by Dan Jenkins
Far too many Christians have failed to keep evangelism as a major focus in their lives. They may be able to finish quoting the command of Jesus to “go into all the world and…” Yet somehow this thought is rarely manifested in daily lives. It is so remarkable that those who have found the treasure of salvation seem so hesitant to tell others of this great discovery. There are several eternal truths which should fuel the flames for the burning passion we should have for evangelism.
Our passion for evangelism begins with a realization that our God has a passion for evangelism. God could have chosen a thousand different ways to let others know of the cross. He could have sent messengers to every home in the world to tell the lost about the coming of His Son and the salvation He brought, but He did not! He could have assembled all nations, like He did the nation of Israel at Mt. Sinai, and in an overwhelming manifestation of His glory revealed the story of redemption, but He did not! He could have covered the nighttime skies with ten thousand times ten thousand angels to sing about the birth of the babe in Bethlehem and His amazing life, but He did not! Instead His eternal plan was to give the greatest message ever revealed to insignificant people so that they could tell others about Him.
God longs for the world to be saved! He is not willing that any should perish (2 Pet. 3:9). Paul described our God as one who longs to “have mercy on all” (Rom. 11:32). He is not willing that any should perish, but waits for all men to come to repentance. He has always been this way. Six centuries before the revelation of God’s eternal plan of evangelism in the church was revealed, Ezekiel portrayed the heart of God: “Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, and not rather that he should return from his way and live?” (Ezek. 18:23). Though the wicked face the prospect of an eternal hell, it was not prepared for them, but for the devil and his angels. He longs for the communion with mankind and has prepared an indescribably beautiful place for them. Oh, that we had the passion for the salvation of the lost that our Father does!
Holy saints of old have longed for the world to be saved. Take David for an example. Since he was the man after God’s own heart, should not our hearts be like his? What passion did he have for leading others to righteousness? He knew of the grace of God, and even in the midst of his sin with Bathsheba, he was mindful of those around him who were lost. In Psalm 51, he begged for God’s mercy and the renewal of the joy that would follow his restoration to God. He longed for all to know of the Father’s will. “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You” (Psa. 41:12-13). Because He knew God and His merciful nature, he begged for God to restore to him the joy of salvation he once had. With that joy restored, he then committed himself again to tell others about the Lord. Oh, that we had the passion for the salvation of the lost that saints of old had!
Our Savior longs for the world to be saved. He defined the very reason He came into the world when He said, “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost” (Matt. 18:11). These words are followed by the parable of the shepherd who leaves the 99 sheep to go and find that one lost sheep. Our Shepherd left the grandeur of heaven and entered a world filled with those who hated righteousness, blasphemed God, and persecuted all those who loved God. He did this to find the lost sheep! His purpose for living was to save the lost. His heart burned with a passion to teach others. Oh, that we had the passion for the salvation of the lost that Jesus had!
The first century saints had a burning passion for evangelism. Take Paul as an example for he said, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). What passion did he have for evangelism? It was the same passion that the Savior had. Christ gave His life to bring the lost to the Father. Hear the words of Paul. “I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren…” (Rom. 9:2-3). He was willing to be separated from the Lord if such could bring about the salvation of the Jews! His heart’s desire and prayer to the Lord was for their salvation (Rom. 10:1). Such was the passion for the salvation of the world that characterized the early church. Is there any wonder that, in their lifetime, every creature under heaven heard the gospel (Col. 1:23)? Oh, that we had the passion for the salvation of the lost that the early Christians had!
Fellow Christian, the world is still lost. The psalmist spoke of the joy of salvation. Have you forgotten that joy you had at the beginning? Do you remember the passion you had to serve the Master when you first believed? Do you remember how easy it was to see the lost around you, and the various ways you sought to bring another to the joy you had? Do you remember how you rejoiced when you saw others obey the gospel? The world is still lost. Our Father longs for the world to be saved. The saints of old longed for the world to find God. The very purpose of the coming of our Lord was to evangelize the world. The heart’s desire and prayer of the early Christians concerned the lost. The world is still lost. The only hope it has is for each of us to rekindle that burning desire for the salvation of the world and make a sincere commitment to be used by God to make it happen.
Just remember this. God has no other plan for leading the lost to Him.
Can he depend on you?