Declaring the Gospel or Discrediting the Gospel?
Undoubtedly, many Christians in the U.S. were disappointed at the outcome of the recent presidential election. Then there’s COVID-19 with its restrictions, job losses, cancelled vacations and sadly, its deaths. It seems like a year with a lot to complain about. Or is it? We are in the middle of that season on the calendar when we have more than the usual number of opportunities to talk to people about the Good News of Jesus. But how we talk about other events and situations in our lives either enhances our declaring of the gospel message or discredits it. Here are a few reminders from God’s Word to help us put life into perspective and share the gospel more authentically:
1. Psalm 115:2-3 “Why should the nations say, ‘Where is their God?’ Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.”
Colossians 1:16 “For by him (Jesus) all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things were created through him and for him.”
We readily say and sing, “Jesus is Lord over all,” but if we then speak to others about events and situations in ways that imply God made a mistake or just wasn’t able to bring about the right outcome (or at least not the outcome we
wanted) how can we expect to commend a God like that to non-Christians? Jesus is truly Lord over all, and that includes elections and pandemics. Speak with confidence that God is all-powerful, in control, and has reasons for all that he does.
2. Isaiah 8:11-12 "For the LORD spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: ‘Do not call conspiracy all that this people call conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread.’”
Philippians 1:9 “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment.”
If we believe and/or pass along to others rumors or reports for which we do not have solid evidence because we want them to be true (or because we’re fearful they are true), our declaring of the gospel will then sound like wishful thinking instead of what it is: events ordained by God for which there is substantial evidence from multiple credible sources. The apostle Peter reminds us, “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Peter 1:16). Most Christians recoil at the term “postmodernism,” yet many have fallen right into the trap at the heart of postmodern philosophy, namely, “believe what you want to believe; you decide your own truth.” Just a few verses later, Peter declares, “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (1:21). For those old enough to remember Dragnet, let’s be like Detective Joe Friday: “Just give me the facts, ma’am.”
3. James 3:9-10 “With it (the tongue, cf. verses 5-8) we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessings and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.”
1 Peter 3:15 “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”
When we speak about people whose views we disagree with using derogatory, slanderous or disrespectful language, then declare to non-Christians, “God loves you,” why would they believe us? If our speech shows that we hate others, how can we tell them that our God loves them? There are respectful ways to talk about ideas, policies or actions we disagree with, and especially when those ideas, policies or actions are contrary to Scripture we need to speak up. But that doesn’t mean condemning other people because they hold different views. God is the righteous judge who knows people’s hearts, not us.
As we have opportunities to share the gospel with those who do not yet know Christ, let’s declare it with integrity and consistency, keeping in mind these Scripture passages about our speech and actions. The apostle Paul says, “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you many know how you ought to answer each person” (Colossians 4:5-6).