See through ‘Gospel lenses,’ Stetzer preaches
Ed Stetzer, executive director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College and recently named chairman of the 2020 Southern Baptist Convention Resolutions Committee, preached in chapel at The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Feb. 13, on the need for Christians to see through “Gospel lenses.”
Stetzer preached 2 Corinthians 5:16-21, deriving four points from the passage. The first, Stetzer said, is that Christians have a new perspective—specifically, they now see through Gospel lenses.
Humorously referring to his tendency to frequently adjust his glasses, Stetzer said Christians today must do likewise with their Gospel lenses, particularly in today’s culture where cable news and social media fan the flames of divisiveness.
“We have a new life, a new way of looking, new lenses through which we see the world, but they need adjusting in a tumultuous time,” he said. “And as Christian leaders, we need to help churches, Christians, and followers of Christ everywhere to adjust their lenses and see things rightly.”
Second, Stetzer said Christians have been sent on a mission of reconciliation. He again encouraged the Southwestern Seminary family to lead out in this regard, making everyday evangelism a common practice in their own personal lives in order to encourage such a practice in their fellow believers.
“If you want an evangelistic church, you have to live an evangelistic life,” Stetzer said. “You can’t lead what you won’t live. And at the end of the day, we need your life and your church not to be a cul-de-sac on God’s Great Commission highway.”
Third, Stetzer said that Christians represent Jesus and His Kingdom. He shared the story of a pastor who had been imprisoned in a foreign country because of his faith, but nevertheless tried to represent Christ in prison. When he was later released, Stetzer related, this pastor was invited to the White House, where he had the opportunity to pray in the Oval Office.
“We don’t know where God will take us,” Stetzer said, “but we know to what God has called us: we are ambassadors for Christ.”
For his fourth point, Stetzer concluded that Christians can do all of these things “because of the cross.”
“The motivation for all of that is found here: that on the cross, Jesus took your sin and my sin in and upon Himself, and He died on that cross, and God raised Him from the dead on the third day, and in doing so, His righteousness is on us,” he said.
“So now, when I look on a world that is divided and broken, I just want to keep my Gospel lenses on and clear. I want to recognize I have a role to tell the world about Jesus. I have to understand that I have to guard my witness and not engage in things that detract or distract from that.
“But I do all of that because of what Jesus has done on the cross for my sin and in my place.”