Core Ideas of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Posts tagged ‘what is evangelism’

Nobody Dies Here Today!


“Is there a shark in the water?  What’s everyone looking at?”  The spectators on Panama City Beach were transfixed by the unfolding horror of an entire family being swept out to sea. Nine members of the Ursrey family had been caught up in a powerful riptide and cast helplessly into fifteen feet of dark, turbulent waves. Their cries of terror barely reached the shore.

A few men rushed into the sea and began to link arms.  Quickly others went racing out to join them.  Within minutes, a human chain began to take shape in the midst of the chaos. People who could not swim joined hands in a surf rising to their necks. Swimmers paddled out to the end to link arms.  Soon eighty men and women had instinctively orchestrated a human lifeline nearly 100 yards long.  They reached the imperiled victims and, one by one, passed them safely back to dry land.

One of the older members of the Ursrey clan suffered a heart attack but recovered at a nearby hospital.  Another swimmer was treated for a broken arm. Everyone went home alive.

The whole scene struck me as such a vivid picture of the Church of Jesus Christ.  Most of the eighty individuals who made the rescue possible could have done nothing on their own.  Many could not even swim, and others could not have managed the tide that day. But united in one great purpose, each did what he or she could do and lives were snatched from despair and destruction.

Jessica Simmons and her husband were among the bystanders who were so quick to respond.  Grabbing an abandoned boogie board she’d just spotted on the beach, she went rushing to the scene, ignoring the grim voices warning, “Don’t go out there!”  She had already resolved, “Those people are not drowning today. It’s not going to happen.  We will get them out.”

Jessica and her seventy-nine fellow heroes were driven by something sorely missing in the Church today: urgent compassion.  Death and condemnation are not the most effective conversation starters in reaching out to our lost friends and neighbors, but those two painful realities should quietly drive us to talk, to intervene, to build bridges. You and I are surrounded by people at risk but we typically seem far more concerned about sunscreen and cold drinks than the fate of people we love.

I’ve gotta resolve in my heart: “Nobody goes to Hell if I can help it.  It’s not going to happen.  I’ve got this.”  I have to pray, drawing down some fire from Heaven.  And then I have to find opportunities and step up to say something about Christ or His Kingdom.

Thankfully, Roberta Ursrey can’t even recall the most terrifying moments of her ordeal at sea.  But she easily remembers the chain of determined faces and the strong hands that tirelessly passed her family members to safety.  “These people were God’s angels that were in the right place at the right time,” she said afterward.”  If most people don’t believe in angels anymore, it’s because they don’t see them very often.  As Jesus followers, you and I can fix that problem.

“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that One died for all.”  2 Corinthians 5:14.

Lift up the Cross!

For the actual news report, see



Sharing Your Faith: WWJD?


Talking to your friends about Jesus Christ in 2013 can sound ominous if you over-think it.  What if they ask about gay rights?  What if they believe in evolution?  What if they think the Bible was concocted by a pagan emperor and a bunch of sycophantic Catholic priests?

Here’s the key: don’t wade into all those details. For most of the history of the Bible, the finest Christians in the world lived bold lives for the Kingdom without ever thinking about those particular questions.  Granted, you and I have to think about them, but that’s not where you should begin in talking to a secular friend or co-worker about Jesus Christ.  Instead, keep the main thing the main thing!

1. Talk about the meaning of Creation.  The fact is that even mainstream Christians don’t all agree on the details of God’s creation of the universe.  Was it six literal days, six long periods of time, or the Eternal God working through evolution?  I have very strong convictions about the details of creation, but my unsaved friends need to hear the meaning.  God created us because he takes pleasure in men and women and has equipped us with unique talents and potential.  We have a reason for being here, and one reason is to be loved by the Creator God.  Talk about God’s purpose- not Darwin’s theory.  Leave room for the Holy Spirit to instruct them once they become disciples.

2. Talk about the message of the Bible.  You and I have very real positions on the inspiration of scripture.  We have definite ideas about inerrancy, infallibility, and insinuations by atheists who have written best-selling books.  But when you are talking to people who don’t know Christ, don’t even go there.  The 66 books of the Bible are interwoven around one message: God loves fallen human beings so much that he has made one effort after another to connect with us, reach out to us, and draw us into his divine life.  The Bible has two covenants but one God- the one who loves us so much that he wants to see us as righteous.  Talk about that.

3. Talk about the miracle of Christ’s Resurrection.  The cross of Jesus Christ is a central element of the Gospel, but don’t forget the resurrection!  Read the Book of Acts carefully and you’ll find that’s what riveted the attention of people who first heard the sermons of Peter and Paul.  Many men had been crucified, even a few decent ones, but only one ever came back from the grave and launched an historic movement.  Don’t be ashamed of the power of the cross, but don’t neglect the miracle of Christ’s return from death.  Talk about the opportunity for a fresh start that only Christ can offer us.

You’ll notice that Jesus rarely waded into public controversies like Roman politics or the economics of slavery or the role of men in the synagogue.  He talked about the love of God at every turn in the road.  So I challenge you to go and do likewise:  bring up your faith with friends and co-workers this week.  And I leave you with two guidelines:

  • WWJD: What would Jesus do?
  • KISS: Keep it simple, Saints!

