Does this look familiar? Click on the comment link in any posting and leave us some feedback- we'd love to hear from you!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Is Your Church the Right Church?- Part IV

4. Is evangelism a requirement?

Does your church or faith instruct you to tell others about Christ? We see in Matthew 28:18-20 (called the Great Commission) that Christ left instructions for his followers to go out into the world and give others the good news (gospel) so that they might be saved. We also see in 2 Timothy 4:5 that it is important to evangelize at all times. Here are scriptures about the importance of evangelism:

"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 always, even unto the end of the world. Amen." Matthew 28:18-20

"Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things." Luke 24:45-48

"But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." Acts 1:8

"How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!" Romans 10:14-15

"I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." 2 Timothy 4:1-4

Now, I have heard the argument that Jesus was speaking only to the disciples present at the time of his ascention when he gave the great commission, and it therefore does not apply to us. I also visited a museum of sorts built by a religious group to chronicle their history, and when I asked the docent why they did not evangelize, he said that they felt the commands to do so were not directed to people of our time but rather the church founders, and that current followers' lives are to be witness to the world today rather than proseletizing.

First, if we are going to say that the commands were given to those who were present with Christ and no one after, how can we say the Bible is for us at all? Nowhere is there a specific section written for their Christians of the 20th century and following. If God preserved his words for us, it is our book as well. Jesus quoted scripture written long before his birth, and yet they were not mentioned as the scriptures given to those of old that we can no longer live by. He said instead that the scriptures would stand forever. Why would they stand forever if not applicable forever and to everyone?

Secondly, even if you can make a convincing argument that the Greek pronouns used in the Great Commission meant "you guys" as in the specific group standing before Him, how would we have knowledge of His power over sin (which He said repeatedly was for ALL who would believe) if it were not for evangelism? The church fathers died long before we would have heard the message. And for us in America, there were not people from this part of the world present at his instruction. If it were not for evangelists, or missionaries, the Word would not have been brought to the new world.

Lastly, what kind of faith is it that would be content with personal security and allow the rest of the world to perish? How can you decide it is enough that you have found the truth and not want to share it with others? How selfish! And Christ said that we ought to love our neighbor as ourselves. How much do you love your neighbor if you do not give him the best news ever? We talk to our neighbors about the weather forecast, a proposed tax increase, a wild animal spotted in the neighborhood, or any number of other important bits of information in order to allow them to protect their family. Is not hell the greatest threat ever? It is eternal. I know it is more important even than warning of an escaped convict in the area, because the convict can only kill the body. The soul is forever.

Generally those who do not evangelize do so with many excuses, most of which are a cover for the fact that they are afraid. People worry about what others think of them and how it will damage their reputations or chances at a promotion or whatever temporal things they value most. Yet these are not to be our priorities. Here are warnings to those who feel 'secret salvation' is OK:

"Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." Matthew 22:37-39

"I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth." Revelations 3:15-16

"He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked." 1 John 2:6

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

"And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." Matthew 10:28

"For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels." Luke 9:26

"But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven." Matthew 10:33

"Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began" 2 Timothy 1:8-9

"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." Romans 1:16

"For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God." John 12:43

"For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ." Galatians 1:10

No comments: