For the past two years there has been one unread text message on my phone. It is from August 7, 2018. My brother in Christ, Brandon, sent a message that simply says “Thanks!”. I met Brandon just a few days before that. He had met a Christian businessman in central Texas who moved out to San Angelo. After finding some online resources and studying for himself, Brandon reached out to his friend who reached out to me. Brandon was a wealthy, single man of about 50 who drove a fancy car and had a huge heart. On Saturday, August 4, two of us sat down at the church building and studied with Brandon for the better part of two hours. We studied the power of God (Gen. 1; Rom. 1:18-20), the character of God (Exo. 3:1-6, 34:6-7; 1 Pet. 1:16; 1 Jn. 4:16); the nature of sin (Isa. 59:1-2; Hab. 1:13; Rom. 3:23, 6:23); the deity, humanity, and humility of Christ (Phil. 2:5-11; Jn. 1:1-27); and the sufficiency of Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
Then, we took a long, hard, honest look at how the Scriptures, the gospel, could change Brandon’s life (Rom. 1:16-17). He clearly understood that the saving blood of Jesus could wash him clean (1 Pet. 1:18-19; Acts 20:27). After dozens of questions about the Christian life that were answered from the Bible and a long discussion about repentance (Acts 17:30-31), Brandon was baptized into Christ (Rom. 6:3-4). He followed the New Testament commands (Acts 2:37-38) and the example of conversion (Acts 8:31-35). The gospel changed Brandon. His heart had been softened, the soil was honest and good, and the seed of the kingdom produced fruit. Two weeks later, Brandon left Bible class not feeling right and passed away at his home. A middle-aged man with a big bank account, a fancy car, and stories to tell counted those things as refuse for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord. Is the gospel relevant today? It is to the man who searched his whole life for meaning and only found its purpose just a few weeks before he died.
One year (2010 I think) while doing campaign work in Jamaica, I hired a local Jamaican to drive for us. Soon after I met Mr. Butler, I learned he was a Christian who had left the church – a backslider in local terminology. Mr. Butler quietly drove us around from Bible study to Bible study. Soon, he noticed some differences in our team and the tourists he regularly drove around. We dressed differently. We talked differently. We laughed and cried about different things. He saw that we were trying very hard to live the gospel and to teach it to the lost souls in Jamaica (Rom. 12:1-2). A few days in, Mr. Butler began asking questions, began attending the nightly gospel meetings, and coordinating some of our Bible studies to be more efficient. Before the week was over, he was restored (1 Jn. 1:8-10). He knew that tomorrow is never promised but Christ is indeed coming again (Jas. 4:14; 2 Pet. 3:10). The Jamaicans love to sing choruses like “give me that old-time religion; it’s good enough for Jesus it’s good enough for me!” Is the gospel still relevant today? It is to my brother and co-worker who saw the gospel lived out and changed his life.
The same gospel that converted Saul from killer to Christian brought a Catholic into Christ after he visited the McCarty Center Center nearly a decade ago. He now labors as a preacher near Houston. The same gospel that gave hope to the Philippian jailor when he was in despair was (and is) very relevant to the young lady I studied with a few years ago when she chose to turn from the world of promiscuity, drug use, and worldliness. She and her husband are committed to faithfully serving the Lord. The examples, named and unnamed, could go on and on. I’ve watched the power of the gospel as I have sat across the table from agnostics, atheists, apathetics, sinners, backsliders, and devout denominationalists. An open Bible and an open mind are powerful tools when used in tandem. The same gospel that was saved souls in Israel, Thessalonica, and Rome two thousand years ago still changes hearts, lives, and eternities in the US, Jamaica, Paraguay, Cambodia, Singapore, and across the world. I know, I’ve seen it with my own eyes.
Sin still separates, souls are still lost, God still reigns, the blood still saves, Christ is still coming, and the gospel is still relevant.