The Urgent Need For Local Evangelism
“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” – 2 Cor 4.
Let me ask you a few questions if you are a Christian today. Do you love your country? Do you care about the people of your country? Are you concerned about the state of our nation? Do you want to see souls saved and the churches full once again? Do you desire to see souls singing the praises of God? If this is your earnest desire then we must, I repeat we must, faithfully proclaim the gospel. Let me address you in all affection about your soul. Let me be very clear. If we want to see God’s name lifted high once again in the United Kingdom then we must preach the gospel. If we want to see this land return to the God of the Bible, then we must declare the gospel. The gospel is at the heart of the Christian faith. It is the fundamental element of our faith. No gospel means no Christianity.
I love my country very much. This is why it pains me to see the way we are going as a nation. We are sinking deeper and deeper into sin by promoting that which is contrary to God’s law. The United Kingdom and all nations for that matter will do well to remember what God said in Psalm 9:17, “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” The United Kingdom by and large is a nation that has forgotten the God that made it Great Britain. The Empire on which the sun never set has fallen and fallen spectacularly. My heart is full of sorrow to see what we have turned into. The country is unrecognizable to the one that existed 50 years ago. Our society has changed greatly. The attitude of the British people has changed. Our culture has changed, and not all for the best.
Today, sadly many Christians look to Pastors, Churchmen and Elders to proclaim the gospel. It is not the primary responsibility of Pastors to do the work of an Evangelist. The responsibility of the Pastor is to take care of the church in which he is appointed to serve. Remember that God has called everyone to share the Good News. Let’s be frank here, we are not going to see a revival of truth in the established Church of England, the institution that was founded upon divorce and unbiblical principles. Many people look to the Church of England and think, well that is Christianity. Let me tell you that the Church of England was once a voice of truth, once home to great men of the faith, once the bulwark that stood up for Christianity in Britain. But, now the Church of England has bowed down to the pressures put on them by the liberal elite and the politically correct establishment that runs the Anglican Church in the UK. The Church of England does not hold strongly to the authority of Scripture, does not faithfully teach the Bible as the literal Word of God and does not proclaim the Lord Jesus Christ of Holy Writ, who said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” The Bible declares “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture! says the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:1) One does wonder if the wolves in sheep’s clothing that stand behind the pulpits of England know that God will deal with those who lead people astray very harshly indeed. The Bible declares, “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment” (James 3:1). The Anglican Community in Africa and other places who still hold to Evangelical Christianity are a great blessing to the body of Christ.
John Wycliffe once said, “Holy Scripture is the highest authority for every believer, the standard of faith and the foundation of reform.” Christian, I ask you today. What is your authority? Do you place your trust in the wisdom of this world that the Bible calls foolishness? Or do you place your trust in the Word of God that has been the cornerstone of truth for over 2,000 years? As R.C. Sproul once said, the problem with the modern church is, we have forgotten who we are and we have forgotten who God is. The god of the modern church is one of, I think, and In my view. Well God is not a God of I think. He is a God of “Thus says the LORD” revealed to us in Scripture. The modern church kicks God off the throne when the words I think are uttered. The modern church would boldly proclaim Jesus would not do that or Jesus would not say that even when Scripture is quoted. The men of the Church of England who lived before us would be spinning in their graves if they could only see what has happened to our nation. I think of men such as the first Bishop of Liverpool, J. C. Ryle and men such as Hugh Latimer, Nicolas Ridley, John Hooper, Thomas Cranmer, William and Samuel Wilberforce and John Newton to name a few. I ask what has happened to British Christianity. If we want to see this nation return to a strong faith in God and a fervent worship of Christ then we must pray that God will start a revival in our hearts. Yes, you read correctly, the cold and stagnant hearts of God’s own people. The Church, His bride, the ones He died for are cold to evangelism. They are cold to sharing the faith that Christ taught and cold to the condition of men’s souls. What is wrong with us? Wake up Britain! Awake and arise from sleep. God forbid it that we should ever be cold and uninterested in evangelism.
Men and women are dying and going to Hell because we can’t be bothered to share the gospel. We would rather have a lie-in on a Saturday than share the cure and remedy of sin. How many sleeping partners do we have in the church today? How many Pastors, preachers and Christians are at home in their armchairs on a Saturday afternoon or doing the weekly shop, blending in with the world as inconspicuously as possible, not willing to stick their head above the parapet? Search your heart Christian. Are you really saved this hour? Do you have a burden for the lost? How many Christians are hiding in their bunkers, retreating from the world, too scared to fight the good fight of the faith? Are you really a blood-bought child of God if you prefer to fulfil your own selfish desires than to share the glorious gospel of truth? Are you sure you are a child of God today if you desire to fulfil the things that please your flesh? We need to have a burden for the people of this country. We must have a desire to reach them with the hope of Christ. Why as a church are we not preaching the Saviour of sinners to the lost? God can save souls without our aid, of course. However, that is not a valid excuse to be lazy about evangelism.
