There are a few interactions I’ve had when sharing the gospel on the streets that stick in my heart and mind. One such interaction occurred a few weeks ago. We were at a large bus terminal in the heart of our city where we frequent every weekend as part of an evangelism ministry. The busy bus station is a wonderful place to share the gospel since there are always people coming and going (and standing around).
We walked around handing out gospel tracts and speaking with some of the people standing around waiting for their bus to arrive. It can be a captive audience! As I made my way to the back side of the bus station I handed a tract to a young man and began a conversation with him. He asked me a few questions about the contents of the tract and that gave me an opportunity to begin sharing the good news of the gospel. He had a worried look on his face as I was telling him about Jesus and the judgment. He said with a genuinely concerned look, “I don’t know if I will be accepted by God.”
That is one of those questions that many may struggle with. They do an inventory of their life and realize that they have quite the list of sins. Even more, when he was shown that God requires absolute perfection in order to enter heaven he must have panicked wondering how he could possibly be accepted by God. It’s a question we all need to ask. How can God be just and justify sinners?
I love these kinds of questions. This is where the gospel shines so brightly. It’s these types of prepared hearts that are ripe to receive the good news of Jesus Christ.
I was elated to be able to tell this man that he could be accepted by God. However, there is no way that he could make himself acceptable. He couldn’t clean himself up or do anything at all. He needed far more righteousness than he could ever drum up himself. What he needed was the righteousness of God. That is what the gospel does for those who believe. Christians are accepted in Christ. Christians are those who confess that they are unacceptable on their own and hold fast to the only One who is acceptable … Jesus Christ. When a person repents (turns from thinking they are good and offer anything to God) and puts their faith in Jesus Christ alone God miraculously credits Jesus’ perfect righteousness to them! When God looks on a Christian He sees the perfect righteousness of His Son.
It is this glorious news that I had the privilege to share with this man at the bus station on a chilly Saturday morning. You could almost see the tension in his eyes and face fade away as he heard the good news that he can know that he is accepted by God all because of Jesus Christ. Because Jesus is God we receive the righteousness of God through faith in Him. It is this perfect righteousness that this man needs to stand before God.
Many people focus on Jesus’ death on the cross while overlooking an equally important facet of Jesus’ life — his perfect obedience. Jesus’ perfect death secures our forgiveness while his perfect life and obedience secures our righteousness. There was a great transaction at the cross – our sins imputed to Christ and his righteousness imputed to his people. The gospel has been compared to a diamond with unlimited facets. Each facet of that diamond teaches one glorious truth after another.
It is the full gospel that this man needed to hear. We started with the character of God and his holiness. We then moved to the condition of man and our unholiness. That leads to a problem. It leads to what the Bible describes as enmity and war between God and man. That takes us to the only solution to that problem: Jesus Christ. It takes us to Jesus’ perfect life and his perfect death. A double cure to the double problem all mankind faces.
As the conversation started to wrap up he asked one last question. He wanted to know why Jesus needed to be raised from the dead. He wanted to know why the resurrection was so important. Again, it was a joy to tell him that the resurrection shows us three main points. First, that Jesus is God. Second, that Jesus has the power over sin and death and therefore Christians need not fear death as its sting has been removed by Christ. Lastly, the resurrection proves that the Father has completely accepted Jesus’ sacrifice as paid in full. In a sense, the resurrection is like a banner to the entire world that Jesus’ sacrifice is perfect, final, never to be repeated and fully accepted.
I opened this article stating that there are some people I encounter that leave a lasting impression on my heart. What happened next is why that is so. After sharing all these glorious truths he began to get tears in his eyes and said, “This has been something I have been thinking about and struggling with for a long time. I’ve even been asking pastors at different churches these questions and not getting a straight answer. Now I know!” (The fact that several pastors could not articulate a solid answer to such a simple question is fuel for another article on the sad state of the church in America. But that is for another time.) God opened this man’s heart to receive and understand the gospel. It wasn’t anything I did. I was simply being an ambassador to my King.
What I want to relish in is how the gospel is truly good news to the broken-hearted sinner. The gospel is all about God. It’s all about his love and holiness against the backdrop of mankind’s dark sin. I am amazed that God uses sinners clothed in the righteousness of Christ to proclaim such glorious news to the lost. I am thankful that I was able to experience the joy I did on that wintry morning at a bus station.
Thanks be to God for his glorious gospel!