Wednesday, August 29, 2007

"What Do Believers Experience at the Time of Death?"

Ross had this amazing experience! His blood pressure dropped drastically due to internal bleeding, he turned pale, and dropped to the floor. Paramedics said that when they first saw him, that he was as dead. But Ross also experienced something spiritual. He writes: “I was like Jello when I came to, and felt hands on me, but all I could see was a light, like through a tunnel. I felt peace. It was like God said to me that it wasn’t time yet and put my soul back in me. I’m wondering, what is your view on that?”

What can a believer expect to experience at the time of their death? What do the scriptures say about near death experiences?

Okay, near death experiences in the Bible: We can’t really count Elijah’s, because, he didn’t die, but was “taken up.” (2 Kings 2) Hezekiah almost died. But he cried out to God, who gave him 15 extra years. But Hezekiah didn’t see any lights. (2 Kings 20) The apostle Paul saw a light, but he wasn’t physically dying. (Acts 9) Some attribute Paul’s vision of heaven as from a near death experience, (2 Corinthians 12:2-5) but Paul is rather unsure himself how far to take that, and so we can’t presume either. Even Paul wouldn’t expound upon his experience. Lazarus died and came back, but the scriptures don’t describe his spiritual experience. Anyway, Lazarus died prior to Christ’s resurrection, and so his experience would have been more like that which Jesus describes in Luke 16: 19-31.

But look what God did for Stephen! Wow! While Stephen was still on trial, God prepared him for his earthly exit. Stephen looked up:

“Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
Acts 7:56

Then Stephen was dragged out by the religious mob, and brutally murdered. During the stoning, he never stopped talking to God. He cries out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” And then, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” God appeared to Stephen, just when he needed it. Despite surrounding chaos, Stephen was talking with God.

We’ve got to hang out with older Christians. Christians who have had opportunity to be with loved ones when they have passed on, or who have visited the deathbeds of believers, having the privilege of seeing them off to heaven, have witnessed some amazing things! Don’t be shy to ask them about it. It’s testimony!

It is good to consider death. Death is an ongoing part of the Christian’s life. In 1660, Sir Thomas Brooks wrote of the glory of growing older:

“An old disciple, an old Christian, is prepared for death; he hath been long a-dying to sin, to the world, to friends, to self, to relations, to all, and no man so prepared to die as he that thus daily dies.”

The more you’ve practiced dying on earth, the more you anticipate the final kick. When we realize how dead to this world we are, we find real life living in us. That life is Christ Himself.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Galatians 2:20

People in Christ pass onto Heaven; we just don’t take our bodies with us when we go. My friend Rashad writes: “… flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, because our true being is not cellular, molecular, atomic, subatomic, etc. but rather beyond this manifest form.” Paul writes:

“I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.”
1 Corinthians 15:20

I lost an uncle and a cousin while they were young, due to heart disease. Then in 1985, when I was in Bible College, I had a heart attack. Bible school is a great place to have one too! Everyone started praying right away, and it became a spiritual event.

The pain was awful, but God was so close! I felt I could ask Him anything. But those helping me were also competing for my attention. "Tom, what is it?!?" (I wasn’t moving.) You can imagine my dismay when one school chum suggested, "It’s probably intestinal gas!"

They just didn’t think “heart attack,” for someone my age. “Intestinal gas?!?” Right! “Someone quick! Pull his finger?!?”

As friends whisked me to health services, I talked with God. He was right there! I know He’s right here now. It is just that my flesh hinders our communion. But as it lay there dying that day, God and I were conversing. It was awesome!

For example, a few days prior in class, a few of us students were comparing (okay, arguing about) Isaiah 57:1:

“The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil.”

Some interpreted that hard times were coming, and God wanted to spare His people from suffering overly. Other translations seemed like God was taking certain ones before they themselves turned to evil. I can't remember what side I’d been on, but here, assuming I was dying, I asked, "Oh Lord! Does this mean that had I lived longer, that I would have become apostate?!?" And God said to me, "My son, if that were so, wouldn't you want to come now?"

