Grace For The Journey
I recently read about mission work being done in a Muslim country. The article was about an indigenous Christian who preached with passion at a church in the capital city. The author described the sense of spiritual energy and urgency that the believers had and about how the church was growing rapidly. This being evidenced even in the midst of great opposition. The week before Easter, some of the Christians were arrested for their faith. Many prayed for them. The next Sunday, Easter Sunday, they were released. You can imagine the elation and joy that vibrated through that church. But that wasn’t all – Having been arrested, thrown in jail, and persecuted for their faith, these Christians had witnessed to the other prisoners. And . . . they had brought some of the prisoners with them to the service.
As I read this marvelous account of what God is doing, I couldn’t help but think . . .
“Such is the way of the Lord.”
Just as in Paul’s day,
A prison is no barrier to the gospel.
And around the world faithful Christians are either at risk of prison or are preaching the gospel in one.
I also thought about us in the Western Hemisphere, who have not been persecuted for our faith. Yet, in the current climate we often live in some understandable fear of what the culture will do if we stand up for – or speak too loudly about – Jesus Christ.
As I read the article, I became fascinated by the evangelistic technique of these believers. I was eager to learn something from how they were doing evangelism. The young pastor of the church gave a rather simple response when he was asked what his method was. This is what he replied:
“I’ll tell you our method.
We tell them they are sinners
Until they believe it.
And then we tell them
That Christ died for sinners.”
Simple yes …
But extremely powerful
In the hands
Of our Sovereign Lord!
One of the best books on evangelism is Michael Green’s classic, Evangelism in the Early Church. It is an excellent read from a good scholar and gifted evangelist who is now in glory. At one point, he comments on an apocryphal story about the martyrdom of the apostle Peter. This is how he wraps the story up: “Although this story is specifically concerned with martyrdom rather than evangelism, the two cannot be easily separated. Peter was tempted to save his life at the cost of disloyalty to his commission from Christ; but the vision of the Lord suffering crucifixion for him was the compelling factor which drove him back onto the path of complete and utter dedication, even to death itself. That reflection upon the cross as the supreme impulse to costly service for others in the name of the gospel and was unquestionably the greatest single element in keeping the zeal of Christians at fever pitch.”
It’s been a while since I’ve heard those words, “the zeal of Christians at fever pitch” attributed to Christians in the West.
I don’t know about you, but I want this kind of fever pitch … the kind of audacity, boasting in weakness, preaching about Christ crucified, and zeal that is biblical. It is this sort of genuine passion and zeal that has a kind of appeal and attraction to it. It is not something that results in people not only seeing it our faces but will sensing it in our hearts.
So then . . .
The question seems to be:
Can we have that kind of zeal – again –
In America, Europe, the West?
And if so, how?
What is the right way for us to be boldly,
Even audaciously, evangelize in our current cultural situation?
How do we do it in a way that is missional and culturally engaged
– And yet rigorously and unashamedly biblical,
Christocentric, and oriented to the glory of God?
It happens as we follow what the early church did to promote evangelistic passion:
Reflect on the cross
Refer to why Jesus went to the cross
Relay what Jesus happened as a result of going to the cross.
Require acceptance of that Gospel truth.
Let’s pray that God would give us this kind of zeal – even at fever pitch.
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”