It’s the Gospel, Stupid!

screenshot (350)

Isaiah 52:7How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” (NIV 1984)

My Musings – In the spring of 1991, following an immensely successful invasion of Iraq, President Bush’s (the first one) approval rating was 90%.  He was considered unbeatable as he looked ahead to his reelection bid the following year.  Then, the economy began to sour, and by late summer of 1992 (just weeks before the election) 64% of Americans disapproved of his job performance.  With this dramatic reversal of fortune, the Clinton campaign’s slogan became “it’s the economy, stupid!”  The slogan’s intent was to keep the campaign focused on the real issue of that year’s presidential election – the economy, President Bush’s Achilles’ heel.  They could have lost their way and become side-tracked on less important or even non-essential issues and lost the election.  The slogan was meant to be the rallying cry to get them back on track to what was important in order to win the election. It did and they did.

I think evangelical Christianity is in need of a similar slogan today to get it back to its “prime directive” – It’s the Gospel, stupid!  My intent here is not to throw rocks at someone else’s “glass house,” because I consider myself to be an evangelical Christian.  But what does the term evangelical Christian mean anyway?  Here is an excerpt from someone else’s musings [with some editorializing by me thrown in] that might prove helpful ( from https://www.gotquestions.org/evangelical-Christian.html):

“In Western culture today, there are many caricatures of evangelical Christians. For some [perhaps an understatement], the term evangelical Christian is equivalent to ‘right-wing, fundamentalist Republican.’ There is no doubt that holding to the fundamentals of the Bible will result in a certain worldview and, yes, political [political maybe, moral certainly] beliefs. However, there is nothing about being an evangelical that demands a certain political party or affiliation [or gives them a monopoly on morality].”

“The term Christian essentially means ‘follower of Christ.’  The term evangelical comes from the Greek word that means “good news.” Evangelism is sharing the good news of the salvation that is available through Jesus Christ. An evangelical, then, is a person dedicated to promoting the good news about Jesus Christ. Combined, the description “evangelical Christian” is intended to indicate a believer in Jesus Christ who is faithful in sharing and promoting the good news.”

“A Christian is called [actually commissioned by Christ] to share [evangelize] the good news [Gospel], to preach God’s Word, and to set an example of [not dictate to] purity and integrity. If these callings require [require may be too strong of a term] political action, so be it. At the same time, evangelical Christians should not be sidetracked into abandoning our highest calling—sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

So, back to my musing.   It’s the Gospel, stupid!  Gospel is a word that is derived from the Anglo-Saxon godspell denoting “glad tidings” or “good news” (Baker encyclopedia of the Bible).  Among other definitions, stupid means  not intelligent, not sensible, not interesting or worthwhile (Merriam-Webster).

Evangelical Christians need not be apolitical, nor should they compromise their convictions or beliefs in the name of political expediency.  Speaking the truth in love is not mutually exclusive.  We should not speak the truth in an offensive or hateful manner, nor should the truth need to be silenced or watered down in order to keep peace and love.  While we cannot keep the world from hating us (Jesus said they would because they hated Him), nor finding the Gospel offensive (Paul said many would), we need not be hateful or offensive such that others find the “good news” to be “not intelligent, sensible, interesting or worthwhile” because of how we proclaim it.

My Advice – Let’s share what’s in our “lunchbox” with love and concern.  Let’s not beat others over the head with it in arrogance or self-righteousness.  It’s the Gospel, stupid! Let’s stay on task (get back on track).  Let’s help win the “election” for the lost.  Let’s keep our feet “beautiful” by bringing “good news,” proclaiming “peace,” bringing “good tidings,” and proclaiming “salvation.”  After all, its the only “campaign” with eternal consequences.  Our God reigns!

 

You Will Be My Witnesses

Acts 1:8 – “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (NIV 1978)

My Musings – We will be witnesses one way or the other – either good or bad.

My Advice – Make up your mind to be a positive witness by walking the walk and talking the talk. You need both.

Except Through Him

John 14:6Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (NIV 1978)

My Musings – If there is more than one way to God, Jesus is a liar. If there is more than one way to God, Jesus is not one of them.

My Advice – Never let anyone tell you that there are many paths to God. There is only one and His name is Jesus. Correct them firmly but gently and explain why it cannot be. There is no need to be argumentative or try to convince them. Your job (responsibility) is to proclaim the truth (in love). It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict of the truth. It is the other person’s job to accept or reject the truth.

Where’s Brother Waldo?

Screenshot (232)

Romans 12:18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (NIV 1984)

My Musings – All too often, whenever a potentially divisive issue is discussed, either the truth is compromised in the name of love, or love is compromised in the name of truth, as if the two (love and truth) were mutually exclusive. They are not. The reason we know they are not is that Christians are called to speak the truth in love.

