Christianity is God’s chosen vehicle to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ in the world. More specifically, it is the Spirit-filled church members who spread the Gospel to the uttermost part of the earth.
The visible church often looks weak and vulnerable in its operations. There is so much activity in some places and so little activity in other places. There is freedom in some locations, and in others the church is illegal.
The devil, despite his defeat at the Cross, remains in opposition as the message is spread through every generation. Our ancient foe still does us woe. The enmity of Genesis 3:15 is locked in for every place and every generation. The seed of the woman and the seed of the devil have battled in every generation. Inspired men from both categories have brought much good or much evil into history.
The decisive conflict has occurred. It was told from the point of the fall, and with progressive revelation, One from the seed of the woman would come and secure the ultimate victory against the wicked opposition. Jesus Christ came into the world at the appointed time in the conflict. He was born of a woman (Gal 4:4). The eternal Son of God was the anointed Son of man, who came to rescue His people and destroy the works of the devil (1 Jn 3:8).
The Cross of Jesus Christ was the dramatic climax of the history. It was the turning point. The real climax will come at His glorious appearing, the Second Advent. To study the Old Testament prophets takes discernment and the help of the Holy Spirit. At times, one reads of the first advent of Jesus Christ, and in the same scrolls are allusions to His second coming.
Old Testament saints were believers in Jesus Christ, just as New Testament saints. They were hearing the current revelation of the coming Messiah. They spoke what they heard from God. They spread the message of a coming King, who would establish His kingdom, and His kingdom would be, forever. This is our message, today. The continuity between Israel and the church is simply a matter of what we know from the revelation given to us.
It is written, and what is written, is preached to all creation (Mk 16:15). The Gospel, under the direction of the Holy Spirit reaches the elect of God in every generation. Jesus Christ promised His people He would lose not even one of those whom the Father had given Him (Jn 10:29). The reconnaissance mission of Christ in the rescue of His beloved will not fail.
Every Christian is a missionary to the world, and each Christian is an evangelist. We have a message to proclaim to all people everywhere (Mt 24:14; Acts 1:8). The topic of evangelism has been tackled by many practitioners and authors. It has its own internal debates. It remains an art, not a science. However, there are some things for us to consider.
First, evangelism is not a program to be studied and then practiced by the extroverts among us. When Paul encouraged Timothy to do the work of an evangelist (2 Tim 4:5), he was not suggesting a career change for the young pastor.
If one has been born again (Jn 3:1–8; 1 Pet 1:3), she is adopted into a family with a history (1 Cor 12:13). She shares in the family history, having become part of its history. A Christian tells the biblical story because it is her story along with all other children of God. Every story has a main protagonist, and for every Christian, Jesus Christ is the hero of our story.
With the explosive reach of the media, through technological advances in recent years, one would expect the Gospel message to envelope the earth. Have they not heard? We must not forget we are in a war, and when a means to advance the Gospel to more people is made available, the devil employs the same means to further his deception (Eph 6:12). Our task remains, and we must remain diligent to perform the task of being evangelists, telling the old, old story of Jesus and His love for His people (Dt 10:15; Jn 15:13; Eph 5:25; 1 Jn 4:19).
Second, the indwelling Spirit operates in a clean environment because He is holy. A new believer in Jesus has been sullied by the world. She is filthy with accumulated sins. The agent of transformation is the Holy Spirit (Rom 12:2; 1 Pet 1:2). The process of cleaning up a sinner, who has been transformed into a saint, is called, “sanctification.” This is God’s will for you (1 Thess 4:3)!
Jesus prayed for His people, “Sanctify them with the truth, Your Word is truth (Jn 17:17).” Jesus knew God is the agent of sanctification. He was asking for the extension of grace from heaven for our holiness. The Word of God, in the employ of the Holy Spirit, is the powerful instrument for setting God’s chosen people apart from the world and apart unto God (Rom 15:16; 1 Thess 5:23; 2 Thess 2:13).
