The church is made up of all who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, “out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” (Rev 5: 9). As God’s redeemed people whom He had delivered “out of darkness into his marvellous light” (I Pet 2: 9), the church is called upon to fulfil His purposes on earth.
In our article last week, we discussed the purposes of the local church – 1) the corporate worship of God and 2) the nurturing of believers. Today, we look into fulfilling God’s purpose of evangelising the lost.
One of the purposes of the local church is to evangelise sinners. As a church, we have been entrusted with the vital ministry of reconciliation: “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation” (II Cor 5: 18-19). In verse 20, the apostle Paul spoke about our Christian responsibility as “ambassadors for Christ”: “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.”
Just before His ascension, our risen Saviour gave the Great Commission to His disciples: “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matt 28: 18-20). In obedience to their Master’s command, the disciples went into all the world to preach the Gospel. The Book of Acts records that three thousand souls were saved on the day of Pentecost in response to Peter’s sermon (Acts 2: 38, 41). So powerful was the Gospel message of the apostles that their enemies accused them of turning “the world upside down” (Acts 17: 6).
What about ourselves? How have we responded to the Lord’s command to reach the lost with the Gospel? Have we obeyed the Great Commission? Sadly, very few Christians are willing to be part of the evangelistic ministry – to hand out a tract, to share the Gospel, or to invite people to the church. Why? Often it is due to a lack of conviction or the fear of ridicule, rejection, failure or confrontation.
Brethren, are we afraid to witness for the Lord? How can we overcome our fears?
a) We must be convicted of the power of the Gospel to save sinners: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Rom 1: 16). Like the apostle Paul, we must be convinced that the Gospel is all powerful to lead multitudes from sin unto salvation.
b) Remember that it is the Lord Who will empower us. The apostle Paul acknowledged that his success in missions was not due to his own ability or eloquence but to the enabling power of the Holy Spirit: “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (I Cor 2: 2-4).
“Soul winning is not a human art or skill. It is the work of the Spirit. Effective evangelism is never possible, if the preacher does not abide in the power of the Spirit” (Bible Witness: July-August 2004).
c) Do not fear the faces of men. This was the encouraging counsel of the Lord to His faithful servant Jeremiah who was called to a difficult ministry – to preach a message of doom and judgment to his own countrymen: “Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD” (Jer 1: 8). In like manner, our risen Saviour promises us His presence: “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matt 28: 20).
d) Is our silence due to our fear of failure? Are we afraid that we cannot handle the questions or objections raised? This fear is understandable. However, it should not deter us from spreading the Gospel. We can always share our testimony of God’s saving grace. God does not expect us to tell people what we do not know; rather He expects us to be witnesses of what we do know, and testify of His grace at work in our lives. Make the time to study God’s Word so that we can equip ourselves with the right answers concerning our faith: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (I Pet 3: 15). Commit to memory the verses that relate to the presentation of the Gospel. Rehearse the testimony of our conversion experience. This will give us the confidence to share the Gospel message.
Brethren, the witnessing ministry is not just for the leaders of the church. It is the responsibility of every church member to reach out to the lost. May the Lord convict our hearts to go forth with the Gospel of life. May He also help us to overcome our fears of witnessing. Let us obey the Great Commission by being His faithful witnesses in a dark and sinful world. Amen.