Speaker: Nick Scott
Title: Gospel Fluency
Date and time: March 6, 2022, 10:30 am
Hello and welcome to St Joe Community Church online worship. We’re so glad that you joined us in the safety of your home. Maybe you’re checking out church for the first time and you’re checking out what we’re like. I hope that you will take out your bible, your notepad, you’ll remove all your other distractions, and you’ll listen, you’ll sing, you’ll read out loud. Whatever you’re doing, if you were in person doing it with us, that you would do that right where you are in your home. And while you’re watching, and after you’re watching, or whenever you can, I hope you will get in touch with us. Use our Facebook page. Go our website (www.StJoeCommunityChurch.org). Some how let us know that you’re watching. Like us, do a thumbs-up on the YouTube page. However you can do it, let us know, because we want to engage with you, and encourage you, pray for you, help you take your Next Right Step, send a resource to you, whatever you need so that we can start helping you find and build community around you for the future. God bless you, and we’ll talk to you at the very end of this with some more details.
It's my privilege to be able to share with you. And like Greg has said we have been waiting a while to get to the point to where we have a date that we can get on a plane. We are so enthusiastic this morning, so if you see a smiling a little bit more, we're happy to be here, but we're also happy to have a plane ticket as well. So, we have been in the process of applying with the IMB for about three years now, so we have had our patience educated even more than we thought that we needed it to be. We've learned contentment in a way that we didn't really care to learn it, but the Lord saw fit to teach us that way because we needed to. And we have just grown to love so many more churches that we've been able to connect with over the last year that we weren't expecting to be able to connect with. Yours is one of them, and so far it's been such a pleasant experience to be here and to know you and to learn more about your church, more about what you're engaged in, in this community. And so, thank you for giving me the opportunity to be able to share with you.
I want to give you a little bit of a snapshot of our journey to this point without dominating the time for this message. But if you do have a Bible, let me give you a heads up; we're going to be in Romans 1, so you can be finding your way to Romans 1:16-20 today. So about us, like we said, my name is Nick. That's Melissa, our daughter Elianna, she's at home with my parents in Evansville, Indiana where we're both from that's our hometown. She is almost four years old and a ton of fun, a ton of energy as well. But, she's soaking up some last minute time with grandparents before we get on that plane. I served on staff with my dad as an associate pastor at Oak Hill Baptist Church in Evansville, Indiana until December, 2020. So I was there for about five years, and in my third year there, God really impressed on my heart that I needed to be looking and searching for something else. Not because something was wrong, not because I needed to run from something or anything like that, but because he was calling us to do something different than we were doing.
I didn't exactly know what that meant at that point, and so I began to search and pray and talk with mentors and seek out wisdom. And one thing led to another and ultimately, God, I believe has called us to pursue international missions. And so, we knew that the international mission board of the Southern Baptist convention is who we wanted to be sent through at all possible. So we applied with them and we had been praying about where it was that God would have us serve. And the more we prayed and the more we thought about that, we wanted to take a trip to Japan, to Tokyo, Japan to see what ministry would be like there. I've always had an interest in Japan as a country and a culture just growing up. And the more I wanted to explore and know more about that country, the more I was burdened for it. Because when you look at the spiritual statistics of that country it becomes very clear that there's a huge need for the gospel to be preached there. Out of 127 million people in Japan, less than half of 1% know him as Savior and Lord.
So if you do the math, you can do it. I'm not going to do the math right now, but that is a very small portion of that. That's still a lot of people, but out of that quantity of people in that nation, that is such a small amount of people knowing and calling Jesus, Lord. So because of that reason primarily, we are excited to go and take the message of the gospel to learn Japanese and to hopefully be used by the Lord in a way to impact the Japanese population there with the gospel of Christ, and so we're excited to go. And let me just say before I start, thank you because like Pastor Greg said your church supports us. It's because of churches like yours and the rest of the Southern Baptist Convention, that we are able to go without having to raise funds of any kind. Your faithfulness and your generosity to giving to this local church is what enables us to go, and so thank you. We don't take that for granted, we don't take that lightly, and it was because of people like you, that we were able to go and tell people about Christ in Japan and like other missionaries all around the world with the IMB. So, I just want to say, thank you.
