"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10 (ESV)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16 (ESV). This verse is arguably the most quoted verse in the Bible because it sums up the Gospel. But pause to think about those first few words in the verse, “For God so loved the world.” God cares for us. So much so that He actually did something about it.
In the same way, if you want to reach the lost, you must first care about the lost. As C.H. Spurgeon said, “Winners of souls must first be weepers for souls.” When was the last time you had concern over someone who wasn’t a believer? We are often so focused on God’s love that we forget the last part of this verse: “that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” While this is great news for the person who believes, it implies there is bad news for the person who does not believe. The reality is, there is an eternal hell for those who die apart from the Lord. We cannot allow a fixation on God’s love to cause us to forget the righteous judgment that is coming.
This week, take time to consider the people around you who do not know Christ, and their eternal lives. Ask God to give you a burden for the lost.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” Romans 3:23-24 (ESV). The word Gospel literally means “Good News.” And what Good News it is! God has given us the gift of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ.
But as Romans 6:23 reminds us, “the wages of sin is death…” So although this gift is Good News, we cannot forget the bad news. When reaching the lost, we must be careful to give them the whole message of the Gospel. Apart from God, we are dead eternally because of our sin. But in Jesus Christ, there is the gift and promise of eternal life with Him. If we tell of only one or the other, we have failed to give people the whole Gospel.
Throughout the Bible, God’s message to the lost has been that they repent. Consider Jonah. God sent him to Nineveh, a wicked city, not to set a good example, but to call the people to repent! Although we should live a life that honors Christ and sets an example for other believers, Paul reminds us that we reach the lost through our words. “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” Romans 10:14 (ESV).
The Bible is not simplistic, but the message of the Gospel is simple. Take time to reflect on the Gospel message this week and ask God to show you those who need to hear it. Ask Him to help you share a balanced, complete version of the Good News!
“But Peter said, ‘I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk’” Acts 3:6 (ESV). I love this account of the crippled beggar. It tells of a man, crippled from birth, who was daily placed in the same spot to beg for money. Can you see the picture of the lost person in this account?
Every day people are searching for something or someone to bring meaning and purpose to their lives. I’m sure you can think of at least one person who might be chasing status, money, a hobby, physical appearance, or even a relationship. But we know, as those who have put their hope in Christ, that nothing in this world will ever bring lasting satisfaction. In the same way that Peter and John were able to see the beggar’s real need, we can look into others’ lives and see people’s real need is Jesus.
Everyone is searching for something because we were made for a relationship with God. It is only when we come to know Christ and follow Him that this hunger is fulfilled. When the beggar was healed, he went into the temple leaping and praising God. This man was given what he really needed, and his life was changed forever because through Jesus, he was “made strong.”
Do you know someone who is searching to fill the void that only Jesus can fill? Have you shared Jesus with them? Have you invited them to church or maybe to your Life Group? You have the opportunity to introduce them to the One Who will fulfill their longing: Jesus.
“To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some” 1 Corinthians 9:22 (ESV). On Paul’s missionary journeys, it was his custom to go to the synagogue on the Sabbath and reason with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks. He would also go to the marketplace and reason with those who were there. Some believed right away; others needed to hear his message again. And while many believed, some became angry while others became stubborn and refused to listen.
What we learn from Paul is that it takes a conscious effort to reach the lost with the message of the Good News of Jesus Christ. And it often takes people hearing it over and over again. Although it is the work of the Holy Spirit that leads to repentance and belief, it is our job to deliver the message. It’s easy to think of sharing the Gospel with someone as a one-time event, where we check the box and move on. But the reality is that we should keep on sharing it; we should be actively looking for opportunities to reach those who will listen. If you have shared the Gospel with people and they did not choose to believe right then, prayerfully look for another opportunity to share with them.
“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” 1 Peter 3:15 (ESV). The greatest testimony you have to reach the lost is living out your faith daily in front of family, co-workers, and friends. And as 1 Peter 3:15 reminds us, we should always be ready to explain the reason for the hope that we have. If you have been saved by the grace of God, you have hope! You have a unique story of how God has saved you and is transforming you.
In Matthew 5, Jesus tells us we are the salt and light of the world. Take a moment and really think about that. Does your life blend in with our culture, or is there something pleasantly odd about the way you live your life? Your life should glow in such a way that people are left to wonder why you are different. And when they ask why, you should be ready with a gentle answer. Do you know what you would say?
This week, take time to think about the hope you have in God through Jesus Christ. Think about all the ways He has provided for you, all the storms He has brought you through, and how He has been transforming you. He has given you hope for today and hope for eternity! Now that is something worth sharing!