Sharing the Gospel

May 2, 2017

“I want to remind you of the gospel…which you received and on which you have taken your stand… that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day.” (I Corinthians 15:1-4)

Since most evangelism takes place today in the marketplace, it is imperative that we understand how to articulate the Gospel. A first step in that direction is realizing the Holy Spirit is the Evangelist and we are merely conduits through whom the Holy Spirit works…

When Jesus stayed up late with Nicodemus, the first words of Nicodemus were: “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do the works that You do unless God is with him.” (John 3:2) Jesus earned his hearing with Nicodemus by what he had seen Him do. Likewise, we must also earn our hearing with people. This begins with our understanding that what we do demonstrates what we believe. All the rest is just religious talk. People are not interested in our religious talk unless they are impressed by what they see us do and are favorably impacted by what we are. It’s as if Nicodemus was saying he was impressed with what he had seen Jesus do, so he had come to hear the religious talk of Jesus. We are deceiving ourselves if we think it’s not that way with us today.

What I’m calling religious talk is our theological explanation of what we believe and why we believe it. This can be a negative if we overwhelm people with our theology. Many secular people don’t understand the simplest theological terms… Whether positive or negative, people will not be interested if they are not impressed with who and what we are and the things we do.

When we earn our hearing by the grace of God, the Gospel is simply two facts about Jesus Christ: He died for our sins and He rose again from the dead, just as the Old Testament Scriptures said He would and the New Testament Scriptures tell us He did.

There is something to believe and Someone to receive.

Dick Woodward, Marketplace Disciples (p. 23, 24, 38)


Two Words God Speaks through Nature

April 22, 2017

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.”  (Psalm 19:1-2)

When summer ends we encounter the explosion of beautiful fall colors. While we enjoy the colors, consider a word God speaks to us through nature every fall: death. Since those beautiful colors are produced by the death of leaves, God is speaking to many of us that death can be beautiful. In many ways, the most beautiful reality you and I encounter in our three or four score years on earth is the death of our Lord Jesus Christ that makes it possible for us to experience salvation and enter heaven.

Paul tells us the Gospel is that Christ died so we might live – and now it is our turn. We must die to ourselves so Christ might live through us. (Galatians 2:20)  That means death to our selfish ways can be beautiful.

Every spring God speaks another word through nature to us: resurrection. That is seen all around us as black trunks and bare branches of trees we thought were dead sprout to life and bloom.

The Latin root meaning of rehabilitation is “to invest again with dignity.”  Do we have faith to believe God can bring to life that which we thought was dead?  Can we apply that thought to our lives, to the lives of our children, and to all the people we know?

Dick Woodward, 04 September 2012


Good Friday: “it is finished…”

April 14, 2017

“When He had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished!’”
(John 19:30)

These last words of Jesus actually are one word in the original language: “Tetelesti.”  This word was written over the record of a prisoner after completing his or her sentence in a Roman prison. “Tetelesti” was also written above the cross of a prisoner crucified by Rome. What a providential irony that Jesus chose this word at the end of His suffering for your sins and mine.

What Jesus meant is that He paid in full a debt He did not owe because we owe a debt we cannot pay. Theologians refer to this as the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. One thought is that we cannot possibly add anything to what He finished for us there on that cross. A more profound thought is that we must put our faith in what He did for us there.

Still another thought is if we could add anything to what He did, or be forgiven on the basis of our own good works, then Christ did all that suffering for nothing. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus sweat great drops of blood as He pleaded with the Father to let this cup pass from Him.

The Father’s response was that there was no other way, so Jesus had to go to and through the suffering of the cross. To think that we could save ourselves by our works is like saying to the Father and to our Savior: “You really didn’t have to go through all that suffering because I can save myself by the good works I am doing.”

We must believe in what Jesus finished on the cross: “It is finished.”

Dick Woodward, 28 August 2009


The Cross of Christ: Mercy & Grace

April 11, 2017

“Goodness and mercy shall pursue me all the days of my life.”
(Psalm 23:6)

“God is able to make all grace abound toward you, so that you, always, having all sufficiency in all things, may abound unto every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8)

Two of the most beautiful words in the Bible are mercy and grace. The mercy of God, which is the unconditional love of God, withholds from us what we deserve, while the grace of God lavishes on us all kinds of blessings we do not deserve, accomplish, or achieve by our own efforts.

