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Whitney Johns: How One Bold Question Changed My Life

 

And no, its not when my Husband Proposed

SpiritualityMurfreesboro, TN – Do you know someone who is extremely bold? I don’t mean someone who will go skydiving or ride a bull; I mean someone who is bold in their speech – the kind of boldness that catches you off-guard, the kind of boldness that causes you to pause, the kind of boldness that almost feels offensive or uncomfortable.

I had a friend who was bold in her speech the very first time I met her, and I am eternally thankful for her boldness.

My freshman year of college, I heard about an athlete bible study that was happening in my dorm. I thought to myself, “I’m an athlete. I own a bible. I’ll go to this athlete bible study.”

Whitney Johns

It made sense. I had grown up around Christian culture. I was raised in church. I knew all of the answers to most bible-study questions. In high school, I was always the one on my sports teams to pray with the team before the competition. Of course I would go to this athlete bible study. I even invited my roommate.

We went to the bible study, and I honestly can’t tell you one thing I learned that night. Although, I’m sure I answered some questions to make it look like I was a good Christian girl.

However, a girl who was helping lead the study came up to me after and asked me what sport I played, where I was from, what year I was in school, etc. She then asked me if I wanted to have lunch together the next day at the school cafeteria. I agreed.

The next day at lunch, I found out that this girl wasn’t actually a student at my school at all. She had already graduated and was on staff with a campus ministry at my college. We talked and got to know each other until it was time for me to go to class.

During our lunch, she asked me a simple yet bold question.

She casually asked, “What does the gospel mean to you?”

I was taken back. I was caught off-guard. In my head I thought, “What? What kind of question is that? You don’t just ask someone that. What does the gospel mean to me? Uhhhhhmm…” I stumbled through my words to answer her question in a way that made me seem knowledgeable and unfazed.

But boy was I fazed! I left that lunch haunted by the question that was so hard for me to answer. In my dorm room later that night, I was bothered by the fact that I couldn’t answer her question. What does the gospel mean to me? To answer her question, I had to first answer this: What is the gospel?

This is the gospel: Christ came to die to save sinners. If that sounds familiar to you, read it again. Christ came to die to save sinners. The Son of God left his throne in heaven and came to live among us. He came to die in the place of sinners. God, who is perfect, loving, all knowing, and all-powerful, lovingly created us in his image, and when we rebel against him, that is sin. God is kind, gentle, patient, and for our good. Yet still we rebel against him.

The bad news is that you are a sinner. The worse news is that sin deserves punishment. In the Old Testament times, before Jesus came, followers of God would be forgiven of their sins by sacrificing an animal. After many cleansing rituals, they would take a pure animal, confess their sins (essentially putting their sin onto that animal), and then kill the animal.

Every sin, another animal. Every sin, another sacrifice. This is how sin was forgiven. In light of this, the cross of Christ becomes clearer. Our sins were put on Christ. He was the pure sacrifice. The full wrath of God was poured out on Christ. Because he was completely sinless, Jesus was the perfect and ultimate sacrifice. Christ died once, for all. No more sacrifices needed, ever.

But unlike all the animal sacrifices of the past, Christ didn’t stay dead. Three days later, he was raised to life again by the power of the Holy Spirit. If that sounds familiar to you, read it again. He was raised from the dead!

He showed himself alive again from the dead to hundreds of people, and in doing so, he proved that he wasn’t just some crazy man who healed people and then died a brutal death. He wasn’t just a martyr who died for a good cause. He was the Son of God, and everything he had claimed about himself and the kingdom of God was true.

Another claim he made that was proved to be true in his life, death, and resurrection was this: Repent and believe, and you will be saved. This Christ who lived an unglamorous life and died a cruel and shameful death, this Christ whose sole purpose in leaving heaven was to die for his people, this Christ gave such simple instructions to be saved.

To be saved from the wrath of God due to our sin and to be welcomed into the sweet and wonderful presence of God for now and for eternity, all we must do is repent and believe. To repent means to turn away from sin, to take off sin, to leave sin behind. To repent means to fight the every day temptation to sin, with help from the Lord.

To believe is to believe in the story of the gospel, with help from the Lord. We are needy and broken people. We need help to believe, and we need help to repent. But the same power that raised Christ from the dead, the power of the Holy Spirit, also helps us to repent and believe.

There is only one way to the Father, and it is through Jesus Christ. You can’t be good enough to get to the Father. You can’t be nice enough, kind enough, or important enough to get to the Father. You can’t work hard enough to get to the Father. You can’t do enough good deeds to get to the Father. Only through Christ can we have a relationship with our creator God. And that is the gospel – the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus… the kindness of God to send a perfect sinless sacrifice in our place, so that we could spend eternity with Him.

This is what I didn’t understand. This is why I couldn’t answer my friend’s question at lunch. I knew that God loved me, but I didn’t know that I was sinful. I knew that Jesus saved, but I didn’t know that I needed a savior. The more we realize the weight of our sin, the sweeter the gift of Christ dying in our place becomes. The love of God seems so much more underserved and so much more wonderful!

I find it worth noting that the longer I have walked with the Lord, I have not grown to struggle with sin less. Perhaps it is exactly the opposite. As I grow in Christ and pursue holiness, my sin becomes clearer and clearer before me. Where I used to fight outward sin – the way I spoke, the way I treated people, the choices I made, I now see my sin on a much deeper and even uglier level.

Pride, selfishness, laziness, impatience, my desire for control, all of the times I don’t trust God – these are the deep ugly sins I continue to see. I say these things not to discourage you, but to tell you this: we never arrive (until we are made new and perfect in heaven). We never move on from our need for a savior. We never move on from being thankful for Jesus and his sacrificial death. We never move on from the gospel.

Now, I have a bold question to ask.

What does the gospel mean to you?


About Whitney Johns

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