20 Oct 2013 by Tony Dibble-
Christians, like Israel in the Old Testament, are chosen by GOD and chosen for a role. Our role is to be a light to the nations, the city on a hill, and a lamp for people to see (Matt 5:13-16; 1 Pet 2: 9 &10). However, we should not be self-centred nor develop a false pride about being saved by GOD as His people.
What do people have to see in us? They have to see Christ in us and be able to learn through us, to follow Christ. We are Christ’s witnesses (Acts 1:8). The original Greek word implied a faithful follower to the point of dying for Him.
We are not Christ’s defence attorneys, prosecutors nor judges. We do not condemn the unsaved, for all have sinned as there is not one person who is right before GOD (Rom 3:10+23). We do not judge people (Matt 7:1+2). Only on the last day is the Christian to, along with GOD, judge the world (1Cor 6:2).
In the meantime, the Christian is entrusted by GOD to present the gospel to the unsaved (Matt 28:18-20). We are given power not for display as a selected or special group, but power to carry across the gospel.
The gospel is called the “good news” and the original word in Greek (euangelion) is found 72 times in the New Testament. To announce the gospel is euangelizesthai, and that word is present 52 times in the New Testament.
The best statement about the gospel is to be found in the Lausanne Covenant of July 1974, which is adopted by independent and mainstream evangelical churches throughout the world. Paragraph 4 reads as follows:
“To evangelize is to spread the good news that Jesus Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead according to the Scriptures, and that as the reigning Lord he now offers the forgiveness of sins and the liberating gifts of the Spirit to all who repent and believe.
Our Christian presence in the world is indispensable to evangelism, and so is that kind of dialogue whose purpose is to listen sensitively in order to understand. But evangelism itself is the proclamation of the historical, biblical Christ as Saviour and Lord, with a view to persuading people to come to him personally and so be reconciled to God.
In issuing the gospel invitation we have no liberty to conceal the cost of discipleship. Jesus still calls all who would follow him to deny themselves, take up their cross, and identify themselves with his new community. The results of evangelism include obedience to Christ, incorporation into his Church and responsible service in the world. (I Cor. 15:3,4; Acts 2: 32-39; John 20:21; I Cor. 1:23; II Cor. 4:5; 5:11,20; Luke 14:25-33; Mark 8:34; Acts 2:40,47; Mark 10:43-45)
The Christian must realise that to the world, his mission is unwelcome. He is given inward strength not to adjust to, or to cope with the world’s terms of existence nor live like the rest of the world. The Christian is in the world but he is not of the world (Jn 15:19). He is given GOD’s strength, to be used by GOD as a messenger and an exhibit to transform the world. He transforms the world through spreading the gospel, that Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life and living it out whilst on earth.
All authority on heaven or earth is given to Christ and that is the name that we go out with when we spread the gospel. Evangelism is not a touch-and-go job because we go in the name of the Highest Authority of all (Matt 28:18 &19).
Prayer is essential if our mission to spread the gospel is to succeed–committed prayer and not casual or half-hearted prayer. We must be in one mind for GOD to move (Acts1:14; Col 4:2 & 3). From Ps 66:18, we know that if we hold back sin in us, our prayer will fall on deaf ears.
Salvation of a soul however, is not a human effort but the work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:7-15). It is the Word which the Spirit uses to convict people about sin (Acts 2:37). It is GOD who adds day by day to the numbers; our efforts are subordinate to the work of GOD (Acts 2:47; 11:21). Fruitfulness is GOD’s work (Jn 15:4 & 5).The gates of hell shall not prevail against the church (Matt 16:18 &19). We need to avoid having a “siege” mentality, as if we ourselves are staying behind locked doors. We must not feel trapped in a corner but loosen up in order to spread the gospel. Spiritual strongholds are broken down as we are under the blood of Christ.
The weapons of our warfare are not carnal (worldly) but are GOD-given, as our strength is spiritual (2 Cor 10:3-5; Eph 6:10-18). Israel in the Old Testament fought her enemies with lower numbers and less impressive technology but would win battles only because they walked with GOD. When they failed to walk with God, they lost their battles even though on such occasions, they had for example, chariots which were state of the art then. Our physical resources are useful for the spread of the gospel but without the spiritual headship of Christ, we are powerless in carrying out our spiritual role.
Our relationship with GOD is important in our spread of the gospel for without that, we are bound to be unfruitful. Christ speaks of pruning us in order to be fruitful. If we are unfruitful Christ has said, we would be cut and thrown into the fire (Jn 15:1-6). We are to love our enemies and can only do so if we are right with GOD (Matt 5:44-48). Our enemies are also part of our mission field as much as our friends are.
Being a Christian is not merely waiting for Christ to come a second time, but also to be found doing His work when He comes (Acts 1:6-8). Spreading the gospel is the focus of the Christian, so that when the Master of the House arrives, the Christian is not caught sleeping on the job (Luke 12:47). We live for Christ and not for ourselves (2 Cor 5:15).
References for pictures: