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When I consider the reasons why all Christians should be engaged in evangelism, the number one reason that comes to mind is the glory of God. So let me make a few observations about how evangelism promotes the glory of God.

The Message

First, evangelism promotes the glory of God because the message itself is a proclamation of God’s glory in the gospel. Paul describes the gospel message as “the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). While Paul sees gospel proclamation as proclaiming “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8), Peter describes it as proclaiming “the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). If we are faithful in proclaiming the gospel, we will be exalting the person and work of God in and through Jesus Christ rather than mans efforts. The gospel calls for us to find our hope in God, so that rather than boasting in our own efforts or accomplishments, we will “boast in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:31).

The Messenger

Furthermore, the evangelism magnifies the glory of God by using underwhelming people. God does not seek the most gifted people to carry his message, but ordinary or even sub-ordinary people.”For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many powerful, not may were of noble birth” (1 Corinthians 1:26, emphasis added). God does not seek people who are great according to the worlds standards, but those who are weak by worldly standards “to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Corinthians 4:7). Christians need to get a grasp on this concept. When we feel we and inadequate that may actual the best time to talk with others. After all “God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong” (1 Corinthians 1:27b)

The Church

Finally, the glory of God is on display in evangelism, because it seeks to further God’s glory in the world. While we are quick to talk about our desire that people believe the gospel, so that they may be saved from their sins, we error if we make this the final end of evangelism. We must bind together our good in salvation with God’s being glorified in it. The ultimate end of our salvation is not our salvation but “the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:12, 14). A proper response to the gospel cannot be limited to an individual in isolation, because the goal of evangelism is the building up of the church, so that “through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 3:10).

So we see that the purpose of evangelism is integrally connected to the glory of God. In one sense, evangelism is proclaiming the glory of God in a way that glorifies the need of God to act in saving a people who will glorify him.

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Where does faith begin? Some people exhort us to just believe in something. Others tell us to believe in ourselves. But where is our faith ultimately suppose to rest. The Word of God places a high emphasis on the need for faith. In fact, Hebrews 11:6, says that “without faith it is impossible to please him” – that is God. Romans14:23 tells us that “whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.”

Is it really that important then if we have faith or a right faith? It is crucial! For God has also told us that the “The righteous shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17). In fact, this verse begins by telling us that it is in the gospel that “the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith.” Very literally, it is “from faith into faith.” The gospel of Jesus Christ calls each of us to depend on God at every point of our lives and in every circumstance.

Peter also picks up on the importance of faith in the 2 Peter 1:5-10. In verse 10, he challenges us “make your calling and election sure.” He says that we are to do this by holding fast to the “his precious and very great promises” (1:4) and then “to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge…” (1:5) Notice that his chain of progression beings with faith.

The Book of Proverbs also emphasizes the need for faith, but it does so in a different way when it says:

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7)

Therefore, to  have knowledge and wisdom, we must first “fear the LORD”. We must possess a reverential awe that leaves us trembling before the one with whom we will have to do. We must regard the LORD of hosts as HOLY!!!  We  must believe that God is who He has reveal Himself to be in His Word.

“But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.” (Isaiah 8:13)

“All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” (Isaiah 66:2)

Therefore, if our faith is to be in the proper place, it must be of a proper fear. If we have a right faith, we will recognize God as the supreme and sovereign being over all things. We will trust Him as He has reveal Himself to us in His Word – the Bible. Faith must begin with God not with us. Faith must begin with the Word of God and not with the wisdom of man. So may we all come to tremble at His Word.

Which doctrine, do you think is the most essential in determining proper understanding of God and His gospel? Some people might argue that our view of Scripture is most important, because it determines the reliability of what we know about God. Others might say that our view of Christ and the cross is the most crucial, because on Calvary we see the Son of God actually accomplish our redemption. Still others might argue that our view of human depravity is decisive, because it shapes our understanding of what (if anything) man can contribute to his own salvation.