Suddenly, I saw that none of my ambition to impact the world for God amounted. That I am His is what mattered to God. I was finally going home where I belonged! And I think for the first time that was all that mattered to me. My name was written in the "Lamb's book of Life." He didn't really answer my question. He just changed my heart. I felt like I could actually enter Heaven now, rejoicing rightly:

“However do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Luke 10:20

The pain increased, and my classmates got me to the clinic. The nurse couldn’t find my pulse. Yet the more my body faded, the less of a barrier there seemed between God and I. I then knew that we in Christ don’t die. Our bodies stop, but as they do, we just continue on into His glorious presence. I fully expected to see Him shortly.

Only one thing troubled me. If the pain got much worse before I went, I might cuss. I had never been in such pain before and it was getting worse. Before knowing Jesus, swearing was a big part of my emotional vocabulary. If the pain got so bad, would my final words dishonor Him and shame me? I did not want to go out like that! God had been so awesome during this time, so close! I loved Him now more than ever. So I asked God to help me not to curse. Again without hesitation, He so clearly reminded me of 1 Corinthians 10:13:

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

He was going to make a way for me! All was well. I knew that it was just a matter of my body giving its last struggles before I could see God. I was going home. This was going to be great!

The school nurse sent me to the ER. The ambulance came, and a campus officer went with it. Once in ER someone rolled out the defibrillators. I wanted to yell, "Helloooo! I'm not unconscious yet!!!" I prayed, “God, can I come before they use those?”

The ER doctor placed a pill under my tongue, felt my pulse, and then gave me another pill. And then the pain started to go away. And I heard her saying, "You are going to be all right sir!" At once God’s voice was fading from my ears. I knew He was there. But hearing became less and less. The ER came into view. Imagine! Moments ago I was about to enter the great banquet feast, finally home in Heaven. Two nitroglycerine pills later, and I’m back in Chicago, on a no cholesterol diet! Tom wept.

God comforted me in the days that followed, my earthly future so uncertain. God now talked to me, not like during the heart attack, but as before. He hadn’t left me. Heaven is coming! Remember how God gave me 1 Corinthians 10:13? Well, the campus policeman who had brought me to ER in the ambulance visited me in the hospital. He said that the ambulance workers could hear me singing praises to God. Isn't God awesome? Christ had been leading me in song as I was dying! No cussing!

So what can a believer expect at the time of their death? You can expect God to be there for you. He will be with you. Lazarus and Paul and scripture don't tell us any more. And I think that is cause it is too great to be uniform for all of us, this side of Heaven. We can talk about it when we get there. Okay?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

"How Do You Find People To Witness To?"

Sam writes, “I have shared the gospel with all my relatives. People at work, know that I’m a Christian. How can I find people who are open to hearing about Jesus?”

Instead of running around looking for people to witness to, I think we are rather to diligently let people out there, come to us. I know, that sounds like a contradiction. How can one “diligently” let others “come” to them? "Diligently" implies that we’re trying. “Letting others come to us,” sounds like we are being passive about evangelism. God’s idea of evangelism may not be ours. When we ask God “why,” we get:

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways My ways, “ declares the Lord.”

Isaiah 55:8

But we in Christ know, that all of His ways are ultimately better than ours. So we give in to Him and let Him change our thinking:

“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are My ways higher than your ways
and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55:9

Logic tells us to go out there and get things done just right. But when it comes to His family, God has a higher plan. While we may try to convince people to follow Jesus, Jesus says to us,

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
John 6:44

I’m not at all advocating complacency. When it comes to evangelism, we are to be diligent. When it comes to the lost souls of this world, we are to be passionate until all have heard the gospel message. But it isn’t about you and I being effective. It is about being available and eager for God’s opportunities, in response to our prayers, expectations and obedience. It was Jesus who said:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
Matthew 28:16

But it was also Jesus who said:

“But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”
John 12:32

While Jesus was saying this to indicate His crucifixion, He was also saying how people would come to Him. For us to “lift Jesus up” is to boast on Him with those we meet. Is Christ so important in your life that His dealings with you are more exciting for you to discuss than the weather, this week’s game, or your vacation plans? It takes getting into the habit; but once you start “lifting Jesus up,” you’ll meet those being drawn to Him. God will be able to trust sending these dear souls to you; knowing you'll tell them about Him. Hudson Taylor wrote:

“If we want to be soulwinners and build up the church, which is His temple, let us note this: not by discussion or by argument, but by lifting up Christ will we draw men to Him.”

