Friday, July 30, 2010

What is the one thing Jesus said we NEED to bring when we go out witnessing?

"The seed is the Word of God."
~ Jesus in Luke 8:11

"For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart."
Hebrews 4:12

"Is not My Word like fire?" declares the LORD, "and like a hammer which shatters a rock?" Jeremiah 23:29

"...for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring Word of God."
I Peter 1:23

I have to continually remind myself of how Jesus trained His disciples to preach the gospel. When He sent them out to evangelize the Savior said; "Take nothing with you." (See Mark 6, Luke 9 & 10) We love to have visual aids (signs, crosses, scripture banners, etc) but if it hinders our labors & decreases our missionary outreaches, we have to be reminded of Jesus' admonition to keep it simple.

If you would like to come & witness with us, we would love to have you. Anything you bring would be a blessing. But, truly, we know this for certain, the Law & the Gospel of Christ are sufficient to do the work of an evangelist.

Jesus made certain that His disciples were trained to share the pure, unadulterated call to repentance toward God & faith toward Himself. The apostle Paul understood this when he described how he went about "Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." (Acts 20:21) This truly represents a summation of the sum of Christian doctrine regarding the way of salvation. Matthew Henry's comments on this section of scriptures is a beautiful portrait of Paul, the faithful evangelist when he wrote of the apostle:

He was a plain preacher, one that spoke his message so as to be understood.
He was a powerful preacher; he preached the gospel as a testimony to them if they received it; but as a testimony against them if they rejected it.
He was a profitable preacher; one that aimed to inform their judgments, and reform their hearts and lives. He was a painful preacher, very industrious in his work.
He was a faithful preacher; he did not keep back reproofs when necessary, nor keep back the preaching of the cross.
He was a truly Christian, evangelical preacher; he did not preach notions or doubtful matters; nor affairs of state or the civil government; but he preached faith and repentance. A better summary of these things, without which there is no salvation, cannot be given: even repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, with their fruits and effects. Without these no sinner can escape, and with these none will come short of eternal life.

The truth as it is in Jesus is the plain way to eternal life. John Wesley noted that 'The very first motion of the soul toward God is a kind of repentance.' The Law is perfect for preparing the heart by defining sin, " since through the Law comes knowledge of sin." (Rom 3:20)

According to the Master, we need no gimmicks, no acts of kindness are necessary (though not forbidden) to pave the way, no 'friendship' or 'pre-evangelism' is required to prepare the sinner. We have no need of concerts & movie night, basketball & pizza, art shows or baked goods or some elaborate 'outreach'. Why put off what is ordained & commanded & do the non-mandated? Do we believe that people can't hear what God has to say without our human orchestrations? Are we ashamed of the Word? "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." (Romans 1:16) After all, the power to save is not in the one who sows the seed, or in some creative 'event' planned, the power, according to the Lord of salvation, is in the SEED. The Word of God is alive & powerful, able to save to the uttermost those who hear & believe it. According to Hebrews 4:12 the scriptures are LIVING. The Law & the Gospel as literally contained in the Bible are full of power, sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, exposing our innermost sins, thoughts and desires.

The Geneva Study Bible notes on that passage explains:

The nature of the Word of God is '... so powerful that it enters even to the deepest and most inward and secret parts of the heart, fatally wounding the stubborn, and openly reviving the believers.' This Word of God is ' The doctrine of God which is preached both in the Law and in the gospel.' Paul 'calls the word of God LIVING, because of the effect it has on those to whom it is preached ... He calls the seat of emotions 'soul'. By 'spirit' he means the 'mind.'

Jesus charged His disciples to GO & "And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no money, no bread, no money in their purse". The Savior had already taught them, by precept & by example, how to evangelize. He had discipled them, teaching them by HIs very own active going forth & preaching, how to fish for men. Christ is called the Word made flesh. "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld Gis glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." (John 1:14) By being with the Messiah, loving Him, listening to Him, praying with Him & following Him out to the field of souls, they had learned first-hand, the power of the Word of God & its sufficiency to save wicked men & women.

Let us say, with faith unto our sin-bearing, sin-slave saving God, 'Thy Word is enough.' Let us take Him at His Word. If the Lord Jesus has instructed us that we need nothing else, what worldly, extra-biblical preparations must we make before we go out to sow gospel seeds? The Geneva Study Bible warns of how the carnal mind (even of shepherds) can set up false necessities, which prove hindrances, for fulfilling our duty to obey the Great Commission: 'Faithful pastors should not have their minds set even on things that are necessary for this life, if they might be a hindrance unto them, even if it is just a small hindrance.' John Wesley, who helped to lead many men out to preach, noted that Christ's instruction served to teach: "That they might be always unincumbered, free, ready for motion."

'Though the apostles were conscious to themselves of great weakness, and expected no wordly advantage, yet, in obedience to their Master, and in dependence upon His strength, they went out. They did not amuse people with curious matters, but told them they must repent of their sins, and turn to God. The servants of Christ may hope to turn many from darkness unto God, and to heal souls by the power of the Holy Ghost.' ~ Matthew Henry

By all means let us fast & pray & study the Bible & it's doctrines to show ourselves approved unto God, workmen that need not be ashamed. Let us love & fellowship with the brethren & sit under faithful preaching of the Word from the mouths of godly, evangelistic pulpiteers. Let us partake of the Lord's supper. Let us take care of our bodies by eating healthily & getting a sufficient amount of rest & exercise. Let us work heartily to provide for the needs of our families. But then, let us GO, trusting that the God of the Word shall bring to pass that which He sends His Gospel to accomplish. For truly, we go out to sow seeds that those who are appointed to eternal life will believe for they will hear the voice of their Beloved & come to salvation through the Word Himself, Jesus Christ.

For Jesus has commanded us to "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." Mark 16:15-16

"And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the Word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed." Acts 13:48

We have our marching, ploughing, sowing orders. Now, let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us (Hebrews 12:1) & GO with the Gospel seeds of life & eternity.

"How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?" Romans 10:14

"...we should ... hold forth the Word of life, and to shine, giving light to all around."
Matthew Henry

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