For God and Country
“If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” This promise from God found in 2 Chronicles can give us such hope—even in a time where hope is scarce for our country. But here’s the truth: God is faithful; He keeps His promises. So, we must humble ourselves, pray, and seek His face. We must turn from our wicked ways and repent of our sins. That’s the power of the Gospel. When we place our trust in Jesus alone and turn from our sins, when we accept Jesus as the Lord and Savior of our lives…everything changes. And when this happens in person after person, well…our culture and country changes. It heals as we are healed. So today, I’d like to share three encouragements to get us up, going, and looking for opportunities to share the Gospel with those around us: the Gospel is still effective, changes everything, and brings hope to the hurting and dying.
THE GOSPEL IS STILL EFFECTIVE
I met a pastor a few years ago who told me that evangelism doesn’t work anymore. He told me you can’t go and talk to people because the culture does not approve. Do you know where this pastor was from? The African nation of Zambia. Does that sound familiar? I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that where I live in the United States. Unfortunately, that is a common statement we hear around the world.
Thankfully, that’s not the end of the story. I asked this pastor if he would be open to coming to a training near his home in Zambia and test his theory. Well, during that week, the Gospel was shared with 234 people and 158 gave their lives to Christ. Needless to say, he not only had a change of heart but a renewed passion for sharing the Gospel.
In America, it’s not much different! In a recent study we conducted with Lifeway Research, we found that 8 out of 10 Americans think it is important to have eternal life. Sixty-six percent say they are open to having a spiritual conversation with a friend—folks, that means 6 out of 10 of your friends are open to talking to you about spiritual things! Even more shocking is that fifty-one percent—5 out of 10 people you ask—are willing to have a spiritual conversation with a stranger. A stranger! And since this study has been done, we have seen this number grow. The truth is this is the climate of the people in America today. And it’s true of every country. People are looking for hope. They are looking for peace. They want to know more and are willing to have a conversation. We just need to be faithful and go.
The Gospel is as effective as it’s always been and will always be—let’s be the faithful witnesses we’ve been called to be and share it.
THE GOSPEL CHANGES EVERYTHING
The Gospel changes everything. Can I get an amen?! In our day and age, what’s happening in our country and culture makes things look very bleak. But there is a truth that we as Christians believe…the Gospel changes people from the inside out. And when people are changed, communities change. When communities change, cities are changed; and when cities are changed, nations are changed. The power of the Gospel is salvation for all who would put their trust in Jesus and Him alone. So, if we want to change our country and our culture, we need to start with the Gospel. Its transforming power changes hurting, sinful hearts to joyful, peace-filled ones. Because when someone puts their trust in Jesus, He gives them the Holy Spirit who gifts them with these things. I don’t know about you, but I want every person I can tell to know about the love of Jesus and the hope found in Him.
The most significant evidence of the Gospel’s power to change hearts are the testimonies of believers. It’s us! If you know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, consider how He has changed your life! I have experienced this myself. Before I knew Christ, I was so afraid of dying. That fear of death clung to me and followed me everywhere. Then, after God led me to a church one Sunday, I felt the need to go in and ask the pastor the next day what God was trying to tell me. That Monday morning, the only pastor in the office was the evangelism pastor, and he shared with me the greatest news I have ever heard: the Gospel. That day, I understood that we can be made right with God through Jesus’ work on the cross and His resurrection alone. He paid the penalty for our sins; and if we confess our sins and accept Him as our Lord and Savior, He forgives us of our sins and gives us the gift of eternal life. I know where I am going when I die! I will spend eternity with Jesus in heaven. Now, I no longer fear death. Christ has transformed me from the inside out. And he gives me daily testimonies of how He is growing me in joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The Gospel has changed everything for me. I live feeling full of purpose, fulfillment, and love. And it can change your life as well as the lives of your neighbor’s, your coworker’s, your family member’s, and your friend’s! So let’s get sharing and watch God change lives.
THE GOSPEL BRINGS HOPE
If we were to take the temperature of the culture of our country, what would it tell us? Depression, loneliness, and hopelessness permeate our cities. I have friends and family members tell me they cannot read the news because it makes them too sad to see all the devastation and sadness that comes through people hurting others or themselves. And it’s true—there is great sadness, anger, and bitterness that runs rampant in the people of our country. What is the antidote? What could change the temperature of our culture?
The Gospel brings hope. In moments of crisis, Jesus can bring healing and hope. Now, I am past sixty years old—I am not ignorant of what can happen and what people go through. I have lived through challenging times where it would have been natural to lose hope. I have watched family members die, I have watched my wife struggle against disease, and many more situations that could have caused me to lose heart. But here is the truth that keeps me hopeful and joyful even in the toughest of times: Jesus came so that we could have a new life. And that new life is the fountain of hope within us. Billy Graham said it well, “For the believer, there is hope beyond the grave, because Jesus Christ has opened the door to heaven for us by His death and resurrection.” This eternal hope starts the moment we put our trust in Jesus and carries through all eternity. We are living in that new life now! And with it comes a well of hope that will never run dry. Why wouldn’t we want to share that with the people around us?
Kirk Cameron has a great quote concerning this: “If you had the cure to cancer wouldn’t you usher it?…You have the cure to death…get out there and share it.” So with every breath we have, let us share hope. Let’s put on the shoes of the Gospel of peace and meet people where they are at. Let’s not be ashamed or quiet about the hope that lives within us. The Gospel is still effective, the Gospel changes everything, and the Gospel brings hope.
Here are a few resources I want to share with you this month:
Share Hope: https://vimeo.com/408072619?share=copy
The Best News: https://www.thebest.news/
Learn To Share Your Faith: https://sharelife.university/
John Sorensen (Doctorate of Divinity, Knox Theological Seminary & Doctor of Humane Letters, Montreat College) is the president of Evangelism Explosion International (www.evangelismexplosion.org) and host of Share Life Today (www.sharelife.today). Sorensen has authored the books Well Done and Your Story Counts and travels the globe for Evangelism Explosion. This past year Evangelism Explosion International equipped just under 2 million Christians worldwide to be witnesses for Christ, and saw, by the grace of God, 17.3 million people make a profession of faith in Jesus. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina, with his wife, Ann, and he has four adult children and six grandchildren.