Evangelism: is Christ’s heart yours?

Yesterday was Missions Sunday. The front part of the church sanctuary was lined with flags from around the world, representing at least 50 different countries. In the morning service, the choir sang “We have a mission.” Using Matthew 6:19-33, the guest speaker, a former pastor in Hamilton, Ohio, spoke on the rewards of putting God and His kingdom first – through a missions faith pledge. His congregation gave more than $1.3 million to missions last year. His church is only half the size of mine, and we gave much less! In the evening service, the congregation sang lines like “People from every nation and tongue / From generation to generation” [“You are good”] and “Shine Your light and let the whole world see / We’re singing for the glory of the risen King” [“Mighty to save”]. And a guest Ukrainian choir worshipped God in their own language. Afterwards, we enjoyed a “taste of the nations,” sampling foods from places like Argentina, Australia, England, Haiti, Israel, Italy, Japan, and the Ukraine, just to name a few.

So what, you may ask. Well, think about this wonderful vision John saw in Revelation: “After this, I beheld and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms [palm branches] in their hands, and cried with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb’” [7:9-10]. And in John’s vision of the New Jerusalem, “the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of [the Lamb]” [21:24]. What a beautiful portrait of redeemed people, from around the world, praising God! But it’s not going to happen without us. Yes, God can bring people to Himself on His own. But He chooses to send us as His messengers. Paul says, “God . . . hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation” [2 Corinthians 5:18; see also v. 19]. We are Christ’s ambassadors! [5:20]

The heart of God is evangelism! How do we know this? In Malachi, God told His servants He would send a “Messenger of the covenant,” Jesus Christ [3:1]. And what will this divine messenger do? He is sent “to preach the gospel to the poor . . . to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord” [Luke 4:18-19; also Isaiah 61:1-2]. Jesus tells Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” [John 3:16]. Why? “That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” [3:16]. Christ was “sent . . . into the world . . . that the world through Him might be saved” [3:17]. The world! By His blood, Christ redeems people “out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” [Revelation 5:9]. Jesus loves the world! Do we?

God the Father is the first mission board. And Jesus Christ the Son is the first missionary. When Jesus was twelve, Mary and Joseph wondered why He was talking with the teachers in the temple [Luke 2:46-48]. And He asked them, “Wist ye not that I must be about My Father’s business?” [2:40]. After He ministered to the Samaritan woman, Jesus told His disciples, “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me and to finish His work” [John 4:34]. Jesus preached to the multitudes, and healed and delivered many. But He also had His own missionaries. Twice during His ministry, Jesus sent His disciples to preach the coming of God’s kingdom [Matthew 10:1, 5, Mark 6:7-13]. He prayed in Gethsemane, “As Thou hast sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world” [17:18]. And after the resurrection He commissioned His disciples, “As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you” [20:21]. If we call ourselves Christians, we should have Christ’s heart! And the heart of Christ is missions. So, are we like God our Father? Are we like Christ our Savior and Lord? Are we ambassadors for the gospel [good news!] of Jesus Christ – whether to family, friends, co-workers, or strangers? Whether across the street, on the Internet, or in a foreign country?

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” [Matthew 28:19-20; see also Mark 16:15]. This is the Great Commission! And it’s for all of us! It’s not an option but a command. Are you willing to go and serve, to go and tell? Paul says, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” [Romans 10:13]. Then he asks, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!’” [10:14-15; see also Isaiah 52:7, Nahum 1:15] So, are you willing to be Christ’s mouth, hands, and feet to a dying world?

Some Christians think they don’t need to share Jesus with anyone. They’re content to keep the life-giving gospel to themselves. But this doesn’t make any sense! Jesus said, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven” [Matthew 5:14-16; also Luke 8:16, 11:33]. King David didn’t keep God’s goodness to himself. He declared, “I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips. . . .I have not hid Thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared Thy faithfulness and Thy salvation. I have not concealed Thy lovingkindness and Thy truth from the great congregation” [Psalm 40:9-10]. Those who see no need to share the good news are like the “wicked and slothful servant” with one talent who, fearful of the Master, “went and hid [His] talent in the earth” [Matthew 25:25-26]. Why hide the gospel? Go and tell!