Romans 1 - this message is going to be about gospel fluency. And so, as I was thinking out our language learning journey, I thought about like, there's a lot of parallels between the stress that I'm experiencing right now in learning Japanese and the importance of knowing Japanese and going as a missionary, knowing the heart language of the people that will be serving around and knowing the gospel as a follower of Christ. There's a lot of parallels there. And the importance of knowing Japanese is paramount to our success as missionaries in Japan. Because if we go there and expect to just be able to have a translator follow us around everywhere and just speak on every behalf or whatnot, it's going to be much less effective. And I would say not faithful to the fullest extent of what God is calling for us to do, than rather if we were to take on ourselves, the task of learning that language. Because you know, just as well as anybody else fluency is so important in daily life.
I would venture to say that most people in this room, and I don't know many people in this room very well, but we're probably fluent in English. Now, fluent doesn't mean perfect, right? Who speaks perfect English in this room every single time they speak? Very few people would say that and very few people would probably be accurate in assessing that. But we know what fluency means. It means just because you don't speak perfect English, you're able to be understood. You're able to communicate clearly what you're talking about and be understood by the other person that you're communicating to, right. And that's what we're talking about with gospel fluency as well. Whenever we know the gospel, we ought to know it ourselves because it is so good for us first. Aren't you glad that the gospel has taken root in your heart? If you're here this morning and you're a follower of Christ, that should animate you each day. Getting you out to bed, giving you a joy, giving you a hope, giving you a purpose that, you know Jesus Christ, that He has given you life and hope and purpose, and you don't have to be the measure of success in your life. The measure of how much matters that we contribute. The only thing that matters about our lives when we submit to Christ is He Himself, Christ, His gospel what God is calling for to do.
Gospel fluency is so important for us as believers, that we know the gospel, know how to communicate the gospel to people around us, because it's the most important news that we could tell somebody. It's the most important thing that we've been commissioned to do as followers of Jesus. It's not just something that missionaries or pastors or church leaders are responsible for, but it's something that we as disciples of Jesus, as Christ followers are all called to be a part of in telling people about the gospel, the good news. So, just an examination first, you can go ahead and advance the slide if you would like, what is gospel fluency?
Well, first fluency is defined as readiness and smoothness of utterance, able to express oneself readily and effortlessly. We've kind of discussed that already in the sense that we know what fluency is. We value it, even though we don't necessarily think about it every single day. But a person... a pastor named Jeff Vanderstelt defined fluency as the following; he says, "A person is gospel fluent when the gospel becomes their mother tongue. They see the world through that filter. They hear the world through that filter. They know how to speak the truths of the gospel, the truths of Jesus into the everyday stuff of life." So we're not talking about memorizing a script, memorizing, a presentation of words to say to people or anything like that. It's simply, being able to relay how the message of the gospel has changed your life, your testimony, and how it can change the life of the person that you're talking to as well, because the truths of the gospel never change. They always remain the same.
Aren't you happy for that? Aren't you happy that the message of Jesus Christ is constant in a world that changes day to day, second to second it seems like; that stays the same. The salvation that you have received stays the same day to day. And so, we have that as our ability, as our foundation, that we can stand on and have that commission to go and help people understand that the gospel offers transformation, and peace, and hope and happiness and joy in a life where there seems to be a lack of that more often than not. In the same way that no one naturally knows how to speak another language, and I wish that was the case. I wish I could just load a Japanese like program into my brain, and then it's just there, but that's not going to happen.
In the same way that that's not going to happen, gospel fluency is not something that just happened automatically. It's something that takes work. It takes effort. It takes dedication. It requires you to get uncomfortable. It requires you to evaluate the priorities in your life. And so, all of these things matter immensely as we think about the importance of the gospel in our own lives as Christ followers and how we are supposed to steward the gospel. We're not supposed to keep it to ourselves. The gospel is never meant to be hoarded by the Christian, but it was meant to be given away freely. Like Paul says, in 2 Corinthians 4, we have this treasure in jars of clay, this immeasurable worth of the God. And it's not ours to just keep and hoard, but it's to give away. One pastor I heard said one time, he said the gospel came to you because it was going to someone else. I liked that.
Because while it is important for us to cling to the truths of the gospel, it's important for us to also recognize it's not just ours, but it's for anyone, like the scripture referenced that we read earlier, for anyone who would believe, for everyone who calls in the name of the Lord will be saved. So, we ought to tell people about the best news that we can hear. And I would suggest that in Romans1, like this morning's text says that Apostle Paul is helping us understand aspects of the gospel that I think would help motivate us to aspire for greater gospel fluency in our lives. Let's look at that passage, Romans 1:16, and we'll read all the way to verse 20, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel; for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it, the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith. As it is written, the righteous shall live by faith. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them, for His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly perceived ever since the creation of the world in the things that have been made, so they are without excuse."
