“Words taught by the Spirit” (1Cor.2:13)
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“So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isa.55:11 and Mt.28:18-20).
What is the Great Commission
Missions and the missionary work are based on the Great Commission: “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen” (Mt.28:18-20; also Mark 16:15-18 and 1Pe.3:15)
In this Great Commission:
- The verb “Go” applies to all believers, not only to professional Christian workers. And if all true Christians, in God’s eyes, are missionaries how much more are all Christian professional spiritual workers missionaries (missionaries, pastors and priests). The invitation to salvation is for all alike! We have the same rights, obligations, privileges and promises. So all believers should help in every possible way to evangelize the world according to their ability and direction from God. There is no excuse for millions of church members leaving this work to a few only who seek to obey the Great Commission.
(It should be noted that the greatest part of this study is focused on professional Christian workers).
- The verb “teach” (Gr. “matheteuo”) means to ‘make disciples’ (Mt.13:52; 27:57; Ac.14:21).
- The verb “baptize” means that those who have consciously been made disciples must pass through the experience of water baptism in order to declare that they have acquired a good conscience before God and men; also that they have destroyed the bridge between them and the world. “Know you not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom.6:3-4 and Gal.3:27). This same verse bears also the meaning, by extenso, of “baptism of repentance” for the forgiveness of sins (Mrk.1:4; Lu.3:3; Ac.13:24; 19:4). It also means what John the Baptist announced: “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Mt.3:11) And finally,
- The expression “teaching them” means ‘instructing’ them to the end of rendering them solid and mature Christians. Or, as Paul expressed it, “… warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Col.1:28).
Daniel T. Niles wrote: “Evangelism is witness. It is one beggar telling another beggar where to get food.”
What Missions are and their aim
Missions and the missionary work are God’s purpose and command; they are the proclamation of the gospel to the unconverted everywhere. The church, which is the body of Christ, is responsible for evangelizing the world and planting strong churches in every country. Churches should meet the spiritual needs of believers and cover their own financial needs. In addition, the Church must try, if possible, without outside help, to be intensely evangelistic, sending out spiritual workers to the regions around the church as well as to other countries.
The evangelist John Rice has written in his book entitled “The Soul Winners Fire”: “So to be a soul winner means to cause people to realize their need of Christ as a personal Savior and lead them to receive Him, confess Him, depend upon Him, and commit themselves wholly to Him, with heart faith.”
The Bible says “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he who wins souls is wise” (Pr.11:30). All other labor cannot be compared to the supreme labor of winning souls. The Savior Himself declared that one soul is worth more than the entire world when He said, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36-37). Soul winning is the main business of a Christian. It is for that purpose that Christ came to earth and lived and died and rose again. There is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance (Lu.15:7). “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (Ps.126:6 AV).
The missions all over the world
According to “Global statistics for all religions: 2001”, the population of the world was about 6 billion people with this breakdown: 2 billion Christians (33%), 1,2 billion Muslims (19,6%), 811 million Hindus (13,4%), 768 million nonreligious (12,7%), 360 million Buddhists (5,9%), 150 million atheists (2,5%), 14,4 million Jews (0,2%), etc.
The number of American and European missionaries is slightly declining every year – for lack of funding and lack of laborers for God’s harvest – but is being overtaken by increased participation from Africa, Latin America and Korea. In addition, “The Gideons International” is the greatest Bible Distribution Association that print and distribute the Bible in many languages. Nowadays, “Wycliffe Bible Translators” labor in some of the most primitive areas of the world in order to give God’s Word to people in their own languages. The Bible has or portions of it have been translated into more than 2.000 languages and are usually distributed by the Bible Societies.
The number of people, in general, proclaiming the Word of God continues to increase, spreading the Word of God in the whole world! Worldwide, billions of people listen to Christian radio or watch Christian TV. Another thing that must be mentioned is the increasing number of Christian sites on the Internet.
Active persecution of Christians takes place in: Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, North Korea, Laos, Vietnam, China, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Morocco, Libya, Egypt, India, Algeria and certain other countries. Hundreds of thousands of believers become martyrs each year. Persecutions are being intensified!
