When it comes to reaching our unsaved family members, we need to be more assertive in speaking truth to them, John Piper emphasized at The Gospel Coalition’s 2019 conference earlier this month.
In his sermon at the conference, Piper, a well-known reformed theologian, explained the urgency believers should feel in sharing the word of God with their loved ones who are non-believers.
Piper explained that there are five pathways for believers to take when explaining the urgency in the message of the Gospel.
1. Report the good news
The first thing Piper urged believers to do was to tell unbelievers the story of the good news. He reminded his audience that there are still many people around the world who don’t know who Jesus is, nor do they know how much of an impact He can have on their lives.
They might have heard of Jesus, or seen someone share Bible verses on social media, but they may have never heard the message of grace that we are all desperate to hear. Start by simply sharing it with them.
2. Plead with them
Secondly, Piper urged the audience to plead with lost family members. You first told them the good news, now you need to tell them the seriousness of the Gospel, he said. Share with them how He suffered for us, share with them how He died for us and share with them how He rose for us.
“Don’t you see? This is the greatest person who ever was,” Piper said. “This is beauty. This is glory. This is value. This is everything. Don’t you see?”
3. Warn them
The third tip Piper gave was to warn lost loved ones about the dangers of not knowing Jesus. Piper urged the audience to get serious with unbelievers, to tell them about the day that Jesus will return, and the weight they will carry for eternity if they don’t acknowledge Him in this lifetime.
He further urged believers to emphasize why life on Earth is only fleeting, that eternity is forever, and why storing up treasures on Earth is nothing compared to what Heaven promises.
Matthew 19:28-29 says:
“And Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life.'”
4. Promise them joy
The fourth thing that Piper instructs the audience to talk to their unsaved loved ones about is the joy that is to come. After telling them about eternal life, Piper says to tell them about the glory that will come from Jesus’ return — that it’s important for Christians to deny self, and look to God.
Piper quoted Mark 8:34-38, in which Jesus calls for the crowd to take up their crosses and follow Him. He urges the crowd to do so, and leave behind their worldly lives behind.
“Tell them that denying that self is wisdom, joy, everlasting hope,” he said. “Make sure they know that the only self that’s being denied is the self of the utter foolishness of craving the approval of man over a million angels and the Father and the Son. Insane. Crazy. Folly.”
“Don’t let them fasten onto self-denial anything other than what Jesus means,” Piper added. “There is absolutely a self to be denied, but that self will kill your joy forever.”
Last but not least, Piper urges those in the audience to speak openly and honestly about suffering. Make sure not to sugar-coat Christianity, and point out that Christians will suffer in this life.
Piper points out that Jesus suffered because of being a Christian, as did many others in the Bible, including Paul.
“If the all-governing, all-controlling, sovereign, merciful God was weaving a fabric of beauty and hope out of sufferings, rejection, murder, and resurrection of the Son of Man — if he was weaving, stitching, in his sovereignty, a fabric out of horrors upon horrors of sinful rejection and sinful murder, a fabric of beauty and a fabric of hope — then don’t you think that he can and will weave out of the torn pieces of your life, and out of the tangled threads of your life, a beautiful tapestry for his glory?”
As Piper wrapped up his message, he encouraged the audience to not only pray for their loved ones but to pray with them as well.
“Tell them earnestly. Tell them compassionately. Tell them prayerfully,” he said. “Tell them that Jesus Christ died for sinners and is coming back.”