The book of Acts is a wonderful book explaining how Christ’s church grew during the 1st century. It amazes me every time I open its pages and see what started as a small group of people inside an upper room in Jerusalem to a movement that reached all corners of the known world. By the close of the 1st century the Gospel had been preached in all of Europe, including England, it had been preached in Asia, it had been preached all throughout Mesopotamia, as well as Africa. When we consider all the different cultures it had success being preached it, it amazes me even more. The Greeks were intellectuals, philosophers. They were known for doing a a lot of talking and very little action by the time the church was established. They exhausted every bit of information. If one looks at the Bereans who searched the scriptures and the Athenians who gathered at Mars hill you can see their desire to collect knowledge. The Romans were superstitious people. They lived in constant fear of offending the gods (in fact some of their superstitions gave rise to our modern superstitions. And yet, Paul was able to preach the gospel to them in a pseudo-religious culture. The barbarians of Europe (or ancient Germany) were thought to be completely godless. Their form of morality was thought to be corrupt even by Roman standards (think of how the native Americans were viewed by Europeans as they settled this country). And yet, there was such success that the Apostles took the message clear into England! Even the continent often referred to as the “Dark Continent” has some of the oldest Christian practices in Ethiopia.
There is little doubt that God’s word has the ability to reach people. The question that remains is whether or not God’s people really trust in his word. Sure, we say we believe it. We claim to live by it and for the most part we do. We don’t drink, we don’t do drugs, we don’t murder, steal, commit fornication, and remain faithful to our spouses (or so at least most of us are trying to live holy and righteous lives). However, that does not necessarily mean that you trust in God’s word. For many, not doing drugs or committing murder is nothing more than being a “good person.” We don’t do those things because it is unloving, unkind and regardless of what a person believes we think of these things as things people should be doing. Even in this country we have laws against much of these sins. In that way, we haven’t really changed our lives. If that is the case, who can we say we fully trust God’s word? My wife and I were talking earlier this week about our personal conversion accounts (as opposed to the conversion accounts recorded in Acts). What changed in us personally? Or did nothing change at all. If Gospel is God’s power to change us from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to the power of God (Acts 26:18), then what was the change in us? That is, what was the evidence of change in us that we no longer lived in the realm of darkness? It was a difficult question for me to answer. I talked about how I no longer felt guilty. But, that is not exactly the same thing it is? Countless Christians in this world share their personal salvation experience (the book of Acts records at least two occasions in which Paul shared his). They speak of how their world changed. How their friendships changed. How their family relationships changed. But what about you. If you really trust God’s word shouldn’t your life fundamentally change once becoming a Christian?
Now, here is the really scary thing. When we fail to allow God’s word to really change us, how can we expect to share that Gospel with someone else and it change them? For many, I think someone in their hearts they believe that it won’t. We say things like, “the world won’t listen.” We say things like, “the Gospel is just too archaic to change people’s lives today.” We say things like, “No one will believe.” The problem isn’t the message, it is the carrier of the message.
We have a Gospel Meeting coming up at the end of April. Our flyers are already out. If you have been worshipping with us here you know I will eventually issue a challenge to you about inviting others. But, before I do that, let me issue this challenge. Before trying to evangelize among your friends, co-workers and family member evangelize yourself. Let God’s word fundamentally change who you are.
I know that people get scarred when they hear words like fanatic, or “God-freak“, or “Bible-beater.” Let us not forget, Paul was called crazy because of his faith (Acts 26:24). Stop saying, “I’ll work on it” and actually do it. Stop putting it off, trust God’s word and let it completely transform you (Rom. 12:1-2). Give yourself to fully unto him and see if he will not open the gates of heaven. “test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows (Mal. 3:10).”
Grinnell church of Christ
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Evangelism Begins with Evangelizing Yourself
Volume 6 Issue 13