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Witnessing to Others|
A Terrifying Task
Q. I find it hard to witness to my friends and family in our current culture although I keep trying. It seems like everyone is more hostile to the gospel than before. Do you have an opinion on this subject?
You are to be congratulated for being a committed Christian in a hostile world. It isn't easy, is it?
Unbelievers Misunderstand Conversion
Unbelieving family members and friends don't really understand what it is like to be a Christian. Before I accepted Christ into my life I thought the indwelling of the Holy Spirit was just a subjective kind of emotional experience.
In fact, it seemed to me that Christians were just an obnoxious group of narrow-minded stubborn people who insisted they had the "truth." Until a person has committed their life to Christ, this is something unbelievers do not understand. They cannot. They cannot comprehend why it is that a believer would live and die for what unbelievers feel is his "delusional" belief.
Book of Acts - Stories of Evangelism
I suggest you read the book of Acts to see how the early Christians behaved when they were repeatedly told to quit preaching the gospel.
For example, Acts 5:18-21 says,
"So they arrested the apostles and put them in the city jail. But an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail during the night, brought them out, and said, 'Go and stand in the temple complex, and tell the people all about this life.' In obedience to this, they entered the temple complex at daybreak and began to teach" (HCSB).
Duties to State Violated?
Some legalistic Christians might protest and say that these apostles were disobeying a Christian's duty to the state as described in Romans 13:
"Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God."
Yet, evangelism must supercede the principle of obeying the state. We see it over and over again in the book of Acts.
Disobedience to the Sanhedrin
Acts 5:25-29 gives an account of the apostle's disobedience to the Sanhedrin - the full Senate of the sons of Israel.
"The high priest asked, 'Didn't we strictly order you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to bring this man's blood on us!'"
Obey God - not Men
"But Peter and the apostles replied, 'We must obey God rather than men."
This is a great principle and Scripture to memorize.
If It's From God It Can't Be Overthrown
Gamaliel, a Pharisee, warned the Sanhedrin,
"And now I tell you, stay away from these men and leave them alone. For if this plan or this work is of men, it will be overthrown. But if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them" (Acts 5:38-39).
Gamaliel's advice to the Sanhedrin was wise. But nevertheless, the Christians were still hated and persecuted.
Worthy to Suffer
After the Sanhedrin spoke to the apostles and told them not to "speak in the name of Jesus,"…then the apostles "went out from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be dishonored on behalf of the name" (Acts 5:41).
To be counted worthy to suffer in His name is a phrase used worldwide by the persecuted church today. Acts 5:42 tells us that "Every day in the temple complex, and in various homes, they continued teaching and proclaiming the good news that the Messiah is Jesus" (HCSB).
A Lesson in Boldness
As you can see, the early chapters of Acts tell the repeated story of the apostles preaching to their communities, being warned against preaching the gospel, being thrown into jail and beaten for their witness, being released from jail, and their continuing to preach the gospel in the face of threats against their lives and threats of persecution.
Not "Dumping" but providing their Only Hope
The book of Acts provides Christians with a model to follow in our own lives. It isn't that we are trying to "dump" our beliefs on innocent victims. Rather, we are offering the only hope they have to be raised from the dead after their lives are over.
After they have died, that's it. It's over. This life was their only chance. Hebrews 9:27 clearly tells us,
"it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment."
Then this passage goes on to explain,
"the Messiah, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him" (Heb. 9:28).
If we really believe this - if we really cling to this hope - then our only recourse is to share it with as many "dying" people as we can. This includes family members or friends who are hateful and hostile to the gospel.
How could we do otherwise?
Worldwide Persecuted Church
In addition to reading the book of Acts, I suggest you read the accounts of persecuted Christians daily from an online site called Worthy News. Christians can pray for these persecuted believers, and may gain the courage to remain faithful to Christ in our Western world.
Modern Day Martyrs
I also strongly suggest that all believers receive the magazine Voice of the Martyrs. It is free, and it will open your eyes to the blessings we have here in America.
Reading Voice of the Martyrs will also give you perspective on suffering and pain endured by our brothers and sisters worldwide. These Christians need our prayers and support. You will also gain courage and resolve to witness even in the face of hostility.
The Foolishness of the Cross
"to those who are perishing the message of the cross is foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is God's power" (1 Cor. 1:18, HCSB).
Suffering in order to Comfort Others
"as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so our comfort overflows through Christ. …we know that as you share in the sufferings, so you will share in the comfort" (2 Cor. 1:6-7).
God will use your suffering to help others in need.
Wrath of Abandonment
Also remember that there is a point during which God gives unbelievers over to the wrath of abandonment. This is a time when they can no longer think straight. Their minds have become darkened and debased. They have deliberately suppressed the truth and refuse to believe in God no matter what the evidence for His existence (see Romans 1:18-32).
Once this has occurred we must accept that we should,
"not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you" (Matthew 7:6).
At this point "If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that house or town. I assure you: It will be more tolerable on the Day of Judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town" (Matthew 10:12, HCSB).
God Opens&Shuts Doors
Remember that God "opens doors, and no one can shut them. He shuts doors, and no one can open them" (Revelation 3:7).
Perhaps God has other people in mind for you to reach with the joyful message of resurrection and hope. Perhaps it is time for you to go through the "open" doors and to stop trying to force a way through a "closed" door.
Instead, maybe God wants you and me to pray for our unsaved relatives and friends rather than attempt to "talk" them into salvation.
"For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses" (2 Cor. 10:4-5).
Emilio, V&K. Family cruelty. Article from Suffering&Persecution section. Available from: www.remnantreport.com.
MacArthur, John. 2007. When God abandons a nation. Commentary on Romans 1:18-32. (CD 80-314). Available from: www.gty.org.
Christian news. Worthy News website. Available from: www.worthynews.com.
The Voice of the Martyrs. Available from: www.persecution.com.
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