spoke this parable to them, saying: "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he
loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one
which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders,
rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to
them, Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost! I say to you
that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over
ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.
There is an ever-widening gap between the churched
and unchurched communities in our land, millions of people who havent the slightest idea of what Christianity is all about,
second-generation pagans, people whove never darkened the door of a church
in their entire life. Meanwhile, on the mission field, in spite of all the strategists and
statisticians, a quarter of the worlds population is entirely unreachedwithout
a hope of hearing the Gospel and responding to it.
Yet there are more Bible-believing Christians than ever before
in history. And we have the resources to mobilize more than enough evangelists and
missionaries to get the job done in just a few short years. But somehow much of the church
seems to have lost its vision for the lostwe take an occasional stab at evangelizing
our own communities, but dont seem concerned about actually getting the job done.
Missions giving is falling off there seems to be a kind of
"protectionist" mentality in the American church, instead of an obedience to
reach beyond ourselves to the peoples of the world.
The Lords mandate is still clear: Go ye therefore!
Heavenly priorities have not changed: the Master and the angels still rejoice more in one
converted sinner than ninety-nine fat, happy saints already in the church. We cannot
ignore the plight of the lost. Our Lord holds us accountableeach of us must do his
or her part to make sure the world hears the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In case you need a
little more convincing, here are "Eleven Imperative Reasons For World
Reason #1: Because Jesus
Commanded Us To
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing
them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
The command to go out and preach the Gospel to the entire
world is known as the Great Commission. It is recorded in all four Gospels and the book of
Acts. The last earthly words of Jesus were "you shall receive power when the Holy
Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea
and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." (Acts 1:8). His final instruction, His
last reminder, the item most on His heart as He said good-by to His disciples, was the
evangelization of the world.
We are to start at our own homes and work outwardand we
neednt finish our own communities before looking abroad, either... Jesus said the
cities of Israel wouldnt be completely evangelized before His return (Matt 10:23),
yet He sent Philip to Samaria, and Paul to the ends of the Roman Empire. Like Abraham,
were called to be blessed and be a blessing: in us all the families of the earth
shall be blessed, (Gen 12:2,3). If we fail to obey the Great Commission we have missed the
whole point of being a servant of God, the whole thrust of what Christ came to do and what
were supposed to be perpetuating. To put it bluntly, we are in sin; just as surely
as if wed murdered or commit adultery, for to disobey Jesus is to sin, and to sin
against the Great Commission is to violate the very reason for our existence on earth.
Reason #2. Because Jesus Hinged His
Return on the Completion of the Task
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the
world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come,
Jesus will not come back until the job of world evangelization
is finished. Its just as simple as that. Here in Matthew 24 the question had been
posed "what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" (vs
3). His reply: I wont be back until the Gospel is preached in all the world and
to every nation. The Greek word translated "people" is ethnos. It means
ethno-linguistic people group, not political nation. There are a little over 200 political
nations in the world, and the Gospel has been proclaimed to some degree in most of
thembut there are over 12,000 people groups. By the most conservative reckoning,
some 1700 have yet to hear of Jesus Christ. There is much to be done before He can return.
You hear a lot about the "imminent" return of the
Lord these days, the possibility of His coming at any moment. Some teachers seem to
consider it a major doctrine. But Jesus Himself said that His return would not be imminent
until every people group on the earth has been evangelized.
Reason #3. Because Its Only
Fair to Give Everyone a Chance to Hear the Good News
How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not
believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall
they hear without a preacher?
Plenty of ministers are caring for those whove already
heard. Even the great majority of foreign missionaries are involved in ministering to the
already reached. Furthermore, Christians could conceivably live without a preacherwe
have the Word of God and the Spirit of God within us; we have ready access to Christian
literature, audio and video tapes, and Christian radio and television. We could edify one
another in home Bible studies if we had none of the aboveat least were saved.
But who will reach the lost if we dont? Why is it that we concentrate most of our
time, effort and resources on the already evangelized? For that matter, why do we continue
to reach out to those whove already heard and rejected the Gospel? Why should anyone
hear twice before all have heard once? People are perishing for lack of the Gospel, and
its to our shame. Im sure its an oversightbut what a tragic
oversight! Perhaps its just carelessness, selfishness... but thats my next
Reason #4. Because We Are to be
Giving, Sharing People
And as you go,
preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick,
cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have
received, freely give.
