Dear Praying Friends:
In the past few months, we have looked at the central importance of home meetings and of patience in reaching Chinese worldwide. This letter will continue that discussion, with an emphasis that only biblical methods will bring lasting Gospel transformation to Chinese. What are some of the ways taught or exemplified in the Scriptures for communicating Christ effectively?
Of course, as Jesus said, apart from Him we can do nothing. All our efforts must flow from prayer, be guided by prayer, and find their fruit as we depend entirely upon God in prayer.
Jesus commanded His disciples to “go into all the world and preach the Gospel” (Mark 16:15). Publicly, privately; by speech and in writing; in print, over the air waves, and through cyberspace – the Word must go out by all means available to us.
Performance of good works
When Jesus said, “You shall be witnesses of Me,” He surely meant that our words and deeds must match each other. Like salt and light, our good deeds should penetrate society so that people will glorify our heavenly Father.
Patterns of holiness
These good works will include walking in holiness and righteousness; living a sober, upright, and godly life; following the example of Jesus’ humble, servant love – at home, at school, at work, everywhere we are. In particular, fidelity to our marriage vows is almost essential for persuasive testimony.
Proper church life
Aside from hypocrisy in professing Christians, hardly anything else discredits the Gospel more than churches that do not reflect the love and the truth of God. Christian fellowships must exhibit loving balance, mutual submission, adherence to the whole counsel of God, and the practice of church discipline, in order to make Christianity seem credible.
Whether we are trying to share the Gospel with non-believers or seeking to build a solid church, we must remember the priority of personal relationships. Programs must not replace heartfelt affection and edifying communication. People must not be made into projects to inflate someone’s ego.
Perseverance under trial
The early church grew through persecution, as did the Chinese church in recent decades (though now that has decreased greatly). Rather than complaining, they rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer for the name of Christ. The way we react to adversity in our individual lives, as well as the manner in which we respond to hostility because of our faith, will have a huge impact on the power of our testimony.
Practicing biblical evangelism
Where in the New Testament do we find the idea that faith in Christ will bring health and wealth? Jesus promised that in this world we will have tribulation [trouble]; how can we twist His message to offer prosperity and earthly success? The apostolic preaching centered upon the Cross and Resurrection of Christ, and demanded sincere repentance and genuine faith for salvation from sin. We might ask, also, Where in the New Testament do we see asking people to “make a decision for Christ” or leading them in a “prayer to receive Christ”? Do we not find, instead, an insistence upon the sovereign work of the Spirit to move people to repent and believe, and upon baptism as the sign that someone has “become a Christian”? Perhaps the massive “back-door” exodus that follows impressive statistics of “decisions for Christ” should cause us to re-examine our evangelistic methods.
Peripatetic [itinerant- I needed another “P”!] preaching
Jesus and the apostles travelled around announcing the coming of the Kingdom of God. The exponential growth of the Chinese church is based partly upon the courageous and costly travels of the early missionaries and modern Chinese evangelists. We must have solid bases, but we must also move on to new places. See Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; John 20:21; Acts 1:8; 2 Corinthians 11:26. For your prayers: Can we unite in prayer for God to enable us all to follow biblical patterns of spreading the Good News of Jesus? Would you pray for Dori and me as we prepare for a trip to Asia later this spring? Your fellow traveler, Wright