We live in a day and age where it is getting harder and harder to trust what we see and hear. Due to deepfake videos, fake news websites, AI generated portrait photographs, Snap filters, and other such technologies, it is becoming quite difficult to know what is true & authentic and what is false & manufactured. And this doesn't acknowledge the fact that many of us will only accept something as "true" if it comes from a "trusted" source (aka someone from "my tribe").
So when a Christian shares his or her belief that an invisible, supernatural God came to earth by being born in human flesh to a virgin, only to grow to die on an instrument of torture and death perfected by the Roman Empire, yet rose back to life a couple of days later... you can understand why a non-Christian would be skeptical of such an outrageous claim. This story sounds false, like something out of mythology. Not even the best AI generators in the world would try to create such a story.
This is why (if you are a follower of Jesus), you need to pray for God to help your spiritually-disconnected friends not just hear the gospel, but to believe it for what it is - true.
In his first letter to the church in ancient Thessalonica, the Apostle Paul wrote...
"And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers."1 Thessalonians 2:13 (ESV)
Let me point out three things:
First, they "received the word of God" (aka, the gospel). This means they heard it at some point.
Second, they didn't just "hear" it. Paul says they "accepted it," which means they believed this gospel story they heard.
Third, notice that Paul wasn't just excited that the Thessalonian Jesus-followers heard and believed the gospel, but that they didn't just accept it as true because Paul shared it persuasively or because it was just the latest fad sweeping the world. They didn't just accept it as the "word of men," but rather they realized it was "the word of God."
You know what that means? That realization that the gospel is true can only come from the Holy Spirit.
If you follow Jesus, this takes the pressure off of you. Whether or not your spiritually disconnected friend believes the gospel isn't completely dependent upon how well you share it. Rather, it is more about the work of God's Spirit to help open the other person's eyes and mind so they can believe the message as true. (Don't misread that - it still behooves you to grow in your understanding of the gospel so you can share it well. My point is that it all doesn't rest on your intelligence or talent.)
"Because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9, ESV)
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