You can't seriously believe that. When we get that kind of response from someone and as we're sharing the gospel with them, it can cause us to pull back and think we're not adequately prepared. Today on Truth for Life, Alistair Begg explains how we can confidently respond when skeptics throw us a curveball. Tonight we're going to take time to understand our message.
And again, I make no apology for the fact that much of this is repetitive for some, but those of us who find ourselves in that category must recognize that it is not repetitive for others. And in order to be an encouragement to some, we will need to be patient. From John Stott's book, Our Guilty Silence, he suggests that one of the reasons for the silence of the church is because we either lack a thorough knowledge of the gospel, the good news, or a conviction about its truth, or both. And then he says there can be no evangelism without an evangel, no mission without a message. And he quotes a Buddhist monk who said, It looks as if Christianity has reached the stage in adolescence when the child is slightly ashamed of his father and embarrassed when talking about him.
And those of us who are young enough to remember that adolescent phase of seeing our fathers coming down the street, being with a group of friends from school, and wondering, well, which manhole into which we can possibly crawl, because the strangest man in the world is about to walk down the street—namely, our dad. And the Buddhist monk was suggesting that perhaps that's how Christians feel about their heavenly father. And so it's vitally important that we have a solid grasp of the essential facts of the gospel which must be declared before we might expect or anticipate any kind of meaningful response. And so, first of all, we're going to notice the essential facts about Jesus, beginning to note that the central truth of the good news is Christ himself.
And we read from Colossians 1.28, where Paul says, We proclaim him, and as foundational as it may be to some, it is not to be overlooked, that our responsibility in going out into the world is not to commend ourselves, not to commend our brand of Christian understanding, but it is to commend and to present Jesus, that we who have become his followers would seek to see others join with him also. Secondly, we want to notice that Christ's purpose in coming into the world and in dying upon the cross was to save sinners. Now, again, that is very, very important, because people want to believe that Jesus came into the world to show us that God was very gracious and very loving.
And of course, that is true—to show us that God cared, and of course, that is also true. But we cannot understand, nor can we proclaim, the coming of Jesus invading the time-space capsule of our planet unless we move directly to the truth that Jesus came as a Savior for sin. And there, of course, in Matthew 1 and in Luke 2, we have the accounts that we've referred to before, that you will call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. And in the verse that we may not be most familiar with and probably should turn it up, just for the discipline of it, in 1 Timothy chapter 1 and in verse 15, Paul affirms, here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. So when we're talking about Jesus, when we're seeking to proclaim him, the Jesus that we proclaim is the Jesus who came into the world as the Savior of sinners. Also, it's important that we realize that Christ's coming and death were no accident, but were part of God's eternal plan.
We saw that in our study of 1 Peter—that's why I've noted 1 Peter 1.20—and we've seen it also as we've turned time and again to Acts chapter 2, where Peter in his great sermon on the day of Pentecost wants to make his listeners aware of the fact that God did not somehow come up with Jesus to correct a defect in a system that had taken him by surprise, but rather that from all of eternity, if we can understand it in this way, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit entered into a relationship with one another where the Bible decided who was going to do what, and it was determined amongst them that Jesus Christ would come and would die, and that would be according to the eternal purposes of God. Fourthly, Christ's resurrection—and you can see we're just moving through here from his coming and the purpose of his coming, and then his death, to his resurrection—Christ's resurrection was the Father's declaration of Christ as his Son and evidence of his satisfaction with the work of Jesus. The resurrection of Jesus Christ not only declared him to be the person that he claimed to be, not only allowed him the opportunity of coming back to his discouraged disciples, but made it perfectly plain that God the Father was satisfied with the work of atonement, and so he raised him from the dead and declared this for all. So much so that when Paul writes in his opening verses of the book of Romans, he says of Jesus that he was, as to his human nature, a descendant of David, and through the Spirit of holiness was declared—hence the word declaration in this statement—was declared with power to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead. And that is why it is very, very important that in our attempts to proclaim Jesus Christ—and we'll come to this another evening, but just in passing—if you want—and I've said this many times before—but if you want to get to the real nuts and bolts of the issue with people, you must learn, we must learn, a solid grasp of the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, that we must become well versed in the apologetics of that. And that is simply to say that we must become good at reasoning in the defense of the truth that Jesus Christ is actually alive from the dead, and affirming in doing so that Jesus was declared in manifest power to be the person that he had said he was by the very fact that in his resurrection his Father was saying, That is my Son, and what he has done is all that I desired. Now, added to that, we need not only to understand the essential facts about Jesus, but we need to know the essential facts about the unconverted. What is true about people who don't know Jesus? Because if we're going to take to them the news of a doctor, we'd better know the condition that they have.
