In a church culture that often lacks true Biblical understanding, the root of the issue is often a lack of evangelism. This absence of evangelism takes root as a symptom of an unhealthy relationship with God. If healthy Christians share the Gospel, how can healthy churches prioritize evangelism? In this message on Biblical Evangelism, Pastor Mike Kelsey continues to walk through one of the 12 traits of a Biblical Church. As Pastor Mike Kelsey unpacks 2 Corinthians 5, he explains the responsibility of Christians who are entrusted to share the Gospel.
- What is Evangelism?
- Why do we avoid Evangelism?
- Analyzing 2 Corinthians 5
- The potential of Evangelism
You Need Biblical Evangelism
All right, good morning. How’s everybody doing?
Good. It’s good to be together here at Tyson’s. I’m going to give a shout-out to those of you that are watching online and at our different locations, Montgomery County, Prince William, Arlington. I want to give a special shout out to all y’all out at our Louden location, worshiping for the first time, everybody this Sunday at their brand new location in an amazing high school. I think we got some pictures.
While y’all look at these pictures, all of our other locations, can we just give a special welcome to everybody out at Louden? Shout out to y’all at Louden. We are super excited for just this new season in the life of your location there, and just excited about what God has planned. We’ve been in this series; Why You Need a Biblical Church. Why I need a Biblical Church. And that we’ve been walking through as a part of that series, these 12 traits of a Biblical church.
And really what we’re saying is our best way to summarize based on what’s taught in the New Testament, what a healthy church looks like. And today we are talking about everybody’s favorite subject, evangelism. That was a joke if you’re new to church. We’re talking about biblical evangelism.
Now, here’s why I made that joke because as soon as I say that, there’s so much baggage associated even just with the term evangelism. And that produces all kinds of reactions in us, depending on how long you grew up in church or what your experience has been like. And so when we think about evangelism, when we think about this responsibility of verbally proclaiming the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. Some of us who are followers of Jesus, if we’re honest, some of us are just afraid to do it.
We know we’re supposed to do it, we’ve heard that in church, all our lives growing up or for however long we’ve been a Christian. And to be honest with you, every time it comes up, we just walk away with this overwhelming sense of guilt about it.
Are You Afraid to Share the Gospel?
And we’re just afraid to share the gospel. And listen, I know a lot of people think preachers are just naturally bold and courageous when it comes to that. not this preacher. It is easy for me to… honestly, because of the way that I’m gifted and the way God called me to serve the church, it’s easy for me to stand in front of thousands of people and proclaim the gospel. And that is a part of evangelism. We see that in the New Testament, but very difficult for me. I get butterflies in my stomach. I trip over my words. My wife will attest to that.
Sometimes I just sound like a blubbering fool when I’m trying to share the gospel interpersonally, particularly with strangers. It’s not something that is just natural for me to do. It’s something that I have to pray about and grow in faithfulness in. So some of us are afraid to do it. Others of us, if we’re honest, we’re ashamed.
And not necessarily ashamed of Jesus and the gospel. Maybe we actually trust Jesus and we believe the gospel. But if we’re honest, we’re ashamed to be associated with crazy Christians, right? Because can we be honest for a second? When we look throughout history, there have been some shameful things and there have been some very un-Christlike and ungodly things that have been done in the name of evangelism. And a lot of us, we don’t want to be associated with the crazy uncles in the family of God.
Those things that we’re like, “I don’t distance myself,” you from that, right? Where you can’t even be like a normal person. You show up to the soccer game, you show up to the football game and somebody says, “Man, it is hot out here.” And that person says, “I know what else is hot. Hell. Hell.” Right? For real. I’m just trying to watch my kid play soccer. That’s it. You know what I’m saying? Right? So we’ve been around some of that. It’s just any spectrum of weird to actually un-Christlike. But some of us are ashamed and we don’t want to be associated right with a particular version of evangelism or of Christianity. But others of us, if we’re honest, we’ve kind of bought into a logic that we don’t apply to anything else other than Christianity.
And here’s the logic. This is the logic in our culture. And if you’re here, you’re not a follower of Jesus, maybe a friend invited you, maybe you’ve said this or thought this before, and this is the logic that is prevalent in our culture. Christianity might be good for you, but don’t go spreading it and trying to convert people. That’s the logic. It might be good for you. I don’t have no issue with it. We are in a pluralistic society and that works for you. I don’t have any problem with you going to church, but I do have a problem with you going around and telling people that that’s the only way, going around and trying to actually persuade people to become a Christian. And listen, we don’t apply that logic to anything else other than religion, particularly Christianity. We don’t.
