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Shall We Witness?

Shall We Witness?

Wed-4-Revival            Reed DePace            September 2, 2020

A Weekly Prayer Devotional Seeking God
to Pour Out His Spirit in Revival on Us[*]

W4R175

Growing Antagonism

A week back I watched a video of a recent protest crowd in Charlotte, North Carolina. While relatively non-violent, their antagonism toward the gospel was obvious. Over multiple nights, as they walked along, a “street preacher” walked by their side shouting the words: “Jesus saves.” Finally, after a few nights of this, they expressed their opinion of this simplistic gospel message. Using the call-repeat chant method of modern protestors, someone shouted: “f#%@ your Jesus.” The marchers shouted back, “f#%@ your Jesus.” This was repeated over, and over, and over, until the protestors covered the street preacher with silly string.

Now, I don’t know if the street preacher offered anything more than this simple gospel. And while it is necessary to say more than this in a gospel presentation, the possible deficiency of his witness is not what was so shocking about this video. It was the protestors’ willingness to repeatedly call down on themselves the worst possible judgment God can give:

So I tell you, every sin and blasphemy can be forgiven-- except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which will never be forgiven. (Mt 12:31 NLT)

In that the Spirit works through the proclamation of the gospel (at least the primary means he uses, possibly the only, Rom 10:13-17), the protestors’ response was in effect a refusal to listen to the Spirit, at all:

Go and say to this people: “When you hear what I say, you will not understand. When you see what I do, you will not comprehend. For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes-- so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.” (Ac 28:26-27)

Rather than considering the gospel, people around us have a growing antagonism toward Jesus. Not good, at all.

Growing Complacency

At the same time, there seems to be a growing complacency toward witnessing to people. A report from 2019 suggested that half of evangelical Millennials think that witnessing is wrong. Even justifiably tweaking this to observe that such professing believers are against what they think is the wrong kind of witnessing does not help. Raised in moralistic therapeutic deism, these next leaders of the Evangelical Church in America are decidedly against the street preacher’s simplistic gospel only because he was uninvited to march along! For them, witnessing only occurs upon invitation, and then the gospel is nothing more than “Jesus can give you a better life!”

The number of folks actively engaging in a full gospel witness decreases each year. Replacing it is a complacent comfort with the status quo in churches that increasingly wink at sin, offer moralism messages from the pulpit, and provide a discipleship patterned after a self-help guru’s course on personal improvement. For such followers of Christ, even the Laodicean warning does not disturbs their drowsing:

I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! You say, “I am rich. I have everything I want. I don't need a thing!” And you don't realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. (Rv 3:15-17)

When the evangelical believer can’t be bothered to witness the gospel, things are bad, really bad.

Growing Ignorance

In addition to growing antagonism and growing complacency, there is a growing ignorance on exactly what the gospel is. A friend referenced a recent witnessing encounter he heard with a college student who said he was studying to become a minister. The person witnessing to him gave him the following scenario, “Ok, in one minute, tell me what the gospel is.” The student blustered, saying he couldn’t do that. Then after losing thirty seconds, he spouted off the most basic of words that even Satan is willing to profess, “God loves you.”

Now, as much as that is true for those God calls to salvation in his Son Jesus, that is not a biblically credible explanation of the gospel. And, yes, a fuller explanation of the gospel easily takes more than sixty seconds. Yet the core components of a credible gospel witness can be stated in less than sixty seconds (time yourself saying these:)

§  God created us, and is our purpose in life.

§  We’ve rebelled against him, destroying life.

§  God will judge all who rebel against him
with eternal punishment.

§  God offers to save rebels from their just judgment through his Son Jesus.

§  Jesus is the God-man who lived a sinless life, died a substitute death, and rose to offer new life to all who trust in him.

 

§  The Spirit comes to convict us that these things are true, and that our only hope is to believe in Jesus.

§  The Spirit gives us new life in Jesus, through which we express faith in Jesus and repentance from our sins.

§  When that happens God forgives us of all our sins, adopts us into his family, and begins to make us like Jesus in our loves and lives.

This is a gospel presentation that evokes consideration. It is easily learned, even memorized. Yet I dare say that many a professing believer would struggle to even understand some of these points. How can we witness what we do not understand? Concerning, very concerning!

Remaining Hope

In spite of the growing troubles in the church, there is still a remaining hope. Jesus promised we would witness:

… And you will be my witnesses, …(Ac 1:8b )

Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would empower our witness:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, … (Ac 1:8a-b)

Jesus promised that our witness would be effective:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere-- in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Ac 1:8a,b,c)

Shall we witness? Yes, yes we shall. And Jesus will be lifted up in the eyes, ears and hearts of all the Spirit calls to trust in him. Let us not ignore the growing antagonism to, complacency for, and ignorance of the gospel. Yet, let us ask Jesus to keep his promises, He will still use us to save sinners!

Prayer Advice

Dear Lord, where we’ve been unwilling to witness, contented to let others do it for us, or declining to learn how to witness, forgive us. Cleanse us of these signs of unbelief. Keep your promise in Acts 1:8. Make us your witnesses.

Restore to us the years the locusts have eaten. Pour out Your Spirit in revival on us. To Your glory, together with Your Father and Your Spirit, we ask, Amen.

 

[*] This weekly prayer devotional focuses our attention on some aspect of our need for the Holy Spirit to bring revival to our church. Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you (Ps 85:6)?  For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They shall spring up among the grass like willows by flowing streams (Isa 44:3-4).  Pick a 15 to 30-minute time-block in your schedule over the next week and use this devotional to focus your prayers. As you can, consider fasting from a meal and using that time to pray for revival in our church.