However, I believe that the most pivotal doctrine in determining our understanding of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ is our understanding of the Holiness of God. Your understanding of the holiness of God will radically affect almost every other area of theology. Consider the following:

  • If God is holy in the sense of being set apart from the rest of creation, then man cannot come to know God on his own effort. Rather God must in some way speak in terms that we can understand, and God has done this through the Scriptures.
  • If God is holy. Then we must recognize, first and foremost, that God is God and we are not. He create us and we belong to Him. He has the right to demand from us as His creatures whatever He desires. We cannot demand anything from Him, because He is not indebted to us, but rather we are indebted to him for our life, our breathe and our being (Acts 17: 25).
  • If God is holy. We must also recognize that humanity though it was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) has fallen from its original state. Thus all of us fall short of God’s standard of holiness. Before the Holy One of Israel, we are all evil and rebellious creatures. While there may be degrees of rebellion, everyone is a rebel.
  • If God is holy, then there is no way man can satisfy the righteousness of God. God cannot compromise His standard of justice. The wages of sin is death, so those who sin must die.
  • If Jesus is God and Jesus is Holy, then there is hope for sinners. Jesus as the only man who was perfectly holy has satisfied God’s high standard of holiness. Furthermore, Jesus as the God-man is able to offer up his holiness as the basis of approval before God for all who believe in Him.

I think Jonathan Edwards was right when he asserted that God’s holiness consisted “in a regard to to himself, infinitely above his regard to all other beings” (The End for Which God Created the World). The holiness of God is not simply the fact God is set apart from sin, but also that God is set apart from everything by the fact that He is God and nothing else is. So I whole-heartedly agree with exhortation made by John Piper in God’s Passion for His Glory:

“I would encourage the reader to wrestle earnestly with this truth…This is a continental divide in theology. If you really believe this, all rivers of your thinking run toward God. If you do not, all the rivers run toward man. The theological and practical implications are innumerable. Settling this issue is worth many nights of prayer and study. Edwards calls God’s regard to himself his “holiness.” It may be more proper to call it God’s righteousness.” Thus his “holiness” would be the infinite worth that God has in his own estimation, and his righteousness would be his valuing and respecting that worth without wavering and upholding it in all that he does.” (p. 141)

Surely, you have heard someone say, “Once saved, always saved.” But what about those people who come to church for awhile and then decided they want nothing to do with Christianity. Surely, those people who have committed apostasy are not going to go to heaven are they. So then what should we concluded…that they were once saved, but because of their sin they have lost their salvation. May it never be! The very notion that someone can lose their salvation because they committed a certain sin implies that their salvation is contidition on their not committing that particular sin. But that does not square with the rest of scripture: “So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy” (Rom. 9:16). 

As I mentioned yesterday we must remember that salvation is ultimately not a work of man, but a work of God upon the human heart. “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:6) Because Paul accepted the reality that it was God who had began a good work in the Phillippian believers, he could confidently assert that He would also finish that which He began. So then assert that someone can lose their salvation is at best ignorant and at worst blasphemous. If you believe that a person can lose their salvation, you must either believe that salvation is ultimately not dependent upon God, but upon man (he did something that caused God to withdraw salvation). Or you must believe that God is somehow insufficient for the work of salvation (ironically, either way you believe God is insufficient). You must conclude that God lacks the resource, the will, the power, the desire to finish the work which he began or else you must simply call God a liar. “Yes, God I know your word says ‘He who began a good work in you will perfect it’. But look at all the people who have been Christians and then denied the faith either in word or in deed. Clearly, they cannot be saved. You cannot still be working in their life.”

And to some degree that person would be right, God is not working in their life. However, they have made the wrong conclusion. God is not currently working in their life, because He was never working in their life. “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.” (1 John 2:19) This truth should either be of great encouragement to us or great concern. If God is working in your life to sanctify you and conform you into the image of His beloved Son, you should be greatly encouraged that God is faithful and that which He begins, He sees through to the end (What a great reason to give Him thanks and praise). On the other hand, if God is not currently working in your life, you should know that God has never been working in your life, and you should seek Him for mercy…beg Him to begin a work in you…plead with Him to see the glory of the gospel…ask Him to grant you the repentance that leads to life.

The more I talk to people about the grace of God revealed in the gospel and about what it means to be a Christian, the more I realize that most people don’t really get the gospel. They don’t really understand the nature of reality. Any professing Christian that has any sort of biblical understanding would readily admit that salvation is by grace. But how is that we recieve grace? How do I know if I have found mercy from God?

The apostle Paul hit the nail on the head when he said, “So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy” (Rom. 9:16). The problem is most of professing American Christianity does not realize that recieving mercy does not depend on them, but upon God. What would you say if I told you that reading your bible, going to church, praying, or any other religious duty did not guarantee that God will be gracious to you? Do you think that being a Christian means that God will show mercy to you? Or do you think you are a Christian because God has shown mercy to you?

