Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Our Tireless Witness

I know many of you can relate to the discouragement we experience when we witness to the lost members of our family and to our friends.  Their rejection can be heartbreaking.  The Gospel we bring them is often met with stubbornness, an unwillingness to hear it, and a desire to debate you.  It is met with defiance because they want to believe in a god of their own choosing, rather than the True God whom you are introducing to them.  They believe you are exclusive by insisting that there is only One Way, One Truth, and One Life.  They demand that you be inclusive and tolerant for those with different beliefs, doctrines, ideologies, or philosophies that do not line up with the Word of God.

They refuse to believe in a Jealous God that commands belief in Him, and Him only.  Submission to Him is out of the question; they prefer to maintain their self-reliance, their works, their pride, their arrogance. They seek after mediums, palm readers, and attempt to "channel" the spirits of the dead in vain attempts to soothe their consciences.  Their days are filled with fulfilling selfish wants and desires, chasing after unholy and lustful lifestyles that will only bring them greater pain and drive them farther from Him.  His call is unheeded.  Yielding to Him is seen as a sign of weakness.  And just when you thought your heart was completely broken over their response,or lack thereof, you faithfully remain vigilant in prayer that one day they will receive what you're bringing them.

If our friends and family do have any bent towards "religion," you discover that it is a religion of their own creation; a religion that soothes their conscience, one which never teaches the depravity of man and his need for reconciliation with God.  They have possibly embraced a false Gospel, one that lies to them that they are really good people and that good people aren't sent to Hell.  Or one that encourages works in order to appease God.  Many of them have had their ears "tickled" by wolves that have slipped into the church, giving them just enough of the Gospel to make them think they're hearing the Truth of God.  Or perhaps they have fallen into the damning prosperity crowd, the "blab it and grab it" church that believes God is a puppet, and if they make demands of Him, He will magically give them all of which they ask.   They may be clinging to Papacy, praying to saints, worshiping Mary, buying indulgences, and mistakenly thinking the priest in the closet will be able to absolve them of their sins.  That is, until the next time they sin and feel it necessary to "confess" once again.  A few "Hail Mary's," counting their beads, and relying on dead men to cleanse them is all they believe they need.

You wonder if there is any hope left for them.

In one of Charles H. Spurgeon's sermons, I once read about a conversation he had with his Christian mother before his conversion.  Apparently, he was a bad boy around the age of 15 who loved the things of the world and involved himself in them to the point that she feared for him and pleaded with him, begging him to consider Christ.  According to Spurgeon, she concluded by telling him that when she was at last in Christ's presence, in her glorified state and watching as He judged unrepentant sinners, she "would have to say amen to his condemnation."   I have been giving this a lot of thought the last few days, and I must agree with Mrs. Spurgeon's declaration.  The heartbreak she felt over her son's wayward life is the same heartbreak I feel over the unwillingness of those I love when they refuse to consider what I bring them.  However, when I am at last in my Lord's presence, when I am at last freed from my sinful state, I will not weep over those I loved who refused Him in this life and are condemned to an eternity of suffering.  Heaven would not have it.  As Spurgeon's mother said to him, I will also say "amen" to their condemnation.

Before you think I am heartless, let me explain.  Because we will at last be perfected like Jesus Christ in all ways, we will rejoice to see His enemies finally be put to eternal shame and destruction.  Sin that now resides in every atom of our being will be completely and utterly removed from us.  The concept is such an alien one to us at this point in time that we can not conceive what it will be like to be free of sinful thoughts and actions.  But then - ah then! -  it will be fully understood!  When we, Jesus' Saints, return with Him to bring an end to evil, we will rejoice because we will better understand the hatred and unbelief the world has had for Him.  We will see sin through God's eyes.  We will look upon them with more disgust than we ever experienced in this life; their sinful wickedness appalling and detestable because it is aimed at our King, our Lord, our Almighty God - the One they denied so vehemently.  He will be our Champion, our great Victor who has conquered His enemies, and we will praise Him for all of eternity for doing so.

