But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Okay, first things first. The sign says…those who have been found. That may not be the most theologically sound sentence ever written, but that is not the point here. We could rephrase; people saved by the Grace of God have a duty, and a command, to take the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world.
One thing I did like much about that sign is that word…seek. It didn’t say hang around with a halo on and wait for people to come to see; it said..seek. I liked that as seeking is a very active verb. In fact, in order to seek one has to….well, seek. So this post is just my rather random thoughts on just what it means to seek the lost.
I can’t even begin to count the times I have heard people say something to the effect of, “I will just let my life be a testimony and people will come to Jesus through that.” Sorry to break it to everyone, but no…they won’t.
Do we have a responsibility to present a positive Christian witness to the world? Of course, we do; Scripture clearly tells us this.
Matthew 5:13-16 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
So, yes we absolutely should present ourselves to the world in such a way as to bring glory and honor to Jesus Christ; however, we also have to connect the dots for people. In other words they not only need to see our light shine before the world, but they need to understand what the source of that light is in the first place. What good does it do if we do all the right things, but nobody ever knows what the force behind the good things is? What if everybody in the world just thinks we are really great people? Certainly, no one comes to Jesus by thinking we are just awesome men and women.
If we are to seek the lost, we have to be identifiable. That is, people have to actually know that we are Christians. That may sound absurd, but I can promise you that it is not absurd in any way. I have been known to do a small exercise sometimes in classes I have taught; I have even done this at home. It involves simply asking students to write down the top three ways in which people in their circle of acquaintances would describe the person if asked. The responses are very telling. We often get the standard type answers: smart, hardworking, friendly, and so forth. What is often missing is is terms such as Christian, loves God, religious, or “goes to church” even.
This goes back to the previous section concerning Christians being the light of the world. What good is a candle if we hide it under a bushel basket? What good is salt if it is not used? The answer to both of those questions, of course, is no good at all. In this case, the solution is as easy as simply telling people what we believe. Of course, if we are not the light of the world, or are unpleasant, nasty people we might want to skip this step until we get our selves right. The real point is, that the fact that we are believers in Jesus Christ should be on every Christian’s top three list of how people would describe them.
If we are to seek the lost, we have to be willing. God has called each and every one of us to take the Gospel message to a lost and dying world; this instruction is not just for Pastors, Deacons, or some “visitation committee.” It is for every single one of us. We aren’t all called to preach on a street corner, knock on a door, or even hand out a simple Gospel Tract; however, we all called to do something. If God calls us, are we willing? The stories of the calls of two of the greatest prophets are great examples of men answering the call from God to tell the Gospel, and they are applicable to all of us.
We can see in Jeremiah Chapter One that when God called Jeremiah his answer was similar to that many of us give. His initial response was to reply that he simply was not ready for such a service. Note, that God told Jeremiah several things. It was His plan, to not be afraid, and that He would equip Jeremiah as needed for this service. Read Jeremiah 1:4-10
Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD. Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.
Isaiah, on the other hand, never even blinked. His response is of the best examples in The Bible of a complete and total willingness to simply go. Read Isaiah 6:8.
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.
Here am I, send me. That pretty much says it all and should be any Christian’s response when called. Notice, “when” called, not “if” called. Our calling and commission to tell the Gospel is not a question of “if,” but is a guarantee of, “when.”
If we are to seek the lost, we have to be ready. Readiness to share the Gospel covers a wide range of abilities and a wide range of knowledge. So, to begin, let’s take a look at the most basic level of readiness that we are all capable of. First of all, if we are to be witnesses, what does it mean to be a witness? In a court of law, a witness is somebody who simply tells what happened to them; a witness is somebody who simply relates what they saw, and what they know.
People are saved every day who have basically no knowledge of God’s Word; being any type of scholar is not necessary in order to come to salvation. So, then, what does that person have to say to another who might be curious? What does that person have to say to the world? What they have to say to the world is simply what happened to them! Any truly saved sinner understands the basics of the Gospel message, or they would not have come to salvation. Often, when teaching younger people, we use the ABCs of salvation as a teaching tool. They are basic, easy, and provide all that is needed to share the Gospel at a basic level.
A – Admit you are a sinner in need of salvation.
B – Believe that Jesus paid the penalty for your sin and that He died on the cross and rose from the dead in three days.
C – Confess your sin to God. Confess Jesus as your Savior and Lord
That’s very simple, and not deep theology; however, it is a message that any person can tell.
But, does God expect us to deliver only that simple message for our entire lives? Or course not; God expects us to grow and learn in our Christian faith and in the knowledge of Him and His Word. As we re-enter the world after our conversion, if our life reflects our new birth, people will wonder what has happened to us.
The Bible is instructive on God’s desire for how we should approach this; if we live our lives in a way which honors God, people will want to know what happened. Here is God’s instruction in this matter.
1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
How do we prepare ourselves for this challenge? God’s Word offers an answer to that question as well.
