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Not Beyond Reach - Connecting Their Story to the Gospel, Part 2

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram
The Truth Network Radio
June 19, 2024 6:00 am

Not Beyond Reach - Connecting Their Story to the Gospel, Part 2

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram

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June 19, 2024 6:00 am

God’s Word is clear that believing in Jesus is the only path to genuine salvation. In this program, our guest teacher Aaron Pierce – from Steiger International – continues his series, Not Beyond Reach. He’ll walk through practical ways to talk about God’s Word with those who don’t believe the Bible is the absolute truth.

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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The gospel is absolutely clear. It is the power of God to salvation. But how do you share Jesus in a post-Christian society? Actually, in an anti-Christian society.

What are some ways that we can talk about the truth of the Bible with someone that doesn't believe the Bible is the truth or even relevant? We're going to tackle these tough questions today. Don't go away. Chip Ingram. Chip's our Bible teacher for this international teaching and discipleship ministry focused on helping Christians live like Christians. Today, our guest teacher Aaron Pierce picks up where he left off in his series Not Beyond Reach with part two of his message, Connecting Their Story to the Gospel. But before we get going, let me remind you to keep listening after Aaron's teaching as he and Chip will share some helpful application for us to think about that you won't want to miss. Okay, let's get to the remainder of Aaron's talk. He begins by describing what it means to contextualize the gospel when we share Jesus with others.

Let's get going. How do I communicate Jesus in the message across that will connect with people I'm talking to? It goes back to understanding what are the false assumptions that they have about it?

How do I challenge those? How do I remove those things so they can really see who Jesus is? And the thing about contextualization is it's not about popularity or compromise. It's not about being loved.

It's about clarity, right? When I communicate in a relevant way, in a contextual way, then I'm understood. And as we know from reading the Bible, reading the book of Acts, that doesn't mean you're going to be loved. I mean, Paul experienced riots.

Jesus was crucified. You know, the message is not always going to be loved, but it's going to be understood. And that's what we want, because there's nothing worse than communicating, but no one's reacting because they don't even get it.

Like, what's the use in that? And so that's why we want to contextualize the gospel, and we want to avoid using Christian language that is weird and foreign and strange to a secular culture, because Jesus used words and imagery that was very relevant to his time. When he spoke of, you know, fishing and, you know, sheep and things of that nature, it was because that was the context and the people he was talking to. But if I go to Minneapolis and I talk about Jesus being the Good Shepherd, people might conceptually kind of understand, but there's not a lot of sheep running around in Minneapolis, right? It's not powerful imagery that connects to their context. Political activism of our day is actually a powerful language you can draw on.

Using your life for something that matters, for sacrificing my needs for the sake of others. Often we're using good biblical language that isn't connecting at the heart, and so we're not applying the principle that Jesus was showing us when he used that kind of language. One key principle about this that can get a little challenging for us as we think about being, you know, faithful to the Bible is that we want to use the Bible as an argumentative authority. And frankly, a lot of our gospel scripts are based on scripture that we share as if that is going to say, ah, okay, because the Bible says it, therefore, right?

And we kind of have that kind of language. And the reality is we have to understand that for a lot of secular people, the Bible is not an authority. Many of them question it. They question, you know, how it came to be and also what it says. That doesn't mean the Bible isn't true, and it is, and we'll talk about that, but I can't assume that when I use scripture, somehow that's an argumentative proof. It's not. And so part of that is we need to understand how culture sees the Bible.

So take a look at these guys. So when I say the word Bible, what does it mean to you? What comes to your mind? I mean, it's a very well-selling book. I mean, it, I don't know, it's something that I feel like gets talked about a lot and people reference it a lot without reading it. When I think of Bible, I think there's a lot of things that are really outdated now in the Bible. So I think I tend to have more of a negative view that way just because of the way they like talk about slavery or like gays or women in the Bible. I think a lot of it's pretty outdated and doesn't really apply now.

So I'm not, I'm not Christian. So I come from a different place anyway, but like, it's an interesting work of fiction that sort of like it has moral messages and like it teaches stuff like how you should live your life. That's all it is. It's just like, it's a moral base that you can, you could build your life around. And for some people that's good, but like it's not something to be taken literally.

Stop there. Good communication is about knowing people's assumptions. And so if I'm talking to someone that takes the Bible seriously, then I can use it as an authority.

