8/19/18 Juan (video) about 30
One of the great paradoxes of the Gospel is that it is so simple a child can receive it, yet can be so complicated it baffles the most intelligent of adults. It might be compared to food, which people willingly receive as infants, yet can spend a lifetime trying to understand how it works. We eat food because it tastes good, but not all food is good for us, so some understanding of nutrition can help us avoid problems down the road.
When it comes to spiritual food, many people I meet are like Juan, about 30, who believes in God and Jesus and that he will go to heaven as a result, but he doesn’t know why. “No one has ever really explained it to me” he told me, in a sidewalk conversation.
So just as a nutritionist might try to explain the basics of nutrition in order to help people eat more healthy foods, I tried to explain the Gospel to Juan in the hope that he will be more grounded in it and avoid all the spiritual junk food that only leads to problems down the road in his faith.
For example, Juan has heard that “Jesus saves us from our sins” but didn’t know why or how that happens. Apparently, the Apostle Paul knew that many of the Christians in Rome had the same problem, so he wrote his letter to the Roman church ahead of his visit to ground them in the how and why of the Gospel. On his way there he encountered many difficulties, such as a terrible storm that left him shipwrecked, so perhaps he wrote in advance in case he didn’t make it there in person.
In the introduction to his letter Paul wrote “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong… For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
During our conversation, Juan made a few statements that indicated his confusion about the nature of salvation – is it by good works that he could be saved or by simple faith in Jesus? I tried to explain the Gospel in the short time I knew I had on the sidewalk to help him see that it is, as Paul wrote, “a righteousness that is by faith from first to last”.
Paul’s letter to the Romans is a long and complicated explanation of the simple Gospel. Yet it is necessary to understand if we want to give helpful spiritual food to those who already have a simple faith, including ourselves.
PS – Juan graciously allowed me to record our conversation, which can be seen HERE