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.

I want to draw attention to three observations from the genealogy of Jesus recorded in Matthew 1:1-17. While a list of fathers and sons might seem dry and boring, these verses are anything but. They stand as a reminder that God is intentional, God is gracious, and God is faithful.

God is Intentional.

First, the passage opens by drawing attention to the fact that Jesus is “the son of David, the son of Abraham” (1:1). The story that begins here at the beginning of Matthew is not really the beginning. If we read Matthew without an understanding of the Old Testament, it is like watching the original Star Wars movies without knowing the back story. We might understand what is going on, but we would have a greater appreciation if we took the time to learn about what happened first.

If we go back and read Genesis (especially chapters 12, 15, and 17), we find out pretty quickly that God made promises to Abraham that among other things nations would be blessed through him and kings would come forth from him. Then in 2 Samuel 7 we see God making promises to David about a future kingdom for his offspring. The idea of a coming King did no begin with the Gospels it began with Genesis.

God is Gracious.

The genealogy of Jesus is not just dipped but drenched in grace. Take Abraham for instance. He was a pagan from the land of Ur when God called him and told him to go to a foreign land (Genesis 12). Then there is Judah who engages in prostitution (Genesis 38) and David who participated in adultery with the wife of Uriah. Yet despite these moral imperfections we seem them used by God to preserve the Messianic line.

At the same time, from Rehoboam on the throne of Israel is occupied by one bad king after another.  That is not to say that all the kings were evil, but a general reading of 1st & 2nd Kings or 1st & 2nd Chronicles reveals the general tenor of the kings as evil in the eyes of God and prone to idolatry. It is a wonder that God continued to bear with the sons of David as long as he did. Even after the deportation, God continue to preserve the line of David.

God is faithful.

The genealogy ends with “Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ” (1:16). After generations of waiting for the promises to Abraham and David to be fulfilled, the long await Messiah had come. While some may have thought God had forgotten about his promise, the reality is that God was simply waiting for the appropriate time to bring forth the One who would save his people from their sins.

Have you ever stopped to consider that success might be dangerous? Who doesn’t like to be successful? I mean think about it. Who shows up the DMV and hopes to fail their drivers test? When was the last time a guy asked out a girl and hoped she would say no? Nobody applies for a job hoping not to get it. We all desire success. We want to past the test or get the job. We want the girl to say yes.

However, most of us have experienced failure (some more serious than others). While it seems like most people are quick to think about their failures and find some glimmer of good in the midst of the disappointment, most of us don’t give our successes much thought. We stop to ask all sorts of questions when we fail. Where did I go wrong? What could I have done differently? Why didn’t I get the past up for the promotion? Just to name a few. But it seems like we just take our successes for granted.

So here is why I think that success can be dangerous: It causes us to think too highly of ourselves and forget the grace of God. We achieve some accomplishment and forget that if it was not for God’s being for us, we would have failed. Most of us probably don’t think much of Psalm 127

Unless the Lord builds the house,
    those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
    the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
    and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
    for he gives to his beloved sleep. (Psalm 127:1-2)

Or think about the story of David and Goliath? Can you image how different the story would be if David attributed his success to his amazing skill with a sling and a stone? Yet David finds courage to face the giant not in his own skill, but in the provision of God. God had delivered him from the lion and the bear, so surely he could deliver him from Goliath. The battle would not be dependent on ultimately on his skill, but on God’s fighting for him.

So the next time your face with a challenge, remember to entrust your success (or failure) to the One who controls all things. And if he blesses your endeavor and you find success take some time to reflect on His grace and His provision. Ask your self some questions: Who am I that he has blessed me with this success? What has God done to prepare me to be successful in this moment? Does success mean a new stewardship to be responsible for?  Bottom line: We usually have no problems running to God in our failures, may He show us how to run to Him in our successes as well.

I was reading Galatians chapter 1 last night and was reminded amazing grace of God, which is found in the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul reminds us that Jesus “gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father” (Galatians 1:4). First, I am reminded that our deliverance cost Jesus his own life. Jesus was called to make a sacrifice and that sacrifice was the most significant one He could make. At a time of year when may people sacrifice or abstain from certain foods as a part of their Lenten celebration, I am reminded that no sacrifice that we make will ever compare with the sacrifice that He made.

