Thomas Rainer s book, The Unexpected Journey, is a compilation of stories of people who formerly embraced various beliefs, disbeliefs, and religions — Mormonism, atheism, Judaism, Buddhism, the New Age movement, agnosticism, witchcraft, Islam, universalism, etc. — but discovered and accepted Christianity . While I am persuaded that most, if not all, of those whose stories are told obeyed a perverted gospel (Galatians 1:6-9) and became a part of denominationalism instead of the one true church, and while Rainer is not a preacher for a church of Christ, but a dean for a Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, I read the book (more accurately, listened to the book in audio form) to better educate myself as to how to reach Mormons, atheist, Jews, Buddhist, Muslims, etc. with the gospel. While each story told is different, there does seem to be a common refrain that was the determining factor in leading these people to Christianity — God s love, His grace, and the forgiveness of sins offered in Jesus Christ.
Hearing that God s love, His grace, and the forgiveness of sins leads people to Christ is not surprising to most Christians. God s love, His grace, and the forgiveness of sins are at the heart of the gospel. In Romans, a book in which the apostle Paul declared the gospel to be the power of God to salvation (Romans 1:16), Paul affirmed that we are justified freely by His (God s h.h.) grace through the redemption (the forgiveness of sins, Ephesians 1:7, h.h.) that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith (Romans 3:24-25). Furthermore, Paul stated, But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). While academically we Christians know that God s love, His grace, and the forgiveness of sins are a part of the gospel s message and, therefore, an effective entreaty for Christ, how well do we communicate this appeal to others and use it to win souls to Christ?
Suggesting that we proclaim God s love, His grace, and the forgiveness of sins offered in Christ in no way suggests that there is never a need to convict people of sin or to expose the fallacy of false religions. Sinners must be convicted of their sins in order to convince them of their need for forgiveness; those who disbelieve or espouse a false religion must see the error of their ways and the truthfulness and superiority of Christ before they will, with conviction, choose Christianity. Preach the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27); keep back nothing that is helpful (Acts 20:20). However, we must not be so eager to condemn the lost and so brutal in our attack of error as to obscure God s love or distract from the beauty of His grace and the forgiveness of sins through Christ. Our purpose for sharing the gospel is not to condemn, but to save (John 3:17).
The gospel is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes (Romans 1:16) — even those who, presently, are Mormons, atheist, Jews clinging to the Old Testament law, Buddhist, New Agers, agnostics, Jehovah Witnesses, witches, Muslims, those consumed in denominationalism, and the such like. We must not shy away from or fear teaching them because of their present condition. Show them the TRUTH in the context of God s love, His grace, and the promise of forgiveness of sins through Jesus. There is great power in the love of God and blood of Jesus; they are part of the gospel s message. So, make God s love, His grace, and the promise of forgiveness of sins through Jesus a common refrain in your efforts to teach others of the common salvation.