I read in a Christian magazine “The Evangelic Messenger” that during an official meeting on the Islamo-Christian dialogue, a Moslem, of influential character, speaking to the Christian participants, declared with calmness and seriousness: “thanks to your democratic laws, we will invade you, thanks to our religious laws, we will dominate you”.
Growth of the Church
Christianity is the fastest-growing religion in the world today. (The annual change of conversion during the period 1990-2000 was 2,5 million while for Muslims was 865 thousands.) The strongest growth is currently in the following areas:
- In house churches, in many nations.
- In underground churches mainly in China, Indonesia, Cuba and India.
- In indigenous churches, that is, churches and movements led by nationals without outside intervention or start-up help from other churches.
Conclusion: Two thirds (2/3) of the world’s population are not Christians. Who is going to evangelize them? Just a small minority of missionaries and national Christian workers? Impossible! The Great Commission does not put the responsibility on missionaries only but on every true Christian. Every Christian throughout the whole world should participate and become involved. Massive problems need massive measures! Our task is to take the Good News of salvation to all people everywhere. The Holy Spirit will empower, strengthen, encourage and edify Christians to carry out their mission.
Problems concerning church growth
Indifference: Unfortunately, indifference is a deadly weapon in the hands of Satan! Once forgiven and saved, they have no more interest for others who are at the gate of Hell! They are not preoccupied in other people’s salvation from Hell! They become lukewarm! They risk to be vomited out of His mouth (Rev.3:16). “The people will curse him who withholds grain, but blessing will be on the head of him who sells it (Pr.11:26). And elsewhere the Bible says: “Deliver those who are drawn toward death, and hold back those stumbling to the slaughter” (Pr.24:11). Unfortunately, just a small percentage of those who are called Christians are true Christians; few are those who are ‘Christian combat cells’ trying to win people to Christ! In addition, great is the number of missionaries and pastors that withdraw from active service and rare are the Churches that really have a missionary spirit!
Lack of evangelistic messages: Rare are the messages that contain words that can save those who are present but unconverted. Many are the ethical, sociological and psychological messages intended to comfort falsely unrepented sinners and guide them to self-improvement! Whenever a message is given at a Church, it must always include the basic elements of salvation: Preachers should emphasize the value of the Bible, the person and the work of Jesus, repentance, faith, the grace of God and the fear of God! Many churches are program-driven trying to build their little “kingdoms” instead of focusing their attention on evangelistic preaching, which, at the same time, edifies enormously the believers…
Unfortunately, there are also other reasons for that great indifference:
- Some pastors think their church is too small or too poor to have a missionary program.
- Some Churches receive the believers’ money but never or rarely explain how it is spent. So people are discouraged to give more!
- Others believe that it is not necessary or urgent or obligatory to reach out to people and spread the Christian faith since only those who are predestined will be saved: God will find out a way to save them. So, there is no need to seek and save the lost…
- Other churches are afraid to be accused of doing a work of proselytism, converting people from one religion to another! And what can we say about Christians of all Christian denominations, who during open TV debates say that all religions are good and should be respected! All men should be respected but not all their religions! They are afraid to say that Christ is the only way of salvation, all the more while there is still freedom to propagate the Gospel! John 14:6 says that only Jesus is the way the truth and the life! They are ambassadors who are either afraid or ashamed of the heavenly country they represent! Isaiah says: “His watchmen are blind, they are all ignorant; they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber” (56:10). They are people having no Holy Spirit but just a religious profession!
