It’s this: The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only solution for the world’s woes. Why do they hate hearing that? Because it’s a solution they didn’t invent. They don’t want to accept that the foolproof solution’s been around for almost 2,000 years! That’d mean their search for an alternate solution has not only been in vain but totally unnecessary and that really gets their goat. But the Gospel isn’t about something that’s going to happen; it’s about what’s already been done. Every person has been given the opportunity to be liberated from the bondage of sin simply by surrendering their heart to Christ. And if everyone did that the problems that plague civilization would vanish in an instant. If we were to sincerely love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves we’d enjoy heaven on earth. That’s the bottom-line message of the Gospel. Everything we need to get reconciled with our Creator resides in the person of Jesus, the only begotten Son of God. The Scriptures proclaim Him to be the full and final revelation of the great I AM. Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote, “It’s in Him, His life and His teaching, that we see what man is meant to be, and the kind of life that man is meant to live.” When our Savior died on the cross not only did the evil prince of this fallen planet get condemned, but the door to paradise swung open wide. Jesus’s blood made it possible for us to become wholly redeemed children of God. Through Christ alone we receive a new life and a new beginning. No one else can do that for us. Only with the power of Jesus flowing through our veins can we be complete human beings and live the life God intended us to live.
The Gospel assures us our precious Lord not only defeated death but now sits at the right hand of the Heavenly Father. It also tells us the day draws near when “…at the name of Jesus every knee will bow – in heaven and on earth and under the earth – and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11). They’ll deny that it does, but the Gospel haunts unbelievers because Jesus knocks on their door incessantly. The Holy Spirit beckons them to acknowledge Christ’s impact and influence has no equal even two millenniums after His miraculous resurrection and subsequent ascension. There’s no one like Jesus. Bring up Buddha, Mohammad, Lenin, Darwin or Peyton Manning at a party. People won’t hesitate to voice their positive or negative views concerning them. However, bring up Jesus Christ and you’ll be able to hear a pin drop because the mere mention of His name elicits either reverence or nervousness, depending on where those in the room stand with God. Rarely will you hear an ambivalent “Meh” uttered. There’s undeniable power embedded in the name of Jesus.
Many in the modern world dismiss the Gospel altogether because it’s old. As if the passage of time renders spiritual things meaningless. While humanists revere a host of books mainly due to their age, the Holy Bible isn’t one of them. They refuse to believe what’s true from Genesis to Revelation is still true today. Because they think we’re all so much smarter, more informed and inventive they can’t accept mankind hasn’t changed one iota spiritually. They might be surprised to learn the Bible anticipated their stiff-necked attitude and prophesized that some folks would be unreasonably prejudiced towards the Scriptures out of sheer stubbornness. If the matter at hand wasn’t so crucial (the future of their eternal soul) there’d be no sense debating it. But the ramifications are immense. Thus it’s important Christians show them their reasoning for flippantly dismissing the Gospel of Christ is, at its core, unreasonable. Their pseudo logic-based arguments just won’t hold up under scrutiny. While informing them their supposedly “open” mind has at least one significant corridor sealed off we must remain calm for their initial reaction will be one of outrage. That’s because they consider the hallmark of their personality to be their indiscriminating tolerance. They’ll protest that Christians represent the absolute epitome of closed-mindedness due to our insistence that divine truth can only be found in one particular book and in one particular person. They, on the other hand, possess a trove of up-to-date data they say proves the Bible irrelevant. What they won’t own up to is that, by deliberately dismissing even the possibility they could be mistaken about the Gospel, their minds aren’t really “open.” By definition, they’re being discriminatory by placing more importance on a religion’s age than its truthfulness.
Usually they’ll retreat into their comfort zone and proudly announce they rely solely on the “scientific method” when determining something’s legitimacy. Thus religion, as such, should be quarantined within the realm of make-believe fairy tales where fear and unchecked imagination determine the rules. They’ll boast, “I only deal with facts!” If that’s their stance we need to kindly point out they surely know the “scientific method” always carefully separates theories from facts, suppositions from truths and hypotheses from rock-solid evidence. A true scientist will only trust that which he/she can verify via seeing, touching, smelling, hearing or tasting it. The second they leave the territory of the tangible they enter the arena of philosophy where their guesses carry no more weight than anyone else’s. One of the tragedies of modern society is that mere theories have been labeled indisputable fact. Therefore many folks have opted to be atheistic based on some well-known physicist’s personal opinions/preferences, not concrete evidence. Lloyd-Jones preached, “No scientist has proved, or can prove, that there’s no God, that Jesus of Nazareth was not in a unique sense the Son of God, and that He did not work miracles. No one can prove there’s no life after death, no judgment, no hell. They can simply say they don’t believe… But their disbelief, however loudly and confidently proclaimed, is not demonstration. There’s nothing more unscientific than the way men and women are thus confusing hypotheses with truth, and theories with facts.” Another way to gently approach someone who trusts solely in the “scientific method” is to walk them through the very process they so trust.
