Not Understanding The Gospel (Part 4)

Not Understanding The Gospel (Part 4)

In this blog post by Mike Barko, he reflects on the importance of sharing the gospel with people who have a common belief in God's mercy but often misunderstand the path to salvation. Mike shares encounters with individuals like Donna, Officer Michael, Chase, and Monica, who all expressed uncertainty about their eternal destination despite believing in God's mercy. He emphasizes that many people rely on their own actions and efforts to secure salvation, which is a misunderstanding of the gospel. Mike discusses the need for people to stop relying on themselves and instead trust in the finished work of Christ on the cross for forgiveness. The blog post highlights several instances where individuals came to understand and accept the true gospel message, shifting from self-reliance to trusting in Christ alone for salvation. Mike's encounters demonstrate the power of clarity and proper explanation in helping people truly believe in and understand the gospel.


Mike Barko

5/25/20198 min read



The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few. We are very grateful for the Lord of the Harvest, and the workers He is sending our way. We are grateful for the harvest He is bringing in.

We have so many pictures and so many stories to share with you. Let's finish up our current series before moving on.

Remember our lesson before us is:

People inside and outside the church are not understanding the gospel.

Please remember also that all of these stories happened on one day, the Spirit of God wanting to impress upon our hearts the one lesson at hand.

Donna was the next person I got to share with. Like most people, she was initially unsure that she was going to Heaven when she died.

Here is what she told me:

"I know that He is merciful."

So many people know this truth, but they don't know where they are going when they die.

Last month, my parked car at J.M.U. was hit by one of the students. When the J.M.U. police officer showed up, he got excited when he recognized me as the guy who holds the cross. I used that as a bridge to share the gospel with him.

Like Donna, officer Michael was also unsure of his eternal destination.

Do you know what he told me?

"Well, I know that God is merciful..."

Just this past Wednesday, in front of the courthouse, I met a young Catholic student named Chase. He, like Donna and officer Michael, also was not sure of his eternal destination.

Do you know what he told me?

"Well, I know that God is merciful..."

Yesterday, when I was holding the cross, I had the pleasure of meeting Monica. She was walking to work at Taco Bell, where she is one of the


Yep, you guessed it. She too was 'still working on it', and yes indeed, you know what she told me...

"I believe that God is merciful..."

Truth is, probably 99-100% of Americans know that God is merciful.

To cut to the chase, ask the following question...

"Well, why would God show you mercy?...or...Why would God forgive you?"

Donna told me...

"I tried my best and He knows my heart."

Officer Michael said...

"I really don't know."

So many people tell me...

"I have changed, I go to church, I help people, I stopped doing bad things, I repented..."

Mike from the church told me...

"I know that He forgives, but I don't know why He forgives."

"I know that He forgives, but I don't know why he would forgive me."

Then he said...

"I ask..."

Almost everyone believes that God forgives. Almost everyone asks. But how come almost everyone is not sure they are going to Heaven?

The real issue is trust. People need to stop asking, and they need to start believing.

Do you know what the worst question is to ask a nonbeliever?

"Do you believe in Jesus?"

You see, when most people hear that question, they are thinking...

'Yes, I know what Jesus did for me. I know He is the Son of God and He died on the cross for me.'

So they answer...

"Yes, I believe in Jesus."

What is the problem?

Well, the word believe in the Greek is actually pistis. It means to rely on, or to trust in.

All of these people who are 'believing in Jesus' are actually relying on, or trusting in themselves.

These people know that Jesus died for them. They know He is the Son of God. They know He is merciful. They know that He forgives.

However, when push comes to shove, when you ask them the probing questions...

They are not basing God's mercy and forgiveness upon Christ's work on the cross...

They are basing God's mercy and forgiveness upon their own work...

Donna was basing it on...

"I tried my best and I have a good heart."

Officer Michael really had nothing to base it on. He was lost.

Mike was hoping God would forgive him because...

"I ask, I seek, I knock..."

So many keep asking, and asking, and hoping and praying and wishing for God's forgiveness.

So many are basing God's forgiveness on all of these wrong things...


"I have changed."

A gentleman I met at an outreach dinner at our church on Thursday was 'hoping God would forgive him because he had changed.'

Last month, Nancy at a local laundromat was hoping she would make it to Heaven because she had 'made amends.'

Austin, at the gym a few weeks ago, approached me and asked...

"How do I know my destiny?"

