For Lord’s Day, March 18, 2012
May the Lord give us all more witnessing opportunities in our daily lives that we can be giving prayer support to as a church. May we be looking for such opportunities that are simple but packed with potential.
I am reminded of some of Rick Phillips’ comments in the opening of his book, Jesus the Evangelist, which the men studied last year about this time: “A true Christian church is not only evangelical, in that it holds to the biblical gospel, but it is evangelistic—it zealously spreads and shares that gospel. This means that to be a Christian is to be called as an evangelist … All Christians are called to evangelism.”
Now, don’t let that intimidate you. Relational evangelism is particularly in view in Phillips’ book. That is, simply living and talking in a way that gives opportunities to share the Gospel. That’s what happened with Mike at work. Let me encourage you to follow the example of Phillip in evangelism: Speaking of having found the Messiah in Jesus, he said to a skeptical Nathaniel, “Come and see”. Nathaniel did, and encountered Jesus. As well, Andrew told Peter they found the Messiah and brought him to see Jesus. Wow, how the Lord used Peter after his conversion! Such simple invitations were used mightily by God.
I’m trying to do this more and more myself. I really enjoy talking about Jesus with people. But initiating the conversation is not my forte. You know what I’ve committed myself to more and more? Simply handing a church card to passers by when I enter or leave the Church during the day, saying, “Come and see” essentially, inviting people to come hear and worship Jesus with us. When we go to the nearby parks as a family, we make a point to bring church materials and pass them out to people we meet, and essentially just invite them to church. This may not seem like much, but it could be in God’s providence. It was when Andrew did it. And, in fact, it was for Rick Phillips. He came to Christ when a lady he only met briefly once invited him to church. It took months, and she may never know how the Lord used it, but it brought Phillips to church and then to Christ as he was brought before the pulpit. Here’s how he shares his story:
Perhaps the greatest obstacle to our usefulness is the false belief that our witness does not matter … One person who might think poorly of her witness is a woman whose words were instrumental in my own salvation. I do not know her name and doubt that I could recognize her. One day, as I moved into an apartment, she was moving out next door. I carried one box of books to her car. After thanking me, she asked whether I was looking for a church to attend. My body language made it clear that I did not appreciate the question. So she quickly stammered, “If you are ever looking for a church, I would recommend this particular church a few blocks away.”’ With that, she drove off and I never saw her again. I have often imagined her kicking herself for her weak attempt to witness. But a few months later, when the Holy Spirit had prepared a way for the Lord into my heart, I remembered her words, went to that church, and, hearing the gospel there, I believed and was saved. You may think you are just one “voice” and that your witness doesn’t matter. But if Jesus is the Word your voice brings—and if He is living in you and you know Him—then your witness is mighty to cast down strongholds and lead dying sinners to salvation.
That church Rick Phillips went to and was converted at was the historic 10th Presbyterian Church in Downtown Philadelphia (where Dr. Barnhouse and J. Montgomery Boice were pastors). Later, he served as a minister at this church. Now he is a Presbyterian pastor in South Carolina, and his preaching is heard nationwide on the radio program, God’s Living Word. He serves on the board and is a writer and regular speaker for the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (and its Reformation21 blog). He has spoken at my seminary when I was serving there with the Reformation Society of Pittsburgh, and his very important writing, “Covenant Confusion”, is listed on the resources page of our website. That lady who invited him to church likely is unaware of how the Lord used her in Pastor Phillips’ life, and so many others through him. May you be motivated by this true story to be like Andrew, and simply say in your own way, “Come and see”, to people who providentially cross your path. If you only give a church card and invite people to come and sit under the preaching (which Shorter Catechism 98 points out is especially how the Word is made effectual to salvation), who knows, in God’s timing, what the Spirit might do with that. And remember, you together are the body of Christ. So this is the other important reason to say, “Come and see Jesus” in public worship. Who knows what God might do …