Good Things in Christ

I pray that you may be active

in sharing your faith, so that

you will have a full understanding

of every good thing we have in Christ. 

 Philemon 6

 

The above verse has always challenged my thinking in regard to the “good things” that we have in Christ.  In the ages to come, they will be shown to be infinite in scope.  At the present time, our appreciation of the extent of these good things is limited.  Philemon 6 states that our understanding increases as we become active in sharing our faith.  In the past few years, I have attempted to enumerate some of these good things that I have experienced since I first started sharing my faith.  Let me mention two of these at the present time.  These two are the ones that Lord said we would experience; His power and His presence.  Matthew 28:18-20 states “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:  And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.  Amen.”  In these verses we see that the Great Commission is bracketed by His power (“All power is given unto me”) and His presence (“I am with you alway”). 

Years ago, following sharing my testimony at the Wichita Prayer Breakfast, I agreed to meet with a man who had some questions about what I had said.  I knew this man fairly well, and realized that he would have some tough questions about the gospel and its implications for his life.  I was fearful as I walked across Hillside to Brown’s Grill and almost felt like canceling the meeting. I repeated II Timothy 1:9 to myself over and over as I walked toward our meeting.  “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” As I entered the restaurant, the oppression lifted and I was able to discuss the gospel freely with him.  I was aware of His power made available to me for the purpose of sharing the gospel. 

Not only have I been privileged to experience His power to give utterance to the gospel, but have been witness to His power made evident in the lives of those who came to faith. One young man and I had visited over lunch, played tennis together and looked at the scriptures over a several month period of time. After he trusted Christ following one of our meetings, he shared with me that he was amazed at the power of God in his life.  He said it this way. “I asked Him to come into my life, and He really did!  I was not sure He would, but He did!  Not only that, but when I arrived at work my foul mouthed speech was gone.  He took it away!”  The power of Christ was so evident in his life that within a few weeks his closest co-worker also came to Christ.  My friend’s wife later told me that she felt her husband was one of the least likely persons to come to the Lord that she had ever known.

The second “good thing” that Christ said we would experience is that of His presence.  Although not visibly manifested, nevertheless He is a part of every conversation we have with a non believer. Two situations come to mind which illustrate this.  One was concerning a patient who had experienced a near death experience.  I always discuss this experience frankly with these individuals asking “Why do you think your life was spared?” and, What do you think it is that you still might need to learn or do?”   This usually leads to fruitful discussions about the gospel.  One such individual and I had had numerous conversations about some material I had given him to read.  He always seemed to come up with some bizarre objections to the gospel or some questions about an isolated part of the scriptures.  One day he arrived for his follow-up medical appointment and announced that he had been reading and wanted an explanation of several verses he had read.  My heart sank and I prayed “Help, Lord, Don’t let him be in the wheels of Ezekiel!”  The patient then took a Bible and pointed to Romans 10:9-10; “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”  I immediately thanked the Lord for His direction in this man’s life, and we began to explore the meaning of these verses together.  He trusted Christ during the ensuing conversation. 

 The second situation that I would use to illustrate the presence of the Lord is in regard to a medical resident that was assigned to me as part of a teaching responsibility at the hospital.  On most months I would be responsible for two or three residents or medical students.  They would be given some measure of responsibility for the care of patients under my supervision.  I would spend time teaching them medicine, but would also pray for them, seeking opportunities to develop relationships that would bear the weight of the truth of the gospel.  One resident and I had met on numerous occasions.  He was reluctant to pursue any opening I had offered to discuss any spiritual topics.  One day after playing tennis, we were sitting in the tennis club having a soda.  I remember saying to the Lord,  “I have no idea what to say next.  If anything further is to be done with this individual, you are going to have to initiate it.  I am at the end of my thoughts.”  Almost immediately he turned to me and said “I have a question.  My wife has been reading a book called “Life after Life.”  What is that all about?”  I was astonished at such an immediate clear answer to my request from the Lord. We then had an opportunity to begin to examine the gospel together.

 The opportunities that the Lord gives us to share the gospel are always accompanied by His power and His presence.  I was given a more tangible evidence of these in the situations as described above, perhaps to provide the encouragement to continue to walk by faith in sharing the gospel.

 My prayer for you is that you, too, will be encouraged to walk by faith so that (Philemon 6) “you may be active in sharing your faith so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.”

In Christ,

Richard Spann

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