God sent people (prophets) to proclaim the gospel and today He still sends people to proclaim the gospel (missionaries) today and spread God’s Word.
Evangelism! That is what it is all about. Spreading the message of Jesus Christ to allow the Holy Spirit to work in the heart and soul of unbelievers and gentiles so that they may turn their hearts to God. We are commanded by God to go out and lead those people to Him. Matthew 28: 18-20 is that command. The Great Commission. Jesus Christ says “All authority both in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.”
There are steps to evangelism. First though, let me talk about gifts. When we turn to Jesus and submit our lives to Him and invite Jesus into our hearts, we are given gifts – gifts to help build and advance the Body of Christ. Not everyone is given the same gift. One of those gifts may be evangelism. We are all commanded to evangelize through either words or actions or lifestyle but those given the gift are going to be more effective and should use that gift.
I talked about steps earlier so lets look at the first one, which is to be sent. Again, we are all sent but some will be more effective. That is not a bad thing at all. Some have that ability and some don’t. Second, we must hear the word of God. If one does not hear it then how can they believe and what do they believe. Third, we must preach the Word of God to others so that they may hear it and believe it. If we do not believe then how can we preach what we do not believe. Fourth, we must believe. Fifth, we must call on the name of the Lord for His strength to advance His kingdom.
An important part of evangelism is repentance. Repentance is the heart of Christian faith. The result of repentance is a changed heart. A changed heart is not a silent heart. If it is there are consequences – eternal consequences. The gospel story MUST be spoken; the gospel story must be heard for no one is saved apart from the gospel.
God forms faith from hearing the gospel. Psalm 19 tells us that the “heavens proclaim the glory of God and the skies proclaim the works of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech and night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language were the voice of God is not heard. It goes out to all the earth, even to the ends of the world.”
For those that do believe and have faith in Jesus Christ comes salvation. One could argue that salvation is unfair but it is in our favor. If we accept Him into our hearts we are saved and granted eternal life. So God’s self-revelation leaves the unrepentant without excuse. God’s call of salvation is humbling and we must look for opportunities to spread God’s word.
We all are going to be judged sometime but God’s wrath is also going to be revealed sometime. The mystery is we do not know when it is coming. Nobody knows when it is coming. God’s judgement is based on truth. It is punitive and sent as a warning to sinners. His wrath is inflicting and intended as punishment. Even believers will be judged evaluating how we used our new found freedom to do God’s work. We are God’s hands and feet. How did we use them to bring the Good News to the masses.
It is not the judgement of God that leads us to repentance; it is the kindness of God. We are not in a position to judge. When we judge we are setting ourselves up as a higher authority, as God. If it is change we seek by judging, that is the wrong way of going about it. Some think they are doing good works. It is not persistence in doing good works but persistence in prayer that brings about change. Prayer puts us in Gods presence. We begin to hear and understand God’s law. It is not just hearing His law but obeying His law. There is only one man that perfectly obeyed God’s law. That man is Jesus Christ. He is the only man to have accomplished that feat. God did not favor Jesus Christ because He has no favorites. He was sent to accomplish a mission and He did.
We all sin and will perish if we are apart from Jesus Christ. It means that there is a true urgency about accepting and believing in Jesus Christ. God wants us not to turn our backs to Him but to turn back to Him. He wants our hearts to turn to Him. For it is only those with a new heart that are counted as righteous. If our heart has not turned to Him, then what is stopping us? It has eternal consequences!
Showing up is a reflection of character. It is more than ones presence or being physically there. It is being accountable to a higher standard. It is rectifying a wrong when you know that wrong is yours. It is part of integrity.
Showing up also plays a role in love and relationships. Sincere love for the Lord leads to sincere love for others. It makes love interactive. Interactive love is actively choosing and loving and doing it sincerely. Sincere love selflessly serves others, transforms minds and changes hearts. It sacrafically serves others. Sincere love for the Lord is seeking Him first and is welcoming others in.
Loving something other then Jesus is painful. One tolerates evil instead of hating evil. To not truly hate it is hurting others. We need to be devoted to one another and be joyful in hope. Hope in Jesus and everything else fades away. Being patient is not a means of controling other people. It is not a means of manipulating other people to get what you want. It is a steadfast hope built on the promises of God.
Following Jesus means that God can lead me somewhere that I have not planned.
Passionate proclamation of the Gospel brings God glory. God allows us to share in His work which is for His glory. Jesus’ work gives us new life; it is all God’s grace and we can do nothing to earn that new life because it is a gift from God given to us by the work of Jesus. New life – eternal life for those who believe. This is a gift for all, not just the one who believes in God and His son Jesus Christ but for the baker, the athlete, the criminal, etc…but your faith must be in Jesus, His son. We need to ask God to strengthen us in our journey for it is by grace that we have been saved (Eph 2:8-10).
Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and man. Passionate participation in God’s work gives Him the glory and specific prayer displays confidence in Him. Good clean living is not enough(Jn 14:6). We have many opportunities to turn to God and say “I do” but one day those opportunities of service to God and others will one day close. We must persevere in our journey.
