How to Share the Gospel With Twenty Biblical Events

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Yesterday as part of a blog post on Telling the Gospel as a Story I referred to an evangelistic tool which I have found very useful in sharing Christ with individuals who don’t have a foundation of Biblical Truth.

This curriculum is called The Story of Hope, and published by Good Soil an evangelism and discipleship program of ABWE (Association of Baptists for World Evangelism). What makes this material unique is it’s centered on sharing the Gospel using forty major events of Scripture (twenty in Old and New Testament).

My favorite resource they offer is a set of cards that on the front has a picture of that specific event, and on the back gives information about how it fits into the Gospel Story.

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These same events (and pictures) are also offered in other formats such as a condensed version of the material that shares twenty events, Power Point Slides, or discipleship material for new Believers.

There is a huge need for material like The Story of Hope since in many cases we have to start with page one of the Bible when sharing Christ. Unfortunately we live in a culture were foundational truths are overlooked such as:

  1. God exists, and created everything include man
  2. Mankind lived in perfection and was given the choice between obeying God and rejecting Him
  3. All sin, suffering, and death came as a result of man refusing to obey God
  4. Along with that curse God promised to send a deliverer who would Redeem mankind from their sin
  5. The rest of Scripture is a cycle of man sinning against God, the Lord judging their sin, and then providing a way that would redeem them from that punishment (a picture of Christ)

When you link the Old Testament (particularly the promise of a Redeemer) to Christ’s incarnation and death, it becomes clear the Gospel was part of God’s plan from the very beginning.

There is always going to be a need for new material that can help Believers share the Gospel in a confident way, thankfully ABWE offers tools that help us do that without overlooking foundational truths.

Genesis 1:1-2 Our World is Broken

iStock_000004636989XSmallGen. 1:1   In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

One of the first foundational beliefs for Christians (after the fact that God exists) is that without the presence of God in our lives we have no hope. It doesn’t take long for Scripture to point this out since after declaring God’s existence (1:1) the earth is described as being without form, void, and covered in darkness.

Allow me to explain those words from their original Hebrew Language…

Without form comes from the word tohuw, to´-hoo; which means to lie waste; a desolation (of surface)*, i.e. desert; figuratively, a worthless thing (taken from Hebrews Strongs Dictionary.)

Void comes from the word bohuw, bo´-hoo; Which means an undistinguishable ruin:—emptiness, void (taken from Hebrews Strong Dictionary.)

Darkness here gives the idea of confusion since at this point there was no light in the entire world.

So the world is described as a desolate (Tohu), empty (Bohu), place of confusion (Darkness on the Face of the deep)

Not a very encouraging picture is it?

These words in Genesis 1:2 teach us a very important lesson…Apart from Christ the world is broken

There are things those who don’t believe in God will disagree with (The fact that God exists, his creation of Heaven and Earth, or God’s being there before anything else). However they can’t argue with the fact that our world (and way of living) is broken since it can be clearly seen.

  • In the news programs that we watch every night
  • In the growth of poverty, crime, and war
  • In celebrities or famous musicians who struggle with drug addiction
  • In the fact that our world is getting progressively worse instead of better

Even the individual who has no interest in God whatsoever in a moment of honesty would admit the normal way of living leads to feelings of discouraging emptiness (Bohu) or longing for something deeper (Tohu).

And it’s that realization that opens the door wide for us to share how God sent His Son, to make a broken world whole again.

Have ideas about how we see the brockeness of life apart from Christ? Leave it in the comments section below.

From the Archives: What my Dog taught me about Exodus

This post was originally written in July 2011 two months after adopting a terrier mix Yoda from the local dog shelter.  Its one of my favorites since this story illustrates Gods deliverance and redemption of the Jewish people in the book of Exodus.

 A few months ago my cat Aussie (classic Australian name) died after being hit by a car and after a few weeks without a pet I began to get really lonely.  After thinking about buying a cat, I decided a dog would be a better choice.  For starters they are better company and nothing makes you feel better than a dog excitedly welcoming you home.  The only time Aussie was excited to see me is when he was hungry (99.9% of the time) the other 0.1% was spent sleeping.

After checking out the prices of pure breed dogs…and laughing hysterically I decided to adopt a pet from the local animal shelter.

