What does it mean to believe the gospel?

What must I do to be saved?

Believe the Gospel

The New Testament is clear that believers are to proclaim the gospel to a lost world, so that they may repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15, Acts 20:21). Many evangelists such as Ray Comfort and Todd Friel, have done a great job at making it clear what repentance practically means. An acknowledgement of sin, apologizing for that sin, turning away from that sin and turning towards God who sets you free from sin. They also do well at explaining that repentance literally means a change of one’s mind. However, what does it mean “to believe”? A proper gospel message is necessary before the call to repent and believe, but I hope to shed some useful light on the topic of “belief”, that can help during evangelistic encounters.

“When we preach Christ crucified, we have no reason to stammer, or stutter, or hesitate, or apologize; there is nothing in the gospel of which we have any cause to be ashamed.” (C.H. Spurgeon)

By no means is this an exhaustive declaration of the gospel, but it is important to understand the flow of the gospel call (general call) that an evangelist is to proclaim. First, is the teaching of who God is; He is holy, good and just. Then, the status of man, which is sinful; this will lead you to man’s great dilemma, how can a holy and just God justify a wicked sinner? The answer is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ, that He laid down His life as The spotless Lamb of God to appease the wrath and justice of God for anyone who believes.

Following the gospel proclamation, is the gospel call, “repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15, NASB). I have already addressed what it means to repent, but what about to believe? In my experience of living in the south, you can’t throw a stone without hitting someone who “believes” in Jesus. This makes it difficult to bring the true and biblical meaning of believing. Remember, James tells us “even the demons believe”. What is it that we are to believe? That Jesus was a real person? No, many secular historians believe that Jesus existed and it would be foolish to deny this historical fact. What about to believe that Jesus is the Son of God? This is a great confession, however many so called “christians” will cognitively admit that Jesus is the Son of God? So what does a belief in the gospel mean?

Believe

Believe in the Gospel.I would submit—and would also delight to receive comments—that to believe the gospel means to kill the faith you have in your own works and to trust completely that your salvation is based on the work of Jesus Christ. There is nothing you have done, can do, or will do that will amount to any merit for salvation. I love the example that both Ray and Todd use about the airplane and putting the parachute on. But I believe, an understanding of the proper way to respond to the gospel would be even more beneficial to the sinner, and by God’s grace soon to be saint. I must say that in no way am I as gifted or useful as Todd Friel or Ray Comfort in evangelism, nor as knowledgeable. But I do hope that this information will be helpful to you, the reader, and that God would bless the proclamation of his word.

Battling Sin: The War Within

A young person asked me the other day a simple yet fundamental question that I feel needs to be addressed, the question was: How do I fight sin?

Every true believer battles “sin” on a daily basis; from our actions, to our words, even to our thoughts. As a true follower of Christ our greatest desire is to please the Father, and losing battles to sin can really burden the believer. Yes, we are saved by grace through faith (Galatians 2:8) but in truth because of our salvation we aspire to honor God with our lives. So in order to battle sin, we must understand that sin is acting upon temptation and this is the first element of the battle. To overcome sin we must fight or avoid temptation at all cost.

Looking through scripture and being led by the Spirit, the beauty and glory of this battle belongs to the Spirit of God. Amen to that, in that our victories over temptation are not of our doing but of the workings of the Holy Spirit within us. We boast not in ourselves, as if we were strong enough or devote enough to overcome sin, but we boast in the work that the Holy Spirit has done within us. Glory to God!

1 John 3:24b

“And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know by the Spirit he gave us. (NIV)

Every child of God is born-again, which means that they are a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17). Being born of God, a child of God is given God’s seed as we see in 1 John 3:9 “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. (NIV).” We see from this text that it is God’s seed (The Holy Spirit) that enables us to refrain from sinning. It is the Spirit of God within us that fights our battles of temptation and allows us victory from sin.

It is important to note here, that just in case we have forgotten, Jesus Christ has justified us before God the Father by his blood being poured out on the cross for our sins. The battle of sin that is being expressed here is for a regenerated man, who is in Christ Jesus. This process of the Spirit in our life is fighting and overcoming sin to conform us to the image of Christ and allowing us to be more like Christ in how we act, talk and think. So, if you see that sin is not being over come in your life it is essential to go to the source, which is, believing in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Where do we come in? Am I to sit around and just live life as before? Using the words of Paul, by all means No! It is essential to feed the Spirit of the Lord, to allow for proper and healthy growth. How is it that we, as believers in Christ, can do that? I will give three ways that should be expected and desired in every Christian’s life.