- Another serious reason for the spiritual indifference among the members of the Church, in general, is the way those who are responsible treat their congregations: Some of them shepherd the flock of God as being lords over those entrusted to them (1Pe.5:2-3) either in evident authoritarian ways or in camouflaged ways manipulating people so as to impose their will and implementing the Church’s constitution according to their personal preferences. In addition, they always find excuses to justify the non-keeping of their promises. The problem, however, does not lie only in their conduct and manipulations but it is in great part due also to the congregation. Jeremiah says: “The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own power; and My people love to have it But what will you do in the end?” (5:31). Isaiah says: “Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not to us right things, speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits” (30:10). Yes, “My people love to have it so”, because they prefer the easy solutions and avoid being troubled… As regards false prophets and false teachers, 2Pet.2:1-3 stipulates their end is destruction if they do not repent: “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you…”
The situation of the world and the Holy Spirit
The world perishes! What are we going to say to God when we stand before Him? Telling the world about Jesus is not optional; it is a commandment to be obeyed unquestionably and unconditionally. As the Father has sent me, so send I you, ordered Jesus! The needs are tremendous. We are facing a world in despair, perverse and self-destroying. Iraq, Israel, Kosovo, Rwanda, Burundi, Sudan, Somalia, Algeria, terrorism etc., do they mean something to us? Can we ignore the great spiritual need of this world and its misery, as well as the “Great Commission” to evangelize the world that Jesus Christ himself has entrusted to us?
We know that the number of Christians in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and elsewhere is increasing daily by the thousands. We, therefore, live in a missionary field where a much greater mobilization is required. “The world has more winnable people than ever before, but it is possible to come out of a ripe field empty handed”, someone said. Jesus has commanded His people to spread the Gospel to the whole world. Not everyone can go as a professional missionary, but every believer can make the Gospel to be heard.
The Holy Spirit is at work, creating a hunger for the Bread of Life amongst all social classes. There, where the action of the Spirit is engaged and the strong wind of spiritual revival blows, it is necessary that our attention, our help and our action speed up things that happen in favor of the work of God. What we are living through nowadays is not “the signs of the times” but rather “the time of the signs”. These are historic days in which we live. This is the reason why we must pray intensely so that true spiritual workers be recruited by God with zeal and faithfulness. Also, we must raise money either for Missions or for the reproduction of this incomparable treasure, which is the Bible. It is urgent!
How many of the so-called Christians are really active and committed? We do not know. One thing we do, however, know and that is that true Christians are but a “little flock”, to use our Lord’s expression (Lu.12:32). Now, there are other open doors which were closed for centuries. We must “exploit” these unprecedented possibilities and walk in the good works that God has prepared for us. Christian TV programs are all over the world. Spiritual messages by e-mail and Christian sites on the web increase without ceasing. The responses in the form of letters and phone calls come in by the millions. They all ask for Bibles. Time is irreplaceable. We must become good managers of our time and of our talents. We must understand the urgency of our times before it is too late. The night will come and then no one can work.
Who is a true missionary
The word “apostle” means “one sent out”, which comes from the Greek verb apostello, which means “send out”. And the word “missionary” means also “sent out” and comes from the Latin verb “mitto”, which means “send”. Since Christ died for all for their salvation, all must hear the “good news” of salvation from those who are sent out by God and who are called to proclaim the gospel.
Every person who accepts the lordship of Christ in his life becomes a member of His true universal church and is a ‘missionary’. The true Christian church, irrespective of local churches and numerous denominations, has nothing to do with denominations and geographical boundaries. Our Lord Jesus was neither Catholic nor Orthodox nor Protestant etc.! He was and is the Savior of the world! Each and every true Christian must reach out to the unconverted and win people to Christ. “… lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” (Joh.4:35) is the Master’s command!
Being a TRUE worker of God (missionary, a priest or a pastor) is a hard job: They watch for our souls as they must give account to God… (Heb.13:17) and “… in all things approving themselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses” (2Cor.6:4). Of course, God equips His servants with gifts, administrations and operations: “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers” (Eph.4:11). “A man should only enter the Christian ministry if he cannot stay out of it”, someone said.
The Word of God says of His servants: “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away…” (1Pe.5:2-5). This is the reason why we are called to “… to respect those who work among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake.” (1Thes.5:12-13).