Two days later I was driving home with a thrilled and very appreciative terrier mix named Yoda.  Our first evening consisted of a dog walk (he barely made it up the block) destroying the first of countless dog toys, and watching television as he crawled behind me and laid his head down on my leg.  He still does this but is so fat I am almost pushed off of the couch.

As he crawled behind me, I was reminded of the redemption we all received from the slavery of sin through Christ’s death.  The book of Exodus is focused on the idea of deliverance or redemption, emphasizing that man cannot free himself, and our liberty can only come through Christ.

From the beginning of Exodus it becomes clear that God is determined to deliver or redeem Israel.  This is first done through birth of many children while in bondage (Ex. 1), along with the birth and protection of Moses their deliverer (Ex. 2).  Unfortunately the second part of this theme, man’s inability to redeem himself, is illustrated through the attempt of Moses to save the Jews that led to humiliation and fear.[1]

God comes to Moses later with a promise to redeem Israel and gives him signs that could prove his message was from the Lord (Ex. 3:1-4:31).  When the initial attempt was rejected it was God who strengthened the people (Ex. 5:1-6:30) and brought plagues to break the power of Pharaoh (Ex. 7:14-12:50).

No passage in Exodus describes the theme of God’s Redemption better than the Passover[2] where the Jews are commanded to put the blood of a lamb over their door.  This blood is the only thing that will keep them safe from the judgment of God, which would kill every other male child (Ex. 11:13).  This not only brings freedom from Egypt, but points to our Salvation as well.  The Bible clearly teaches that our redemption from sin isn’t accomplished by the works of man, but instead through the blood of Christ who paid our debt on the cross (1 Pet. 1:19).

Throughout their wilderness journeys the Israelites encountered many challenges they could not overcome on their own power.  Things such as crossing the Red Sea (Ex. 14), having no food or water (Ex. 16:1-17:7), living a life that brought honor to God (Ex. 20-31)[3], obeying the Lord alone instead of pagan gods (Ex. 32), and creating a tabernacle or dwelling place for the Lord (Ex. 35:4-40:8).

In each of these tests the Jewish people failed miserably by trying to take care of the problem in their own strength.  And each one became an opportunity for God to display his love and Grace by delivering the Israelites from something they couldn’t escape on their own.

Though none of us want to admit it we were all just like Yoda imprisoned by something (sin nature) that we could not free ourselves from.  It was only after I bought Yoda that he was truly free, and only through the payment of Christ’s death on the cross can we be saved.

I will never forget how excited Yoda was that first night at the house.  Everything was brand new to him and he was overwhelmed with happiness.  Today a year later he has become accustomed to his surroundings and may have forgotten what it was like to be in his cage.  Now Yoda the prisoner has become Yoda the king of his entire domain, which includes the bed, fridge, backyard, and everything within a ten-block radius (he has no problem letting other dogs know this).

Sometimes I wonder whether we forget our past as slaves to sin just like Yoda forgot his cage at the animal shelter.  It is necessary to rejoice in the incredible blessings that are ours through the death and resurrection of Christ, but its important to remember our past as well.

[1] Exodus 2:11-15

[2] Exodus 12:1-13

[3] God in these chapters gives the Ten Commandments and Jewish law to give guidance for how to live

Judges-Defeat and Deliverance

While the book Joshua is filled with victories and success from the Lord, Judges tells a very different story of discouragement and despair.  Instead of joy we see sobs, instead of progress failure, instead of faith unbelief, and instead of freedom captivity.  Why would God allow the Israelites to go through a cycle of constant failure and judgment?  It was done so that His Justice could be revealed.

God is a Righteous and Just judge, which means He will always give to us what we rightfully deserve.  The Jewish law given to Moses was very clear about their responsibility to obey God, and the curse that would be experienced if it was disobeyed.  For those who obeyed there would be a blessing, while the disobedient experienced suffering.

Following the death of Joshua the tribes of Israel forgot about God’s Justice and began to do whatever they wanted in life.  This resulted in seven rebellions, judgments, and restorations in the book of Judges.

They began the conquest of Canaan well by asking for God’s guidance regarding who would lead the people (1:2).  The tribe of Judah was chosen and they immediately began to continue the work of Joshua, but ended up not defeating all of the people.  This process of killing or conquering most people in the cities but not all continued to become worse over time.  (1:19-21, 24-25, 27-36).  As if that wasn’t enough, the Jews began adopting the Canaanites style of life and worship (2:2-3) that resulted in God’s refusing to give them victory over the nearby cities (2:20-22).

