Potential jurors who affirm biblical morality excluded from service

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Potential jurors who affirm biblical morality excluded from service: Why the gospel is no longer “good news” and how we can share it with transforming power

February 27, 2024 -

A gavel rests on top of a closed Bible. By Jiri Hera/stock.adobe.com

A gavel rests on top of a closed Bible. By Jiri Hera/stock.adobe.com

A gavel rests on top of a closed Bible. By Jiri Hera/stock.adobe.com

Three potential jurors who said they believed homosexual activity to be sinful were recently excluded from serving on a case involving a lesbian plaintiff. The case made national headlines when Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito used it to warn that the 2015 Obergefell decision legalizing same-sex marriage is being used to brand those who oppose such relationships as bigots.

This is just one example of ways our post-Christian, secularized culture increasingly views evangelicals as homophobic, discriminatory, and dangerous to society. You and I are living and serving in a society that is more opposed to biblical truth and morality than ever before in our nation’s history.

Consequently, it is worth remembering that what we share with the world is not bad news but good news—the best news of all, in fact.

Why the gospel is good news

The Bible tells us that Jesus “went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people” (Matthew 4:23, my emphasis). Matthew 9:35 repeats this description. Jesus later predicted that “this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14, my emphasis).

As you know, the word translated “gospel” is euangelion, which literally means “good news.” “Of the kingdom” is an objective genitive in the Greek, meaning “belonging or pertaining to the kingdom.” The “kingdom” is best described in Jesus’ Model Prayer: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

Taken together, these exegetical notes would render the phrase: “the good news that God is king and we can join his kingdom by doing his will on earth as it is done in heaven.” Scripture offers four reasons this proclamation is such “good news”:

  1. There is a king of the universe (1 Timothy 1:17; Revelation 19:16).
  2. This king loves us (John 3:16; Romans 5:8). In a society whose king, Caesar, was autocratic and anything but loving, our king “is” love (1 John 4:8).
  3. The world is ordered by his providence (Proverbs 16:33; Romans 8:28). In a culture dominated by chaos and competing worldviews, our king “upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3).
  4. We can experience him in transformational relationship (Ephesians 2:8–9). In a culture centered on transactional religion, we can “with confidence draw near to the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16).

How the gospel became bad news

However, in our secularized, post-Christian culture, these four statements are bad news, not good news:

  1. We don’t want any king but ourselves. In his Yale lecture series, The Preaching Event, John Claypool testified to his childhood ambition: “I wanted to be president of the world!” So do we all as the “will to power” dominates our fallen nature (Genesis 3:5).
  2. We doubt God’s love in the face of innocent suffering. Atheist Sam Harris once claimed that the existence of a suffering child anywhere in the universe calls into question the existence of a loving God. Many feel the same way.
  3. We don’t believe the world is ordered by providence. Darwin taught us that we evolved through natural selection and survival of the fittest, not through divine creation. Our existentialist culture views the world as chaotic and coincidental, not ordered. As Heidegger said, we are actors on a stage with no director, script, audience, past, or future. Courage, in his view, is to face life as it is.
  4. We want transaction in religion, as everywhere else in life, so we can control the outcomes.

Three ways to show that the gospel is good news

How can we show our fallen culture that the gospel is indeed good news?

Consider three imperatives.

First, personify the good news.

We can live in such a way that others see Christ in us and are drawn to him through our character and joy. We can manifest the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22–23) by being “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). In this way we will be the change we wish to see.

Second, proclaim the good news.

When we center our preaching on Christ and not ourselves, our words are used by the Spirit of God to draw people to the Son of God. When we preach for any other purpose, we hinder his purpose in the hearts who hear us.

J. I. Packer noted that it is impossible to persuade people at the same time that you are a great preacher and Jesus is a great Savior. Charles Spurgeon counseled preachers to take a text and make a “bee-line” for Jesus. The more we “preach Christ crucified,” the more we experience “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:23–24).

Third, practice the good news.

Abraham Kuyper was right: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!” Consequently, the gospel of the kingdom speaks to every dimension of human experience. It touches every hurt and meets every need.

When we identify the needs of the communities we serve and strive to meet them with God’s word and grace, we earn the right to share the gospel by “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).

My seminary mentor, Dr. John Newport, once told our doctoral seminar that when he was a pastor, his church baptized new converts every Sunday for five years. We asked how they had done this. He explained that when he came to the church, they surveyed the community to identify the felt needs among the people. Then they established ministries to meet these needs and publicized these ministries. When people experienced these challenges, they reached out to the church, and the church was able to lead them to the Lord.

As my friend Dr. Randel Everett notes, I have no right to preach the gospel to a hungry person. But when I follow Jesus’ example by meeting felt need to meet spiritual need (cf. John 4), I can share God’s word across relational bridges of grace.

The “gospel of the kingdom” is the best news in human history. Let’s share it with our hurting world through personal example, intentional proclamation, and strategic service, all to the glory of God.

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