Sharing Jesus Part 5 – The Response

So far we have discussed with our friend ‘Pat’ the problem of evil in the world and the source of that problem in Adam’s sin against God. We discovered that the root cause of the evil deeds of men is also called sin and that it’s a problem we all have, again thanks to Adam rebelling against God. We also discovered that God presented a solution to the problem of the human sinful nature, in the person of Jesus Christ, his own Son, whom he sent to die on behalf of those who would repent of their sin and believe the message of the gospel – that Christ died for the sins of men. The message of the gospel requires a response.

Understand that as you approach the need for responding to the gospel, you and Pat are standing on ‘Holy Ground’. Approach the moment with much prayer – prayer that the Holy Spirit will let you know when the moment has arrived, and prayer that God will continue his supernatural work of drawing Pat to the foot of the Cross.

Be gentle, and don’t apply any pressure. Don’t ‘push’ for a response. That means forget emotional appeals. Let God do HIS work. It’s entirely possible that in the course of your conversation Pat might have privately trusted in Christ for salvation but just not told you. You might have to part ways before getting to a response. Don’t fret. God began the work in Pat and will bring it to pass.

With that in mind, and as one pastor (Allistair Begg) suggests, a couple of simple questions for your friend might be appropriate:

1. Based on what we’ve been talking about have you personally trusted Christ or are you still on the way?

If God has already brought Pat to a place of repentance and belief, you will find out and you can rejoide together. If you hear something like “I guess I’m still on the way.” You might ask:

2. How far along the way are you?

It’s a simple question that will require some thought to answer. Maximum sensitivity is needed here! (Satan hates this and will try and disrupt things.) Real difficulties in peoples’ lives sometimes surface. Your friend might want to go and think about it. Don’t push. Say something like “If you must leave, that’s fine.” Continue the conversation!

3. If you hear “I’m pretty far along the way, you can something like:

“Would you like to become a real Christian and be sure of it? Remember, you are standing on holy ground at that moment. When the answer is “yes”, you need to add one more thing to the conversation before leading in a prayer of response.

The last part of the conversation before a response should be about cost of becoming a Christian. Very few ‘methods’ ever talk about this all important subject. With the goal of obtaining a ‘decision’ for Christ, many of us charge right ahead without even mentioning it. However, obtaining decisions isn’t our goal. Our only goal is that a lost sinner repents of sin and genuinely trusts in Christ for salvation.

You can say something like “The moment you become a Christian, you MUST become a Christian. Are you ready for a revolution? To say no to sin, self, and secrecy?”

If God has done His work, the answer will still be ‘yes’. You might be asked to explain what the ‘revolution’ would look like. Be ready to lovingly share passages of scripture that talk about some of the ‘challenges’ facing the Christian who is open about his/her faith ((Matt. 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23). Be familiar with , which talks about the attitude of the world system toward Christians. The one whom God, not your clever speech, has brought to the Cross of Christ will be inwardly readya for the challenge.

It’s then that you can lead in a serious and solemn prayer:

“Dear Lord Jesus, I admit that I’m a helpless sinner before you. I’ve tried to clean up my act so many times and failed. I believe that the Bible is true when it says that you are the savior for my sin. I’ve considered the revolution that will come. I ask you to come forgive me of my sin and enable me to turn from sin and turn in faith to you. Fill me with your Holy Spirit. Give me a desire for your Word and to share the good news with others. Number me among those who are your own. In Jesus Name, Amen.”

Be mindful that a prayer like the above example is not part of a ‘formula’ for or ‘method’ of evangelism. Such a prayer is a response to a message that by nature demands a response. Such a prayer summarizes the conversation that has been going on for days, or weeks, or perhaps months. Therefore the content of the prayer is what’s important. It restates the problem (sin), the solution to the problem (Christ’s substitutionary death), and contains a personal plea for mercy and forgiveness, trusting that God will make good on his offer of salvation.

Also remember that the ‘Amen’ at the end of the prayer is just the beginning for the one who has now cast himself/herself upon the mercy of God and believed in Christ for salvation. There is now new life in a new creation in Christ, for the Bible tells us:

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” – 2 Cor 5:17

And finally, be ready to walk with a new believer and help him/her grow!

