Preaching To Those Who Believe
From the very first moment of my salvation I have been on fire for evangelism. This is not to say that I am better than others. Conversely, I am painfully aware of just how much sin remains in me. Sadly, I have not always allowed my zeal for evangelism to motivate me properly. I have often heaped condemnation on others. In my article, My Confession, I sought forgiveness for coming down too hard on other believers when it comes to evangelism. In some respects, I was fostering an almost legalistic approach to Advancing the Gospel. What I am writing to you today is meant to inspire a joyful obedience instead.
Therefore, if you have felt guilt or shame in reading the articles I have previously published please keep reading. I want to preach to your soul today. It is my earnest plea that you would take heart in my message to you. Moreover, I want you to know that my desire is to bring the joy of Christ to bear on this topic. Furthermore, as Christ obeyed for the joy set before Him, I want you to see that same joy on display before you as well.
A Brief Word On Obedience
As I have established biblically in many of my previous articles, the Great Commission is not a mere suggestion. It is a command that flows out of the two greatest commands. One cannot read that we are to love God with every fiber of our being and our neighbors as ourselves and then justify interpreting the Great Commission as a suggestion. It is clearly an imperative pointed at the believer.
On one end of the two great commands we strive to obey in fear and under our own power. The lost but moralistic person trembles under the weight of the law. They know nothing of joyful obedience. On the other end of the two great commands we obey out of love and joyful duty. Even in keeping the commands of God we can take great joy. Furthermore, that joy is complete in Christ who kept all the commands perfectly for us.
Sadly, much like many of the other things taught in the Scriptures, evangelism is made a heavy duty. It weighs down the hearer of the command with guilt for failing to obey. We begin to see God as the demanding father who expects the house in perfect order when he arrives home from work. Moreover, evangelism then becomes a routine engaged in with no compassion or empathy. Instead, it comes off as cold and detached.
This is the child who obeys while dad is away for fear of being beaten when dad comes home. That child is not obeying out of longing and expectation of seeing their father. Instead, a child who longs for their father’s smile and warm embrace obeys and rushes to the door when he arrives home.
These two perspectives help us see the divide between joyful obedience and obedience from fear of disapproval.
Why Joyful Obedience
One great error made by many Christians is believing that Christ lived His earthly life as an example to us. There is a reality in which we can see His life in that way. However, Christ lived as far more than an example. He lived to accomplish what we could not ever accomplish. We had no hope of the perfect obedience that He lived out.
Accordingly, when we look on Christ in Scripture, we should see Him as the propitiatory sacrifice that He was. However, we can still look to Him for an example as well. The key to looking on Him as our example is to not confuse His exemplary life with His sacrificial work. In-other-words, Christ’s perfect active and passive obedience are beyond our ability to accomplish. Moreover, any attempt on our part to live out those aspects of His life is insulting to His glory.
Therefore, looking to Him as an example is freeing for us. When we see Christ proclaiming the Good News of Himself to the masses, we can be stirred to follow that example. Moreover, that example comes with the joy of knowing Christ as both Lord and Savior.
Christ is the perfect example of joyful obedience for us. As we are taught in the Scriptures, it was for the joy set before Him that He endured the cross. While our obedience does not cause our salvation but instead flows from it, we are able to obey in joy. Why? Because Christ did.
Our salvation produces joyful obedience in all areas of our life.
Joyful Obedience In Advancing The Gospel
Since Christ laid down His life as a wonderful and awe inspiring propitiatory sacrifice we have the obligation to tell others. Yet, that obligation does not come with a threat of disapproval if we fail. That obligation flows out of the joy that we find in the completed work of Christ.
Christ has said to us on a deeply personal level, “come to me all of you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” The burden there is not merely things that weigh us down emotionally. The burden is the weight of our sin. It is the weight of our efforts to try and please God through our own works. Wherefore, Christ comes to us and cries out, “It is finished!” All our labors must cease. We must lay down that burden and take up Christ’s yoke because it is easy.
This beautiful burden of bearing the cross frees us to find our joy in the completed work of Christ. Therefore, being filled with joy, we run out to tell others. Consider the woman at the well. Christ confronts her with the embarrassing nature of her adultery. He tells her that He is the Messiah promised in the Scriptures. She rushes back to her village in joy and confesses her sin to everyone there and proclaims Christ to them.
This is what joyful obedience looks like. Should we not be the same? How much have we been forgiven? Should this not compel us to look on the world with pity and speak the truth in love? Since our Savior could endure the cross with joy, we should be able to overcome discomfort and preach the Gospel in joy.
Therefore, no longer will Advancing the Gospel be a burden to us, but joyful obedience to Christ.
I want to end with this thought, and it will be brief. Your Lord and Savior has left you with a command to preach the Gospel. How you do this will look incredibly different for each person. Some of us will stand on proverbial soap-boxes. Still others will sit down in a coffee shop and proclaim the Gospel over a cup of salted-caramel mocha-chino. Whatever the case may be, be about that work with joyful obedience.
As Ray Comfort is often heard to say, “I go out dragging my feet but come back clicking my heels.” Let this be the case for each of us. The more we strive for joyful obedience the less burden we feel and the lighter the yoke of Christ becomes…
Soli Deo Gloria!