Making disciples 5: knowing, living and speaking the gospel
My friend Mack Stiles has written a number of books encouraging us to share the message of Jesus with authenticity. His book, Marks of the Messenger, is not your standard book of tips and strategies for evangelism. It deals with the heart. It’s motivated by love. It’s heavenly focused and yet down to earth. Here is a quick description of the main points in his book.
- You can’t really share the breaking news of Jesus Christ unless you have a genuine relationship with him. This means acknowledging that Jesus has authority over your life and putting your complete trust in him. As you trust him, so you trust his words of life and desire to share this with others.
- It’s important to know the gospel well. Don’t mess with it by adding bits you like or subtracting bits you don’t like. If you mess with it, then it will be no benefit to anyone.
- The gospel can be lost in three generations. If one generation accepts it, then the next assumes it, then the next confuses it, then the next will have lost it. So keep the gospel at the heart of every thing you do and say in your life and ministry.
- The first application of our understanding of the gospel is not necessarily to share our faith, but to live a gospel-centered life. The gospel should influence every nook and cranny of our lives. It helps us to remember our sins and failings, enables us to resolve conflicts, shapes our parenting, and so much more. Our lives should look like the message of grace we share.
- God calls us to love people by meeting their needs. Some people are lonely, some are hungry, some are oppressed. We are called to love them. All people are in need of forgiveness, and God calls us to love them in this need also. This may involve many things, but at the heart it will mean letting them know about Jesus.
- Before people can put their trust in Jesus and turn to him as their Lord, they need to understand what this means and how it happens. There’s no point in people making meaningless responses. What’s required is genuine, reasonable, change of heart, and this will result in changed lives.
- We’re called to be bold—not to fear people, or to be ashamed of the message, or fearful of being rejected. So let’s pray that our fear of people will be replaced by reverent fear of God.
- The love of God is so different to corrosive, wordly views of love. God’s love changes people and builds extraordinary communities. Jesus said that people would know we are Christians by the love we have for one another. As we apply this in our lives, it becomes the greatest image of the gospel we offer the world.
- As we speak the gospel to those who don’t know the gospel, we cycle through three foundational challenges in our minds: Do I know the gospel? Do I live the gospel? Do I speak the gospel?
If you’re looking to be encouraged and inspired in loving your neighbours and seeking to introduce them to Jesus, then let me encourage you to get hold of this book. Perhaps read it with a friend and encourage each other to put it into practise.