How Many Times Do People Deserve to Hear the Gospel?

There’s a quote from Oswald J. Sanders that has been used many times to encourage folks to go the ends of the earth with the gospel…

“No one has the right to hear the gospel twice, while there remains someone who has not heard it once.”

On its face value, I fully understand the urgency behind the quote.  There are thousands of unreached people groups who have little or no access to the marvelous saving gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  And we should feel a burden to take the gospel to these people.

But at the same time, I’m incredibly thankful that my pastor, my parents, and others continued to preach and share the gospel with me over and over again.  Although I committed my life to Christ as a boy of 8, I had heard the gospel multiple times before I was saved.

Not All Are Saved on Their First Hearing of the Gospel

And there are many who have a story just like mine.  Many people do not trust in Christ the first time they hear the gospel.  Paul says that some plant the seed, some water the seed, but it’s Christ who ultimately saves (1 Corinthians 3:6-7).  This seems to be an indication that the salvation of a soul may not occur at the first hearing of the gospel.  Some may believe the first time they hear like on Pentecost.  Some may need to hear the gospel multiple times over a long period of time before they are saved.

William Carey Didn’t Move On

I heard a clip of Sanders preaching as he spoke about the urgency of the gospel and how people like William Carey left their homes to go to faraway lands for the purpose of preaching the gospel to unreached people.  But history also tells us that Carey’s first convert didn’t come until seven years after he arrived in India.  Imagine if Carey had the same mindset that once the gospel had been explained and understood once, he would have to go to another place where others had not heard the gospel?

And what of the command to make disciples?  Our goal isn’t to make converts, but to make disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ who obey all He’s commanded.  This requires a time commitment.  Even Paul stayed for extended time in different cities so that he could train up those who had become Christians.  Can you imagine Paul saying to those gathered at the Areopagus who wanted to hear from him again, “No, sorry.  You’ve heard the gospel one time and I now have to move on to those who haven’t heard.”

Salvation May Come through Pleading, Reasoning, Urging & Calling Sinners to Repentance

I’m not trying to pour cold water on the missionary responsibility we have as followers of Jesus.  I am trying to remind us that we don’t celebrate that everyone we know has heard the gospel once, and then move on.  We continue to plead, to reason, to urge, to call those same people to repentance while still sharing with those with whom we come into contact.  As we see folks gloriously saved, we pour into them the truths of the Word of God so that they grow as disciples of Jesus.

The bottom line is we have both the privilege and the responsibility to make much of Jesus as we share the gospel with the lost.  If the gospel is rejected the first time, we don’t necessarily shake the dust off our feet and move on.  We may need to dig in as we continue to pray for the lost and share the gospel with them.

At the end of the day, it will be the Spirit who will tell us when it’s time to move on.  Until then, we share joyfully that Jesus saves sinners with all who will hear, even if they’ve heard before.


Paul as a Servant

I love doing daily devotionals as I read through the Bible because of how God’s Word speaks as I read it.

For instance, check out this verse…

Acts 28:3 (HCSB) 3 As Paul gathered a bundle of brushwood and put it on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened itself to his hand.

You may be familiar with the story of Paul in Acts chapters 27 and 28.  Paul is sailing to Rome as a prisoner because he had appealed to Caesar.  The voyage is filled with dangerous weather and Paul offers advice that they not continue on until better weather comes.  However, Paul’s warnings go unheeded.

The ship eventually shipwrecks on the island of Malta which has just occurred as we get to chapter 28.  Paul is gathering firewood when he is bitten by a poisonous viper.  Verse 6 tells us that Paul doesn’t die from the bite.

So what’s so neat about verse 3?  It’s that Paul is gathering firewood.  Even though Paul is a prisoner, the centurion in charge has listened to Paul’s wisdom.  Paul is obviously not an ordinary prisoner.

And yet, here’s Paul acting as a servant.  He’s doing a mundane task of picking up firewood.

Here’s the reminder: Jesus was a servant and told His disciples to serve one another as He served them.  Paul gladly serves those who are with him.

If Paul can serve, shouldn’t we also be willing to serve one another, no matter our status?


A Clear Conscience by God’s Grace…The Notes

The notes from yesterday’s sermon are below.  You can listen to the sermon here.

