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From Indifferent To The Gospel, To Hungry For the Gospel – In Two Minutes!

27 June 2013 3 Comments

Hi everyone,

Today I was in a shop doing some business.

While I was browsing, I got into conversation with a Middle Eastern shop assistant who would have been in his mid forties.middle eastern man

I said “Can I ask you a question?”

“What’s the best selling book in the world?”

“Harry Potter” he replied.

“No, it’s the Bible” I said, smiling.

“We just made a video which summarises the main message of this book in 11 minutes. Here, have this card” (a business card).

“Oh”, he said, “I am not really interested.”

(light heartedly) “So where do you think you’ll go when you die – heaven or hell?”

“I’d like to go to heaven, of course.”

“Can I ask you three questions?” (I then proceeded to take him through three of the ten commandments: lying, thieving, and murder.  He admitted he has broken all three commands).

So I said “Do you think God is going to let lying, thieving murderers like you and me into heaven?”

“Would heaven be heaven if it was filled with thieving, lying, murderers?

“I see what you mean” he said.

“The video I am talking about will show you the two things you must do to go to heaven. It’s impossible to get to heaven without doing these two things.”

“What are they?” he said.

“Watch the video” I said, as coolly as I could.

Check mate.

“I’ll definitely look at the video tonight” he said enthusiastically, now far more interested.

good news bad newsI came away rejoicing, and thinking “people must know they are lost and in desperate trouble, before they will come to appreciate the good news of the gospel. After all, good news can only be good news if it’s preceded by bad news.”

We in the Church too often make the tragic mistake of only talking about the good news: God loves you; he wants to bless you; make you rich; make you happy and fulfil all your dreams and plans; heal you of all your sicknesses and diseases; he wants to be the father you never had; he wants to be your friend and have a relationship with you, etc etc etc.

The problem is, the vast majority of NZ’ers are already blessed!

Or we only want to do “nice” things for the lost: hand out food parcels and set up soup kitchens, etc etc.

The problem is, 95% of New Zealanders can provide these things (i.e. food and soup) for themselves.

No wonder so many non-Christians view us as irrelevant, surplus to requirements.

Recently, I heard a pastor say in a sermon (seriously) “what we have to do to win our cities is go to into it’s communities and ask them what they want and then go and provide them with what they want.”

This is not Christianity. It’s madness. Imagine if Jesus had arrived on earth with that agenda?

What would the Pharisees have wanted? More power, more money, more honour, more prestige, more recognition.

The truth is, they didn’t want Jesus.  So much so, they killed Him.

What makes us think people alive today are any different?  As  the Bible says “The things of God are foolishness to those who are perishing” (1 Corinthians 1:18).

In their unregenerate state, people are dead to Christ (Ephesians 2:1 “And you has he quickened, who were once dead in trespasses and sins.”

So, they must be AWAKENED to their REAL need i.e. salvation.

The Holy Spirit achieves this through “the bad news.”  Just read John 16:8.

So many times I have heard Christians say “oh, it’s the goodness of God which leads to repentance (Romans 2:4)” so as to justify:

  • NOT talking to lost about their lostness, the trouble they are in with God, or hell.
  • only reaching out to the lost with social action, friendship, and kindness, arguing this is the best way to win the world.

But when one reads Romans 2:4 in context, the real meaning of this verse is quite different.

In Romans 2:4 Paul is saying to non-Christians “Just because God’s judgement has not fallen on you, and you are presently experiencing God’s blessing (e.g your business is going well, you are making a lot of money, your investments are flourishing, your family is healthy, the kids are doing well at school, and everyone in your family is getting on amazingly well etc etc), don’t think for a second that judgement won’t ever come.

At the moment He is showing you his kindness, forbearance and patience, wooing you with His goodness, and blessing you, giving you a chance and time to repent.

But a day is coming where God patience and forbearance and kindness will run out, and His judgement will come. So repent now while the going is good!”

In other words, the saying “God’s goodness leads us to repentance” is an exhortation to non-Christians to repent and turn to Jesus for salvation.

It’s about warning people of the inevitability of judgement.

Jesus on the cross 2

And how will they know about the coming judgement? About the bad news, and the good news?

That’s right – when someone goes to them to lovingly and graciously explain their terrifying predicament and God’s solution i.e. the bad news, followed by the good news.

For doesn’t the Bible clearly say “How will they hear unless we go? Who will tell them unless we speak?” (Romans 10:14-15).

You know the answer.

P.S Don’t get me wrong – social action, good works, and kindness are all critical aspects in the process of drawing non-Christians to Christ, and we are all called to abound in all three.

They “plough” the hearts of non-Christians, making them ready to receive the seed of the gospel, or they “water” the seed after it has been planted.

In summary, Romans 2:4 doesn’t teach they are the best way to win the world, so let’s stop misinterpreting this scripture.

The misinterpretation of this scripture is another device of the enemy to stop the Church evangelising.

To read Spurgeon on Romans 2:4, click here

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  • Carl says:

    Spot on! What a Holy Spirit moment!
    I’m going to try that Script next time someone says to me “I’m not interested” when I try to spark up a spiritual conversation. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that. And my default reaction is to immediately back off. But what have I got to lose if I push just that little bit harder on an initial rebuff??? The key is, as you emphasised in your script = light heartedly – although the question itself is perhaps the HEAVIEST question that will ever be asked: “So where do you think you’ll go when you die – heaven or hell?”.
    Isn’t that the question the Amazing Mr Genor spent his life asking people on George St, Sydney? Obviously there are going to be people who get offended if I cross that line; but how many will respond like this shop keeper? For the sake of them I must be bold as a lion, and the Holy Spirit is more than able to guide me if it is clear that I shouldn’t cross that line.
    Great work Julian. You are an inspiration to me. I love your blogs

  • Malcolm says:

    Great stuff again Julian – awesome…
    I would love to know, if you get the chance to follow that guy up, what he thought of what he saw/heard.

  • Julian Batchelor says:

    Hi Malcolm, I actually went back to the shop and asked the guy. He had not watched the video so I gave him another card. Watch this space! I visit the shop quite regularly so I’ll have further opportunities.

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