The tools of ministry are the preaching of the Word publicly and prayer, but it is more effective to speak it privately – one to one – to a particular person. The best, however, tool for reaching out people is true Christian character (personal holiness) and the worst is careless living. No use to be successful by the world’s standards but lack in practical Christian life. The work of God is badly in need of people who are obsessed with love for the truth and that cannot be bought… who live by conviction and not by convenience. Missionaries, pastors and priests are supposed to serve the Lord! But who truly serves the Lord? The Bible replies: “My eyes shall be on the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me; he who walks in a perfect way, he shall serve me. He who works deceit shall not dwell within my house; he who tells lies shall not continue in my presence” (Ps.101:6-7). This is the type of person that God wants to have in His house and serve Him. God’s eyes are upon faithful persons – whether church leaders or faithful members of the church – who are upright followers of God, who live a life of strict integrity, who fear the LORD, who walk in the law of the LORD, who seek Him with the whole heart, who walk in His ways (Ps.119:1-3). Yes, persons who are not peddling the Word of God, but as of sincerity, but as from God, they speak in the sight of God in Christ (2Cor.2:17); who do not walk in craftiness nor handling the Word of God deceitfully (2Cor.4:2); who swear to their own hurt and do not change (Ps.15:4). It is they that become God’s faithful stewards to whom He may entrust the implementation of his plans; He will honor them (Joh.12:26) and they will dwell within His house (Joh.17:24; Re.21:3)
So, it is faithfulness that counts. Though a man may possess talents of a high order, yet if he is not devoted to fidelity and integrity, he will never rightly execute God’s will. And as it is written, “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (1Cor.4:2). In reality, God uses trustworthy people… and promotes them to places of honor and trust, bestows blessings upon them, protects and defends them, and preserves them from perishing. He chooses servants rather by their piety than by their cleverness. Such servants dwell with Him and He in them. The expression ‘he who walks in perfect way, he shall serve me’ does not mean ‘sinless perfection’. It means sincerity, spiritual transparency and, above all, love for God’s truth… and not of their denomination! Flatterers, sycophants, supplanters, deceivers, liars, people who have only a form of godliness shall not dwell within God’s house and shall not continue in His presence.
How beautifully the Holy Spirit expresses the same idea in Isaiah: “He that walks righteously, and speaks uprightly; he that despises the gain of oppressions, that shakes his hands from holding of bribes, that stops his ears from hearing of blood, and shuts his eyes from seeing evil; he shall dwell on high…” (33:15-16)
Let me repeat and say that being a true Christian laborer is one of the most difficult and the hardest “professions”.
First, it demands an absolute devotion to the Lord. I say devotion to the Lord. Devotion to his ministry is the result of his devotion and confidence to the Lord. Unfortunately, many sincere people are devoted to their task and not to the Lord and this is why they are discouraged when things go wrong or when they suffer hardships or when they are criticized etc… He who is devoted to the Lord Jesus is never discouraged and never resigns from his tasks.
Second, because the missionary or the pastor has no administrative authority over the people. He cannot give them orders. Their faithful presence and adherence to the Church of Christ depend on their free will and their choice. People one day shout “Hosanna” and the next day “crucify him”. One day they come to church and the next day they may leave it.
Third, because being a true Christian worker requires love not only for God and trust in Him, but also love for people who are not worthy to be loved. It demands stability of character, discernment, tact, zeal, and many other qualifications, among which is leadership, which is the capacity to trace a trail, to enable others to become leaders and to leave a path for others.
Fourth, being a missionary or a pastor means endless hours of work, no regular time schedule, and endless hours of studying, writing and learning one or more languages.
Last but not least, it means persecutions; it means honor and dishonor; evil report and good report (2Cor.6:8); it means being submitted to critics; it means very often poverty; it means working in faith without seeing any tangible results for years and years; it means for many of them working without a pension in old age; it means living under unhealthy conditions, eating detestable things etc. Above all, it means that God’s worker is a permanent target of Satan from almost all sides. He needs, therefore, to have much patience, purity, kindness as well as the authority and power of the Holy Spirit, sincere love and be filled with the knowledge of the Word of truth.
Let us thank the Lord Jesus Christ who has given His Church such men devoted to Him and to His redemptive work. Let us thank Him because He has given His Church men and women who do not seek their own glory and their own interest but seek God’s glory and God’s will! Let us thank the Lord Jesus who has promised us that in spite of the adversities of life and our weaknesses: “…and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age”.
