Title: Simplify the Story of Salvation
Scripture : John 4:1-42
Date : April 24, 2009
Last Updated : N/A
I don't mean "a simpler way to get salvation", but "a simpler way to explain salvation".
Have you ever tried telling your friends about Jesus and what He has done for us on the cross, and how to be saved, and all you received were puzzled looks and/or ignorant stubborn remarks from others? Maybe one key factor is that it's just a concept that is really hard to understand. We understand it, because we believe it and the Holy Spirit reveals to us the mysteries of it so that we can understand it.
1 Corinthians 1:18 says, "For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."
The Scripture today is John 4:1-42. I will not be writing it here since is it long, but please click on this link and read it there before proceeding.
In this passage, Jesus and the woman faced and overcame some barriers:
Jesus wanted to preach to her about the Salvation which he offers, and used a metaphor to describe in simple terms so that she may understand. A metaphor is a "figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance". Since He met this woman at the well, He spoke in terms of Living Water. (This was also mentioned in other Scripture passages). He used this because he knew that she would understand. Had he spoken about airplanes, for example, she would definitely not understand.
In today's world, how can we follow Jesus's example? In this modern time, how can we explain Salvation in simple terms; what metaphor can we use when we speak to our friends? Be creative! Use every-day language that they would understand, use something that relates to them, or that they take high interest in. You can speak in terms on internet, concert tickets, parking tickets, school textbooks.... Find some sort of common ground that they can relate to.
How do "stereotypes about Christians" affect how people respond to the Gospel? And how do the hypocritical Christians give a bad image to the Word of God?
It is human nature for us to over generalize. Take for example, let's say a client enters Starbuck's cafe for the first time and gets bad service from one employee, that client is likely to believe that all Starbucks give bad service everywhere. It's the same as racial stereotypes; a group of individuals of a particular race or background may act inappropriately, and suddenly, people think that all people of that race are like that. My examples maybe a bit vague or over dramatic, but this sort of thing to some degree do happen. Anyways, it is the same with Christians. Some Christians, even ourselves, may not act in accordance to God's Scriptures, and if we fall, all of a sudden we are all considered hypocrites, or whatever, which causes people to not want to hear about Christianity at all, without giving it a chance to be heard.
So keep this in mind because this can be one of the barriers we may face when trying to tell our non-Christian friends about the Gospel.
Jesus exposed her sin. (verse 17)
The woman avoided the topic by changing it; she was in denial and unwilling to confront the truth about her sins. (verse 18,19). Jesus answered her briefly, but clearly spoke to her about God's Truth. (verse 23). He could have just condemned her and say "No, YOU'RE WRONG!!!", which resembles some tendencies we may have. Instead, He remained calm, patient, respectful and loving, and this in the end, won her over. Also, although He mentioned it, He didn't focus on her sins, but He focussed and the most important thing, Forgiveness.
In verse 29, after Jesus spoke with her, she went back to her village and told other people about what she had heard, and more people believed.
In light of how Jesus shared the Gospel, what would make a Christian want to talk to others and share about their Relationship with Jesus? The woman experienced something great and wanted to share this with others. If something good happened to you, wouldn't you want to share this story with friends so that they can enjoy it too? For example, if you received 50% off clothing merchandise, you would tell your friends, right? Or, if you got an A+ on your exam, you would tell your parents, right? Or, if you read a really great book, you would share it with your friends, right? Isn't your salvation worth sharing also? Since you are saved, and have eternal life, and have a wonderful Saviour who loves you and understands you and comforts you and died for you, isn't this a lot more meaningful and eternal than saving a few dollars on a shirt that will wear out, a good grade on one of the many exams you will have to write, or a book that doesn't speak about God's Word of Salvation? In the same way that the woman shared this Good News with the other villagers, if we love our friends and family, we should share our faith with them too, so that if they accept it, they can take part in this Salvation also.
To sum up what you have just read, here are some key points to keep in mind:
- Jesus took initiative to speak to the woman; He did not just "wait for an opportunity", which may never arise.
- Jesus used a meaningful metaphor, which the woman could be able to relate to and understand.
- He kept focus on the important matters: Salvation, Forgiveness, and Hope. Not on the negatives, such as her sins, to bring her down. He confronted and acknowledged them, but didn't make that the focus of the conversation. *
- In the same way, we must stay focussed on Jesus, His Word, His Sacrifice and His Hope for us and our friends, not solely on their sins.
- We are called to be Ambassadors of Christ with our friends, so that they can experience eternal life with our Saviour also.
* I am not saying that sin is not important, it is important! Sin is exactly what separated us from God and is the whole reason why we need Salvation. I just mean, don't comdemn your friends. We are not ones to judge because we sin too, we are just as guilty because we are all sinners too. We can talk about sin, and say what sin is (rebelion towards God) and then use that to go to the main point, that we need salvation and that if we repent and turn to God, He can and will forgive our sins.