Friday, April 5, 2013

The Gospel Ignorance

"So he (Paul) was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present." - Acts 17:17

On our recent trip to Southeast Asia we were continuously told, "I've never heard of Jesus" or "I had no idea that my sin could be paid for and forgiven." These are paraphrases of comments we heard several times a day after we had told the Gospel story to them. We were in restricted and closed countries so you might expect these comments. And yet, as I looked around, it seemed a large number of folks had smart phones (smarter than mine anyway) and every place we went and and stayed had wi-fi. So the majority of people are not living in isolated villages. In fact the places we went were pretty modern and it seems the same information that is available to you and me is also available to most of the folks who live in these two countries.

Then on the long flight from Seoul to Atlanta I was reminded that the "ignorance of the Gospel" is not limited to those who live in restricted countries. The man sitting next to me is 50 years old who lives in Jacksonville, FL. During the 13 hour flight I learned that he was a religious man; a good man who does many good things. As I "reasoned" with him about Christ and the Scriptures, he heard the Gospel and it was all new to him. 

In the week since we've been back home I have been reminded of the "Gospel ignorance" right here in our town. From the 20 year old young man I met on the street Wednesday to the man in his 70's we talked to the same day, the situation is the same; they had never had the Gospel explained to them. 

So in this high-tech age of knowledge and connectedness, how is it that we can get so much useless information to the masses and yet can't get the Gospel to them? As I think about this question, I am reminded that the Gospel message is best "gotten", understood and believed on a personal level; face to face. We read in Acts that it was Paul's custom (lifestyle) to go to the synagogues and market places and reason with whoever was there about Christ and the Scriptures. In other words, he went where people were to intentionally explain the Gospel. This is not an outdated method. It is effective as we read in Acts 13:49, "And the word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region". It can't be improved on and every Christ follower can do it.

Questions we must ask:
   1. Can I explain the Gospel?
   2. Am I looking for opportunities to reason with people about the Gospel?
   3. Do I believe people who don't hear and believe the Gospel are eternally separated from God?
   4. "How are they going to hear without a preacher (messenger, someone going to them)?" Romans 10:14c
   5. If I don't go tell them, who will?

May the Holy Spirit speak to us as we ponder these things,
Alan Perry, Missions Pastor

FYI: I will be leading a Conversational Evangelism training Saturday, April 13, 9:00 AM- 1:00 PM at the Light and Hope Training Center. We will be learning and practicing "reasoning" with people about the Gospel. Come and grow and share!