Archives for posts with tag: Gospel

Pivotal bulletin copyNote: the following is an example of the devotionals I’m writing for our Pivotal series (a study of Acts). For more, please go here.

The Bad News About the Gospel

And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also… 

Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you… And it will be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.” (Acts 3:17, 19, 20, 23).

In evangelical parlance, some words are becoming extinct. Sin, hell, judgment are just three of them. Consequently, sharing the good news no longer includes the bad news.

I’m forced to ask myself: How can people be convinced to turn to God if they have not even been told that they have offended a holy God with their sins?

Are we guilty of putting a spin on the message so it becomes more palatable to people who grew up hearing there was nothing wrong with them?

Peter and John give us something to think about this topic in Acts 3. Peter had just healed a lame beggar who had been disabled from birth. The people were amazed (3:9, 11). They gathered to hear what Peter had to say.

Peter looked down at the crowd and possibly spotted some of the same people who plotted against Jesus before Pilate. The moment of truth had arrived. What would Peter say?

He could have opted to major on the positives only. The main message he was fixed to give was that it was Jesus’ power, not theirs, that had healed the man. So no need to lay the hammer down, right? If Peter lived today, his political advisers and speech writers might have pleaded with him to stay away from the events leading up to the crucifixion.

Thankfully, Peter had all the advice he needed already. He may have remembered Jesus’ words to the disciples, in essence telling them not to be concerned about what to say when they had to he brought before authorities, “… for I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict” (see Luke 21:12-15).

So without hesitation Peter told the people that they had “put to death the giver of life.” He said they committed a deplorable act when they asked for a murderer to be released instead of Jesus. Facts, plain and simple.

But he didn’t stop there. He went on to say that this was all part of God’s plan, for God had authenticated Jesus as the Messiah by bringing Him back from the dead. And this was not all. Since they acted in ignorance, God was giving all of them, including their hateful leaders, a chance to repent and accept Jesus as God’s Messiah. But if they didn’t, God would unleash the force of His judgment on them. Notice the forceful nature of Peter’s message but don’t forget that he delivered it with a heart full of compassion, with no hint of moral superiority or appearing arrogant before the crowd.

His love, however, didn’t fog up his clarity. Quite the opposite, in fact. For Peter, when it came to salvation, he was not afraid to draw a clear line on the sand: It was either/or, not both/and; repentance or rejection; Christ or curse; one way or the hot way. Good news and bad news, all in one breath. And that’s the message so many don’t want to hear today.

But the gospel is only good news if I accept it; if I don’t, it could not possibly get any worse than that, could it? No wonder all through the book of Acts believers asked for boldness. Is it not time we ask the same?

Questions to ponder:

  1. If you refuse to mention sin and hell when You speak of Christ to your friends, who is the biggest loser?
  1. What is the key in delivering a good news/bad news message with love and clarity?
  1. What do you need to do to prepare yourself to deliver a more balanced story of the gospel to your friends?

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA

Series on MarkThe “gospel” (“euangelion” in the Greek) is so much more than a book. In fact, it wasn’t until the second century of the Christian era that the word “gospel” began to be associated with a book. The “gospel” is “good news,” but it is much more than that. In first century Rome it was used in reference to “good tidings” from the battlefield. When the Roman troops defeated their enemies, “good tidings” were sent home in advance of the troops – thanks to the emperor, there would be a time of peace and prosperity.

Mark begins his book by immediately introducing us to the “euangelion” and it is so much more than you and I usually think. Yes, God has a wonderful plan for your life. Yes, you no longer have to face a Christ-less eternity. Yes, because of the gospel now you have a friend that sticks closer than a brother, but is that all?

“The beginning of the euangelion of Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.” Those are the crisp and powerful words that open the book of Mark. Some Bible students, myself included, would translate the word “beginning” as “rule” or “norm.” It often refers to a yardstick, a plumb line. Mark is referring to good news of all good news – the act of God in bringing salvation to all of humanity through His Son, Jesus, the Messiah. And that is the “good news” he is talking about. That is the “rule” against which all other glad tidings must from now on be measured. That is God at His absolute best, performing the act of salvation in the Person of His Son.

This is like saying that after this good news all other pieces of information that could previously have been called “good news” are no longer deemed worthy of being described that way. The Kingdom of God was dawning. There is now among us one who can command evil spirits to leave. He can heal the sick. He can grow limbs. He can teach with authority. He can forgive sins.

And His message was meant for everyone. God’s forgiveness was for all. Those who would previously not be able to sit at a table to eat a meal together could now do so with the blessings of the Messiah. Sinners now had the possibility of approaching God with a cleansed heart. The enmity between man and God, man and man, man and animal, man and nature was forever obliterated in Christ. The Kingdom of God was coming!

