Evangelism; June 11, 2018

Luke 1:76-77 “And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins.”

I can hardly even imagine what a rush it must have been for Zechariah to be given a prophecy like this about his own son, for whom he had waited for so long. John was indeed everything this prophecy says about him, but it is important for us to understand how this applies to us. It might seem like hubris to compare yourself to John the Baptist, but every believer in Jesus Christ is called to “give His people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins.” That’s what evangelism is all about. We mistakenly talk about “getting people saved,” but all we can do is give them the knowledge that salvation is possible; the rest is up to their response to God’s invitation. That’s why Jesus commissioned us as witnesses. (Acts 1:8) A witness testifies to the truth; they don’t make things up. I have heard the term, “creative evangelism,” but that’s simply finding novel ways to get people’s attention, and it is helpful only when that “creativity” is directed by the Holy Spirit. When we give people the knowledge of salvation by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) we are “preparing the way for the Lord,” as this passage says. He is the One who saves, not us. Our part is real, and important, but we are no more than messengers imparting information.

This of course applies fully to my life and work here. I desire to transmit the knowledge of Christ to those around me, but there are many obstacles. Apart from the active interference of the devil and his demons, (of which there is plenty) there is the simple fact that most of the people I deal with have no framework to understand what I’m telling them. Buddhism lacks the concept of salvation entirely, saying that “emptiness” is the ultimate goal, and Shinto is better described as a collection of superstitions than as a formal religion. That said, the world Paul faced was no better. I really understand why he always went first to the synagogue, if there was one, because a right understanding of the Old Testament will certainly prepare your heart for Christ. However, even that was no guarantee the Gospel would be accepted, and in general his fiercest enemies were Jewish. I am not to give up, or even complain about the difficulty of my task, but rejoice to be allowed to share Christ with people who would otherwise have no opportunity for salvation. The devil tries to get me to feel that people’s response is all about me, but that’s a lie. If I am being true to Christ, people are responding to Him, either positively or negatively, and I’ve got to leave it in His hands.

Father, thank You for this reminder. I know this truth full well, but I still grieve over those who don’t receive Your Gospel. I pray that You would pour out Your Spirit of repentance and faith, on this city and on this nation, for a mighty harvest in Your kingdom, 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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