April 27, 2011

John 20:31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

John was fulfilling the commission that Jesus gave in verse 21. The Father had sent Jesus so that people could believe in His gracious act of atonement on the cross and receive life (John 3:16). Since Jesus relayed that commission to those who believed in Him, John applied himself to record what he could of Jesus’ life, in particular those things that had not already been recorded by Matthew, Mark, and Luke, so that as many as possible could read and believe, and receive eternal life. The number of people who have been saved by reading John’s Gospel is incalculable, but it is huge. The point is, what are we going to do to fulfill our part of that commission? Everyone who has received life in Christ is charged with communicating that life to others. Each of us is to do it in slightly different ways, according to our circumstances and gifting, but no one who has received is exempt from this commission. The devil uses two big lies to try to block this. The first is, “it’s not my job.” That’s what the clergy/laity divide is all about. The devil wants to convince the average believer that it’s the job of professional Christians, not them, to communicate the Gospel. The second lie is, “I could never do that.” This seems to be particularly prevalent in Japan, which has a strong tradition in every area of society of leaving things up to professionals, because “only they can do it right.” Here too the clergy/laity nonsense comes into play. No merely human being can save any other human being anyway, so what’s the big deal? It’s all a matter of our being available for God to use us in saving others, not a matter of what ability we had in the first place.

This is a message I’ve been trying to get through to believers for as long as I’ve been in ministry. Regardless of gift mix, experience, or anything else, I don’t have access to most of the people the church members interact with every day. I cannot present the Gospel to the members’ friends because I don’t interact with them. The members might not be especially skillful in presenting the Gospel, but in this country, they are likely the only Christian contact most of their friends have. Easter Sunday was a powerful wake-up call. As one person said, “Where did all these people come from?” The point is, this church had many first-time visitors largely because just two believers decided to invite people. Inviting people to church isn’t the same as giving a full Gospel presentation, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction, and it’s not very difficult. Most of the church people have been convinced that even if they did invite people they wouldn’t come. Sunday’s eye-opener was that they will come.

Father, thank You again for this past Sunday, and for Your perfect timing. Thank You for the message and theme of discipleship training that You had already given me. Help me follow through, not just this coming Sunday but day by day, week by week, training and equipping the believers for the works of ministry You have for them, just as it says in Ephesians 4:12. May everyone in this church believe and understand that You can and will use them to draw others to you, and so step out in obedience and anticipation of what You are going to do, for the salvation of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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