God’s Justice (demand we live a Holy life or face consequences) is seen in the constant cycle of Sin, Punishment, and Deliverance that fills Judges.[1]  Of course the Justice is clear in His punishment of sin, but when the Jews repented of those wicked acts God was quick to deliver them.  The Justice of God means we receive blessing in times of repentance as well as punishment in times of sin.

The first rebellion began as the Israelites became too focused on living in peace with the surrounding enemies (3:5) and created boundaries which where favorable for the Amorites while embracing their religion.  Unfortunately for the Jews this just resulted in captivity (3:7-8).  After eight years of judgment God raised up the first judge Othniel to deliver them.

This cycle continued with a judgment of eighteen years ended by the judge Ehud (3:12-31), an oppression of twenty years before Deborah and Barak set the people free (Jud. ch. 4-5), and seven years of being controlled by the Midianites before the deliverance of Gideon (6:1-8:32).

Amazingly the Jews had not learned their lesson and continued rebellion, which brought a great civil war to the Country (8:33-10:5) that was ended by Tola.  The Philistines finally entered Israel and held the land captive for eighteen years (10:6-12:15) and later forty years before the coming of Sampson (13:1-16:31).  The book ends with sad stories of religious depravity (17:1-18:31) moral depravity (chapter 19) and political depravity (Chapter 21).

It’s easy to read the book of Judges and blame God for what happens to the Jews.  After all He was the one who took away their freedom and allowed other nations to control them for years.  But when we take a closer look it becomes clear that the rebellions of Israel are what brought this judgment.  The moment they turned to the Lord in repentance He would immediately send a judge to deliver, but in His Justice God would wait for them to repent.

Many times we can’t understand the plans of God for our lives (especially in judgment) and we feel the Lord is being unfair to us.  But it’s important to remember that God is completely Just and Righteous, He will only give to us what we deserve.

 

Because of Who He is,

John Wilburn


[1] Judges 3:5-16:31

Joshua-God Strengthens

Josh. 1:6 Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.

Josh. 1:7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.

 

There is a growing movement in Christian circles to help those who are struggling with low self-esteem, or poor self-image.  These individuals feel as if others are more important than them, and in many cases view themselves as unimportant or worthless.  Most of these ministries to encourage those struggling with self-esteem issues and help them become more confident.  But is mere confidence the real solution to their problem?  The book of Joshua teaches us that just having confidence isn’t as important as what the source of that confidence.

Joshua begins as the children of Israel are mourning the death of their leader Moses, but their sorrow and fear was soon replaced by confidence and excitement that came from God.  The central point of Joshua is found in chapter one where the Lord challenges the new leader to be strong and exhibit faith as he prepares to conquer the land of Canaan.

He was commanded to put his foot down and show confidence (Josh. 1:3) conquer the entire promised land with all its borders (1:4, 11) prepare the people for battle and cross the Jordan (1:2) and to take up his sword which would be used to overcome enemy armies (1:8).  The confidence to obey in this way didn’t come from Joshua’s own strength but the promise of God (Josh. 1:3-5).

The Lord said that He would care for Joshua and give the Jews victory, as they trusted Him.  This promise was fulfilled as we see various challenges overcome with the help of God, such as Rabab’s caring for the spies (Josh. 2) and crossing of the flooded Jordan river (Joh. 3-4).  In these situations God demanded that the Jews trust Him to care for their needs instead of relying on their own strength.

The theme of finding confidence in God is continued in the fall of Jericho (Josh. 6) where the Israelites conquered a city by marching around it and shouting.  But God was quick to remind Joshua that confidence alone couldn’t win a battle the defeat at Ai (Josh 7:1-5) which came because of Achan’s sin.

Before attacking Jericho God demanded the Jews recommit themselves to Him through circumcision so their strength didn’t come from themselves but through Him (Josh. 5:1-12) because if they weren’t totally committed failure would come (Josh. 7:10-11).  This truth was illustrated with their great victory following the judgment upon Achan’s family and obedience (8:1-29).  But they quickly forgot their need for the Lords help and were deceived by a neighboring city (9:1-27).