Ann and I were in Xinjiang for months, and hadn’t made anything like a friend. We’d met lots of wonderful people. Everyone seemed to be either friendly, or interested in the “foreign guests.” People were so nice to us, and I was reading friendship into every gesture. People there were warmer and less reserved than I’d grown up around. Also, hospitality is very important there. A friendly countenance and gesture there is simply a way to be neighborly. So it was going to take discernment if I were to ever sort out who wanted friendship, and who was only being friendly.

God also had to change my conception of evangelism. I believed that to share Christ, I first had to earn the right by first becoming friends with people we wanted to reach. I must have misunderstood some book that talked about, “friendship evangelism.” It sounds loving doesn’t it? It sounds like I’m respecting them by wanting to win their friendship before I told them they needed Jesus. That's proper. That's the polite thing.

Forget the logical obvious. Would I want someone to treat me that way? Would I like someone to befriend me simply for the purpose of gaining my trust, so they can lower the spiritual boom on me? I would think that this person was being sneaky. If someone didn’t really want my friendship, it would be pretty lousy of them to seem like my friend just so that they can tell me something they assume I’m too stiff-necked to listen to otherwise. How judgmental that would seem! I was cut to the heart when I saw myself doing this very thing. Okay, I repent! But now what?

One day, I was trying to visit a particular man at school, who I had hoped to befriend. Friends yes, and then of course I hoped that he would believe and be saved. My motive here was sincere. But how exhausting! I hunted for this guy’s dorm room. Men in each “wrong” room whose door I knocked on, invited me in for tea, but I passed each invitation up in the search of this one potential friend. "Friend" was still step one in my evangelism plan. I just had to be sincere about the friendship.

When I finally got to the right room, he wasn’t home. Disappointed, I had passed up at least five friendly invitations by people I didn’t know, in pursuit of this one “potential friend.” Muslim students and teachers knew I was studying their language, and were inviting me into their dorm rooms. Aghast at my own blindness, I went out to sit on a long bench by the river that ran through campus. I began to vent out prayers of frustration to God.

“God,” I said. “I’ve been fishing all day and nothing! I can’t understand these people! What I call a friend they don’t even seem to have a word for! But this guy seems different and I think we could become friends. But when I try to reach out, You don’t bless my effort! God, I came here for You, to make friends and introduce them to Jesus. Help me out here, will You please?!?”

Having vented, I sat by the river, waiting. It was a nice river. I opened my Bible and started reading. As lunch hour was ending, students were walking about, and soon several were sitting on the bench with me, asking what I was reading. I said that God loved them, and that this book I was reading, was about that. I said that the book talked about how to be forgiven of all our sins and how to receive God’s love. Even as I was talking, I felt forgiven afresh, having blamed God instead of trusting Him. I still didn’t see what He was doing. But my smile was back on.

As I began to close the book so as to converse, one man asked me to read some to them. "Would I!?!" I read the account of Jesus telling the fishermen to let down their nets. I read slowly, translating as best I could while they corrected and coached, till we got the meaning of the story. Then God suddenly put a picture in my mind. I saw myself fishing. How frustrated I looked! That, and I was not fishing the way that Jesus’ disciples fished! I held a spear. I was spear fishing!

Chasing down that one or two was tiring me out something awful! (Not to mention I was a lousy shot!) I’d been left wondering where God was, and why I was there at all! As we said “see you later” and rose to leave for the next class, I realized that these folk had just heard more eternal truth about Jesus, than they had ever heard before. By sitting on that bench and holding out my Bible for anyone to see, I’d perhaps just let down my net for the first time in a long time. Filled with joy; God had responded even to my frustrated prayers!

I sat again marveling at God's ways; now watching the quiet flow of the river. Then He said to me, “My boy, I didn’t bring you to China to make friends. I brought you here to meet My friends.” Though actually a rebuke, what love there was in His voice! I knew God was starting something new in both my heart and so, in our lives there.

