Posts Tagged ‘Missions’
I had a good visit the other day with a brother named Ray. Ray comes from Chicago originally but by grace God saved him and today he is seeking to evangelize entire neighborhoods for the glory of the Lord. Ray’s style is much different from my own. I am more confrontational in evangelism, the pass out gospel tracts guy, but Ray is into evangelistic Bible studies where he goes into homes of unbelievers (as he calls them, “people far from God”) and studies Jesus with them. I am a Law-man, I use the Law to show sinners their sins very quickly (1 Timothy 1:8-11) while Ray is a guy who first introduces people who are far from Jesus with who Jesus is biblically.
My point is not to say that my method is better than Ray’s. In fact, I am thankful to see a brother who loves souls. This brother wants to see people saved. I am thankful for that. Our methods are different. Our message is not. That is the key.
Both of us are committed to seeing people saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). Both of us know that people cannot earn God’s perfect righteousness (Romans 10:4) because of our utter sinfulness (Romans 3:20). Both of us acknowledge that Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:8-9) and His blood alone can cleanse us from sin (Hebrews 9:22). We both agree that people must repent of their sins to be saved (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 17:30-31; Romans 2:4; 2 Corinthians 7:10; 2 Peter 3:9). Both of us desire what God desires and that is for the lost to be found (Luke 19:10; 1 Timothy 2:3-4). We both are striving to present the gospel to the lost (Mark 16:15-16).
The key is the message of Christ. I am not one to fight with a brother who is seeking to evangelize souls for the kingdom. I want to know his message but I will not argue with him over his methods. Consider the fact that nearly every person you know who is truly saved became a disciple by various ways. Some of us were saved through tracts. Some were saved by a friend who shared Jesus with us. Some of us were saved through a parent. Some of us were saved in a prison cell. Some of us were saved simply by mercy (that was me!). Yet we all are now in Christ and forgiven by His grace. The method of our salvation is not the issue. The message of our salvation is.
Any wonder then why Paul is consistent in his letters to rebuke false doctrine but he never brings up methods. He warns Timothy to watch his life and doctrine closely (1 Timothy 4:16). He warns against false teachings (1 Timothy 4:1-2). Paul warns against false teachers (Galatians 1:6-9). Paul warns against sinning (2 Timothy 2:22-3:9). Paul warns against giving into the culture above the gospel (2 Timothy 4:1-8). Paul calls for sound doctrine to be preached (Titus 2:1). Yet Paul does not focus on methods but only the message of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).
This must be the heart of the disciple. I can learn from Ray. I pray he can learn from me. Both of us must be active in evangelism as our Lord called (Matthew 28:19) but while our methods may not be exactly like the other, the message of Jesus is still going forth. Ray longs to see what I desire to see, the lost saved. That is our heart. That is must be our message. Our methods are not the issue.
I am proud of my oldest son, Josiah. Josiah has had a heart to give Bibles to nations that lack the Word of God. He has been looking for ways to raise money to send to missions groups that give Bibles to the lost and to Christians to help them grow. He came up with the idea to sell baked goods (that my loving wife labored over) and he and my wife set up at a local produce market to sell the baked goods all for missions.
In total he raised $74 for missions! I am proud of him and his desire to give to missions. Missions is the heart of God. God Himself is the greatest missionary in sending His Son that He promised to Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:15) and fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:14). The Spirit of God is the great convictor of sins as He convicts the world (John 16:8-11) to bring sinners to salvation through faith in Christ (John 6:44-45). Our God reaches out to us. We don’t “find Jesus” but He finds us and saves us. He draws us and He convicts us and He regenerates us. It is His work (John 1:12-13)!
I rejoice that my son is learning to have the heart of God for the lost. I pray that he will be a bold witness for the glory of Christ all his life.
We all can come up with a thousand reasons why we don’t do this or that type of evangelism. We make excuses for why we don’t open air preach such as, “Well I don’t think that is effective” or we are not bold enough. We make excuses about why we don’t give out tracts such as, “Well I believe friendship evangelism is more effective.”