We’re super vocal and passionate about the things that we deeply believe to be true about a variety of different issues in our culture. And even when it comes to things like medical health, my dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer earlier this year, and by God’s grace and through medical doctors, he had surgery and he’s cancer-free actually today. Right now, actually, it’s his first Sunday back in his pulpit in two months, right? Praise God for that.
But imagine a doctor who knows the cure. There’s no necessarily a cure yet for cancer, but knows the treatment that’s necessary for it. Imagine a doctor saying, “Listen, there’s treatment that’s good for some people, but maybe treatment isn’t good for you.” No. It was at the point where the doctor knew you have to get treatment. Whether you believe it or not I have a responsibility as someone who knows the truth to tell you the truth. And so here’s my point in all of that. Listen. And this isn’t made to make you feel guilty, but it’s just the reality. The absence of evangelism is a symptom of something unhealthy in our relationship with God.
That’s true in our relationship with God, and we know it to be true just in general. Ladies, one second. Let me just give you an example, ladies, just real quick. All right, fellas, I’m sorry. But let me just give you an example. Let’s say you meet a guy and y’all kind of get to know each other a little bit, and you kind of start dating and you’re spending time together and it’s amazing. And you’re feeling all the things and you talk to your mom about Him and your girls about Him and the people in your church group about Him and just so excited. He ends up just visiting McLean Bible Church one day, and you’re like, “Wow, He looks like that. And he’s a Christian. This must be a match made in heaven.” And so he shows up to church one day. And you know he’s coming, and your girls are so excited to meet him, and you see him in the lobby, he sees you. He runs the other side. He just hides from you.
I know. Exactly. I told you the story at nine o’clock and I was in the lobby afterwards and somebody said, “That actually happened to me at my church back home.” I was like, “Wow. It was just a hypothetical. I’m so sorry.” But just a matter… I’ll be honest with you. Me and my wife, she’s leading worship today out at Montgomery County location. Love you, babe. Sorry for the story. But I remember when me and my wife were dating and she was on staff here at McLean Bible Church, and I had just joined staff, and I was very serious as a new person on staff. I don’t want people to just think I’m just here because of you and whatever. So I showed up to all staff meeting. And y’all, I didn’t sit beside her.
I was just like, because… you know what I mean? It didn’t go well. Now we’re married, right? Spoiler alert, it worked out. All right, we’re good. But there was something wrong, right? Something wrong. And so when it comes to our relationship with God, because listen, anybody that is special to you in private, that you genuinely love in private, at some point you are going to be proud to talk about them in public.
The Absence of Evangelism Is A Symptom
And so listen, the absence of evangelism is a symptom that something is unhealthy in your relationship with God. Healthy Christians share the gospel, and healthy churches prioritize evangelism in the life of that church.
I think about something Tim Keller said. He’s a pastor and a writer. He said the American way of planting churches is to plant worship services. What you do is plan a service. That’s a great show with great music. The only way that really grows is if you suck people away from other churches. See, this is what happens, right?
When we just build the show to attract people, all we actually do is we end up just swapping Christians around from church to church. And so it may seem like our churches are getting bigger, but the percentage of Christians is actually shrinking in our city. And that’s why I say healthy churches prioritize evangelism of getting out of the four walls and actually sharing the gospel with people that need to meet Jesus. Mortimer Oriah said this. He said, every generation of Christians has the unique and non-transferable responsibility of sharing good the good news with its own generation.
We have that responsibility as those who have been entrusted with the gospel, those of us who are followers of Jesus. And that’s what I want us to talk about, and that’s what we see in 2 Corinthians 5. I’m going to read verses 16 to 21, and then we’ll unpack it together. If you don’t have a Bible with you, we’ll have the verses up on the screen. This is Paul writing to the Christians in Corinth, and he writes this in verse 16. He says, “From now on, therefore we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he’s a new creation. The old has passed away. Behold the new has come. All this,” Paul says, “Is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”
“That is in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake, He made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Listen, let me give you my outline up front so you can follow where we’re going. We’re going to look at four aspects of evangelism, and I’m going to land on two questions that I want you to reflect on. And so if you’re taking notes, here’s where we’re going. We’re going to look at the urgency of evangelism, the potential of evangelism, the privilege of evangelism, and the message of evangelism.