The Spirit-filled believer is being made holy. Holiness is God’s imperative for His people, “Be ye holy, for I am holy (1 Pet 1:16).” When God gives an imperative, He also provides the grace to meet His own demands. Being a saint and becoming more of a saint is not a self-help program. He is the Potter, and we are the clay (Jer 18:1–10; Rom 9:18–21).
The sanctified people of God are the evangelists. Holiness is a place where the Holy One does His work. If you want to be an evangelist, you must pursue holiness. Without holiness, no one will see the Lord (Heb 12:14), let alone see the Lord at work (Jn 3:3).
The Bible is filled with sanctified evangelists. They are men and women of God, who demonstrate faithfulness to God, despite their obvious sinful flaws. Faithfulness is a fruit of the Holy Spirit at work in them (Gal 5:22). Abraham believed God because he was a Spirit-filled man…who struggled with fear. Jacob believed God because he was a Spirit-filled man…who struggled with deceit. Moses believed God because he was a Spirit-filled man…who struggled with anger. David believed God because he was a Spirit-filled man…who struggled with lust. Paul believed God because he was a Spirit-filled man…who struggled with the flesh (Rom 7).
God has matured the faith of His faithful ones in every generation. He has caused them all to suffer so they might learn obedience (Heb 5:8). He disciplines the children He loves (Heb 12:4–11). He has promised the end of our sanctification will be glorification (Rom 8:30).
Jesus Christ has made us to be lights in the world (Mt 5:14; Jn 1:9; Phil 2:15). The prince of darkness despises our illumination, and he does what he can to snuff us out. Jesus prayed for us in this regard, too. “Keep them from evil,” does not mean we will not suffer much in our Christian life (Col 1:24; 2 Pet 1:20). Job suffered, but the devil was restrained from causing the death of this man of faith. The mention of his name is a testament to the fact that he is dead, he still speaks (Heb 11:4). The brightest stars from the past still shine.
Third, sanctified evangelism cannot fail. If God set you apart before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4–5; Rev 13:8; 17:8), and if Christ valued eternal communion with you enough to lay down His life for you (Jn 10:11, 15), and if the Spirit has opted to make your soul His permanent abode (Heb 13:5), then you have assurance from the Triune Godhead of a hope and a future (Jer 29:11).
God’s ways are not man’s ways (Is 55:9). Programs come and programs go, but God’s method of sanctified evangelism remains the same. It is the Holy Spirit working the Word of God into our hearts and minds over time (Mt 28:20; Tit 1:9; Jas 1:21). This is the way of the Lord. God ordained it for His glory. Christ Jesus exemplified it. The Holy Spirit is at work in every believer to will and to do God’s good pleasure (Phil 2:13).
The shekinah glory filled the Temple at Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit fills the child of God, who is but one living stone in the church, the Temple of the Holy Spirit (Eph 2:20–22). For such a time as this, God has put you in His hand to craft you with precision (Rom 8:29; 9:18–21). His purpose is to fit you into His church, where you are intimately connected with the living stones around you. Your placement into Christ’s church, and the evidence of your increasing holiness through means of grace, is what makes you shine with the light of His glory.
Heavenly Jerusalem is a translucent city of light from the inside. Precious stones of every kind show their brilliance from the inside of the structure projecting outward. Here is sanctified evangelism depicted. It is the city of God set on a hill in a world of darkness (Mt 5:14). You belong to that city (Phil 3:20). She is our mother (Gal 4:26). We are filled with light. We are perfectly positioned by His gracious providence.
By way of application, what must we do to live this glorious life? The same truth, fully capable of cleaning you up, is the truth that is shining like the morning sun. Christ in you is the rising sun in the dark lives of others. Your light cannot be hidden under a basket. It is rising, and it is reaching those who live in darkness.
Let your light so shine before men. Some we will see and believe. They are not looking at you with all your deficiencies. They can see right through you, and because of this they can see Christ in you. Preach Christ with your life, and when they ask about the hope in your effulgent translucence, then tell them it is not you, but Christ in you (Gal 2:20; Col 1:27). He will make some of them understand, and the story will continue until its final climax and eternal resolution.
Spokane Valley, Washington
March 31, 2021