by Bob Johnson

Some of our most obvious evangelistic opportunities are with the people who are members of our churches. You already have a relationship with them. You already have the advantage of consistently telling them the gospel. You also have some God-ordained opportunities to personally point them to Christ.

Paul warned the elders of the church at Ephesus that fierce wolves would come in among them and seek to do great damage to the flock (Acts 20:29). Christ warned several of the churches in Revelation 2-3 that they had unbelievers in their number. If these churches had unbelievers in them, we probably have some in ours too. But, how do we reach them?


I am assuming that you are faithfully preaching the gospel and pointing your people to Christ. The effect of faithful gospel preaching is like napalm: it has a way of wiping out everything else. But, in order to conquer, you still need to ground troops. So, while you are joyfully preaching Christ, pursue these steps as well.

1. Pray about the conversions of your church members.

First, pray about the conversions of your church members. Pray that God would distinguish the posers from the possessors. Most of you, I would assume, publicly pray at the beginning and conclusion of your preaching. These are wonderful opportunities to pray about this critical matter—that people would not rely on their membership as giving them a right status before God, but that all would be truly repentant and trusting in Christ.

2. Preach about the conversion of your church members.

Second, preach about the conversion of your church members. If you are preaching expositionally, you can’t preach too many sermons before you run into the issue of false conversions. In your preaching, illustrate the point with stories from your own church family.

When someone gets baptized, we give them the opportunity to explain the gospel and how they came to faith in Christ. Last month, David told our church family how he had pretended for years to be a believer. His story is a great example that I refer to often.

3. Be aware of this in counseling.

Third, be aware of this in counseling. Devin (not his real name) and his wife met with me for some marriage counseling. Devin was not all that interested since, as he eventually revealed, he thought he had found someone else. One Sunday, I stopped him after the service and told him that if continued down that road, he needed to know that he could no longer confidently claim to be a follower of Christ. In fact, his determination to pursue this adulterous relationship may be an indication that he had never become a genuine follower of Christ.

Devin did not repent, but Greg (not his real name) did. Greg met a girl on a business trip and was ready to leave his wife and kids over her. I sat at his kitchen table one night and asked him what would it be, Christ or the girl, because he could not have both. Although Greg had professed faith and joined the church many years before, his life had demonstrated very little gospel fruit. Greg bowed the knee of his heart to Christ and by the grace of God, he was not only redeemed, but his marriage was rescued.

4. Be aware of this in hospital visits and other life and death situations.

Fourth, be aware of this in hospital visits and other life and death situations. Chuck (his real name) was in the hospital. The doctor had just told him that there was nothing left that could be done for his heart. He had already outlived the expectations, but the end was near. Chuck was a successful businessman and had been involved in many Christian organizations. In previous churches he had served on boards and taught classes. Now he was dying and he was terrified.

Chuck carried around a secret that very few people knew. During World War II he flew bombing missions over Japan, dropping thousands of pounds upon that country. He knew that he had killed hundreds if not thousands of people. On his 24th mission, his plane was shot up pretty badly, but he was able to get it back to base. His co-pilot, however, died. Chuck was eligible to go home after his 25th mission, but he was so angry about the death of his co-pilot that he signed up for another 25 missions and then yet another 25 missions so that he could kill more Japanese. And he did. After 76 missions, he finally went back home.

On his way back to Michigan, he was at a base in California where he met some Japanese prisoners of war. Some of them were very kind and told him that they did not want the war. They just wanted to go back to their home as well. They showed him pictures of wives and children. Chuck’s anger turned to fear. He assumed that he had killed some of their wives and children. He began to realize that he had not only killed civilians, but he had signed up to do it.

Now, sixty years later, the reality of facing God revealed his deepest fear. He would die and be condemned to hell. Chuck finished his story, tucked his knees under his arms, turned away from me and stared at the wall. His frail body made even a hospital bed look big. Chuck had heard me preach the gospel for years. But that day it was obvious that while he thought it was true, it just wasn’t true for him. His case was different.

I sat silent and tried to imagine the weight of his guilt and then said, “Chuck, you are a big sinner, but Jesus is a bigger Savior than you are a sinner.” Chuck responded like he had been hit by lightning. He looked at me like he had heard this for the very first time. His eyes got big, his face was animated, and he said, “That’s it, isn’t it?! Jesus is a bigger Savior than I am a sinner.”

Chuck died two weeks later. The joy of his life in those last two weeks made it evident to everyone who visited him that his chains were broken. His heart was free.

Your members will let you in to some of their most private thoughts. You may discover that what they need is to believe in Christ—for the very first time.

Bob Johnson is the senior pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Roseville, Michigan.


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by Laurie Aker

God’s ways are not our ways; His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. Spending time immersing ourselves in His Word and meditating upon it truly transforms our hearts, our minds, and our lives. David clearly under- stood this. God affirms this in Psalm 1:1-3:  “Blessed is the man [whose] . . . delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.”  If we are to truly seek the Lord earnestly, we must be willing to make the investment. So make it your course to seek Him earnestly. Go forth by faith in God’s grace, trusting in God’s ways and not man’s, and reap a bountiful harvest! Underline the key points in the passage below regarding God’s Word and then answer the questions.

Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast. By your appointment they stand this day, for all things are your servants. If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life. I am yours; save me, for I have sought your precepts. The wicked lie in wait to destroy me, but I consider your testimonies. I have seen a limit to all perfection, but your commandment is exceedingly broad. Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts. I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word. I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. (Ps. 119:89-104)

Quietly meditate on these verses. Consider what God is saying about His Word. Where are we to find our delight? What do you delight in? Are you seeking earnestly after God to find your delight in Him?


This blog post is an excerpt from the Thistlebend Discipleship Study Falling in Love Again with Your Lord available here.

Thistlebend Quiet eMoment

by Laurie Aker

Focus Scripture: Luke 8:1-3 ESV

1 Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages,
proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God.
And the twelve were with him,  
2 and also some women who had been healed  
of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene,  
from whom seven demons had gone out,  
3 and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager,
and Susanna, and many others,  
who provided for them out of their means.

Jesus had the twelve He was discipling
and there were others who were following him also.

Who is in your life?

Who is watching you?
Friends, work associates, neighbors,
the gas station attendant, employees…
Who is affected by you?
Your spouse, children, extended family…
Who is following you?
Your children, students, friends…

Is the gospel the message of your life?
Are you proclaiming the good news?

I think we live what we truly believe.
Actions do speak louder than words.
What are your thoughts, attitudes, and actions
saying about what you believe?


Ask the question today, in each situation,
“Am I believing and living the gospel?”

When you forget your phone at home
and have to drive all the way back to get it.
When you sleep in past your alarm.
When your spouse snaps at you.
When you don’t know how you are going
to get everything done you need to get done today.
When you are interrupted.
When someone cuts you off.
When you need to speak the truth in love and not give in to fear.

Will you live today according to your own way,
your own strength, or your own thinking,
or will you live it in the power of Christ who lives in you?
Will you allow Him to live in and through you
and not continue to put Him to death by giving into your flesh?

Confess your sin of not living the Good News!


Write out the following verse from Luke 8 and recite it 3 times.
Take it with you throughout the day.

1 Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages,
proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God.


Lord God, help me live in the Spirit and Truth of the gospel.

In His hands for His glory,