In Song of Solomon Christ the Bridegroom is called the “lily of the valleys” [2:1] and “He feedeth [his flock] among the lilies” [2:16, 6:3]. Do you know what “lily” means? The Hebrew word shuwshan [or showshan] means “a lily (from its whiteness), as a flower of arch. ornament; also a (straight) trumpet (from the tubular shape)” [Strong’s 7799]. The root word suws means “to be bright, i.e. cheerful” [Strong’s 7797]. What does an Easter lily look like? It is a white flower shaped like a trumpet. When we believe on Jesus Christ, when we are spiritually baptized with Christ in His death and resurrection, what is our response? Spirit-filled joy! And what do we want to do? Tell the good news that Jesus saves! Have you experienced the power of Christ’s resurrection, the joy of Easter? If so, go and tell!

During Elisha’s ministry in Israel, what happened after four lepers discovered food outside the starving city of Samaria? They said to themselves, ““We do not well: this day is a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace . . . now therefore come, that we may go and tell the king’s household” [2 Kings 7:9].  So they returned to the city and told the porters, who then told the king, what they found in the Syrian camp [7:10-11]. What happened after the birth of John the Baptist? His father Zacharias’ tongue was loosened and “he spake and praised God” [Luke 1:64]. As a result, these things “were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judea” [1:65]. What happened after the shepherds visited the manger, after the angels announced Jesus’ birth? “They made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child” [2:17]. The same thing happened repeatedly during Jesus’ ministry. Whether or not He warned someone to keep quiet about a miracle, they usually went and told their story, proclaiming the truth that Jesus saves, heals, and delivers! One time, Jesus even told a delivered demoniac to “return to thine own house and shew how great things God hath done unto thee” [Luke 8:39]. Guess what? He obeyed! The man “went his way and published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done unto him” [8:40]. What happened after the 120 received the baptism of the Holy Spirit [Acts 2:1-4]? They didn’t stay in the upper room. They went out and spread the gospel! That very day, three thousand were saved! [2:41]

What happened after Isaiah “saw . . . the Lord, high and lifted up”? [6:1] He confessed his sins, an angel purged his lips, and then God asked, “Whom shall I send and who will go for us?” [6:5-8] Isaiah gladly responded, “Here am I; send me” [6:8]. What should be our response when we see Christ exalted? Like Isaiah, we should humble ourselves, confessing our sins. Many people get saved and think that’s it. But there’s more. Also like Isaiah, we should be ready to say “Here am I, send me.” Jesus didn’t save us to preserve us like pretty knickknacks on a shelf. He has called us to serve! What does the field look like? Jesus tells us, “Lift up your eyes and look on the fields, for they are white already to harvest” [John 4:35]. But there’s a problem. “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth laborers into His harvest” [Matthew 9:37-38; also Luke 10:2]. Are you praying for God to send workers into the field? Better yet, are you praying for God to send you?

Jesus promises us, “Ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” [Acts 1:8]. But does He expect us to share the gospel in our power [really weakness]? No! “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you” and THEN “ye shall be witnesses…” [1:8]. The disciples tarried in Jerusalem until they received the Holy Spirit and so should we.

The heart of Jesus Christ is evangelism. Is Christ’s heart yours?

Songs

Go Light Your World

God of this city

Jesus loves the little children

Jesus to the world

The language of Jesus is love

The mission

My name is Lazarus

No greater love

People need the Lord

Proclaim the glory of the Lord

Rescue the perishing

Shine, Jesus, shine

Testify

There is a hope [#2]

This little light of mine

Use me

We’ve a story to tell the nations

Witness 

***All Scripture references are the King James Version.

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