For it would be silly to send the doctor to somebody who isn't sick. And of course, that was one of the explanations that Jesus gave to the Pharisees. First of all, Ephesians 2 and verse 1 tell us clearly that those of our friends and neighbors who are unconverted are dead—doesn't sound very nice—in trespasses and sins. Those to whom we go to declare the message of Jesus as the one who has come according to God's eternal plan, who has died as the Savior of sinners, who has been raised to new life in a declaration of God's satisfaction with his work, is the only answer to the death dilemma which confronts men and women tonight. The notion that all men are simply spiritually alive and don't know it is an untruth—that somehow they are all latently tuned in, and they've all actually become recipients of divine cable, as it were. They're all wired for it, and just all you need to do is go and tell them, Hey, you're wired.
Did you know that? is not what the Bible says. The Bible says is that they are wired, but they're wired the wrong way around, and they need to be completely rewired.
And indeed, the wiring that's in is going to have to be destroyed and a complete new set of wiring put in place for the wires that are intuitively theirs are in the wrong direction. So they're dead in their trespasses and in their sins, and at the same time, their unbelieving minds are blinded by whom? By Satan. Well, you don't believe in Satan, do you, for goodness' sake, says somebody?
Yes, we do. Why? Because the Bible said so. Because Jesus was tempted by him. Because scripture is replete with the notion that there is one who is the prince of the power of the air. And 2 Corinthians 4 makes this truth perfectly clear. Turn to it for just a moment.
Let's read it. The God of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. This takes us back to last Sunday night, when you think it out. That's why we started by saying we need to be clear as to what God alone can do and therefore understand what we cannot do.
And if men and women are blinded by Satan and we cannot make them see, then only God may vanquish the work of Satan in their lives and bring light into their darkness. Also, thirdly and simply, in one word, they are lost. Now, I don't suggest tomorrow morning that you go into work and say, Hey, by the way, last night we were learning a number of things about you, George, and if you could grab a cup of coffee and come in the supply room over here, I want to lay them on you. One, you are dead. Did you know that, George?
George says, Well, I tell you, I had a rough night, and I don't feel that great, but I don't think I'm dead. Yes, you are. You're dead in your trespasses. My trespasses, huh? And so we go.
No. Now, we're not discovering this tonight so that we can go out and lay this on the people. We are understanding this tonight so we can get on our knees for Cleveland, for our offices. They are walking dead men, and they're lost. They are lost naturally, they are lost helplessly, and they are lost willfully. That's why Jesus said, I am the Good Shepherd.
And the Good Shepherd came seeking to save them that were lost. Fourthly, they are the wot of sin. Slaves.
That's it. John 3, slaves of sin. Why are we the way we are? Okay, so essential facts about Jesus, essential facts about the unconverted. Thirdly, we need to ask the question, What are the benefits that are promised by the gospel? We're going to go, and we're going to share this good news. And somebody says, Well, you know, what's it all about?
What does it do? You know, what happens? And you see, it's God by his Spirit that makes that happen in somebody's life that even want to ask the question. So there ought to be an encouragement. There was a little boy here this morning, a Down syndrome child, who as he walked out, he sat through the whole service, and as he walked out, he asked the person who held his hand, Why did Jesus die? He's a mental age of under five.
By the way, I think he's thirteen years old. And he wanted to talk to the man who talked. And he came to talk to me. And I tried to explain to him that Jesus was a gift. So I gave him my pen knife. And I explained that as he took my pen knife so he could take Jesus, what will happen? Will you go to heaven?
He gave me the pen knife straight back. I don't want to go to heaven, he said, because he thought he had to go right away. But the amazing thing for me was this, that in a message, that frankly, I couldn't understand part of it myself when I was preaching it, here is a child who comes out asking a question, Why did Jesus Christ die? And I want to tell you something, that's God by a spirit in a tiny mind asking that question. Oh, you see, we make our God too narrow by false limits of our own. And the benefits of the gospel promised are these. Reconciliation with God. Secondly, justification.
These are a series all on their own. We get a big debit in our bank balance, we say to our friends, that somebody at work says, You know what, Al? This is a great deal. I like the news, but you know what? Nobody ever messed up as much as me.
I mean, I'm so badly in the hole that I could never get out. Oh, well, we're gonna tell them all about justification. We're gonna tell them about the fact that God not only wipes the slate clean, but he credits our account with so much that we could never, ever stand helpless before God again.
Thirdly, deliverance from condemnation. Do you know how many people wonder the streets feeling absolutely condemned? They may put on a good front. They may say they're happy in what they do. But their conscience bugs them, and they live condemned lives.
They live under a sentence of death. It's good news to tell them that one of the benefits of the gospel is not only that they're reconciled to God, justified by faith through God's grace, but they're liberated from condemnation. Fourthly—and this is all that has happened to us if we're in Christ—we're given the privilege of belonging to the people of God. We no longer have to live alone. We no longer have to wander empty streets, membership in the family of God.