Second, I am reminded that you and I needed to be delivered! We were held captive by something. We were slaves to sin and held captive by our own sinful desires. We were blinded by the god of this world, so that we could not see the glory of Christ and the beauty of true righteousness. Yet just as God delivered Israel from bondage in Egypt, through Lord Jesus Christ he has delivered us from the controlling influence of this evil age. At the same time, I am aware of my own tendency to be like Israel and sometimes think that returning to Egypt would be better than to continue to trust in the Lords provisions.

Finally, I am reminded that the coming of Christ was not an accident. It was not a matter of chance that Jesus was born when he was. It was not a coincidence that his life was fulfillment of Old Testament prophesies. Jesus was not merely in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was not the victim of fate. Rather according to the will of God, he came to earth on a mission. From birth until death, he knew a time was coming when he would lay down his life for His people, and when the time came he willingly submitted himself to punishment that we deserved.

Grace is indeed amazing!!! May we never forget.

What is it that keeps us from sharing the gospel with others? What prevents me from taking the time to meet other people who need to hear the good news of God’s saving work in Jesus Christ? With this post, I hope to begin a series looking at what keeps me (and likely you) from sharing the gospel with others…and propose a biblical solution to try and address the issue.

Barrier #1: Fear of Man

Let me start with the barrier which is probably the most common. We can be hesitant to share the good news with others because we are afraid of how they will respond. In most cases for me, I am afraid of looking “uncool” or creating some sort of awkward tension as a result of bringing up the topic. We might be afraid of losing a friend or having family members think that we have joined a cult. I extreme cases we might fear losing our job or having family members disown us. The bottom line is that we are afraid of how others will receive us or our message and how they might respond to us. This is what the bible refers to as the fear of man.

Even in the first century, there were believers who had to deal with the fear of man. John 12:42-43 tells us about religious leaders who believed in Jesus, but for fear of the Pharisees they would not make a public confession. Thankfully, John also pinpoints the problem when he adds, “for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God” (12:43). In other words, they cared more about what people thought about them than what God did.

Solution #1: Fear of God

So how do fight against the fear of man? Do we just have to muster up courage and try harder? No…we need to fight fear with fear. Jesus himself said, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can kill both body and soul in hell” (Matthew 10:28). In other words, if we are going to overcome our fear of man, we must have a greater fear of God. We must view God’s power and God’s approval as more important that man’s. Like David, we must remember that the battle belongs to the Lord (1 Samuel 17:47).

How foolish is it for us to fear men? They are created beings like you and me. Their strength and their wisdom are limited. Their lives are but a mere breath in eternity. Their opinions will not last forever. Any pain or suffering that they may cause us is limited to this life. On the other hand, God has no beginning and no end. His strength is unmatched and his wisdom is without limits. He alone is eternal and what He thinks will ultimately last forever. May we all long to here God say of us, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

I have heard it said that you should not let your past control you. How often do we hear of people whose present actions are somehow influenced by their past? When was the last time you did something simply because you have always done it that way? We are all under the influence of our past. Whether we like it or not our present reality is influenced by where we have been, what we have experienced, and the things we have done. The question we are confronted with is to what extent we are to be held prisoner by our past.

There may be no areas in which people struggle with the issue of overcoming the past than in the area of regret or guilt. Most people by the time they’re my age have done something they regret. We have all made ill-informed or foolish decisions. For a lot of us, those regrets are relatively harmless, but for others they are more serious. And to make matters worse, sometimes those decisions involve moral failures on our part. So, now regret turns to guilt. We try to hide it or forget about it, but the reality of our guilt tends to nag at us. Our failures have a way of not letting us forget.

But what if I said that our problem was not our ability to just put the past behind us, but rather an unwillingness to look beyond our own lives to another event in history that should have a radical impact on who we deal with regret and guilt. I am talking about the death of Jesus Christ. It is fitting that I write this with Easter approaching. This is supposed to be the time of year when we as Christians take a hard look at what happened in Jerusalem 2000 years ago and the effect it is supposed to have on our lives today.

