Friday, December 3, 2010

Evangelism Focus 12/3/10

About two years ago, I wrote my own gospel tract. It's in booklet form. My husband, Greg, helped me design it. The pastor of our church and a good friend of mine helped me edit it. We sent it off to a printer and had copies made. In order to get the best deal, we needed to order 500 tracts. That seemed like a lot to me at the time, but the day has now come when it's time to reorder. Greg has spent the day making a few minor edits and will be sending it off to the printer soon. In light of this event, I thought it would be appropriate to share the content of this gospel tract with you today. It is half testimony and half gospel presentation. I enjoy handing out this tract because I know exactly what it says and it's written from my perspective. If you enjoy writing, I would encourage you to give this a try.

Here's the content of the tract (again it's in a booklet form, so it's a bit long for a blog post, but I wanted to be sure to include the full content).

Thank you for opening this pamphlet and taking a few minutes to read the story found on these pages.

I spent many years of my life believing I was a Christian and believing things about God that simply weren’t true. I had a wrong idea of what it was like to be a Christian. I put my trust in one decision I made when I was 11 years old and not in Jesus Christ alone for my salvation. I have since repented of my sins, and God saved me.

When I was a young girl, my family started attending a local, community church. When I was 11 years old, I went to church camp. One night at camp, I heard a sermon preached on hell and that all sinners go to hell. I certainly could agree that I was a sinner, and I definitely didn’t want to go to hell. I responded to an invitation at the end of the service and prayed to “ask Jesus into my heart.” From that day forward I proceeded to live like a Christian. I trusted fully in the decision I made that day at camp. I attended church every Sunday, and I worked hard to be a good person. I felt was pretty good.

When I was in my early thirties, I went through a time of depression in my life, a time of profound sadness. I was so unhappy and believed that everything and everyone around me was the reason for my unhappiness. I cried out to God in my despair, and God answered my prayer. God began to show me, through my conscience, that I was not the good person I thought I was.

I was utterly and completely addicted to TV. I loved it with all my heart. I gave all of my spare time and attention to it. I lived for it. It was an idol in my life. The Bible says in Exodus 20:2, “You shall have no other gods before me.” This is the first of the 10 commandments.

I had a mistaken image of God in my mind. This god I worshiped turned a blind eye to sin. He was okay with sin and saw no need for me to be different from anyone around me. I created my own god. The Bible says in Exodus 20:4: “You shall not make for yourself a graven image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above or that is in the earth beneath”. This is the second of the 10 commandments.

I was dishonest. I lied to protect myself when I didn’t want to hurt another person’s feelings. I lied when I said I would be at work by 7:30 but showed up somewhere between 7:35 and 7:40, constantly. I lied in stories I told from the past (changed around and embellished some of the details) because I thought my newer version of the story was more exciting. I told thousands of lies. The Bible says in Exodus 20:16 “You shall not lie.” This is the ninth of the 10 commandments.

I spent most of my days wanting what someone else had. I wanted a husband who behaved differently than my husband. I wanted a different car. I would spend a lot of my time poring over magazines full of things I desired to have someday. I coveted just about any life but my own. The Bible says in Exodus 20:17 “You shall not covet…” This is the tenth of the 10 commandments.

The 10 commandments are God’s standard of goodness. God showed me, by convicting my conscience, that I was not a good person. I realized I was an idolater, a liar, coveter, and much more. I’ve only shared with you how I had broken four of the 10 commandments for time’s sake, but you can be sure I have broken them all.

When I realized my own sin, I realized I was not a good person. I grew up in church and had heard the gospel many times in my life, but it wasn’t until I realized the depth of my own sin that the gospel message made sense to me. For the first time in my life I realized I had sinned against the holy and righteous God of the universe, the one who created me. I knew at that point that if I died I would go to Hell, and I deserved it as punishment for my sins (Ezekiel 18:20, “The soul who sins shall die…”). It was then that I truly understood what God did for me over 2,000 years ago (Romans 5:6, “For while we were still weak, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.”) God in His lovingkindness gave His only son as substitution for my sin. Jesus Christ came to this earth, took on the form of a man, lived a sinless life, and died a cruel, painful death as the punishment for my sin, and then rose from the grave defeating death. A legal transaction took place (Colossians 2:14 “by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands.”) I broke God’s laws, and Jesus paid my fine.