As we thank God for our blessings, at the top of the list we should thank Him for the mercy that withholds and the grace that bestows. The good news of the Gospel is that when Jesus Christ suffered on the cross for our sins, everything we deserved was laid upon Him that we might have peace with God. (Isaiah 53: 5, 6; 2 Corinthians 5:21)

If you want to grasp the meaning of these two words observe when and why they turn up in the Bible. Try to understand what we deserved and why. That will grow your appreciation of the mercy of God. Then investigate all that is bestowed upon us by the grace of God. As you find these two beautiful words throughout the Bible, you will understand why I challenge you to pray with thanksgiving for:

The mercy that withholds and the grace that bestows.

Dick Woodward, 26 February 2009


Confession and the Blessings of Salvation

October 29, 2016

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”   (1John 1:9)

In the original Greek language, what we translate as confess is a compound Greek word: to say and the word for sameness.  It literally means to say the same thing God says or to agree with God.  If you know the Word of God and are in the Spirit enough to be convicted by the Holy Spirit, you can know what God says and how He feels about what you have done.

Your confession is to agree with Him. Our responsibility is to agree with Him.  God does all the rest.

God knows when we are lost.  Because God loves us He very much wants us to agree with Him that He might recover us and lead us into green pastures and still waters that flow to a table of provision and a full cup that never empties.  That’s why God wants us to confess our sins and start climbing in the right direction spiritually.

God is not a divine policeman with a huge club just waiting to crack us over the head when we step out of line.  The ministry of Jesus is summed up in the Gospel of Luke this way: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10)  That Gospel shows us in beautiful ways the blessings that come into the lives of lost people because Jesus finds them and leads them to the blessings of salvation.

Dick Woodward, 02 October 2012


A Christmas Challenge (all year long!)

December 19, 2014

“So the Word became human and made his home among us…And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.”  (John 1:14 NLT)

God became human and made His home among us so we could see and not just read what He wrote in the 39 books of the Old Testament.  We should find a Christmas challenge in the words of the Apostle Paul which tell us “… that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh” (2Corinthians 4:11).

One of the reasons God did Christmas was because He felt that a written Word was not enough.  He wanted us to see as well as read His Word to us.  Everything Jesus was, said, and did was one great spoken Word from God to you and me (John 1: 1, 14, 18).

It is the plan of God that unbelievers in this world today should see as well as read His Word through your mortal flesh and mine.  That truth, which is clearly articulated by the Apostle Paul, moved me to make an important decision in my ministry as a Bible pastor/teacher.  In the early sixties I was praying about accepting an opportunity presented to me to be a radio Bible teacher.  Those words of Paul were used by God to direct me to be the pastor of a church where people could see as well as hear the Word of God in my mortal flesh.

“We’re writing a Gospel a chapter each day by things that we do and things that we say.  Men read what we write whether faithless or true.  Say, what is the Gospel according to you?”

That should be our Christmas challenge all year long.

Dick Woodward, 16 December 2011


Multi-facted Forgiveness

July 25, 2014

“…If you forgive men when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins…” Matthew 6:14-15

We need forgiveness in three dimensions: when we look up, when we look around, and when we look in.

If we believe the Gospel, the first dimension is a given. The great Bible word for that is “justified.” It literally means to ‘un-sin’ our sin. You can break up the word this way: just-as-if-I’d-never-sinned. Plus, the word means that He declares us righteous. In the 18th chapter of Luke, Jesus pronounced that anyone who prays, “God be merciful to me – a sinner,” is justified. Can you see why I say the first dimension of forgiveness is a given if you believe the Good News?

The second dimension is more complicated. You need a special measure of grace to forgive those who have greatly harmed you. And you can’t control whether or not those you have hurt will forgive you. But Jesus mandated that we have forgiveness in this second dimension. When He taught his disciples how to pray, He literally told them to pray, “Forgive us our sins as we have already forgiven those who have sinned against us.”

At the end of His teaching His disciples how to pray He added a solemn commentary: “If you do not forgive those who have sinned against you, then My Father in heaven will not forgive you your sins. In other words, if you don’t have forgiveness in this second dimension you lose your forgiveness in the first dimension. What a solemn truth!

Those who have sinned grievously will tell you that the third dimension of forgiveness is the toughest one. When devout people fall into sin, they especially have a very difficult time forgiving themselves.

Pray for forgiveness in these three dimensions because the greatest obstacle to inner healing is un-forgiveness.

Dick Woodward, 17 January 2009