But if I'm talking to someone who doesn't, I can't. And so here's the challenge or the principle, the way to go after it is that we can leverage the truth of the Bible that is experientially verifiable, right? So we can even say, hey, the Bible says this, but we can connect that to something that they experientially feel to be true. And so often that means using scripture in a different way. So I'm going to show you a video. This is another one of our Is There More Spiritual Conversations videos in which we basically begin to draw on scripture, but not doing it in an authoritative way, but in an experientially verifiable way.

So take a look to give you the example I'm talking about. It seems like the most self-destructive suicidal people in our culture are celebrities. And yet they have it all, right? For all the stuff we chase, the things we consume, does anyone actually get to the point where they finally have enough? Some of you have rejected the consumerism of your parents' generation and instead focus on experiences and lifestyle. But the second the thrill of a new experience dies away, you're like the person who discovers that their new house or car left them feeling no different than their old one.

The dictionary definition for delusion is this, a false belief held despite strong evidence against it. There is overwhelming evidence that what we consume will never satisfy us, and yet we continue to do it anyway. It's not that we haven't reached the prize at the top of the mountain. Our problem is there is no prize at the top of the mountain.

So what do we do? It seems cruel to have a hunger this world cannot satisfy, but maybe this is trying to tell us something. Thousands of years ago, there was a king named Solomon.

He was the richest, most powerful person in the world. No one's life compared with his. And yet when it was all said and done, he said this, I have seen all things that are done under the sun. All of them are meaningless, chasing after the wind. Maybe that's our problem. We are stuck looking under the sun. Could it be that we aren't finding satisfaction in this world because we were made for more?

The author C.S. Lewis wrote this, If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world. Our science teachers tell us that we are the result of the Big Bang and evolution. We live in a purely material world, and all of us one day will be gone. But what if that's not true? Consider whether God made you and I, and everything around us, and that our deepest desires are satisfied only by knowing Him.

Now, I can't tell you what to believe, but from what I've seen, until we look beyond the sun, we are left with what's under it. And like Solomon, sooner or later we'll realize that no matter what we get, it will never be enough. So you see how Scripture was used there in a way that it's experientially true, right?

Like, I know that's true. And so it's drawing on the authority of the truth of the Bible without saying, hey, the Bible says it, therefore it is. And there's a lot of biblical basis for having this approach. The Apostle Paul was a brilliant example of this, right? In Acts 17, he's in Athens, and he's speaking to these sophisticated Athenians who have all these different gods, and they're very intellectual. And he communicates the gospel without once referencing Scripture. And you contrast that to Acts 13 when he's speaking to these Jews in a synagogue, and he uses Scripture to defend and make the case for the gospel. So he knew his audience.

He knew what connected. So if you read Acts 17, 23, 24, what you find is the first thing he does is he compliments. Remember we talked about affirming truth that people have, even if they don't know that that truth is biblical. So we look for ways to affirm truth that people have. So he compliments Athenians on their interest in the gods. That's a good thing because they desire something beyond themselves.

They desire the supernatural. And in fact, often you can find that today where people desire spiritual things, and you can affirm that in them. So that's what Apostle Paul does. The second thing he does is that he begins to reference their culture and their context. And he begins to speak truth from their context. And he references an unknown god, and he quotes one of their poets.

Today that's like taking a pop song and taking lyrics and using that as a way to connect with someone. So he was very intimately aware of their culture, their context, and he drew on that to speak the truth. And then he summarizes the whole biblical account of creation without referencing Genesis. He doesn't say, well, in Genesis 1, he summarizes the truth.

Which, by the way, was in contradiction to their view of creation. But he summarizes it, and then he calls his audience to repent. So it's not like a soft message in which he kind of like is all happy and everything. He calls them to repentance. And then he preaches, as we've talked about, he preaches Jesus. He doesn't actually say the name Jesus, but he absolutely preaches Jesus and the death and resurrection. And then he invites people to respond.

And what happens? Some rejected, some wanted to know more, and some believed. It's basically the options we've got, right? And so it's a perfect example, a biblical example, of how Paul contextualized the gospel for his audience. And so this is the culture we are in.

And this is the model that we need to follow. And so I'm going to show you a video of someone in our mission that was doing this. So I'm going to show you a video of a guy called Luke Greenwood. He's our European director. And he was at a club in Madrid, very, very secular, sophisticated club, a lot like being in Athens in this time.