Lift up the Cross!



“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”  Matthew 10:16

There’s a clarifying moment in Acts 4 when Peter and John are ordered by leaders of the Holy City Regime that they must stop preaching in the name of Jesus Christ.  This is more than a command that they must cease and desist from using the name Jesus.  Rather, they must stop teaching his ideas; quit acting under his authority.  Our guys reply, “You can judge for yourselves whether it right for us to obey you rather than God.  But as for us, we cannot possibly stop talking about what we’ve seen and heard.” (4:20-21)  As soon as the dynamic duo are together again with their friends at church, they share the warnings from the powers that be, and then pray that God will grant them all boldness to continue.  Scripture reports that the room is shaken.

Twenty-one centuries later, if we don’t hear about prayer chapels being rocked anymore, maybe it’s because it’s been such a long time since we prayed for boldness.  Rather than digging deep for determination to turn the tide of evil and asking God to sustain us, we have apparently decided to pray for public relations strategies to improve our image.  Somewhere along the way to the Big Tent Church, many of us decided that Jesus is probably still relevant, but his message is so 1980’s!  Nobody is a fan of political correctness or thought police, but who really wants to buck the system? Not us!  So we have packed away hot button words like holiness, judgment, sin, chastity, integrity, sacrifice, and moral purity  because we can’t go around making other people feel bad.  And that “One Way Jesus” routine has to go, in exchange a smiling god with a California tan; a gentle guide who embraces all serious practitioners of any religion.  “In fact, let’s stop talking about faith all together except when we go to church.  Nobody at work wants to hear this stuff anyway!”

In a culture that teaches “No Limits,” the Gospel is a line in the sand that drives trendy people crazy.  There’s only one way: it’s Jesus or a wasted life followed by condemnation.  There is never more than one choice: holiness or ultimate ruin.  There are responsibilities and roles: an affront to all those anything-goes individualists who want only to do their own thing.  There are demands to be met: will we worship the Almighty or will we simply run after our whims and impulses?  The Gospel is too black and white for a colorful generation like this one!  At least, that’s what we’ve been told.

C.S. Lewis once recommended “resistance thinking.”  But long, long before that Jesus Christ taught that we must persevere in the face of opposition.  He forecast that even  family members would turn against us and that persecution and even arrest would follow.  “But whoever remains faithful to the end will be saved.” (John 10:23)  Now there’s an ancient concept: faithful.  It’s so demanding!  It’s so…so Jesus, isn’t it?

There are some other powerful words Christians need to reclaim, and I’m not just talking about chastity, integrity, moral purity, self control, and sacrifice.  We also need to discover the meaning of some Old School words like defiance, subversive, and bold.  Our race for respectability has gained us nothing.  When we finally surrender one “offensive idea,” the intelligentsia always seem to discover another ugly doctrine that must be abandoned next.  What would happen if we stopped apologizing for the Gospel, and began to live it unashamedly?  Few  seem to know at this PC moment, but it seems like an idea whose time has come… again!

Lift up the Cross!

A Steak Through the Heart

When people ask 21st Century Americans what it means to be a Christian, we typically respond with either methodology or by- products.  We talk about repentance, faith and commitment.  Or we describe the peace and joy that have come into our lives, or brag about having real friends for the first time.  Of course, all that is true.

But whenever I read about Jesus Christ in witnessing situations, he always cuts to the chase and gets supernatural really quick!  He jolted religious Nicodemus when he talked about being born again!  Being a literal kind of guy, Nic at Night wondered, “How am I supposed to get back into my mother’s womb, anyway?”  Sure, he was thrown off balance, but face it: he needed a wake up call!

The Samaritan woman lived a decadent life in a religious community.  She didn’t expect much from religious types because she’d heard it all before.  Then Jesus suggested that if she were to ask, he could give her living water that would quench her thirst forever.  The rich young ruler was more than comfortable with his family’s riches.  He came to Jesus looking for a little adventure; perhaps a chance to hit the road with this famous rabbi and his rugged disciples.  Jesus wasn’t interested in another traveling partner.  He advised, “Sell all your possessions, and give the money to the poor.  Then you will riches in heaven.”  Riches in Heaven?  The young man was so flummoxed that he couldn’t even continue this token conversation.  He walked away, disappointed but more self aware.

I am convinced that people in my generation need more supernatural truth and less conventional wisdom.  They are happy with their friends at work.  They can get a buzz from their beer.  They believe they can sit down by a lake and find true peace.  And all this talk about repenting and trusting  sounds like mumbo jumbo to people who don’t understand that they are souls rather than bodies; that life is full of risks and mysteries.

So I’ve become a lot more intentional in the answers I give about faith and Jesus Christ.  Christianity is about getting a chance to start life over.  It’s about allowing Jesus Christ to take control of my body.  It’s about finding the Gates of Heaven today and walking inside.  Following Jesus is like driving away from a busy McDonald’s and going instead to a first-class steak restaurant.  And after you order everything your heart desire’s, the server comes back and says his boss has covered your check.

When you’re fishing, you have to set the hook before you start reeling.  So I give people a sharp, supernatural line they can really bite into.  And when they reply, “What?  What are you talking about,” I patiently reel them toward the cross.

Lift up the Cross!

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