Dear Christian, Get Off Your Butt!
“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to me, in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” -Matthew 28:18-20
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” -John 14:15
How are we doing on Jesus’ commandment known as “The Great Commission?” If I had to guess, I would say that, as Mark Dever supposes in “The Gospel & Personal Evangelism,” we are flunking. I have been reading and listening to some stuff from a guy named Todd Friel, and I would like to share what I have learned. Lord willing, it will help you to become more comfortable sharing your faith, and we can repent of the sin of failing to show our love for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We can start being more faithful in sharing our faith with our loved ones, and with anybody else with whom we come into contact.
First, two questions: Do you believe in hell? Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life; and that He is the only means to salvation? If you believe that hell is real, that everybody deserves to go there, and that all who are not “in Christ Jesus” will go there, then think about what you are implying if you do not look for opportunities and share your faith, as we ought to and as we are commanded to. Regardless of what excuse you have for not evangelizing, you are clinging to your excuses, and you are a) failing to share the treasure of salvation with those who desperately need it, and b) refusing to show your love for Jesus by obeying His commandment.
My goal here is not despair, unless it is despair that moves to action. My goal here is to encourage you to do better. The salvation that you have received is big enough for all the people for whom God, because He loves them, sent His Son. Let us be encouraged to share it with all who would believe in Him rather than perish.
“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” -Romans 8:1
Let’s think about this verse for a minute. The two major implications of this verse, for our purposes here at least, are that a) those who are “in Christ Jesus” were under condemnation until they became “in Christ Jesus,” and b) those who are not “in Christ Jesus” are under condemnation.
Everybody knows and loves that Jesus inaugurated a “new covenant.” However, this verse, along with others, tells us that the “new covenant” is not universal. Only those who are “in Christ Jesus” are under the “new covenant,” and therefore they alone are freed from the law of the old covenant and its consequent condemnation. Therefore, the law applies to all who are not “in Christ Jesus,” and there is condemnation for them!
The media from Todd Friel, which I mentioned earlier, has been very helpful to me. Its guiding principle, which I believe Todd has learned from Ray Comfort and his “Way of the Master” ministries, is “law to the proud, grace to the humble.” Todd uses this principle in his evangelism to help people to see that their failure to keep the Ten Commandments means that they stand guilty before God. When a person is rightly humbled by the realization that their guilt before God, combined with the fact that God is a just judge and will condemn those who are guilty to an eternity in hell, the “grace to the humble” part comes into play. Todd suggests five questions to help lead our witnessing encounters:
- “Would you consider yourself to be a good Person?”
- “Do you think you’ve kept the Ten Commandments?”
- “Will you be innocent or guilty before God?”
- “If you are guilty before God, should He send you to heaven or hell?”
- “Does it concern you that you are going to hell?”
Comfort and Friel both use Jesus’ encounter with the “rich, young ruler” (where we definitely see Jesus use the first two of the aforementioned five questions) to defend their “law to the proud, grace to the humble” approach. I find their argument compelling, and I believe that this is a great approach to take to our witnessing encounters.
We have all failed many (if not all) of the Ten Commandments, especially when you factor in what Jesus said about the sins of the heart (lust, hatred) being equal in the eyes of God to their actual counterparts (adultery, murder).
Just as the Ten Commandments condemn all of us, Paul says that none of us will enter the kingdom of God:
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.” –1 Corinthians 6:9-10
We have all failed the Ten Commandments, and we all fall into one of the stripes Paul paints in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. Therefore, we are all under condemnation. However, thanks be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has made a way for the condemned to be freed from condemnation. Jesus Christ completely fulfilled both the positive and negative aspects of the law (positive- always doing the good He should have done; negative- never doing the bad He should not have done), and He was completely sinless in thought, word, and deed. He lived the life that we couldn’t live.
Then, to quote a poem that I wrote a while back:
First You were flogged by a Roman soldier,
Then took Your own cross upon Your shoulder.
Then came the nails through Your wrists and Your feet.
Screams as the nails pierced nerves in agony.
Forced to push up on nail with bone for breath,
Until You last breathed and attained death.
Jesus died the death that we deserve, fulfilling the figurative promises made by the Passover and the sacrificial system of the Old Testament, and dying as our “lamb without blemish.”
Anybody who believes in Jesus Christ, who trusts His promises and believes that He has the power, the ability, and the willingness to save them, who accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior- and seeks to show their love for Him by obedience to Him- will be “in Christ Jesus.”
And, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” -Romans 8:1
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