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Not Beyond Reach - Connecting Their Story to the Gospel, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram
The Truth Network Radio
September 14, 2023 6:00 am

Not Beyond Reach - Connecting Their Story to the Gospel, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram

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September 14, 2023 6:00 am

Have you ever had a chance to share Jesus with someone but got too nervous or scared in the moment to do it? In this program, our guest teacher Aaron Pierce assures us that we've all been there. As he continues his series Not Beyond Reach, he’ll teach us some easy steps to boldly talk about Jesus, even with those with whom we disagree.

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Have you ever had a clear opportunity to talk about Jesus but got too nervous or scared in the moment to follow through? Well, let me tell you, we've all been there.

I certainly have. Well, stay with me as we learn some easy steps to boldly talk about Jesus to others, even those who totally disagree with where you're coming from. Welcome to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. The mission of these daily programs is to intentionally disciple Christians through the Bible teaching of Chip Ingram. We're in the middle of our newest series, Not Beyond Reach, taught by our new friend, Aaron Pierce. Aaron is the head of an international missions organization called Stiger, which focuses on sharing Jesus with the next generation.

Today, he'll continue unpacking the process he and his family have been working on. Last session, we talked about how to bridge the gap from friendship to the gospel by having spiritual conversations. In this session, we're going to be talking about how do we introduce Jesus and the message of the cross to non-religious people and then start a discipleship relationship. The first point in all of this is that we need to remember that our only hope for this world is Jesus and the message of the cross. There are no other answers to the pain and suffering and brokenness of this world than Jesus and the message of the cross. We always need to remember that because while our goal is to connect with people relationally and build authentic relationships and while our goal is to challenge the assumptions that stand in the way of the message of the cross, ultimately the goal is that we introduce them to Jesus and the message of the cross because that is the only hope.

So if we fall short of that, we're falling short of offering the real answer to the real problems of the world. So for me, this is very personal. I grew up in a missionary home, as you all know, and experienced personally the power of God at work in my life. When my parents started this mission, I got to see God's work in people's lives, transforming people's lives outside the church in powerful ways. And so that was a super big privilege for me because God was not just this nice Sunday tradition that we did. It wasn't just this kind of religious thing. It was real, and it informed every part of our lives. And so that was the privileged environment in which I grew up. But my parents were always cool about saying, like, you need to go and do what God has called you to do.

It doesn't have to look like us. It doesn't have to be in vocational ministry. It's about being faithful and obedient to whatever He's called you to do. And so I went to college, and I studied international business and economics, and I wanted to get into the business world. And also I was on my way to law school, and I had visions. Some of them were just kind of selfish ambition of, like, politics and how I was going to change the world through that.

And that was kind of the path that I was on. And then when I was at college, I went on a mission trip, which is kind of interesting because my whole life was a mission trip. But I went on a classic, you know, church mission trip.

And what's great about mission trips is that you just, it broadens your perspective, and you see things. And like a classic mission trip, I was exposed to the brokenness of this world. And I saw poverty. I saw injustice. I saw people who didn't have what I had. And I just saw a lot of just pain and suffering. So you can react to that in one of two ways.

One is you get inspired. You're like, I'm going to do something about it. The other way is you kind of just feel overwhelmed. And you feel like, man, how do we solve the problems of this world? And frankly, I felt like that the latter.

And I felt like, what drop in the ocean can I make in terms of impact? And I remember essentially complaining to God and saying, like, God, why do we have a world like this that's so messed up? And I was struggling with that. And I was seeking God in that.

And I was wrestling about, how do we solve the problems of this world? And then I had this deep revelation from the Lord. And the revelation was that all sin, all suffering, all pain in the world is the result of just one thing, and that's sin. And there's only one solution to sin, and that is Jesus and the message of the cross.

And so at that moment, I was like, all right, I'm done with everything else. My life is going to be about addressing the root cause and communicating the message of the cross to a world that is broken and suffering and that that is the only hope for this world. Now, again, let me be clear, followers of Jesus should be in part of all spheres of society, and we should be bringing this hope in all spheres of society. So this doesn't mean that every one of us has to be a vocational minister or missionary or something like that. But every one of us needs to see how we can bring the hope of Jesus to the world that God has put us in and recognizing that that is our only hope.