That is good news, nothing less than a radical call to obedience and discipleship under the tutelage of the Christ who will bring all of this to completion one day at the end of the age. This was not any ordinary headline. It was news of seismic proportions, the tsunami of all breaking news – that God was saving sinners like you and me. Imagine that.

It’s news like this that can still warm our hearts on days such as the ones we are experiencing today – full of violence, hatred, and senseless killing. There is a day coming and it will hopefully be soon. Hold on to that “rule.” The world will never hear headlines quite like this one: God is saving sinners through Jesus Christ and I am at the top of that list. Good news: God saved ME!

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA

Care2Share Blog

I am a stickler for picking the right words and using them intentionally. Therefore, when I hear somebody twisting my words or intentionally taking them out of context, I can easily skip my dinner over it – and go to sleep mad.

I used to be a part of a church that had a program called “Evangelism Explosion.” Every Thursday evening a small team of us went out into the homes of people to share the Good News of the Gospel with them. One night, as the few of us sat and prayed in the parking lot before we left, I noticed a large group of women entering the church for a Bible study. On Sunday, as I taught a class in church, I told that story and made the comment that I wished there were as many people going out of the building to share their faith as there were going into the building for Bible study.

The very next day I got a phone call from the lady in charge of the women’s Bible study. She wanted to meet with me. She had heard from a person, who was not at the class when I taught, that “Pastor Ivanildo is against the women’s Bible studies at the church.”

I missed my dinner that day.

This story only illustrates the nature of the battle we must fight when we attempt to elevate the value of witnessing our faith. You would think that would be a no brainer, but you would be wrong. It takes ten times the effort to keep the mandate to evangelize in front of our people as it does just about any other activity in the church. Why is it so much easier to get people to serve in the nursery, teach Sunday School, attend a Bible study, etc., than to verbalize their faith with Christ’s other friends?

The answer to this question is multifaceted. Many Christians don’t seem to care whether people are going to hell or not. Others are so scared they dare not open their mouths. Some are afraid of rejection. A good number, perhaps, need to be saved before they can share the good news of salvation with others. It is not a mere coincidence that the famous preacher Charles Spurgeon once said that “One of the first jobs of the preacher is to convert the Christians.”

But I would like to believe that the vast majority, perhaps, don’t do it because a) they simply don’t know how to do it; b) they are confused about what “evangelism” means, thinking somehow that they must do the persuasive work and “close the deal,” when indeed they are called first to sow the seed of the gospel; c) they are not held accountable, which means they are perfectly fine with living a Christian life that does not require verbalizing their faith.

At Grace Church we are trying to address all of the above by promoting a culture where sharing faith is just second nature to a follower of Christ. That’s the main reason we started this series we’re calling “Care 2 Share.” The ideas that are being shared have the potential to radically change the way you see yourself in relation to the world.

This Sunday we will talk about the need to understand people who are still outside of Christ. We will be challenged to get to know our neighbors and connect with them in meaningful ways with the purpose of sharing the gospel with them. Among other things, you will hear me say:

“Now, if you are here and you consider yourself a follower, you have a decision to make. Do you want to engage in this mandate God has given Grace Church? Are you willing to do more than just talk about it? I say this because as I said last Sunday, this will be our main thing. We will pursue this mission with the same passion and determination of those early disciples who when Jesus looked at them and said, ‘Follow me!’ immediately left everything and followed Him. And He said, ‘I will make you fishers of men.’ And He did just that.

You will get tired of hearing me talking about our mandate. You will get somewhat uncomfortable if you are not engaging in some aspect of our mandate to bring men, women, and children to Jesus and help them grow in their faith so they can reach others. You will think I sound like a broken record. You will talk to your friends as if your pastor got struck by a new disease called “evangelitis.” You will wish that you could just have a three point sermon where you felt good about yourself and was never asked to do anything. You will even feel like you are back in school because you now have homework to do during a week. Whoever heard of a church that gives homework?

So you have a decision to make: are you in or are you out? And I hope you will decide to be “in” because this will be an exciting journey. You will see God use you in some amazing ways as you live your life intentionally before your friends who might still be outside of Christ. You will experience Christ in a new and exciting way and you will see people come to the knowledge of this Messiah we love so much. And that, my friends, is one of the most exciting things we will experience this side of eternity!”

Please be in prayer for this Sunday and make every effort not to miss it. It will be powerful.  And if you quote me, please think about the dinner I might have to miss… 🙂

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade