Issuing the Full Call of the Gospel
When you preach the gospel, don’t just call people to believe the gospel. Call them to repent of sin, believe the gospel, and follow Jesus. When you preach the gospel, it’s a best practice to use all three imperative calls of the gospel, not just one like belief, for example. Use the full call of the gospel, as Jesus modeled for us in Mark 1:14-17. If you do this, watch the changes that begin to happen. People will start grasping how the gospel is calling them to respond—to be multiplying disciples on mission with Jesus, not just aimless church attendees wandering through life.
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As you read that last paragraph, those of you who have been paying close attention might raise your hand and exclaim, “But you just got finished telling us how powerful biblical belief is and that Jesus himself called people to believe more than one hundred and twenty-five times!” That’s true, we did. We’re not Jesus, though. Even more to the point, we’re not living in the first century anymore. There is a stark contrast between Jesus’ day and today as it relates to understanding the call of the gospel.
In Jesus’ day, there were many people like Nicodemus, people who understood that belief is comprehensive, powerful, and amazing—and leads people to do what Jesus commanded. People in Jesus’ day also understood that repentance and discipleship were implied and included in the call to believe, but this isn’t the case today. Most people today have no idea of what the Bible means when it calls us to believe the gospel. As heralds of the gospel, we need to help them fill in the blanks. A practical and powerful way to do this is by issuing the full call of the gospel—to repent, believe, and follow Jesus.
Belief in the Bible is powerful. Nowadays, there are a lot of cheap, powerless imitations of it. There is a lot of “gift-card belief” around, which might look like biblical belief, sound like it, and pretend to be it, but it’s not. You can tell over time by the untransformed, fruitless life of the person who professes it. Belief caused Abram to follow God to a foreign land, it led Nicodemus to follow Jesus to his crucifixion, and it has the power to amaze Jesus. We need to resuscitate this kind of belief in the church—the kind of belief that’s energized by repentance and follows Christ to the end.