So this is the key. And what's cool is that I got to be in a ministry in which I saw the power of the cross at work in so many different contexts. I've seen people in tough secular European countries on their knees praying to receive Jesus. I've seen Muslims in the Middle East meeting Jesus.

I've seen people in hardcore nightclubs in Brazil finding Jesus. In every context, in every culture, no matter the situation, Jesus is the hope and the answer of what people are looking for. And so we need to start by reminding ourselves of that and perhaps having a revelation of the message of the cross and how that is ultimately what people need to hear.

Now here's the thing. When you commit to making your life about the message of the cross, you better expect some spiritual opposition. Because there is nothing that the enemy hates more than when we begin to commit our lives to communicating the message of the cross.

There is nothing the enemy hates more. And so as you commit to this and as you begin to take steps in this direction, you better expect all sorts of lies from the enemy. There's going to be lies like, who do you think you are? You're a fraud. You're a hypocrite. You're not adequate. They're not going to listen to you.

Why even bother? All these lies that begin to flood your brain that make you go, you know what, maybe I shouldn't do this. Or the distractions of this world will begin to glimmer a little brighter and you're like, I guess I want to watch that Netflix show instead of developing a relationship with someone who I don't particularly agree with on a lot of topics. And so you've got to recognize that the enemy is going to do everything in his power to try to stop you from communicating the message of the cross. So the first thing is recognizing that.

Recognizing that that is going to be the case. And then the key, when it comes to spiritual opposition, we stand on the truth. Jesus modeled this in the desert. He stood on the word of God and he confronted lies with biblical truth. So we need to know the biblical truth. We need to stand on the truth. And then we also need to make sure we're not doing this alone. I said this before, but this is not just an individual sport.

This is a team sport. And so we want to commit to do this with others that are going to hold our arms up in the battle. That when I am feeling weak, when I'm feeling like I can't handle it, they can stand strong with me.

And so I'm doing this with a community of people together. And then the last thing is just to not give up. And to persevere. So much of success in ministry is just not giving up.

Showing up, persevering, and not giving up. And so again, as we commit, as we recognize, as we remember that the only hope for this world is Jesus and the message of the cross, we should expect spiritual opposition. And frankly, that is a sign that you're probably doing something that matters. Like if you have no spiritual opposition, you should question what you're doing. And this is what's going to happen when it's about communicating the message of the cross. Which is more than just meeting physical needs.

It's more than just being a friend to someone. It's actually introducing them to the answer for the sin problem that they have. And so that's the key thing to remember. Now, the context here is that God has opened our eyes to the problem. We're aware of the fact that we are in a post-Christian context. He's opened our eyes, and we have rearranged our lives to develop friendships with secular people, with people that wouldn't walk into a church. And we have begun to engage in good spiritual conversations. You've done all of this good work, now you've got to jump off the cliff. Now you've got to take that moment.

I remember I took my kids a couple years ago to South Dakota, to Black Hills. And there was this big spot where we were able to jump off a cliff onto a big lake. And we were kind of right up to that cliff. And you have that moment where you're standing there. And at some point, you can't get any closer to the edge. You've got as close to the edge.

The only thing left to do is to bail out or to jump. And so that is what it's like when it comes to introducing Jesus in the message of the cross. Because at some point, you've got to just do it.

And it's not always going to be perfectly smooth and natural. You've got to take that leap. And there's a tension moment. You feel it.

You're getting to that point. And at some point, you've just got to take that leap because you're not sure how they're going to react. And you've got to introduce Jesus in the message of the cross. So we push through fear.

We push through the awkwardness or the perception that it might be awkward. And we take that step of faith. We jump off the cliff and we introduce the message of the cross. So now we set the context here. We recognize that ultimately people need to hear Jesus in the message of the cross. You're going to face that opposition.

You jump off the cliff. And now how do we do it? So the first principle, rely on the Holy Spirit, not scripts or tracts. And I don't mean to judge people that like to use tracts.