Let's pray together and ask for God to help illuminate our minds as we think about His word and seek to act on it. Let's pray. Father God, we need you. We need your spirit to help us this morning, to help us comprehend your word, but not just to comprehend it and read it, but to Lord, act on it. Because it is not in our own effort that we seek to accomplish the things that we'll talk about this morning, but it's by your power. It's by your Spirit's and dwelling in us, your Spirit's power that animates us single day to do what you've called for us to do. Would you do this in our lives? We pray these things in your name, amen.
So the first thing that I want to examine about this passage is like I said, I don't want to give a comprehensive exhaustive picture of the gospel. We'd be here way too long if we tried to do. But some just pulling out some themes that Paul is getting at in these verses that help us understand the gospel to a point to where it helps us want to be fluent in the gospel. So first, the gospel is the power of God for salvation. The gospel is the power of God for salvation. The gospel is powerful because it is the very power of God. Many times we think of the gospel as maybe just really good news, good advice, please just listen to me, listen to this, but there's power behind the words of the gospel. There's power because God has given it that power.
Listen to this quote from Leon Morris, "The gospel is not advice to people suggesting that they lift themselves. It is power itself. It lifts them up." Paul does not say that the gospel brings power, but that it is power and God's power at that. So the good news of Jesus Christ is that He lived a perfect life. He died our substitutionary death and rose eternally from the grave. And whoever believes in him and trusts in that sacrifice can be saved from the power of sin and live eternally with Him forever more. That is great news. That is awesome news. Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. So Paul reveals multiple ways that the God exhibits his power through the gospel, first, starting in verse 16, confidence replaces shame. One of the very first words of that verse in 16, it says "For I am not ashamed of the gospel."
Paul was not ashamed of the gospel. No social pressure, or cultural stigma, or personal anxiety was going to keep Paul quiet about the gospel. Why? Because he knew that the gospel was so good he couldn't keep quiet about it. It was so powerful that he couldn't keep it to himself. It needs to be shared. It needs to be given away freely, so confidence replaces shame. The next thing that the power of the gospel does is salvation replaces condemnation. So verse 16, again, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for what?” Salvation. We're no longer condemned when we are in Christ. Aren't you happy for that? Romans 8:1 is one of my favorite verses in all the Bible it says, "For there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Oh, those are so good.
Those words are so freeing, so liberating each day that I don't have to feel the weight of condemnation anymore, but God has set me free. He has saved me. And for Paul, he knew that nothing else could provide this, no amount of law keeping, no religious deeds or amount of personal piety. It's only by the power of God that anyone can experience salvation - only by His power, and the gospel is God's power to save. The last thing Paul references in verse 16 is, inclusion replaces alienation. We're no longer alienated, but we are included into the family of God. That's such a precious thing, isn't it, to have brothers and sisters in Christ that you can rely on, that you can pray with, that you can bear burdens with together? I shared in the previous service; I had the privilege of getting to be with some of your members last night at the house across the parking lot.
We had dinner together, and I've never met any of them, the people that were there, but there was such a sweet spirit because we shared an inclusion together of being united in the family of God. We were brothers and sisters in Christ. And that unified us; that gave us a foundation to share with one another such good truths that were so encouraging. The gospel is the great unifier across all of history. All ethnicities nationalities, cultures can be unified together by the power of the gospel. When so many other things fail so often to unify people, the gospel can do that. We are united together from all backgrounds. And isn't that a great picture of where we're ultimately going in Revelation 7:9, where people from all tribes, all tongues, all nations are around the throne of God, worshiping, giving glory to God, singing praises to Him for all that he has done.
Man, if that doesn't get you excited, if that doesn't give you just a smile on your face, I don't know what will. But that's such a good day coming, and we get a fore taste of it here together as brothers and sisters, as we celebrate these truths together. So the next point, verse 17, helps us see that the gospel also is the power of God for salvation, but it also reveals the righteousness of God. Now, the righteous of God is such a huge topic. We're not going to exhaust it either because we'd be here all day and we'd be here all - like we could do sermon series on the righteousness of God. But a quote by John Stott, I think helps us understand what Paul is getting at in this passage. He says, "Thus, the righteousness of God can be thought of as first a divine attribute, our God is a righteous God. Or an activity, He comes to our rescue. Or an achievement, He bestows on us a righteous status."
