Learning Boldness, Part 4.

Last week we saw how Timothy learned and adopted the gospel burden of his spiritual leader and mentor, the apostle Paul. A “gospel burden” is a believer’s natural desire to share Christ with others. God’s designed this burden to be fulfilled first through personal evangelism, then through churches reaching their local community, and finally spreading the gospel message through the world.

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Virtue #11: Pioneering the Gospel Where It Has Not Been

Paul and his company brought the gospel to Macedonia in response to a divinely-given vision. In the church age, all Christians are given the imperative to spread the gospel according to divine revelation in the Bible.

God has laid out the process by which the Good News should be given. Jesus instructed his followers in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Acts 1:8 gives a practical direction and lays out the order in which this should be done: “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

In churches today, 95% of the missions budget generally goes to foreign missions, with less than 5% furthering the gospel in a church’s local area. The biblical order is reversed: local churches are to bring the gospel first to their communities, then plant more churches in their regions, then network together to send more church plants and missionaries out to reach the entire world.

The truth is, we have no gospel unless we can live the gospel first in our homes and our communities. Many Christians do not realize that we are the laborers for the harvest (Luke 10:2), right where God has put us! We are the ones God has appointed to witness to our unsaved friends. We should not invite our friends to a church or a program, but invite them to Jesus. The local church must build a spiritual nursery so it is ready to nurture and disciple new-born souls.

God’s Supporting Power

Luke, the writer of Acts, intentionally uses several nautical terms in Acts 16:11-12 to show the speed with which the group traveled where God had directed. The wind was at their backs, and they sailed many miles in just two days. God used His forces of nature to propel them forward with the message of salvation. God always supplies sufficient grace where He leads. He puts all of His omnipotent resources behind the passionate and prayerful pursuit of gospel progress. We never need to fear!

The providence of God is His practical planning for salvation. One author said:

Providence is the way that God is directing the universe. He is moving it into tomorrow. He is moving it into the future by His providence. Providence means to provide [or to provide for as we look as we into the future]. God will provide. On Golgotha, the Lord Jesus was crucified; he was the lamb that God provided. He was "the lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).

Providence means that the hand of God is in the glove of human events. When God is not at the steering wheel, he is the backseat driver. He is the coach who calls the signals from the bench. Providence is the unseen rudder in the ship of state. God is the pilot at the wheel during the night watch. As someone has said, “He makes great doors swing on little hinges.” God brought together a little baby’s cry and a woman’s heart down by the river Nile when Pharaoh’s daughter went to bathe. The Lord pinched little Moses and he let out a yell. The cry reached the heart of the princess, and God used it to change the destiny of a people. That was providence. That was the hand of God.

Timothy watched God’s wind in those sails and learned how God supports the spread of the gospel. Paul would later instruct Timothy, “Do the work of an evangelist” (2 Timothy 4:5). He had to take the lead in personal evangelism even though he was shy in order to set an example for the pastors and flock under him.

Don’t think for a moment that God isn’t still as interested in you when it comes to reaching lost souls. Don’t cross anyone off your list and say, “They’ll never come to Christ.”

Application Points

  • Do you have a prayer burden for our “Jerusalem”? How can you personally be involved in reaching your community for Christ?
  • Where is the harvest where God is calling you to labor? Start praying that God would lay some unsaved friends on your heart. Reach out to them with friendship so you can invite them to meet Jesus.

Tools for Further Study

A Hymn to Encourage: “For the Sake of His Name”

Go to the world for the sake of His name;
To every nation His glory proclaim.
Pray that the Spirit wise
Will open darkened eyes,
Granting new life to display Jesus’ fame.

In Jesus’ power, preach Christ to the lost;
For Jesus’ glory, count all else but loss.
Gather from every place
Trophies of sov’reign grace.
Lest life be wasted, exalt Jesus’ cross.

Love the unloved for the sake of His name;
Like Christ, befriend those whose heads hang in shame.
Jesus did not condemn,
But was condemned for them.
Trust gospel pow’r, for we once were the same.

Rescue the lost for the sake of His name;
As Christ commands, snatch them out of the flame.
Tell that when Jesus died
God’s wrath was satisfied.
Urge them to flee to the Lamb who was slain.

Look to the Throne for the sake of His name;
Think of the throng who will share in His reign.
Some for whose souls we pray
Will share our joy that day,
Joining our song for the sake of His name!

(Text by Chris Anderson; Tune by Greg Habegger)