The past is important…just read Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. In the first fourteen versus, he reminds us over and over again of what God has already done in the past. He “blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing” (1:3, cf. 1:6)), “he chose us in him before the foundation of the world” (1:4), “he predestined us for adoption” (1:5, cf. 1:11), and “he lavished” his grace on us (1:7). All of these blessings are stated in the past tense as a reminder that they have already been done for us.

However, the past is not without its present implications. In the same passage, Paul reminds us of the present benefits believers now enjoy in Christ. He reminds us explicitly that “we have redemption…the forgiveness of our trespasses” (1:6) and that “we have obtained an inheritance” (1:11). Even more, we know that we now enjoy the benefits of having been adopted into God’s family and the privilege of calling him, “Father.” We know that if our sins have been forgiven, then our past regrets and guilt should no longer hold sway over us.

So while our past may be full of regrets, as those redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, they no longer need to weigh us down with guilt. Instead, let them remind us of what we have been saved from, and let them fuel our worship of the One who died, so that we might live, and who was condemned, so that we could be set free.

And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” (Revelation 4:8-11)

In this passage, we see the four living creatures gathered around the throne of “the Lord God Almighty”. As they behold the one seated upon the throne, they are compelled to draw attention to His self-existence. He is the One, “who was and is and is to come!” He has no beginning or end. He is the same now as he was and as he will be. The Lord Almighty does not change! He is the same yesterday, today, and forever!!!

But this vision of the throne of God also includes the praise of the twenty-four elders, who praise the worthiness of the One who sits upon the throne. But of all the works of God they could consider in their praise, they focus their attention upon God as the sovereign creator of all things – “for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”. God was not compelled to create anything! You and I were not created by our will, but because of the will of God!

Questions to Ponder:
What are the implications of the reality that God is self-existent? How often do you remember that you exist by God’s will? You and I exist because God!! Do we exist as instruments to fulfill the will of God? Or does God exist as an instrument to fulfill our wills? If God is the Creator and we are part of His creation, who has the right to tell whom what to do?

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isaiah 6:1-3)

“The LORD of hosts” is the one to whom these seraphim ascribe the title “Holy, holy, holy.” LORD in all capital letters indicates to us that they were declaring Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as Holy. This is not some unknown deity that is declared to be holy, but the very God who revealed Himself to Moses in a burning bush (Ex. 3) and then delivered Israel from bondage in Egypt. (Ex. 14) and led Moses to declare: “Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders? (Exodus 15:11).  This same God had revealed Himself through the law and the former prophets, and now was making Himself known through the prophet Isaiah.

Twenty-five times in the book of Isaiah God is referred to as “the Holy One of Israel”. Therefore, it seems that this revelation of the holiness of God to Isaiah left a lasting mark on his prophetic ministry. In his vision, Isaiah, beholds seraphim ministering in the presences of the enthrone Lord of Israel and worshipping Him for His unrivaled holiness. Notice the immensity of this God – “his robe filled the temple” and “the whole earth is full of his glory”. His presence is pervasive. His glory is immense! He is so massive and majestic that “the whole earth is full of his glory!” There is no square of inch of all creation that does not in some way and in some measure display the glory of God. As we look around, we should see the glory of God, the glory of the LORD! As the Psalmist says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1).

Now here is something to think about: Do you see the glory of God displayed in the creation around you? Do you see the weightiness of God displayed in the thunderstorm or the calmest day? Do you see how the wonder of God is set forth in the solo sun that shines by day and millions stars that shine at night?

Before leaving Isaiah 6, we should take note of Isaiah’s response in verse 5: “And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”” Isaiah’s concern is over this “unclean lips” and that he “dwells in the midst of a people of unclean lips”. This is no little concern. He declares, “Woe is me! For I am lost…” He not just convicted but terrified. He is undone. He is uncomfortable (to say the least). What has brought on this fear? It has been brought about by His beholding “the King, the LORD of hosts!”

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)