Now, let me help break that down. First, he's describing righteous as a characteristic. God is what? He's righteous. That's a characteristic of who He is. He can't stop being righteous. That's who God is. He's righteousness in person, so that's who God is. Next description is that it's an activity; He's righteous and therefore acts on His righteousness. He does righteous things. And then the last one just blows my mind and it should blow yours too, is that He chooses to give his righteousness to me and you, when we trust in the gospel, when we trust in Jesus Christ for the salvation of our sins. That is crazy that we would be considered righteous.
I can't speak about you, you all are probably just really good people, but I know myself. I know myself well enough to know that righteousness is not an accurate description in my own effort of who I am. Because I know not just my outward actions and thoughts and speech, but also the internal stuff that no one else sees, but God sees that even more. And He looks at me through Jesus Christ and He says, "righteous." That's crazy. That's amazing. Amazing grace, right? Righteousness comes from God. Verse 17 says, "For in it, the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith." Righteousness comes from God. We do not have righteousness on our own, and I think that's something we need to understand and believe because we err in thinking, I think that we're good people, right? We're nice people. We're good, right? We do a lot of nice things and good things, but the Bible paints a different picture of who we are.
I think many times we of ourselves as like maybe a glass or a cup. And it's full of like what righteousness would be if it were like a liquid or something. And God just comes along and He takes this picture of extra righteousness and just kind of pours it off, and then we finally fill the cup up. We're there. That's not at all what the Bible says about our righteousness. In fact, if that analogy holds true; we're the glass that's shattered on the ground. It has nothing in it. It's of no worth. It’s of no use. The Bible says our righteousness is good as filthy rags. But what it is, is when God comes and picks those pieces up and puts them back together and fills us with His righteousness. That's who He makes into. He makes us a new creation. He gives us a new purpose in life.
It comes from God. We didn't earn it. On our own we are unrighteous and God is so good to give us His righteousness. The next thing in this verse, righteousness is received by faith. It says here in verse 17, "For the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith." We receive it by faith. It's not earned. It's not bought. It's not extorted by those who have the power to keep the righteousness for themselves and dispel it whenever somebody earns it. But God gives it away freely to those who would just trust in Him, who would believe in Him. That's amazing.
And through our faith in Him, what he freely offers to anyone who would believe we can be made righteous in the sight of God. It doesn't matter where you've come from; your background, your history, whether you've been a really moral person your entire life, or whether you've just done everything under the sun; God has the power and the desire to pour out his righteousness in your life through Jesus Christ. And the last thing in this verse about righteousness is that faith in God becomes a lifestyle. After we receive that righteousness, it changes us. It changes our affections. It changes our thoughts. It changes our actions. We want to do things differently. We want to live differently because God has changed us. We don't always feel that way though. Do we? We sin. We struggle. We fight against the power of the enemy as he attacks us and tempts us, but we live by faith when we follow Christ
It doesn't mean you're always perfect. It doesn't mean you're always making just headlong progress up the slope of sanctification, but it means that you're always going forward. It means that at the end of your life, the measure of faithfulness is that you kept going forward, you kept moving forward in faith for God. A Christian's life is not marked by just perfection. If it is, we're all in trouble, right? But it's marked by faithfulness to God. Now that's all really good news, right? That's all awesome stuff that we've talked about, now we're turning a corner in this passage in verse 18. We kind of talked about the good news, the good stuff, but the good news is only good news if there's of bad news that it's in response to. And here's where we focus on this in verse 18, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men."
We see in this passage, God rescues us from the wrath of God. The gospel rescues us from the wrath of God. The first fact of this passage is that God must punish sin. If He's a righteous God, if He's just in his entirety, then He would stop being righteous and stop being just if He were to turn a blind eye to sin and just allow it to go unaddressed. And so, He must hold us accountable for our sin, and in Christ, He's taken our place. He's our substitute. But for those who are not in Christ and have not trusted in Him, they are held responsible and accountable for their rebellion against God. And that is all of us apart from Christ.
