Your best life now. A better marriage. Health, wealth, or even both! Popular evangelists make promises to their listeners as if God is the celestial psychiatrist or financial counselor offering the “good life.”
Our culture often equates our message with these type promises. But what does Scripture truly offer to those who trust Christ?
The sermons in Acts repeat four gospel promises. Peter and Paul declare them to both Jew and Gentile audiences. The epistles further develop each of these promises. What are they?
Again and again, the gospel offers forgiveness of sins to those who trust Christ (Ac 10:43; 13:49). Regardless of their public persona, people struggle deep within with guilt. Depression, anger, hardness, defensiveness and despair usually flow from unresolved guilt. Guilt made Adam and Eve hide and it works the same way today. The gospel promise of forgiveness is the only way to remove guilt from sinful hearts, minds and consciousness. What a promise to give to a lost man or woman!
The good news also includes the gift of righteousness (Ac 13:39; Rm 3:24; 5:9). Our overwhelming emphasis on self-image has not delivered us from the desire to be accepted. God’s gift of righteousness provides the believer both a legal and a felt acceptance before him. His righteousness is unchanging and complete. It meets the deep cry of humanity for vindication and acceptance.
The gift of the Holy Spirit is another repeated promise of the gospel (Jn 7:37-39; Ac 11:17). Jesus came to free the captives (Lk 4:18) and the person of the Spirit is part of that mission. Enslaving habits, need for direction, security – all these and more come with the gift of the Holy Spirit. Our theology can hinder us from making this offer for fear of being labeled a charismatic. Let’s change that.
And of course, Scripture promises eternal life to everyone who trusts Jesus (Jn 3:16, 36; Ac 13:46; Rm 6:23). Far more than “going to heaven,” eternal life is a present quality of life. It can be felt, touched, seen and heard (1 Jn 1:1-4). Such a life is not defined by behaviors but by relationships with Christ and others. Eternal life enables us to live as fully as we can right now.
Your best life now? Well, now that we think about it, yes. These four promises allow us to offer authentic hope to any kind of person in any kind of need anywhere in the world. That’s as good as it gets.
Adapted from I. J. Fontenot, Principles and Practices of Biblical Evangelism, pp. 2-41-42.