They're, you know, they're so sophisticated, they didn't want him to translate because they could all understand English, very intellectual people. And they did a show, and then afterwards in this club filled with people, non-Christian secular people, he shares the gospel. And I want you to see how he does it, the language that he uses. Remember we talked about not getting stuck in boxes, like religious box or political box or the personal box. See how he avoids, in a post-Catholic country, how he avoids the religious box, right? Or how he communicates the cross using these principles in a modern context.

So take a look at this. We're all the same. We're all imperfect. We don't get it all right, right? We're human.

That's how we are. But I think that we have this deep sense of dissatisfaction because we were made for something more. I believe with all my heart that every single one of you are precious. Like precious beyond everything in this club, in this world, in this city.

You are amazing because you were made, you were designed, you were created, and you have a purpose. You have something you're supposed to live for, something I'm supposed to live for, and we're not satisfied until we find it. And I don't think it's something that any book or philosopher or scientist or politician can give us.

I think this is something beyond all of that. In fact, I think it's a deep sense that we need to make peace with our origins, with our roots. And the problem is there has been a number of lies that has kept us away from that. Religion has kept us away from finding truth, in one sense, because it's controlled it. It's made a system that you have to follow, and if you don't follow it, you're not good enough. And so most of us don't feel good enough.

And most of us feel like, okay, that's not for me, whatever. That's one lie. There's another lie that the system of the world tells us that you just have to keep living and just trying to make it on your own, and maybe one day you'll manage, and we just keep trying and trying and we never get there.

And so again, we're following this lie. But I think there is truth. I believe there is absolute truth. There is something we can find, and I think it is beyond ourselves.

I think it is in the One that made us. And I think that what we're looking for is to make peace with that One who made us. And the only way we can make peace with Him is by knowing Him. And He came to this earth so we could know Him.

And here's a crazy statement. I'm going to say this and you'll think I'm talking about religion, and I'm not. But there's a man called Jesus who walked on this earth and said that he was God Himself, bringing peace to all people. And he died a horrible death, and he rose from the dead. And this story has got trapped in a box called religion, and we've forgotten it and left it aside.

I believe there is so much to that story, so much beyond everything else. And I believe that because of this death and resurrection, I can have peace with God right here, right now. And I can be full, I can be satisfied, I can have true joy. And I think it's for everyone. I don't think it's for good people, religious people, people who wear certain types of clothes. I think it's for everyone, every one of us right here, right now.

So I want to do something kind of crazy that you don't usually do in a club, or maybe you don't do at the end of a rock concert. But I'm going to talk to God, and I'm going to ask that He speaks to us. And maybe you're here and you're thinking, I don't believe that, and I respect you for that.

But maybe you're here and you're going, there's something in what He's saying that makes sense, and I want to know more. And if that's you, then I just want to ask that God would show Himself to us. So God, thank you that you're here. And Jesus, thank you that you died for us. And I ask that you would reveal yourself to us, and that you would give us peace. I give my life to you, and I ask you to give me that peace. To forgive me for the mistakes I make, for the failings that I make, but that I might be able to know you. So come into my life. In your name I pray. Amen.

Pretty cool, right? Luke is someone that really knows the culture. But the principle here, you can apply as well. And remember the context of all of this.

This isn't coming out of nowhere. You are developing friendships and relationships with people, so you're beginning to understand them. Luke spoke that way because he's speaking to a particular audience. A sophisticated, intellectual, post-Catholic European context. He knew his audience, and he challenged their misconceptions and their lies before they even had a chance to respond.

He challenged those. He also used words that wouldn't trigger the wrong response. Where he could speak the language without adding baggage that certain words have. The way you get to know the culture is you're with people, you know people, you understand them. And then the Spirit gives you the wisdom to do it right. The good thing also is when you have relationships, there's also the grace that you're not going to say things right, but you've built up enough credibility to work around that anyway. The four spiritual laws would not have worked in that context.

It brought all sorts of baggage and assumptions to the table that would not have connected. And he is using an Acts 17 approach to preaching the gospel, clearly inviting response, showing them what that looks like. And we can do that as well. And let me be clear, this is something you learn, you practice, and the Spirit works in your life. And so don't feel overwhelmed that you're not going to be as good as Luke, because you probably won't ever be. But the point is you can grow in your ability to communicate in the context that God has called you to.

And it's going to look different. If you work in a corporate culture, there's different things that you're going to be able to draw on and challenge as you speak the truth in your context. Or with your kids or at school. There's different contexts. It's not all the same. It's about knowing your audience and knowing how to communicate the gospel effectively where you're at. All right. So last point is that there's power in your own story.

