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Mar15FriWe are called to share the good news. March 15, 2019 by Colonel Edward Hill
"Come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people” (Matthew 4:19).
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Once there was a group of people who lived in a village by the ocean. They called themselves fishermen, but strangely enough, they only seemed to talk about fishing. They studied the art and philosophy of fishing; they searched for new and better fishing techniques; they sponsored gatherings—some quite expensive—to discuss and promote fishing. But very few of these fishermen ever placed their hooks in the water.
This story illustrates the current state of evangelism. While many Christians talk about it, too few are actually sharing the salvation story. Believers must be, as Jesus declared, “fishers of people.” We are called to be soul winners—it’s one of our territorial strategic priorities. So how do we accomplish this?
Salvationists must tell about God. The Bible teaches that God is the holy and loving Creator (see Genesis 1:1; Leviticus 11:44; Psalm 89:5-15). He has made provision for our needs and has a perfect plan for every life on earth. In response to all that God has provided, Salvationists are obligated to share the message that God, as the “Creator, Preserver and Governor” of creation, as the Army’s second doctrine states, has an absolute claim on all of us. God’s longing for humanity is good news to be passionately shared.
Salvationists must tell about humanity. The Bible declares in Romans 3:23 that “all have sinned” and in Romans 6:23 that the “wages of sin is death.” Salvationists must share those hard truths plainly and with respect. We must also tell the marvelous message that God stands ready to bridge the gap caused by sin through the ultimate expression of sacrificial love, the gift of God the Son. The reality is that no one can cross the chasm caused by our sin—not even the greatest of saints—without the magnificent work of God’s grace. We are all sinners incapable, on our own, of being saved.
Salvationists must tell about Jesus. The shed blood of Jesus is the way to salvation. John 3:16 declares, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
The Australian evangelist Alan Walker told the story of driving through the countryside and seeing a hawk circling above. As he turned a bend, he saw a herd of sheep—and one little sheep standing alone. The hawk swooped to attack this sheep. Walker parked his car and ran onto the field, and the hawk flew away. When he reached down to help the injured sheep, it fell over, dead. It was then Walker noticed that the sheep had been protecting a newborn lamb. The lamb was alive, but stained by its mother’s blood.
This story illustrates the redemptive work of Christ on the cross. He shielded us from the consequences of our sin, at the cost of his shed blood. Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Salvationists must tell about the necessity of a response. John 1:12 reminds the listener that the gospel message, once heard, requires a response. It is not enough to hear, or even to acknowledge, the beauty of the offered gift; it must be received by the individual heart. In sharing the gospel, Salvationists must challenge hearers to respond, through a repentant heart, expressed faith in Christ and submission to the work of the Holy Spirit, leading to a transformed life.
During his inaugural address in 1961, U.S. President John F. Kennedy challenged a complacent nation to build a better world with these questions, “If not us, who? If not now, when?” When it comes to sharing the gospel, Salvationists can’t always wait for the perfect opportunity. If believers don’t take up the challenge to be soul winners, countless millions won’t be saved.
Salvationists have a sacred calling to share with family, friends and neighbours the love of God, the sinfulness of humanity, the shed blood of Jesus and the necessity for a personal response to his offer of amazing grace. These are powerful messages filled with hope and purpose. The challenge and responsibility is greater now than ever before. Let’s do our part in being “fishers of people.” Let’s commit to living out and sharing the value of evangelism wherever God takes us in the coming days.
If not us, who? If not now, when?
Colonel Edward Hill is the chief secretary in the Canada and Bermuda Territory.
Feature photo: © ollinka/iStock.com