I have previously offered two blog posts on something that has been on my heart. First, I gave an overview of the different ways the Gospel is presented in the Bible. Second, I talked about some of the reasons why we may be ashamed of the Gospel.
But given the pressing issues of the world around us, I am convinced that Christians (and of course all apologists), need to make the Gospel the center of everything. In other words, proclaim it, share it, and please don’t be ashamed of it. Why do say this? If you haven’t noticed, the evidence for fallen humanity is all around us. Just turn on the news for an hour or so. Hence, the world hasn’t changed much since the days of Jesus.
In the synagogue at Nazareth, Jesus reads from Isaiah 61: “the Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” ( Luke 4:18-19 ). So according to Jesus, the prophecy is fulfilled in Jesus’ own ministry ( 4:21 ) since He has come to free the physically infirm, such as the blind ( 4:18 ) and the leprous ( 4:27 ; cf. 7:21 ; 9:6 ). (1)
Therefore, Jesus helps the materially poor, like the widow in Elijah’s day ( 4:25-26 ; cf. Luke 6:20-25 Luke 6:30-38 ). Yet the spiritually poor are primarily in view people broken and grieved by misery and poverty, oppression and injustice, suffering and death, national apostasy and personal sin, who in their extremity cry out to God to bring forth justice, bestow his mercy, and establish his kingdom ( Matt 5:3-10 ). Jesus has come to usher in the kingdom, to rescue the lost, to liberate the enslaved, to cure the afflicted, and to forgive the guilty ( Mark 2:5 Mark 2:10 Mark 2:17 ; 10:45 ; Luke 7:48-49 ; 19:10 ). (2)
Notice Jesus came to liberate the captives and people that are enslaved. Yes, people were held captive to demonic oppression in that day and they were enslaved to various sins. But when I look around, I see all kinds of people enslaved to many things. Let me point out some of them:
The War Between Israel and the Palestinians
First, we have an ongoing war in Israel that never ends. We have people there that are enslaved to hatred and anger. It just drags on and on. The Gospel is the only thing that can change a heart that is filled with that kind of hate.That’s why Jesus is the ultimate answer to the problem there. Governmental intervention is nice. But that won’t change the human condition.
As country, we are more racially divided than ever. The recent riots and debate over what happened with the Ferguson situation shows we still have a long, long, ways to go on this issue. It is clear we still have racism on both sides. Granted, this has come out even more since Obama took office. For people that enslaved to racism, this is sin and part of the fallen condition. And the Gospel is the only thing that can change the heart on that issue as well. By the way, for Christians that have succumbed to racism, you need to repent! That goes for both sides!
The things that are taking place overseas with the group ICIS is horrific. Christians and other people groups in Iraq are being butchered. Once again, people are enslaved to hatred, and here we see man’s inhumanity against man. Also, a real case of spiritual warfare is everywhere. While I am for a military intervention on a grand scale, the Gospel is the only thing that can change the human heart in this situation.
With the growing problems in the war in Israel, we see anti-Semitism is on the rise. I thought we made some progress after the Holocaust. But we see there is still plenty of hatred for the Jewish people. Once again, people are enslaved to hatred here. The Gospel is the only thing that can change the human heart here and set people from the being captive to this sin.
So remember, Jesus has come to usher in the kingdom, to rescue the lost, to liberate the enslaved, to cure the afflicted, and to forgive the guilty ( Mark 2:5 Mark 2:10 Mark 2:17 ; 10:45 ; Luke 7:48-49 ; 19:10 ). When you preach the Gospel to anyone, they are enslaved to something. It may be an addiction, pride, hatred, or a false ideology. But these sins are a symptom of a greater problem which is their rejection of the Gospel and a broken relationship with their Creator.
I could go on and on. But the point is that the evidence for fallen humanity is staring at us right in the face. Do we view people as being held captive and enslaved to things that are going to destroy them and others? Will you renew your commitment to preach the Gospel to people all around you? Please go the Lord in prayer and ask him to grant you he boldness you need to share the message that can set people free!
1. J. Knox Chamblin “Gospel” featured in Walter Elwell, Bakers Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 1996), 305-308.