“Where one man reads the Bible, a hundred read you and me.” —D. L. Moody
Please pardon my presumption. But I’ll guess you don’t know the name of Rodney Smith.
Frankly, until very recently, I didn’t either.
Smith was a nineteenth-century British evangelist who led passionate evangelistic campaigns to countries such as Australia, South Africa, and the United States. On one occasion, Smith quipped,
“There are five Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the Christian, but most people never read the first four.”
I don’t know about you, but I find his words to be poignant as well as profound.
They bring to mind a story of one of Gandhi’s visits to the United States. During an era still characterized by racial segregation, despite his status as one of the great leaders of the world, Gandhi was refused entrance to a prominent church because of the color of his skin.
Toward the end of his visit to the States, Gandhi was asked by a journalist about his thoughts regarding Christianity. His reported response was, “I would seriously consider becoming a
Christian if I ever met one.”
I wish I could tell you that Gandhi’s response was just one in a million. And that you could never hear such a comment today.
But the simple truth is that who we are is speaking so loudly that many folks can’t hear a word we say.
In fact, in an engaging new book I’d like to send you, The Fifth Gospel, pastor Bobby Conway notes:
“In a world of growing hostility toward the church and evangelism, it may be wishful thinking that this generation’s eyes ever fall on the words of Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John.”
But, Conway writes,
“The Fifth Gospel is an appeal for a watching world to witness the reality of Christ through the lives of His followers.”
He goes on to say,
“Of course, such a task presents an inherent challenge. It’s risky. Transparent. Possibly awkward. A little more authentic than we’re used to. Even potentially dangerous. But considering that the majority of our unbelieving friends will likely never read the first four Gospels, shouldn’t we at least give them the opportunity to read the fifth one? Isn’t it time for us to become a visible witness for the One we profess to love so much?”
I’d like you to have a copy of The Fifth Gospel for, well, five reasons:
First, it’s a timely, poignant, and insightful book that clearly discerns the age in which we live. In a post-Christian world where many Americans couldn’t name the four Gospels, and skepticism regarding Christianity is running at an all-time high, it recognizes that we — you and I — are the only gospels some of these folks will ever read.
Second, it addresses hard truths and issues we need to be mindful of as Christians, but does so with a style that “smiles.” You won’t get any of the grumpy, gospel-grenade-launching diatribes that characterize some reads. While sober and honest about issues we need to confront, it also encourages and inspires us to live an incarnational gospel so that people can see our “creeds” in our “deeds.”
Third, it’s a practical book. Each chapter concludes with “Gospel Appeals” and “Questions for Further Thought and Discussion.”
“Gospel Appeals” are simple yet powerful “grabbers”:
• Before you worry about standing out for Jesus, first learn to sit before Him.
• Watch how you live, because others are.
• Jesus was willing to die for you. Are you willing to live for Him?
Sample “Questions for Further Thought and Discussion” (good for Bible studies and small groups as well as personal reflection) include:
• Are you a Fifth-Gospel Christian? Why is it so important to answer this question in the affirmative?
• How can pluralism weaken one’s obedience to the command to share Christ?
• Why is “Jesus is the only way” language so hard to digest in today’s culture?
• Gandhi said, “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Do you think this is common thought among nonbelievers? Why or why not?
Fourth, I want to send you The Fifth Gospel to say thank you for standing with CRI through your prayers and financial support. You see, it’s faithful friends and ministry partners like you that make possible the work of CRI each day on multiple fronts. Frankly, without the support of friends like you, we would be up the proverbial creek without a paddle!
Fifth, I want our partnership to be about “mutual value creation.” That is, just as your support enables CRI to equip thousands of fellow believers around the world through our broadcasts, publications, daily e-Truths, and meaty content on current issues in the CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL, so do I want to bless and encourage you to become even more fruitful and impactful as a “fifth gospel” in your personal spheres of influence.
To receive your copy of The Fifth Gospel, consider the scope of impact you’d like to personally make through CRI’s outreaches, then simply Call 1.888.7000.CRI (1-888-700-0274), or click here to make your generous gift today by credit card.
It’s a great encouragement to me personally to know that you are standing with us during a critical season. A critical season in history not only for the future of the church but also for the destinies of millions who are hungry but skeptical readers of our “fifth” gospels.
God bless you richly for the light you shine and the truth you live. And my heartfelt thanks for all that your response today can mean to those we serve in Christ’s matchless name.
Standing with you for life and truth,
P.S. Paul exhorted Timothy, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” Remember that a spiritually hungry but skeptical world is watching, and the gospel our lives are preaching will always be more persuasive than words alone. Know that I’m praying that your “fifth” gospel will bear increasing fruit for all who read it!