A CLEAR CONSCIENCE BY GOD’S GRACE

2 Corinthians 1:12-14

1. A clear conscience comes as God works in us & through us by His grace.

2. A clear conscience comes as a result of transparency & clarity concerning the gospel.

3. A clear conscience will be vindicated when we see Jesus face to face.

Some takeaways…

1. Live your life privately and publicly so that no one can bring a charge against you.

2. No matter how well we live for Jesus, we will face opposition.

3. If we are misunderstood, may it never be over the gospel of Jesus Christ.

4. Our boasting must always be in our Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel.


A Clear Conscience by God’s Grace

I continue in my new sermon series from 2 Corinthians called Grace in Real Life.  Today’s sermon is from 2 Corinthians 1:12-14…

2 Corinthians 1:12-14 (HCSB)
12 For this is our confidence: The testimony of our conscience is that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you, with God-given sincerity and purity, not by fleshly wisdom but by God’s grace. 13 Now we are writing nothing to you other than what you can read and also understand. I hope you will understand completely—14 as you have partially understood us—that we are your reason for pride, as you are ours, in the day of our Lord Jesus.


Saturday Stuff

antman*While we’re still waiting to see if Marvel’s Ant-Man will actually get made, here are some rumors concerning cameos of Marvel characters.

*Here’s a discussion of 8 great villains for the Justice League movie.

*What will Mark Hamill look like as Luke Skywalker in Star Wars VII?

*Check out these potential plot elements to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice as well as Ben Affleck’s reaction to being cast as Bruce Wayne/Batman.

*Next summer’s reboot of The Fantastic Four is the least talked about movie so far even though filming has ended.  However, Michael B. Jordan who’s playing the Human Torch is letting us know how he feels about playing this iconic role.


6-String Salvo, August 15, 2014

bigstock-Guitar-950679We’re halfway through August which means college football will soon be here!  Until then, here’s today’s Salvo…

1. Fred Zaspel reminds us of what the blood of Jesus speaks to us.

2. There’s a lot of bad situations going on in our world today.  Aaron Earls offers some suggestions of how to pray with your children concerning these difficult situations.

3. With the death of Robin Williams, suicide has been spoken of in the media and in our homes.  Here are 3 posts that might be helpful in the midst of these days…

Help for Those Fighting or Grieving a Suicide

Depression and Common Grace

Excellent Resources on Depression

4. I needed this reminder as I can swing too strongly to the “works as filthy rags” mindset, but there should be a healthy balance.

5. I’m glad I can be sure of God’s purpose even when I can’t see His design.

Here’s the Great Divide with a cover of Little Feat’s Roll Um Easy


5 Challenges of the Multi-Generational Church

Last week I wrote about the strengths of the multi-generational church.  I pastor a multi-generational church and I’m grateful for that privilege.  Over the 12 years I’ve served here, I’ve seen many of the blessings that come from having a church that has multiple age groups represented in attendance.  I defined a multi-generation church as one which has a healthy mix of active and attending age groups with no one generational group dominating the church.

While there are many strengths to the multi-generational church, I must also admit that there are a few challenges.  I’ve listed 5 of them below…

5 Challenges of the Multi-Generational Church

  1. Multi-generational churches can have a particular generational group that tends to dominate the church. Whether it’s the older group(s) protecting their traditions or the younger group(s) demanding their way, these churches can have groups that are suspicious of those not like them. Or, like the early church in Acts 6, disputes may arise if certain age groups feel ignored or overlooked.  Turf wars can rise up, whether over worship wars or programming dollars, unless humility and gratefulness for all generations is cultivated.
  1. Multi-generational churches can ignore needed ministry to a particular generational group that is growing in their area. In a desire to protect the make-up of the church, a multi-generational church may not be sensitive to growing generational segments of their surrounding population. Multi-generational at all costs might be a recipe for decline if that’s the case.
  1. Multi-generational churches may face challenges as they integrate, or fail to integrate, technology into the church. Bibles on electronic devices, newsletters sent by email, text messages instead of phone calls, screens instead of hymnals, and tweeting during sermons may cause a sense of too rapid of change, or may not be rapid enough if these technologies are ignored.
  1. Multi-generational churches may be attendance heavy in one or a few generational groups. While the church may still be considered multi-generational, a loss of a few key families may swing the church’s healthy balance towards an unhealthy one.  Or, a smaller generational group may feel it doesn’t have as big of a voice in matters of the church.  No group should feel ignored or prideful due to its size within the make-up of the church.
  1. Multi-generational churches may become prideful in their make-up expecting that all churches must be like them. A church near a university may be young for a reason. A church in a retirement community may be older for a reason.  A church in an area with a dominance of a certain age group might tailor the overall ministry of the church towards that age group.  Multi-generational churches mustn’t look down their collective noses as those churches who aren’t.  While praising the healthy make-up of their church, the multi-generational church mustn’t limit how God builds His body nor choose not to help or start other churches that might focus on a certain segment of their population.

None of these challenges should keep us from pursuing multi-generational churches, especially if our communities are multi-generational.  May God grant that no age group is ever ignored as the church of our Lord Jesus Christ seeks to make disciples, not only of all the nations and people groups, but of every age person that’s lost.


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