This week I read through the book Marks of the Messenger by J. Mack Stiles. It is a concise book that’s not easy to put down. I highly recommend this book to any teacher, youth leader, missionary, church leader, or follower of Christ desiring to live a gospel-centered life. I am seriously considering the possibility of having our children’s ministry leadership read the book this coming year as we share the gospel with our community and core families.
A messenger is marked by his character–the character of Christ. Jesus asks His followers to be so concerned about what I am doing, but more about who I am becoming. people of faith . Jesus is not. The greatest obstacle to healthy evangelism is pragmatism: “doing evangelism” before we ever think who we are meant to be as evangelists .
Living a gospel-centered life is God’s expectation for His followers. “The gospel,” in modern language, means, “Breaking News!” And the news is good news, because there was bad news before . As Timothy Keller often says, “The gospel is not the ABC’s of the Christian faith, it is the A-Z’s.” The cross of Christ and the gospel message that streams from the cross is the river that rage my entire life. People need to see their sin in all its horror, not so they are motivated to “clean up their act,” but so they fall at the feet of Jesus knowing that He is their only hope .
Have you heard people say that Christianity is a crutch? They’re far too optimistic. We don’t need a crutch; we need spiritual defibrillators .
One of the greatest dangers is to assume those passing in the church hall, sitting in the pew next to you, or your small group companion understands the gospel. We must ask the hard questions, probe deeper, and see if the gospel is really taking root in peoples lives. Stiles, in his book, mentions Kevin Roose, a Brown University student going undercover at Liberty University all the while other students assuming he is a follower never asking him about his faith. A follower to many Christian is–one who goes to church, prays and says they believe in God–nothing more than moralism and cultural adaption. The gospel goes deeper than that. It changes the core of a man. At least that is what God intends for the gospel to do.
The challenge for healthy evangelism is to stop trying to clean people up through rules rather than bring them to the cross .
The imperative of the church and its followers is to display the glory of Christ as it shares the gospel. The church does not exist to make me happy; it demonstrates the truth of Christ to a watching world . The church is the gospel made visible [Mark Dever, The Church, 767].
What is the gospel? Check out these posts about the gospel:
lies we believe about following Christ
5 terrifying truths about Christianity