The next fact of this passage is that all humanity is sinful. All humanity. Romans, in other parts of its letter talks about this very clearly, Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." Romans 5:12, "Sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned." And Romans 6:23 says, "The wages of sin is death." Every one, apart from God's grace will face the same fate. And the last part we see in verse 20, no one is without excuse or has an excuse. So because of that, our neighbors, our friends, our coworkers, people who live in places where the gospel is readily available, and people who live in places where the gospel is not readily available, will all face judgment without Christ. What do we do with that information? What do we do with those facts? Some people they'll hear that and churches will choose to just say, "Well, this is what the Bible says, but it really doesn't say that - it really means this."
We don't have the authority to do that. We don't have the authority to be God's editor with His word. We can't change it. We can't revise it. We ought to believe it. And if we're going to believe these things, and if we are going to believe that God's word is absolutely trustworthy and everything that it says, these verses should move us to action. Not just to heartbreak, even though that's the correct response, that a lost and dying world around us is without hope apart from Christ, but it should move us, because guess what? We have the gospel; we've been given the stewardship of the gospel. We have the good news that the world needs to hear and needs to believe.
Does that mean they'll automatically believe? Of course not. Did you automatically believe when you heard the gospel? No. It's a very miracle of God when any person chooses to believe in Jesus Christ. It is God who has the power for salvation. But it is us who have been given the stewardship of giving the gospel away freely. It's not in your power, in your strength and your persuasiveness that people choose to follow Jesus. It's because of the power of God in the gospel. So brothers and sisters; nothing is more urgent in this life. Nothing is more important because people are dying in every single day. We ought to move on these things.
Now, messages like this can be really heavy, right? And they can feel really discouraging because maybe people are sitting in here and being like, "Man, I'm just not doing that right now. Like, maybe I just don't care enough right now. Or maybe I haven't been sharing my faith or it's just really hard to think about sharing my faith. I don't have what I need. I don't feel like I have all the answers. What if they say this? Or what if this happens? What if I look like a fool, right? These are all things that we've thought, but this is why I want to encourage us to aspire for what I've called gospel fluency. Because in knowing the gospel more and loving God more through knowing the gospel; I think he would make us more effective communicators and stewards of the gospel. So, this next point in the sermon kind of turns more to the application of what do we do with this information now that we've looked and seen the gospel. So, how fluent are you with the gospel? How fluent are you with the gospel? You can answer this question yourself. How confident are you in your ability to communicate the truths of the gospel to someone? Does it come naturally to you? Some people it does, and I love that.
That's awesome that God has gifted you that way. Other people like me, it's harder. It's more challenging to try to remain confident in my ability to communicate the gospel. But what I have to always remind myself of is it's not my power. It's not me. I'm not asking people to believe in me. I'm asking people to believe in the savior of the universe - the God who's created all things and the God who has all power to save this person in front of me from the blindness that they have, from the sin in their life and be made new. That is my responsibility, to communicate, not to save. So, what things are holding us back from coming gospel fluent? There's a few things on the screen. Maybe you resonate with some of them like fear or embarrassment, apathy, busyness, disordered priorities. Maybe it's a mix of those things. But I think the first thing we have to do in aspiring to be better communicators of the gospel, more fluent in it, is recognize what's holding us back.
What are those that are keeping me from aspiring for more fluency in the gospel? So after identifying those things and thinking about that, we turn the corner to the next question, how can you improve your gospel fluency? How can you improve? Well, as I was thinking about our language learning journey with Japanese, I kind of drew some parallels with some of the tools and resources that we were utilizing in learning Japanese and how I think those same principles are helpful for us as we think about how to improve and grow in our gospel fluency as stewards of the gospel. The first one I will just reference is motivation. And I think it's really the primary one, because if you don't have a good motivation for doing something, you just won't do it. You'll just give up very quickly, right? So in language learning especially, if you don't have a motivation to learn Japanese, you're not going to, I guarantee you. You're just going to look at the alphabet systems and you're going to look at all the things that you have to do, the grammar and all of that, and you're just going to say, "Nope, not for me. I'm good with English." But if you have a motivation, that's helping you understand why you are pressing forward even when it's hard, especially when it's hard.