They've been effective in certain ways and for certain people. But I think in this context, for a variety of reasons, it's better to rely on the Holy Spirit to guide you in a natural conversation than using a script or tract. Part of that is cultural.

We live in a time when we are very skeptical of what people are trying to sell us. And so the script vibe just feels that way. It also feels far less natural relationally because it's more about me getting my script out than it is about me just having a conversation with you about something that matters to me. It's about being led by the Spirit and doing this. But as I'm getting this conversation and He's discerning and leading me, I might go a path that I didn't anticipate going on.

But if I have a formula and a script I follow, then there's just there's no deviating from that. This is Chip and Aaron Pierce is our guest teacher for this series. And before we get back to the program, I believe God is calling us at Living on the Edge to be a catalyst to reach the next generation. Will you stand with us? Would you consider sending a financial gift today by going to livingontheedge.org?

Here's Aaron with the teaching, and thanks so much for your support. And so that's my challenge. And the idea here is let's not vomit our gospel scripts, right? And sometimes the reason for that is that the goal is not for you to share the gospel. The goal is for them to receive it. Those are two different things, and sometimes we confuse the two. And you should feel good that you shared the gospel.

Don't get me wrong. But in the end, that is not the goal. The goal is that they actually hear it and receive it. And so sometimes with our scripts and our formulas and our ticking the box evangelism, it's more about like I shared the gospel today, which is good because many Christians do not.

But beyond that, you want them to actually hear it. So it's a different mentality. And so that's why we need to wait for the right opportunity, be listening and responding to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

So that's the first key principle. The second that relates to this is that people need to experience the power and presence of God. Especially in a post-Christian culture where people think they know who Jesus is. Or they have some idea of what the gospel message is about, but it's become white noise to them at best.

You know, it's become something that triggers a sense of hostility at worst. You know, the gospel is not just about a transfer of information. It's about a supernatural revelation of God. That when I communicate the gospel message, that people sense God revealing Himself through those words, that there is a power and an authority and a sense of presence of God that goes beyond the intellectual arguments that I've had. Or the misconceptions about who I am.

Because in the end, we're not just trying to transfer information, right? We're trying to introduce them to the real, living God. And so that's why we need to rely on that and recognize that we need to ask the Holy Spirit for boldness and courage. One of the signs that you're filled with the Spirit is that you are bold and courageous.

You look at that through the book of Acts. That was a key sign that the Spirit was moving and that there is authority and power in my words. I've experienced this in multitudes of ways in which there are times when I communicate and my words fall flat.

And then other times when I communicate the same words, but God's presence, His authority is on those words and it resonates, it connects. And that's because we need the Holy Spirit to be moving. So we need to be praying. None of this can be done in the natural.

Throughout all this training, we're talking about none of this can be done in the natural. And so we need to be praying for the Holy Spirit to give us boldness and courage. When you're filled with the Spirit, there's a conviction, an assurance that gives you the boldness to speak. And then we need to have that authority and power that our words carry weight beyond the words themselves.

Those are the things we need to be praying for. And then the big idea here is that we're introducing people to the person of Jesus. The concept is that it's not about defending a philosophy or a concept or a set of intellectual beliefs. We're actually introducing people to the person of Jesus. And sometimes as followers of Jesus, we need to remind ourselves of that, right? Because it gets into, like, how do I convince you to believe these set of principles or this theological framework? All of that is good, but that's based on the person, the real person of Jesus that you are introducing them to.

And that's the goal. And that's a helpful thing because a lot of the stuff that comes in terms of sanctification and their discipleship process and moral behavior and political stuff, all of that comes downstream after they meet Jesus. And so it kind of gives you the freedom when you're engaging a secular person that your goal is not to worry about their behavior, not to worry about the lifestyle that they live or the political view that they may or may not have. Your job is to introduce them to the person of Jesus. And then when they meet Jesus, all that stuff begins to take shape. So who is Jesus as you're having these conversations now?

What do they think? Who is it accurate? And often what we need to do is we need to begin to reframe Jesus in people's minds. Christianity has become synonymous with the political party, right, for valid or invalid reasons. In some circles, Christianity has unfairly been associated with racism and misogyny and bigotry and the tool of the rich and the elitist. This is a view that some people have. Many also point to the horrible things that were done in the name of Christianity throughout history.