We have received a gifteternal lifethat needs to
be shared with the needy of this world. Selfishness is totally contrary to the spirit and
teaching of the Word of God. Christians are to be a giving, selfless people who put the
needs of others ahead of their own. The worst conceivable act of selfishness would be to
begrudge others hearing the Gospel, for people without the Lord are not simply suffering
physically or temporally, they are suffering eternally. They are bound by sin and pain in
this world, and they have only hell to look forward to in the one to come. We cannot be
selfish and keep the saving message of Jesus from them.
Any of us can share with a friend or neighbor. Most all of us
could spare $20 or $30 a month for missionssome could do much more. Some are called
to go to the uttermost parts of the earth bringing the Good News to those desperately in
need of it. Dont keep eternal life to yourselfshare it with others.
Reason #5. Because Every Individual
is Important to God, and Everyones Spiritual Hunger Deserves to be Met
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our
Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
1 Timothy 2:3-4
Statistics can be a little numbing at times: two and a half
billion people in the world today who havent been reached yet with the Gospel
(that's ten times the population of the entire United Statesit would take you 79
years just to count them); thirty million unreached individuals dying every year
(thats about one a second). But this isnt a faceless multitude of assorted
Bangladeshis, Chinese, Africans and others. These are real people with complex
personalities, hopes and dreams, hurts and disappointmentsloved ones who will miss
them and grieve when theyre gone. They pray, they ponder the meaning of life and
wonder about the afterlife. God cares about every one of them, and He knows the hairs on
each of their heads. We need to get close enough to Him to share His love and care for the
lost individuals of this world.
Reason #6. Because If We Dont
Win Them the Devil Will
The god of this age has blinded [those] who do not believe,
lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine
on them ...And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.
2 Corinthians 4:4,11:14
Much of world is in transition: the Communist bloc is falling
apart, and the values of more traditional societies are being eroded due to technological
advances. Most of the world is under 25 years of age, especially in developing countries,
and theyre asking hard questions of their elders. Muslims are disillusioned by all
the holy wars that produce nothing but more martyrs, atheists are discovering new
evidences of supernatural reality. The minds of the world have never been more open; the
souls of the world are searching.
At home and abroad the church has to compete for those souls
today. Militant Islamic groups are enlisting idealistic young men for their cause; Jehovah
Witnesses and Mormons invaded the former Soviet bloc just as quickly as evangelical
organizations. The "New Age," with the help of Hollywood, is a formidable
contender for the hearts and minds people young and old. MTV is now seen in much of Asia
and Europe. The western product most in demand when the Berlin Wall went down a few years
ago was, if you can believe it, pornography. The devils camp is not relaxing in
these end times, and we cannot either. We must enter the fray with every ounce of
determination we can muster, and turn people to the truth before they embrace more lies.
Reason #7. Because the Enemies of
Christ are Extremely Ruthless
Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil
has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time."
The devil is stealing, killing and destroying as never before
in history. Millions have starved to death in Africa, and though it may not grab the
headlines as it did a few years ago, its still going on. Rwanda is still divided,
with casualties yet being reported. A million and a half men, women, and children have
died in Sudan in the last six years as the Muslims in the north endeavor to eradicate the
Christians in the south. Sadam Hussein (since his defeat in the Gulf War) has burned 4000
Kurdish villages in his own country, leaving 250,000 dead, and half a million in refugee
camps. In southern Iraq he has brutally crushed the Shiites ( a different sect of
Muslims than himself) they are among the totally unreached people groups of the
world. Civil war continues in Afghanistan: 800,000 are now dead, 1.5 million maimed, and 7
million homeless. Our own urban areas are filled with violence and bloodshed, as churches
flee to the suburbs. The enemy is killing people and hardening the hearts of the survivors
before they can be reached with the Gospel. We have to move fast to snatch them from the
devourer before he makes any more headway.
Reason #8. Because Only the Gospel
Can Solve the Tremendous Social Problems in the World Today
Man cant even find a bandage, much less a cure, for the
social ills that face him in this hour. We have an AIDS epidemic, and abortion on demand.
Racial tensions threaten to tear our country apart and militant survivalists hold off
government forces for weeks on end. Elsewhere the story is just as bleak and hopeless...
