What's On Matt's Mind
“Those who submit to Christ as Lord ... have the free offer of forgiveness and new life in the Spirit”
If I were with you in person I’d love to ask whether you’re presently motivated to share about Jesus with unbelievers around you? If you’re like me it is so easy to let this slip off the radar. Spare a thought for those in secularised Europe, where evangelism is even harder. In the last issue of ECM News I highlighted that, although European evangelicals might hear, talk and pray a lot about evangelism, in practice, it is not given the urgent priority it deserves. I’d like to explore further why this is the case, so we as a mission can encourage the churches in Europe to do better in this area.
In the previous ‘What’s on Matt’s Mind’, I proposed that there is often confusion around what evangelism is. It is not giving your testimony, apologetics or ‘doing justice’, as important as all these things are. It is the act of sharing the good news of who Jesus is with unbelievers.
In this edition, I want to highlight how evangelism often doesn’t occur because of confusion around what the gospel message is. To some evangelicals in Europe, the good news is essentially that God loves everyone just as they are and that is why he sent Jesus, who brings forgiveness, reconciliation and unconditional acceptance. Jesus is only ever portrayed as a compassionate, caring saviour figure. If he asks anything of anyone it is merely that they receive his grace. All the ‘difficult bits’ about Jesus’s Lordship or God’s judgement are shaved off or downplayed.
I do not want to question for a moment Christ’s love, especially as it is demonstrated in the death of Christ for sinners (Rom.5:8). However, this is only one aspect of the gospel. In the evangelistic preaching of the early church, particularly as recorded in the book of Acts, we notice ‘love’ rarely rates a mention. The thrust of the message to Jews and Gentiles is that they are under the judgement of the Creator. Yet because Jesus has been made Lord and judge by the resurrection, all who come to him in repentance and faith will be saved, receiving the gifts of forgiveness, the Holy Spirit and eternal life (see Acts 2:36-38, 10:42-43, 17:29-31). Christ’s love does not condone sin. Those who submit to Christ as Lord, who died for our sin and is now highly exalted, have the free offer of forgiveness and new life in the Spirit.
The heart of the gospel is that Jesus is both Saviour and Lord of all. Our missiological approach must flow out of this gospel. In a culturally appropriate and faithful
way for each of the people groups of Europe, we need to bear witness to the Christ of Scripture. We ask for your prayers to do just this.
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