You see we do not become Christians when we start to do something, but rather when God begins to do something in us “He [God] who began a good work in you” (Phil. 1:6). And so we are called to examine ourselves to see if we have been born of God or whether we are yet in our sins (see 1 John). While I can’t give an exaustive list, let me list a some of the evidences that one is born of God (i.e. that you are not a Christian in name only).

  • You have beheld the glory of God in the person of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:4-6)
  • You’re life displays the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23)
  • You’re life is being conformed into the image of God in Christ, that is, you are becoming more Christ-like. (Rom. 8:29, 2 Cor. 3:18, 1 John 3:2-3)
  • You’re life is being changed not by adhering to a set of rules and regulations, but by beholding the glory of God in Christ. (2 Cor. 3:18, 1 John 3:2-3, 1 John 4:19, Col. 2)
  • You crave the pure milk of God’s Word and delight in it. (1 Pet. 2:2, Ps. 119, Rom. 7:22)
  • You count all your righteous deeds to be polluted rags and rejoice in the the righteousness of another, “the Lord our righteousness” (Phil. 3:7-11, Jer. 23:6)
  • You live a life of ongoing repentence, since “the grace of God has appeared…instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age” (Tit. 2:11-12, cf. Rom. 8:1-13, Heb. 12:4-11).

The bottom line is this: If you have been experienced the grace of God, it will be evident in your life. If your life is not being conformed to the image of Christ, it may be evidence that you have not recieved mercy from God. If you have need of mercy you must come to the Great High Priest, Jesus Christ, who offered Himself up as a sacrifice once for all the just for the unjust so that He might bring us to God. There is no other who is fit to be the dispenser of God’s grace, than the Son of God who clothed Himself in likeness of sinful flesh, so that He might glorify the Father through His perfect obedience and His perfrect sacrifice on behalf of those who would trust in Him. “He has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4)

I don’t know about other people, but I have found it is normally easier for me to do evangelism as an organized event, whether it is going door-to-door or walking around a public area and just talking to people, than it is to do it in my more daily interactions with people. As I have thought about this difference, I have contemplate what goes through my mind that makes evangelism so difficult for myself at times. I find so of the things that discourage me from doing evangelism are the following:

  • How do I start the conversation? Or change it to a spiritual topic?
  • What if the person asks a question I don’t know the answer to?
  • What if the person gets offended by what I say?
  • Is it worth the effort, they porbably won’t believe the gospel anyway?

Those are just some of the thoughts that run through my mind to make sharing the gospel a less desirable endeavor, so then how do you over come these things that hinder your gospel proclamation. Some people have sought to make evangelism easier for others by trying to boil the gospel down to a few essential points, such as the Four Spiritual Laws or Romans Road. Some people seek to make it easier by offering classes on the basic knowledge need to do evangelism, such as what the gospel is (kind of scary that has to be covered in an evangelism class), what are common objections to the gospel, and how to engage an unbeliever in a spiritual conversation. Yet, even these attempts to make evangelism easier, I do not think will suffice if we are to bold preach the gospel of Christ.

The most simple and fundamental way to be better in evangelism is simply this: BELIEVE. Now that probably seems like a weird assertion to some of you, because you say I do believe and yet I still struggle. My point is simply this the more convinced that you and me are in our hearts about the truths of the gospel, they more boldly we will proclaim them. Here are some things to consider so that we might be more convinced of their reality.

  • Everyone stands condemned because of their unrighteousness. You, the person standing in line with you at the store, the person sitting next to you at a little league game, the person working in the next office next door, and the person next door will die in your sins and suffer an eternity in hell at the hands of your Creator if you do not experience the grace of God.
  • The ONLY way to find the grace of God is in the gospel concerning His Son. The only hope you or anyone else has is to be declared rigtheous not on account of our own righteousness, but on account of the righteousness of Jesus Christ. And to have wrath of God that our sins rightly deserve satisfied by the death of His Only Begotten Son.
  • The ONLY way to recieve the grace of God is through faith in the God of the gospel. And faith must rest upon the revelation of the one living and true God and His gospel as revealed in the Holy Scriptures. Thus faith must come from hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ (Rom 10).
  • Someone MUST speak. There can be no salvation if there is no word of Christ to be believed. There can be no salvation where there is no gospel message. And God has ordained that it is His peoples responsibility to proclaim that message. So by not sharing the gospel what we are really indicating is that we want the other person to go to hell. The best way to ensure that a person does not get saved is to keep them away from the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

