What do you say when a friend tells you that she’s lonely and no one understands what it feels like? Or how do you respond when your mother tells you that she wakes up anxious in the middle night and she lays awake for hours thinking about possible health issues and all the things that could go wrong? What would you say if a friend tells you that he’s no longer in love with his wife and wants to pursue a woman he works with? How would you respond to a member of your Small Group who tells you that he’s indulged in pornography again and that he thinks he’s addicted because he can’t say no to his urges?
These aren’t imaginary conversations or make-believe scenarios. These are conversations and interactions that happen every day between Christ-followers who have professed faith in Jesus Christ.
How should we respond when fellow believers fall into sin, struggle with anxiety, live like the world, or doubt the validity of the Bible? What do we tell them that can give hope, remind them of what is true, and point them to the One who has already conquered sin and death and set them free from the bondage of sin?
We give them the one thing that sets us free and keeps us free; we give them the gospel. The good news of Jesus Christ isn’t just a message of salvation that sets us free so that we can go about living however we choose. The good news of the gospel is what keeps us free when we’re tempted to give into sin…again. It’s the power to remind us that we can and should bring our anxious thoughts to Jesus so that we can experience the supernatural peace that surpasses all comprehension. It’s the promise that God has filled us with His Spirit and that He will continue to equip us each step of the way so that we have the grace and strength to walk in obedience, even when we don’t want to. The gospel is the beautiful reminder that Jesus promises to never leave us or forsake us, so even when we “feel” alone, Jesus is there with us. The gospel sets us free when we place our faith in Jesus Christ, but it also keeps us free from sin, doubt, fear, anxiety and other thoughts and feelings that cause us to wander and stray from Christ.
The reality is most of us don’t know how to speak the gospel fluently, so we mumble through a few verses we know, we offer a trite, “I’ll pray for you”, or we simply listen to our friends and family spout off thoughts and feelings that contradict who God is, what the Bible says, or how He calls us to live. In those situations, I want to offer hope; I want to encourage my friends; but sometimes, I just don’t know what to say or how to point them back to God and His Word.
In this book, Gospel Fluency, Jeff Vanderstelt paints a compelling and helpful picture of what it looks like to practice the gospel and to grow in gospel fluency in such a way that our hearts and minds and mouths are effective at speaking the one language that every Christian desperately needs to hear: the good news of Jesus Christ.
This is the best book that I’ve read in the past two years and I highly recommend it for every College Parker who wants to learn to speak the gospel as fluently as we know and speak the language of our birth. As you grow in gospel fluency, you’ll find your own heart is impacted by the application of the good news, but you’ll also find that gospel applies to every situation Christians face because it truly is the message that sets us free and keeps us free.