Rev. 20:11-14; Matt 28:18-20; Eph. 1:11-14
Yesterday we ended the book of Daniel with a reference to evangelism. Daniel said that those who “lead many to righteousness [will shine] like the stars for ever and ever.” I think that’s a great segue into a subject I’ve been wanting to bring up for some time, namely evangelism. Of course, this isn’t a full course like Evangelism Explosion or anything like that. But I think I’m qualified to teach a short primer on it.
Today we’re going to talk about the need. Now, before you check out and say “Thanks Keith, but I know that people are going to Hell. What I need is to be able to witness to them,” you might be surprised by what I have to say on it.
Before we get to the surprising part, let’s get to the stuff you’re expecting me to say. Yes, there is a Hell. Please read the passage from Revelation again.
It's real. It's eternal. Once you get in, you’re never leaving. Is it literal fire? Here’s my answer to the question: If it isn’t literal fire like we understand fire, it’s worse. God has a tendency to use human terms that we can understand in order to convey spiritual reality that we haven’t experienced.
And everyone who doesn't have faith in Jesus Christ is going there. Any family that you have who’s not a believer. That really nice Jewish doctor who treats your mother. The kind Buddhist who’s polite to you in the grocery checkout line. This is what the Bible unambiguously teaches. You might disbelieve it or dispute it, but that's what it teaches.
Another reason? Please forgive me for stating the obvious, but I think we tend to forget it: Our Lord commanded it. The passage from Matthew is one of the most famous in the Bible, at least for those who take commands from the Lord seriously. The same God who told us “Don’t steal,” “Don’t commit adultery,” and “No other gods besides me,” also told us to go and make disciples of all nations. This is not an option.
The third reason is one you might not have thought before. In a man-centered culture, this escapes a lot of Bible-believing Christians. I heard it from John Piper, but I’m sure he’s not the one who originated it. Here it is: The glory and honor of God. Every person who's not believing in--and submitting to--Christ is depriving the Lord of the rightful glory and honor that belongs to him.
That’s the conclusion I draw from the Ephesian passage. Why were you saved? Was it mainly for your sake? Was it out of compassion for you? Yes, he has compassion for you. Yes, you’re a beneficiary of all this. But you were not saved for your own sake. You were saved in order to bring glory to the One who saved you. See how many times Paul mentions this here: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. . .” “for the praise of his glory,” “to the praise of his glory.” This is why you were saved. Not to be too crude about it, but in a sense your purpose of existence and in salvation is to be. . . a living trophy. Forever and forever and forever my every being and action will be to praise and honor and magnify and worship and give credit to my Savior.
And he deserves it. Every bit of it. Every moment of it.
And the flip side of this, obviously, is that every person who’s out there who’s not part of this is depriving God of what belongs to him. That person is a thief.
That’s what I’d like to have as my main motivation, by the way. Compassion for the lost is a wonderful thing. If a believer is fervently witnessing because he doesn’t want anyone to go to Hell, I certainly don’t want to do anything to discourage him. And it is an issue of obedience to Christ’s explicit command. But most importantly, above all, I want my Savior to get what he deserves.
Lord Jesus, you deserve it. Every part of me, and every part of everyone else. You deserve the honor and praise and worship and thanksgiving. What can I do to help that along?