Jesus Died and Rose for You – Whether You Like It or Not

By Joel A. Hess

Some time ago I attended a D. James Kennedy Evangelism Explosion training seminar. He’s the one who invented the “if you were to die today, would you go to heaven or hell” evangelism intro question. Nice question, right?

From there, the evangelist talks about how we are all sinners no matter how little we think we may sin. Then, of course, he goes on to say that faith in Jesus is the only way to heaven. But faith is not enough. No, the evangelist goes on to qualify that faith. It needs to be a trusting faith, not just an ascent to historical facts.

The ultimate outcome of Evangelism Explosion is to get the recipient to ask Jesus to come into his heart. To be honest, I’m sure their ultimate goal is to get the audience to have that “saving faith”.

This all sounds good on paper. In the end, that is every Christian’s desire, right? I hear a lot of Lutheran sermons that sound just like that – minus the “ask Jesus into your heart” stuff. “Trust Jesus” they proclaim!

It is true, faith in Jesus is how we are righteous before God and enter the Kingdom of Heaven. To be sure, Christians should desire that their neighbors have such faith.

But I’m not sure talking about faith is how we should go about creating such faith. Instead of posing this intellectual argument and demanding some sort of “signing on” to Christianity, Christians only need to speak the facts.

Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, whether you like it or not. It doesn’t actually matter if you believe it. It happened! Believing Jesus’s promise of forgiveness and eternal life takes advantage of what is already there! It doesn’t create it!

That is how we should tell others about Jesus. Christians need to talk as if it is a done deal. Because it is! We can’t make people believe it by talking about how to believe it, or why to believe it, or the process to believing it. Don’t worry about that! That’s the Holy Spirit’s business!

As Norman Nagel often said, “faith doesn’t talk about itself.” It talks about Jesus. Want faith, more faith, stronger faith? Listen to Jesus. Read His Words. Stop thinking about whether you believe it a lot or a little. Faith is not the center of your faith. Jesus is!

He died and rose for you, whether you believe it or not. He loves you, whether you like it or not. That’s actually really really good news! And hearing that creates, strengthens, and enlivens your faith in Him!

2 thoughts on “Jesus Died and Rose for You – Whether You Like It or Not

  1. Sometimes in the process of trying to explain what is meant by “saving faith,” we confuse the issue, cause others to stumble over its definition, and create another stumbling block in the path of ordinary people trying to grasp “What must I do to be saved?” “Faith in Jesus”, as you wrote, “is how we are righteous before God, and how we enter the Kingdom of Heaven,” It is indeed simply a “trusting faith,” like the faith of a little child, and where it is absent, we cannot find a believing Christian. Intellectually agreeing with the scriptural facts and man’s sin and need for redemption will not help your faith. Your faith is the work of the Holy Spirit in the ongoing process of sanctification, and at times it will often vacillate in intensity. This should be the experience of even the most stable and devout Christian, as well as the experience of most of us “stumblers” as we rise and fall, moving forward through life’s joys and pitfalls. I think you are right about faith, and so was Dr Kennedy, however, faith is something you have within, nurture it, and need not define it, but feel it. Faith should be rightly placed in Christ alone and His finished work on the cross. It should be sufficient to understand this as a guiding principle for our entire Christian life.

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  2. Did you mean “assent”? Anyway, what do you do with Jesus’s words in the parable of the soils? He sure seemed at least to be describing different types of faith.

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