“As many as three out of four people die in North America without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” Where do people go without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? According to the Bible the answer is hell. They go forever to this place of torment without God and without hope. Someone said there are a million ways to go to hell but only one way to go to heaven, through Jesus Christ, “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6a).
God’s Plan for Sharing also known as GPS is the evangelistic emphasis for Southern Baptists encouraged through the North American Mission Board. Let us explore three areas related to this vital endeavor.
Apprehension about Sharing
Some are apprehensive about being a verbal witness. Dr. Richard H. Seume, former chaplain at Dallas Theological Seminary, states, “We were not converted to be introverted.” We must remember that Jesus Christ is in us, with us and upon us to share the good news of the Gospel.
Jesus Christ is in us, as we read in Colossians 1:27, “To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
Jesus Christ is with us, as we read in Matthew 28:20b, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” We discover this promise echoed and expanded in Hebrews 13:5-6, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: / The LORD is my helper; / I will not fear. What can man do to me?”
Jesus Christ is upon us, as we read in Acts 1:8, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” We know from Romans 8:9b, “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” Paul refers to the Holy Spirit as “the Spirit of Christ.”
This is how Jesus Christ can be in us, with us and upon us, by the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit comes upon us it is for anointing us to serve in a specific calling. Remember when Saul, Israel’s first human king was rejected from being king due to disobedience, the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon him was withdrawn. David, who became king after Saul, expresses in Psalm 51:11, “Do not cast me away from Your presence, / And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.” David here refers to the anointing of the Holy Spirit. He did not want to experience the same thing Saul did. David repented wholeheartedly while Saul repented half-heartedly. This is the difference between David and Saul.
Jesus gave an extended teaching on the promised Holy Spirit recorded in John 14 through 16. Southern Baptist Missionary, Bertha Smith, had a good understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit as demonstrated in her book titled How the Spirit Filled My Life and another titled Go Home and Tell. She was part of that great movement of God in China called the Shantung Revival.
Approach for Sharing
Dr. Josh McDowell reportedly said, “If we are to reach this emerging generation for Christ, it must be through pure evangelism.” I sense that young people today are looking for answers and they want to know the truth. We need to share the message of the gospel from the Bible.
The Great Commission source book is the Bible. Dr. O.S. Hawkins, President and Chief Executive Officer of GuideStone Financial Resources, shares the following about the Great Commission in Where Angels Fear To Tread: Confronting Seven Vital Issues Facing the Church, “Matthew’s account of the Great Commission [Matthew 28:18-20] gives us the Mechanics (we are to ‘make’ disciples, ‘mark’ them by baptism, and ‘mature’ them in the faith). These are the mechanics of the Great Commission. [Note our Lord commissions us to make disciples not merely converts.] Mark’s account of the Great Commission [Mark 16:15] gives us the Measure of it. We are to take this gospel to the whole world. [This is an important point. There is no other way for people to be saved and to go to heaven. It is not the way of the Hindu, or the way of the Buddhist, or the way of the Confucianist, it is the way of Jesus Christ or nothing at all. No matter what world religion or cult a person may ascribe, without Jesus they are lost. The gospel is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as recorded in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4.] Luke’s account of the Great Commission gives us the Message of it. What is it? (Luke 24:47) —“That repentance and remission of sins should be preached in . . . . all nations.”
Recently, Alan and Dorothy Harbison shared some wonderful books from their library. One of those books was by Dr. Eugene Perry [E. P.] Alldredge (1875-1953) titled 101 Expository Sermon Outlines, published by Broadman Press in Nashville (1941). It is interesting to note that Alldredge simply titles the first section, “Repentance”. Regrettably, this word is conspicuously absent from the sermons of “Dr. Feelgood” and the seminars of “Professor Sounding Brass” in this day of positive thinking and preaching. Jesus clearly explains the need for repentance (Luke 13:3,5) as does Peter (Acts 2:38) and Paul (Acts 17:30-31). Many people will simply add a belief in Jesus to the other things they believe. This is not biblical salvation. Soteriology or the doctrine of salvation includes both repentance and faith. We read the following in the Baptist Faith & Message 2000, “Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Saviour.” Paul writes about those in Thessalonica, “For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).
God’s Plan for Sharing presents a biblical approach to accomplishing the task assigned to every believer. Evangelism is one thing we will not be able to do in eternity. Mark Cahill, who once played basketball for Auburn University on the same team with Charles Barkley, wrote a book titled, One Thing You Can’t Do in Heaven.
