Responding to the Good News
I have heard many people invited to respond to the message of salvation through Jesus Christ. Invitations sometimes are with a clear explanation of what the gospel is and sometimes without such clarity. I have witnessed many people react positively and the great rejoicing that goes with this.
In response to the gospel message, people have raised their hand, come to the front of the meeting, give their lives to Jesus, ask him into their hearts, repent, fill in a form, attend follow up meetings and join various church groups. I am glad to say that many such responses have been real, and witnessed by the ongoing commitment of people and their changed lives.
Sadly, not everyone who has gone through these acts of response truly understood the gospel message nor have genuinely responded to God. Many have false assurance because they have put their hand up, gone to the front and made a commitment. Lack of understanding has been counterproductive to their well-being.
Also, over the years, I have noticed certain traits and patterns of change within the church. Some of these have been very welcome, but others have been unhelpful. One feature increasingly is to encourage people to respond without the foundation of a balanced presentation of the good news. Many churches understanding of what the gospel is has changed, instead of clear teaching on the essential issues of the gospel, abridged teachings misinform. The emphasis on praying for people’s physical needs is a good act of kindness. Sometimes people are encouraged to respond on the basis that they have received prayer. People can react to the interest shown them rather than a heart response to the good news of Jesus.
What is the correct response to the gospel message? Jesus has given some teaching on a fitting response to God.
Eleven Traits of Genuine Responders to God
1. Being Poor in Spirit
Someone poor in spirit recognises that they are dependent upon God for their salvation. They realise that they can neither redeem themselves nor others. There is nothing they can give to God to pay for the wrong they have done (Psalm 49:7, 8)17 none of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give God a ransom for him. 8 For the redemption of their life is costly, no payment is ever enough,. There is no ground for self-sufficiency nor boasting (Romans 3:27, 28)227 Where then is the boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. 28 We maintain therefore that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.. The old song ‘I did it my way’ is not sung by the poor in spirit. Poverty of spirit does not refer to the amount of material wealth someone does or does not have. Some people are poor through no fault of their own, but others are poor because of the unwise ways in which they have lived. The lazy man creates his poverty (Proverbs 6:9-11)39 How long will you sleep, sluggard? When will you arise out of your sleep? 10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep— 11 so your poverty will come as a robber, and your scarcity as an armed man.. Poor people materially are not always poor in spirit, and rich people sometimes are.
Mourning refers to those who have a genuine conviction for the sin they have done. The Bible tells us that godly sorrow works repentance to salvation (2 Corinthians 7:10)410 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, which brings no regret. But the sorrow of the world produces death.. Moreover, a responder to God is not just someone who grieves over their wrongdoing, but they also grieve for the sins of others (Mark 3:5)55 When he had looked around at them with anger, being grieved at the hardening of their hearts, he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored as healthy as the other.. This godly sorrow should not be confused with the sorrow people can have when they suffer the consequences of the wrong things they have done. Judas suffered remorse for the sin he had done, but this did not lead him to repentance (Matthew 27:3-5)63 Then Judas, who betrayed him, when he saw that Jesus was condemned, felt remorse, and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 saying, “I have sinned in that I betrayed innocent blood.”
But they said, “What is that to us? You see to it.”
5 He threw down the pieces of silver in the sanctuary and departed. Then he went away and hanged himself.. Someone can’t turn to God who brazenly ignores what the Bible says about sin (1 John 1:8-10)78 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us the sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we haven’t sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us..
Meekness is a very misunderstood word; it is not the same as humility. Jesus talked about him being meek and lowly, therefore distinguishing between meekness and humility (Matthew 11:29)829 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you will find rest for your souls.. To be meek is to be pliable or mouldable. The idea is that of clay that is easy to work (Isaiah 64:8)98 But now, Yahweh, you are our Father. We are the clay and you our potter. We all are the work of your hand.. The way to respond to God is with a willing and teachable heart. People are encouraged to respond to God without the need for discipline or correction (Psalm 32:9)109 Don’t be like the horse, or like the mule, which have no understanding, who are controlled by bit and bridle, or else they will not come near to you.. It is to those who have compliant hearts that God guides and teaches (Psalm 25:9)119 He will guide the humble in justice. He will teach the humble his way.. Moses was very meek above all the men which were upon the face of the earth (Numbers 12:3)123 Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all the men who were on the surface of the earth.. His zeal to follow God meant that, at times, he behaved in a very bold and robust way. Meekness, therefore, is not always gentle or compliant (Exodus 32:26, 27)1326 then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, “Whoever is on Yahweh’s side, come to me!”