So, to the lonely people we go, the people have found themselves friendless. Sixthly, the benefit of the gospel lies in the gift of the Holy Spirit. Nobody can say Jesus is Lord but by the Holy Spirit. If we haven't got the Spirit of God, then we are none of him. Seventhly, that we're given the privilege and the benefit of eternal life. And eighthly, the resurrection of the body. Now, these are all vital things.
We could have spent a long time on each one of them. Somewhere along the line, there's a point of contact here with people. A lot of people at the moment are prepared to talk about the notion of living forever.
The whole New Age consciousness has created that. And therefore, if we can talk about somebody who conquered death and made it possible for others to conquer it, it's a hot subject. People may be interested in spiritual things, they may be involved in tarot cards, they may be involved in Ouija boards, they may be involved in some experience of life that is creating a hunger in their hearts, and we get the opportunity to speak to them of the benefits of the gospel. And we're going to tell them this, that to enter into the benefits of Christ's work, and to know forgiveness and the gift of God's Spirit and a place in his kingdom, then repentance and open confession of Christ are required. Here's the truth about Jesus.
Here's the issue concerning man. Here's the benefits of the gospel. So how, then, may a man in my condition enter into the benefits of the gospel on the strength of what you've told me Jesus Christ has done?
Answer, by repentance and confession of Christ as Lord and Savior. And then, finally, we need always to keep in mind William Temple's statement that the gospel is true always and everywhere, or it is not a gospel at all, or true at all. And remind one another that it is the presentation of the gospel and not its content that changes with time. The gospel is as relevant in the streets of Cleveland tonight as it was on the streets of Athens when Paul proclaimed it, as we thought, in the prayer meeting. It's as relevant in your office tomorrow as it was in the carpenter's shop and at the seashore of Galilee amongst the disciples. Those of you who are tax attorneys, it's as relevant there for you as it was for Matthew, involved in the tax business of his day.
We don't need to temper with its content. We do need to be skillful with its presentation. But the reason I've spent tonight doing this is to remind us, lest we fall into the pit of believing, that the skill and vehemence of our presentation will compensate for a thoroughgoing knowledge of what the message is to be proclaimed. May I encourage you to take these things, to go back through them, to begin to memorize some of the Scriptures, because the real value of these evenings is going to be that you alone with your Bible one day, in responding to the opportunities around you, will be able to open it up and to trace a line, such as we've done this evening, in simple terms, letting people know the truth about Jesus, the truth about the condition of man, the benefits of the Gospel, and the way that an individual may enter in to those benefits. You're listening to Alistair Begg on Truth for Life.
Alistair will return to close today's program in just a minute. As we learned today, we need to have a clear grasp on the Gospel message before we can be effective in our assignment to evangelize. In fact, clarity is vital, so there's no misunderstanding. That's why our mission at Truth for Life is to teach the Bible with clarity and relevance. I mention this often on this program because it's at the heart of all we do. And you often hear me talk about our truth partners. That's because the monthly giving we receive from truth partners is what makes it possible for us to hear this program each day. This relatively small group of listeners are the ones who faithfully provide the month-by-month support that cares for the substantial cost of distributing Truth for Life and making Alistair's entire sermon library available for free online. Because our truth partners are so essential to our ministry, we're praying God will add many new truth partners to this important team during the month of June.
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You can sign up at truthforlife.org slash truthpartner or call us at 888-588-7884. When you become a monthly truth partner, you'll receive a copy of the hardcover one-year devotional written by Alistair called Truth for Life 365 Daily Devotions. The book is our way of saying thanks. Also as a truth partner, you'll be invited to request books we recommend each month for no additional donation. Today we're encouraging you to get a copy of a book called Before You Share Your Faith. It's a perfect supplement to the current series on evangelism. The author is Matt Smethurst and he walks through several ways we can prepare ourselves to effectively share the gospel with friends and colleagues.
It's a short book. You can read through it quickly and you'll refer to it regularly and if you find yourself intimidated by the thought of evangelizing, there's a chapter that lists 12 ways we can fight the fear. Request your copy of Before You Share Your Faith when you sign up to become a truth partner or when you give a one-time donation at truthforlife.org slash donate.
You can also call us at 888-588-7884. Now here's Alistair with a closing prayer. And now, gracious Father, light a spark within our hearts, we pray. Stir us up from potential lethargy and disinterest. Remind us that when we don't have the opportunity to speak to men about God, that we can speak to you about men.
Remind us that we can do more on our knees than we believe and less on our feet than we think. Give to us a thorough longing for a thorough knowledge of the gospel message so that we might be able to proclaim it in humility and in clarity and in sincerity. Thank you for this day, for your grace and goodness expressed in so many aspects. We commit one another lovingly to your care. In the strong and powerful name of Jesus. Amen. I'm Bob Lapine. Thanks for listening today. Is it possible to have a wrong motive when it comes to sharing the gospel? We'll find out tomorrow. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
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