Section 8: The Church
Week 1: The Nature of the Church and It’s Mission
Day 4: The Church Fulfills Its Mission by Sharing the Gospel Wherever and Whenever It Can
The gospel is the single most important truth people need to hear. Their eternal destinies hang on them putting their faith in Christ. Yet, to paraphrase Paul, how can they trust in Christ if they’ve never heard about him (Rom. 10:14-15)? That realization should motivate us to spread the gospel whenever and wherever we have the opportunity – whether that’s supporting a missionary in India or South Africa or sharing the gospel with our co-worker.
There are two errors we need to avoid here. Some of us never see an opportunity to share the gospel, no matter how obvious it is. A coworker could come up and ask us to tell them more about our faith and we’d pray, “Lord give me a sign and I’ll talk to him…What? No sign? Well, maybe next time.”
Most of us are probably on that side of the spectrum, and we obviously need to be bolder about sharing our faith. There are some of us, though, who are at the opposite end of the spectrum. Everything represents an opportunity to share the gospel. A coworker says, “Good morning” and we reply “It’s a great morning and let me tell you why. It’s because I have Jesus in my life.” Then we launch into our testimony, complete with an explanation of the gospel and an offer to pray with our coworker if he wants to accept Jesus into his heart right then and there.
Can that be a bad thing, though? Even if it’s a bit over the top, isn’t it better than never sharing the gospel? Maybe. But there’s a danger we shouldn’t overlook.
I have a friend who was diagnosed with cancer at a young age. Because the cancer was so aggressive and was spreading so fast, the doctors decided to have him go through radiation treatment. The radiation was going to have to be at very high levels in order to have any chance of getting all the cancer. As my friend described it, the plan was to kill the cancer by coming within an inch of killing him. To aid his recovery, the plan included taking some stem cells from him prior to the radiation treatment and then putting them back in his body afterward to help regenerate cells. Fortunately, everything worked as planned and he remains cancer free to this day.
Why do I bring this up? The order of my friend’s treatment was crucial. If the doctors had tried to remove stem cells after the radiation treatment, there wouldn’t have been any. The stem cells would have been killed off by the radiation.
It’s similar with the gospel. When we decide to share something is important. If we launch into a full-blown gospel presentation when the person isn’t ready, at best the person walks away bewildered because they don’t understand what we’re trying to tell them. At worst, the person walks away with a negative impression of Christianity.
We need to remember not every unbeliever is at the same spot spiritually. Some outright don’t even believe God exists. Some believe God exists but see him as an impersonal force. Some believe God is a person, but they don’t know much about him. Some know a lot about God, they even know a lot about Christ, but don’t truly understand what he has done for them.
What difference does that make? There are a lot of issues an atheist would need to come to grips with before they would be ready to put their faith in Christ. They may not even believe he ever existed much less that he died for their sins. As a result, if you walk up out of the blue and ask if he wants to put his faith in Christ, what’s going to happen? Not much. It’s true the Holy Spirit could work a miracle and in one fell swoop lead him to faith. But that’s not normally how he works. The Holy Spirit normally leads someone to faith in a series of steps over time.
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t share the gospel whenever and wherever we can. It simply means we ought to share what is appropriate for the person given where they’re at. There’s no need to jump too far ahead. We only need to help the person take the next step toward Christ. Helping someone to take one step closer to God is just as much evangelism as praying the sinner’s prayer with them.
Remember, God is in control. All we need to do is listen to him and take advantage of the opportunities he gives us. We don’t need to make up opportunities that aren’t really there.
Which side of the spectrum do you fall on? Are you bold enough to share the gospel when you have an opportunity? Do you feel like you push too far sometimes? What changes could you make to share your faith more effectively?
Pray that God would give you an evangelistic opportunity in the near future.