Romans 10: 14-15 says, “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 unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace Who bring glad tidings of good things!” Friends, let me be honest with you. We are not going to see a revival of truth in this land if we do not proclaim the gospel. If you want a harvest you have to sow. You have to break up the ground. You have to scatter the seed of God’s Word in the earth. You must broadcast the gospel far and wide. How can we expect the lost to be on fire for God when God’s own people are cold and lukewarm? How can we expect the lost to take the Bible seriously when God’s own people do not? How can we expect the world to turn to God in prayer when God’s own people will not? We are not going to see a change in this country if we just leave it to someone else. God has called every one of His people to proclaim the gospel. Now, this takes many different forms and is done in different ways depending on the circumstances. However ultimately if we do not share the gospel message then our nation is going to sink deeper into sin and the people of our nation are going to sink deeper into unrighteous living. It is our job as Christians to warn people in love of the dangers of sin and how God views sin. The greatest thing we can do for an unbeliever, the most loving thing we can do is share the gospel with them. To give them a chance to repent and believe. Preach the gospel to all people regardless of who they are and what their sin preference maybe. Share the gospel, and leave the convicting and convincing to God, for He is the only One that can change hearts. God is raising up men and women to be His messengers in the open air. The opportunity to share Christ’s atonement is right in front of us today. The opportunities to share Christ are right under our nose. Do you want to be involved in the conversion of souls to the truth? God’s word teaches us, “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:33) The words of Christ here should stir our hearts up to serve Him, to fear Him and to honour Him.
Faithful Christians are a nation’s best citizens. What I mean by this is that a faithful Christian will warn the nation when it is going in the wrong direction and give a biblical answer to the problems of the day. Will you dare to be a Daniel, dare to stand alone, dare to have a purpose firm and dare to make it known? A Daniel who will proclaim the gospel in a very hostile nation, a nation that hates the gospel and spits in the face of the Lord Jesus Christ. When writing this I was thinking of men such as Martin Luther and the Protestant reformers. Luther who took on the might of the Roman Catholic Church. The institution that controlled everything from the cradle to the grave. Will you take on the might of those who seek to destroy the souls and lives of God’s creation? Will you be a solider in Christ’s army today? Will you join His band and march to His beat? An army that does not fight with sword made of metal but with that sword that “is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” The sword that is the Word of God. God says, “Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?” (Psalm 94: 16)
The power of God is still available today. He can still save souls. He can still transform lives. However, we are not doing what Christ told us to do. Christ said, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mark 16:15-16) It is one thing supporting other people to go overseas and proclaim Christ there. What about the people of our own nation. What about the people literally next door to us, in our neighborhood, in the towns and cities where we live? We must try to reach our own people in the land that God has placed us. I for one do not believe in pure luck or chance. God has placed you and me in this country to share Christ here. We are not of this world but we are to be in the world for the purpose of proclaiming Christ. It is good to train men and women for missionary work both at home and aboard. There ought to be a desire in the hearts of God’s people to share the Good News with all and every tongue, tribe and nation.
We are pilgrims passing through this world on our way to the celestial City as John Bunyan wrote in his famous book Pilgrims Progress. Incidentally, a book that he wrote mostly in a cold, dark and damp prison cell. This world is not our home. The Apostle Peter wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11-12).
If we desire to see the Holy Spirit poured out on this land once again then we must do what is required of us. We must do as we are told! We need to be faithful to Christ, to proclaim righteousness, to hold up the truth, to shine the gospel light, to rebuke sin, to reprove the deeds of the devil and most importantly to die to self and live for Christ. Are you ready to serve your God faithfully even if it means losing friendships, loved ones, and all you have even known? Will you suffer for Christ? I challenge you read the Sermon on the Mount, to read the Acts of the Apostles and the letters of the first Christians. This will enable you to understand first-hand what the early church went through on a daily basis. The trials and the temptations of those endured by whom God has called are for a reason. Christian is one who lives for Him, who died for him.
We don’t talk about evangelism, we do it.
We don’t plan an evangelistic event, we do it.
We don’t think of ways to get people in, we go out to them.
We don’t pay someone to do it for us, we do it ourselves.
We don’t wait for others to join us, we make a stand alone.
Not everyone is called to be an open-air preacher or an evangelist, but we are all called to be witnesses for Christ. Anyone can hand out a tract or a leaflet explaining the gospel. Anyone can talk to people one to one. Evangelism could not be easier in this country today. We have liberty to do so and the protection of the law on our side! We must use the rights and privileges we have in this country or we may lose our rights as British subjects, and now as we are in the Computer Age, we even have open doors to share the gospel around the world from our homes. Over one billion people are active on Facebook. Of course, we cannot reach all of them with the gospel but we sure can reach a high number.
