Saturday, 26 January 2013

God has given you a vital ministry. What are you doing with it?

I have been thinking about the light bulb moment when a person having heard the Gospel message and decides to put their faith in Jesus Christ. What is at that actually happens at that moment in the persons mind and much more importantly, what is that happens in the person’s heart?

Firstly we have to remember that God has chosen to use us to share the gospel with those people who don’t know Him. He wants us to tell people about the relationship that he longs to restore with them, because He gave us the ministry of reconciliation. In simple terms witnessing for Christ is our responsibility. We must obey the command that Jesus gave us to go and tell people about Him.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith." Romans 1:16-17

The Gospel has a power like nothing else. The message of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is a life changer. As an evangelist I have seen the power of the Gospel at work on a one to one basis, in large groups and while sharing on the streets or speaking at dinners. Something incredible happens when the Gospel is shared and I never tire of seeing its impact on the lives of people.

The point to notice is that the Gospel becomes a life changer when a person decides to believe. It is clear from the scripture that “It is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes”. We know that some people can hear it but still decide and choose not to believe it.

What happens before that decision making moment, when a person hears scripture, a message or a testimony of salvation in Christ? What is it that opens a person’s heart, so that they decide that they want to obey the Gospel, repent of sins committed and put their faith in Jesus Christ?

Making a decision for Christ always involves the work of the Holy Spirit and His work is essential to conversion. He convicts hearts of sin through the Word of God and proclamation of the Gospel. In every instance of conversion in the New Testament, the Spirit and the Word are never separated. The word of God was spoken to every person who was converted to Christ.

We can and should pray for friends, family and others to have a revelation of who God is and how He sent His only Son to die for them. Sometimes amazing things happen when we do this, as God moves upon a person’s heart. But the onus is really on us to talk to people about Jesus, communicating and engaging them with the word of truth.

I hardly ever quote from the Message version f the Bible, however its interpretation of the scripture regarding the ministry or reconciliation that has been given us by God, is very clear.

God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now.” 2 Corinthians 5: 20-21 Message Bible.

This made me ponder, “What am I doing with the task that God has given to me”? It is also a question that I must ask you. What are you doing in your role as an ambassador for Christ? Very likely you would agree that many of us could do more, step out of our comfort zones more often and take risks in sharing Jesus. Many of us need constant reminding to do this. When we do, the Holy Spirit goes right along with us. Incredibly He works through us.

The scripture speaks of God making His appeal for reconciliation through us. He has given both you and me that ministry and it is fact that we should not ignore.

Key Point: God had entrusted each of us with the ministry of reconciliation. 

We should let Jesus light shine through our lives and actions. This is vital because when the opportunity comes along to witness, we have credibility. In fact, we cannot make Gods appeal without actually saying something. At some point we have got to talk to people and tell them what Jesus did for us, through sharing our testimony, or sharing the Gospel in some way. 

This message is not intended to make people feel guilty, but rather its a reminder of what God says He wants us to do. Looking at scripture we will find clear commands from Jesus to tell people about Him. He always spoke with encouragement, pointing out our relationship with Him saying, “Do it because you love Me”.

When we share the Gospel the Holy Spirit is always there working through us and He has the power to open the hardest of hearts. We just have to believe this as we share it. Gods Word is alive and working! We are living proof of the fact. The Holy Spirit opened your heart, and mine at some point. Yes, our own light bulb moments.

Scripture that spoke about Jesus opened my heart. As you share, scripture will have the same impact on others. Make a concrete decision to believe God, believe the scriptures and share the message - then watch the power of the Gospel do its work.  

“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” Hebrews 4: 12

Pray asking God in prayer to use you. If you mean it, He will do it.

Oh, and what was the scripture that opened my heart?

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”. John 3: 16

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

When we witness it helps to understand how non-Christians think

If you have been a Christian for years, or maybe you came to Christ at a young age then there is a possibility that you have forgotten the way that non-Christians think. The more time you spend with Jesus the more you become like Him. As a result of this, its natural that our thoughts start to change.

In some churches the members don’t socialise, interact or get involved with those who don’t believe, because they feel that they have nothing in common. They end up only socialising with people who share their beliefs. They become like hermits, shutting themselves off from the outside world.

However the Bible teaches that we are supposed to be out there, meeting with people and eagerly seeking for opportunities to share the good news. As I have often said – “If we don’t witness for Christ, who else will”?

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1: 18

People who are un-churched rarely look for God. By His grace He reveals Himself to some people in extraordinary ways and it changes the way that they live. But many people are just too preoccupied with their busy lives and miss Him because they don’t take time to think about what will happen when they die. Apparently we start to think about death more often from the age of about thirty five. Having worked in the life assurance industry I would agree with that. But most people only think of what they will leave behind, rather than considering where they will spend eternity.

To some, the message of the cross is either a story or it seems difficult to believe. It may simply appear foolishness to them as they are unable to understand it. When I first heard about Jesus dying on the cross it didn’t make any sense to me at all. Somebody had to explain it to me.

"He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn--and I would heal them." John 12: 30

My mother told me a story a few years ago about a young lady who went in to a jewellery shop to buy a crucifix. The shop sales assistant dutifully presented her with a tray full of different types and sizes. She seemed unable to make up her mind. After a minute or two she asked the sales assistant, “Do you have one with the little man on it”?

Society has changed considerably during my lifetime and there are many more people like that who know nothing of Jesus and the incredible sacrifice that He made at Calvary. As I often point out, when I see a crucifix with the Lord nailed to it, I say, “He is no longer on the cross, He is risen”.

Key Point: People need to have the Gospel explained to them. The Lord wants to use you to do it. 

Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Acts 8: 30-31

People need to have the Gospel explained to them. The Lord wants to use us to do it. Firstly, though, we need to understand how the un-churched think. Here are some typical comments that non believers make:
  • I tried reading the Bible once, but found it hard to understand.
  • I really get very angry when I hear Christians saying that they know everything.
  • I don’t believe that Christians have much fun because they live by a list of rules
  • I was given a church leaflet in the street the other day. It was so badly produced though and had a lot of text and Bible verses on it. I can’t see how any of it relates to me.  
  • I wouldn’t go to a church on my own, even if I wanted to. I’d feel like a fish out of water
  • I don’t really know any Christians. Otherwise I would try to find out more and ask some real questions, though I worry about being preached at. 
  • I really don’t understand what this religious stuff is all about.
We need to ask God to guide us in which ways to reach people.  There are some great witnessing initiatives that are very effective. However, there are some fundamental things that we should be doing every day in our mission to share the Gospel, whilst remembering how people think, because many will not be looking for God.  Somebody has to tell them about Jesus. It should be you!

Have look at the list below. How many of the suggestions do you use on a regular basis? What would happen if you used them all on a regular basis for the next year?  

To be an effective witness for Christ, remember to:

  • Pray for specific people who don’t know the Lord as Saviour, asking God to give me ‘divine appointments’
  • Read and study ways to witness
  • Mix with other soul winners
  • Always have tracts available to hand out when opportunities arise
  • Know how to share your testimony in 2, 5 and 10 minute explanations
  • Let people see Jesus in your life and actions
  • Know how to present ‘the Roman road’, or share the Gospel in a simple way
  • Step out of your comfort zone and witness
  • Trust the Holy Spirit to lead and guide you
  • Invite people to church or church events
  • Invite people to meetings that are visitor-friendly, dinners, breakfasts, men’s and women’s events
  • Ask a good friend to critique your testimony or Gospel presentation
  • Pray, pray, pray, because praying and witnessing go hand in hand.