Christian songwriter and musician called this new life in Christ “The Great Adventure”. It’s a great description of what awaits the believer:

The Great Adventure

Saddle up your horses

Started out this morning
In the usual way
Chasing thoughts inside my head
Of all I had to do today
Another time around the circle
Try to make it better than the last

I opened up the Bible
And I read about me
Said, I’d been a prisoner
And God’s grace had set me free

And somewhere between the pages
It hit me like a lightning bolt
I saw a big frontier in front of me
And I heard somebody say, “Let’s go”

Saddle up your horses
We’ve got a trail to blaze
Through the wild blue yonder
Of God’s amazing grace

Let’s follow our Leader
Into the glorious unknown
This is a life like no other
This is the great adventure, yeah

Come on get ready
For the ride of your life
Gonna leave long faced religion
In a cloud of dust behind
And discover all the new horizons
Just waiting to be explored
This is what we were created for, yeah

Saddle up your horses
We’ve got a trail to blaze
Through the wild blue yonder
Of God’s amazing grace

Let’s follow our Leader
Into the glorious unknown
This is a life like no other
This is the great adventure

We’ll travel over, over mountains so high
We’ll go through valleys below
Still through it all, we’ll find that
This is the greatest journey
That the human heart will ever see

The love of God will take us far
Beyond my wildest dreams, yeah
Oh, saddle up your horses
Come on, get ready to ride

Saddle up your horses
We’ve got a trail to blaze
Through the wild blue yonder
Of God’s amazing grace

Let’s follow our Leader
Into the glorious unknown
This is a life like no other
This is the great adventure

Come on, this is the great adventure
Saddle up, saddle up your horses
We’ve got a trail to blaze
Through God’s amazing grace!

Sharing Jesus Part 1 – Starting a Conversation

Sharing Jesus Part 2 – The Sin Problem

Sharing Jesus Part 3 – The Sin Problem: How Bas Is It?

Sharing Jesus Part 4 – The Solution

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Redemption Accomplished

Redemption Accomplished

by Mike Riccardi

In case you’ve missed it, The Master’s Seminary has been doing an extended series of short videos outlining its key doctrinal distinctives and commitments. Topics have included commitments to the holiness and glory of God, 6-day creation, the inspiration and authority of Scripture, and the premillennial return of Christ. That series is continuing this week with key points of the doctrine of salvation, including man’s need, God’s plan of election, Christ’s atonement, and so on. You can find all of the videos (and more to come) at this link.

I had the privilege of giving voice to the Seminary’s commitment to the heart of the Gospel: redemption accomplished through the atonement of Christ. As an added bonus for the Cripplegate readers, I thought I’d publish the notes I prepared for the video. As can be expected, I had prepared more than made the final cut (my “gift” of long-windedness strikes again), so I thought this would be a good place to present the “excess fruit” of my preparation. I hope it’s a blessing to you.

I had the privilege of giving voice to the Seminary’s commitment to the heart of the Gospel: redemption accomplished through the atonement of Christ. As an added bonus for the Cripplegate readers, I thought I’d publish the notes I prepared for the video. As can be expected, I had prepared more than made the final cut (my “gift” of long-windedness strikes again), so I thought this would be a good place to present the “excess fruit” of my preparation. I hope it’s a blessing to you.

The Commitment

At The Master’s Seminary, the most fundamental of all of our commitments is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And the Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15 that at the very heart of the Gospel is that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. While man’s depravity establishes the need for salvation, and the Father’s unconditional election forms the plan of salvation, the atonement of God the Son is what accomplishes that redemption in space and time. And so if we are going to be fundamentally committed to the Gospel, we must be committed to an accurate, robust, biblical understanding of the atonement. And we are committed to that at The Master’s Seminary

Penal Substitution

If I had to choose one phrase to capture the significance of the nature of the atonement, I would say that the best summary phrase would be “penal substitution.” That is to say that on the cross, Jesus received in Himself the penalty for our sins as a substitute for us. 1 Peter 2:24 says, “And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” Isaiah 53:5 says, “He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His [wounds] we are healed.”

This means that the cross is not merely an example for us to show us how to live, though it is that. It’s not merely a demonstration of God’s love for humanity, though it is that. Most fundamentally, the cross is the innocent Son of God, standing in the place of guilty sinners, bearing in His own Person the full exercise of the righteous wrath of His Father against the sins of His people.