If I would have died before that season in my early thirties, I would have gone to Hell, though I professed to know and was fully convinced that I knew Jesus Christ as Savior.

Consider this illustration. Imagine I showed up at the White House and said, “Hey, I’m here to see the President of the United States. I know all about him, and I totally believe in him. I love him!” Most likely a member of the security staff would say “You’re going to have to leave now. The president does not know you.” Now, imagine I went to the White House by invitation of the president and when I arrived I was greeted with these words, “Follow me, the president has been waiting for you.”

There was a great difference in these two scenarios when the president knew me.

It doesn’t matter if you claim to know God. Does God know you? Have you repented of your sins and put your trust in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation? It’s like putting your trust in a parachute. You don’t just believe in the parachute. You don’t just recognize that the parachute exists and find comfort in it. You have to put on the parachute and trust it with your life when you jump out of an airplane.

The Bible says in Psalm 14:3 “….There is none who does good, no not one.” You cannot earn your way to heaven by being good because you are not as good as you might think and certainly not to the standard of a perfect, holy God. The Bible also says in John 3:3 “…unless one is born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.”
When I truly understood the impact of my own sins and how I had broken God’s laws, I did what is natural in any situation where you have wronged someone else. I repented of my sins. I apologized to God and asked for forgiveness. I thanked Jesus Christ for taking the punishment for my sins. I put my trust in Him for my salvation. When I did that I was born again. God changed my heart. He gave me new desires. The sin that I once loved, I now hate. I now long to please the God who created me. I long to read His word and know more about Him. My sinful nature did not go away that day, but my desires have changed.

Have you been born again? Have you repented of your sins and put your trust in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation? Have you considered the 10 commandments? Please take this time to ask yourself a few questions?

Has God always been first in your life? The first of the 10 commandments says, “You shall have no other gods before Me.”

Have you ever taken the Lord’s name in vain? That is called blasphemy. It’s very serious in God’s sight. The Bible says in Exodus 20:7 (the third of the 10 commandments) “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.”

Have you ever murdered anyone? Jesus says in Matthew 5:21 “… shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.” God’s standard is so high that he judges the intentions of your heart. If you even have the angry, hateful thought against other person (perhaps when you are driving down the road and someone cuts you off in traffic), you are a murderer at heart.

How many lies have you told in your life? What do you call someone who tells lies?

Have you committed adultery? Jesus said in Matthew 5:27: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, you shall not commit adultery. But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery in his heart.” Have you looked at another person with lustful thoughts, sexual desire? Again, God’s standard is so high that He judges your thoughts and intentions. Looking at someone with lust would be considered adultery of the heart.

We have looked at 5 of the 10 commandments. If you have answered “yes” to them, the verdict is that you are an idolater, a blasphemer, a murderer at heart, a liar, and an adulterer at heart. If you stood before God on judgment day and he judged you by the 10 commandments, would you be innocent or guilty? The innocent go to heaven; the guilty go to hell. Would you go to heaven or hell?

As I discovered a few years ago myself, we are all guilty. We all deserve hell.

Please give this some thought today. Think about your sins, think about the punishment you deserve because of your sins, and think about what Jesus did for you on the cross. Isaiah 53:5 says “But He [Jesus] was wounded for our [yours and mine] transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed.” You don’t need to say a special prayer. You don’t need to go to a church right now to talk to God. Cry out to Him where you are. Repent of your sins (apologize and turn from them) and put your trust in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation. God will make you a new person. (2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.) He will change your heart.

If you have cried out to God in repentance today, if you have been born again, get a Bible and start reading it. Consider starting with the Gospel of John in the New Testament. Pray daily. Start attending a church that preaches the Bible so you can grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ.

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