But my point is do something! Don’t allow compromise to rob you of the joy that comes from preaching the gospel to the lost. Do something. Do anything to get God’s Word out. Pass out tracts. Pray for the lost. Preach in the open air. Give money to missions. Do something for the gospel. Don’t be lazy and allow people around you to go to hell while you sleep in the light. Don’t study theology and sit in your warm office and never talk what God has been teaching you and take it to the lost. Jesus commands us to go (Matthew 28:19). The Great Commission is not a suggestion. It is a command. He calls us to go and preach His gospel to all of creation (Mark 16:15). God saved us so that we would worship and adore Him and take Him to every single aspect of our lives (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).
When you criticize the “cooky” street preacher, do you share your faith? When you talk about how you think servant evangelism is the best method of sharing your faith, do you still preach the gospel to the very ones that you are helping? Are people around you heading toward hell while you sit there with the truth and say nothing?
Leonard Ravenhill wrote,
“Could a mariner sit idle if he heard the drowning cry?
Could a doctor sit in comfort and just let his patients die?
Could a fireman sit idle, let men burn and give no hand?
Can you sit at ease in Zion with the world around you DAMNED?”
Can we? Can we just sit here and study God and His Word and not be moved to compassion for the lost? Does not the very heart of God shine forth at the very beginning in Genesis 3:15 with His giving of a Redeemer? Our God is a missionary God who sent both His Son (John 3:16) and His Spirit (John 16:8-11) to convict the world. Romans 2:4 says that it is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance. He does this in the giving of His Son. How then can we ignore those around us who need the gospel? How can we pass by the people we work with or in Wal-Mart who need Jesus and His forgiveness? The world is not coming to the Church. The Church is commanded by Jesus to go to them. Jesus has even equipped us with bold power from the Holy Spirit to evangelize the nations (Acts 1:8).
Let us forsake our laziness and go and preach the gospel to the lost. They will not come to you. You must go to them. Preach to them. Pray for them. Give out tracts. But do something! Nothing equals damnation.
I have heard many people use this phrase about Jesus saying that He was a “friend of sinners.” This is based on Matthew 11:19 (NASB) which reads, “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax-gatherers and sinners!’”
This is suppose to teach us that Jesus then was a friend of sinners and so should we be. Sinners don’t need to hear repentance, holiness, God’s wrath against sin, etc. They need to hear about how good He is, how loving He is, and how accepting He is. Sinners don’t need to see our pointed fingers (as one popular song says) at them but to hear the good news of God’s love for them and that He has a wonderful plan for their life. They need to hear good news and not bad news.
The problem is that the text doesn’t teach what they want it to teach. I have even had people tell me that they evangelize people by being a “friend of sinners” just like Jesus and they justify drinking with their lost friends, watching ungodly movies with their sinful friends, or just hanging out with them but never communicating the gospel, never discussing the law of God. They are just “friends of sinners.” Like Jesus.
Let’s look at Matthew 11:19 and then let us look at other passages in the Gospels to see if Jesus was a “friend of sinners” who didn’t call people to repent of their sins or to be holy. First of all, Jesus is the One speaking here in Matthew 11:19. He says that this slanderous accusation was being said by this generation of Jews (v. 16). The point was that they were wrong in what they were saying about Him (vv.15-19). In verse 20 Jesus even says, “Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” His point: look at My actions. Look at My life. If I am truly sinful, look at my life. Look at my disciples. Wisdom is vindicated by her deeds. I am not sinning but I live to please the Father.
Further, if Jesus is truly a “friend of sinners” then we should find Him doing what others say we should do: loving sinners as they are, not calling people to repent, not calling out sins. But what do we find about Jesus? In the very next verses notice what Jesus does as we read in Matthew 11:20:
“Then He began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent.”
He began to do what? To denounce the cities? But I thought He was good, loving, and non-judgmental? Jesus even says in verse 24, “Nevertheless I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.” What? How could this be from this loving, non-confrontational Man?
