Downloadable file here: Dear Christian, Are you reaching the lost
Dear Christian, Are You Reaching the Lost?
By Ps Lucas Stoltz.
Credit to John Piper’s sermon “Glorifying God by Reaching the Lost” taken from Desiring God, 18 July 2013. And to Charles Strohmer’s article “Reaching out to Unbelievers.”
I’ve been serving in a community where racism is quite evident, let me not water it down, it is as clear as day! Why does it thrive in our and any other community? Because of sin! Yet, the churched population haven’t completely come to terms with it. Still, it thrives because of sin and is motivated by “sinners” or “unbelievers” or “the lost.” However, I am convinced that the cure to this separated community is the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
The Lost According to the New Testament:
The New Testament is firm on its teaching and the conviction to reaching out to “the lost.” Why is this important to you? Think ahead to Judgement Day, and you are asked: “how did you glorify God by reaching out to the lost?” Don’t try to justify yourself just yet. Let’s look at a few passages that call us to glorify God by reaching the lost!
- Luke 15:24, the father in the parable of the prodigal son says, “For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” What’s the link? The lost is dead, like the prodigal son was. Paul says we were like this once, “even while we were dead in our trespasses and sins, God made us alive” (Ephesians 2:5). So what? The lost are dead, spiritually dead which means they are unresponsive to God.
- Luke 19:10, Jesus said, “The Son of Man came to seek and to savethe lost.” Piper says the lost don’t just need finding; they need saving. This is why Jesus came into the world, not only to find people, but to save people! Why? The lost are dead in their sins and need saving in a way that only Jesus can.
- John 17:12, Jesus says, “I have guarded them (the twelve), and not one of them has been lostexcept the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.” Judas was lost. He was ruined and on his way to destruction, he needed saving!
Application: the lost are dead in their sins (Ephesians 2:5). As Paul says, “the natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them” (1 Corinthians 2:14). This way of life or rather, condition, (being dead and lost) is true of every human being apart from God’s saving grace (Romans 3:23). In this state, we love darkness rather than light (John 3:19). It is not being forced on us against our will, no way! We love our sin and our pride.
This is why in this natural condition, being lost, unsaved, whatever you prefer, are on their way to “eternal destruction.” As Paul points out in 2 Thessalonians 1:9, “They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might…” This is why you and I need to be glorifying God by reaching out to the lost! I plead with you Christian, take up you sword (The Word), dress yourself in the armour, and take to the frontline in this battle! How selfish it is, to have heard the Good News of Christ, but to keep it to yourself…
His Glory, Your Mission:
What a mission! God calls you to do what only He can do, and what He has chosen not to do without you! Just think, getting into the kingdom of God is like a camel going through the eye of a needle. And when the disciples asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). God calls you join in doing the impossible. But do not forget, you do this for the glory of God. 1 Peter 1:22-25 calls you to a life of sharing life with the dead:
“Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.”
“Obedience to the truth” leads to brotherly love, this means that the obedience is not the obedience of love but it leads to love. The truth is the message of the gospel, and obedience to it is what the gospel requires, which is faith. This faith is our connection with Christ who purifies our hearts through faith (Acts 15:9). The main point in verse 22 is saying that those who have believed the gospel, have hearts that have been cleansed of sin, and being redeemed, they are now in a position to love other people with a pure heart.
A requirement of being born again is to love one another earnestly! The lost have not come to this condition, dead people cannot obey the gospel or be purified or love each other until they have been born again. Christian, “You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.” You have heard the Gospel, you have received the grace of being able to respond to the Gospel, so why would you keep such a precious, free gift to yourself! No one is born again apart from hearing “the living and abiding word of God.”
There is power in God’s Word! Piper says, “The Word is living because it carries divine power to give new life. And the word of God is abiding because once it creates life it sustains it forever.” Everything else, like grass and the glory of flowers fade away and perish! But the Word of God is not like that. The life it creates lasts forever because the life-creating and life-sustaining Word lasts forever. This Word is “the good news that was preached to you.” So how does God bring about the new birth in lost, dead, unbelieving hearts? Through the Gospel, the good news of Christ who bore our sins when He died (1 Peter 2:24).
It’s only by the Word of God:
If anyone is going to be born again, it will happen by hearing the Word of God. It is only God who causes the new birth through the living and abiding Word of God spoken by you as the best news in all the world about Jesus Christ crucified for sinners.
Only God can raise the dead! Yet, He does it with a gospel-telling human being. Just think in terms of Romans 10:15, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” Because “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” Romans 10:17.
You don’t create the faith. God does, when He raises the dead to the gospel of the glory of Christ. But He has chosen YOU, Christian, to be HIS message-bearer!