Applause after Sharing
Dr. Les Hughes, Senior Pastor of the Westwood Baptist Church in Alabaster, Alabama, makes the following statement in his book titled The Sound of God’s Applause: Living a Life that Glorifies the Father, “If our service is only for people, we have to depend on people for our reward. Often a reward doesn’t come at all. Even when people do reward and applaud me, the favor of people is nothing compared to God’s blessing. Human approval is temporary; God’s approval is eternal.” May we wait to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord” (Matthew 25:21). The Lord commissioned Isaiah to share the message without the trappings of external success (Isaiah 6:1-13). We too are called to be faithful not necessarily successful.
The Apostle Paul warns, “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God” (1 Corinthians 4:5).
British Evangelist, Leonard Ravenhill (1907-1994), powerfully and persuasively preached on “The Judgment Seat of Christ.” We read about it in Romans 14:7-13, “For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living. But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: ‘As I live, says the LORD, / Every knee shall bow to Me, / And every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.” Also in 2 Corinthians 5:9-11 we read, “Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.”
Please note there is no judgment to determine whether a person goes to heaven or hell. Some people think there will be a judgment where God will measure our good works against our bad works and if we have enough good works we go to heaven and if not we go to hell. The Bible does teach about “The Great White Throne Judgment” for retribution of unbelievers in hell. We read in Revelation 20:11-15, “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”
Everyone will either go to heaven or hell. Dr. Vance Havner said it years ago: “The great tragedy of our day is that the situation is desperate but the saints are not.”
Do you remember the road signs that carried the message of Amos 4:12? They simply read, “Prepare to meet thy God”.
Dr. C. Sumner Wemp, author of many books to include, The Guide to Practical Pastoring, sent the following via e-mail: “Look what else God did to get me saved. The next Friday the young people had a social and I was heartily invited. It was of God, for I saw a group of real Christians. There was so much joy and laughing but no cursing, no smoking, no drinking or drugs and yet all were having a really great time. Jake was there as he worked with young people. He got me alone and ask kindly if I was a Christian. That hit me right square in the heart. When I said I was not he graciously said, you ought to be and I hope you think about it. Well I did and I know it was because here was someone genuinely interested in me. I loved Jake like a father (he is in heaven now) but he failed and most of us do the same. He did not tell ‘how’ to become a Christian. He did not give me the gospel as Jesus told us to do Mark 16:15. I am sure as I am sitting here if he had given me the gospel, I would have accepted Christ that very night. I wanted and knew I needed what I was seeing right there.
In our churches we must do everything we do to include a soul winning effort along with the social side. It has been my joy to speak to very many church banquets, socials etc, and give the gospel along with the primary message of the occasion. Then I give an invitation for people to believe the gospel and receive the Lord Jesus as their personal Savior in the closing prayer. My joy has been to see hundreds saved at them. At a Sunday School teachers Christmas banquet, one ladies class teacher’s unsaved husband came just for his wife’s sake. He heard me give the gospel and prayed to receive the Lord Jesus as his Savior during the closing prayer and looked up at me to let me know he received the Lord Jesus. After the closing, I ambled over to him. He assured me he was saved. I asked if he could tell his wife right now. We called her over, he told her, ‘I got saved tonight’ and heaven came down. Dozens came over to rejoice with them. THAT is the way all socials and meetings ought to be conducted and concluded. We would change the whole world if we ALL, including YOU, made winning the lost the primary purpose of all we do. Jesus said, ‘Preach the gospel to EVERY person’.”
Make sure that you truly know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord by repentance of sin and faith in His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of your sin. If you do not know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord you can pray a prayer like this:
Dear God, I know that I am a sinner, in thought, in word and in deed. I am a sinner by nature and a sinner by choice. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sin and that he rose from the grave on the third day. I ask Jesus to take over my life and to be my Savior, my Lord, and my King. Thank you for giving me the forgiveness of my sin and everlasting life. Amen.
May the Lord use each one of us as we follow God’s Plan for Sharing.
Available from: http://www.gps2020.net/site/c.ihKOI0PAImE/b.5110311/k.BCA2/Home.htm Accessed: 02/27/10
O.S. Hawkins, Where Angels Fear To Tread: Confronting Seven Vital Issues Facing the Church (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1984), p. 89
Baptist Faith & Message 2000, Available from: http://www.sbc.net/BFM/bfm2000.asp Accessed: 02/28/10
Les Hughes, The Sound of God’s Applause: Living a Life that Glorifies the Father (Bradenton, FL: Outcome Publishing, 2009), p.88
C. Sumner Wemp, “Look what else God did to get me saved.” via e-mail 02/27/10
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