So if you want to be a better evangelist, preach the gospel to yourself until your so overhelmed by its reality that you cannot help but tell others about it. The greater the gospel, and more importantly the Jesus Christ, is to you, the more you will desire to talk to others about Him. Remember the gospel is not about calling faith in an action (the death and resurrection of Jesus), but in a person (Jesus Christ, who died for them).  I fear that there are a great number of people in this country that are confused on this very issue. They love what God has done for them, but they do not love the God who has done it.

I started reading The Legacy of Sovereign Joy by John Piper last week, and I have been greatly impressed by the perspective on grace that he draws forth from the life of St. Augustine. For those unfamiliar with the life of Augustine, prior to his conversion at the age of 32 he lived a life of fornication living for a long time with a woman who was not his wife. Yet later when reflecting on his conversion he wrote,

During all those years, where was my free will? What was the hidden, secret place from which it was summoned in a moment, so that I might bend my neck to your easy yoke?…How sweet all at once it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys which  I had once feared to lose! …You drove them from me, you who are the true sovereign joy. You drove them from me and took their place, you who are sweeter than all pleasure, though not to flesh  and blood, you who outshine all light, yet are hidden deeper than any secret in our hearts, you who surpass all honor, though not in the eyes of men who see all honor in themselves…” (pg. 57)

What a phenomenal perspective on the depravity of the human heart and the nature of our sinfulness! To see that we are enslaved to our sins not because we are simply ignorant of right and wrong, but because we love them. We sin because we find joy and pleasure in them. That is the way sin has been since the beginning to seek to find delight, joy, or pleasure outside of God and his will. Consider the tree of knowledge of good and evil in Gen 2-3. God tells Adam not to eat it because it will kill him, “for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (Gen. 2:17). I can’t image that Adam look at that fruit and said, “Now I think I might enjoy it. After all death sounds like a lot of fun.” Lets be honest Adam would would have likely look on that fruit as being dangerous.

Yet in the very next chapter we find that the serpent has convince Eve that God’s assessment of the fruit or more particularly the consequences of eating it are mistaken. The fruit is not dangerous. It will not really kill them, but rather will make them more like God; it will enhance their enjoyment of the world around them. And all of a sudden, Eve’s assessment of the situation is totally backward. Instead of seeing it as dangerous and bring about death, she sees it as “good”, a “delight” and “desirable.” That is exactly how we see our sin. We see because we think it is good. We find delight in it. We take pleasure in it. We love it.

We need to have not only our concept of right and wrong corrected, more importantly, we need to have the object of our delight correct. We were not created to find delight in the creation, but rather the Creator. There is only One who is truly good and worthy to be desired and that is God, who has revealed Himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ. Thus the way to truly deal with the sin in our lives is to teach ourselves the truth about sin and about God. We must seek to be convinced that the beauty and the majesty of the creator far surpasses than beauty in the creation. We must come to delight ourselves in God; otherwise, we will continue to delight ourselves in our sin.  And in order for us to find God worthy of our enjoyment God must first shine the light of the gospel into our hearts through his Spirit (2 Cor. 4:4-6). Let me finish we these words from Augustine:

A man’s free-will, indeed, avails for nothing except to sin, if he knows not the way of truth; and even after his duty and his proper aim shall begin to become known to him, unless he also take delight in and feel a love for it, he neither does his duty, nor sets about it, nor lives rightly. Now, in order that such a course may engage our affections, God’s “love is shed abroad in our hearts” not through the free-will which arises from ourselves, but “through the Holy Ghost, which is given to us.” (Romans 5:5). (pg. 60)

“An act of God before creation in which he chooses some people to be saved, not on account of any foreseen merit in them, but only because of his sovereignty” (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, 670) 

Five Conditions of Election from Romans 9 

Before giving consideration to this chapter of Romans it is important for us to realize why Paul begins the argument he does in verse 6. Paul has just finished expounding the major tenants of the gospel. He began by showing the depravity and sinfulness of all man kind, both Jews and Gentiles (1:18-3:21), making particular reference to the fact that “he is not a Jew who is one outwardly …but he is a Jew who is one inwardly” (Rom. 2:28-29). Then Paul made known the great doctrine of justification by faith alone using Abraham as the example for all who would follow in Romans 3-4. 

Having established the foundation of the faith, he then masterfully deals with outworking of grace in the life of the believer (sanctification) in chapters 5-7. But Paul continues his discussion of this amazing grace by bringing to its ultimate fulfillment in Romans 8, where he assures the Christian of the restoration of the creation and the final glorification of the saints. And He ends it with the great statement of Romans 8:38-39: 

“For I am convinced that neither death, no life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor heights, nor depths, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

An informed reader should find themselves at some what of a dilemma. If God chose Israel and loved Israel, then how can Paul assert that some Israelites are outside of salvation? Has God’s love failed? Has God’s word, His promises to Israel failed? Paul’s response shows us not only God’s basis or condition for choosing Israel, but for choosing all those who would be His people. 

  1. Conditioned upon the promise of God (9:6-9)

“That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but rather the children of promise are regarded as descendants.” (8) 

As his first illustration of God’s choosing people, he calls upon the example of Isaac and Ishmael. Here you had two sons from one father Abraham, who was the father of the Jewish faith. Yet it was not the son who was conceived by means of human wisdom and human effort (Gen. 16), but the son who was conceived by divine intervention that was regarded as the true beneficiary of the promises of God. 

It is significant to notice that God’s promise in Romans 9:9, which was made in Genesis 18:14 preceded the actual birth of Isaac. Thus God’s choice could not be based upon anything in Isaac, but rather Isaac was simple the offspring who fulfilled the divine purpose and proved the faithfulness of God’s word to both Abraham and Sarah. 

  1. Conditioned upon the calling of God (9:10-13)

For though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, but because of Him who calls (11) 

In keeping with the line of patriarchs, Paul moves from Isaac to his sons Jacob and Esau. One might tempt to argue from the previous example that God’s choice stemmed from the condition in which they were born, Ishmael being born an illegitimate son of Hagar and Isaac being the legitimate son of Abraham’s wife, Sarah. Yet the example of Jacob and Esau eliminates that possibility for they were both born to the same mother, Rebekah.  

However, God demonstrates his independence in choosing Jacob the younger brother over Esau. And in doing so God has established a condition that is contrary to the natural order of heredity. How could God declare before either of them were born or had done anything that the blessing and birthright that rightly would belong to the older would come to the younger? It is here we see that reality of Romans 8:38-39 begin to come to life. Why did Jacob prevail? It was because God loved him. 

  1. Conditioned upon the compassion of God (9:14-18)

“So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.” (16)

“So then, He has mercy on whom He desires and He hardens whom He desires.” (18) 

In response to the possible object that God cannot indiscriminately choose whom ever He desires, Paul appeals to mans need for mercy. As Paul has made clear from the first 3 chapters of this epistle all of mankind stands in need of compassion and mercy from God.  God is not some how unjust because he does not extent mercy to someone. In fact, if there were a reason why God was indebted to show someone mercy, then it would no longer been an act of grace. Those who are truly God’s people are not those who have done anything, but rather simply those who discover the mercies of God. 

He here appeals to the example of Pharaoh as one who did not find mercy. When God sent Moses to Pharaoh, he had already determined that His instructions to Pharaoh would not be accompanied with mercy, but rather demonstrations of God’s power. As a result of God’s revelation to Pharaoh, his heart was hardened and he was eventually destroyed by the waters of the Red Sea. It is interesting in midst of the discussions about living a Purpose Driven Life; I have never found many people who discuss the purpose of Pharaoh’s life. It seems that people are all too eager to presume that God who never allow them to suffer the same fait as Pharaoh. Yet Hebrews 3-4 contain serious exhortations to us to avoid the hardening of our own hearts. 

  1. Conditioned upon the will of God (9:19-26)

You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” (19)

“What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy prepared beforehand for glory,” (22-23) 

Using the imagery of a potter molding clay, Paul presses home the point that God’s choice depends upon God’s will and God’s purposes. This potter fashions from one lump of clay two different types of vessels: the one a vessel of wrath and the other a vessel of mercy. So too God fashions from the masses of humanity to distinct groups of people: those upon whom He will demonstrate His wrath and His power and those upon whom He will make known the riches of His grace. And just as the potter is sovereign over the clay, God is sovereign of mankind. 

