The Gospel Rant 3: Some Theology
When the Lord first put The Gospel Rants in me, I had no idea where He would take them. I still don’t, but I think this week’s article is an important step toward TGR becoming what the Lord wants it to be.
I have here three questions which I get once or twice a week and my answers to them. I welcome questions, comments, and concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What’s the best way to bring up the Gospel in a conversation?
It seems to me that the intent behind this question is to do something a little similar to showing a badge on someone’s T-shirt, or telling a story of an old heirloom one got from one’s grandma. Of course, any way the Gospel is preached glorifies the Lord, but I think if the issue is the best way to get the message out, we have to ask a different question: What’s the best way to make my life point to the Lord?
To answer that one, chew on this: The Gospel is a product of the state of one’s soul. If one’s soul is subdued, completely crushed under the weight of the glory of God, the Gospel will be impossible to silence from one’s lips because all of one’s life will be connected to Jesus. It won’t even take effort to bring Christ up; Christ will pour Himself from one’s speech.
On the other hand, if one is living for himself, the ends of his life will lead to secularism. The Gospel will be harder and harder to mention because it will be farther and farther from the motivations of one’s heart. If the Gospel isn’t at the center of your intentions, it will naturally never be at the center of your interactions.
Note that my theology places its emphasis on the eradication of sin within the Christian (through prayer), focused prayer for the love and fear of the Lord (through prayer), and trust in the Lord (through prayer) to draw His own to Himself rather than bringing the lost to Him through human exertion.
I am a very young Christian, but I believe these are the keys to loving Christian evangelism—a heavy emphasis on the Lord’s hand, and a heavy desire to set that hand in motion through prayer. Without prayer and the relationship with the Holy Spirit that extended prayer brings, the otherwise helpless human is made absolutely ineffective.
But that seems to tell me NOT to spread the Gospel—isn’t the message more important than my spirituality?
Consider this: Which do you do more now, talk about your life or talk about the Gospel? If we made those separate entities into the same thing, wouldn’t the Gospel be spread more often, and wouldn’t you have more to say about how it’s changing you? What’s changing is not the urgency of speaking about the Lord—what’s changing is how we go about it. And, of course, that changes when you begin to pray for it.
Also, consider this: When we spread the Gospel, we don’t just do so to see people become Christians—in fact, this is a dangerous motivation. Rather, we do so to participate in the Lord’s work, and therefore, in His glory. When the Lord gives you an opportunity to speak about Himself, He’s working just as much in you as He is in those to whom the message will come.
So try this one out: In a relationship where nothing in one’s life is ever hidden, but his faith is confidently displayed and lived out publicly as well as he is able, and the Gospel happens to enter the conversation, won’t the man’s answer be that much more pure, having a heart set completely on the service of his Lord?
Therefore, through the man’s prayers, the Lord has kept the man faithful and he has enabled the Holy Spirit to work its utmost for the salvation of the nonbeliever. Also, the Holy Spirit’s work will be more effective in the believer when his only intent is to lift up the Lord, rather than spread the words of a story. Both men experience the Lord, and both men benefit.
But if my only job is to seek the Lord, why can’t seeking the salvation of my friends be part of seeking the Lord?
Because you can’t save them. The salvation of your friends is not in their control, nor in yours, but only in the Lord, and seeking their salvations like you seek the Lord is dangerous because the Lord abhors idols. (Yes, evangelism is an idol too. I’ve been there.) From a purely logistical standpoint, you’ll get burned out if the Lord leads you (or you choose) a difficult field and no one comes to the Lord. From a spiritual standpoint, the Lord will let you burn out to show you what satisfies. Either way won’t be too much fun.
And anyway, all that you have been called to seek has been made available to you, hasn’t it? But their salvations are not. Therefore, seek to pray for them as a blessed expression of nearness to the King, and pray for them constantly so that your love for them may overflow when you see them. Of course, it’s primarily through love that our greatest obedience is realized, and it’s primarily through fear that we love them best via our own sanctification—and here we are at the beginning, praying for the love and fear of the Lord.
Rinse, pray, repeat.
My King, take all that I am. Leave me nothing, and crush the sin within me. I give you everything in my heart, and I ask you to please make my life an outpouring of the Gospel—may the death of Your Son be the shape of my speech from this day forward, and may Your peace within me be a magnet to Your children around me. Convict me always to pray and give me a great love and fear of Your Name, that when I see You I may give account for the things which You gave me for this short time. God, be lifted high.