2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
1 Thessalonians 5:21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
So, then, being ready is part of seeking the lost
Finally, if we are to seek the lost, we have to be purposeful. This may very well be the toughest challenge of all. Finding lost people to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with does not happen by accident. Of course, occasionally people might stumble upon us and ask a few questions, but that is going to be rare overall.
The reasons for this are fairly simple. With some rare examples, people who are lost are not actively seeking God. Most of us are, in fact running from God just as fast as we can while in our lost states. Since that seems to be the case, it is also the case that if they are running that we must chase them, so to speak. I don’t mean we have to pursue people and beat them with our Bibles, although that might work in some instances. What I mean is, we have to take the message to them, not wait for them to come to us. They aren’t coming to us. So, here are my random thoughts about how to be purposeful in our outreach to a lost and dying world.
Are we even telling our families about Jesus Christ? I remember once witnessing to a fellow who was about 45 years old, and had a very rough history; he had actually been imprisoned for a while for drug trafficking. Now, he was actually in church because his mother and many aunts and uncles were faithful believers. Along the way, I had the chance to tell him about salvation through Jesus Christ, and he seemed rather shocked. He looked at me and said, “Nobody ever told me that!” Sadly, this fellow is still struggling with faith, but getting closer. What if he had heard that message when he was six years old instead of 45?
Do we tell our neighbors about Jesus Christ? If our neighbors don’t even know we are believers in Jesus Christ, something is seriously wrong here. Make friends with them; invite them to church; actually share the Gospel and the plan of salvation with them. They may possibly think you are slightly odd, but we know that will happen, correct? Remember Matthew 10:22, “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake”
What about co-workers? This one can be tough. The truth is, people can get fired for expressing their beliefs in ways considered inappropriate in the workplace. Getting fired is not the objective; nobody needs to be a workplace martyr for the faith(maybe.) What, then, is the solution? Really, it’s quite easy. Be a model employee.
1 Corinthians 10:31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Ephesians 6:5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;
Are we part of the problem or part of the solution? As Christians in the workplace, we should always be part of the solution. We all know our workplaces are filled with bad bosses, favoritism, gossip, unfairness and many other things. As Christians, we should never be part of all of that. If we have chosen to accept and keep a particular job, then the Bible is quite clear how we are to conduct ourselves at it.
It’s actually fairly easy to share your beliefs in the workplace. I don’t mean proselytizing, I simply mean sharing who you are and what you believe as statements of fact. In the difficult times at work, when everything is descending into chaos, if we have managed to rise above it that presents a golden opportunity to explain to people just why we are able to do that. On the other hand, if we are bad or below average employees, people might see our faith as the reason for that; then we are just another example of the Bible-thumping Christian who talks the talk but does not walk the walk.
Do we pray daily for opportunities and ways to share the Gospel? I remember I used to come home periodically and find a copy of the Watchtower Society Magazine laying on my porch. I also remember being somewhat disappointed that I had missed the visit. Because my plan was when they asked me if they could talk to me about Jesus to say…”You betcha, come on in!” I actually started including in my prayers that one day I would be home when the traveling in pairs missionaries came by. They never did catch me at home, but a couple of them wandered by a job site one day as I was working. We had a rather “nice” conversation. That was an answered prayer.
Now, of course, God knows His plan and He knows our hearts. But, it is nonetheless a sign to God of our willingness to engage the lost if we ask Him to send us lost souls. God also knows who is out there honestly responding to the light He has provided and seeking answers. We might just be the response God has in mind for that person.
Do we seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit for each individual situation? Not every situation is the same, and not every response should be the same either. Again, I will use personal experience as an illustration. In my work, I spend all of my time in customer’s homes working for them. We are quite forbidden from discussing religion with customers, no exceptions. I clearly remember to this day an encounter I had with a gentleman in his home. It came to light as I worked that the fellow had cancer, and was not sure of his outlook. It seemed obvious that there was a golden opportunity to share Jesus. Just as obviously, I balked at the idea, as getting fired is not high on my to do list for most days. As I went about my normal business, I could not escape the burden of feeling I should talk to him.God and I had quite the tussle, to tell the truth. But I came away with the clear understanding that The Holy Spirit wanted me to talk to this man, and that God would keep me safe. As it turns out, the man was quite saved and heaven bound already.
The Holy Spirit will empower our words. The truth is, we sometimes simply don’t know what to say in a given situation. Note God’s response to the Prophet Jeremiah when he questioned God about his inability to speak?
Jeremiah 1:8,9 Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD. Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.
If we honestly seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we need never fear that we will not say the right thing. If we say what God wants us to say, then it is always the right thing.
In summary, the key word for this entire post is, “seek.” We are to seek the lost. We are not commanded to sit back and wait for lost people to wander by so that we might speak to them. We are to go out, into the world, and share the gospel. We may not all go to Mongolia to be a missionary, but we are all missionaries to our own part of the world.
Additionally, this command is not just for pastors, evangelists or church officers. I simply can’t find anywhere in God’s Word where any of us are off the hook for the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
Who are you going to seek today?