There are many reasons to talk about the gospel.
The reason the groundwork in your heart is so important, is because there are many life issues that have to be addressed from this one place. The book of Mark shows us what Jesus says about our hearts: ‘And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” -Mark 7:14-16
Within your heart are the darkest of secrets. We all have them. I once heard someone say that no one would want the thoughts of their hearts played on a screen in Times Square New York. It’s true. We know ourselves well enough to know that we aren’t perfect. The most sinister person you know is you. Well, some of us are in denial and would like to think that there is some sort of innate good in us. The craze of the modern world and some theologians is that goodness is truly in us. We would like to believe that humankind is good sisters, but that is not the case. Ask the next two year old child you know, with an agenda to touch, hit, run, or knock over something, to stop and their first response will be that of rebellion, not obedience. Besides the obvious examples that are seen all around us that display man’s wicked heart, our condition is best explained in the Bible.
Before we touch 21 verses of Romans 12 and talk about how we are to apply them to our lives, we must plant in our hearts the essential truth of the gospel. We can’t talk about being a “living sacrifice” or “clinging to what is good” without knowing how we can be those things or who can help us live like this. Let’s use an abridged version of Romans 1-11 to help us see who we are, what the issue of life is, why we need Jesus, and how we can accept His solution.
(If you feel like a superchristian and think you can skip this part, don’t.)
Romans chapters 1-3 gives some of the bad news concerning life. Paul, the writer, starts with a statement in chapter 1:16, almost as a declaration of this good, bad news that will result in great news. Being unashamed of the gospel of Jesus doesn’t mean being only unashamed of the best news, but also unashamed of the worst. He’s not afraid to say that those who reject God’s law and constantly seek lawless living will be left to their evil ways (Rom. 1:28-32). He doesn’t hide the fact that God will judge anyone who doesn’t accept Him and follow His laws. He calls out the religious person, and anyone who is pointing out all the flaws and sin in others, but doesn’t realize that we are all on the list for God’s wrath and judgment. Paul also isn’t ashamed to say, yes, only God can judge you, but based on your spiritual condition, that judgment won’t be based on what you do, where you are from, or how moral you think you are. It will be based on the sin that lies in your heart, separating you from God, reminding you that you can’t keep any of His laws (Rom. 2&3).
This isn’t a guilt trip. If you are a Christian, you can’t be afraid to bring up the sin problem to someone who isn’t a follower of Jesus. We all have sin, none of us are righteous, and not one of us seeks after God. (Rom. 3:9-12). Some of you don’t know that Jesus made a way for you be free from the punishment for your sin and a way to be in a relationship with God. Here’s more truth that you and I don’t have to be ashamed of: God loves you and sent Jesus to die to take the wrath of God you and I deserve. That’s where the bad news changes to great news. You can have a relationship with Jesus.
Stick with me to hear more about what you can or will be freed from and what Jesus did for you and I as the groundwork continues.
Have you asked God to forgive your sin? Have you accepted that Jesus died in your place? You can be forgiven and you can enjoy a life as a friend of the God of the universe. Ask God to show you who He is. He will show up.
If you are a follower of Jesus, ask God to show you what work needs to be done in your heart so you can walk closer to Him. Ask God to help you be unashamed of the truths in His gospel. He will show up.