“I Understood for the First Time!”

by May 3, 2011

The gospel is simply amazing. It is also amazingly simple. Well meaning people can make it more complicated and confusing. Rob Bell, a controversial Emergent pastor, has said that the gospel is complex and that “You can’t really tweet the gospel.” This I do not understand.

Can I fully understand God’s grace? No, I can’t. Can I fully understand God’s mercy extended to us? No, I can’t. But the gospel is simple. So simple a child can understand and believe that Jesus died for our sins and rose again as proof that He was who He claimed to be – the Son of God.

This past Easter our church was blessed to have about 700 guests join us for our Easter services. It was a joy to witness God answering our prayers that people would hear the gospel and would trust in Christ as their Savior. One of our indicators revealed that at least 32 people picked up a Happy Birthday New Believer gift in our foyer. This number doesn’t include those who made a decision for Christ but chose to not pick up their gift.

At the end of our fifth Easter service, with my mind and body exhausted, I noticed a lady patiently waiting for me after the service. She had attended the 11:00 service but returned to talk with me. As soon as I began talking to her I could see her emotions quickly surface. She then shared her story.

She grew up going to church ever since she was carried in the arms of her mother. She went to a church that fostered a legalistic atmosphere and where asking questions was not encouraged. At the age of 18, she stopped going to church altogether, completely frustrated both with God and church. This pattern continued for 40 years.

This lady has lived a block from our church for the past 21 years. She would often drive by our church and think to herself, “I should go to this church sometime.” But she would drive right past us. Thankfully this would change.

The day before Easter her husband left her. Easter morning her sister from California called to commemorate the third year anniversary of their mother’s death. They had a good cry together. At the close of the phone call her sister mentioned that she was going to go to church. This prompted my new friend to tell her sister, “I’m going to go to church too!” She got ready and came to our church.

After sharing her background, she said something that made my day. She said, “Today, I understood the gospel for the first time! I accepted Christ and my life has changed.” She then gave me a huge hug. What a way to end a long weekend!

I am thankful that God made the gospel so clear to her and she responded by faith and trusted in Jesus. Her testimony reminds me of Nehemiah 8:8 which says, “They (Ezra and other Levites) read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read.”

I LOVE this verse! It is my goal each and every time I teach God’s word. If people cannot understand God’s Word, then life change will rarely take place. God has not given me the gift of being an intellectual. I wish I were at times. However, intellectuals can go so “deep” that the average person is confused. As for me, I choose clarity over being “deep.”

All of this to say, praise God for the privilege of sharing the gospel and for seeing God changing peoples lives! I am excited to hear how God saved my new friend and that she was able to understand God amazing but simple gospel!

Barry Bandara

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