I have been discussing the urgency of evangelism and missions with a few brothers. I have found that when in South Africa I was able to be evangelistic in just about every environment I found myself in. Here in America it has been a great challenge. Most people are house bound. I have not been able to make friends or acquaintances apart from in the Church. Another great concern is the complacency in so many Churches. They see no urgency when it comes to evangelism.
If the Bible is for all God’s children and if the Bible is our mandate for life and ministry, then we have to agree that the following Scriptures are meant for all God’s children and not exclusively for the apostles and first disciples of Jesus:
Mt 28:18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Lk 24:45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
Jn 20:30 Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Ac 1:7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
We have the Bible, we have the Spirit and we have the Gospel. God calls all His people to be evangelistic … why are we not? What is the problem? What excuses may we offer? Do we have reasonable excuses that God will except for us as the Church generally not reaching out into our world with His Gospel, which is the power of God? Forgive me for being so direct today … whatever excuse we might tend to offer, is it trying to cover up our disobedience to the Gospel mandate!
Is the condition of the church in our age our fault? We may blame the last generation. We might blame our economics. We might blame our political environment. We might even blame our Church having restrictive structures. Yet the problem is ours … and ours alone! O may the passion the apostle Paul had for Jesus and his obedience to Jesus and His instructions be ours today. O yes beloved … there is urgency today as never before in our lifetime.
What will you do and what will I do with the Gospel in our day? It is the power of God to bring life to dead bones. It is the power of God to raise the spiritually dead. But do we believe it is the power of God? Or is it that we don’t care about souls going to hell? What would the apostle Paul have done if he were in our shoes? Please read:
Ac 26:19 “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. 20 First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds. 21 That is why the Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me. 22 But I have had God’s help to this very day, and so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen—23 that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles.”
1) Each time Paul stood in the dock defending the Christian Faith, he was fearless, shameless, direct, provocative and faithful because he understood the power of the Gospel and he understood the call to go and make disciples of all nations. We might not like Paul for some things he taught under inspiration but we have to admit that His Lord and King ruled his heart resulting in passionate, dedicated and focused service.
2) Paul continues his defense before Agrippa.
(a) He was obedient … “I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven.” Jesus had met him face to face. This meeting and subsequent ones were indelible in the heart and mind. This was his driving force. He had met Jesus personally. He was instructed personally. He was mandated to take the Gospel to lost souls. The term “not disobedient” means that Paul was not rebellious, stubborn or inflexible to the mandate Jesus placed before him.
(b) His obedience included the vastness of the Gospel mandate. It included all the world. Slightly different in area as he started in Damascus not Jerusalem. Once he started where he was converted he travelled to Jerusalem with the Gospel, then to all Judea and then to the Gentile world. In that context it was all the world. He was faithful. He was urgent. He was obedient! O my beloved … we need to pray that this will be us and our Church. Relentless in passion, urgency and drive to reach the lost wherever they are. Take this man who was so Jewish, so Pharisaical, so ritualistic, so anti the Gospel … he was so set aflame by meeting Jesus that he was relentless, unwavering and unfazed by being radically different in his religion, even in the face of persecution, beatings and death. The greatest question for us Christians is … who rules the heart? Jesus or self?
(c) His Gospel was pointed. He did not mix his words with his hearers. He did not seek to please them by telling them what they wanted to hear. He did not permit people, the audience or religious leaders or even Church leaders to distract him from the main purpose of his salvation and calling … which was the desperate need of the dead souls needing the Gospel. Observe what he did and let’s learn what we should be doing.
(i) He preached repentance. One cannot be a Christian and have a heart that still lives in the world, moved by the flesh and controlled by the evil one. Repentance is nothing short of an about turn, a life transformation … it is radical. Such a person might be scorned by family, friends and colleagues. They will be seen as those who have lost their mind. In a way they have! They have lost their evil mind controlled by the prince of this world.
(ii) He preached turning to God. No one can turn away from the world without replacing it with God if they want to be genuine. The old man must go and the new man must come. The heart that was controlled by the world, the flesh and the devil must now be controlled by Jesus. He must rule! Failure here means the soul has not repented!
(iii) He preached proving repentance by their deeds. It was not just a John the Baptist requirement:
Mt 3:8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.
Proving repentance is a Biblical matter. The Israelites mostly failed. Jesus’ half-brother wrote under inspiration:
Jas 2:18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.
Paul was adamant. Paul was radical. Paul was serious. Paul was faithful. Will this Note move you to respond differently to the way you do your Christianity? Will you start to evangelize?
O God our Father, write on our hearts the need to reach the lost in obedience to Your command. Amen.