Thabiti Anyabwile preached a message from 1 Timothy 1:12-17 at the T4G Conference last week in Louisville where he challenged us to evaluate our confidence in the gospel. He expressed concern that this might be one of the reasons we don’t share the gospel as often and with as much conviction as we should. You can hear the whole message here.
At one point in the message he gave nine marks of what confidence in the gospel will look like in our lives. Here is what he said as drawn from the notes that Justin Taylor provided us with at his blog.
Confidence in the Gospel would have the following characteristics:
(1) We would be around the worst of sinners looking for gospel opportunities. We would strategically place ourselves in locations and times conducive to gospel conversation.
(2) We would share the gospel slowly and clearly. If the gospel does the work, then we only need to release it. Are we trying to release the gospel or are we trying to help it out?
(3) We would redirect our fears from man to God. We would fear being unfaithful more than we would fear being unfruitful. Fruitfulness lies in God’s hands; faithfulness lies in ours. It is required of stewards that we be found faithful (1 Cor. 4:1-2).
(4) We would endeavor to preach the gospel in every sermon. On what Sunday do expect there will be no lost people in your congregation? On what Sunday do you think Christians can go without hearing the gospel? If the Good News is our confidence then we will show that by legitimately working from every text of Scripture to Christ and to the gospel. Our manner of preaching should say every Sunday, “My confidence is in the Good News.” Our lack of confidence will likely show itself in a desire to say a lot of things other than the gospel.
(5) We would be careful with new converts and with our evangelistic methods. It’s tempting to see Paul’s sudden and dramatic conversion on the Damascus Road as paradigmatic for all conversions. Many, if not most, of the conversions in the NT appear to us like gradual dawnings of truth on the minds and hearts of the lost. Richard Peace, Conversion in the New Testament, p. 5:
The implications of this insight became quickly apparent. In its evangelistic work the church has sought to replicate in others what happened to St. Paul: a sudden, point-in-time transformation based on an encounter with Jesus. Thus evangelism has focused on a single issue: accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior now, at this moment in time. It was assumed that all people at every moment in time were able to answer the question: “Will you accept Jesus?” There was little room for those still on the way in understanding who Jesus is. Evangelistic methods were geared around producing instantaneous “decisions for Christ.” Mass rallies ended with a call to come forward and make a decision for Jesus. Visitation evangelism dialogues were designed to confront people with the need to accept Jesus at this moment in time, lest they die and not go to heaven. Tracts were written that always ended with a prayer of commitment. Certainly the impulse behind such efforts was and is positive. Concerned Christian men and women long for others to enter into the kind of life-changing experience of Jesus they themselves have had. But these evangelistic methodologies are derived from an understanding that the model for conversion is what happened to St. Paul. To confront people with the need to decide in a moment for Jesus is derived from a punctiliar understanding of conversion.
Ask, “Do I need to see something happen in order to bolster my confidence that the gospel worked?”
(6) We would study the gospel in deeper and more varied ways. Take one aspect of the gospel per month—justice, wrath, substitution, joy, forgiveness, etc. Search the scriptures for the entirety of that month peering into the gospel indicatives and imperatives regarding that theme.
(7) We would preach in order to open eyes, not just transfer information (Acts 26:18). We need to bring insight that leads to turning and forgiveness of sins and eternal lives.
(8) We would ask, “Is my confidence in myself (e.g., my preparation, delivery, eloquence, wisdom ) or in the power of the gospel itself?”
(9) We would preach in a way that relies on God’s power. 1 Corinthians 2:5, “so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”
How confident are you in the Gospel to save sinners?
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