I look forward with tremendous anticipation to that day of victory for my King's honor.  But while He tarries, my love for my unbelieving family and friends still whispers within me.  And because of the deep love I have for them, the desire I have for their salvation is even greater still because I understand the implications of eternity without Jesus Christ.  Regardless of the responses we receive from those who have not yet believed in the One Who has done all to secure their salvation, we must continue in our witness.  Jesus commanded it: "...and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  (Acts 1:8b,  ESV) - and it is our duty to Him to fulfill it.

We must use Jesus' example. Never should we allow rejection from others to cause us to quit.  Like our Lord did, we must meet the woman at the well in Samaria and the Scribes and Pharisees at the temple.  And we must tell them of not only a forgiving and merciful God, but of a God who is also just and filled with wrath against sin and those who reject His Son and His redeeming act that purchased our salvation.  Regardless of their unwillingness to hear, they must know that, one day, they will stand before Almighty God in judgment, and that all their deeds and thoughts while on this earth will be laid out before them.  Without the covering of the blood of Jesus Christ, which washes away our sins and clothes us in His righteousness, their condemnation will be swift and their eternity sealed in damnation.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ can not be silenced. Many have tried and failed. No threats of persecution, whether physical or emotional, ever stopped it from spreading across the earth.  Nor will it stop it in our lifetime, or the one after us, even if it comes from family and friends.  We will experience the excuses, objections, and the rejections from many, but it shouldn't discourage us.  Our words must be from His Word, never of our own making.  They must be clear and transparent and never deviating from the Truth of Scripture.  Our testimony must be His testimony; never boasting of ourselves, but of Him.  The work we do must be dictated by Him, never becoming our own, rather pointing out His work.  And the love that we shed abroad upon the hearts of our loved ones must never be lacking the fullness and reflection of the immensity of our Lord's great love for mankind.

Spurgeon exhorts us with the following:

Do not watch the clouds or consult the wind.  In season and out of season, witness for the Savior.  If it happens that, for Christ sake, and the Gospel's sake, you must endure suffering in any form, do not shrink from it, but rejoice in the honor thus conferred on you, that you are counted worthy to suffer with your Lord.  Rejoice also in this: your suffering, losses, and persecution will be a platform from which you can witness for Christ Jesus even more vigorously, and with greater power.  Study your great Exemplar, and be filled with His Spirit.  Remember that you need much teaching, much upholding, much grace, and much humility, if your witnessing is to be to your Master's glory.

"Sow your seed in the morning and do not be idle in the evening, for you do not know whether morning or evening sowing will succeed, or whether both of them alike will be good."  (Eccl 11:6, NASB)

The heartbreak we feel over unyielding hearts can be discouraging, but it must never cause us to faint or turn away.  We must sow; in the morning or the evening, in good times and in bad, never allowing ourselves to become weak over insults or slights.  Nor should it cause us to minimize the Gospel in order that we not offend anyone with a part of its Truth.  Jesus never spared His hearers of the complete and true nature of God, His will, or His purpose.  His descriptive words revealed a loving and kind God, but also a wrathful One Who would ultimately destroy sin forever.  He knows those He has chosen, and one or all of our loved ones may be among those He will spare. There will come a time when our work for Him is done and we are able to at last turn our faces away from this sinful world.  But now is not that time.  We must faithfully continue with tireless devotion, drawing upon God's strength and heeding His direction until, at last, all of His children are drawn into the safety of His arms.

So, to my beloved family, to my cherished friends, and also to the person who finds himself on this blog, I will tirelessly continue to witness to you.  I will bring you the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ, and to exalt Him above all of creation and the false things you have embraced.  It may not be something you want to hear or read, but I am compelled by a Force greater than myself to give it to you.  The decision whether or not to heed the warnings I bring will be your own.  But our Lord will receive glory and honor, either because of that decision, or in spite of it.

"Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the Name that is above every name, so that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."   (Philippians 2:9-12, ESV)

I encourage everyone to examine themselves in the light of God's Word, and to believe, repent, ask forgiveness, and be reconciled to God.

Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 
Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way,
for His wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in Him.
Psalm 2:11-12, ESV

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