We must also be willing to accept the reality of this verse as well. God has created some people who will not be saved, who will not experience His mercy, but upon whom He will glorify Himself through the demonstration of His wrath and revealing of His power. Yet at the same time we must recognize that the focal point of eternity will not be those who suffer wrath, but those who manifest the riches of His glory. Yet let us note with what patience God deals with those “prepared for destruction,” and let move us to bear with unbelievers patiently as well. 

  1. Conditioned upon the word of God (9:27-29)

“For the Lord will execute (make, cause) His word on the earth, thoroughly and quickly.” (28) 

Since God as already laid out the plan of redemptive history in His Word, all that remains is for it to be executed on the earth. So here we see that the real reason why not all Israel is saved is because God has declared that it is only the remnant that will be saved. We as Christians, as those with the mind of Christ, stand in a unique position of being able to watch that which God has declare come to pass.  

This then finishes the argument that Paul began in verse 6, “it is not as though the word of God has failed.” No just the opposite is true! The word of God has demonstrated itself to have been successful at what ever purposes God has established. Consider already just in this chapter how many times God’s word has shown itself true: the birth of Isaac, the choice of Jacob, the hardening of Pharaoh, the making of a people out of those who were formerly not a people, and the preservation of a remnant within Israel. 

Implications for Evangelism

  • First and foremost, if we are willing to recognize that the ultimate determining factor in a person’s salvation in God’s choice of them according to his own will, it should drive us to prayer. “Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.” (Rom. 10:1) Notice the connection between the heart’s desire and prayer. Paul recognized that if His heart’s desire was to be fulfilled God was going to have to bring it to pass.

 

  • Second, since God’s calling and election of individuals has come to them through “the word of promise” (8-9), what He has said (12, 15), and the written word or Scripture (13, 17, 25-29), the responsibility falls to us to proclaim the promises of God, to preach the “word of Christ” (10:17). There is only one means by which those how have been chosen come to faith and that is through the word of God. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (Jn. 10:27) And how will his sheep hear His voice if what He has spoken is not made known to them?

When I was in college, I was often told that if the professor ever says something 3 times you know it has to be important. I don’t know why three was the magic number, but it is true when people want to make sure that we know certain thinks they are sure to repeat the information several of times to be sure that no one misses it. In both the apostles Peter and James are sure to remind their readers that “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (Jam. 4:6, 1 Pet. 5:5).

What I find more amazing is that both writers see humility as having a specific point of reference. Some people are humbled by being in the presence of some important individual. Others are humbled because of some circumstance in their lives, such as a natural disaster. Others are humbled by their own poor performance in various areas of their lives. But James and Peter both have a very different type of humility in mind – humility with respect to God.

James tells his readers “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord”, while Peter tells his, “humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God.” As I have pondered these verse the last week, especially James 4:6, I found myself thinking about the nature of the One in whose presence we to be humble, Jesus Christ.

  1. He upholds everything in the world (Heb. 1:2)
  2. He made all things (Heb. 1:2, Col. 1:16)
  3. He is the image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15)
  4. He had all authority on heaven and earth (Matt. 28:18)
  5. He is the lawgiver and judge (Jam. 4:12)
  6. He is the Lord of lords and King of kings (Rev. 19:17)
  7. He has the ability to save and destroy (Jam. 4:12)
  8. He can give life to the dead and call into being that which does not exist (Rom. 4:17)
  9. He is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:29)
  10. He is compassionate and gracious (Ex. 34:6)
  11. He is gentle and humble in heart (Matt. 11:29)
  12. He is the lamb who was slain (Rev. 5:12) 
  13. He is a jealous God (Ex. 20:5)
  14. He is the just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Him (Rom. 3:26)
  15. He is Holy, Holy, Holy. (Isa. 6)
  16. He is perfect (Matt.
  17. He loves righteousness and hates wickedness (Ps. 45:7)
  18. He loves his enemies (Rom. 5:8)
  19. He shows kindness, tolerance, and patience to all men (Rom. 2:4)
  20. He desires men to repent and live (2 Pet. 3:9, Ezek. 33:11)
  21. He is the sovereign God.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the character of the one before whom we should be humbled. I have become more and more aware as I have studied God’s Word that in the end the only reason anyone will not be saved is because they refuse to humble themselves before the Lord Jesus Christ.

