Finding Yourself in the Gospel Story


Words of lifeOne of the realities God is impressing on me this year is the poor state of evangelism in this country. It’s as if Christians in America have forgotten the Great Commission, the mandate of our Lord to share the Gospel with the lost of the world.

More and more, I realize we modern Christians face have distanced ourselves from the story of the Gospel. It’s not that we don’t know the Gospel enough to share it. Most of us do. Instead, our problem is our inability to see ourselves as a part of that story.

A quick visit to any three Christian blogs will inevitably bring up mentions of the closed state of the canon. Some people, in fact, seem to base their entire theology on the fact of the closed canon rather than the person of the living Christ. Don’t get me wrong; there are no new books of the Bible being written. I fully support that the canon is closed.

However, I just as fully believe that God never stopped speaking. His voice continues to go out. That voice brings transformation because it is active, especially in the lives of those who learn the secret of abiding in Christ. Our God is a living entity who does not stand mute.

And this brings me to the Gospel.

What Jesus has done as evidenced by the Gospel is well known and indisputable. What I believe we tend to forget is what Jesus is still doing. He still changes lives. In this way, the Gospel perpetually lives, like a story continually being written—because the truth of the Gospel story has not come to an end.

We Christians today persist as an isolated, self-centered lot. Few of us see our individual lives as part of anything larger than ourselves, much less part of the narrative of God’s redemptive story. Yet our lives and what Jesus has done in them are no different than those of the patriarchs and saints of yore.  The reality of Jesus Christ meeting Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus centuries ago is no more valid that Jesus Christ meeting you or me on our own figurative Damascus road. We have our own Gospel story to tell, our own encounter with the Lord of the Universe, and our story matters to God as much as Saul of Tarsus’s does.

Because we have forgotten this, we have forfeited an important piece of what we share with the lost. Yet what is more powerful than telling a lost person our own story of how Jesus took us from darkness into light? We fret about somehow failing to string together the elements of the Romans Road, the Four Spiritual Laws, the Bridge Illustration, lessons from Evangelism Explosion, our Topical Memory System passages, or whatever evangelism technique we feel deficient in, when what God desires most from us is that we can share with another person what Jesus did for us in taking us from death to life. We may remember the Gospel, but we have failed to see ourselves in it.

Many out there feel the world is winding down, and it may be. It is not hard to see the day coming when no one can work. In light of this, I offer this word: You will never know the Scriptures perfectly unless you memorize the entire Bible, and by the time you do, you probably will not have had the chance to talk with anyone about Christ. What you can do, though, is use the Scriptures you do know in conjunction with your own story of how Jesus saved you.

Stories change lives. Your changed life is a story. All of this is wrapped up in the greatest story of all, the Gospel. If you are in Christ, you are living that story with every breath you take.

If that story matters to God, then I’m sure He wants you to share it with others. And there is no better time to share it than today.

When the Spirit Falls


This last Sunday, I was helming the drums during a worship song our lead guitarist had written, when the Holy Spirit fell on the church. His presence was palpable and from my spot on stage, I could see Him on people’s faces. By the time we segued into “The Beauty of Simplicity,” I was close to weeping. Let me say this: When you’re the timekeeper, it’s not wise to go all to pieces.

Come, Holy Spirit!Now I know some people reading this may not have experienced one of those beautifully sweet times when the Holy Spirit broods over worship. He’s light permeating the darkest recesses of your soul, warm oil anointing your head, and love overflowing your heart. No words fully describe the naked encounter of your person with the person of the Holy Spirit.

I attend a pentecostal church, so this experience of the Spirit isn’t out of the ordinary. I feel for folks who don’t regularly encounter Him. I can’t imagine living one’s life and not meeting the Lord in such a sweet way, surrounded by others who praise His name.

I’m no pushover for emotionalism, either. Anyone reading this blog long enough knows I don’t stand for that. If I’m overwhelmed, it’s because God Himself showed up, not because some favorite worship song tugs my heartstrings.

Sunday’s touch proved to be the real deal. I’d only wished I’d been better prepared to receive instead of dedicating so much brain power to each timekeeping limb and upcoming musical transitions.

If one thing troubles me about these visitations of the Spirit it’s that we may be wasting them. I don’t believe He comes just to make us feel warm and fuzzy for a few minutes.

When the Spirit falls, I believe we need to be ready to meet Him just like the five wise virgins, with lamps filled with oil and wicks trimmed. His real Presence must be met with ready hearts, otherwise I believe we miss the fullness of the blessing He’s prepared to lavish on us.

I won’t presume to understand the heart of the Spirit in all His manifestations, for He blows as He wills, but I feel He expects the following from us when we encounter Him:

  • Repentance – First and foremost, He is the Holy Spirit. We are to be a holy people.
  • Praise – He is Lord and must be worshiped as such.
  • Reception – We are to receive Him and receive blessings from Him with praise.
  • Transformation – We are to be bettered for having met Him in that moment.

For these reasons, I believe when we encounter the Lord in this way we should do the following:

  • Confess any known sin.
  • Ask the Spirit to search our hearts for hidden sin.
  • Confess hidden sin when He reveals it.
  • Praise Him for revealing sin in our lives.
  • Praise Him for who He is.
  • Ask Him to prepare us for what we might receive from Him.
  • Ask Him to fill us with Himself, His gifts, and His direction.
  • Thank Him for meeting those needs.
  • Ask Him to transform our lives so that we are better able to serve him, so we leave the church with a greater revelation of Him to share with the community of faith and those still outside the flock.
  • Thank Him and praise Him again.

I think if we take these ten steps in the presence of the Lord, He’ll bless us so much more than if we simply bask in Him then leave unchanged after the encounter. And all too often, we walk out those church doors with less than we ought simply because we did not know how to come before Him.

Think about these things. Like Samuel, if we desire to grow up into the fullness of service the Lord asks of us, we must be ready to meet the Spirit when He comes calling.

Be blessed.