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Recapturing a sense of lostness

ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)–One of the greatest dangers facing the American church today is the failure to acknowledge a person’s lostness.

Universalism and other heretical teachings are creeping into the local church. How does this problem manifest itself? One way is the lack of urgency to share the Gospel. If no one is lost, there is no reason, much less hurry, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

The problem rears its ugly head at funerals too. A person could be the most vile, ungodly human you have ever met, but because they joined a church many years ago, family and friends will have a false sense of relief because their loved one is in a “better place.” Of course, they are not in a better place if they died without receiving salvation through Jesus alone.

When we remember what it is like to be lost, we become broken again over the curse of sin. Consider that the lost person:

— is blind. “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

— is captured. “They may come to their senses and escape the Devil’s trap, having been captured by him to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:26).

— is hopeless. “At that time you were without the Messiah … with no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12).

— is condemned. “And anyone not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).

— is unwelcoming. “But the natural man does not welcome what comes from God’s Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

When you see the biblical description of the lost, how can their condition not burden you? When you see the hopelessness of the lost, how can you not reflect on the time when your sin personally separated you from the love of God?

The biblical descriptions of hell ought to serve as a motivation for us to share the Good News. Hell is eternal. It is punishment. It is a place of literal, non-consuming fire, which creates unending suffering. It is a place of weeping, gnashing of teeth and utter darkness. Hell is the second death.

Who would want their worst enemy to face an eternity like this? Moreover, who would want their brother or sister, aunt or uncle, son or daughter, mother or father to go through eternity in hell?

I received a great text message from a pastor recently. He wrote, “Satan just lost another soul. I just led my waitress to the Lord.” Praise the Lord. Another person was rescued before she sealed her eternity apart from God.

The power of the Gospel is immediately able to snatch someone from the precipice of hell. Paul wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).

The message of the Gospel is open to anyone. The Good News is no one has to go to hell. The truth is that all believers, at one point, were destined to hell because we willfully choose to sin. God is calling people to himself. Anyone who believes will be saved.

You are God’s instrument to communicate the truth of the Gospel to lost people.

When you see that little boy down your street who doesn’t know Jesus or that senior adult who is outside the family of God, think about what some of my colleagues in evangelism write in their e-mail tags: “Remember, it isn’t Good News unless they hear it on time.”
Keith Manuel is an evangelism associate on the Louisiana Baptist Convention’s evangelism & church growth team.

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  • Keith Manuel