The urgency, the potential, the privilege, and the message of evangelism. And what I’ve been praying for this weekend for myself and for all of us who follow Jesus, is that God would change our perspective on evangelism and give us the courage to share the gospel. And if you’re not a follower of Jesus, my prayer is that you’ll have a better understanding today of why you need Jesus, and why the Christians in your life are so eager for you to know and to trust him.
Let me just pray. Father, I pray that you will work in our hearts as we study your word. I pray this in Jesus name. Amen.
The Urgency of Evangelism
All right, the urgency of evangelism. Let’s dive into it. Verse 16, Paul writes this. He says, “From now on, therefore we regard no one according to the flesh.” Now, let me explain this, and I’m going to make the connection to the urgency of evangelism. The new international version translates it this way.
Paul says, “From now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view.” And Paul is highlighting here a temptation that we all struggle with. And it’s the same thing that God warned the prophet Samuel about in 1 Samuel 16. If you’re familiar with the Bible, you remember when the prophet Samuel was evaluating Jesse’s sons to see which one of them God had chosen to be king. And Samuel was evaluating the sons just based on their physical appearance and their physical stature. And God said to him, “Man looks at the outward appearance,” but God looks at what?
God looks at the heart.
And Paul, in 2 Corinthians 5 is highlighting the same temptation. And it’s a temptation that we all struggle with to make judgements about people based on outward appearances or based on superficial standards. And this is super obvious in middle school and high school. So here, any of our locations, if you’re in middle school or high school, raise your hand real quick. I’m not going to ask you to do nothing embarrassing. Raise your hand. We got a lot of y’all here and I’m sure out at our other locations. All right, let me just say, this is just a sidebar real quick. I’m just going to be honest. I don’t really understand y’all’s style these days. I’m just going to be honest.
I got a daughter who’s in middle school. Can I just say, y’all dress like y’all staying home sick. That’s what it looks like to me. You know what I’m saying? It’s just oversized clothes and you don’t wear proper shoes. Just be wearing slides and Crocs and Birkenstocks with socks on. You know what I mean? You look like you didn’t really feel like getting dressed, but you had to run to the store real quick. That’s what it looks like to me. But it’s a thing, it’s a vibe. Y’all have your style. This is me aging myself. Now you got your style. And students, you see this all of the time where people in your school get treated differently based on the clothes they wear, or maybe based on the sports they play, or their physical appearance. Maybe it’s all kinds of different things that kind of make you a part of the popular crowd. And if you fit into that crowd, people look up to you. And if you don’t fit into that crowd, you’ve seen it before.
Sometimes people can look down on you or make fun of you or treat you differently. But this isn’t just true when we’re teenagers. If we’re not careful, those same tendencies just get more serious and sophisticated when we get older. And now we begin to value people based on how much money they have or how big their house is, or how prestigious their job is, or how nice their car is, or how eloquent or impressive they are.
And the problem is that we can bring that same way of thinking, that same way of assessing people into the Christian life. And that’s what was happening in the Corinthian church. They took the value system of their culture and just imported it into the church. And here’s what tends to happen. In our sinful nature, we tend to move toward people that society says are valuable, and we tend to stay away from people that society says are invaluable. But listen, oftentimes it’s the exact opposite when it comes to evangelism.
It’s easier to share the gospel with people that society says aren’t valuable. And that’s partly why we are more bold when we go on mission trips to developing countries because if we’re honest, we’re not really worried about what they think of us. But it’s much more difficult to share the gospel with our colleague, or our classmate, or our family member. And that’s what Paul means by regarding people according to the flesh. And Paul says, “As Christians, we should see people, all people, the way God sees them. And it should give us an overwhelming sense of urgency to share the gospel with them no matter how much money they have, no matter what school they went to, no matter what kind of clothes they wear or what country they’re from. It should give this of this urgency to share the gospel with the people around us.”
Building up to verse 16, Paul points out two things we need to remember about ourselves and about every single person we interact with. And here’s the first thing God reveals about every person. Every single person will stand before God. And I don’t want you to just think about people in general. I want you to think about yourself, and I want you to think about people. I want you to see their faces. I want you to think about their names. Every single person will stand before God.
So you look back in verses nine and 10. Look at what Paul says. He says, “So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him, to please God, for we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others.”
He’s saying every single person will stand before God one day, and God will judge two primary groups of people; those who have put their trust in Jesus, and those who have not put their trust in Jesus. And you say, “Wait a minute, I thought those who put their trust in Jesus won’t experience any kind of judgment.” Well, in one sense that’s true, but another sense that’s not true. There is a judgment. It’s what Paul calls here, the judgment seat of Christ. For those who have put their trust in Jesus, our sin as we’ll see in a minute, has already been forgiven through the work of Jesus on the cross.