Propitiation

You see, our sins justly earned us the penalty of hell—of consummate spiritual death, of eternal punishment. And because God is a holy and just God, He must punish sin. God can’t simply sweep our sin under the rug and say, “Well, kids are going to be kids!” No, if God is holy, righteous, and good, sin must be paid for.

The problem is: hell is a penalty that none of us can ever pay. No one can survive an eternity of God’s judgment. But on that cross 2,000 years ago, God the Son stood in my place, and experienced the unmixed fury of hell itself, due to me because of my sin, and rose from the grave on the third day. Every ounce of the wrath of God against my sin—the wrath that I was sure to experience in hell—was fully satisfied, because it was fully borne by my Substitute. And so—praise God!—there is no wrath left for me!

This is what the Bible calls propitiation, borrowing from the language of Old Testament sacrifice.  On the Day of Atonement in Israel, the high priest would sprinkle the sacrificial blood on the mercy seat in the holy of holies. And through that blood, God’s wrath against Israel’s sin would be satisfied, appeased. In the same way, the New Testament speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ as our High Priest, who sprinkles His own blood on the mercy seat of God’s heavenly altar, such that God’s wrath is propitiated against His people.

Most fundamentally, the cross is the innocent Son of God, standing in the place of guilty sinners, bearing in His own Person the full exercise of the righteous wrath of His Father against the sins of His people, so that we who are guilty may be justly declared righteous.

Pictures of Penal Substitution

And so Scripture speaks of Christ as the Passover Lamb of Exodus 12, who has been sacrificed in our place (cf. 1 Cor 5:7). He is the Scapegoat of Leviticus 16, who bears the sins of God’s people and is banished from God’s presence (Lev 16:10). He is the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53, who justifies the many by bearing their iniquities (Isa 53:11). Galatians 3:13 tells us that Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. Mark 10:45: The Son of Man came to give His life as a ransom for many. Scripture is just shot through with imagery of penal substitutionary atonement! And that is because it is the very foundation of the Gospel itself.

And so on the cross, Christ paid the penalty for the sins of His people, bearing the fullness of the Father’s wrath against them, and thereby purchasing a people for His own possession.

Actual Atonement

And when that wrath was satisfied, Jesus cried out in triumph, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). In that moment, the work that the Father had given Him to do was completed. Redemption had been accomplished. The salvation of all those whom the Father had given to the Son (cf. John 6:37, 39; 17:9, 11, 24) was infallibly secured 2,000 years ago on Golgotha. And Jesus will lose none that the Father has given Him, but He will raise them up on the last day (John 6:39).

You see, this was not a nameless, faceless, potential atonement, whose benefits have to be activated by the sinner’s will. This is a particular, efficacious, actual atonement—sovereignly accomplished by the Son—the benefits of which are enjoyed by all whom the Father chose and whom the Spirit regenerates. Redemption is a divine work from beginning to end.

Atonement and Imputation

We can sum it all up this way: On the cross, the Father treated Jesus as if He lived my life of sin, and punished my sin in Him. And because He did, He can now treat me as if I lived Jesus’ life of righteousness, and receive me—a sinner!—into His holy presence to enjoy fellowship with Him. And this He does for everyone who repents of their sins, and trusts in Christ alone for righteousness.

Worthy-is-the-Lamb[1]

Conclusion: Worship

But we can’t end without saying this: An accurate theology of the atonement must lead to a transcendent doxology for the atonement. If all of what I just spoke about is just an academic exercise, or just intellectual jousting—if these truths don’t bow you down in worship—you’ve missed the entire point of theology.

Satan has an excellent theology of the atonement. The demons believe and shudder, James 2:19. The difference is: they are not beneficiaries of Christ’s atonement. But we His people are beneficiaries. And so we study not as dispassionate theorists, but as blood-bought, redeemed sinners. TMS aims to train our future pastors to do theology as worshipers, and not merely as analysts. Theology must lead to doxology. Analysis must lead to adoration.

And so our commitment to understanding the atonement must culminate in the song of the saints in Revelation 5: “Worthy are You,” O Christ, “for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.”

HT: The Cripplegagte