  • Truth – Being prepared to speak the truth is more than merely knowing what we believe. It also means that we are able to provide clear reasons for why we hold the beliefs and convictions that we do. If we cannot do this, the truth may not be compromised (the truth remains the truth), but our credibility can certainly be questioned.
  • Love – We should also be prepared to communicate the truth in a gentle and respectful manner whenever called to do so. While we would expect the same from those with opposing beliefs and convictions (especially if they too are Christians) this is not always the case. When this is not the case, it is not an excuse to throw love out the window. For even if we are equipped with the full knowledge of the truth and can eloquently and convincingly communicate it “in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, [we are] only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” We merely end up winning the argument while losing the heart. In essence, “[we] gain nothing.
  • Truth and Love – “Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle [beliefs, convictions], you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.” – Rick Warren
  • Conscience – We must remain faithful to both the truth (as the Holy Spirit instructs us in the truth) and love (as our Savior modeled for us). This is really the only way we can keep a clear conscience and maintain our credibility with others.

As we Christians watch our views become ever more unpopular in an increasingly polarized culture, the temptation to defend ourselves in vitriolic, even hateful, ways will grow. As we interact with others virtually or in our communities, we must remember our call to live like Jesus. We must not adopt secular rules of engagement regardless of whether culture is religious or irreligious.Ed Stetzer

Screenshot (297)

My Advice – Always do your best to take the high road.

 

Calling All Sinners

Mark 2:17Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (NIV 1978)

My Musings – Christians carry the medicine of the Gospel to a sick and dying world.

My Advice -It is okay to associate with “sinners.” Just make sure that it is your behavior that is rubbing off on them, rather than the other way around. Associate with sinners, but do not participate in sinful activity.

Involved In Evangelism

Screenshot (288)

Acts 1:8“You will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (NIV 1978)

My Musings – God has commissioned us to share the Gospel, so that others may know the way they can inherit eternal life. We should view this as a privilege, for that is what it really is. Not so much a command as it is an opportunity to share the best news anyone could ever hear. People usually cannot wait to share a piece of good news with others or to introduce new friends to old friends. In the same way, we should be very eager to share the Gospel and to introduce others to the Savior. To play whatever part we can in rescuing them from eternal separation from God.

Screenshot (286)

Yet all too often we are hesitant to do so. Perhaps this is because we fear rejection and ridicule. Whatever the reason, we sometimes let our burden over these fears overcome our burden for the lost. But it is not just failing to speak out when we should that prevents us from being the witnesses that we should be. It is also the way that we live our lives. Our external behavior is not always as consistent as it should be with the internal change that has taken place in us. So, if we dared to speak up to share our faith, would our testimony be credible based upon the evidence of how we live our lives day-to-day? The sad reality is that when we fail to speak out when we should, or when our conduct is inconsistent with our professed faith in Christ, we are actually being a witness – a poor one. This is certainly not the legacy we want to leave with our friends and family.

My Advice – We must be prepared to testify (witness) when called to the “stand.” In the meantime, we need to make sure that the lives we are living will be consistent with the truth that we proclaim (evidence).  We must not only “talk the talk,” we must “walk the walk.”

Coming Soon – An updated version of my Bible study “Got Spiritual Milk?” will soon be available in the Store link on my home page. What you see above is a short excerpt the chapter dealing with the eleventh of twelve “steps” discussed in the study.

Screenshot (287)

 

Encouragement for Fellow Bloggers

Screenshot (269)

Isaiah 55:11[S]o is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (NIV 1984)

My Musing – As a blogger, it is easy to become discouraged at times.  You write a blog that you feel particularly good about and receive no comments, likes or shares and very few views.  You begin to ask yourself, why am I doing this?  This is a question we should continually ask ourselves.  If we are doing it for the comments, likes, shares or number of views, then perhaps we are doing it for the wrong reason (perhaps our own glory?).  But if we are doing solely for the glory of God (soli Deo Gloria), statistics are not the point.

If God has called us to the ministry of blogging, He merely calls us to be faithful.  Being faithful does not always mean being “successful.”  At least in terms of statistics. Jesus had a mere twelve followers and lost one, but look what happened. When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13, NIV 1984)

But if the words we are blogging are in reality going out from the “mouth” of God (we should be so blessed), then they will not return empty, but will accomplish whatever He desires.  As a blogger, I may never actually see the results, and the results can never really be measured by comments, likes, shares or views.  But if He uses any blog of mine to accomplish just one of His purposes, that will be statistic enough.

My Advice – Blog on, soli Deo gloria!