Later that week we were singing, ”majesty, Kingdom authority; flows from His thrown, unto His own, His anthem raise.” Jesus said all authority had been given to Him. He then authorized us to go out and proclaim Him. If for any reason I didn’t obey Him, then I was shirking my Jesus given authority.

It’s God’s love we share! No government or social custom, whether overseas or here, that says it is “wrong” to present Christ, can take away our Jesus given authority. Of course we don’t want to offend. But there is a point when we can be so careful not to offend, that we do in fact, stop extending God’s love to those in great need.

So let’s be available and eager for people to know Jesus. Where are the fish? Let your net down! Permit God to bring any fish into your net that He’d draw in. Don’t go bass fishing. Don’t go salmon fishing. Just fish. The only bait is Jesus in you. Lift Him up! Talk Him up! I like how Paul describes the active and happy Christian: that we…

“may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which we shine like stars in the universe as we hold out the word of life..”
Philippians 2:15

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

"If God Gave Me This Job, Why Did They Fire Me?"

Sarah unexpectedly lost a church position that she strongly felt led to take. She felt it was the right job, applied and the doors flung open. She had sensed the Lord leading her into this. But once the job started, it got strange. There were certain parishioners who didn’t want to see anything new. One attempt after another, to do the job she was hired to do, met with resistance. Finally “to keep the peace,” the pastor who hired her, let her go. While she humbly sees things she may have done differently, she asks, “If God led me to this job, why did He let me fail at it? Why did I lose a job that God led me to?”

I’ve learned at such times, not to put my thumbs in my pits and quote Job. You know, “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away?” (from Job 1:21) Even Job later learned that there was much more to the picture, and to the answer of the question, “why?”

When we second-guess God’s leading, we have to consider God’s goals. When you make a move, as a child of God, there are three goals involved; God’s goal, your goal, and your faith’s goal. Did you know that your faith has a goal of its own?

“…for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
1 Peter 1:9

While God has goals for you, and society has trained you to have certain goals for yourself, the Christian is sometimes caught between their goal and God's goal. It is our faith that lines us up with God’s goals. By faith we await transformation.

“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
1 Peter 1:8,9

My flesh wants a good paying job, promotions and praise for my work. These are my goals. My faith’s goal is for the salvation of my soul, which is the sanctification process. I’m not saying it is wrong to want the good job; but it just isn’t the goal of my faith. Becoming like Christ is the goal of my faith. Yours too, if you are in Christ.

Peter is here writing to Christians who have been suffering grief and trials of all kinds. Many had suffered much, due to their decision to follow Jesus in an age and location where that was punishable by society. He says of these trials:

“These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
1 Peter 1:7

Connie Frances sang the song “My heart has a mind of its own.” (Don’t give me that look!) It was a sad ditty about a girl whose heart kept leading her back to an unfaithful man that she knew was wrong for her. Christians have it the other way around. The Spirit filled heart has it right, but the carnal mind would send us in the wrong direction. Thank God we can focus on what God wants!

“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
1 John 4:4

Our parents, teachers, and mentors in life all wanted us to succeed. They trained us up to survive in this world. And that was right of them. But then Jesus burst into our lives, and we died to this world. In declaring Jesus Lord of our lives, our goals also changed. And this takes getting used to. If we don’t realize that our goals have been changed, then we will be frustrated. This is because God’s goals and worldly goals are at odds with each other.

In Romans 8: 5-9, Christians are categorized according to how they make decisions. Different translations term this decision making (not according to the Spirit) as “carnal” or “according to the sinful nature” or “the flesh.” All mankind since Adam and Eve fell out with God, are born with the sinful nature. Jesus, after rising from the dead, sent us the Holy Spirit to be our guide. God expects us to make decisions according to His Spirit and not our carnal minds.

Hey side bar ! : If “carn” is Latin for meat, then does that make the Christian who continues to operate with their carnal minds, a “Meathead?”

