Evangelism; August 31, 2020

Acts 8:4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.

This verse first struck me a long time ago. This was the response to significant, organized persecution in Jerusalem, energized by Saul of Tarsus, as it explains in verse 3. Though the persecution had been triggered by the proclamation of Jesus as the Messiah, those fleeing the persecution continued to proclaim Him everywhere they went. In other words, they were demonstrating the reality of what Peter and John had told the Sanhedrin: “We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:20) Too many Christians today can’t be persuaded to say a word about Jesus! I think a big part of the problem is that they haven’t really experienced Him, but have simply accepted a set of propositions about Him, perhaps as a cultural thing. In that sense, the current turmoil in the US may turn out to be a great blessing, because in attaching a cost to holding a Biblical world view, it is waking many people up as to what is important and valuable. Too many Christians don’t really understand what people need to be saved from, so they have no impetus to take part. Yesterday one of the believers here gave a powerful testimony of being moved by the story we’ve read recently of the man who had been lame from birth. (Acts 3) She was moved because she too was born with a handicap, in the sense that she was born into a violent, dysfunctional family. She was always strong physically, but she recognized that she had a problem from birth as much as the man healed by Peter and John. She met Jesus only after a first, failed marriage, but her transformation has been so great that she has brought her 2nd husband and his brother into the family of God along with her. She doesn’t stop talking about the goodness of God any more than the believers mentioned here did. The Church needs more like her!

I didn’t become active in evangelism myself until I was filled with the Holy Spirit in 1974, so I have no room to feel superior to silent believers. I understand the words credited to Francis of Assisi, “Preach constantly. When necessary, use words.” If our lives aren’t congruent with the Gospel we speak, people won’t pay attention. However, words are necessary, because the Gospel has content. It’s not just a matter of emotion, though some are deceived into thinking it is. As a pastor I desire that everyone under my care be active in sharing the Lord they have encountered, and that was the focus of yesterday’s message. The vast majority of Japanese have little or no framework to understand or receive the Gospel, but we’ve got to start somewhere. It is by believers sharing what they have received that the kingdom of God is advanced, just as the sister said so boldly yesterday.

Father, thank You for yesterday and all it held. I pray that Your Word and Your Spirit would continue to work in each person who heard, filling them and overflowing from them to produce a great 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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