A student who wants to seriously delve into a subject is usually placed under the mentorship of a mature teacher who’ll advise and guide them. Only an incompetent, inexperienced tutor would instruct them to disregard everything that’s ever been expressed in the past concerning the subject. On the contrary, they’d urge them to diligently study and digest every shred of information having anything to do with it they can get their mitts on. Otherwise they’ll waste a lot of valuable time treading water. A wise researcher doesn’t ignore the past. Rather, they begin with the past and build on it. The point is that the most unscientific method of evaluating the Gospel is to refuse to read the Bible, not look into its plausibility and decline to get educated on the history of the Church. Nothing’s more closed-minded than taking that approach. When I wanted to learn more about Islam I consulted what world religion experts had to say about it. How could I reject the foundational doctrines and teachings of a particular religion without first taking time to find out what they are? If you’re an American agnostic doesn’t the Gospel deserve the same courtesy? Especially when your country is predominantly Christian?
Yet a person can investigate Christianity thoroughly and still not grasp its truth if their mind’s shut tight. They’ll claim they’re being fair in their rejection of it and they’ll back up their assessment employing their own brand of logic. They’ll say something like this: “Everything’s in the process of advancing, progressing and adapting. Tulips start as misshapen bulbs buried in the ground and eventually develop into plants sporting beautiful blooms. Colts don’t stay small and scrawny. They grow to be tall, magnificent horses. Not long ago clothes were washed by hand. Now we have machines that do the soaping and rinsing for us. We don’t live in grass huts anymore. We have safe, strong houses to dwell in. We don’t rely on witch doctors these days. We have effective medicines and skilled physicians who keep us healthy. A complete set of encyclopedias can be purchased at a yard sale for a dollar these days because up-to-the-minute info on any subject is now a mouse-click away thanks to the internet. So why don’t you guys open your eyes and see that everything in the universe is steadily advancing and moving forward because evolution is obviously the overriding, immutable law of nature? Why, when it comes to something as paramount as humanity and its troubles and desperate need for solutions, do you Christians demand we look into the past for practical wisdom and answers? To go against the grain of natural law is insane. It’d be like telling a farmer to return to working the soil with a plow and a mule or to revert to sending smoke signals instead of using phones. It makes no sense to go backwards. I admire some of the aspects of your Christianity and often wonder what it’d feel like to be “born again” but to depend on writings so ancient all we have left are ragged, deteriorating copies of the originals seems like intellectual suicide. Count me out.”
There’s only so much you can do for people with that mindset but what we definitely shouldn’t do is wave them off. We should agree with them that those examples of great advances having been made are valid. We should also be unafraid to confidently challenge their conclusion about the relevance of the Gospel. Step one: Point out that, while most things have changed, the human heart has not. Only the externals of our existence on earth have improved. We can cite secular literature as evidence. The way people behaved and interacted with others in the old Greek tragedies is still the same today. And, while Shakespeare’s Elizabethan-era plays are dated as far as language and customs go, audiences still relate to and sympathize with the characters on stage because their dysfunctional traits mirror their own. The same thing applies to the men and women who populate the Old Testament. Living conditions are different but we’re just like them inside our hearts! Cain murdered Abel out of jealousy. It’s still happening. Esau deemed his responsibilities less important than satisfying his immediate desire. It’s still happening. Jacob was so consumed by ambition he didn’t hesitate to defraud his brother. It’s still happening. King David’s sexual lust for Bathsheba was so overwhelming he purposely had her husband sent into harm’s way so he could have her for himself. It’s still happening. I could go on but you get the picture. We’re no different from any of those folks and that’s why the world’s so messed up. The same temptations that lured them into committing immoral and sometimes horrible acts continue to entice men and women today. Nothing’s changed. Despite all our innovations, we’ve yet to come up with a new sin.
