Our world has changed drastically in the last few years.
The message that helped us find faith needs to be communicated in a fresh way that connects to where people who are post-Christian will resonate.
The 4 Spiritual Laws and Romans Road was how I learned to share my faith back in the 1980s and early 1990s. We led with the idea that all are sinners.
As people of faith we have got the message down! As a result, so many have walked away from faith feeling judged and condemned. They missed the entire point of the good news! Yes, we are all sinners, but we are also all loved by God and pursued by God!
Most skeptics and agnostics I know already know they will be judged by God, but they don’t seem to know they are loved by God.
What if we shared the Romans Road in a new order? Instead of starting off with our sin, what if we started off explaining the message of Jesus as the solution to our powerlessness?
We could share something like this:
Do you ever feel like there are things in your life that are just too big for you? I mean, as you live your life, do you ever find yourself looking square into the face of something that seems so overwhelming that you feel as though you lack the courage or the strength to confront it. It could be any number of things, but the bottom line is that for many, if not most of us, there are times in our lives when we face things that are very intimidating… even frightening.
Today I want to suggest to you that is the best place to be to find peace, love, and even faith.
This is the exact best place to be to move towards who we want to be and away from the parts of us we don’t want to be anymore.
Consider Romans 5:5
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless….”
How could it ever be a good time to be powerless?
I am all about being proactive and forging your own destiny, but there are times when things happen you cannot control and you are caught off guard.
Here’s the thing: admitting we are powerless is when we are most honest and most aware of who we are and the needs we have.
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 5:6-8 NIV
We cannot experience the fullness of God’s love until we invite Him into our lives.
Admitting we are powerless, admitting we are overwhelmed, admitting we are stuck moves us to a place of humility where we ask for help.
He cannot help if we are too stubborn or too proud to ask for help.
“Come as you are” means bring your doubts and skepticism.
Some of us have a bent towards belief, and our struggle is that we believe everything. Some of us have a bent towards doubt, and we are cynical about everything.
I want to address a couple of common doubts – common places we go in our minds and in our hearts that keep us from fully embracing Jesus and experiencing a real and vibrant relationship with God through Him.
Most common question we ask is “why?”
- Why so much evil in the world?
- Why can’t all be saved?
- Why did Jesus have to die?
Don’t stop asking these meaningful questions, but you need to have an open mind and an open heart and really ask God those questions.
Be honest with God. He’s not afraid of your doubts. He’s not afraid of your pain. He wants to be there for you, and He is big enough to handle everything you bring to Him.
Too often we just stuff it down or we don’t deal with meaningful issues and instead fill our lives with noise.
We need to be still and consider where we are and where we could be.
Other times, we’ve come to closure too soon on who God is and and who we think we can be.
Some of us are holding onto to these doubts so that we don’t have to surrender our lives to Jesus – so that we don’t have to admit we are powerless, so that we don’t have to admit we are lost.
Here’s how you can know if you are closed minded or open minded:
Do you really want to know the answer to your questions?
There is so much evil in this world because God created us with free will, and we have done much damage. This world is broken BUT one day all will be made right.
Some of us don’t like that answer, we assume there could have been a better way than letting us hurt and destroy each other!
God created us with free will. Freedom to think His plan is dumb.
Here’s why God did what He did.
History of the world
God, out of His great love created the universe and created people with whom He could share His creation and His love.
God created us with freedom. As a result, we did the exact opposite of what He warned us to avoid which then separated us from God. From the beginning, God intervened and the promise of a Messiah, a Rescuer, a Savior was given.
God chose Abraham to become a great nation and through Him all nations would be blessed. This is important. By choosing one person, God was choosing all of us. You may have heard that God’s love doesn’t extend to all peoples, but from the very beginning God actively chose all nations.
This great nation became a peculiar people – different from all the other nations. They had a very strict set of moral laws and ceremonial laws. By living so differently and winning wars and defeating other nations that were sacrificing their children to other gods, the reputation of this nation spread.
Judges, kings, and prophets all tried to keep the nation of Israel going in the right direction – trusting God and His ways. Often they would go the wrong way and then repent and then be restored. Through it all, there was always a promise.
Then the promise arrived. Jesus changed everything.
He gave a new message about a new, spiritual, and invisible Kingdom. A Kingdom not advanced by wars but by peace and love. A Kingdom not divided by politics or ethnicity – the most inclusive community on the planet.
He sacrificed His love just as it was prophesied so long ago. “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:22)
When Jesus died on the cross the Temple curtain was torn from the top down – no longer were we separated from God where only a select few could be in His presence, but all could go directly to God through Jesus. No longer were the ceremonial laws necessary because Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice. Jesus fulfilled the Law and the Prophets (the Old Testament) and summarized all 667 laws with “Love God and love people.”
Those who follow Him become His Church sent to share the message to all nations.
We were created on purpose and with a purpose. God desires that we experience His love and help others do the same. He desires us to trust Him and follow Him and help others do the same.
God has a plan for you.
It may not always include what you want, but you can always trust Him. In this broken and messed up world, people will use their freedom to do evil – even evil against you and me. God grieves and mourns with us, and God can redeem us when we let Him. He can bring good out of the evil around us when we let Him – when we trust Him.
God is so amazing and so forgiving. And so patient and so good, when we return to Him, He can bring good out of the bad we have done. He can redeem what we destroyed. He can heal what we have broken. Sometimes it may happen in an instant. Sometimes it may take time. Sometimes we still have circumstances that are not what we’d like, but He is with us in those places. We are not alone.
“Come near to God and he will come near to you.” – James 4:8a
A phrase which describes God’s character that I have found in 7 different places including this passage:
“Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.” – Joel 2:13
Maybe this has never been a part of your life. Today, you can get started.
Maybe you’ve had a glimpse of this in the past. Grew up going to church services, but it was your parents’ faith. Maybe you have heard the phrase: “God doesn’t have any grandchildren.” In other words, each of us must choose if we are willing to be adopted by our Heavenly Father. We cannot live vicariously through our parents or our friends or our spouse or our pastor.
Jesus died for all of humanity because we were all powerless.
If we think we are righteous on our own, we aren’t in a position of receiving all Jesus has done for us.
If we think we are good, we aren’t in a position of receiving all Jesus has done for us.
He has chosen you. Will you accept that He died on the cross for you?
Will you ask for forgiveness?
He has chosen you! How will you respond?
But think about this: while we were wasting our lives in sin, God revealed His powerful love to us in a tangible display—the Anointed One died for us.
– Romans 5:8 (The Voice)
By Eric Bryant
Dr. Eric Michael Bryant serves as the lead pastor at Gateway Church in South Austin and teaches at the masters level on Ministry in a Post-Christian World and at the doctoral level on Missional Effectiveness with Bethel Seminary. Eric is the author of Not Like Me: A Field Guide for Influencing a Diverse World. You can find articles, interviews, and other great resources through the Eric Bryant Foundation at www.ericbryant.org.