So listen, for those who have put their trust in Jesus, judgment day will be a day of presentation. And here’s what I mean. It’ll be the day where we stand before Jesus and all the works we’ve done out of our love for him and for his glory will be presented to him as a gift of gratitude and worship. And everything that we’ve sacrificed for His glory in this life will be converted into eternal rewards in the life to come.
I think about when we planned my grandmother’s 80th birthday, and we surprised her with this cruise, and I remember that moment where she stepped onto that boat and there were over 100 of us just waiting there for her. We’ve been planning all of these things for all of this time and making so many sacrifices. And it was all worth it in that moment where we got to see the joy in her eyes. That is the day where we’ll stand before God, covered in the blood of Jesus and everything that we’ve done for his glory and out of love for him, we will be able to present it to him on that day. And Paul is living his life for that day when he will finally stand before his savior. And his ultimate goal in life is to please him.
And so for those who have put their trust in Jesus, judgment day will be a day of presentation. But for those who have not put their trust in Jesus, judgment day will be a day of condemnation.
A day we’re apart from Christ, we will have to pay for our own sins. We won’t be able to pay God off with our good works. Listen, we will not be able to persuade God with our own moral reasoning. On that day it will be too late. And we’ll realize that God really is more holy than we thought he was, and that his standards are higher than we thought they were. That he demands perfect righteousness and we don’t have it. And he judges sin and we’re guilty of it. And whether we’re in church or out of church, religious or not religious. If we’ve never genuinely put our trust in Jesus, he will look at us with tears in his eyes and he will say, depart from me. I never knew you.
And we will be cut off for all of eternity from his presence. Every single person will stand before God one day. But that’s not the only thing that’s true about us and everyone around us. Here’s what’s also true. Not only will every person stand before God, but every single person is loved by God.
Look at what Paul writes in verse 14. He says, “For the love of Christ controls us, because we’ve concluded this; that one has died for all, therefore all have died, and he died for all that those who live might no longer live for themselves, but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” And here’s what Paul means. He’s not talking about his love for Christ. He’s talking about Christ’s love for him and for all of humanity. Remember what Paul wrote in Romans 5:8. He says, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” And that’s the same thing that Paul is saying in 2 Corinthians 5.
He’s saying, “How do we know Christ loves us? How do we know? It’s because he died for all and therefore all died.” And that sounds confusing, but all it means is that Jesus died the death that we deserve. And when we trust in him, his death counts as our death. That moment of separation from God counts as the punishment that we deserve. And so here’s what Paul is saying. He’s saying the realization of Christ’s love, his sacrificial love is so overwhelming and it controls the way we live. And it controls the way we see people and interact with them. It controls our priorities in life, and it compels us to share that love with everyone we can.
And this is what I mean by the urgency of evangelism, that when you begin to see people the way God sees them, and not just people in general, but specific people that God brings into your life, when you begin to see them the way God sees them, then you want them to know what God has done for them. It becomes urgent to you that they know. And you begin to wonder. If you sit in a restaurant with this waiter who’s so nice and so kind, you begin to wonder with your neighbors and with family members, do they really know and really believe that they will one day stand before God? Do they really know and do they really believe that they are loved by God? Do they really know, do they really believe what Jesus has done for them? And what if they don’t know? What if they don’t really believe? And what if God has put me in their life to share that with them in the same way that somebody shared that with me?
Begin to feel this urgency, and that’s when you begin to realize that God is inviting you in your day-to-day interactions with people, that in the relationships that he’s put in your life, that God is inviting you into this supernatural adventure with him.
The Potential of Evangelism
And that’s what I mean by this second aspect of evangelism. The potential of evangelism. You think about Paul before he became a Christian. And he references this in verse 16. He says, “From now on, therefore we regard no one according to the flesh.” And then here’s the Twitter version of his testimony. Look at what he says. He says in one sentence, “Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no more.” You got to remember he grew up Jewish, and there was a time where he absolutely hated Jesus. He saw Jesus as just another human teacher and the gospel as just another human idea and a blasphemous one at that. But then his eyes were opened. And his heart was changed, and he could no longer deny that Jesus is the Messiah. That Jesus is Lord, fully God and fully man. That he had come from heaven to reveal the kingdom of God and to sacrifice his life for our sins and to kickstart the new creation through his resurrection.
And now he understood in verse 19, that in Christ, God was at work. God, the Father was at work reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against him.