All the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him. 27 He said to them, “Yahweh, the God of Israel, says, ‘Every man put his sword on his thigh, and go back and forth from gate to gate throughout the camp, and every man kill his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.’ ”.
4. Hungering and thirsting for righteousness
A real responder to God wants to do what is right. That does not mean they are sinless even though there is a deep longing within their hearts to please God (Romans 7:22-25)1422 For I delight in God’s law after the inward person, 23 but I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity under the law of sin which is in my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will deliver me out of the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ, our Lord! So then with the mind, I myself serve God’s law, but with the flesh, sin’s law.. They are not, therefore, looking to get away with evil and misusing the grace and kindness of God (Romans 6:1, 2)151 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 May it never be! We who died to sin, how could we live in it any longer?. Day by day, the true believer is seeking to turn away from everything wrong and crying out to God to change them (Hebrews 12:1-5)161 Therefore let’s also, seeing we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let’s run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising its shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 For consider him who has endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, that you don’t grow weary, fainting in your souls. 4 You have not yet resisted to blood, striving against sin. 5 You have forgotten the exhortation which reasons with you as with children,
“My son, don’t take lightly the chastening of the Lord,
nor faint when you are reproved by him;. When they do sin, they are not at rest or peace until they have confessed their sins to God and found unbroken fellowship with God (1 John 1:5-10)175 This is the message which we have heard from him and announce to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness, we lie and don’t tell the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son, cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us the sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we haven’t sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.. There is coming a day when the longing for righteousness so keenly felt will be fully satisfied when we stand before Jesus at his coming (1 John 3:1-3)181 See how great a love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God! For this cause the world doesn’t know us, because it didn’t know him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God. It is not yet revealed what we will be; but we know that when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him just as he is. 3 Everyone who has this hope set on him purifies himself, even as he is pure..
5. Being merciful
The mark of those who respond to God is kindness. It is not possible to find forgiveness from God if we are not willing to forgive those who have wronged us (Matthew 6:14, 15)1914 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you don’t forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.. Those who follow God are keenly aware that their forgiveness has been because God has shown them mercy. Because they have received mercy, they show mercy (1 Peter 2:10)2010 In the past, you were not a people, but now are God’s people, who had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.. The proud Pharisee praying in the temple did not find forgiveness. The sinner who knew of their need found mercy (Luke 18:9-14)219 He also spoke this parable to certain people who were convinced of their own righteousness, and who despised all others: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray; one was a Pharisee, and the other was a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed by himself like this: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of men: extortionists, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week. I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far away, wouldn’t even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”. Those who follow God even treat animals well, but wicked people are cruel even when they are supposedly showing kindness (Proverbs 12:10)2210 A righteous man respects the life of his animal,
but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.. Followers of God should speak kindly to others (Colossians 4:6)236 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one..
6. Being pure in heart
When someone honestly responds to the gospel and are born again, significant changes take place in them. Before conversion, they are spiritually dead but afterwards have come into a new life (Ephesians 2:1)241 You were made alive when you were dead in transgressions and sins,. The Holy Spirit now lives in their core being, and their bodies have become the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16)2516 Don’t you know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?. God has written His law in the heart of every true believer (Hebrews 8:10)2610 “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
after those days,” says the Lord:
“I will put my laws into their mind;
I will also write them on their heart.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.. No man can make himself pure in heart (Romans 3:10-18)2710 As it is written,
“There is no one righteous;
no, not one.
11 There is no one who understands.
There is no one who seeks after God.
12 They have all turned away.
They have together become unprofitable.
There is no one who does good,
no, not so much as one.” 13 “Their throat is an open tomb. With their tongues they have used deceit.” “The poison of vipers is under their lips.” 14 “Their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.” 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood.
