Evangelism; September 7, 2019

Psalm 107:1-3 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures for ever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say this—
those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
those he gathered from the lands,
from east and west, from north and south.

This whole Psalm is a recitation of things that people had done in turning their backs on God, and then what He did when they turned back to Him. This first statement encompasses all such people, and says what they should do: proclaim that the Lord is good, and His love/mercy/grace (the Hebrew has many shades of meaning) endures forever. This was written presumably after the Babylonian captivity, but it seems to apply even more today, when God has literally gathered Jews from all over the world to reconstitute the nation of Israel in the Promised Land. However, this truth isn’t limited to Jews. As Paul tells us, all who live by faith in God are children of Abraham. (Romans 4:11-12, and others) Anyone who has turned to God and discovered His deep grace and mercy needs to talk about it! We get tied in knots thinking about personal evangelism, but it is really nothing more than what this is talking about. We create all sorts of systems and train people in them, wondering why we don’t get many converts, when the Biblical pattern is far more simple: live your life in gratitude for what God has done for you, and when people ask about it, tell them. (1 Peter 3:15-16 Some translations separate the verses differently.) The problem is, few people seem to grasp just how much God has done for them, and so fail to live with a radiant hope and joy that draws others to desire it for themselves. Part of the problem is that we think we deserve an easy life, when nothing could be further from the truth. All of us have effectively spat in God’s face and participated in nailing Jesus to the cross. Failing to realize that gives us the wrong attitude right from the start. We don’t appreciate God’s grace until we understand how much we need it, but once we do, our gratitude overflows and we indeed proclaim, “The Lord is good, and His loving, gracious mercy endures forever.”

This of course applies to me as much as it does to anyone, but it didn’t really click until I was 24. When God showed me how black my heart was with pride toward Him, I was devastated, because I was raised to love Jesus and thought I was a good Christian! In the almost 50 years since then I have learned more and more of the depth and height and outright magnitude of God’s grace and love, and I expect to learn even more when I am before His throne. (Ephesians 3:17-19) Evangelism is difficult in Japan for a number of reasons, starting with the fact that it is a “shame culture” rather than a “sin culture,” but I am never to draw back from sharing the goodness of God, not as one who dispenses it but as one who has received it and wants others to do likewise.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the people who came to see me yesterday, and for guiding our conversation so that we ended up giving quite a testimony to the other three men in my room. I pray that what they heard would pique their interest and draw them to learn more of You, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

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