And so Paul turned from his sin and his self-righteousness, and he made a personal decision to entrust his life to the resurrected Lord, his savior Jesus. And from that moment on, everything changed. Everything changed. And everything can change for the people that God has brought in your life. And this is what Paul means in verse 17. It’s his own story, but it’s the story of everyone who puts their trust in Jesus. Listen, you got to understand this. Listen, Jesus’ resurrection was so much more than just proof that he was God. That’s why the Bible talks about Jesus’ resurrection as the first fruits of a completely new creation.
That when his physical body was resurrected, it was a sign that God was at work in the world beginning the process of one day renewing everything that has been spoiled by sin and suffering. And this is why the New Testament writers look forward to what they call the new heavens and the new Earth, where God’s people will live with him with glorified bodies in a glorious new world. There is a new creation coming at the end of this phase of history when Jesus returns. But that new creation, that miraculous transformation begins right now in our hearts, the moment we trust in Jesus. And that’s why Paul says in verse 17. He says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he or she is a new creation.”
The old has passed away. Behold the new has come. And this is one of my favorite verses. This is one of my favorite verses when I first surrender my life to Jesus as a college student, because it described what was happening to me. It described the transformation that I was experiencing from the inside out. Described that God was giving me a new heart. He was giving me a new desire to worship him and a new power to obey him, a new purpose to live for him. He was giving me a new peace that allowed me to rest in him. Everything changed when I trusted in Jesus and became a new creation. And that’s what I mean by the potential of evangelism. Listen to me, follower of Jesus.
When we have an opportunity to talk to somebody about Jesus, whether it’s a stranger or somebody we know, here’s what we tend to be obsessed with. We tend to think, what if this person rejects the gospel? Or what if this person continues to reject the gospel? What if they reject me? And it paralyzes us. But here’s what I mean about the potential of evangelism. What if instead of being paralyzed by the question, what if they reject the gospel, we became energized by the question; but what if they receive the gospel?
Lives Could Be Transformed
I know I’m afraid. I know I don’t have all the perfect words, but if I believe the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, and that the Holy Spirit works supernaturally through the proclamation of his word, what if through my weak and inadequate presentation of the gospel, through just a conversation about who Jesus is, what if they actually received the gospel? Wouldn’t that make all the fear and awkwardness worth it? See, that’s the potential of evangelism, that we don’t know how God might use that conversation or how God may have already been working in that person’s heart. But what if they actually received the gospel? Everything in their life would change. They would literally be transformed into a brand new person, a new creation.
Their future would be changed forever. Imagine this for your kids. Imagine this for your best friend. Imagine this for your neighbor. Imagine this for the coworker that just mocks Christianity and tries to poke through the reliability of the Bible, and whose heart is just so hard toward Jesus and maybe even toward religion in general. Imagine if the power of God were to actually transform their heart in the way that it transformed yours.
And imagine what God could do through your feeble efforts. Listen, the only way to grow in evangelism is to stop focusing ourselves. This is the type of prayerful optimism that we need. If we want to grow, we got to stop focusing on ourselves, and we got to start focusing on and imagine what God might do in that person’s life through the power of the gospel. Stop focusing on our fear and our reputation and our comfort because it’s God.
God is the one who has to work in their lives. And listen, he chooses to do that through us. And that’s what Paul says in verse 18. And that leads us to this next aspect of evangelism. The privilege of evangelism. And I know we don’t see it this way, but this is what I’ve been praying for myself and for all of us that we would see it as a privilege. Because look at what Paul says. Verse 18. He says, “All this is from God who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. That is in Christ. God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against him and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we’re ambassadors for Christ.”
And this is the part that blows me away. “God making his appeal through us.” You follow the pattern here in verses 18 to 20. Paul is talking about what has personally happened to him and the other missionaries with him, but it’s the same pattern for every single follower of Jesus. And here’s the pattern of following Jesus. God has worked for us by sending Jesus to make reconciliation possible. God works in us as we put our trust in Jesus so that we can enjoy that reconciliation. And then God works through us as ambassadors for Christ to bring that message of reconciliation to others. And so you’re like, “Well, what if they don’t believe me?” It’s not about them believing you because it’s not your message.
If you’re not a follower of Jesus, you got to understand this is why we’re so passionate about sharing the gospel. It’s not because we’re so smart. It’s not because our moral or philosophy is so high and lofty and superior to anybody else’s. Simply because we have experienced and had an encounter with Jesus. And we’ve seen him revealed in his word, his reliable word. And we know that he rose from the grave. And there literally has been no significant or compelling proof to say otherwise. And we know that He’s the one who has said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” And he laid down his life. And so when we share the gospel and we talk to you about Jesus, all we’re saying is we believe him.