Our motivation is because less than half of 1% of the population knows Christ. And there are very few communicators of the gospel who speak Japanese. Very few Christian resources that are written in Japanese, and so there's need there. There's motivation there. And in the same regard for all of us sitting here in this room, there is a motivation for why we need to be more fluent in the gospel. And it's everything that we've just talked about in this passage, that God has invested His power in the gospel to save, that He gives us our righteousness and He rescues us from wrath when we trust in Him, because apart from that work, everyone faces judgment and accountability. But in Christ, they're set free. They're welcomed into a family. They're not judged according to their own actions, but according to the righteousness of Jesus Christ. So our motivation also is thankfulness, gratitude. Aren't you happy to be a Christian? Aren't you? What's the alternative? It's judgment. It's wrath. It's a joyful thing to be a follow of Christ.
Now, sometimes you wouldn't notice - if you talked to some Christians who walk around like they just have a thing of lemon heads in their pocket all the time, but we are called to be people of joy. Of all the people in the world who should be the most joyful? Those who know the gospel, those who have that hope, right? And this isn't manufactured happiness, but it's motivated by thank you, Jesus. Thank you God, because you've done something for me that I never could have done for myself. And I didn't deserve it, but you chose to give it to me by grace. That's so good, and that motivates us.
Next thing - immersion. Now, up until this point, Melissa and I have had very limited immersion in terms of Japanese study. We've had opportunity to meet five or six Japanese families in Evansville, and that's been awesome to get to know them. There's a Toyota plant, about 30 minutes north of us in Princeton, Indiana. And they've come over from Japan and they're there for a couple years. And so, we've had an opportunity... you know how good the Lord is, here's how we met them. Two houses down from where my parents live, one family moved in. The next door on the other side of my parents' house, another family moved in from Japan. I mean, and that's where we were staying at that point. If that's not God's providence in putting people in our path, I don't know what is. But it's through those actions and through those opportunities that we have had the ability to immerse ourselves into a language learning environment in a limited capacity. But how much more in a Christian way of thinking about gospel fluency, do we need immersion, things like what we're doing right now? Sunday morning service, gathering together with brothers and sisters in Christ, celebrating God's word, reading God's word, knowing it, singing it - loving it.
And then things like small group Bible study or discipleship groups or our own personal time with the Lord. Those are times where we can immerse ourselves into the content of God's word and know it and learn it and love it. Because if we do not love it, if we do not know it, why in the world would we think that someone else outside of us would want that too? You can tell when somebody really loves something, can't you, when they're talking about it and they're passionate about it. You can read it in their actions and their expressions, right? They're talking about it; it's the best thing they've ever talked about. You know, especially food, right? You find a new restaurant. You're just like, this is the best place, you need to go.
If you just said, "Hey, I went to lunch. That place, yeah, it was good. It was all right. It is kind of, you know?" You going to go there? Probably not. It's not a very convincing presentation. But if you're passionate about it and you're loving it, you can tell. And of all people, we need to be passionate about the gospel, about Christ, about what He's done in our lives. I get it, we get busy, we have different priorities. We get disordered in what we should be prioritizing the most in our lives, but this is why this environment is so important. We reorient ourselves every single Sunday. We come back to God's word and we hear what he has to say. We need it, because we so quickly forget.
The next thing vocabulary - now, if I just memorize a bunch of sounds in Japanese, and I just hear somebody saying something, I'm like, okay, I'll repeat that sound. And I just take it to somebody else without ever knowing what it means. Is that effective communication? No, it's terrible. Because I have no idea what I'm saying to someone else. I know the sound, but I have no idea what I just said. That's not effective communication. And in the same way, as we study scripture, we ought to know what scripture teaches and what it means when it says certain things. So words like we've referenced this morning, like gospel, God, salvation, faith, righteousness, wrath, sin, all of those terms are essential for any talk about the gospel - you have to. So when someone tells you or asks you, what is the gospel? Someone comes up to you and you're getting into a gospel conversation, what is the gospel? You know, who is God? What's the big deal with salvation? What does that even mean?
Faith, righteousness, why do I need that? Wrath - that sounds scary, I don't want anything to do with that. Sin - that's judgey. How do we define these things? How do we talk about these things? It's important, right? It's not just Pastor Greg's responsibility to know how to define those words. It's all of our responsibility to know Christ, to know the word of God so that we can be fluent in the gospel. Next thing, survival phrases. Now, we're a little bit farther along than I anticipated in language to go to Japan at this point, because it's been about over a year since we set out to originally get there. But, whenever we were first planning on getting their survival phrases were a huge thing, right? You have to know how to say certain things in order to survive. You got to know how to say, where can I buy food? Or where is the bathroom? That's a very important phrase to know. Those are things that I don't know the grammar behind them, I don't know, ultimately, like why the words sound the way they do, but I know how to say those things, and they're meaningful. They're very important.