India is torn by community strife and separatist groups that assassinate politicians and
execute whole busloads of innocent people to make a statement; the Mid-east is hotter than
ever; female infanticide is a common practice in many parts of the world, as is child
prostitution, which creates a bustling slave trade; corrupt governments turn a deaf ear to
reports of graft and injustice.
Only the Gospel can address these concerns, because
theyre all driven by the lusts and frustrations of people who dont know God.
We must effect social change by changing peoples hearts, converting them to the
values and teachings of the Bible. Thats what happened in the Roman Empire in the
early days of the church, and its what gave us at least a nominal morality during
most of the history of our own nation. Social problems have increased to the exact degree
that God has been pushed out of the picture. This world needs the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Reason #9. Because Emphasizing
Evangelism is Good for the Spiritual Health of the Church
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...
Were not really making disciples if were not
training people to obey the Master and do the work of evangelists. Non-evangelistic
churches are unhealthy; they grow introspective, develop sects and infighting, and
experience divisions; they become spiritually bored and come up with irregular doctrines
and "new insights" into the Word to keep themselves entertained.
Christians that evangelize the lost have deeper convictions
about the Gospelthey made it their own by sharing it repeatedly. They discover their
spiritual gifts and callings, and grow in their own knowledge of the Word by discipling
their young converts. Children of evangelistic Christians grow up with a sense of the
reality of the message, and are inspired by their parents example and the
prioritization of the Gospel in everyday life. This is truly a case of "give and you
shall receive," for the more you give out the Gospel to others, the more you get
blessed from above.
Reason #10. Because Its an
Exciting, Fulfilling Way to Spend Your Life
And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach
the gospel to every creature... And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name
they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents;
and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on
the sick, and they will recover."
Did it ever occur to you that the assignment described by
Jesus in Mark 16 is a thrilling way to make a living? Demons, snakes, poison, miracles...
this is the stuff adventure novels are made of. And its satisfying and rewarding, in
the sense of doing something that really helps people and counts for eternity, too.
Ive narrowly escaped death at the hands of an angry
Muslim mob a few times, and Ive been investigated by the Iranian secret service.
Ive seen the Himalayan mountains and the Mekong River, and trudged through the
jungles of Mexico. Many a time while walking through a crowded Asian bazaar Ive had
to pinch myselfI feel like Indiana Jones, not an ex-hippy from St. Paul, Minnesota!
Ive been to Bangkok, Bombay, Amsterdam and Singapore, and Ive stood in
the ruins of the Coliseum in Rome, where the blood of Christian martyrs once flowed.
Its a love for evangelism that put me in those
placesthe romance is just one of the perks of obeying the Great Commission. And
theres plenty of romance and adventure right in your own home town, too:
neighborhoods that other Christians wont go into, rough people at work wholl
give you a run for your money but perhaps get saved because you dared to share your
testimony. Let others settle for a responsible position with the company and a nice moral
lifestyle of paying the bills on timeyou go out and preach the Gospel, whether
its on the factory floor or the foreign field. Put a little adventure into your
lifewitness to someone today!
Reason #11. We Must Evangelize the
Lost Because They Are Lost
"He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he
who does not believe will be condemned."
Heres the bottom line. If we dont reach the lost
with the Gospel there is no other means of getting them saved. You cannot see Heaven
unless youre born again. No man comes to the Father except through Jesus the Son.
There is no other name given under heaven by which people can be saved. (John 3:3, 14:6,
You are the only Christian some of your neighbors, co-workers,
or relatives may ever meet. If you dont tell them about Jesus they wont hear.
If our churches dont get priorities in order many evangelists and missionaries may
never enter the ministry. If you dont support a missionary he may not be able to
fulfill his calling; he may come home early and never reach certain people that would have
responded to the Word of God. The blood of the lost is on our hands if we sit in front of
our televisions and let them go to hell without making a serious effort to help.
A guilt trip? Maybe... but its the same one Jesus
employed again and again in the Gospels. He cared about the lostHe came to seek and
save themand He sent His disciples out to carry on His work. And now, at the end of
the age, the baton has passed to us. The destiny of this generation is in our hands
whether we like it or not. We are the last hope this world has before being ushered in to
meet its Creator.
Copyright © 1998 Kim
Harrington, Masterbuilder Ministries. All rights reserved.