After defeating the strongest armies of Canaan (Chapters 11-12) Joshua realized that it wouldn’t be possible to conquer the entire land on his own.  So he gave each of the Jewish tribes allotments or pieces of land, which they were meant to conquer (Chapters 13-19).  By doing this he was passing on the challenge from chapter one from God to move forward and conquer the land.  Unfortunately most of the tribes either didn’t show confidence, or had confidence in their own abilities instead of the Lords strength.  So much of Canaan was left unconquered.

Joshua towards the end of his life challenges the Jewish leaders to obey God with confidence and trust the Lord in times of need instead of themselves (Josh. 23) the book then ends with a speech to the people which contains one of the best-known verses in all of Scripture.  And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD[1].”

Most people when reading Joshua would be challenged to go and attempt great things for the Lord.  While the story of Israel’s victory should encourage our hearts we must be careful not to forget the source of that confidence.  It wasn’t ability or wisdom that gave Joshua success, but the presence of God.

 

Because of Who He is,

 

John Wilburn

www.australianmissionary.com


[1] Joshua 24:15

Deuteronomy: God Challenges

Deut. 10:12 ¶ “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul

Deut. 10:13 and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD, which I am commanding you today for your good?

The summer of my junior year in High School will always be remembered as a spiritual turning point in my life because it was then that I learned what was truly important to God.  I had been led to the Lord by my mother at an early age (four years old on the way to the grocery store) and  already experienced the call of God to missions earlier that year, but I still struggled with how to live for the Lord.

One Wednesday evening one of my friends gave a devotional from Romans chapter two that explained in the eyes of God true obedience and a relationship with Him were more important than just works[1].  The Holy Spirit used that passage to show that while I was committed to the Lord, it was a half-hearted and very weak one.  Since that night so many years ago the Lord has helped me focus on being totally committed to Him instead of just going through the motions spiritually.

The book of Deuteronomy contains the last words of Moses for the children of Israel.  He uses this opportunity to clarify for them what was truly important, obeying God with all their heart.  This was more than just a half-hearted commitment but involved complete and total abandonment to Him.

Moses began by describing the long journey they had taken to the promised land (Deut. 1:6-3:29) and how God had cared for them every step of the way (2:7).  This brief history lesson centers on their responsibility to obey God (4:1-49) and seek his face in time of need (4:29-30).   The Lords faithfulness would motivate them to strong commitment because He could be trusted, and they didn’t deserve God’s goodness.

After reviewing their past journey Moses reminds them of  how to live in the land of Canaan (Deut. 5:1-26:19).  This is mostly the law given in Leviticus repeated to emphasize their responsibility to obey the Lord after entering the promised land (Deut. 12:1).   The Israelite’s were challenged to separate themselves from sin (Deut. 14), show love to those in need (Deut. 15), worship the Lord (Deut. 16), and live a disciplined life (Deut. 17).  Chapters eighteen through twenty-five give laws that help purify the unclean or deal with sin.  These commands along with many others demand complete commitment to God which would result in their living much differently than the Canaanites.

Moses finally looks towards the future after Israel had conquered the promised land following his death (Deut. 27:1-33:29).  He describes in detail the blessings that come upon those who obey God, and curses that are experienced by those who sin.    Deuteronomy twenty-eight shares the blessings of obedience (28:1-14) which would one day come upon Israel in the end times[2] as well as the curse for disobedience (28:47-49) which was fulfilled by the Roman invasion of Jerusalem in AD 70.  The scattering of Jewish people across the world is also prophesied in this passage (28:63-67).  These blessings and curses show again that God desired complete obedience from His people.

Moses ends his life with one final challenge to obey God with all their heart (Deut. 31), a song of worship to the Lord (Deut. 32), and a prayer to Jehovah would bless His people (Deut. 33).  Though the life of Moses definitely wasn’t perfect (Num. 20:6-12) his testimony was submission to the Lord surely convicted their hearts.

The entire book of Deuteronomy is a challenge for the Jews who held a weak and timid submission to instead embrace a radical commitment to God.  This challenge was repeated by Christ during his earthly ministry (Mark 12:28-31) who made clear that the Lord wouldn’t be satisfied with anything less than complete submission (Lk. 9:22-26).  Today God continues to challenge us through the Bible and prayer to leave our weak comfortable commitments, and follow Him with everything we have instead.

Because of Who He is,

John Wilburn


[1] Romans 2:28-29

[2]  Zechariah 14:8-21, Jeremiah 31:1-9, Romans 11:25-31