Obligated, Eager, and Unashamed

I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek (Romans 1:14-16).

The Apostle Paul makes three statements here that sum up his attitude towards evangelism and spreading the Gospel:

1. I am obligated (I am debtor).
2. I am eager (I am ready).
3. I am not ashamed.

Sad to say, our attitude towards evangelism can often be summarized in opposite terms. When it comes to the difficult work of real evangelism, we seemingly have little sense of obligation, no enthusiasm, and considerable embarrassment. In fact, those of us in Western society may even feel like it is our obligation to keep quite unless we cross the lines of the politically correct.

If you no longer feel obligated, eager, and unashamed about sharing the Gospel, try to remember back to the time you were first saved. You know exactly where I am going with this. These three words describe the new convert perfectly. And they should always remain our attitude toward evangelism.

Obligated:

Why am I obligated? Allow me, in this short space, not to get too theologically deep. Let’s just answer this question using simple logic. We are obligated to share the Gospel because Jesus told us to. Every child of God is called to be a witness and is given power to fulfill this calling (Acts 1:8). We have a duty and an obligation to our Savior.

We are obligated to share the Gospel in every nation (Matthew 28:19). Everybody needs to hear this message at least once. If you believe the consequences of rejecting or accepting this Gospel, then your burning desire should be that all would hear the name Jesus and come to know Him.

Eager:

Paul said “I am ready.” My guess is that this is were the breakdown comes for many Christians. We love the Gospel and we may even feel obligated to share the Gospel, we just don’t feel very eager. Instead of sharing, we allow fear, doubt, and worry to hinder us and we carry around the guilt of feeling obligated but not acting. We live in a fast-paced, busy world. If we are looking for excuses to not share the Gospel, we will find them in abundance. But if we ever cast off our complacency and see one soul led to Christ with our help, we will forever be eager to share and share again.

Unashamed:

Paul was not speaking here of his confidence in his ability to communicate or convince. He was speaking of the Gospel’s ability to save. We certainly have nothing to be ashamed of. This Gospel works! It is the power of God unto salvation. It has never failed someone who has believed.

Recipe For A Party

Luke 15 gives us three familiar parables; each one alike in three ways; in each parable something is lost, it is found, and it is celebrated. I’m not sure where you stand on the issue but, as for me and my house, celebrations are a good thing. In fact, I’m looking for excuses to celebrate!

Let’s Party!

Luke 15 gives us a fail-proof way to get the party started; find something that was lost! The shepherd found his lost sheep and was overjoyed. The woman found her lost coin and threw a party. The father’s lost son came home and everyone was happy! Well, almost everyone.

There was the other prodigal son. No, he hadn’t left home and squandered his inheritance like his brother, but his desires were so far from the desires of his father that he might as well have. The great joy of his father at the return of his brother would be fitting evidence of his love for his father but he refused to join the party.

We should constantly be looking for an excuse to party. As a Christian, there are only two reasons why you aren’t celebrating: either you aren’t seeing the lost found or your desires don’t match God’s desires. If the lost aren’t being saved: make a friend, invite them to church, teach a Bible study, and demonstrate the love of Jesus. If your desires don’t match the heart of God, pray that He would change your heart to love the things that He loves.

The angels will throw a party in your honor!

Trading Easy For Effective

In his book Tribes, Seth Godin suggests that we forget about the easy and focus on the effective.  “The easiest thing to do is react,” he says.  “The second easiest thing is to respond.  But the hardest thing is to initiate.”

Reacting speaks of being unprepared and under equipped.  It is almost always used with a negative connotation.  Zig Ziglar says, “Reacting is what your body does when you take the wrong kind of medicine.”  We say things like, “He had a bad reaction!”

Responding is much better than reacting.  For example, most people react to an emergency but an EMT responds to an emergency.  Or a similar example would be a firefighter; he is prepared and equipped to deal with fires, but he has no control over when and where the fire will be.  The result is that he responds to one fire after another.

Initiating is what’s really effective.  Initiators see things that others don’t see.  They make things to happen.  They create change.  As Seth puts it, “They cause the events that others have to react and respond to.”  They start the fires!

Think of how all of this relates to the important task of witnessing.

Are you a reactor?  When someone asks what you believe or why you conduct yourself the way you do are you left stammering for a response?  Does your response usually start with, “Well, my church teaches…”  If so, you may be unprepared and under equipped.  That normally leads to a bad reaction.

Are you a responder?  I agree that our life should be lived as an example of Christ’s love to everyone around us, but we tend to use that as a crutch when it comes to witnessing.  We say things like, “I will witness to them if they ask me first.”  That is a very responsive approach to witnessing.  Much more effective than reacting, but still not the greatest.

The most effective (and most difficult) approach to witnessing is to be an initiator.  Speak up!  Open your mouth and tell somebody.  Use wisdom to create opportunities to share your testimony. 

Trade the easy for the effective; start a fire!

Methods

Methods!

 

What is a method?  What methods for evangelism/revival work?  Which ones don’t work?  What methods did the early church use?  What methods were used during the revivals in the early 1900’s?  Would those methods still work?  Did they really even have methods?  Is that a method, or an excuse to neglect Truth?

This is a short list of the “methods” questions being talked about in coffee shops, debated on twitter, and written about in numerous articles.  It is a question I have wrestled with personally.  In fact, I have wrestled with the question of “am I wrestling too much with the question of methods?”

I am not here to proclaim that we should shut down every conversation about methods, not by any means.  But before we spend too much time on methods, we better make sure that we are giving the proper time and effort to the foundational methods; there are some methods which have always been, and will always be, a part of every revival and outpouring of God’s Spirit and Truth. 

From the birth of the Church until this present day and every day following, prayer has always been the foundation and precursor to an outpouring of God’s Spirit and a revelation of Truth.

Leonard Ravenhill put it like this, “The Church began with these men in the ‘upper room’ agonizing – and today it is ending with men in the supper room organizing.  The Church began in revival; we are ending in ritual.”

What we need before we focus on any other method is men and women that will give themselves to agonizing, soul-stirring, hell-fighting, door-opening intercessory prayer for a lost and dying world.  Hopefully we spend as much time in prayer as we spend debating, discussing, organizing, and implementing other methods. 

If we will give ourselves to prayer first, I believe four things will happen.

     1.  We will learn to rely on God rather than any method.  Prayer and fasting (and similar disciplines) are the only universal methods that will work in all places at all times. 

     2.  God will give us wisdom to utilize methods that will work in our culture in our time.  Obviously these could look incredibly different from city to city, state to state, and especially country to country.

     3.  All honestly employed, Biblically aligned methods will garner results.  I have to believe that if we will prayerfully do our part, that God will honor that by “drawing all men.”

     4.  We will easily discern the difference between a method and a neglecting of Truth.  Leading with prayer will not lead us to leave Truth.

Allow me to express my opinion this way.  I write.  But most of the time I stew.  I convince myself that I’m doing something important, but really I’m just stewing.  There comes a point when even the good work of preparation, study, source gathering, organizing, and outlining begins to impede the actual work of writing.  Almost every time I write, I reach a point at which I must convince myself to stop the busy and start the real work.

Isn’t that kind of where we are?  I agree that methods are important and I am not against discussing what will work.  But it won’t matter if I am not doing the actual work (and maybe work isn’t a good term, but I think you understand).

Please, pray for lost souls.  Pray for revival.  Pray for an outpouring of God’s Spirit.  Pray for Truth to be revealed to the hearts of men.

Pray.  And then pray some more.  Maybe God will reveal the method that you need to use in your city while you are praying?