Step two: Emphasize that not only has man not changed, the God who created him hasn’t changed, either. Thus our ultimate problem stems from failing to establish a personal relationship with our Maker. As concerns this primary dilemma, age and dates don’t really matter much. Discarding the Gospel message simply because it’s old is illogical. All our scientific and technological breakthroughs are worthy of applause but they’ve yet to change the heart of mankind or diminish the sovereignty of God. We’re still rebellious sinners and He’s still holy and perfect in all His ways. In one of the oldest books in the Bible the protagonist asks, “…How can a human be just before God?” (Job 9:2). The more we learn, the more questions we have. But Job’s fundamental query tops the list because that’s the question that must be answered. We know death awaits and something deep inside tells us afterwards we’ll find ourselves face-to-face with “…the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or the slightest hint of change” (James 1:17). At that moment all the molehills we made into mountains will dissolve and we’ll know the only thing that ever really counted was our relationship with God. Jesus said, “On that day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons and do many powerful deeds?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you’” (Matthew 7:22-23). To know the Father we must know and put our faith in His Son who died in our place.
Step three: Tell them that, old as it may be, there’s nothing more positive, uplifting and relevant in the 21st century than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s the only thing that can remedy the deteriorating condition of our wicked hearts and drastically change the world. No doubt the unbeliever will concur that we all want what’s best for mankind, no matter the source. But they may insist what’s newest is always best. There’s ways to illustrate that’s not necessarily true. In the field of medicine, for example, we’ve been able to conquer and eliminate, through vaccines and drugs, diseases that once killed millions. As a result people in general live longer, healthier lives than our ancestors did. When it comes to attending to ailments of all kinds the newest reliably is the best. But there’s no way we can proclaim the same regarding the prevention, treatment and cure of the ills of men and women’s souls. There’s no inoculation that can keep a curious, insecure teenager from becoming ensnared in the sordid world of pornography. There’s no miracle drug that’ll ward off the temptation for a person to lie, cheat, covet or steal. No pill can be prescribed that’ll help a man or woman who’s tormented by their conscience that constantly reminds them of their failure to live up to God’s moral standards. There’s no shot in the arm that’ll improve a person’s self-esteem and give them the courage to place their trust in our gracious Lord. Sadly, if one’s soul is sick there’s no man-made cure and there never will be one. Only God, through the shed blood of His only begotten Son, can heal and save us.
Man has come up with a law for almost everything. You name it, there’s an ordinance that deals with it one way or another. Logic would tell us all possible contingencies should be covered by now. If everyone would just follow the rules things would be wonderful. But we know things are far from wonderful. Murders, mass killings, rapes, drug overdoses, hate crimes, racial discrimination and despicable incidents of abuse/neglect of all sorts have become so common we’re hardly shocked by them anymore. All our laws were enacted to stop all those bad things from happening but they don’t work. Lloyd-Jones commented, “The fact is that the modern world is desperately ill, that man is perhaps more unhappy than he’s ever been.” He said that nearly 70 years ago. Not much has changed, has it? That’s because the world at large still refuses to surrender to and obey the teachings of Jesus Christ. I feel sorry for those who don’t know Him because when all else fails I know I can find peace and solace in the sheltering arms of my Savior. He suffered my punishment on the cross and He’s forgiven me of all my sins – past, present and future. Though I let Him down frequently and my character defects are all too apparent I know He’ll never forsake me. In spite of my pitiful weaknesses the Holy Spirit empowers me to rise and try to be a better, more devoted child of God each day. I cherish the hope Christ has instilled in me – the assurance that when my time arrives to appear in God’s courtroom my Lord will take me by the hand and present me “…without blemish before his glorious presence…” (Jude 1:24). What a joyful day that’ll be!
Yes, Jesus Christ is the only hope of individual men and women and the only hope for civilization as a whole. Secularists will continue to say the Gospel is irrelevant. But that won’t alter its relevance. They’ll pronounce the Bible inadequate to meet the needs of modern man. But that won’t put a dent in its adequacy. The Holy Word of God contains the answer to every question we can pose. The solution has been and always will be Jesus Christ. Without Him we’re lost, adrift in the cosmos without a sail or rudder. May God have mercy on those who still seek their salvation elsewhere.