Ye servants of God, your Master proclaim
And publish abroad his wonderful Name …
Many of us have sung Charles Wesley’s great hymn with hearty approval. And rightly so for, as servants of the Most High God, we have a responsibility to ‘proclaim’ Christ and ‘publish abroad his wonderful Name’.
But are we actually doing it? No doubt we do proclaim Christ from our pulpits week by week. But do we ‘publish’ the gospel among our neighbours, friends and the wider community?
The annual evangelistic issue of Evangelical Times, due again this December, provides just such an opportunity to reach out into our communities with the message of Christ — a message they may otherwise never hear.
Evangelism is not easy. Few of our fellow citizens have time for God. Their life’s agenda is set by the media, and they are satiated with materialism, atheism and moral self-indulgence.
Yet this diminishes neither their spiritual need nor our responsibility to tell them of their condition in the sight of God and of Christ’s atoning work.
In Proverbs 8:1-11, wisdom is a personification of the gospel (compare 1 Corinthians 2:7). What example does she set us?
She ‘takes her stand on the top of the high hill, beside the way where the paths meet … by the gates at the entry to the city, at the entrance of the doors’ — in fact anywhere and everywhere that people can be found. She cries, ‘To you, O men, I call … listen, and I will speak of excellent things’.
So we also, if we are to obey the great commission, must go out into the highways and byways to make Christ known.
Not the right time?
But some of us demur. What is the use, we ask, when people will not listen? Are we not wasting our time and money on outreach that, in the event, may prove fruitless?
The prophet Haggai was faced with just such a problem. The work of building the temple had proved difficult. God’s enemies had hindered the project from the outset. The Jews had been falsely accused of rebellion. Finally, the threat of armed force brought all progress to a halt (Ezra 4).
Thoroughly discouraged, the people reached a conclusion: ‘The time has not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built’ (Haggai 1:2).
God’s time is now
But the Lord had other plans: ‘Is it time for … this temple to lie in ruins? … Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may have pleasure in it and be glorified, says the Lord’ (Haggai 1:3-7).
But we protest: ‘It’s hard work climbing mountains and hewing wood. And there’s little to show for it’.
Paul replies with both exhortation and encouragement: ‘let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart’ (Galatians 6:9).
Losing heart is all too easy in times of spiritual barrenness — but if we are to please God we must persevere in building the temple made without hands, the church of the living God.
God’s time for evangelism is now. Not tomorrow, or when revival comes, or when we appoint a skilled evangelist to our church staff: ‘Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation’ (2 Corinthians 6:1-2).
Do it again
Last December, the writer’s small church combined with three others to distribute 6,000 copies of the evangelistic ET. How many conversions resulted? None, as far as we know.
So what will we do this year? The same as we did last year, or more! Why, seeing there were no results last time?
But I did not say, ‘there were no results’ — only that we knew of no directly attributable results. All four churches have grown numerically since last December, and people have been saved.
Perhaps distributing the papers helped believers to focus on the need to reach out to others. Perhaps some caught a new vision of taking the gospel to the lost. Perhaps God has simply ‘owned’ faithfulness in obeying the great commission.
The annual evangelistic ET is by no means the only way to make Christ known in our communities. But it is a way, and one that requires minimal organisation.
The task of organising outreach often deters churches, especially small ones. Some have organised evangelistic missions, only to baulk at repeating the exercise because it made too many demands the first time around.
The December evangelistic ET offers an uncomplicated way to evangelise on a regular annual basis, and we prayerfully commend it to readers and churches alike.
If you are not sure what the evangelistic paper is actually like, please phone us on 01325 380232 or e-mail [email protected] icaltimes.org for a free copy of last year’s issue.