I went right to the gospel and asked our diagnostic questions. He told me he 'hoped he would get into Heaven because he had changed'.

Monica told me that God would be merciful to her because 'she was his child'.

So I asked, "How did you become His child?"

'He created me'.

"Well, God created everyone, but some go to Heaven and some go to Hell. Why would you go to Heaven?"

'I believe'.

Listen to her answer when I asked her what she believed...

"He created me and He is here with us."

Again, like everyone else we talk to, that is their concept of the word 'believe'.

People are not really believing...

People are not understanding the gospel.

Properly explaining the gospel gives someone something to believe in.

Explaining God's justice helps people to understand God's mercy.

God does not forgive arbitrarily. God does not show mercy willy-nilly.

God's mercy and forgiveness is not based upon what we do.

God's mercy and forgiveness is based upon what He has already done for us in Christ.

Austin from the gym was really struggling with trust. He kept telling me...

"I want to trust Him, but I don't know how."

At the same time, he was 'hoping he would get into Heaven because he had changed'.

He knew he was a guilty criminal in God's courtroom. I kept asking him what he could do to be justified with God.

Austin kept coming back to...

"I have changed, I will keep changing."

You see, Austin still thought he could 'do something' to be justified with God. As long as he thought he could 'do something', how could he really trust?

I wanted him to come to an end of himself in God's courtroom, but at some point he became visibly frustrated and said...

'Just tell me what I need to do!'

So I said...

"Austin, I wanted you to come to an end of yourself and see that there is absolutely nothing that you can do in God's courtroom to be justified. You need to see that you can't save yourself. You are not the Savior."

What I witnessed next was really special. He wasn't ready to pray at the end, so we talked some more. Then he said...


"I am now sensing in my heart that I am forgiven. This is amazing. I am now able to trust Him."

Do you know that I saw him the following week at the gym and he told me...

"Things have really changed for me since we spoke. When I pray, I just let it go and trust Him. I am growing in my trust."

I saw another friend at the gym just yesterday, that I had shared with two months ago. Justin told me yesterday...


"God is really doing some special things in my life as I simply trust in Him."

We have to give people something to trust in. It is the simple gospel. In order to trust in the simple gospel, people have to stop trusting in themselves. People stop trusting in themselves when they simply see they can do nothing to save themselves.

This is truly believing...

Logan came to our church last year as a visitor. I shared the gospel with him. Like Austin, I left him squirming in God's courtroom. He was hoping he could do something to be justified. Exasperated he spoke up...

"Well, it is all in His hands now. There is nothing I can do."


Logan had surrendered his efforts to save himself. When I preached Christ, he eagerly trusted in Him.

Logan went home and told his roommate Chris that he couldn't stop crying because he felt like a changed man.

Back to Donna...

After hearing the gospel, she received the truth and told me...

"I did this before, but I did not understand."

In other words, Donna had previously 'prayed and asked Jesus to be her Savior', but did not really understand the truth of the gospel.

Then, listen to what she told me...


"Today, He forgave my sins because I trust in Him."

That is the simple gospel my friends...

God forgives us, He is merciful to us, because we trust in the person and work of Christ alone on our behalf.

Officer Michael saw that God would be merciful to Him if he put his faith in Christ alone.

When I gave the invitation, he spoke up...

"I feel like I am going to cry."

After prayer he said...

"He saved me."

Chase had a lot of Catholic doctrine he had to sort through. At the end he said he had eternal life, right now, because of Christ. If I see him again, and he still says that, I will be pleased.

Monica saw that her confession, changing, and 'please forgive me' would not satisfy the justice of God. Only Christ's death and resurrection would.

She also saw that He is God the Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity, and she wanted to trust in Him alone as her Savior...

"He came into my life."

Nancy who had said, "I hope he lets me in because I have made amends' also told me, "I have redeemed myself."

After preaching Christ, Nancy saw that she was not the redeemer, but Christ was. Unfortunately, some of these '12 step programs' emphasize 'making amends' so much, that people trust in that, instead of in Christ.

Nancy prayed and told me...


"He redeemed me and came into my life."

This was actually the third time I had shared with Nancy. Hopefully, when I see her again, she will still be at 100% because of Jesus. If not, then I will share the gospel with her again.

Mike went home and told his wife that he had gotten saved. He had abandoned all efforts to save himself, and had instead, trusted in Christ alone.

"But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness." (Romans 4:5) NASB