… to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.
I miss the gospel of Jesus Christ.
It seems to have disappeared as of late. We have focused on a thousand things – on “being a Christian” or on “denominationalism” or “nondenominationalism” or “networking” or “church planting movements” or “evolution” or “justice” or “soul healing” or “Charismatic issues” or “pornography” or “children’s education” or “secularization” or “sexual orientation” or on a thousand other important things.
But the wonder of the gospel message, the privilege of sharing it, and the power of God active in conversion seems to have been put aside. And my soul is hungry for a fellowship among believers where passion for the gospel again reigns in hearts and unites us in God’s power and love for this lost and broken world.
I am old enough to remember this passion in earlier times, of missionary work where the message of Christ’s love and human response dominated the mind and soul of believers around me. We, many of us, gave our lives that the world might know of Christ’s death and resurrection, and of new life in Him.
In the enthusiasm of youth we went and spent our lives for the sake of poor people’s salvation, and we witnessed the out-pouring of the grace and mercy of God, as well as His Spirit. And you cannot do this in theory only, there must be means, so our passions ran along the paths of the ways we had at our disposal of doing this. Whether it was film evangelism, or crusade evangelism, or personal evangelism, or home Bible study evangelism, or cell group evangelism did not matter, for they were all precious. Methods were good if the results were lives changed by the grace of God in Christ.
And prayer was precious, for we realized that evangelism could never be thought of as merely talking to men about God. It must also be understood as talking to God about men.
To evangelize is the heart of the Christian Commission, and everything else we are commanded to do stems from this work. We must make disciples through the preaching of the gospel message before we can mark disciples through baptism or mature disciples through teaching them to obey all things Christ commanded.
Please do not misunderstand me. I have not stopped preaching the gospel – I have preached the gospel in every sermon that I have delivered over the years, asking people to respond to Christ in repentance and faith. And this is also the spirit of those in leadership in our church and my colleagues on the church staff. And we have seen people saved – many people. But beyond that the vision seems to have faded somewhat, until other passions dominate the conversations.
I do not doubt that these other things are important, and have spent a great deal of time and energy myself in dealing with them, and will spend more as God gives me breath. But some of the lesser princes have seemed to edge the king off the throne as of late. We – I mean the circle of my Christian friends – need a passionate return to the central work of evangelism, of preaching or sharing or witnessing to the simple gospel message of salvation in Jesus Christ, the forgiveness of sins in His name, and the entrance into the new life of the Spirit.
Perhaps you share this concern with me. Perhaps God has also put this central concern on your heart. The danger that confronts the church of each generation is to be consumed with our own concerns, and not consumed enough with the concerns of God. The call and commission of Christ has not changed. It is still the same. We must be His instruments to turn people from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God, from death to life.
May God turn us again to honor this sacred calling and trust He has given to us, and may we find renewed passion and fellowship with others as we enter into the work afresh.