I would like to take a few lines to talk about social media and its place within our lives as Christians. Personally, I’m not a big fan of social media. I believe it can have a negative effect on people’s lives. It can do more harm than good. I’m old fashioned and I prefer the old ways of communication. However, if used correctly the power of social media is massive. I use social media, mainly for evangelism. I believe as Christians we can use social media for the promotion of the gospel and should not use it for narcissistic purposes like most people today. Social media has in many ways ruined society and the family and it is very addictive. Social media has ruined the mental and emotional well-being of many, especially young people. We should keep our use of social media to a limit.
I am sure you have heard of the famous hymn, “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus. I wonder if you know the story behind that hymn? Let me share with you the wisdom, faithfulness and trust in Christ behind the words of this timeless classic. In the 19th century in Wales there was a great revival. This resulted in many missionaries being sent to countries all over the world. One such man and his family went to India to witness to a tribe in the north of the country. The tribe mercilessly hunted down their enemies and hung their heads on a stick. The tribe were renowned for head-hunting. Many Christians today would not even entertain the idea of going to such a people. Anyway, that is beside the point, I digress.
The Welsh missionary family were not welcomed, and the tribe made that very clear to them. However, the missionary family knew that they were called by God, so continued to preach Christ and the gospel. As time went on and God worked in the hearts of one family in the tribe, they accepted Christ as Lord and Saviour. To say this displeased the tribal Chief would be an understatement. The Welshman and his family (a wife and two sons) were so on fire for Christ. God used their mission greatly as more villagers and families came to know Christ. The Chief of the tribe found out about the many people who were being lead to true faith in Christ. So the Chief captured the Christian family and commanded him to stop. The Christian man refused to stop, so the Chief told him if he did not stop and recant his faith in Christ, he was going to kill his children. The man loved his children dearly, but he knew that he could not forsake Christ. So he said the first line to this famous hymn,
I have decided to follow Jesus; No turning back, no turning back. The Chief of the tribe then commanded the archers to pull back their arrows to kill the children of the Christian family, which they did. As his children lay before him on the ground dead the Chief said to the man that he has one last chance to deny Christ or this time his wife would receive the same fate. The man then said the next part of this famous hymn, Though none go with me, still I will follow; No turning back, no turning back. Then before another word was spoken the archers shot dead his wife. Now with his family dead the Chief said to him, renounce Christ or this time we will kill you. The faithful Christian man looked up to Heaven and said, The world behind me, the cross before me; No turning back, no turning back .In anger and hatred the Chief ordered the arrows to be fired. In the blink of an eye and the beat of a heart the Christian man was transported from earth to heaven.
However, the story does not end here. With the entire Christian missionary family dead before him the Chief stood in awe and amazement at what just happened. He could not believe what he saw. He realised that through the faith of just one man the gospel was true. He realised that the faithfulness of this one man was in a God that is real. A God who was worth not just living for but dying for. Before the Christian man was shot dead he saw his children and wife being killed with arrows. The reports tell us that the Chief looked at the scenes before his eyes and realised the truth of the gospel and repented and believed in Christ for salvation. In the weeks and months after this many more tribal people came to faith in Christ. All because of one man from Wales. All because one family was willing to stand up and proclaim Christ. Never underestimate the power of your witness and the impact it has on the lives of others. Never doubt for a single second what God can do with poor insignificant people. People whom the world regard in the upmost contempt God chooses for His glory. Think of the 12 apostles, none of them were people of power or high regard. They were just 12 ordinary Jews from Israel and they turned the world upside down. So my final question for you is this, will you decide now to follow Jesus? No turning back, no turning back? Will you be the one to fill the gap?
I am going to lay my cards on the table and freely admit to you. I get fearful while preaching Christ. Witnessing to people that hate the Lord Jesus Christ and in some cases they will want to hurt you. I understand first-hand it is hard and fearful to be faithful. The apostles were scared, and they fled when Christ was arrested and tried. Peter even denied knowing Christ. We are only human; we have human weaknesses. Many times, we have not because we ask not. Ask Christ to aid you in reaching the lost. Christ himself was fearful in the Garden of Gethsemane before he was crucified. Christ knew that He was going to die for the truth. We are called to be faithful to the ministry of the gospel and leave the conversion up to the Lord and the Scriptures. We all get fearful of those who seek us harm but God will go with us in the battle. He will stand alongside us. He said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” God calms my heart and stills my fears. God will protect His people. We can’t die until God has called us home. God’s plan and will must be done, or He is not God. Deuteronomy 31:6 declares, “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
In 1 Corinthians 10:13 the Bible says, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” Let’s give God all that we’ve got. Let’s go with the cross before us and the world behind us. Go with God leading before us. Rather than setting New Year resolutions that will be broken in a few days or weeks. Set before yourself the Word of God and what He will have you to do this coming year. Have verses such as Romans 10:14 in mind, “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?” He who has ears to hear let him hear.
“For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels”