As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
Got the picture? The gospel is intended for everyone, no matter their beliefs. We can’t escape this requirement, so we need to prepare ourselves to respond to everyone, believer or not. Remember, every single one of us started out as an unbeliever. From the beginning of time to the end, every single human starts out in rebellion. Most stay that way for ever and ever. So, odds are that our words will serve only to harden hearts, like Pharaoh and like the Jews in Isaiah’s time. Some will refuse to listen, to the extreme:
Zechariah 7:11 But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear. They made their hearts diamond-hard lest they should hear the law and the words that the Lord of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets. Therefore great anger cam from the Lord of hosts.
Acts 7:57 But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him.
On the other hand, the gospel may be received.
Luke 15:7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
Luke 15:10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.
Luke 15:32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found”
Matthew 16:17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
Do we have a good understand of this, that the gospel is for everyone and that each of us is required, as ambassadors, to deliver it? Yes, some have the office of Evangelist and are gifted to preach to the masses, but each and every one of us is required to share the Good News. Maybe you don’t have what it takes to speak to crowds, but you do talk everyday to people you love. Really, there is no excuse to refuse to share the gospel. Honestly, the fruit is so wonderful that it simply must not be covered up.
Who are we and why should we be so bold? Let’s hear it from Paul.
Romans 8:31-39 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He, who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died – more than that, who was raised – who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
There we have it. We know our target audience and we know our position to deliver the message. Stay tuned.
Father, instill in us the confidence that we, indeed, are more than conquerors and send us boldly into the world to share the Good News! Amen!
Copyright © 2017 Scott Powers