What should be the true Christian’s message
True servants of God should not preach their own words and reflections but they should preach Christ crucified and raised from the dead (Ac.8:5, 35; 1Cor.2:2): “… he whom God has sent speaks the words of God…” (Joh.3:34 and 1Pe.4:11), not with enticing words of man’s wisdom (1Cor.1:17; 2:1, 4) and not setting forth themselves (2Cor.4:5). They should preach repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ (Ac.20:21), always and everywhere (Mrk.16:20; Ac.8:4), without reserve (Ac.5:20; 20:20,27; Rom.15:19) and behaving without deceitfulness and flattering words (2Cor.2:17; 4:2; 1Th.2:3, 5). Their messages should be given with boldness (Isa.58:1; Eze.2:6; Mt.10:27,28) – I do not mean by screaming and gesticulating etc. – with plainness of speech (2Cor.3:12), with zeal (1Th.2:8), with constancy (Ac.6:4; 2Ti.4:2), with consistency (2Cor.1:18,19), with heedfulness (1Ti.4:16), with good will and love (Php.1:15-17), with faithfulness (Eze.3:17, 18) and without charge, if possible (1Cor.9:18; 1Th.2:9).
Bad spiritual workers
There are sincere “apostles”, but who are not spiritually minded. There are others who have become missionaries or priests or pastors just because they have made a wrong choice of profession but do not want to change. They become, therefore, bad shepherds, ‘feeding themselves’ (Eze.34:10; Jude 1:12). Some of them become also false prophets: They preach peace while there is no peace and/or use clever jokes in order to invite people’s attention and praises. And what should we say for such “apostles” who are lovers of money and make fortunes? Others pretend to be busy but are lazy, without a burden for those heading toward Hell! And what should we say about “sissy” pastors, men-pleasers, not fearing God and about others who are involved in financial and moral problems? Others, either because of their character or because of their denominations, remove freedom of word from the members of their church or prohibit the dialogue, transforming the church into a one-way street. Some of them do not pay attention to the nagging of their conscience and do not accept criticism. They avoid systematically confrontation. Of course, it is hard to accept criticism without resentment. Those who accept criticism and admit their errors or mistakes prove maturity and wisdom.
Let us remind ourselves, for example, what has happened with some famous tele-evangelists and/or miracle-makers who were accused of financial and moral problems. During the days of the OT prophets, of our Lord Jesus Christ and of Paul, bad workers existed. Nowadays, they do not exist anymore…!!! Today, we call them “weak believers” … May God have mercy on us! They are people who have never heard the call of God for such a ministry. They are and remain as missionaries or pastors just because they have finished a Theological Faculty or Seminary. They have never been guided by God but they are guided by their own will; they have neither surrendered to God nor paid attention to God’s providence. Their ministry is just a career or a profession. Other ‘professionals’ have chosen and appointed them… Some of them pretend living by faith but apart from a regular ‘unofficial’ salary, they draw money from different financial sources, which we cannot even imagine. Some of them are “dogs”, “evil workers … enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things” (Php.3:2; 18-19), who by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple” (Rom.16:18).
Generally speaking, Christian spiritual workers belong to their ecclesiastic denominational authorities, work under their auspices and depend financially on them. They are bound by their denominational doctrines; they are, however, afraid to preach the pure truth when someday their denominational “scales” fall from their eyes and receive their sight to see the pure Biblical truth (Ac.9:18). Others do not dare reprove certain members of their church or fellow workers who walk disorderly because they are afraid to be falsely accused and be excluded of their posts.
