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The Surprising Truth About What Jesus Offers

The Surprising Truth About What Jesus Offers

Eleanor Dell of The Good Book Company speaks to Terry Virgo about his new book, Life Tastes Better.

Terry Virgo founded the Newfrontiers network in 1977; the movement now has over 800 churches in more than 70 nations. We’re so excited about his new book, Life Tastes Better

He shares with us about his experiences of over 40 years of ministry, witnessing to comfortable people, the presentation of Christians in the media and leading his own father to Christ.

Terry, your new book is called Life Tastes Better. Despite all the difficulties of the Christian life, can we still say that life really is better with Jesus? 

Undoubtedly so, because he’s answered the big questions. Once those are answered, everything else falls into place. Life’s full of heartbreaks and difficulties; they don’t disappear when you become a Christian. You can still meet with terrible experiences. When you meet with difficulty, it’s wonderful to know, ‘my guilt is gone; Jesus has delivered me from my evil conscience, he has set me free and nothing can separate me from him.’

Society is becoming ever more hostile to the gospel. Many Christians feel paralysed when it comes to evangelism because of Christianity’s negative image. How can we reach a culture that increasingly doesn’t seem to like us?

You can’t win over hostile people easily. Even Jesus was met with hostility at times. That’s the very nature of the gospel – it will sometimes offend, and sometimes be regarded as irrelevant. When the Apostle Paul spoke in Athens some believed, some mocked, some said “we’ll hear more about this later”. We can’t change this by being “super church” and somehow make everybody thirsty. That being said, I think you’ll often find that on a local, personal level people are actually very thankful for a Christian influence in their lives. Some local councils are glad that their church is doing good work in their communities. We live in this strange context where publicly (in the media) there’s a lot of hostility because Christians are against this and that. But often in the communities where people live, people are grateful for the local church.

Sometimes it looks like our friends and family have no obvious need for the gospel. Perhaps they’re financially comfortable or have lots of friends or they just seem content with their lives. How do we witness to them?

Inevitably we look at the outside of people. We look at what is perceived to be the situation. We don’t know what is happening in their hearts. We don’t know how some people may be under profound stress; though they seem totally composed, they may be having a marital crisis or be terribly worried about their teenage children or burdened by an elderly parent.. It isn’t always obvious what’s going on. Only as we begin sharing the gospel, if God’s working on their heart, they’ll begin to wonder if there is an answer in God. Of course, we see people in the gospels who are self-satisfied and turn away from Jesus (e.g. the rich governor). We don’t know what will happen until we start speaking about Jesus. So I would encourage you to be bold and trust that God knows people’s hearts.

Evangelism often feels like hard work and the fruit is rarely discovered. What would you say to someone who feels like they’ve tried everything and is about to give up?

I think that in terms of witnessing to people, timing is a big factor. Knowing God’s moment is key. I became a Christian in a home where my parents were not Christians and I tried to witness to my father for years. Once I was speaking to him and someone came to the front door; he said “Saved by the bell!” and fled the room. Yet later in his life he was seriously ill. When he left the hospital I felt moved. This wasn’t merely my evangelistic duty. I was moved by compassion and I said “Dad, you were near to death, do you think you were ready? Do you think God was speaking to you?” To my amazement he said “Yes, I think God was speaking to me.” I’d never heard him speak like that before. And suddenly his heart was open; we knelt together in prayer and he came to Christ. So I think we need to be sensitive to the moment and aware of whether God is involved in our evangelism or if we’re absorbed in selfcentred duty-like witness. We’re not always that sensitive. I’m not that sensitive, but I think there’s a right time in people’s lives to share the faith. The Bible says there’s a moment to speak and there’s a moment to keep silent. So we need to learn to be sensitive to people’s needs, to choose our moments well and to trust that the Lord is in control. 

Life’s full of heartbreaks and difficulties; they don’t disappear when you become a Christian. You can still meet with terrible experiences. But you know God. The big questions are answered, so everything else falls into place.

 

 

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