And they say that that's proof that it's a destructive, negative thing. As we're confronted by these misconceptions and these misrepresentations of Jesus, we have to patiently reframe Him so that all that baggage, we talked about this in the last session, all that religious baggage that they bring to the table gets removed. And because the reality is that Jesus does not fit into the stereotype that so many people have of Him.

In fact, the Jesus that they reject, I reject also because it's not the real Jesus. Jesus in His time was radical. He subverted the cultural and political norms of His day. He was homeless, worked with a group of uneducated working class folks, spent time with the diseased and the undesirables, defied racial and gender boundaries, healed the sick, fed the hungry. This is Jesus. And this is not the picture that many people have of Jesus. It was the religious people of His day that hated Him.

The people with power. And while it's true, and we should acknowledge openly that horrible things have been done in the name of Jesus, they are not an accurate reflection of who Jesus is and what His teaching is. Right? And so we can challenge that. In fact, over the last two millennia, true Christianity has been a catalyst for incredible gospel-fueled revolutionary change.

I mean, unbelievable things. Christianity, a group of powerless people upended the Roman Empire and the sexual ethic of the Roman Empire, which was crazy. And they completely upended that. It was Christians that introduced orphanages and hospitals and universities and fueled abolitionist movements. Christianity has done so much to transform the culture and the framework in which we view the world today. If you really want to go deeper into that, I really recommend a book called Dominion by Tom Holland. He's a British author, but it's a brilliant and long but really good book called Dominion. And he's not actually a Christian, but he talks about how incredibly influential Christianity has been in shaping the worldview of the West.

And everything that I basically describe. So I'd really encourage you to read that book just as it relates to this idea of reframing Jesus, reframing the impact of who Jesus is. And so one of the ways, as you're challenging and reframing Jesus, one of the ways that you can do this is invite people to do a Bible study with you.

What you find is a lot of people have heard about Jesus and heard about the Bible, but very few people have actually read it and studied it. And so a really cool way, as you've developed the friendship, you've had the spiritual conversations, you're introducing Jesus to say, why don't you find out for yourself, right? And then just pick a book of one of the gospels and begin to read it together. And you're reading it in the same way that we talked about how to do the spiritual conversations.

Not as a, I'm here to teach you. No, just open it up, read it, talk about it. And create that environment where it's okay to ask questions, to doubt, to, you know, maybe they'll say something offensive and that's okay. But what's amazing is when you begin to expose people firsthand to who Jesus is in the Word, it completely reframes him in a way that they had never understood before.

And so that is a really awesome way that you can take a next step with someone. So next thing after introducing the person of Jesus is we need to recognize no cross, no power. The message of the cross, the death and resurrection of Jesus, what he did on the cross for us is where the power of God lies. You know, but the tension is that the message of the cross is both foolishness and the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1.18 says, For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. And I think what's really good about that, that tension, is it forces us to depend on the power of the Holy Spirit.

Right? Because in my natural words, the cross is foolish, but with God's authority, it carries his power. So I can't communicate the message of the cross just with brilliant intellect.

I need God's power. And so it reminds us of that and it forces us to depend on the power of the Spirit. And it reminds us that it's not about our wisdom or eloquence. In 1 Corinthians 2.4, my message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power.

And I think that that's what we need today in our culture more than ever. Right? Is that a lot of people, they have their intellectual problems with the church and the cross, and what they need to experience is God's power.

And that's why we need to communicate the message of the cross, but we need to do it in a way in which we are fully dependent on God moving. Right? If he doesn't show up, then all I got is foolish words.

Right? But if he shows up, then it has the power to convict. And I can tell you, being in ministry for many years, that I have seen this. I've seen some of the most cynical, hardened people moved by the power of the message of the cross and their lives transformed. And that power is available to everyone who believes.

