Only Jesus can change a life.
Do you remember the first time you heard the Gospel? I was in church nine months before I was born. That means church attendance was always a part of my life. I’m sure I heard about Jesus in the church nursery and in Sunday school as I was growing up. I know I had spiritual conversations at home, talking with my mom and dad, but I remember the first time I really heard the Gospel. This time I heard it with my heart, not just my ears.
I was a young boy sitting in church on a Sunday morning. For some reason, I wasn’t fidgeting around like I usually did. God was getting my attention. I remember hearing the pastor talk about Jesus and His great love for me. I remember him saying that Christ loved me so much that He went to the cross to die in my place. I’m sure I had heard these words before, but on this day they seemed brand new. There was power behind these words. I was immediately convicted of my sin and my need for forgiveness.
After the service, I talked to an old retired pastor who was meandering among the crowd, chatting with people as they gathered their things to leave for Sunday lunch. I asked him if he could talk to me for a minute. There on the front row of an empty auditorium, this loving pastor told me the story of Jesus, and asked me if I was willing to trust and follow Him. And that day, I knelt down on my knees and asked Jesus to forgive me, change me and lead me. That was a turning point for me. The decision to follow Jesus was a defining moment that reset the entire course of my life.
Craig Etheredge, author of this article, wrote a short eBook called Invest in a Few, and it’s available for free download. Click here to get your free digital copy.
Over the years, I have seen hundreds of people come to that same place of surrender to Jesus. And every time a sincere soul cries out to Jesus in saving faith, determining to follow Jesus, there is a change. If your faith hasn’t changed you, then it hasn’t saved you. It’s this power to change that the Apostle Paul wrote about in (Romans 1.16 ESV); “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
Paul knew firsthand the power of the Gospel to change a life. Paul himself was a radically changed man. He transformed from murderer to missionary — all because of Jesus. You can’t get more dramatic than that! His mindset changed. His goals changed. His identity changed. His purpose changed. His attitude and demeanor changed. Paul became a new person. That’s why he wasn’t ashamed of the Gospel. He wasn’t quiet about his faith in Jesus. He was bold because he knew that if God could change him, then He could change anyone.
The natural question then is, how does God change a person? What causes a life to be radically transformed? Paul says it’s the Gospel.
The Gospel is the “power of God” for salvation. The word “power” is the Greek word dunamis(we’ve seen this word before). It means a supernatural, miracle-working power that comes from God. In the Gospel there is divine power to change a life!
What does the Gospel do that is so life changing? It’s the power of God “for salvation.” In hearing the Gospel, a person becomes aware he has sinned against a holy God. He realizes that the penalty of his sin is death and separation from God. He also discovers the work of Jesus on the cross that can forgive him and make him right with God.
God’s power to convict, forgive and restore is all packed into the Gospel. When the Gospel is preached or shared, the Holy Spirit goes to work convicting, forgiving and restoring a wayward person to God.
You might say, “Well, I know people who have heard the Gospel, and they haven’t been changed.”That may be true. Not everyone is changed by the Gospel. Paul says this change comes to everyone who “believes.” Everyone responds to the Gospel. We can either believe it, or we can reject it. There is no middle ground. Those who believe are reconciled to God. Those who reject the Gospel, forfeit the forgiveness, change and hope that it brings.
But the good news of the Gospel is that it is available for everyone. Paul said the Gospel is for both the Jews and the Greeks. The Jews were God’s chosen people. They were extremely religious, but they needed the Gospel. The Greeks represented people who were far from God, secular in mindset and pluralistic, but they also needed the Gospel. Today, the Gospel is for everyone. When you share the Gospel, you are sharing with it God’s power to change a person’s life and eternity forever.
Written by Craig Etheredge
This blog was originally posted on discipleFIRST’s blog, which you can access here. Used by permission.
Craig is a gifted communicator, author, and Bible teacher. Craig and his family moved to Colleyville, Texas in July 2007 to serve as lead pastor of First Baptist Church where he currently serves. In addition to leading the local church, Craig is involved in the local community serving on the Board of Directors for Baylor Hospital, Grapevine, Board of Directors of Christian Counseling Associates, Mission Board SBTC, Chaplain for the Colleyville Police Department, and football chaplain for Birdville High School. He has a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Craig met his wife, Liz, in the fifth grade and they have two daughters, Leah Beth and Abbie.