  • Read the Word of God: Hebrews 4:12 reads, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (NIV)” The Word, will bring an awareness and understanding to the convictions that the Holy Spirit is pressing upon you. It will allow you to discern the workings of the Spirit and help you see the path of righteousness that the Spirit is setting you upon.
  • Pray: The Lords prayer has a line that we should pay special attention to on the subject of overcoming temptation. Matthew 6:13 “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. (NIV).” It is God that will deliver us! The line does not read… so I can overcome the evil one, so I can defeat the evil one, so I can avoid the evil one. It reads God, you lead us away from temptation and God, and you deliver us away from the evil one. Why? Because I do not possess the strength on my own to do so.
  • Fellowship: James 5:19-20 “My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over love. This is the second greatest commandment according to Jesus “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The body of Christ can walk with you, love you, help you grow in knowledge of Jesus and his commands and allow the Spirit of God to flourish in your life.

My prayer is that we will allow the Spirit to consume our lives, that sin will be overcome in many areas that may seem difficult right now and that Christ be glorified through all of it.

Amen. Grace and peace to all of you.

1 John 5:3-4
In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world.

Death of the Youth Pastor

A major concern in youth circles around the country (USA) is the drastic number of youth that renounce faith after they leave youth group. Around the age of 18 many teens are going to college or finding a career. It is around this time that 70% of young adults, as they are considered now, tend to leave the church. So what is the problem? Guessing from the title you might think it is youth pastors, but that is not the main concern I have.

While it is true that many youth groups seem more like a pizza party and less like a group focused on training and equipping the future church, this is not the main concern I have when it comes to this subject. The biggest reason for the continued decline of the future church, builds its roots in the home. It is in the home where there is the biggest need of spiritual guidance; discipleship and a Christ like love.

The major factor that leads to spiritual blindness in the home is half hearted, unprepared fathers and husbands. We learn in the fifth chapter of the epistle to the Ephesians that “the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church.” This shows the crucial role men play in the family. Unfortunately, we have had a decline of Godly men leading to faithless families and youths.

Now we see a major problem, what could be a proposed solution. This is where the title comes in. It is my belief, a belief not shared by many, that there is no need for youth groups in the Church. What there is a need for is pastors to encourage, teach, and demonstrate how to disciple families. Not just on Sundays but daily. The expression “it takes a village” can hold true to raising a family in Christ as well. It will take the whole body to encourage and pray for the men in the church so that they can lead their families to a life in Christ. Why, then, is there no more need for youth groups and youth pastors? Because this is the very job that the fathers are to take up, it is their duty to teach, discipline and live a life worthy of the gospel for their children.

To Teach

One of the primary responsibilities in discipleship is teaching. To show what the scriptures say, what they command of believers, and how to read the text. Fathers should read with their children daily. Yes, that was not a typo I did say DAILY. Regarding the early believers, Acts 2:42 reads:

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. ”

Acts 2:42

To Discipline

Without discipline there will be little to no growth. Discipline is a major part of discipleship, not to harm but to “spur” towards the correct path. We see many times Jesus reproving his disciple, correcting them. Discipline and a demand of Godliness should not be overlooked. We read in Hebrews chapter 12:

(7) Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? (8) If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. (9) Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! (10) They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. (11) No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Hebrews 12:7-11

To Live

The greatest responsibility of discipleship is not just teaching what the scriptures say but to “walk the walk.” More than words will ever teach a child or teen is the way you live your life. If this step is missed, the other steps lose almost all of their validity. Paul writes in Philippines 1:27:

“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel.”

Philippians 1:27

So we understand that it is up to men to disciple their families and their children. We even see in Paul’s directions to Timothy regarding eldership this is a major quality that they are to look for “He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect (1 Timothy 3:4).” Still, why death to the youth pastors?

 

One of the biggest things children need today, is to see their father receive the word of the Lord from the church. They are unable to do so separated in another room receiving a message. Now, I’m not saying that the messages they hear are bad, although times they are, or that youth pastors are inadequate but remember the third point of discipleship I referenced? To live, actions speak louder than words, to see ones father love the gospel message will enrich a love for the gospel message. To see ones father hungry for the Word of Truth, will create a great desire for the same Word. The youth need to SEE how their father receives the word of the Lord and then how he applies it to his life. As long as there are youth groups there is not a desperate need for fathers to rise up and take the role that God gave them. The final question can be, “What if a person does not have a father? Or, if that person’s father is not a believer, then we need a youth pastor.” This is a hard argument to fight, but my best attempt is this (Not for the sake of ending youth groups but for the betterment of the whole body of Christ). The bride of Christ is a family, brothers and sisters who long for our Father. What is needed is not to have a group inside the church that is separated but to be immersed in the whole body. To see older brothers (older adults) love the Lord, to have older brothers love their younger brothers, to have older brothers be the fathers to the fatherless. This duty is too big a responsibility for a youth pastor this is a demand of the church. James writes

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

James 1:27

This is a charge for the Church.

I pray that this is a piece that Jesus wanted, I pray that this will inspire men, families and churches to grow in Godliness. And I pray that above all the Lord God be glorified.