In the same way with the God gospel, there are tools that are all over the place. I mean, so many tools have been made over the years that help us understand how to present the gospel. Some are listed on the screen; three circles: two ways to live, Romans road, four, spiritual laws. Pastor Greg referenced earlier in the last service that in the new members class, there's a way that he uses to present the gospel. So, there's all kinds of ways to understand how to present the gospel. And ultimately, those things are not the gospel, but they help us talk about it.
They help us talk about what does it mean to follow Jesus? What does it mean to give your life to him? And we ought to know those things, because if you're like me, I get into a conversation; if I don't know kind of the roadmap of where I'm trying to go, it's intimidating. Because you're like, what if we chase this rabbit trailer or this just kind of gets diverted back here or whatnot? Knowing a tool, knowing kind of the roadmap of where you want to go in a conversation about the gospel helps us. It reorients us back to what's the most important things that we need to talk about in this. So, survival phrases are important.
Next thing, practice with tutors. There's all kinds of Japanese textbooks I could be studying and devote my time to, but unless I actually compare it to what a native speaker sounds like, I'm really not being helped in any measure. Because I can think I'm doing really good, right? I'm like, "Yeah, man, I've done like four textbooks and did all the exercises in them, I know all the words." And then I start talking to somebody in Japanese and they're like, "What are you saying?" You know, if you're anything like... we've actually talked with the families that we've met and they're learning English here. And they've had their English textbooks and they bring them to us and they say, "Do you say this?" It's like, "No, we never say that." It's in the textbook and that's proper English, but we never say that. Same thing happens in Japanese, right? We never say, you know all of these things that are written in the textbooks, but practice with tutors is so important because it helps correct error. It helps give tips. It helps learn from experience. It helps us compare against what maybe mistakes somebody has made in the past and help guard against pitfalls in the future.
And the same way the gospel; we need practice with tutors with the gospel as well. People who have lived life longer, who followed Christ longer, who know how to maybe have a more prepared gospel conversation with somebody, who is helping you grow in your gospel fluency. And that's not a measure of age necessarily; it's a matter of spiritual maturity. Who is investing in you? And then the other question is who are you investing in? Who are you being invested in by? And then who are you seeking to invest your life in? Because we're all called to do that to some extent; maybe it's your family, maybe it's your children. That's such an important thing. We need to make sure that as families, we're raising our kids and investing in our kids the truths of the gospel.
But maybe you're an empty nester. Maybe you're further along in life. Find somebody else to choose to give your time to, to invest in, to have spiritual conversations. And it's amazing how you will see benefit in your own spiritual walk with the Lord in doing that as well. We all need practice and growth and gospel fluency. And the last thing I'll give as way as application is communicating. I can learn all the Japanese I want, but if, unless I actually open my mouth and start saying it, what uses that? All I'll be able to do is understand what people are saying and I'll just be able to critique it in my mind. And nobody really likes just a critic who's never going to offer any kind of constructive anything. But in the gospel, it's the same way. Why would we think that we can train ourselves and learn about the gospel and know it in and out, read theology books and all of these things, unless it actually motivates us to open our mouths and tell people about Jesus, tell people about the gospel, getting out into the community and practice what you know? Take a friend along.
One of the biggest ways I'm helped in evangelism is not doing it alone - doing it with someone else, going out with someone else and doing it together. So, maybe don't try to feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders, but go out with somebody else. Invite somebody to your house, have an evangelistic party or something like that. It's amazing how you can just have so many opportunities if you think creatively. Or ask somebody else, "Hey, how have you tried to reach your neighbors? How have you tried to intentionally build relationships with people outside the church?" Some examples of what Melissa's done is like story time at the library is an awesome time to meet people. If you have kids also, what is the other thing that you've done recently? Christmas gift exchange is an awesome opportunity to have people and talk about the meaning of Christmas.
I mean, in that, she's had opportunities to meet people from Saudi Arabia, from China, from Korea, all kinds of people that you never would've had an opportunity to talk to otherwise. But if you just take a little bit of time and place yourself in somewhere, where you're not surrounded by Christians all the time; it's amazing what kind of opportunities God will give you. If you will just pray and ask, "God, help me, give me the words to say, give me the people to speak to." He'll put them in your path. He'll give you opportunities, which just leads us to our last point. Who are you trying to share with? Who are you planning to share with? Who is it? I would encourage you, before the day's done to just select one person or one family that you're at least going to intentionally pray for. You're going to pray something like, "God, give me opportunities to share with this person. Lord, would you please help this person right now to see that they need help? They need the gospel. They need Jesus Christ to change their life. I can't do that God, but I know that you can, so please use me in that process."
