Witnessing of the grace of Christ is our special goal for this year. We have been making preparations for a renewed “House to House” ministry. We have committed to share the gospel with our neighbors and others with whom we come into contact. We also look forward to the opportunities we get to preach in the churches. Pray for us to be faithful to the task.
My thoughts and study have recently centered on the matter of witnessing and the particular principles used by the Lord Jesus and others. Often our methods of evangelism are based on what we have learned from those who came before us. These are either based on biblical principles or the traditions of men. Traditions are not bad if they are Bible based.
Just last week I received a message that a particular church was going out soul winning and taking their church bus. They were also taking Gogo, the clown, with them who was going to swallow a live gold fish for every person they “won” to the Lord. I am sure you can imagine Jesus telling the Twelve to go out into the deep to catch some fish to use for soul winning motivation! Such non-sense is an affront to the Kingdom of God! In addition, it puts pressure on the witness to “persuade” people to make professions of faith, to get “decisions” based on on human whims and not motivated from a sense of true repentance and faith. To borrow a phrase from the Master, “ye do ere, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.” John 1 teaches us that people are born again “not by the will of man, nor by the will of the flesh, but of God.”
Here are a few principles that I challenge you to find a verse to support:
1. A person can only be saved under the ministry of a preacher, i.e. a pastor or ordained minister.
2. A person must repeat a prayer to be saved, i.e. the sinner's prayer.
3. A person can not be saved by just reading a gospel tract or Bible.
4. A person can only be saved at church.
None of these ideas is based on the Bible. They are the teachings of some men. What we need to understand is that the command to witness of Christ to the nations is given to the church as a whole. Many a person has been won by a godly mother or teacher or even strangers. Some of the best witnesses I have ever known have been laymen who had a burden for the lost. I have personally seen great work done by the Gideons International in distributing the word of God. Testimony after testimony has been given by persons hearing the gospel message through gospel tracts that shared essential passages from the scriptures. The gospel of John itself, as were the other gospels, was like a gospel tract sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. Indeed the message of salvation in Christ is the central common theme of every book of the New Testament; not to mention the testimony of every book of the Old Testament.
So what are the essential elements of the gospel? Some have ventured to say that 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 gives us the bare essentials,- the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And in outline form that is correct. But these divisions of the gospel message lay upon us the necessity of deeper contemplation of their truths: Why was Jesus' death necessary? What is the point of burial? Why is the resurrection necessary? These and other questions beg for answers and the answers are the very work of witnessing. To answer them we must explore the nature of sin and human depravity. We must delve into the separation that death brings. We must rejoice at the power and glory of resurrection! We must see the substitutionary work of Christ in taking on our sin, 1 Corinthians 5:21, experiencing our separation from God brought about by our sin, Isaiah 59:1,2; and overcoming sin, death and the grave, Romans 6. Oh, what a glorious privilege it is to share the gospel message! And we can rejoice with the angels of heaven “over one sinner that repenteth.” Luke 15:7, 10. And we don't have to swallow any live gold fish!
In addition, we have the blessed privilege of taking the gospel to our neighbors, our workplaces, our schools, into the marketplace, over the airwaves and now via the internet. Let us endeavor to take the message wherever God's creatures dwell. "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Mark 16:15; and by whatever means God permits. "The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it." Psalm 68:11. Let us join together to do this great work. O Magnify the LORD with me!