C.S. Lewis writes,
All our merely natural activities will be accepted if they are offered to God, even the humblest, and all of them, even the noblest, will be sinful if they are not. Sermon preached, October 1939, Learning in War-Time
The glory of God, and, as our only means of glorifying him, the salvation of the human soul, is the real business of life. Christianity and Culture, Christian Reflections.
For Christians, “the real business of life” is evangelism. Initially, one believer told an unbeliever what they had found in Christ. It was a part of the life of the believer to share his or her gift of truth with those without. As the church became transformed from an outcast faith into a state-recognized force, evangelism, became a lessening of a neighbor-telling-neighbor. Increasingly parents nurtured their children in the faith. Living in a Christian culture reinforced the nurture provided by parents.
For centuries, the assumption was that the children of believers would by nurture grow up to be Christians. The only evangelism was among the unreached people, and that was the work of the missionary.
This is no longer true.
From the time children leave home to go to school, many if not most of the believers’ children are lured away for the faith by education, the media and peers.
In today’s culture, the assumption that most Americans (or for that matter, those in Western Nations, the “Bastion” of Christianity) are Christians or at least have a basic knowledge of Christianity is false. For two generations, people have grown up unchurched and without basic Christian education. No longer do churches conduct tent revivals with sinners, treading the sawdust trail to be saved. We no longer experience desperate sinners darkening the doors of churches seeking deliverance. Churches rarely, if ever, have an evangelical sermon preached concluding in an altar call.
Believers in the face of a hostile culture do not want to participate in a programmatic evangelistic push.
The question is not what we want to do, but the imperative of our Savior.
But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion for them, because they were distressed and scattered, as sheep not having a shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest indeed is plenteous, but the laborers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send forth laborers into his harvest. (Matthew 9:36-38)
“Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh the harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white already unto harvest. He that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal; that he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.” (John 4:35-36)
“And Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
“Then opened he their mind, that they might understand the scriptures; and he said unto them, Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer, and rise again from the dead the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name unto all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. Ye are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I send forth the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city, until ye be clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:45-49)
“and, being assembled together with them, he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, said he, ye heard from me: for John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days hence. They therefore, when they were come together, asked him, saying, Lord, dost thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know times or seasons, which the Father hath set within his own authority. But ye shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:4-8)
This is truth:
Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. (Joshua 1:6-7)
Ye are witnesses of these things. And behold, I send forth the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city, until ye be clothed with power from on high. (Luke 24:48-49)
It is my understanding that the members of evangelical churches have surrendered their lives to Christ and are safe from the wrath of God against sin. Believers have been adopted into the family of God. We are secure through this life and into eternity. There we will be blessed with God’s love forever. What a fantastic and wonderful truth! This is a promise of God that cannot be broken. We among all people are greatly blessed.
These Promises are not ours to keep, but our Lord Jesus has given them to us to share. What an extraordinary privilege we have, to give to those who are destitute. They are as Paul described,
Wherefore remember, that once ye, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called Circumcision, in the flesh, made by hands; that ye were at that time separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world. (Ephesians 2:11-12)
People without Christ, have no experience of the love of God in their lives. They are unaware that they are doomed to an eternity of torment, separated from the love of God. What they do not know will hurt them not only greatly, but eternally.
Our love for our Father should impel us to share the wonderful news of Jesus’ offer to all. Our desire to obey our Master’s voice should motivate us to witness to God’s glorious offer to trade a tattered and terminal life for a life of joy in Christ that is eternal and incorruptible.
I propose every church develop a program of Evangelical Outreach, seeking to reach beyond our comfort zone of the people within our frame of reference.
Jesus said that his Disciples, who lived with him and soaked up his teachings, did not have what it takes to do the work of the ministry. What they lacked was the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
Too many churches lack the power of the Holy Spirit. We are caught in the interim between salvation and the empowerment to share the wonderful gift we have received.
We need to build into our congregations the culture of openness to the Holy Spirit’s power for personal evangelism and organizational evangelism. It begins with an emphasis from the pulpit that Jesus has charged all of us, who are sons and daughters of Almighty God, to share the Gospel with the destitute and to receive the empowerment of the Spirit to do so.
I propose a sermon series on Evangelism (4-6 weeks)
I propose in addition a series of classes in Evangelism to Individuals
I call upon the leaders of the churches to become proactive to determine the type of outreach evangelism and commit to it. Start with promotion from the pulpit, in newsletters and leaders personally promoting it among the membership. While it may be headed by anyone in the church, the effort must be approved and promoted by and involvement of the leadership.
Let’s share the joy of salvation through the blood of Jesus, and the assurance of an eternity in the holy presence of our Lord!