February 2007

When is the Last Time...

Last month I described our witnessing outreach at Parkway Plaza Mall in El Cajon. The more I've considered this witnessing effort, the more convinced I am that sharing one's faith must be an integral part of every Christian.

Barna, and many other polls have concluded that only a very small percentage of those that claim to be Christians share their faith regularly. Even among those who have studied carefully their Bibles for years seem to remain nearly silent when it comes to confessing Christ before this lost and dying world.

I've discovered that when Christians say they share their faith it means that they've told someone they were a Christian. Perhaps they've asked someone to come to Church or even defended some Christian issue such as abortion. Of course these are fine and good but we really need to go beyond this. The question we must ask is, "When is the last time I shared with an unbeliever a CLEAR presention of the gospel and how a sinner can be righteous in the sight of a Holy God?

I've given many seminars over the years on the vast differences between true Christianity and the cults as well as man's humanistic ideas on the meaning of life. Even when armed with this knowledge, many Christians still fear sharing their faith with their un-saved friends, family, neighbors, and other acquaintances including strangers. This fear works it's magic by creating a silent Christian.

When I say FEAR, I mean a fear that I have as well. I often prefer silence concerning spiritual things when speaking with someone I know. Of course this fear regularly affects my witness to strangers.

If we know that we should confess our Lord before men and we know we should overcome fear and make this a regular practice, why is it we still don't?

I wish there was an easier way of saying this, but after all is debated concerning the issue, it can only be "sin." Willfully neglecting what we are clearly called to do is sin. Perhaps what grieves me most, is by our disobedience in this area we prove our "gratitude" for His mercy and grace towards us is really rather hollow, at least when it comes to the lost.

Please don't misunderstand. I'm NOT insisting that grace plus works saves. "Salvation is of the Lord" as Jonah 2:9 says. It is ALL of God. We don't seek Him, He seeks us. It is not our faith that we generate that saves, but rather a faith that God gives. Even repentance is not from us, but is a gift that God grants to those He saves. The desire and power to live godly lives is all of the Lord. He keeps us saved and seals us by the power of the Holy Spirit. We not only were dead in our trespasses and sins, but we were helpless to do anything about it. Perhaps the ultimate depth of our lostness, is we were UNCONCERNED.

If you think I'm just trying to make you feel guilty, you're wrong. I am however, pleading to our God that He would convict us of our rather lukewarmness in this area.

I believe I've accurately summed up dozens of scriptures but let me present some of them for your consideration.

Consider the words of our Lord recorded in Matthew 10:32 and 33:

"Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven."

Jude, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit commanded believers"

"....earnestly contend for the faith...." (Jude 3)

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans:

"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

The Apostle Peter wrote:

"... be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:" (1 Peter 3:15)

Jesus also gave the great commission:

" And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Mark 16:15

It is clear from scripture that the preaching of repentance, the cross, and resurrection would be the privilege of every believer not just the apostles. Almost immediately Stephen was martyred for preaching the truth concerning Jesus. Hebrews 11:36-37 describes the fate of many that dared NOT to remain silent.

"And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword:.."

Millions of martyrs have gone before us including many who were burned at the stake. And yet what risk do we really take? Perhaps someone will laugh at us. Maybe that "friendship" will suddenly dissolve. Perhaps that family member will no longer want much to do with us. Maybe we'll even be embarrassed in front of others.

Can you image standing before the protestant bible translator and reformer, William Tyndale as he was about to be strangled and then his body burned saying:

"Mr. Tyndale, if you think you've got it bad, I'm thinking about presenting the gospel to my friend of many years, and he may never talk to me again!"

And how can we possible consider the suffering of our Lord as He willingly was our substitute on the cruel cross that we might be righteous before a Holy God, and yet remain silent.

Of what real value is studying the word of God and accurately understanding great Bible truths, if they in fact don't reveal themselves in our lives, our desires and affections? Those great truths should drive us to our knees as we "fear God" and desire to passionately proclaim Him before men.

May the rocks never have to cry out!

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