Advancing the Gospel in 2021
When Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians he did not complain or grumble about the fact that he was imprisoned due to his faithful proclamation of the gospel. Instead, he expressed gratitude for the fact that the gospel was advancing because of his imprisonment. He wrote,
“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” (Philippians 1:12-4)
Imprisonment was not likely part of Paul’s plans to spread the gospel, yet he was able to see the sovereign hand of the Lord at work in his circumstances.
As 2021 is nearly upon us we will do well to think about how the Lord can use us to advance the gospel regardless of the unforeseen circumstances we experience in the coming year.
In light of this, the hope and prayer of the elders is that every member of Restoration Road Church will participate in the work of evangelism by engaging in the practices of praying, speaking, sharing and inviting.
Paul cared deeply for his fellow Jews and he was grieved when many of them failed to receive Jesus as the promised Messiah and savior of the world. In Romans 10:1 he wrote, “Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.” His desire for them to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus compelled him to pray for their salvation.
Every single one of us comes in to contact with unbelievers. The question to ask yourself is ‘whom has God placed in my life that has not yet trusted in Jesus for their salvation?’ As you think about these individuals consider whether or not you have a burden for them to become Christians. Having a burden for someone to be saved often begins with prayer. We encourage you to take time each week to pray for specific unbelievers whom God has placed in your life. Pray for their salvation and pray that the Lord will give you boldness through the Holy Spirit to share the gospel with them.
Brothers and sisters, just imagine the good fruit that will be produced in the life of our church if EVERY member is regularly praying for non-Christians and praying for boldness to be faithful witnesses for Jesus. I believe we will have wonderful testimonies of the gospel advancing if we pray in this way.
In Romans 10:14 Paul wrote, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”
Our desire is that we will be a church full of preachers – not meaning people who preach a sermon on a Sunday morning but believers who actively and intentionally proclaim the gospel to unbelievers in daily life through normal conversations. As you pray for people in your life, look for opportunities to have conversations with them whereby you share the good news of Jesus Christ. As you do so you can be confident that the gospel is “is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” (Romans 1:16)
Do not let the fear of man prevent you from telling others the life-giving truth of the gospel, which every sinner so desperately needs to hear. Remember, you might be the best chance that someone has to hear a clear presentation of the gospel. Do not make the mistake of assuming that a non-Christian in your life has had an opportunity to hear the gospel. Even non-Christians who have attended bible believing churches often times do not understand the gospel. If you need help knowing what to say we have resources to help you with this. We will be doing a 2-part evangelism training class in 2021. We also recommend the books Evangelism by Mack Stiles and What is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert to help you sharpen your evangelism skills.
Sometimes we don’t have the opportunity to have a lengthy conversation with a non-Christian whereby we are able to fully unpack the gospel. When we don’t have those opportunities, another option is to share a helpful resource such as a gospel tract or a Christian book. Our church has purchased hundreds of gospel tracts for our members to give away. One is called “Who is Jesus?” and another is entitled “What is the Gospel?” We would love for you to take as many as you need to give away to non-Christians. Another good resource is the book entitled Your Verdict on the Empty Tomb by Val Grieve. You can purchase copies of this book on 10ofthose.com for as cheap as $1 each. Another excellent book to give to non-Christians is A Doubter’s Guide to Jesus by John Dickson. This book is available for purchase in our bookstore.
Finally, we want to encourage every member to invite non-Christians to our Sunday gatherings where the gospel is proclaimed every week. We see in Scripture that the gathering of the church is primarily for believers, but we also see that it is not exclusively for believers. Hearing the gospel proclaimed in the gathering of the church is one way many have come to know Jesus. Listen to this testimony from Becket Cook, which he wrote in an article for the Gospel Coalition:
“With a highly successful career as a production designer in the fashion world, I lived as a fully engaged gay man in Hollywood. I had many boyfriends over the years; attended Pride Parades in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York; and marched in innumerable rallies for gay-marriage equality. My identity as a gay man was immutable, or so I thought.
But in 2009 I experienced something extraordinary: I had a radical encounter with Jesus Christ while attending an evangelical church in Hollywood for the first time (I was invited by a stranger I met at a coffee shop the week before). I walked into the church a gay atheist and walked out two hours later a born-again Christian, in love with Jesus. I was stunned by this reversal. Since then, I no longer identify as gay but rather choose to be celibate because I believe God’s plan and purpose—revealed in the Bible—is authoritative, true, and good.” (I encourage you to read the entire article here: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/hollywood-elliot-page-me/)
An invitation by a stranger was the catalyst for a wonderful conversion. Don’t underestimate how the Lord can use you simply by inviting a non-Christian to attend one of our gatherings.
As 2021 arrives let us recommit ourselves to being used by the Lord for the advance of the gospel. May every one of us participate in the work of praying, speaking, sharing and inviting. Whatever happens to us in 2021, we pray that we will be able to say, “I want you to know that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.”