Sharing the good news is the privilege of the Church. It shouldn't be our awful burden. Unfortunately, many Christians today have been told that the words that God spoke to the Old Testament prophet, Ezekiel are a warning that applies to us all today if we fail to "witness" to our unsaved neighbours and family.
|(Ezekiel 3:17, 18)|
result of this fear doctrine (another one of the root lies that today's western
churches have swallowed) is either a) or b):
Christians witness under duress and it is a great embarrassment on all sides.
Christians fail to witness when they believe they should because it feels so forced
but this gives them a terrible burden of guilt.
What God does require of us, however, is that we love our neighbours. There are times when this leads us to tell them about our love for Jesus and what he means to us. There are times when we just hug them and stay silent. Your heart will tell you what is right if you are close to the Lord and walking in his divine love. Legalism about witnessing has killed the joy of our relationships with non Christians. Too often, we aren't "salt" in the world; we are a lump of "holy huddlers" sticking to one another at the bottom of the pan.
what is the truth?
are some points of truth that will set you free from your guilt trip imposed by
isn't calling everyone today.
God simply has not appointed all to believe the gospel now. If he had, do you think they would?
pretty clear doesn't it? (Perhaps I shouldn't say that. Because, of course, some
have taken this to mean that God has chosen in advance that some people will be
with him in heaven for ever and he has chosen some in advance to burn in hell
forever. Despite the fact that this is unscriptural and an abominable slur on
God's loving nature, some honestly believe it).
Let's go back to Matthew 24, which is talking about a time of great suffering.
Now the word "ELECT" means "CHOSEN". (The clue is in the word). It means that God will cut these days short for the sake of some people who have been chosen. In Romans 11 the Apostle Paul wrote:
|Romans 11:5, 6|
who are saved are saved by grace alone, not our works and not by the works of
anyone else either.
fact is that God is calling some people now and some he will call later.
am not saying that our actions have no effect on events, they do. They just don't
have an effect on the final outcome. We can cause offence and we can bless others.
Prayer is the most powerful force for good that we can exert. But it's not like
most Christians believe. If you have a picture in your mind of bombarding heaven
with your requests until God saves someone you have got it wrong. What do you
think? That eventually God says, "Okay, okay, I wasn't going to save them,
I had a place in hell prepared for them but as you keep on and on you have
worn me down." It doesn't work like that.
is about us turning repeatedly towards God in contrition and worship and absolute
truth and emptiness. As we turn to him we (spiritually) behold his wonderful face
and we are changed. Christ is formed in us and we begin to radiate some more of
his love. We become channels of this divine love and God is able to do more through
us. The spiritual balance shifts.
am not dogmatic on this point but I believe that through such prayers a loved
one may be called to the first resurrection who would otherwise be called to the
second. (The first resurrection is a better one if you are called to it. Otherwise
it isn't. Many of the last will be first and many of those who now oppose the
gospel will receive higher rewards than some of us who have been called earlier.
It all depends on what you do with what you have been given).
Only a few are called to preach the gospel
|Matthew 28:19, 20|
was this spoken to? It was the eleven disciples. (see verse 16). These were the
men that Jesus chose to be apostles (meaning "ones sent"). We aren't
all apostles and we aren't all evangelists. We haven't all been sent!
10:15 says "How can they preach unless they are sent?" A
good question! The answer is "Not very effectively." All the scriptures
that are used to beat believers over the head with their "commission"
to preach the gospel are verses that are referring to those sent ones who have
that ministry. Certainly we should pray for them and encourage and support them
in their ministry as we should support every brother and sister in Christ in all
their respective ministries.
Those who God calls to preach, he also equips to perform that ministry. Some have gifts of evangelism and healing and signs and wonders. Not every believer is gifted in this way. They are ministry gifts that God gives to whoever he decides. The apostle Paul wrote, (talking about his own ministry):
|2 Corinthians 12:12|
|I would think that implies that if you aren't an apostle you wouldn't be able to have all these signs marking you. What do you think?|
|What sign do you think we should all have?|
|1 Thessalonians 3:12|
|For an evangelist an expression of this love for non Christians would undoubtedly involve sharing the gospel message with them. For a housewife and mother it would undoubtedly involve acts of service such as a homemaker might perform. For all of us there would be times when we share our love for Jesus when the opportunity arises.|
|1 Peter 3:15|
is quite a different picture from the one painted by those who would insist we
must all be out evangelising, isn't it?
|"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him "|
That's pretty plain. Now, as I said before there are things that we can do to help or to hinder the work of God in another person's life.