Yeah. We believe him. We believe him more than the philosophy professor. We believe him more than we believe ourselves. We believe him more than we believe TikTok or what somebody has to say in a Snap. We believe Jesus, the one who actually rose, who said he was going to rise from the dead and actually did it. We believe him.
And we’ve been sent as his ambassadors.
The World Is Not Our Home
And so listen, ambassadors live in a foreign country as official representatives of their home country. This world is not our home. It’s not our home. It’s not our home. How people respond to us is not our utmost concern. We’re not from here ultimately. As we understand the world now, there’s this world with God where he dwells that we’re looking forward to. And so God calls us to be ambassadors for Christ, ambassadors as citizens of the kingdom of God. And so what does living as an ambassador for Christ look like? Well, I could tell you if I had like 55 more minutes and I don’t. But listen, there’s training here at the Tyson’s location, incredible training. All of our locations has different ways for you to grow in evangelism and sharing the gospel. Just talk to somebody at your location or here at Tyson’s. If you’re watching online, just email us.
But let me just simplify this as best as I can. What does it look like to live an ambassador of Jesus? This is the simplest I can put it. Listen, you get to know people and you help people get to know Jesus.
That’s as simple as I can make it. Listen to me. Teenagers, this is what it means in your high school as a Christian. I know it’s not necessarily popular, but this is what it means to be an ambassador of Jesus. It doesn’t mean you got to be weird. It doesn’t mean that you have to be a jerk about it. It doesn’t mean that you have to be obnoxious. It doesn’t mean you’re self-righteous. It means you understand who Jesus is and you have received mercy from him through his blood. And you share that message. You get to know people, which is so important, y’all. Because so often we give off the perception that we don’t actually care about people. We just care about evangelism. And Jesus didn’t call us to care about evangelism. He called us to care about people.
Why We Share the Gospel
We share the gospel because we care about people, because God cares about people. So we get to know people. We get to know how they think and what they love and what’s hurting them in their lives right now. And their stories. We get to know them. And we just have normal conversations and we talk about sports, and we talk about our jobs and our work and their kids, and we get to know people because we genuinely love people like God loves them then. But we don’t stop there. We don’t stop there.
So many people in the old generation that says we stop there. We just get to know people and we just shine the light of Jesus just through how wonderful we are. No, no. We get to know people, but then we help people get to know Jesus.
Through intercession on their behalf and demonstration through our life and our character as we model what the kingdom of God looks like and through conversation, actually opening our mouths to talk to them about Jesus, what he’s done and revealed in the gospel and what he’s done in our own lives. And it’s going to look different for all of us. For all of us. But this isn’t just an individual thing.
This is why we partner together as members in a local church, because together as ambassadors, we become this embassy of the kingdom of God, and we partner together to proclaim this good news to the city and the community in which God has placed us. This is the privilege of evangelism, that we get to open our mouths and God makes his appeal through us. And here’s the last aspect, and this is where we’ll land. The message of evangelism. What do we actually say to people? What’s right here in these verses?
Verse 20, Paul says, “We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” For our sake, he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. And y’all listen, if I could pick one verse on an airplane, one verse in the whole Bible to explain the bare minimum of the gospel to someone. I’ll probably have to pull in from further up in chapter five for the resurrection, because it’s not right here in verse 20 and 21. But it’s all right here. Listen, the questions that we’re asking as human beings have been answered in the gospel, and we see it right here in verses 20 and 21. What is our deepest problem? All of us know there’s a problem. All of us know that this world isn’t the way it should be, and all of us know that we aren’t the way we should be.
What is the problem? Well, our deepest problem is revealed right here. Our deepest problem is separation from God.
And that’s not our only problem. There’s so many other problems in our world. There’s natural disasters that we just went through in Florida and in South Carolina just this weekend. And there’s physical suffering and emotional pain and suffering, and there’s injustice in the world that is an offense to the God who made us in his image. There are all kinds of problems in our world and all kinds of problems in our lives. But listen, our deepest problem is separation from God. That our sin has separated us from God. And we may have never said this with our lips, but with our lives, we have said, “God, you are not good enough or wise enough or trustworthy enough for me to live under your authority.”
