In the last couple of issues of YPS we have been looking at the personal motivators behind evangelism. In this article, I would like to look at some of the other reasons for reaching out with the gospel, including why such urgency is required, what the core message is, and who the main communicators of the message are.
Do we really believe that God is righteous and that people have broken His laws and are therefore guilty? As believers, we know that physical death is the outcome of the principle of sin in every living being, Ezek. 18. 20; Rom. 6. 23. Sometimes we live as if the second death is not the ultimate judgement of God against unrepentant sinners, Rev. 20. 14. The second death is the point of no return for the lost soul. Eternity will be spent separated from God and all that His grace supplies to those who believe. If I could envisage hell and the lake of fire for what it is and see the cost price of redemption that was borne by our Lord and Saviour, it would make me so much more passionate about reaching needy souls with the gospel. It would be a good practice to spend some time on a regular basis contemplating the work of redeeming grace and the prospect of being eternally lost. It is said that William Booth wished all his Salvation Army officers could hang over hell for twenty-four hours prior to their commissioning. He felt this would stir them to a deeper commitment to evangelism. Doing this would certainly change my attitude to the value of my salvation and keep me conscious of the danger that unsaved souls are in.
Life is fragile and individuals leave this life for eternity every minute. While I have been writing for the last five minutes, approximately 540 souls have passed into eternity. That equates to 155,520 souls a day, 56.8 million souls a year leaving this life never to have another opportunity to get saved. Scripture teaches that the ‘Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins’, Matt. 9. 6. It is clear that salvation is only available on earth and that the day we live in is ‘the day of salvation’, 2 Cor. 6. 2. Therefore, we need to awake to the great danger that mankind is in and the ‘great salvation’ that is readily available through faith in Christ.
Time is running out, for the Lord is coming The apostle Paul wrote, ‘And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light’, Rom. 13. 11-12. The vast majority of believers seem to have ignored scriptures like this and are spiritually sleepy and seemingly unaware of the danger that our fellow-travellers to eternity are in. Our salvation comes to its full and final fulfilment at the return of Christ for the church, 1 Thess. 4. 16-17. This will open the door to God’s judgement on the world. Believers will be saved from the wrath of God, 5. 9, but the ungodly will be left for tribulation on earth, 2 Thess. 2. 8-12, and judgement at the second coming of Christ to earth, 1. 8. If we really believe all of this truth, we must then react to the words of Romans chapter 13 and ‘cast off the works of darkness’ – i.e., finish with everything that is characteristic of this sinful world system. It is essential that we are protected with the ‘armour of light’. A Christ-like lifestyle is essential if we are going to be good witnesses of the Lord and bear the light of the gospel in a dark world, Phil. 2. 15.
In summary, a genuine awareness of the coming of Christ and the impending judgement of God on the world will result in Christians seeking to be more like the Lord Jesus and more effective in their witness for the Saviour.