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The narrative our culture puts forward regarding homosexuality is that we have only two options—affirmation or alienation. Sadly, the church has far too often simply condemned and alienated those in the LGBT community. What greater lie could we tell about our Savior than to distance ourselves from others, especially at their moments of greatest hurt and vulnerability?

Jesus shows us that a third response—a gospel response—is possible. He shows us how to respond with grace and truth, how to hold out God’s truth and God’s love, not having to choose between the two. Truth without grace is fundamentalism. But grace without truth is vapid sentimentality. Failing in either puts us out of step with Jesus. As a church, we should be known not only for our unflinching commitment to truth, but also for our excessive love toward our neighbors. We must not only speak the truth of Christ, we must do so with the spirit of Christ.

The past few years have been challenging for many Baptist churches. Across the Southern Baptist Convention as a whole, we’ve seen the number of baptisms steadily declining. And while there are plenty of causes for thanksgiving in the SBC, I think we, as a Convention, have to ask some tough questions our ourselves. But we do so with the confidence that Jesus has appointed us to bear “much” fruit, (John 15:8), and promised that if we follow him he will make us effective fishers of men—-so much so that we’ll like the “nets” of our boats are breaking (Matt 4:19)!

First things first: Our primary problems are spiritual. Quite simply, many of us no longer feel the urgency of the gospel message. We have grown complacent in our success, and don’t burn with the same evangelistic zeal that we once did. A recent Lifeway study revealed that nearly 90% of active, church-going evangelicals have never even shared their faith with someone outside of their family. Only 20% of churches in the US are growing, and only 1% are growing by reaching lost people.

Our goal should be that we make it as hard as possible to go to hell from our communities. Has everyone in your community heard a compelling presentation of the gospel, and been given a chance to respond? I think often of the words of Charles Spurgeon, who said,

“If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.”

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Charles Spurgeon has always been a preaching hero of mine. He preached deep, doctrinal sermons, and reached people for Jesus in crazy big ways at the same time. Though he loved doctrine and theological depth, he loved seeing people come to Jesus more. He once said, “I would sooner bring one sinner to Jesus Christ than unravel all the mysteries of the divine Word.”

Spurgeon knew how important it was to bring people to Jesus, because he never got over the way that God had brought him to Jesus. Hearing him tell his conversion story should inspire all of us to tell the good news to others, whether we think we’re eloquent or not.

Here is how Spurgeon tells his story:

I sometimes think I might have been in darkness and despair until now, had it not been for the goodness of God in sending a snowstorm one Sunday morning while I was going to a certain place of worship. When I could go no further, I turned down a side street, and came to a little Primitive Methodist Chapel. In that chapel there may have been a dozen or fifteen people. I had heard of the Primitive Methodists, how they sang so loudly that they made people’s heads ache; but that did not matter to me. I wanted to know how I might be saved, and if they could tell me that, I did not care how much they made my head ache.

The minister did not come that morning; he was snowed in, I suppose. At last, a very thin-looking man, a shoemaker, or tailor, or something of that sort, went up into the pulpit to preach. Now, it is well that preachers should be instructed; but this man was really stupid. He was obliged to stick to his text, for the simple reason that he had little else to say.

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