The person who is unregenerate has no choice in how they make decisions, but the follower of Christ does. God’s Spirit indwells us, so that we can make Spirit led decisions. Jesus went through great personal cost, so that we could "walk according to the Spirit." We need to walk as such, and not just by trusting in human logic.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and He will make your paths straight.”

Proverbs 3:5

First Peter 1:9 said, “for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” When we placed our faith in Christ, our faith lined right up with God’s goals. It did so at our request. In our better moments, we in Christ pray some mighty powerful prayers. I’m not talking about the “Lord, make my ministry bigger!” or “God please tell my roommate to lay off the beans!” prayers. I’m talking about “Lord God, please make me more like Jesus.”

When we pray this way our world shakes. God delights in such prayers. And He knows that we mean them. Our problem is, that we don’t hang onto that humility for long. We get up from our knees (or some of us just resume chewing), and we go off and forget what we asked for. Then when our worlds shake, we wonder why? Then we cry out to God again, wondering why, and His Spirit reminds us what we’d prayed. We kind of expected him to hit us with a holy stick, and make us more like Jesus. Come on! You know the drill! We all know how we gain patience for example:

You’ve been short with people and lacking in patience, and so you humbly, not liking who you are right now, repent and in your most holy moment, you ask the Holy God to change you, agreeing with God to make you more like Christ. “Grant me patience, Lord!” Sounds nice, I know.

Well, during the week, you find that you are hitting a lot of traffic. I mean a lot! The elevator at work never did come. Rushing home as you have a meeting tonight, you suddenly remember to get milk. It should just take a second. And then you are in the "Express" line, where you wait. Three of the four customers in front of you have way more than the allotted limit of items to be in this line. And “Oh gag!” you’ve got an overly sanguine cashier who is just so very happy to see everyone and she loves what they are wearing and used to have one just like it and would love to know where they got it.

You’re going to be late. And as you sit there coming to a boil, God steps in with: "You did ask for patience." You asked for it. And as you finally go from 5th in line to 4th, with the cashier saying, "Oh, I just love this new vanilla cherry diet caffeine free coke, don't you? What will they think of next? You know what I'd like to see..." the tension in you dies. You even smile and suppress a chuckle. You’ve just realized that the cashier is a healthier person than you are. So you thank God for answering your prayer, and you just relax, and become patient. That is Christian success.

Part of your flesh has been crucified with Christ, and a bit more of you went from messed up to sanctified (made more like Christ). And that is success for the Christian. At such times, the Christian senses that pleasure of working with God. Being late for a meeting isn’t fun, but you can honestly say, “God is making me more like Jesus.”

“Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, self control;” and so goes the list... God has a lot of work to do in us, and the goal of our faith is that He works on us daily. We may have goals, and some may sound really good. But are they God’s goals? Your ministry can “grow” without you growing. But at some point, you will pray a prayer of faith again, and He’ll jump right on it.

I think Sarah probably heard right. God did give her that job. He will show her the reason for her being there. She is in good standing with Him. She’s not bitter, but wondering aloud. And there is a bigger picture too. Who knows what God is doing in the lives of the pastor, and his congregants? More important than the size of the church to God, is the Christ-likeness of the souls worshipping there.

Come on folks! Sing along with Connie, and give it some country twang!

“Mah faith has a gohwwl of it’s owwwwwwwwwnnnnn!”

You really don’t know who I’m talking about, do you!?!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

"How Can I More Effectively Share the Gospel?"

Last week I began part one of answering the question, “How can I better defend the faith, and more effectively share the gospel?” Feeling the need to separate the question into two, because “defending the faith” (or “apologetics)” is different than “sharing the gospel” (or “evangelism),” I would like to present a guideline that some have found helpful, for when God provides an opportunity to present the gospel to someone who is not yet in Christ. I am indebted to the training that Ann and I received through a group called “Open Air Campaigners.” Before we went overseas, we trained with OAC for a few months, and I highly recommend getting involved with them (they are in most major cities) if you want to gain experience in sharing your faith.