If you will pray something like that, it's amazing what God will do. That doesn't guarantee that somebody will trust in it, but it does guarantee that you will have opportunities. I promise you, if you will place yourself in those areas to do that, God will work. One of the most staggering statistics I've learned since being a part of the IMB is that statistic that's right under that title on that screen, over 155,000 people on average die every single day not knowing Jesus as their Lord and Savior. 155,000 people on average. That's a staggering amount. I don't know the total population of Fort Wayne, but I imagine in a couple days, if that amount of people were ticked off, that would not last very long. So, time is urgent. The task ahead of us is not something that can just be pushed off day after day after day, but it's something that is pressing now because people today will spend an eternity away from Christ, away from fellowship with God.
Gospel fluency matters because the gospel needs to invade people's lives all around us. So, who are you praying for and who are you actively planning to share the gospel with? I think Pastor Greg is invited people to, even on the response card, just talk, about writing a name down a family down so that your church can pray together collectively. So that that is taken before God as an intentional measure, to see that you are investing in that person's life so that the gospel can be known by them - can be trusted.
We can't just do this on our own. We can't just think about living the life that God has called us to on our own in isolation. We need one another as a church family in this task. And isn't it great that we get to be together in this, that we don't have to do this alone, that we have one another in this task we've been given. So, that's what I have to share today. I pray that it is encouraging to you. I do not mean for this to be burdensome in any way, but it's encouraging because God has given us something to do. And He's promised not only that He's given us the power, but He will be with us always until the end of the age while we are doing this. So while we do this together, know that God is with you and He will never call you to do something that He will not always be there with you beside you while you're doing it.
Let's pray. Father God, thank you so much for the opportunity today, to look at your word and to see what it has for us to know that you are so desiring for people to come and trust in you, to believe in you, to not, not trust in their own efforts, but to deny themselves and trust in Christ. We pray that you would help us as we in this room as followers of Christ Lord, that you would help us to take seriously the call to make disciples. Not thinking that we are, are sufficient for that task, but knowing that you have resourced us, you have given us your spirit. You've given us your power and your presence with us wherever you send us to go. God, I pray for those in this room who may not know you, Lord, who are not following after you right now.
I pray that if there's anyone today here in this room, Lord, that they would seek out someone before they leave this building to ask, how can I follow Jesus? How can I know Jesus Christ as my savior and my Lord, because it's the most important decision that they'll ever make. God, I pray that you would help them. I pray you would help us to pray intentionally for people around us, knowing that you can do all things, you can work any kind of miracle. We pray these things in your power and in your son's name, amen. Just one thing real quick. We will be out afterwards, after the service by a table in the lobby. We'd love to talk with you. We'd love to meet you if we haven't met you already. So please, feel free to stop by and pick up one of our prayer cards or any other things. We'd just love to talk to you and get to meet you. Thank you.
Thanks again for worshipping with us online. I hope that you will contact us. Go to our Facebook page, our website (www.StJoeCommunityChurch.org). Put a comment at the bottom of this video. However you can do that. Just let us know that you’re out there. We want to be able to pray for you, resource you, encourage you, answer any questions you might have. For those of you who have been giving online, thank you very much. We continue to have needs and continue to do things like this online worship experience, and other ministry needs and practical ways, and if you don’t know how to do that, just go to our website and there are instructions there. (www.StJoeCommunityChurch.org) so that you can also participate in our ministries and partner with us. Again, I’m Pastor Greg Byman, and on behalf of St Joe Community Church, God bless you, and we’ll see you next time.
Thank you for joining us today. For more information about the St Joe ministry, visit www.StJoeCommunityChurch.org or call (260) 471-4704 or email StJoeCommunity@gmail.com. If you are looking for a church home, St Joe meets for worship and fellowship each Sunday morning at 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. St Joe is committed to your well-being and safety. For the latest policies regarding the Covid 19 pandemic, please visit the Covid section of the St Joe website. Thanks again for joining us and we’ll see you next week.
B: Bible book