I’m going to give away part of this Sunday’s Bible study in advance. In Acts 2, who was Peter talking to? He was talking to people who would say that they believed in God, loved God, and believed the Bible, right? These were religious Jews who were observing the rituals and the Feast of Pentacost. But what he said to them was very “in your face” and offensive, especially to religious or spiritual people like they were. Peter told them that (a) they didn’t get it and (b) that they needed to be saved. They didn’t get what the God they believed in and loved said in His word that they also believed in. They missed the point and needed to be saved. Let’s put this into modern terms. Peter walked into a church picnic and told everyone that they really didn’t get it and that they needed to repent, be baptized, and make Jesus their Lord.
I’ve been thinking about this all week and have come to this conclusion. It’s potentially very offensive. Peter was filled with the Spirit and motivated by love. So am I when I say this. There are Christians today, there are whole churches and denominations today that are in as much spiritual darkness as the most rank unbeliever. In fact, this kind of person might be in a worse state than a rank unbeliever because they think that they get it and aren’t even checking their own hearts.
Before I go any further I’d like to point out that I don’t have the corner on truth. I don’t claim to be the authority on who is saved and who isn’t. I’m not condemning anyone to hell nor am I placing myself above anyone else. What I do have is God’s word. What I do have is God’s Holy Spirit living in me. These statements are motivated by love. When those of us who get it encounter those who don’t, God can use us to communicate His love and His truth in order to bring that person out of the darkness they are in. They might be someone who has gone to church their whole life, or they might be someone who has been a prostitute or child molester. They need to hear the gospel. They need to see it lived out in someone’s life.
What is the gospel? It’s very simple. Too simple for some to handle. God loves you right where you are and just the way you are right now. All of us have sinned, we have all made mistakes against God. That sin, those mistakes separate us from God and there is nothing we can do on our own to fix that. But you know what? God has fixed it for you. He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on a cross to pay the price for our sin. Three days later He rose from the dead and is alive today. Jesus did that to buy you out of your sin. If you accept that, you are saved from your sin and you now belong to God. If you continually submit yourself to Him, He will fix you. You don’t have to fix yourself. You can’t. Just trust and obey Him.
The sad thing is that there are many people who call themselves Christians who don’t really believe that. They believe it is a story. They believe it as a philosophy. They believe it as an allegory that points to a greater cosmic truth. If you don’t believe that it really happened then you, like those Jews Peter preached to, just don’t get it and you too need to be saved.
So instead of just focusing on trying to evangelize those who don’t know God in any way, shape, or form, I’ve decided that I need to go after everyone with this Good News, whether they say they believe it or not. It’s one thing to say with your mouth that you believe it in your head. It’s another thing to say with your life that you believe it with your heart.