A little time after my conversion to Christ from atheism, a priest tried to convince me that my new convictions were not dogmatically correct. After many and long discussions, he admitted that my Biblical arguments were cogent. When I asked him why he did not preach them he answered that, if he began preaching them he would be thrown out of his post! I was deeply sorry of his answer. He did not, however, tell me what account he would give before the Judgment Seat of Christ…
When some spiritual workers do not agree anymore with the denominational positions or dictatorial policies of the ecclesiastical authorities to which they belong, they are either rejected or they reject them. Then they become independent spiritual workers. They prefer to be in the ‘opposition’ rather than to be “yes men”. Some of them, in spite of the difficulties, such as the financing of their ministry, loneliness, difficulty to secure the co-operation of churches etc., they have been greatly used by the Lord. Independent or non-professional workers are usually obliged to live by faith! Living by faith means that they trust completely in God for their survival and ministry. But, as someone said: “God’s way will not lack God’s supply”. They accept this spiritual reality and cast all their care upon God, for He cares for them and for their ministry which is God’s (1Pe.5:7). Of course, some of those independent workers are spiritual ‘demagogues’ and can become very rich!
What and how Christians should witness or preach
As it has already been said, all true Christians must give their testimonies and all Christian workers must do evangelistic sermons. God means to make us soul-winners, whatever the gift we have received from God is! It is written, “…Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Mt.4:19) And, “… be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2Ti.4:5). He who says that, “I am not a professional evangelist, or he who says that, “I am a businessman and it is not my job to try to reach out to souls”, etc., I can assure you that he has lost his way; he has lost his zeal and sooner or later he is going to hear, “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place——unless you repent” (Re.2:5)
Evangelistic preaching must boldly attack sin but not sinners. It is written, “Cry aloud, spare not; lift up your voice like a trumpet; tell My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins” (Isa.58:1). Only the grace of God can save, but grace saves only convicted, repented, confessed and changed sinners. We are called to preach the full Gospel and teach people to observe all things that Jesus has commanded us!
To speak or to preach on faith and God’s love is a marvellous thing. To proclaim the love of God and God’s free salvation is something commendable! Not to explain, nevertheless, or not give a description of what man is saved from is a very dangerous thing when one does not make a mention – for example – of Hell, of eternal condemnation or perdition, of God’s wrath or nothing about the fact that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb.10:31). The Church must be protected from such false teaching but also from false comfort…
Certain preachers when they preach on John 3:16 or make reference to this verse or to other similar verses (Jean 3:18; 3:36; 5:24; 6:54 etc.), they put the accent on the love of God and man’s faith but they avoid systematically to describe what the word “perish” means and what the word “salvation” actually means and implies: Not only freedom from the guilt of sin but also from the power of sin! They avoid mentioning the verse, “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (Joh.3:36). They avoid speaking on the wrath of God. Such Gospel is not “The Full Gospel”! It is a lame Gospel, a handicapped Gospel! The words or expressions such as “eternal shame”, “eternal fire”, “the wrath of God”, “everlasting punishment”, “gehenna of the fire”, perdition of ungodly men”, “the second death”, “the lake of fire” etc. are not even mentioned… And God’s fear disappears… But these words did go out from the mouth of our Lord and of His prophets and of His apostles… who were not trying to be agreeable to their audiences but were trying to save those who were listening to them!
They say that they preach the Full Gospel but they do not, because they give exhortations, consolations but never warnings. That is false comfort! He who loves warns! Parents that do not warn their children do not love them! In the same way, God’s workers who do not warn unbelievers and even believers concerning the consequences of their indifference, disobedience or even of their lukewarmness do not love them! He who loves warns… The Spirit of God said through Jeremiah the prophet, “But if they (that is my prophets, my pastors and missionaries) had stood in my council, then they would have caused my people to hear MY WORDS, and they would have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings” (Jer.23:22).
Somebody may say, “An itinerant evangelist can do that, but a ‘pastor’ cannot, because certain people might get mad, quit giving money and leave the Church.” So what? Let God’s worker do his duty and God is responsible for the rest. This is, however, the only way to revive believers and bring to life dead souls. All those who want to live a pious life, who preach the Word of God and are instant in season and out of season (2Ti.4:2) will be persecuted. The Church of God does not need soft-speakers, who never hurt anybody’s feelings, never offend anybody, who never cross anybody but who very rarely awaken a believer and rarely save an unbeliever! Preachers ought to preach the kind of preaching that will make people sleepless at night. They must not give them false hope, consolation and security.
