Research indicates that 80% of evangelicals in the US know they are called to evangelize, but 61% have admitted to not having a spiritual conversation with anyone for the past six months. Although church leaders often introduce fresh methods to solve the problem, actually our hesitation to evangelize rests on our unawareness of the supernatural power of the gospel.
“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power.” (1 Corinthians 2:4)
I decided to preach this message tonight because I believe creating an awareness of that power is one of the ways to overcome our hesitation to preach the gospel.
1. The Gospel fulfills God’s desired Purpose
The Bible is known by many different names. God’s Word, His Revelation to Man, His Love Letter to Man, His Revelation to Us, The expressed divine will of God, and so on. The list is endless. No matter what we choose to call it, God has a purpose for every word in the Bible and those words have power, which our feeble minds cannot fathom.
“So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)
You might say Isaiah is talking about God’s word, not the gospel. Truth be told God’s word is the gospel and the gospel is the word of God! A common misunderstanding is the gospel is found only in the Synoptic Gospels and the book of John. But if you read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation you will see although the content is different from one book to another, the theme remains the same throughout the 66 books. Gospel is that theme. The Bible presents it in 03 parts.
A. Man is a sinner and condemned to suffer in the lake of fire for eternity, (Genesis – Joshua)
B. God’s unfailing love for the man despite man’s unfaithfulness and insensitive attitude towards God, (Judges – Malachi)
C. God sending his son as a ransom for the salvation of many, (Matthew – Revelation)
How can news as bad as man is a sinner and condemned to eternal suffering be a part of the gospel? Someone said Jesus is the answer! Another got up and asked what’s the question? Likewise, the gospel is useless if not for the fallen status of man.
The purpose of the gospel is to convince sinners to repent. So if the gospel is the all-powerful word of God it certainly can convict the sinners but only if we tell them! Today Christians have many excuses for not preaching the gospel. Let’s consider the most common excuses.
A. People will not listen to my Message:
Hilariously this excuse is based on Isaiah 53:1 – When taken out of context, it sounds as if Isaiah is saying it’s futile to preach the gospel because nobody wants to listen. Isaiah is actually saying that the Gentiles accepted the message which was rejected by the Jews.
B. I am not baptized in the Holy Spirit:
This is a misinterpretation of Acts 2:41. Peter did not win 3,000 people before he was baptized by the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. But that doesn’t mean he never preached the gospel before.
God spoke through a Donkey and it wasn’t baptized by the Holy Spirit! (Numbers 22:28) The baptism of the Holy Spirit is important. But we shouldn’t wait for it before preaching the gospel because so many souls are perishing while we wait.
On the other hand if one hesitates to witness now, what’s the guarantee he or she will witness after the spirit baptism? There are many individuals that are baptized by the Spirit but don’t witness.
C. I lack the Gift of Healing and Miracles:
Signs and wonders are important manifestations of the gospel. But the Bible doesn’t forbid you from witnessing without them. God can use you to perform signs and wonders if you believe, (Mark 16:17-18). But the gospel can save with or without miracles.
So then, don’t permit false assumptions, misinterpretations of scripture, and your personal shortcomings to prevent you from preaching the gospel because its supernatural power exceeds your limitations by far.
2. The Gospel has the Power to Transform
The gospel has the power to transform people inwardly. The Old Testament and the New Testament both mention individuals, communities, and even entire nations that were transformed by hearing the gospel.
A. The Ninevites:
“The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.” (Jonah 3:1-10)
“But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” (Luke 19:8)
C. The Samaritan Woman:
“Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” (John 4:28)
D. The Samaritan Community:
“So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers.” (John 4:40-41)
All of us are familiar with the story of Nicky Cruse. Nevertheless, it’s a story worth telling again and again, because it tells us the transformational power of the gospel.
Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Nicky’s parents were drug addicts and spiritists. They abused Nicky physically and verbally when he was a small boy. At the age of 15, he fled to New York City and joined the notorious “Mau-Mauz” Gang. Very soon he became their leader.
Then one day David Wilkerson came preaching to the streets where Nicky and his gang were active. David told Nicky “Jesus loves you.” Nicky threatened to kill the preacher but surrendered his life to God several weeks after.