I hope that this will also help you in your ministry. One thing that I had to learn, that seemed to take me a surprisingly long time to learn, was that Jesus meant it when He said:

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
John 6:44

And so to quickly answer this week's question, before getting to this hopefully helpful tool, is that you cannot “more effectively share the gospel.” It is not we who have any effect. It is God who draws one to Jesus. Evangelism is not about being effective, but about being available. It is not about spear fishing, but about letting out the nets; and trusting God who draws souls to Himself, to fill the nets. Still the joy of evangelism will be fuller, when you share the gospel clearly, so that you know in the end, that you’ve left your listener with a clear opportunity to become born of God.

“I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.”
Philemon, verse 6

Amen and here goes:

Personal Evangelism and the Core Gospel Message

Doing the work of an evangelist is bringing to others, God’s message of salvation; presenting His plan. It is extending His invitation to people who do not yet know this. Although we are using our voices to proclaim the message, the message and plan are his for the hearer. So it is always a good idea to use scripture when presenting the gospel (good news). The message for the tender heart is between God and that person. Given this, the less we talk about what we think, and the more we talk about what God has actually said, the better. But He uses our testimonies too, and so telling of your experience in how you came to know Christ, is important to tell too.

The goal is to help people see from the scriptures, their need for Christ, and to present Christ’s offer of salvation, under His conditions. His love is unconditional, but the reward depends upon both His calling and the person’s responding appropriately. The plan has always been His.

Three things to never forget in a gospel presentation:

1. The Problem. (The problem with man is sin. The result is death. And man can do nothing about this problem by himself.)

“As it is written:
There is none righteous, no, not one;
There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable’
There is none who does good, no not one”

Romans 4:7

“For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
Romans 3:23

(Fallen Short: that is, none have lived the life God intended and created us for, due to sin.)

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
1 John 1:8

2. The Provision. (Jesus’ blood is the remedy for our sin.)

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 5:8

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
1 John 1:9

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
John 3:16-18

(Note: When presenting the Gospel, it is powerful to use verses that have been influential to change your life. These verses here are only samples of the many places throughout scripture, which express God’s plan of salvation.)

Note: Explain “Repentance” if necessary:

“Repentance towards God.”

“….testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Acts 20:21

Repentance gets a bum rap when we only preach half of it. The meaning of repentance is “to turn,” but Christian repentance is not just turning from sin, but it is at the same time turning towards God.

God’s love is unconditional. Salvation has this one condition; Repentance both from sin, and toward God.

3. The Promise. (Eternal life starting now, the gift of faith, peace even now, and the resurrection.)

Don’t forget to include in the Gospel presentation, the truth of the resurrection of Christ, and the promise that we who believe, have likewise been raised to life, and that death will have no power over us.

“For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.”
Romans 5:10-11

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 6:23

“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”
Romans 8:11

Note: Remember that those who are inquiring about how they can know God, want to hear from Him. It is not God’s goal to just improve inadequate lives. The goal is not self-improvement, but death. When we die with Christ, we can be raised with Him. People come to Christ desperate, and with just enough hope. So we must not forget any element of the gospel. Good news is only good news when we are in a needy situation to start with.

“…if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty … If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.”
(From 1 Corinthians 15)

“But now Christ IS risen from the dead,”

“He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the Name of the Son of God.”

1 John 5:12,13

How many of us can testify that before we had the Son, the Bible made little or no sense. But once we had the Son, the Bible was alive and fresh. This isn’t because we suddenly got smarter. It is evidence that the Holy Spirit has indeed entered the newly born (hence “born again”) child of God. Giving the scriptures to one who has just expressed their new faith in Jesus, is an awesome gift!

Here is a checklist for after you have had an opportunity to explain how someone can know that they have eternal life. After presenting the gospel message, check to see if you covered all of the important points:

1. Did you present the problem of sin? ________________

2. Did you present the consequence of sin (death)? __________

3. Did you present God’s provision for our sin (Christ’s Blood)? __________

4. Did you present the promise (Eternal life/Living faith)? ___________

5. Did you pass on Christ’s invitation to the listener? _____________

(This can be done by praying together, or by allowing the listener to express their new faith in Christ; thus confessing their faith.)

Jesus said:

“…whoever drinks of the water that I shall give them will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
John 4:14

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Matthew 11:28