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How much confidence do you have in the gospel? By Gospel I mean, “Good news of Jesus”. So, how much confidence do you have in the good news of Jesus? This is the question I explored last night as I spoke at Bethesda Baptist Church in Ipswich.
‘Confidence in the Gospel’ is the title of one of the programmes I’m managing for the Evangelical Alliance. I have to confess though, that there is some irony in this, because I often lack confidence in the gospel! But then again, perhaps that makes me the best person for the job, if the programme helps me increase in confidence, there’s hope for everyone, right?
The question of how much confidence you have in the gospel is a very subjective one, but I suspect that from time-to-time we all lack confidence in the gospel to some degree or another. I don’t know how this manifests itself in your life, but let me give you a couple of examples from my own life. They might resonate with you.
Firstly, every time I walk into the hairdressers I’m hoping that they won’t ask me about my job, because we’ll then get onto a conversation about religion. There are a whole load of issues going on here, but somewhere below the surface I’m pretty sure that one of the issues is that I lack confidence in the gospel. My lack of confidence affects my evangelism, it affects the outward.
Secondly, there are times that I wonder whether I’m forgivable. Will God really forgive me after I’ve done that? Again, there’s a range of issues, but one is certainly a lack of confidence in the gospel. My lack of confidence affects my relationship with God, it affects my discipleship, it affects the inward.
Is any of this resonating with you?
The questions, does God love me? Has he forgiven me? Is it worth living life the way Jesus wants me to? Will I get into heaven when I die? All these questions affect your relationship with God, your worship and your discipleship. A lack of confidence will also hinder your attempts to communicate, in both words and deeds, the gospel to others.
Therefore, how much confidence we have in the gospel is a big issue. It affects our relationship with God, it affects our worship, it affects our discipleship and it affects our evangelism.
A lack of confidence causes us to get trapped in a self-perpetuating cycle going in the wrong way. For example, we lack confidence so we stop praying so often, therefore we stop seeing our prayers getting answered, therefore our confidence reduces even more, therefore we pray even less. Or we lack confidence so we stop telling our friends about Jesus, therefore we don’t see any of our friends being transformed by an encounter with Jesus, so our confidence decreases another notch.
We need to change directions! Because, of course, this self-perpetuating cycle works the other way as well. For example, we have enough confidence to tell a friend about Jesus, their life is transformed as they enter into a relationship with Jesus, which increases our confidence levels so we are even keener to tell more people about Jesus.
Over the next few days I’m going to post blogs that explore our confidence in the gospel from three perspectives; knowledge of the gospel, experience of the gospel, and power of the gospel.
Take a look at Mark 1:21-28 (Jesus drives out an evil spirit), Mark 1:40-45 (Jesus heals a man with leprosy) and Mark 7:31-37 (Jesus heals a deaf and mute man). In these three accounts the interplay of knowledge, experience and power can be clearly seen. Jesus taught (knowledge) and people were amazed. People experienced the good news of Jesus – lives were transformed – evil was driven out, people with leprosy were healed, the deaf could hear and the mute could talk. And in both Jesus’ teaching and actions the power of God was so, so evident.
And what happened when people were caught up in this interplay of knowledge, experience and power? Not only were their lives transformed, they couldn’t stop themselves from telling other people about the good news of Jesus.
Don’t you want to capture some of this confidence in the gospel, this confidence in the good news of Jesus, so you become this confident in the gospel of Jesus?
As we explore three questions, the first one to do with knowledge of the Gospel, the second to do with experience of the gospel and the third to do with the power of gospel, I’m not going to provide answers as such. Instead I aim to open up the questions, highlighting issues that need to be explored and hopefully giving you a hunger to explore them in more detail – as well as providing you with a next step.