When the Creator gave man the experience of thirst it is because water exists to fill that thirst. Thirst for the Living God. We are called to a life of sharing, prayer and service to God and others
As the body of Christ, we need to edify and accept one another. We need to let go and let God. In other words, we need to stop putting limitations on people and putting stumbling blocks in their path. We do this even though we may not know we are doing so. Instead, build each other up and let go. Do not hold each other back. Let God be God and do His thing and have His way with them. Letting God do the work is the most effective way of allowing a person to grow. Besides, God knows what He wants from each of us.
Encouragement is a powerful tool when it comes to growth and development. Encouragement, is used right, leads to motivation and a desire to plow ahead. Imagine what that could do to the Body of Christ. That is tremendous energy that can be used to strengthen and improve the Body. Loving a person and allowing and them to use their skills is allowing them to grow. Then, the converse is true as well. It is a sin to not let a person use their God-given skills and talents for the good of others. This point was made a little more than ten years ago when my wife asked me to have surgery to correct a neurological disorder that I have had all my life. My first response was no. The human body is a temple of God and to open it up and expose it to the outside world is to allow it to be infected by Satan. That was my thought at the time. The result of having the surgery is a blessing and I am glad I allowed the surgeon to use those skills. What it comes down to is that we work and allow others to work to please our neighbor.
Encouragement is an agent of sanctification and an agent of grace. When we become a Christian, we are young in faith and as maturation takes place through out our growth, others can see that growth in us. Self pursuit in any given area presents a barrier to santification. I have to ask myself ‘who do I live for other than God? Do I live for myself?’ The Christian life centers on strengthening others. This is moral unity. Living for God and others! It is a process – a life long process to become like Christ. This is also known as santification. It is our job to encourage one another in that life long process. If we reject what God has in store for us we become less responsive to God’s call for us. Rejecting someone that Christ accepts implies that we are superior to God and others. This is something we do not even want to think about doing! Romans 15:7
Romans 13:1-2 “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore, whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.”
Throughout history, God’s sovereignty establishes governing leaders. ALL governing authority is established by God. It is an absolute truth thru which His character comes. All human authority is morally culpable. We all have someone to whom we are accountable.
So why should we submit? If not, the cost of rebellion is greater! There are four reasons (for the purposes of this post) that are for consideration. First, it is not tied to any human rule. The authority of God establishes who we are and the purpose behind God’s platform. The platform of social media reflects upheaval of society, going on in the world today. Second, it is not predicated upon any human authority. God’s authority is internal and individual. It changes everything, that is it changes hearts – the human heart. It requires a response. Human authority on the otherhand is external and temporal. It is created for the good of the masses. It requires not a response but causes a reaction. Third, death – usually a consequence of disobedience. God calls this sin. Lastly is capital punishment. Here on earth that is leathal injection or the electric chair or capital punishment. God’s capital punishment is eternal damnation.
Submission to authority honors God and conscience. It brings about a peace that this world cannot offer. This submission to God’s authority and sovereignty involves integrity. God’s sovereignty is reality. It is there for all to see but not everyone does. Instead, some take a stand that is against authority, whether it be God’s or man’s. A stand is a physical manifestation of an internal decision. Some of those stands happen on the wrong side of morality. This spirit of protest runs counter to the authority already established or in place and is wrong. It may be politically legal but it is morally wrong. It is an insult to God and His established creation.
If we take a look at history once again, we see that every empire, every society, regime, kingdom etc… has failed. This is in contrast to Jesus’ perfect and future reign.
Strife! A word you do not hear much – but it is a word and a topic that Paul thought it important enough to address here. Strife in relationship with other Christians. In a relationship it is an indication that the subject of whom one places their faith in has changed or been displaced. Someone else or something else sits on that throne. A changing of the guard, so to speak, has taken place and as a consequence is not as pronounced or as strong as the faith once was. In the one relationship that God holds dear, a marital relationship, it is so important that God be at the center of this union. One has let their guard down and allowed ‘outside influence’ to weaken them. Weak faith is a failure to justify the fact that faith is not a matter of justifying disputable practices or standards. It is a matter of not understanding the doctrine of grace.
Personal grace overcomes personal contempt or judgement. If we extend God’s grace over any disputable practices or standards then we allow God to be God and do His thing and what He does best. We see God work if we do not put limits on Him. We see Him break the very clutches of sin. God is the judge who puts us to task and gives us personal conviction and freedom. In relationships, when personal convictions become more important than being one or opinions differ and rub up against the other then we disparage the other’s knowledge and each other.
Jesus reconciled us to Him. We should do no less for one another. This is where we begin to understand the biblical doctrine of reconciliation and that with freedom comes personal responsibility. The Kingdom of God is made of peace, joy, and righteousness. Exercising responsibility magnifies God more then exercising freedom in Christ. Magnify God and not yourself.
Offenses demand justice and justice brings death. My sin requires justice. Your sin requires justice. In order for us to accepted by God we must be justified. God reconciles to himself those whom He has justified.
