In recent days, the events of our Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the USA should tell everyone of us who claim to be Christian that we must not remain silent. Now your first thought would rightly be that we must not remain silent and must act in defense of marriage, speak out against abortion, reason with the populace about euthanasia, lying politicians, immoral television programs, etc. Yes, we must: But the only way to really change the moral climate of our country and world is to get people to believe in Jesus Christ. To pray, study and witness until we see new souls find Jesus who will change their hearts, minds and actions. Only Jesus can change the sinful heart and sinful mind. Only his love can help us to really love God the Father, to really love ourselves and to be able to live with self respect and then to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Yes, we must get involved with politics--But first and foremost, we must get involved in EVANGELISM. We must live missional lives. We must tell people the good news of the gospel. Note five things that should spur us to action.
1. CHRIST HAS GIVEN A CLEAR COMMAND TO EVERY CHRISTIAN.
Jesus Christ’s final command to the Christian community was, “You are to go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere.” (Mark 16:15 TLB)
We are under attack by a society that is becoming more and more antichrist. We are living in the last days. Days when even the very elect will be deceived. Notice how many churches are jumping on the bandwagon for gay marriage, for abortion, that make excuses for members who sin… Alcoholism and drug addiction are epidemic. Relativism and toleration of almost anything has become a commandment of a percentage of our population. Our society is filled with domestic violence, divorce, murder, lying, sexual anarchy and on and on… Only Jesus can do what we can not do. We must pray and prepare and preach the gospel.
2. MEN AND WOMEN ARE LOST WITHOUT JESUS CHRIST.
Jesus Christ is the only way to bridge the gap between man and God. Without Him, people cannot know God, and have no hope of eternal life. “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well…’”(John 14:6-7a NIV)
There has been a liberal and Jewish outcry against the Mel Gibson movie that will be released on Ash Wednesday, “The Passion Of The Christ.” One university had a seminar on the movie, led by several professors who had never seen the movie. I have read several articles that criticize the movie as being anti-Semitic and elitist by those who have not yet seen the movie. They say it shows that the Jews crucified Jesus and leads to anti-Semitism. The reviews that I have read by those who have seen the premier showings of the film said the audience was in tears because the film shows that all of us killed Jesus. He shed his blood for every human. The word Christian implies that we believe in Jesus Christ as the only Messiah, the Lord, the Son of God, the Redeemer, Savior… Without him there is no salvation from sin. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”(Acts 4:12 NIV) More and more people do not know the real Jesus. How many even know real, loving, informed Christians? The old saying is true…”We may be the only Bible some sinners ever read.” All people need a relationship with Jesus Christ. Far too many sinners want their own way and not Jesus the Way. Without Jesus they are dead in their sin.
3. SOME SAY THAT THE GOSPEL IS IRRELAVENT AND OUT OF DATE AND THAT PEOPLE ARE NOT INTERESTED: BUT THE WORLD IS STARVING FOR SOMETHING THAT WILL SATISFY THEIR HEART’S DEEPEST NEED. THEY NEED JESUS’ PEACE.
We cannot assume that any family member, neighbor, coworker, or person we have met is not interested in the good news that can set them free. “Jesus said, “Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest?’ I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.”(John 4:35 NIV) Every non-Christian has a God shaped vacuum or space in their heart.
(Illustration: Look at the events in the Mid-East, in Israel, and all around the world. Read the Bible prophecies and you will know that we are living in the last days and that we must share the gospel before it is too late. One day we must give God an account of our lives.)
People are finding Jesus and lives continue to be changed. Can we pray that God will help us to help someone find Jesus and add their name to the long list of those that testify that Jesus saves?
4. WE WHO ARE CHRISTIANS HAVE IN OUR POSSESSION THE GREATEST GIFT AVAILABLE TO HUMANKIND.
If our faith in Jesus really means as much to us as it should, then our faith should be the number one message on our lips. We can say with the Apostle Paul, “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”(Colossians 1:13-14 NIV) Salvation is free to everyone who prays the prayer of faith and believes that Jesus is the Christ.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”(Romans 6:23 NIV)
If you had the mythical Fountain of Youth on your property, would you keep it only for yourself? If you had a pill that would cure cancer, would you save it only for your church family? If you had a cure for AIDS would you use it only for the persons who contracted it through blood transfusions or birth and refuse to give it to those who got it through homosexual sexual relations, heterosexual relations and dirty drug needles? God gives us the good news of the gospel to share with all.
I have pastored people who devoted their lives to selling a product that they thought was excellent. They talked about the product endlessly. Jesus’ way is the most excellent. Are we devoted to him to share about him again and again and again? If we love him we will feed his sheep.
5. THE LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST FOR US AND OUR LOVE FOR HIM COMPELS US TO SHARE HIM WITH OTHERS.
We must love the sinner and hate the sin. Sound hard? Well, love is a choice. At times it is really hard to love our fellow Christians in the church.(Turn to the person sitting beside you and tell them, “At times you are really hard to love; but I choose to love you regardless.”) How much harder is it to love certain sinners? When we realize that Jesus died for our sins and that we were just as lost as the lost person that we know, we will develop a new love for the lost. When we pray, “Forgive us our sins/trespasses/debts as we forgive those who sin/trespass/are indebted to us…” we will have a new love and compassion and patience with those about us in the church and in the world who sin and do not know our Lord. Our church needs more sinners! Sinners we can show Jesus.
“Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”(John 14:21 NIV)
Most of us are frustrated with the lack of courage of our state’s lawmakers and the indifference of our neighbors when faced with the sins of society and of themselves. It is good to be concerned and we must take political action. But the first calling of the church, the last command of Jesus, is to take the gospel to everyone. Jesus can do what we can not do. May His Kingdom come! May God help us to do our part to bring souls to his Kingdom.
(Ron Keller 2/15/04)
(Sermon idea adapted from “Witnessing Without Fear”)