Where are We Headed as a Church? / Our Calling the Church
2 Timothy 4:1-5
Since becoming a Christian, I have had a desire to be a witness for Jesus Christ. I remember the first soul that I led to Jesus when I was a first-year, bible college student. I have endeavored to be a consistent witness through the years. However, I, like you, often fail to seize the opportunities God gives me. Over the years I have heard several proclaim their proficiency as a soul winner. One man who visited our church bragged to me that he had led a 1,000 people to Christ in the previous year. One pastor in the area said he led someone to Christ every single day last year. I realize that some people are either deliberately exaggerating or they are deceptively manipulating people for a response without genuine conversion.
Our church covenant states, “I will seek the salvation of my family, friends and community.” In your evangelistic efforts, you have found that the lost may not initially be
receptive to the gospel. Because of this Christians often respond in one of three wrong ways: They manipulate people or they compromise the truth or they become discouraged and quit. Christianity has never been hugely popular or socially acceptable to this lost world. How should we respond to this truth? We must faithfully, humbly and clearly communicate the Gospel.
First, our authority is the Word of God. Jesus commands us to share the gospel in Matthew 28:19-20 because the gospel is what saves. The Bible says man is still a sinner (Rom. 3:23) and the penalty is still death (Rom. 6:23). People try to make the church relevant by conforming it to the world. American churches frequently alter the message of the gospel, substituting talent for truth by promoting performances by musicians, athletes, and comedians. Or they replace the gospel with emotionalism and pop psychology. That is not relevance; that is compromise. The truth of the Gospel, found in the Bible is relevant today because man’s basic need is forgiveness of sin and reconciliation to God—that is always relevant! We will not be judged someday on the basis of community acceptance, but by godly obedience. We must not take the consumer-driven approach to Christianity and view our community as clients, just giving them what they want. We must be willing to tell people the bad news of their sinfulness so that the good news of God’s forgiveness makes sense. The gospel of Jesus Christ is still effective and that is what people need.
Next, consider our audience, the people with whom we share the gospel. Jesus dealt with people honestly and with authority, but always compassionately. He met His hearers where they were, and talked to them in their vocabulary and according to their frame of reference, but He never left them the way He found them. Paul did the same thing, saying, “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (I Cor. 9:22). Paul also tells us that we are ambassadors for Christ (II Cor. 5:20). A good ambassador has two essential qualities: He properly represents the country of his citizenship and he thoroughly understands the country of his residence. As ambassadors, we represent the Lord Jesus Christ to the lost world that we live in. We must understand the people to whom we are sent as witnesses but we can know the culture without being characterized by it.
The gospel is relational and confrontational. You will never lead anyone to Christ by just being their friend. You must also speak the truth and let them respond. On the other hand, you will rarely lead someone to Christ if you are not friendly and warm in your presentation. The gospel is offensive enough on its own; we need not be offensive in the way we present it.
Finally, we must know our aim. We must evangelize the lost because God has commanded us to. I will regularly preach gospel-oriented messages, but that is not sufficient. We each need to share our faith personally. Many Christians don’t share their faith at all! Either they don’t believe in the power of the Gospel or their flesh and fears dictate their actions. “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Rom. 1:16). The New Testament teaches the church to gather for worship and instruction and then scatter to evangelize the world. The church is primarily for the building up of the saints (Eph. 4:11-12) and then the saints go and share the gospel with the world. Christians must “walk the walk” as well as “talk the talk.” This lost world needs to hear the truth of the gospel message and see the way a godly messenger lives.