Every generation has its own quirks and characteristics. Never, in all of human history, has any generation found peace. Through out this history sin has always been available as an activity to engage in. It is a choice. Sin is a choice. It is intertwined and interwoven into the very fabric of our lives. Just look at the society and the culture of these days. Sin is rampant because Satan is on a “sin spree” In order to hold the view of “man is genuinely good” one has to marginalize their own sin. During the age of enlightenment, them prevailing thought was “why should we be blamed”. The otherside of that coin is that we all have the option to choose salvation.
If the imputed justice of Adam’s sin is unfair then is the imputed justice of God fair? “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out the desire of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”(John 8:44) “And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.”(1Tim 2:14) Sin always takes seed and is gestated in the mind.
Even though Adam was first I am still responsible for my sin. When I marginalize my sin I do an injustice to God. My life, your life came through God’s gift of grace. He is giving to us what is not deserved. Today, this grace is misused and abused. Even so, God is still extending His mercy and witholding what is deserved. All who receive God’s grace will have the gift of everlasting life. All those in God’s kingdom are justified. All who are in Adam are condemned. Sin is always outweighed by God’s grace just as sin always reigns in death. Life reigns in righteousness.
God reconciles sinners justified through Jesus Christ, bringing peace and salvation. Salvation is needed for reconciliation to happen and it is a tricky thing to understand the process. Everyone will be judged and declared righteous through faith in Jesus Christ.
Through Jesus I can find peace with God. Apart from God, my future is death. To have peace with God is to have access to life with Him. Billy Graham once said “Peace is joy resting and joy is peace dancing.”
Believing in Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, all the promises He makes in the Bible and many more reasons to be confident, is not a foolish hope. It is a portend to the future and eternal life. The human condition of living for self leaves one powerless and helpless. Jesus Christ, who experienced this human condition by coming to earth as fully God and fully man, went to the cross for us. The first step of reconciliation was taken by Jesus. Reconciliation involves restoration and relationship. God begins and ends this important phase of relationship with Him and with others. Through this process we learn three things – He is a living God, I am loved by God, I have a relationship with God.
Through Jesus, I can find salvation from God’s wrath. It is only through Jesus that my salvation is certain. If I do not accept the doctrine of reconciliation I will find it very hard to love others and forgive others. It is through Jesus Christ that I can find reconciliation with God.
God justifies anyone who receives and accepts by faith, the sacrifice of His son, Jesus Christ and the atonement of Him. That Jesus took our place by dying a death that belongs to us and died for the forgiveness of our sins. God is the living and the everlasting king. “But now, God has shown us a way…..right in His sight when they believe in Jesus.” (Rm 3:21-26)
This is the heart of the Christian journey. God rescues us from the clutches of sin and shows us a new way to live, free of sin. So how does one get right with God? One way is found in the Mosaic Law – the ten commandments. Living a life that is respectful of the law. We live a life that is righteous is the eyes of the law. The other is to accept Jesus Christ into your heart and life. We cannot give ourselves the title of being righteous. It is God who does when we accept Him (justification). So what is God’s definition of righteous? We act in accord with divine or moral law. Develop a relationship with Jesus Christ. When we do this we are justified. Righteousness and justification are closely linked.
God declares the justified as anyone who believes in Jesus Christ and believing is a declaration of your faith in Jesus Christ. It is important that we genuinely take that step of faith. God is just – the very one who justifies is the one who provided the atonement meant to be received by faith. He provided Christ to atone for my sin and for your sin.
How can one be justified by God on the basis of Jesus Christ and His blood? There is logic to this. If a man died on that cross on Calvary Hill instead of Jesus Christ, then man’s blood which was shed would not have been for all. His death was just a bloody mess. The death would have been useless because man was born into sin. Man would still be bound by the shackles of sin. Jesus Christ was born a virgin birth. He was born blameless without sin. So Jesus died a scapegoat who carried all of man’s sin to the cross – past, present and future.
Justification has two dimensions. The first is the legal basis for God’s verdict of justified. Receiving the verdict does not make man guiltless. Man is still a sinner because he was born into sin but the shackles of sin and the burden it imposes is broken. Man then is free from the excess weight that sin carries and is free to rejoice and praise and worship God without being held back by his sin. God’s holiness allows Him to forgive sin but He cannot look at sin. God declares one to be justified as they are cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ.
The second dimension is the efficacy of the verdict. Does it have the power or capacity to produce the desired effect and the ability to achieve results? Yes, it does! If it did not, such a verdict would be moot and be an exercise in futility. The purpose of justification is to allow sinners to gather in one place on Sunday. The church. The real purpose and goal is to build the church. To allow sinners to come together and build each other up and allow each other to use their gifts to aid in the spread of the Gospel. The sinner is not pardoned, not let go on condition and there is no double jeopardy. The sinner is set free from the burden of sin and free will allows him to go out and use that freedom as he wishes. God is just, in justifying those by faith that have accepted Him and believe that Jesus Christ is who He says He is. God is not sacrificing anything but is giving. He is giving freely. He is giving freely of His love, grace, freedom from the shackles of sin and much more.
If Jesus’ work on the cross alone – was enough for God – is it enough for me? Yes.