16 Destruction and misery are in their ways.
17 The way of peace, they haven’t known.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”. God cleanses and purifies the hearts of those who turn to him. David, when he confessed his sin and pleaded for the grace of God, desired a pure heart (Psalm 51:10)2810 Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a right spirit within me.. The body of a person remains corrupt, and this flesh needs redemption at the resurrection (Romans 8:23)2923 Not only so, but ourselves also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for adoption, the redemption of our body.. We are a people who have a treasure in an earthen pot (2 Corinthians 4:7)307 But we have this treasure in clay vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves.. Though pure in heart, the believer battles against a corrupt flesh that would lead unto sin (Ephesians 4:22-24)3122 that you put away, as concerning your former way of life, the old man that grows corrupt after the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new man, who in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of truth.. True Christianity flows from the heart, not from externals. We need to walk in a faith that is from the heart and not a false pretence of religion (1 Timothy 1:5)325 But the goal of this command is love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith,.
7. Becoming a peacemaker
It is not possible to be a peacemaker if a person is not themselves at peace. Foundationally those who have genuinely responded to God have been reconciled to him (2 Corinthians 5:18)3318 But all things are of God, who reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ, and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation;. Reconciliation brings them into peace with God (Romans 5:1)341 Being therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ;. It is not surprising that one of the fruits of the Spirit is peace (Galatians 5:22)3522 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith,. As we walk with God and fix our hearts and minds upon him, we find perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3)363 You will keep whoever’s mind is steadfast in perfect peace, because he trusts in you.. Believers then go into the world with the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15)3715 and having fitted your feet with the preparation of the Good News of peace,, and as people respond to this, they find peace with God and within themselves. Indeed, Christians are peacemakers. Making peace is desperately needed since the world is not at peace but in great turmoil like a stormy sea (Isaiah 57:20)3820 But the wicked are like the troubled sea;for it can’t rest and its waters cast up mire and mud.. Peaceful people day to day way will also have a calming effect in their surroundings.
8. Being persecuted for righteousness
When someone becomes a Christian, they have changed sides from the world to the people of God. The world does not love Jesus nor any of his followers (John 15:18)3918 If the world hates you, you know that it has hated me before it hated you.. Christians love the things of God, not the characteristics of the world (1 John 2:15)4015 Don’t love the world or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the Father’s love isn’t in him.. Because true believers love righteousness, the world will hate them and, in some form, or other and at some time they will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12)4112 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.. Satan hates everyone but primarily seeks to destroy the followers of God (1 Peter 5:8)428 Be sober and self-controlled. Be watchful. Your adversary, the devil, walks around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.. It is vital to make sure people are not punishing us for the wrong we have done them. There is no blessing in suffering the consequences of wrongdoing (1 Peter 4:12-16)4312 Beloved, don’t be astonished at the fiery trial which has come upon you to test you, as though a strange thing happened to you. 13 But because you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings, rejoice, that at the revelation of his glory you also may rejoice with exceeding joy. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. On their part he is blasphemed, but on your part he is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or an evil doer, or a meddler in other men’s matters. 16 But if one of you suffers for being a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in this matter.. Also, it is crucial to maintain our integrity when we suffer. Much persecution aims to get us to deny Jesus or to walk in evil. We have to endure the suffering or persecution to get the reward (James 5:7-11)447 Be patient therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it, until it receives the early and late rain. 8 You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. 9 Don’t grumble, brothers, against one another, so that you won’t be judged. Behold, the judge stands at the door. 10 Take, brothers, for an example of suffering and of perseverance, the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we call them blessed who endured. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and have seen the Lord in the outcome, and how the Lord is full of compassion and mercy..
9. Being slandered
Those who follow Christ face slander (Acts 28:22)4522 But we desire to hear from you what you think. For, as concerning this sect, it is known to us that everywhere it is spoken against.”. They endure false accusation and malignancy (1 Peter 3:16)4616 having a good conscience. Thus, while you are spoken against as evildoers, they may be disappointed who curse your good way of life in Christ.. There is a tendency for the world to call good evil and evil good (Titus 1:15)4715 To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.. It is very tempting when people speak badly about us to speak badly back. We need to be wise when facing slander being both harmless in what we do and say but careful not unnecessarily to expose ourselves to blame (Matthew 10:16)4816 “Behold, I send you out as sheep among wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.. It is a good idea to be quick to hear, slow to anger and even slower to speak (James 1:19)4919 So, then, my beloved brothers, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger;. We need to look to God to vindicate us at the right time (Psalm 37:32-34)5032 The wicked watch the righteous,
and seek to kill him. 33 Yahweh will not leave him in his hand,
nor condemn him when he is judged. 34 Wait for Yahweh, and keep his way,
and he will exalt you to inherit the land. When the wicked are cut off, you shall see it..
