(*Note: Belated Post )
Opening Thoughts: The other day myself and family were at a baptism at the beach with the church we are part of. I love baptisms they are such an amazing testament of God’s saving power. It’s actually quite an amazing thing that as a church we are able to gather and talk about the Glory of Christ in public. Just today I read a post of 15 church leaders in China that were arrested while worshiping together.
“On June 9 more than 30 house church leaders were arrested while gathering in a house church in Langzhong city, Sichuan province. Thirteen leaders were given 15 days of administrative detention, and five of the leaders were placed under criminal detention. The other leaders were released…..” (see the rest of the story)
I think sometimes it’s hard for us who have so much freedom to actually imagine what that looks like. Say you are at your “community group” pouring out your heart to your brothers and sisters, then ‘wham’, dozens of police smash through your door and arrest you all. Nothing you can say will convince them to let you go. There is a possibility you could get 3 years in the ‘pen’ just for being involved in a Christian community group (cell group, care group, home group, whatever you call it at your church).
Are we not just a little pampered here? Does that not make our lame excuses about not sharing the gospel look a tad bit feeble? Truth is, I’m the first in line to admit my guilt. Sure I share the gospel with people, but is my heart of devotion that strong? I mean it’s really easy to say you would walk into the furnace when there isn’t one anywhere around. It’s a lot more difficult when you’re looking at one with it’s doors open and flames blasting. I know if I lived in China I likely wouldn’t attend a baptism at the beach, let alone the courage it would take to attend a home group. I think we need to take a close look at the freedom deprived nations and observe how the believers live. They eat, sleep and breathe the Gospel and are ready at any moment to give an account.
Sharing with a Gospel Hardened Nation:
There is so much confusion of what it means to be a Christian within the ranks of the Christian church that people have become gospel hardened. There are so many “gospels” being preached that are void of God’s law, sin, hell, and repentance followed by faith and trust that people have become not only gospel hardened but also gospel ignorant. Our worldly culture usually knows one of two things from the church; “Turn or burn” or “God has a wonderful plan for your life”. Fear of burning isn’t the gospel and prosperity & wealth certainly isn’t it either.
We must take the time to draw people into the conversation and show them how they have violated God’s law, which all people have (Romans 3:23). As the evidence is stacked up against them it’s crucial that we gracefully reveal what the penalty is for their crimes against a holy God. Finally we soak them with the Gospel of grace and mercy.
On many such witnessing encounters I have heard people respond, “I have never heard it like that before”. They never understood that God is amazing and good for actually providing a way so we do not have to get what justice demands. A good judge will make sure all guilty party’s are brought to justice, and so will God. All guilty sinners will be cast into hell for eternity because He is good, and because God could never dismiss a criminal’s case on the day of judgment He sent His perfect Son and unleashed all His just wrath upon Him in our place. All of God’s anger (not rage) was placed upon Jesus for you and for me, and because He did this any criminal is able to place his or her hope in Christ and trust in the finished work of the cross. In this way God remains perfectly just and all forgiving at the same time.
Understanding your guilt is the first step towards saving faith. Repentance (changing your mind about sin) is the second, and placing all your redemptive hope in Christ alone is the third. This is the way we must share the Gospel dear friends. Think about it, if you were dying you surely wouldn’t want the doctor to beat around the bush to ease the blow. You would want it straight so that you could get right down to your treatment options. I don’t want my doctor raking my yard for a week before he tells me the truth, why should the church be any different? People are dying every single day to the tune of 150,000 and we haven’t a clue when God closes the door of their opportunity to repent, or should I say our opportunity to share.
Right now, while we have breath, Jesus stands with His arms stretched out. One hand is holding off God’s wrath and the other hand is motioning to come. On the appointed day when those two hands come down the calling relents and the wrath is released. Remember the story of the gardener in the Bible? The owner comes and says, “Chop it down, it has no fruit”, and the gardener pleads for another year. That’s what’s going on from the moment you are born until the moment you die. Time is short, let’s not let our fears hold us back from sharing the gospel with lost people.
Luke 13:33-35 ESV .. Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’ O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”
This is what Matthew Henry had to say about this text: “Those that enjoy great plenty of the means of grace, if they are not profited by them, are often prejudiced against them. They that would not hearken to the prophets, nor welcome those whom God had sent to them, killed them, and stoned them. If men’s corruptions are not conquered, they are provoked” ~ Matthew Henry
Exodus 10:27-29 ESV … But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let them go. Then Pharaoh said to him, “Get away from me; take care never to see my face again, for on the day you see my face you shall die.” Moses said, “As you say! I will not see your face again.”
I only want to look at one thing from both of these texts above, and that is where Jesus says, “You will not see me again“, and in the second text where Moses says, “I will not see your face again“. In both of these cases it was a final farewell before destruction. For the unbelieving Jews it was the time when the hand that called them would finally cease calling, and they would not see Christ again until He came in His glory and power. In the end they would see Him as He really is, but it would be too late. This was also Pharaoh’s last warning. There were 10 plagues/warnings in all, like the 10 commandments, from God calling for his repentance and surrender yet he would not. The final warning came with swift punishment and Moses never again saw the face of Pharaoh.
I have no idea who is going to read this blog post. What I do know is, like me, that you likely fall into one of two categories; a Christian who is too afraid to share the gospel straight up with unbelievers or a person who has never fully turned away from sin and placed all hope in Christ Jesus to save you on the day of justice.
If you are the first, there’s no time like now to get out there and share the Gospel. Truth is, your friends are dying and you have the cure. If you find yourself in the second category, the Bible says that today is the day of salvation. If you understand that you have broken God’s laws and you are indeed a criminal headed for His courtroom then what you must do is repent and lay down all your self-righteousness, and instead place all your hope in Christ Jesus. When we put our hope in Christ He absorbs our sin and penalty into His already finished work and attributes His perfect righteousness to us. It’s very good NEWS when a person can go from being GUILTY to NOT GUILTY in a moment of time. Today is the Day of Salvation. What are you waiting for?
Preparing the Way,