And so in our arrogance, we have received every good and perfect gift from him, and we have turned from him and said, “But God, I don’t need you. I’m living my own way.” And that sin separates us from God. So the question is how do we fix it? And there’s so many solutions that are advertised in our culture, but how do we fix it? If separation from God is our deepest problem, then how do we fix it? And the answer is we can’t. We cannot. Why? Because a relationship with God requires perfect righteousness. And we’ve already established that we don’t fit the standard of perfect righteousness. We don’t even live up to our own standards, much less God’s standards. And so guess what? God has to fix the problem for us.
And I want you to notice something. It says, be reconciled. It’s passive. It doesn’t say reconcile yourself. This is something that we can’t do. God is the one who has to do this, and God is the one who has to set the terms for reconciliation. This is not a negotiation. These are not two parties who are both wrong, who have to compromise on a solution. No, we are 100% guilty. He is 100% innocent, and he has to set the terms of reconciliation. And he has. And so you say, “Okay, so then how does God fix this? How does he fix it?” It’s right here. He fixes it by forgiving our sins through Jesus.
We see it right here in verses 20 and 21, that Jesus is not just another teacher or prophet. Jesus is the Christ. We see that in verse 20. The divine Messiah, fully God, fully man. He lived a sinless life. Verse 21, he knew no sin and he died on the cross for our sins. God, the Father treated him on the cross like a sinner. And here’s that phrase, that he made him who knew no sin to be sin so that we might become the righteousness of God. The best, most simple way I can summarize that is God treated Jesus as if he lived your life. And when you trust in Jesus, God treats you as if you lived Jesus’ life.
So God justifies us on the basis of what Jesus has done. He forgives us because of Jesus’ death and his resurrection. But he doesn’t just stop there. He doesn’t just stop there. I love this thought from this New Testament scholar that I was reading who said, “Listen, if you were in a courtroom and you saw a judge who justifies somebody, that’s just a judicial term. If they acquit an accused person without ever entering into any personal relationship with that person, the judge would just announce the verdict, slam the gavel, not guilty.” He said, “The accused hardly expects to be invited over for dinner by the judge and probably hopes that he will never see the judge again.” But that’s not the gospel.
God Invites Us Into A Relationship
God not only justifies and forgives us, but he goes a step beyond that. And he actually makes a way for and invites us into relationship. That is reconciliation. That forgiveness just takes care of our guilt. But reconciliation takes care of the separation, that He brings us into relationship with Him. And then He doesn’t even just stop there. He doesn’t even just stop there, because then He gives us the righteousness of Jesus that we need to be fully acceptable to God. And so God now begins to see us and treat us as if we have perfect righteousness that we didn’t earn.
And so listen. Oh, you can clap in just one second. I’m going to give you a reason to clap in just a second. I promise. So listen, my name is Michael Kelsey Jr. And as I was growing up, I used to hate the fact that me and my dad had the same name. Growing up, I mentioned he’s a pastor in DC. Everywhere I went, people would be like, “You, Bishop Kelsey’s son?” I’d be like, “Man…” Wasn’t really a good look in my pre-Jesus days, you know what I mean? But as I started to get older, I realized something. My dad’s name is my name, which means my name is on my dad’s check card. And everything changed, y’all. My experience at the mall changed. Rental car changed. Because I’m able to swipe this car with my dad’s name, and I’m able to live off of and enjoy what he has earned that I haven’t earned. And this is what it means, that God gives us the righteousness of Jesus, that in his perfectly sinless life, he fulfilled the demands of the law that we could not.
And when we are followers of Jesus, God is not just stingy with us because He’s still kind of angry about the sin of our past, even though now we’re forgiven. No, God begins to sour us, and we get to enjoy all the spiritual riches of the kingdom of God. Why? Not because we’ve earned it or accrued any type of interest before God. It is only because we now get to enjoy everything that Jesus earned. That is the righteousness of God. That’s the righteousness of God.
This is the good news, y’all. This is what God has done to fix the problem. And you may ask, “Well, why did God do this? Why did He do it?” And it’s right here in verses 20 and 21. He says for our sake.
For our sake. He didn’t have to do it. But He’s glorified himself. He has revealed Himself. His mercy and His love and His grace. How? By setting his love and affection on us that he loved us so much, John 3:16 and he sent his one and only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish, but will have ever lasting life. He did it because he loves us. And so you might ask them, “What do I have to do?” And the answer is nothing. The answer is you don’t have to do anything except be reconciled.
Humble Yourself Before God
It’s not something you do. It’s something that God has done for you. And the only thing you can do is humble yourself before God. Acknowledge your sin that has broken that relationship, and that you can’t do anything to make that relationship right.
