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Our Gospel Trust: When You Have Jesus

Our Gospel Trust: When You Have Jesus
Image: Cyndi Monaghan / Getty

My Dear Shepherds,

In 2010 I heard Dr. E. V. Hill preach at Moody Bible Institute’s Founder’s Week. He began by talking about a time he’d been doing a series of meetings in Kansas City when a young woman came up to him after the service. She’d been prayed there by her sister, but she had no interest in the gospel. She was in the militant Black Panthers. After the service, according to Dr. Hill, she waited to talk to him. He said, “She began again to berate the church. Then the Lord opened a wide door. She said, ‘You kept asking me to accept Christ. Well, I want to ask you a question: if I had accepted Jesus, what would I have now?’”

That question gave rise to Dr. Hill’s sermon that day: “What do you have when you have Jesus?” He said he had twelve points! He took us to three different passages and then said, rather abruptly, “There are nine more,” and sat down!

When Paul reminisced about his visit to the Thessalonians he said,

We speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. (1 Thess. 2:4)

There is no end to the passages we can use in preaching, counseling, strategizing, or evangelizing to give voice to our God-given trust. We plant our feet firmly on whatever text God has given us and then say, in one way or another, “This is what you have when you have Jesus.”

The gospel invitation, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved,” is the vestibule to God’s vast treasury of truth and grace. From the passages and rooms beyond, preachers bring out old and new treasures at every opportunity. We are like jewelers displaying priceless gems under bright lights against a black velvet background so that variegated colors glimmer from each facet. Every text is either a bright light upon the gospel or the black velvet background of sin, failure, or lament, the better to show off the Savior.

Early one Wednesday morning Jim came to our pastors’ group, his face shining. He is by nature a rather cheerful stoic but that morning he couldn’t contain himself. He explained that in his sermon preparation he’d come to Romans 5:10, “For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” It was the “how much more” that stunned him. He said, “The Cross is the threshold leading to an infinitely greater demonstration of love and power, kept in heaven for me, overflowing into time and space for me.” I wish I could’ve heard his sermon!

As a guest preacher for my pastor friend Dan, I told the story of Dr. Hill’s experience to introduce my own sermon from Ephesians 1:3-14. What do you have when you have Jesus? Every spiritual blessing! I laid out six bejeweled blessings. I know that six points are usually too many, but I tried to succinctly portray the wonder of each, followed by, “Wait, there’s more!”

After the service, a 35-ish man named Conrad asked to talk to Pastor Dan. He’d come for the first time the previous week and wept through the service. When he was alone with Dan he said, “So let me get this straight. What he just talked about, that’s what you get when you become a Christian? Being a Christian means all of that?” Dan said yes. He replied, “Then I want in.”

What a privilege to be entrusted with the gospel!

Be ye glad!

Lee Eclov recently retired after 40 years of local pastoral ministry and now focuses on ministry among pastors. He writes a weekly devotional for preachers on Preaching Today.

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