And this is probably the biggest thing that you should be prepared to do. It's interesting, even the word testimony is a very religious word. And so we tend to communicate our stories in very religious ways. And so the challenge is, can you practice sharing your story using the relevant language of the context you're in? Because and what's so cool about this is as you're engaging relationships and asking people, tell me your story, inevitably they're going to ask you what's yours or as you go through stuff. We talked about this as they ask, where do you get the hope that you have? And, you know, you just heard that you have cancer.

How is it that you're peaceful? Can you tell your story, short, non-religious, that includes Jesus and the message of the cross? And I would say you need to practice this.

Write it down. Talk to, go with a friend or a spouse. Share your story because it can be awkward. But if you're not ready to tell your story, and but not in the kind of churchy testimony way, but in a natural non-religious way, then there's a problem. You need to be ready. So this is a great opportunity. And it also plays into the culture today where people are open to your story, right?

It's kind of the relativistic, you believe what you believe. But so you're able to draw on that. So be prepared to tell your story. And then the last key point is that you have to take a risk and invite a response. This is this is often where we fall short.

And this is often why we're not seeing the fruit is because we're actually falling short at the last moment. Anyone that's in sales will tell you, you got to give people the chance to say yes or no. And by the way, if they say no, that doesn't that's not the end of the relationship. So at some point and at various points, probably you need to give people the chance to say yes or no to Jesus. I've been in moments where I kind of like at the last resort said, well, do you want to receive Jesus? And they say yes.

You're like, oh, OK, then, you know, and so you're kind of surprised. I don't think we offer people the chance to say yes or no to Jesus enough. And it's another one of those cliff jumping risk moments. But I would encourage you give people the chance, give people the chance to say yes or no. And then when when you give people that chance, then then you need to walk with them. Now, discipleship relationship is critical.

And we talked about this in the beginning. The whole idea of First Thessalonians two, eight, which says we love you so much that not only do we share the gospel of God, but our lives as well. And what's really cool about a discipleship relationship is that it doesn't start the day someone commits to a local church. It starts the moment they meet a follower of Jesus. And this is about an accurate definition of what is the church, because the church is not just a group of people that meets together once a week on Sunday.

It's a group of people out in the world. And so when they meet you in the world, they are meeting the church. And that's when discipleship relationship starts. And it doesn't even start necessarily after they made a commitment to follow Jesus. Often it starts before they make a commitment, because the idea is that you are intentionally walking in relationship with them, moving them closer to Jesus. That is what a discipleship relationship was.

And so you can do that with people even before they made a commitment to follow Jesus. We bring discipleship, which often means exposure to the Word of God and to prayer and to Christian community in their context, so that they can continue to be an influence in their world. The whole kind of context of this training is adopting a missionary mindset. And the missionary mindset is about being intentional about what we do and how we live. So we guide people purposely to see spiritual growth, make the most of every opportunity, and it should lead to multiplication. That you're teaching people how to be disciples and to make more disciples. And that's the context that we're in. And what's beautiful about that is that you might have three discipleship relationships, but the impact that that can have is exponential as they in turn have impact with others. And so the liberating thing is that I don't have to worry about reaching everyone. I can just reach those one, two, three people that God has put in front of me, and I can actively build that discipleship relationship with them, starting with the friendship, engaging in spiritual conversations, and introducing Jesus in the message of the cross.

That's the process. You're listening to Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. Aaron Pearce has been our guest teacher for this program, connecting their story to the gospel, which is from his series Not Beyond Reach. He and Chip will join us in a minute to share their application for this message. If you're a parent, are you concerned about the spiritual health of your kids?

Do you sense they're drifting from the Christian faith, or perhaps they've already rejected it? In this series, Aaron's going to give us some hope. He'll describe a set of intentional conversations you can use to better understand and reconnect with your kids, and ultimately lead them to the truth of Jesus. If you've missed any of Aaron's messages, catch up any time through the Chip Ingram app. Well, Chip's here in studio now with a quick word before we go on.

Thanks, Dave. At Living on the Edge, we focus on three things—growing disciples like you, equipping leaders, and reaching the next generation. And you might ask, why do we do this? It's because we believe that the most urgent need in the Church today is discipleship. And if you want to impact the world for good, it's those who are committed to God's Word who are going to do it.

A church will only go as far as the spiritual leadership of the pastor and the strength of the disciples that are being produced in that church. But unfortunately, only 14% of pastors believe they're effective in making disciples. And that's why we're committed to training pastors here in the United States and around the world. So far, we've actually trained 180,000 pastors face to face.