And to trust his provision for you and the death and the resurrection of Jesus as the only sufficient foundation for you to ever be able to stand before him one day with confidence. This is what He has done for you and what he’s done for me. And this is why Paul says, “We implore you.” He says, “We plead with you, we beg you.” Listen, y’all, the gospel is not just information about Jesus. It is an invitation from Jesus. When we open our mouths to talk about the gospel, Jesus himself is inviting people into relationship with him. And this is the privilege that we get.
We get to invite people to get to know this God who is full of compassion and full of mercy and full of steadfast love. This God who is revealed in Luke 15, when the prodigal son takes his inheritance, breaks covenant with his father, squander his inheritance. An absolute shameful and sinful living, and he’s literally eating pig slop. And he comes to his senses and he realizes, “Why am I doing this when my father is at home?” And he makes his way home to his dad, and he’s so nervous and he knows he doesn’t deserve anything. So he is not going to try to reclaim his place as a son. He’s just going to try to plead and persuade his dad, “Just let me be a servant. Just let me be a servant.” And he comes around the corner, and what does he see? You know the story?
He sees his father, who has been deeply offended and who has been shamed by his son in front of the whole community. And his father could care less what they think. He sees his father not waiting for him to get home, but he sees his father running after him, lifting up his robe, out of breath, chasing his son down. And when his son tries to come up with excuses, “And I’ll do this and I’ll do that,” father silences him and says, “Listen, everything’s already been taken care of. You turned and you trusted me, and I’ve taken care of everything.”
And listen y’all, I love that the servants in the story, the servants of the Father, the father says to them, “Servants, my son is home. I want you to get the robe, and I want you to get the ring, and I want you to prepare a party.” And listen to me. This is what we get to be McLean Bible Church. We get to be servants of the king.
But as God is working in people’s hearts, we get the great honor and privilege to join in his work, and to confirm for people what God is doing in their hearts, that they are loved by our Heavenly Father, and that he has made a place for them in his eternal kingdom. And so listen, I want to ask you two questions. Two questions for you to reflect on. Here’s the first question. If you’re a follower of Jesus, who is God putting on your heart to talk to about Jesus? I mean, I’m just asking you to begin in prayer, answering that question. To begin praying for God, to help you truly understand the urgency of evangelism. To feel it, and to see the potential of evangelism in that person’s life, and to really sense the privilege that you have of being an ambassador of Jesus, and that he would give you courage to share that message of evangelism with those people.
Pray For Those Who Do Not Know Jesus
I’m just asking you to start praying, and every day put a reminder on your phone, whatever. Just start praying for the people in your life who don’t know Jesus. Just start there because God may need to do some work in your heart. To break your heart for them and to give you courage. This is what happens in Acts 4, when the church prays and the spirit fills them with boldness. Who is God putting on your heart to talk to about Jesus? But here’s my question for you if you’re not yet a follower of Jesus. Here’s my question. I believe this question is from God in his word. Here’s the question; are you ready to be reconciled to God? Are you ready to be reconciled to God? Because you can be reconciled today. All across our locations and here at Tyson’s, let’s close our eyes and just bow our heads for a moment.
And if you’re here today or you’re listening, you’re watching and you want to make a decision to put your trust in Jesus today, but I just want to lead you in a prayer to pray in the quietness and sincerity of your own heart. I want to lead you in a prayer to pray to God, and then I want to pray for you. So just repeat this after me wherever you are.
God, I know I’m a sinner. I know I’ve disqualified myself from your goodness. And I don’t deserve anything from you. But God, I thank you that you love me. I thank you that you sent Jesus to die for my sins. I thank you that Jesus rose from the grave so that I might have eternal life. God, I’m turning from my sin and putting my trust in Jesus. Please save me. Please change me. Please lead my life from this day on.
And Father, I pray for every person here watching, listening, who prayed that in sincere faith. God, I pray that you would continue the work that you started in their heart, that their faith will be rooted and grounded in the truth of the gospel, and that you would be faithful to your promise, that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord with a sincere faith will be saved. God, I pray that you would perform the miracle of salvation in the hearts of people who are listening and watching and who are in this room or any of our locations. God, would you do it like you did it for me?
And for those of us who are followers of Jesus, God, I pray that you would change our perspective on evangelism, that you would give us courage. Give us courage, God. Give us courage to represent you and to talk to people about the best news in the world. We pray all this in Jesus’ name and for His glory. Amen. Amen.