Today Nicky travels around the world sharing his testimony with the masses. He is also the president of Nicky Cruz Outreach, and Executive Producer of TRUCE, an international discipleship and evangelism ministry. The Wall Street Journal once described him as the “Billy Graham of the streets.” Talk about a transformation!
I wonder where will be Nicky if David never told him about Jesus? Did David know the message he preached will transform Nicky to be the powerful man of God he is now? How many people will be still lost today if Nicky didn’t meet David? We don’t know.
Likewise, we do not know what God will do through the lives of people we touch with the gospel of Christ. But we do know the gospel has the power to transform the worst sinners, (1 Timothy 1:15). Therefore we must preach to our neighbors, friends, colleagues, and relatives about Christ.
3. No one can stop or hold back the Gospel
In spite of human resistance throughout the centuries, the gospel still continues to reach out to sinners in the darkest corners of the world. The Bible says,
“Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews.” (Acts 11:19)
The more the society attempts to stop the gospel from spreading, the faster and further it spreads. That is the power of the gospel we heard. There are many stories pertaining to its unstoppable nature. Among them is the story of a Chinese preacher, who preached for 07 years with nothing but a few pages he managed to tear off from his Bible before it was confiscated by the Chinese Red Army.
In the year 1966, Mao Zedong ordered the confiscation of all the Bibles in the country in order to be burnt later. The Red Army executed the order immediately. They went from house to house forcing the residents to surrender their Bibles. Christians who refused were beaten severely, arrested, or even put to death.
When the soldiers came to a certain preacher’s house, he happened to give his worn-out Bible to them without any hesitation. Knowing the man before them is a preacher, the soldiers searched the entire house thoroughly but did not find a trace of any other Bibles. They left the preacher believing they got the only Bible he had. Unknown to soldiers however this preacher had torn off a few pages from his Bible before it was taken away from him. Armed with those few pages he preached the gospel for the next 07 years and won masses for Christ!
There’s no force in heaven, earth, or hell capable of stopping the advancement of the gospel as long as we preach it.
Only we can stop the advancement of the gospel by not preaching it. In fact, Paul said,
“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” (Romans 10:14)
In some countries, Christians don’t preach the gospel because they fear persecution, (state-sponsored sometimes). But in the US persecution is not an issue at all because the constitution affirms and protects our right to evangelize.
In my personal experience, most of the time people don’t preach the gospel because of barriers that exist only in their minds. Nervousness is one such barrier. Did you know the only way to overcome nervousness in preaching the gospel is to preach it the way you know it? Because a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Fear of rejection is another reason why people don’t preach the gospel. It’s important to remember we are not looking forward to converting people. Conversion is the work of the Holy Spirit. We are called to preach it.
We must also be on the lookout for opportunities for spiritual conversations that come on our way. In Acts 2:37 the crowds asked Peter, “Brothers what shall we do?” Peter seized the opportunity immediately and won 3,000 converts in less than 24 hours!
We come across such opportunities every day. It can be someone whose spouse has just walked out on their marriage, A parent with a child hanging between life and death in a hospital bed, or a person diagnosed with terminal cancer. All of these are opportunities for personal evangelism because a drowning man will clutch even at a straw, (except that Jesus is not a straw). So let us be Christians of opportunity because the gospel is unstoppable.
Jesus often emphasized the urgent need for preaching the gospel to the spiritually lost. He said to the disciples,
“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. (Luke 10:2)
Jesus’ focus was on the multitudes of people that needed to be reached. His words are still relevant to us today because according to research out of the 7.2 billion people alive in the world today, 3.0 billion still haven’t heard the gospel of Christ!
“Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” (John 4:35).
Jesus was saying we must not postpone the task of preaching the gospel to another day but grab every opportunity because he will be coming to rapture his people to be with him in an hour we do not know.
So now that we do know the power of the gospel we can not give any excuses for not preaching it. Let’s step out in boldness of the Spirit, the compassion of the Son, and the love of the Father and preach the gospel of Jesus to everyone we know as well as every stranger God sends on our way.
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