10. Being salt
Salt in the ancient world was not the refined, pure product we have today; it was a mixture of salt and other minerals. When this salt was stored, the real salt gradually dissolved with any moisture in the environment. Eventually, only the tasteless impurities were left. Two kinds of people claim to be Christians. Some have genuinely responded to the gospel; others profess to have done so but have not committed to Christ (Matthew 13:18-23)5118 “Hear, then, the parable of the farmer. 19 When anyone hears the word of the Kingdom and doesn’t understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away that which has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown by the roadside. 20 What was sown on the rocky places, this is he who hears the word and immediately with joy receives it; 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while. When oppression or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. 22 What was sown among the thorns, this is he who hears the word, but the cares of this age and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. 23 What was sown on the good ground, this is he who hears the word and understands it, who most certainly bears fruit and produces, some one hundred times as much, some sixty, and some thirty.”. The mark of a true believer is a life gradually transformed into an obedient life to God. This transformation over a lifetime we call sanctification. True believers grow in grace and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18)5218 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and forever. Amen., a maturing process takes place (1 Peter 2:2)532 as newborn babies, long for the pure spiritual milk, that with it you may grow,. Slowly the impurities are removed from the salt (Ephesians 4:13)5413 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a full grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,. The mark of a faithful follower of Jesus is that they hear and obey what he says in increasing measure (John 10:4, 5)554 Whenever he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 They will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him; for they don’t know the voice of strangers.”. Contrast this with false believers who eventually either gradually or at a moment of crisis, throw off belief and obedience to Christ. Abandoning Christ can be a choice of evil things when tempted (2 Peter 2:20-22)5620 For if, after they have escaped the defilement of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in it and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 But it has happened to them according to the true proverb, “The dog turns to his own vomit again,” and “the sow that has washed to wallowing in the mire.”. It can be a denying of Christ when persecuted (Matthew 10:33)5733 But whoever denies me before men, I will also deny him before my Father who is in heaven.. Others are deceived and fall away by false teachers (1 John 2:19)5819 They went out from us, but they didn’t belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have continued with us. But they left, that they might be revealed that none of them belong to us.. In the case of false believers, any salt of truth that was present goes and only tasteless impurities remain.
11. Being light
Real responders to Jesus will be evident in the works they do. Good works don’t save us, but when God works in a believer’s life, there will be evidence of this (James 2:14-26)5914 What good is it, my brothers, if a man says he has faith, but has no works? Can faith save him? 15 And if a brother or sister is naked and in lack of daily food, 16 and one of you tells them, “Go in peace. Be warmed and filled;” yet you didn’t give them the things the body needs, what good is it? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead in itself. 18 Yes, a man will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one. You do well. The demons also believe—and shudder. 20 But do you want to know, vain man, that faith apart from works is dead? 21 Wasn’t Abraham our father justified by works, in that he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith worked with his works, and by works faith was perfected. 23 So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that by works a man is justified, and not only by faith. 25 In the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, even so faith apart from works is dead.. As light is impossible to hide and a city on a hill disguised so a true believer will walk in the good works that God has before ordained that they will walk in (Ephesians 2:10)6010 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before that we would walk in them.. Jesus said that people would prove by their actions either genuine by good works or the false by evil works (Matthew 7:15-20)6115 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves. 16 By their fruits you will know them. Do you gather grapes from thorns or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree produces good fruit, but the corrupt tree produces evil fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that doesn’t grow good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.. Action is not something forced; instead, it is evidence of the work of God. These good works glorify God. Good works do not cause people to embrace salvation. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation, not the good works people do (Romans 1:16)6216 For I am not ashamed of the Good News of Christ, because it is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first, and also for the Greek.. Of course, those who profess to follow Jesus but do evil make it harder for others to give ear to the good news (Romans 2:21-24)6321 You therefore who teach another, don’t you teach yourself? You who preach that a man shouldn’t steal, do you steal? 22 You who say a man shouldn’t commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who glory in the law, do you dishonor God by disobeying the law? 24 For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,”.
- Have you truly responded to the good news?
- How do you know you genuinely are a Christian?
- Can you think of any other ways we should respond to God?