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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
June 18, 2024 6:00 am

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

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram

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June 18, 2024 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.

Main Points

Principles for sharing the Gospel:

  • Rely on the Holy Spirit, not scripts or tracts
  • People need to experience the power and presence of God
  • Introducing people to the person of Jesus
  • No cross, No power

Contextualizing the Gospel for your audience:

  • Contextualization is about communicating in a language they can understand.
  • It’s not about popularity or compromise, it’s about clarity.
  • Avoid using Christian language that is foreign and strange to secular culture.
  • Jesus used words and imagery that was very relevant to the audience He spoke to.

Don’t use the Bible as an argumentative authority:

  • “The Bible says,” is not a compelling or effective approach for post-Christian people.
  • Leverage the truth, that is experientially verifiable, taught in the Bible, not the authority of the Bible itself.

Communicating the Gospel effectively in the context that God has called you to:

  • There is power in your story
  • Take a risk and invite a response. Give people an opportunity to say yes or no to Jesus

Discipleship relationships:

  • Doesn’t start the day someone commits to a local church, but the moment they meet a follower of Christ.
  • It’s about doing life together, not a weekly event.
  • Doesn’t have to happen in a classroom or a church hall, it can happen in the context and environment people come from.
  • It’s intentional: we guide the relationship purposefully to see spiritual growth, making the most of every opportunity.
  • Should lead to multiplication.
Broadcast Resource Additional Resource Mentions
  • Tom Holland - "Domnion"
About Chip Ingram

Chip Ingram’s passion is helping Christians really live like Christians. As a pastor, author, and teacher for more than three decades, Chip has helped believers around the world move from spiritual spectators to healthy, authentic disciples of Jesus by living out God’s truth in their lives and relationships in transformational ways.

About Living on the Edge

Living on the Edge exists to help Christians live like Christians. Established in 1995 as the radio ministry of pastor and author Chip Ingram, God has since grown it into a global discipleship ministry. Living on the Edge provides Biblical teaching and discipleship resources that challenge and equip spiritually hungry Christians all over the world to become mature disciples of Jesus.

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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 series, Not Beyond Reach, taught by our friend Aaron Pierce. Aaron is the head of an international missions organization called Staggered, which focuses on sharing Jesus with the next generation. Today, he'll continue unpacking the process he and his team use to reach these young people who would never walk into a church.

There's a lot of helpful insight to get to. So here now is Aaron with his message connecting their story to the gospel. 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. Like my parents started this and 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 broads 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 like, you get inspired and 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, what can we, how do we solve the problems of this world? And frankly, I felt like that the latter. And I felt like what, you know, drop in the ocean can I make in terms of impact. And I remember essentially complaining to God and saying like, God, how do you, 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 in 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 end. 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, right? 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, you know, when it comes to spiritual opposition, we stand on the truth, right? Jesus modeled this in the desert. He stood on the word of God and he confronted lies with biblical truth, right? 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, right? 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, that when I am feeling weak, when I'm feeling like I can't handle it, they can, they can stand strong with me.

And so I'm doing this with a community of people together. And then the whole, 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 that message across, which is more than just meeting physical needs. It's more than just, you know, 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, right? 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 had begun to engage in good spiritual conversations.

You've done all of this good work. Now you got to jump off the cliff. Like now you got to take that moment.

I remember I took my kids a couple of 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, you know, lake. And we were kind of right up to that cliff and you have that moment, right, where you're like, you're standing there. And at some point there's nothing, you can't get any closer to the edge, right? Like you've got as close to the edge.

The only thing left to do is to bail out or to jump, right? 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 got to just do it, right?

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, right? You feel it.

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

You know, 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, right? So now we set the context here. We recognize that ultimately people need to hear Jesus and the message of the cross.

You're going to face that opposition. You jump off the cliff. And now how do we do it?

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. 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 it's 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 share 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. This is Chip, and I hope you're enjoying this series from my friend Aaron Pierce. And I want to let you know that the only way that we can bring new teaching and develop new resources like Aaron's book is through your financial support. Would you please consider going to livingontheedge.org and giving a gift today so that we can actually reach the next generation? Thanks so much for whatever God leads you to do.

Now back to Aaron. 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, right?

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. And 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 we are not, 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, you know, 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, you know, 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 like 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. You know, 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 disease 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 described. 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? 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 first hand 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. Now 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 power, with His authority, it carries His power, right? 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, right? 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, you know, 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. This is Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram, and you've been listening to the first part of our guest 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, with a simple step-by-step process, you can share it with them. If you're a parent, grandparent, pastor, or fellow young person, don't miss a second of this series. Well, before we go on, our Bible teacher, Chip Ingram, is here with an important question.

Thanks, Dave. Let me ask you a quick question. As you listen to this series by Aaron Pierce, has your heart been stirred?

I know mine has. I mean, do you have a desperate sense that we as the church need to reach the next generation? Are you as concerned about the young people in your world and your life walking away from the church and the implications that it has for them? They're slipping away fast.

I mean, we're at a point of crisis. And what breaks my heart is we've lost our ability to connect with young people. We simply have no idea what they're talking about. TikTok and social media are only amplifiers of a worldview that is distant from God. You know, years ago, we would have assumed that young people in our culture had like a basic understanding of the Bible, or they knew some Bible stories, or they understood basic Christian morality.

That's no longer the case. Up is down and down is up. Right is wrong and wrong is right. We have to learn to reach a new post-Christian youth in a different way. And at Living on the Edge, we're committed to doing that. And that's why we're inviting people like Aaron Pierce and the Steiger ministry to partner with us and create resources that help you connect to your kids or your grandkids or the people in your church.

Will you help us build bridges to the next generation to love them where they're at and bring the truth clothed in compassion and concern? They are so hurting. They are so lost.

And they're so confused. Let's not criticize them. Let's find a way to build a bridge to connect with their hearts and share the love of Christ. That's our mission.

Here's my question. Will you help us? Well, if you want to join us in reaching today's youth with the gospel, partner with us during our mid-year match. From now until July 9th, every dollar you give will be doubled dollar for dollar. To send a gift, call us at 888-333-6003 or go to livingontheedge.org. That's 888-333-6003 or visit livingontheedge.org.

App listeners, tap donate. And thank you for praying and then doing whatever the Lord leads you to do. Well, here again is Chip and Aaron with today's application. 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 then, 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 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. And a practical tool we've developed to help all of you better share the love of Jesus is Aaron's book, Not Beyond Reach. Learn the simple process to engage the young people in your life with the message and the power of the cross. Order Not Beyond Reach today at LivingOnTheEdge.org or through the Chip Ingram app. Listen in next time as our guest teacher, Aaron Pierce, continues his 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 / 2024-06-18 04:11:51 / 2024-06-18 04:23:20 / 11

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