Right? And so we have to be willing to take that risk of foolishness in order to experience the power of God. If we omit the message of the cross, we omit the power of God. We've been listening to the first part of our teacher, Aaron Pierce's message connecting their story to the gospel from his series, Not Beyond Reach. He and Chip will join us here in studio with some additional thoughts about today's program in just a minute. Young people today are often unfairly stereotyped as rebellious, selfish, and overly harsh. But in these programs, Aaron's peeling back those generalities to reveal the hopeless, lost, and unloved feelings plaguing this generation. Learn why today's youth are primed to hear the saving message of the gospel and how through a step-by-step process, you can share it with them. If you're a parent or grandparent, don't miss a second of this series.

Well, I'm joined in studio now by Chip. And Chip, studies tell us that many committed followers of Jesus are reluctant to share the gospel with today's young people for fear of being canceled or sounding intolerant of what they believe. What's your reaction to that? Well, Dave, I'm very concerned because the Bible's really clear that people can't know and they can't respond if they don't hear. I'm concerned, yes, for the next generation, but I'm concerned about the future of our faith. We can't lose hope, but we have to pass on our faith to the next generation and those that are coming up. And what we know is like 80 percent of all the people that ever come to Christ, they do so before age 18. And we're always one generation away from the faith disappearing.

It's happened in other countries. I'm absolutely concerned that we need to learn how to connect with and reach the next generation. And that's why I'm so excited about the brand new book by Aaron Pierce, Not Beyond Reach, that we've had a chance to partner together on that will help moms and dads and pastors know this is a blueprint.

Here's a game plan. Here's how to reach the next generation. Here's how to not turn people off, but to connect and to listen and go on a journey that will allow you to connect the people you love, the next generation, with the Lord Jesus Christ.

You won't regret it. To order this new book by Aaron Pierce, Not Beyond Reach, go to LivingOnTheEdge.org or the Chip Ingram app. Learn what you can do to skillfully and intentionally share the truth of the Gospel in this post-Christian culture. Again, to get your copy of Not Beyond Reach, visit LivingOnTheEdge.org or the Chip Ingram app. Well, before we wrap up, Chip, let's get to your and Aaron's application for this message. Thanks, Dave.

Hey, great series, Aaron. This has been, I mean, so fun for me to have you share with the Living on the Edge audience and this progression that I'm watching of building friendships and then from there having spiritual conversations and, you know, transitioning to sharing the Gospel. It's really enlightening. It's really what Jesus did. It's evangelism, how it happens very naturally.

It's really caring about people. But as we wrap up today's program, I want you to take a minute and I want you to unpack an idea that you talked about. You said this, no cross, no power. Would you take just a minute and explain what is this power you're talking about and why is that so important?

Yeah, thanks, Chip. This concept of a no cross, no power is so important because we need to understand that communicating Jesus and the cross, communicating the Gospel is not simply a transfer of information. It's a supernatural revelation of God. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2, 1 through 5 that he preached Christ and Him crucified so that people would not be convinced by human wisdom but by God's power. And that's what people need today.

That's what this younger generation needs today. They need to experience the power and presence of God and the power of God is in the message of the cross. Now there's a tension, right, because Scripture says that the message of the cross is both foolishness and the power of God. And I think this is really important because it forces us to depend on the power of the Holy Spirit, that we can't make the Gospel cool enough. We need God's power.

We can't rely on our wisdom and eloquence, right? 1 Corinthians 2, 4 says that my message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words but with the demonstration of the Spirit's power. But if we omit the cross, if we try to water it down or make it more palatable or just kind of an easy God loves you kind of message, the fact that we are sinners that require Jesus to die on the cross to pay the punishment for our sins but that He rose again, if we take that message out, we take out the power that has the ability to transform lives. And so we need to courageously jump off the cliff and share the cross because there's power in the message of the cross. There absolutely is, Aaron.

Thanks. As we close, would you stop for a minute and pray for Living on the Edge today? We've never seen a greater need for God's truth to go out than right now. And by God's grace, Living on the Edge has provided encouragement, teaching, and personal discipleship resources to more people than ever. So thank you to those who support us in prayer. God is doing amazing things. We'll listen to next time as Aaron continues his new series, Not Beyond Reach. Until then, this is Dave Druey saying thanks for joining us for this Edition of Living on the Edge.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-29 11:46:07 / 2023-10-29 11:57:36 / 11

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