As we find ourselves in unprecedented circumstances, attempting to navigate through virus-infected waters, it would not be surprising at all to feel like we just don’t know what to do. I have been pondering this same question over the past several months with regards to the local church God has given me the privilege of serving. What are we supposed to do? What is the best thing to do in these circumstances? Well, after laboring over those questions through prayer and wise counsel, I believe I have an answer, at least as far as the church is concerned.
I believe God has given his children some very specific instructions about what we should be doing right now. These instructions do not include any phrase resembling, “if you feel like it,” “if it’s convenient for you,” or “as long there are no challenging circumstances in the world.” The body of Christ, for whom He shed His blood on the cross of Calvary, has been commanded to “make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20). The church, which is made up of the people of God, is supposed to be preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ with love and compassion.
Now, if someone on the street asked you to explain the Gospel message, would you be able to do it? Let’s think about that for a moment. How would you respond? What would you say? What facts would you include? What would you leave out? How simple would you make it? Would you talk about sin and the need for forgiveness? Would you discuss the love of God? Would you mention heaven and hell? More importantly, shouldn’t every Christian be able to explain the Gospel? After all, you have to understand the Gospel in order to believe the Gospel, and you have to believe the Gospel in order to be saved from your sin. I firmly believe every person who calls themselves a follower of Jesus must be able to share the Gospel and point someone else to Jesus.
So, just to be sure we are all on the same page, here is a summary of the Gospel message: “God the Father, who is holy and righteous in all his ways, is angry with sinners and will punish sin. Man, who disobeys the rule of God, is alienated from the love of God and is in danger of an eternal and agonizing condemnation at the hands of God. But God, who is also rich in mercy, because of his great love, sent his eternal Son born by the Virgin Mary, to die as a ransom and a substitute for the sins of rebellious people. And now, through the perfect obedience of the Son of God and his willing death on the cross as payment for our sins, all who repent and believe in Jesus Christ, following him as Savior and Lord, will be saved from the wrath of God to come, be declared just in his sight, have eternal life, and receive the Spirit of God as a foretaste of the glories of heaven with God himself” (Thabiti M. Anyabwile, What is a Healthy Church Member, 40-41).
This is the message of the Bible. This is the message of love and forgiveness. This is a message of freedom from sin and its consequences. Hear me, all you people of God: this is what we are supposed to be doing, now, more than ever. We are called and commanded to testify to the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He lived a perfect life. He died a sinner’s death. He rose victoriously from the grave and he is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. He is Lord of all and he offers the free gift of salvation to all who would repent and believe, by grace through faith. Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart. I beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.