- Some preachers insist so much on the Old Testament that one wonders if he is in a Christian Church or in a Hebrew synagogue! The only difference is that they mention the name of Jesus Christ in their starting and their closing prayers or if they do it at the end of their preaching, one wonders if that call to salvation had anything to do with their message! Jesus Christ must be, directly or indirectly, the centerpiece of any preaching, whether in the OT or the NT or both.
- In certain cases, the Christian ministry is done in the power of the flesh and not in the power of God, because, like Nadab and Abihu, certain people try to reach out to people with strange fire, that is, with common fire, not divinely kindled (Lev.10:1-2): Sociology, psychology, human reflections, soft-speaking, peace-at-any-price, modernized reach-out methods accompanied by … a lot of decibels … draw people in vast numbers, but can such “artifice” really save souls?
Soul winning is not a matter of talent or of schools
Soul winning is not a matter of talent. It is not a matter of schools and literature to become true soul-winners! It is a matter of faithfulness and obedience to the Great Commission. It is a matter of obedience to the Lord’s commandment: “…As my Father has sent Me, I also send you” (Joh.20:21). It is a matter of broken heart over sinners like our Lord who came “to seek and save the lost” (Lu.19:10). Soul-winners forget themselves and with the power of the Spirit go after sinners. They simply preach the Word and are ready to pass it to others “…in season and out of season…” (2Ti.4:2). Christians know that they cannot bring all the lost to Christ because “… wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it” (Mt.7:13).
Let us add here another point of great importance: Just as soul-winning is not a question of talent or studies, in the same way it does not depend on good leaders of churches! Let there be no misunderstanding! Great and in many aspects is the value of good leaders but what counts is the obedience of the members of the church to the GREAT LEADER of the church who is THE HOLY SPIRIT! There is a revealing verse that says: “The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands” (Pr.30:27). Just as the locusts are guided by their instinct… so are the Christians that they are not in need to be guided by men kings/leaders but by the Holy Spirit that guides them as if it were their ‘spiritual instinct’…
Here is what you and I can do to evangelize more souls for Christ:
- We can PRAY for the work of evangelization. We can do nothing without Jesus Christ, our Savior! However, the spiritual success is, of course, impossible without any efforts from the part of the believer and without, parallelly God’s approval and intervention. We plant and water but it is God who makes things grow (1Cor.3:7-8). Let us pray concretely and in a regular and permanent way so that the Holy Spirit will destroy the work of the Devil and his resistance but as well as our inertia, that sincere workers will be raised, that the wind of a spiritual revival may blow on the multitudes. Let God’s work become the object of both our collective and individual prayers in a regular and permanent way.
- We can – at least some of us – get engaged directly or indirectly in God’s work. Our ministry of evangelism will be to present Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit so that every man can put his trust in Him as a Savior and serve him as his Lord. “Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Mt.9:38). Someone said, “God doesn’t want your ability, He wants your availability.” Our prayers, finances and love can help us wake up those who do not know the Lord. Money is necessary but it is not the ‘sine qua non’. In spiritual warfare, money is not enough. Prayer is our most powerful currency.
God has asked us to bear fruit, much fruit, and fruit that remain; so we shall be His disciples (Joh.15:8, 16). Today God is asking us: “…Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” If, my brother, you hear his voice do not harden your heart. Accept His calling. Tell Him, Here am I. Send me!” (Isa.6:8). And let us not forget that His yoke is easy and His burden is light! Also, let us not forget that the One who calls you is faithful and He will do it (1Th.5:24). Let us choose the right priorities. Let His will and His Kingdom take the first place and then everything else will fall into its place and God will take care of everything. Great will be our reward! Let the Great Commission that you and I have received from Christ, the need of this sinful and perishing world, the lack of faithful workers, and the compassion of our heart for those perishing become the driving force of our life. What we need, then, is to repent, confess our sins and forsake them, until we are anointed from Heaven. Then the Word of God will be in our hearts and the fruit of our ministry will be sure and certain! When you and I keep our hands steadily lifted up to the Lord on the top of the hill of prayer, we will become victors and our enemy will be discomfited (Ex.17:12-13). Amen.