And here's what happens. After a pastor is trained, they take what they learn, they share it with their congregation, and literally millions of people are impacted. We need an army of people who want to see good take on evil. The time is growing more and more desperate.

I mean, all you have to do is turn on the news, look at what's happening all around the world, and you recognize people need Jesus. Our God-sized dream is to train an additional 200,000 pastors. That's double what we've already done by the end of this year. But we can only do that through your generous financial support.

And right now, there's never been a better time. Because of a small group of donors, every dollar you give between now and July 9th is going to be doubled dollar for dollar. Thanks so much for praying, asking God what He would have you to do, and then following through.

Thanks, Chip. And if God is calling you to encourage and support pastors with us, now's a great time to become a financial partner. Because like Chip said, from now until July 9th, every gift we receive is being matched dollar for dollar. Call us today. Our number is 888-333-6003, or go to

That's, or call 888-333-6003. App listeners, tap donate. Well, with that, here again is Chip and Aaron to share a few final words for us to think about. Well, thanks, Dave and Aaron.

Great to have you back in the program. We're putting you to work here, but it's so good just to have some time to you and I talk about things directly after the message to help pastors, moms, dads, grandparents, you know, put into practice what we're talking about. And today you said something I want to make sure people are clear on what we're saying and what we're not. You said we can leverage the truth of the Bible that is experientially verifiable, but not its authority. I want you to unpack that because what I know is you and I believe with all of our hearts the Bible is the authority, but there's truth in the Bible, a truth like everyone's made in the image of God, so they're valuable, or there's truth that we are made to belong and we need other people. I mean, we can leverage that truth into the needs of people's hearts, even if the people don't believe that truth. But, you know, just clear that up for us because I want to make sure the Living on the Edge family knows that we're standing strong on the Bible, but as we build bridges, we may not be talking to them in a way that they fully understand. Help us out with that.

Yeah, this is really important. Let me start by saying that I believe 100% that the Bible is the authoritative, infallible, and inerrant word of God. But when I'm communicating to a non-religious person, they don't believe that. And so I can't use the Bible as an argumentative proof.

By that I mean I can't say, well, the Bible says this, therefore you must believe that. That's not a compelling argument to someone that doesn't believe that the Bible is the word of God. So instead we need to follow Paul's example, who shared the Gospel in different ways with different audiences. You know, in Acts 13, Paul's speaking to a Jewish synagogue and he references Scripture throughout his message to speak to an audience that believed the Bible had an authority and that connected and he proved that Jesus was the Messiah. But then in Acts 17, Paul is speaking to a group of sophisticated pagan philosophers in Athens. And in this case, he doesn't reference Scripture, but he communicates the Gospel message clearly without compromise and he communicates in a way that connected with his audience. And I believe Acts 17 is a great model for us in how we can communicate the Gospel in a secular post-Christian culture. The Bible is true, and the Bible explains our reality and the deepest longing of our hearts in a way that other worldviews cannot. And so when I talk to people, for example, who have achieved so much in this world, they've seen all sorts of career success and have accumulated so much wealth, and yet they find that satisfaction and happiness is so elusive. They have all of this and they're depressed.

Why is that? Well, I can talk about how in Ecclesiastes 1.14, Solomon, this king who amassed all this wealth, he says, I observed everything going on under the sun and really it's all meaningless, like chasing the wind. And so I can reference Scripture and how it speaks to our reality. The Bible tells us that we will never find ultimate satisfaction in our accomplishments, status or wealth, and that the only true satisfaction and fulfillment is found in a relationship with our Creator. And so you see, the Bible resonates. The truth of the Bible is experientially verifiable because we recognize, in this case, for example, that things don't satisfy, status doesn't satisfy, there's got to be something more, and the Bible speaks to that. And so that is what I mean when I say that we should leverage the truth of Scripture and connect that to people's lived experience and that it proves, in a sense, that Scripture is true, that it's reliable, and that I can trust it. Great application for us to think about, Aaron.

Thanks. As we close, if you're looking for good Bible content, check out the Chip Ingram app. You can listen to our most recent series or sign up for Daily Discipleship with Chip, a great resource to help you study God's Word at a deeper level. We want you to grow in your walk with Jesus, and the Chip Ingram app will help you do just that. Well, from all of us here, this is Dave Druey thanking you for joining us for this Edition of Living on the Edge.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-06-19 04:51:11 / 2024-06-19 05:03:19 / 12

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