Too often, the evangelistic appeal we commonly hear today is quite different from the one which Jesus taught his disciples and apostles.  I think of the song, “People Need the Lord.”  Yes, people do, but why?  Is it because, as the song’s lyric says, “at the end of broken dreams, people need the Lord”?  I do not think I have ever read in the Bible of the sin of “broken dreams”.  There is also the common Christian belief that money, fame, and success do not truly satisfy; only God does.  However true this may be, the Bible does not warn of the sin of not feeling satisfied or fulfilled in life.  An example of a biblical sin is failing to heed a command in scripture like, “Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.”  Not doing so is the sin of idolatry.  Our gospel presentation should honestly and faithfully reveal man’s basic biblical sin problem.

The gospel according to Scripture addresses sin, judgment, grace, repentance, and forgiveness.  How does sin keep us from good standing with God both in this life and the next?  Why do we need to be accepted by God?  Because we are separated from fellowship with Him and are subject to his judgment.  God sent Christ to earth with infinite love, but if we fail to believe in Him and repent, we will not benefit from this love.  Jesus gave this message to the witnesses of His resurrection.  Peter explained to the crowd gathered at Cornelius’ house what Jesus had told the witnesses to preach.  “And He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that He [Jesus] is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.  To Him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name” (Acts 10:42-43).  Jesus also commended this same evangelistic appeal to the other disciples after His resurrection.  Christ said, “repentance and the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47).  Likewise, the apostle Paul received the identical message from Jesus.  Paul wrote to the Corinthian church about the gospel he received, which is “that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3-4).  Paul obediently preached this message to the pagans in the Areopagus, “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).  We see these terms again: sin, judgement, and repentance.

We ought to use the evangelistic message that Jesus commanded his disciples and apostles to preach.  Unless people come to Him primarily to be fixed of their real problem (sin), they may expect Him to fix a psychological problem that He doesn’t necessarily promise to fix in this life.  Also, without heartfelt repentance and contrition for sin, a false conversion may occur.  Sin should be explained biblically, not referring to fake sins like having broken dreams, being purposeless, feeling fearful or needing love.  Our needs are not a sin.  God’s forgiveness does not make sense to people who think they are okay or who don’t think of Jesus as a judge.  Let us not shrink back from the possible offensiveness of Jesus’ words with all of their conscience-quickening power but rather trust the power of the Holy Spirit moving in people’s hearts to bring them to true salvation.