Sometimes the ramming of our particular brand of Christianity down their throats hinders it.
The apostle Peter wrote in his general letter to the churches:
|"Wives in the same way, be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behaviour of their wives."|
|1 Peter 3:1|
evangelism! I like that.
Again, the love that Christians have for one another in their fellowship together is powerfully evangelistic. When unbelievers see what love the members of the family of God have for one another they are drawn to the source of that love.
is our motive?
our goal salvation for all now before they die?
It shouldn't be because it certainly isn't God's. Otherwise he would be doing it. The book of Romans explains what God is doing. Why not read Romans 10 and 11 and see how clear it is. After saying that all Israel will be saved Paul writes:
this clearly show that he intends to show mercy to those who are (now) disobedient?
Hellfire for eternity doesn't seem like mercy to me.
If God loves everyone and respects their freedom and integrity, surely we should too? Our ministry is to just love all men, especially the family of God and let God deal with their hearts. He's good at it. He's the greatest. In fact, he's the only one. He is literally holding everything together by the power of his word. We are in safe hands, relax.
God is at work in everyone's life. Atheists, Buddhists, Muslims, Agnostics etc. They are all on a journey and God values their human character just as he will later value their Christian character when they turn to Jesus. We are no better than them. We have come to know Jesus and to whom much is given much is expected. Those who have been given less but have done more with what little they have will receive a greater reward than those who have been given more but have done less with it. (Read the parable of the talents). Those who come in at the last hour can receive the same reward as those who have "born the heat of the day".
even uses situations where someone witness out of misguided or carnal motives
and will even save sinners through their ministry. That doesn't necessarily put
his seal of approval on their methods or their heart motive. He gifts some people
with evangelistic gifts and we must pray for those among us who are gifted in
We all have different ministries. Some are in the background and rarely see outward fruit from their ministry whereas others see "converts" and "manifestations" etc. For those who see the direct result of their ministries in this way we have a duty to pray:
is so different from the prayers that many western Christians pray for their leaders
whom they put on high pedestals. If we idolize a man because he is anointed of
God and we pour money into his ministry and set him above others so that he believes
he is led by God alone and not accountable to his brothers and sisters - we do
him a great disservice.|
There are no great Christians. We are all sinners saved by grace. Pray for one another that we don't forget this truth and fall into error.
key to evangelism
primary part that we have to play in evangelism is turning continually to Jesus
throughout our lives. As we look to him and increasingly experience Jesus as our
all in all, we are changed. Christ is formed in us by the beautiful work of the
Holy Spirit. We come to know deep inside that without him we can do nothing but
that through Christ in us we can do all things.
come to a place of rest in him whereby our carnal cravings and lusts are quietened
and we see that he is truly all we need. At last then, we are free. Free to think
about others and love them instead of ministering out of our own egos and our
desperate needs. Whatever state we are in we are now content, because we know
that we know that Jesus has everything in hand. Everything is working for our
good whether it appears to be good or bad. We no longer resist events and people.
They can't harm us because we know that God is for us.
church leaders can help. Those who have gone ahead on this journey can encourage
the little ones to take the lower road. We can miss God's purpose if we are too
busy with our programmes of fund raising, evangelistic outreaches, socialising,
and teaching programmes that are designed to try to hold our churches together
by getting them to adhere to the group norms.
journey of dying daily to self and living to Christ is one that we are to encourage
one another in by daily bearing each other's burdens. This means praying for one
another. It also means sharing with appropriate close sisters or brothers our
struggles and joys. It means the teachers expounding the word of God for the flock
to enable them to grow up in Christ. (This isn't doctrinal knowledge primarily
but rather intimacy with him.)
The church is meant to be evangelistic by its very nature. That nature is Jesus in his people. As he is lifted up in our fellowship the Holy Spirit will draw men to Jesus.
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