“As I live!” declares the Lord God, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back, from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?”

Would not Israel have been saved if they had turned back? Would God not have shown them compassion and grace if they had forsaken their wicked ways and returned to Him? But alas it seems most people are too interested in their wicked ways to humble themselves under the mighty hand of Him with whom they will have to do. We must all stop to ask ourselves, “Are the fleeting pleasures of sin really worth it?”, “Is a moments enjoyment worthy and eternity of suffering?”

“Turn back, turn back, from your wicked ways! Why will you die, O sinner?” – Come to Christ for He has satisfied the wrath of God that your wickedness rightly deserves. No matter how wicked a sinner you may be, He has grace enough for you. No matter how unrighteous you may be, Christ’s righteousness is enough. You have nothing to offer the King, worry not, there is no charge…it is free. “Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money come, buy and eat Come, buy wine and milk Without money and without cost.” (Isa. 55:1)

Last night a couple of friends and I went to the local college campus and walked around sharing the gospel with those who would take the time to listen. In the meantime, I was in the middle of a conversation on another blog debating what the gospel really is. As I stop to think about why I should take the time to talk to others about the gospel and why I should be be faithful to defend the faith against those who teach a false gospel, I find it helpful to remember the purpose of doing evangelism in the first place.

  1. The Glory of God: Like the entirety of the Christian life, evangelismis ultimately about the glory of God. In the preaching of the gospel, we are to “proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9). Evangelism should be a task that all believers are eager and excited to do, because it is the really nothing short of telling others about the glory of God as revealed in the person and work of Jesus Christ. The gospel does not just set for the glory of God for others to behold, but it is the means by which God has chosen to bring all men to salvation (Rom. 1:16, 10:12-15). (Click here for more on how Evangelism glorifies God.)
  2. The Joy of God:  Another goal of evangelism is to call lost sinners to come to repentance and trust in Christ. And so we see that this brings God great joy, “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Lk. 15:10) Even after conversion, we know that the continued repentance brings God joy, because we are told that sin (a lack of repentance) will “grieve the Holy Spirit of God.” (Eph. 5:30)
  3. The Unity of the Church: The furtherance of the gospel is the mission for which the church exists. Thus Paul instructs the Philippians to be “with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Phil 1:27). Even those who are not physically present in the preaching of the gospel are exhorted, “You also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many” (2 Cor. 1:11). Ultimately the purpose and aim of all Christian ministry, including evangelism, is “the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-13, cf. 4:16). This building up is not only to be qualitative as those who are part of the church grow into the image of Christ, but also quantitative as God continues to add to his church through the preaching of the gospel.
  4. The Sacrifice of the Saint: The life of the Christian is one of sacrifice, it is a life of learning to put other people before themselves, to put God’s will before their own will. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mk. 8:35). Those who are devoted to Christ must also be devote to the building of His church, to the building of His kingdom. And so the apostle Paul tells us that it is for the sake of God’s people that he is willing to endure anything. “For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.” (2 Tim. 2:10, cf. Jam. 1:2-4)
  5. The Salvation of the Lost: While we as men cannot control the outcome of our evangelistic efforts, because only God can open the eyes of the heart to understand and embrace the gospel, we should none the less be deeply concerned about the salvation of those around us. Paul more than anyone understood that only God could remove the blinders that kept his fellow Israelites from believing the gospel (see 2 Cor. 4), yet Paul said, “I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh” (Rom. 9:2-3). Look at what lengths Paul would have gone to see them come to faith! Here is a man who understood true humility. If it were possible he would have forsaken his own salvation if only his kinsmen could be saved. It is as though he says, “Oh, I would give all, if they might receive all.” I don’t know about you, but that sounds like something Christ Himself would say. At the same time Paul understood that ultimately their salvation was in the hands of God, so not only did he preach but he prayed (Rom. 10:1). (Click here for more on how Evangelism glorifies God.)

So let us all labor to bring joy to the heart of God through the preaching of the glory of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let our churches unite around the proclamation of the gospel. Let the sole mission of every Christian and every church be to lay down their lives in the building of the church of Jesus Christ. Let us all labor more earnestly in our prayers for those who are currently without Christ that God would give them eyes to see and ears to hear. And let us all long for the day when all those who stand in opposition to the gospel bow their knees before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.