There is no doubt that Jesus saved His harshest words for the religious (see Matthew 23) but He did call people to repent. He said in Luke 13:1-5:
Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And Jesus said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
Here Jesus is not speaking to the religious Jews. He is speaking to sinners. He is speaking to the common folks. And yet we don’t find the lowly, meek, non-judgmental Jesus here. We find the bold Jesus calling people to repent. He didn’t shy away from His words. His point is clear in the text above: you all must repent or you’ll perish too. That is tough words. That is not a Jesus sitting in a bar drinking a tall beer and watching the NFL and just being a “friend of sinners.” This is not the politically correct Jesus who loves all without qualifications.
In Matthew 12:30-37 we read:
He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.
“Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Again tough words from such a loving, gentle, non-judgmental Man such as Jesus. Again, is He the “friend of sinners” here who does not call people to repent? He even says in this text that blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. What? I thought He would accept us no matter what?
Jesus even confronted His own chosen disciples in John 6:66-71. Here we read:
As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” Jesus answered them, “Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?” Now He meant Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray Him.
Jesus asks His own disciples in verse 67 if they want to leave Him? That is tough. He demanded obedience to Himself as Lord. He had just finished teaching from John 6:22-59 about Himself being the bread of life and that whoever comes to Him must eat His flesh and drink His blood. He is demanding total submission to His entire being. He must be our total life (see Luke 14:25-35 as well).
Finally, Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:13-14 to His own disciples (see Matthew 5:1-2):
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
His point is that many are going down the road to hell. The narrow way is the way to life and that life is only found in Him (John 14:6). Jesus, the true friend of sinners, is a friend of sinners in the sense that He died on the cross for our sins and through faith in His blood we can be forgiven of our sins (Matthew 26:28). He alone is the way to God (1 Timothy 2:5-6). He alone is the only way that we can be forgiven before God (John 3:17-18). He alone is the way to righteousness and perfection that God requires for us to enter into His holy presence (1 Corinthians 1:30-31). His blood alone can cleanse us from sin and atone for us before God (Hebrews 9:22, 27-28; 10:10, 14). The way to heaven is not broad. It is not various religions. It is only in Christ Jesus that we can be saved. We must call people to repent (Acts 2:38; 17:30-31). We must preach the truth of God, that Jesus is the only way to salvation (Romans 6:23). There is no other way but through faith in His blood (Romans 5:1; 10:14-17).
Let us then not be ashamed to confront sinners. Jesus told people to turn from sin (John 5:14; 8:11). So should we (1 John 3:6-9). Jesus told people to believe in Him (John 4:13-14, 25-26; 9:35-39). So should we. Jesus spoke of repentance (Luke 13:1-5; 24:47). So should we. Jesus spoke of holiness (Matthew 5:48; 15:10-20). So should we (Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 1:15-16). Let us not hide the truths of God from a lost world that is blinded by Satan (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). Let us take the gospel to all (Mark 16:15; John 20:21).
“Even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?”
- Romans 9:24 (NKJV)
I love the comments by Adam Clarke, the great Arminian Bible commentator on Romans 9:24 when he writes,
All the Jews and Gentiles who have been “invited” by the preaching of the gospel to receive justification by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and have come to the gospel feast on this invitation.
While many read into Romans 9 much about unconditional divine election to salvation, I reject such a view and yet I still find in Romans 9:24 a wonderful call for all to come and be saved through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His work on the cross. We have a Savior who is mighty to save!
Here is a great quote from Charles Spurgeon on evangelism and preaching. I pray that all true Bible teachers will be faithful to heed his words.
My anxious desire is that every time I preach, I may clear myself of the blood of all men; that if I step from this platform to my coffin, I may have told out all I knew of the way of salvation.
I pray that we would be faithful to love God and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Mark 12:29-31) which would include warning them of the wrath to come and calling them to repent of their sins (Luke 13:1-5). After all, we disciples of Jesus Christ are His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) and called to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). May God fill us with boldness to proclaim His everlasting Word (Acts 4:29) to all creation (Mark 16:15).