It’s almost the end of September already! Can you believe it?
Monday, we started to build a profile of the person to whom we may share the gospel. To recap, we have:
Those who are forever hostile to the gospel.
Those who are being drawn by God and beginning to listen.
Those who have been born again and welcome the gospel.
We know that Paul distinguishes what to present between fresh believers and those whom have believed for some time (1 Cor. 3:2, Hebrews 5:12-14), so it makes sense that our message will be different for someone who believes and someone who doesn’t. Therefore, it is in our best interest to distinguish between the two and furthermore distinguish the believer as one who still needs milk or is ready for spiritual food.
With regard to those who don’t believe, we know that most will know who Jesus is. While none understand Him as Lord, they will range from virtually no knowledge to those who are biblical scholars (in earthly terms). It is unlikely most of us will ever talk to anyone that has never heard of Jesus.
Thankfully, we have examples of this in scripture. I’ll use two. Let’s see what Peter and Paul have to say.
Peter and the Roman Centurion Cornelius:
Acts 10:34-43 So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching the good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
Paul to the Corinthians:
1 Corinthians 15:1-8 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you – unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of the first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
So, we see both men talking about prophetic fulfillment and the forgiveness of sin through Jesus life, death, and resurrection. This is a lesson that we all would be very wise to remember when sharing the gospel or comparing religions. Too often, we get into competing ideologies, much like politics, in which personal preference rules. However, we have something that is completely different and overarching in comparison to all views: our leader was once dead and is now alive, all of which was told to the world before any of it ever happened!
To answer the question, “What about those who have never heard of Jesus?”, we certainly need to incorporate the basics. Stay tuned! We’re getting closer each day.
Father, instill in us the basics and the necessity of including all this with our presentation of the gospel. It’s easy to leave out because people don’t want to hear it. Of course, you know this. Please direct my attention to the basics so that I may make it core to my own story. Amen.
Copyright © 2017 Scott Powers