The witness of the church
Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
Matt 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
In Mark 16:15 Jesus told his disciples to go into all the world and preach, (Greek Kerysso) (to publish or proclaim) the gospel to all of creation.
In Matthew 28 the Greek word used for “make disciples” is (Greek mathēteuō), and means (to teach). (Notice: Jesus did not say to make converts, but disciples). Only God can make converts.
John 16:8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;
10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;
11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
We are to make disciples.
The Holy Spirit is the one who Convicts, Convinces and Converts.
It is God Himself who is the Author and Finisher of our faith.
Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;
Notice that Jesus never said “Go into the church and preach the Gospel”, but “Go into the world”.
Nowhere do we read in the scriptures that the believers invited anyone to the Temple or House church, in order to hear the Gospel.
We, each one of us that has received from the Lord, are commanded to openly proclaim what it is we have received.
He who believes in his heart and confesses with his mouth.
Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
A commentary of this verse in the Geneva Bible says this:
That is indeed true faith which is settled not only in the head, but also in the heart of man, of which we also give testimony by our outward life, and which serves Christ as our one and only Saviour, even as he sets forth himself in his word.
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:
It is us, each individual that should be ready to share the Gospel, it is not the preacher, minister or pastor or elder who has that sole responsibility.
You may say, “I need to invite people to church to hear the Gospel”. Where in the scriptures are we told to do that?
The church fellowship or the house church is a place where believers meet to worship, to be exhorted, to be taught and encouraged in the faith, built up in order to fulfil our Lords commandment of going into the world to share the Gospel in word and deed.
The role of our Pastors, Elders and Teachers is:
Ephesians 4:12.“to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ”.
Titus 1:9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
The Bible is quite clear on whose duty it is to preach the Gospel. It is every Christian’s duty.
Matthew 10:32-33 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
The problem is that most Christians are scared of the world, scared of rejection, scared of ridicule, scared of being humiliated, scared of not having the right thing to say.
Basically it is far easier to hide away in the church building and invite someone to come along and expect that the preacher, Elder or pastor will preach the Gospel.
We can relax, we have played our part.
The truth is that we are inviting the world into the church. We want to make them feel comfortable, so we invite them to come to other meetings, join the choir, ladies meeting, men’s fellowship or become a Sunday school teacher and we wonder why the churches are weak and sickly.
Before we know where we are, there are heresies being preached from the pulpit, children are being taught by unbelievers and the scriptures are being eroded by liberals and modernists.
There are times when it is appropriate to invite unbelievers into the building, however this should not be the normal practice. On special occasions of an evangelistic nature it maybe the right thing to do but the unbeliever should be aware of why they are being invited.
If this becomes our normal practice, we end up with a congregation of believers and unbelievers, mixed together, when we are told in scripture that between a believer and an unbeliever there can be no unity.
1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
The seeker sensitive church is an ever growing phenomenon.
The seeker sensitive church tries to find out what would attract the unbeliever to come to the church and they attempt to provide what they the unbelievers want, in fact the world can provide far better entertainment than the church can.
We become hypocritical in our approach. We open a coffee morning, which is really not a true coffee morning, it is a trap, a lure to get them in so we can preach the Gospel. Some churches resort to things like domino drives, bingo sessions and so on.
This is not the way to preach the Gospel.
Jesus said, ”I will make you fishers of men” not “I will make you anglers”.
The idea is to cast a net, not to dangle a worm.
We should not preach the Gospel under false pretences.
You may be saying, but I know people who have been invited to church and got saved and you may be correct.
God can indeed work this way. We should never close our doors to anyone.
There is nothing wrong in putting on a Gospel meeting and inviting unbelievers to attend to hear the Gospel message but at least this is up front, they know beforehand what they are to expect. It is not underhanded.
These things are in addition to what we are commanded to do, not in place of it.
God can and does use Gospel events to bring people to Himself but He also saved many more from a conversation on the street or in some ones home, school or social centre. Sometimes it a case of giving the Christian point of view on a social issue.
Each one of us is to be a personal evangelist. We all have a responsibility to share the Gospel with those we come in contact with. Usually our family and friends first and then our work colleagues and neighbours and to strangers that we meet.
We realise that there may be unbelievers in the midst of our congregations and we should be aware of this and take the opportunity to be kind to them, hold out a friendly hand and at the appropriate time, share the word of God with them.
However the building, or house church is primarily a place of worship and fellowship, a place of prayer, a place of teaching and exhortation, a place for building up the body of Christ, equipping them to fulfil the Lords commission.
The only way a church is a community church is when it is being used by a community of believing Christians.
It is not a social club or a recreational club.
Our mission field is the world not the church.
In 2 Corinthians 6. It says a lot about mixing light and darkness....
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what
communion hath light with darkness?
And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.
And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
So, how should we then, as Christians treat unbelievers? Do we ignore them, do we dislike them, avoid them, do we snub them if we don’t agree with their lifestyle? God forbid.
John 3:16 God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but have eternal life.
The Bible is very specific about how we as Christians, are to conduct ourselves toward the unbeliever:
(Colossians 4:5-6) “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”
We are to be Christ to the world, we are Christ’s representatives.
We are to be salt in the world, salt that savours, salt that has a cleansing effect in our communities.
We are to be the light in the world, a candle in a dark place.
We are not to hide our candle under a bushel but let our light shine before men.
We are in the world but not of the world.
We don’t need to be scared of the world, for Jesus said:
1 John 4:4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
We have an opportunity to make a difference in the world, we do not have to be like the world but we can work with those in the world to affect our community, we can show that we are concerned for what is right or wrong and stand up for what is right and oppose those things that are wrong. If we find ourselves working alongside the unbeliever in a project, so and good, we can give a Christian perspective in that situation.
We should be saying, what would Jesus do in this situation?
Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Community groups need the Christian influence, resident associations need a Christian perspective, food banks need concerned workers, voluntary organizations need hands to reach out to those in need.
It is not just preaching the Gospel but living it.
It is a case of loving the unlovely.
Someone once said, “A man would rather see a sermon any day, than hear one”.
We need to go beyond the church walls, go out into the streets of our town or village—to the “poor and crippled and blind and lame”, and proclaim to them the gospel.
THEN, we can invite them to our church so that they can be discipled.
The Thessalonian church is a church that we should take note of.
Six months after hearing the Gospel from the Apostle Paul, we read of them:
1Th 1:3 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;
1Th 1:7 So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.
1Th 1:8 For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak anything.
After the death of Jesus, the disciples were in hiding for fear of the Jews.
Act 1:4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.
Act 1:5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
Act 1:8 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.
We can, in confidence and in the power of the Holy Spirit, venture out of our safe haven (the church) and rely on God the Holy Spirit to empower us to be witnesses in our homes, schools, colleges and communities.
No one said it would be easy, we may encounter opposition, ridicule and even persecution but we will never be alone. We cannot go on being safe secure Christians, hiding away in our churches, being content in our own safe secure environment.
There are those, that no matter what we organize, will never venture into our churches. The only way that they will hear the Gospel is if we go and take it to them.
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Do this, and we will fulfil the great commission of our Lord.