One of my favorite ministries is preaching at Rescue Missions. I cut my teeth preaching at the Detroit Rescue Mission and I have loved bringing the the Truth and Hope of the Gospel to hurting people ever since. In coming to Lima, OH I have gotten to experience it a bit differently. The Lima Rescue Mission is a great organization. There are plenty of opportunities to bring the Gospel to the men who are there. Detroit and Lima are a lot different. The ministries are a lot different. But men need to hear about the forgiveness and life-changing power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in whatever context the Lord has placed them.
One of the pitfalls of this kind of ministry is that the men think in terms of the “One Sin” that has ruined their lives; that overcoming the addiction is what it is all about. Many, many of them make professions of faith as a sort of last ditch effort to reclaim their self-esteem and improve their lives and social status. But the Gospel is not a self-help program. It is a total surrender of self to the Holy God who loves us and proved it by taking on human flesh and offering Himself as the sacrifice for our sin and rebellion. This is not an action that requests nominal obedience for the sake of self preservation. It is an act that demands total surrender.
1 John 4:17-19 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him because He first loved us.
Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so we are in this world. If you want to know that you are truly saved, John tells us that Love’s purpose is to give us boldness in the day of judgment and to conform us to the image of Christ in this life. It is not “fire insurance.” It is not a little help in pulling ourselves out of the mire of our sinful choices. It is radical faith and obedience that results in love for God and what He loves.
1 John 4:20-5:3 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also. 5:1 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.
We need to preach a “holistic” Gospel, not just at the mission but all the time. The Gospel is so much more than what it has often been sold as over the past century here in America. Yes, I said “sold as.” It really has been promoted as an opportunity for self-improvement when it reality it is the command of a Holy God to turn from sin and receive the offer of pardon for our capital offenses. It has been a compartmentalized choice to avoid hell while we live however we please. This is not the Gospel that the Bible tells us about! John tells us over and over in this letter we call 1 John that true faith is characterized by Faith (believing the RIGHT things about God, self and sin) Obedience (which is produced by faith not that leads to it) and Love (the proper response to the Love of God who loved us first!) This actually makes us “bold in the day of judgment!” not just remotely hopeful or presumptuously confident. The challenge today is to consider the claims and commands of the Gospel and use them to check your own profession.
1 John 5:4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith.
I encourage you to listen to the audio of the message from Monday night by clicking on the link below.