Jurong Outreach

"whom we proclaim, admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ."


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The Enemies of Evangelism

Evangelism. The Great Commission. Soul-winning. These are familiar terms to us. We hear them used often in sermons and Bible classes. Preachers exhort and urge from the pulpit for more evangelistic fervour from the members of the church. Elders and deacons call for more participation in the church’s corporate efforts at reaching out to the lost.

No one denies that the Lord’s mission to seek and save the lost (Lu 19:10) continues now through His body, the church (Eph 1:22-23). It is common knowledge that soul-winning is the personal responsibility and privilege of every saint of God.

The devil knows these too and he hates it. If it were at all possible, he would have all mankind cast with him into the bottomless pit on the great day of the Lord. He abhors God and mankind created in His image and must want to put a stop to all evangelistic efforts of the church.

 

The question is: have we made it easier for the devil? Our perspectives and attitudes toward saving souls either help us realise and act on the urgency of the work or they become hindrances to us doing that which pleases our Father.

 

An awareness of the enemies of evangelism is important for the soldiers of Christ to know where we stand with regards to evangelism.

 

Fear
Fear can be either a powerful motivator or hindrance. Fear of getting burned stops us from placing any part of our body too close to extreme heat. Fear of not making the team motivates the athlete to train harder. But fear of failure and embarrassment may prevent us from doing the work of the Lord.

 

We do not wish to belittle what could be a real difficulty for some of us. Perhaps given their more introverted personality, some Christians may experience a more acute fear or shyness in broaching the subject of religion. This is understandable.

 

Pray to the Father for boldness and strength, and begin by talking to someone you are comfortable with. A family member or close friend would be ideal. Fear can also be eased by taking courses on how to reach out to the lost and by sharing and discussing your experiences and concerns with brethren. Help one another in this great work of winning souls.

 

Lack of Interest
This is one of the most potent killers of evangelism and absolutely inexcusable for the man and woman redeemed by the blood of the Saviour. Would we have been saved if every Christian we encountered was not interested in the state of our souls?

 

How could we, who have been rescued at such great price from the damnation we so richly deserved, not be concerned about the souls of friends and family still in jeopardy from hellfire?

 

Laziness and Lukewarm-ness
These are also inexcusable. The attitude that evangelism is everyone’s work but mine, that as-long-as-someone-is-doing-it-I-don’t-have-to, is lazy and wrong. Christians must be “not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord (Rom 12:11),” and to “shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: that ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises (Heb 6:11-12).”

 

Bear in mind the severity of the Lord: “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth (Rev 3:15-16).”

 

Selfishness
“I believe in evangelism; I believe in serving the Lord…but I will serve only at my own convenience. I will serve in areas of least labour and most accolades.” This is selfishness. Do not be shocked that such attitude can also creep into the church.

 

Simon desired the ability to impart spiritual gifts (Acts 8:18-19). Diotrephes loved to have the pre-eminence among men (3John 9).

 

These are the most common and deadly enemies of evangelism. Souls are lost and continue to be lost because Christians indulge in fear, laziness, lukewarm-ness and selfishness. Stay vigilant, saints of Christ, and to the work!

 

“When in better land before the bar we stand,

How deeply grieved our souls will be;

If any lost one there should cry in deep despair,

‘You never mentioned Him to me!'”

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On Living the Faith

Every now and then, we hear some Christians talking about faithful living as if it was rather unpleasant. These sincere brethren struggle at times to discipline themselves spiritually – prayer, Bible study, doing good, resisting temptations and so forth. They take the view that living by the faith of Christ means the sacrifice of certain pleasures and it does get tedious after a while.

This is an ‘outside-in’ view, whereas Christianity is ‘inside-out.’ Faithful living, or Christian discipline as some might call it, begins with a change in one’s relationship with God. It is not a philosophy or ethics we adopt and then try to inculcate by following a set of do’s and don’ts, ticking off a mental checklist.

A Change in Relationship

The former sinner, now a saint, enjoys a new relationship with God. “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled (Col 1:21).” The enemy is now a child of God. “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Gal 3:26-27).”

Why do we live holy lives? Why do we pray and study the Bible diligently? Because we are now the children of God by His grace. We acknowledge what God has done for us and that without Him we are nothing. Our hearts are bursting with gratitude at the realisation of this amazing grace that we cannot help but live for His pleasure and glory. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous (1Jn 5:3).”

A Change of Heart

A change in relationship is not all. A change in heart is just as essential. We no longer live for the sheer gratification of the flesh and the pride of life. It is no longer ‘me, myself and I’. The heart is now turned toward the One who rescued it from the state of alienation and condemnation.

Paul’s heart was wrenched from hatred for the Lord and His church (cf. Acts 9:1-18). From a ruthless persecutor he was broken and mended and made an apostle (cf. Acts 26:14-18). Whenever we are tempted to think that faithful living is a chore, it is an alarm to search our hearts. Have our hearts been changed by the power of the gospel? Or do we, having put our hands to the plough, now look back? Such, the Lord says, are not fit for the kingdom of God (cf. Lu 9:62).

A Change in Loyalty

Previously we serve our own self-interests and worldliness; now we pledge our allegiance to the King of kings. When we confess with our mouths the Lord Jesus (Rom 10:9-10), we are pledging our unyielding loyalty to him. As citizens of heaven (cf. Php 3:20), this is our honourable duty.

A Change in Purpose

For millennia men have been searching for the purpose of life. Vain philosophies and pseudo science lead not to the answer but to despair: they can offer no purpose. Going by the rationale of these outlooks, Man is no more than an animal – we begin to die the moment we are born. No meaning, no hope.

In Christ, we have rediscovered the true purpose of life. Paul declares this truth gloriously: “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Php 1:20-21).”

A Change in Lifestyle

Once more, Christianity is not ‘outside-in’ but ‘inside-out.’ Our lives are different not because we are trying to do things a different way but because we are different. Paul argues this point most convincingly.

“For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness…What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life (Rom 6: 14-18, 21-22).”

Christians are new creatures in Christ (cf. 2Co 5:17-18). We have a new relationship with God and a new identity. Our citizenship is in heaven. Living by the faith of Christ is simply being what we are now in Christ. It is only natural for the children of God to live by His family values. Do not be deceived into thinking that the faith of Christ is a dull, joyless and monotonous existence. Nothing is further from the truth.