Encourage

#5 Misconceptions About Sharing the Gospel

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Have you ever doubted your abilities or effectiveness as a witness? I’ll admit, I have. I want to discuss some misconceptions about sharing the Gospel that fuels fear in my heart and the hearts of others about witnessing. If you’ve struggled like I have with any of these, my intention is not to discourage you, but rather I pray you will be fully equipped to boldly take the Gospel of truth to the world.

9 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

Before reading on, I encourage you to read the first entries in this series. Click here to access them:

#1: You must be good at it 

#2: Everything in your own life has to be together

#3: The only way to get someone saved is to invite them to church

#4: You have to make the gospel sound good

Scriptures

John 4:35-38 1 Corinthians 3:5-11 Galatians 6:7-10

#5: You’ve been an ineffective witness SO far

The most disheartening thing as a believer, as a witness is when we feel like we’ve been unsuccessful at leading someone to the Lord.  Jesus talks about this issue in John 4:35-36 when He says:

35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together.

Jesus tells His disciples that the fields are ripe for harvest and He gives them the job of reaping.  What does He mean when says “reaping”? He means to win over people, win over souls. After the reaping is done, those who reaped and those who sowed may rejoice together. Everyone who was involved gets to join in on the celebration, even those people who simply sowed one single seed years ago.

Do not be discouraged about your effectiveness as a witness, perhaps you’ve sown one seed, perhaps thousands, but you have sown indeed. We must be grateful when God uses us to simply plant one or a thousand seeds because you never know when those seeds are going to grow into fruit for eternal life.

In the end, neither those who sow nor those who reap can take the credit, for God is the one who saves. In 1 Corinthians 3:7 we are told:

So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.

This verse is life-changing. For a long time, I haven’t known for certain whether my witnessing has let to anyone being saved, but the truth is I can’t save anyone, only God can. It wasn’t until I realised this that I was able to put my hand to the plough and simply plant seeds out of joy—trusting that God would take care of the rest. All God asks of us is to remain faithful—to continue responding to His love in faith.

Walking with Him is not a waste of time—even if you feel like you haven’t gotten much done yet. It’s up to you to be faithful in seeking Him, in allowing yourself to be discipled, and in stepping out in faith, and God does the hard part. He will bring you to a place where He can use you as a witness who is willing and able to disciple others.

I pray you have found encouragement in this series.

Trust your wilderness seasons, they are designed to build strength, endurance and character as you witness to others.

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Posted by Stephen Baragwanath, 0 comments

#4 Misconceptions About Sharing the Gospel

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Have you ever doubted your abilities or effectiveness as a witness? I’ll admit, I have. I want to discuss some misconceptions about sharing the Gospel that fuels fear in my heart and the hearts of others about witnessing. If you’ve struggled like I have with any of these, my intention is not to discourage you, but rather I pray you will be fully equipped to boldly take the Gospel of truth to the world.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Mark 16:15

Before reading on, I encourage you to read the first entries in this series. Click here to access them:

#1: You must be good at it 

#2: Everything in your own life has to be together

#3: The only way to get someone saved is to invite them to church

#4: You have to make the gospel sound good

Scriptures

John 6:44 Romans 1:14-18 Romans 6:20-23 2 Timothy 4:2-5 1 John 4:1-6

Have you ever felt nervous about sharing the Gospel with someone? I have. I do. All the time.  I feel pressured to get it 100% correct and so I feel nervous. This nervousness can come from several places, but one main reason for that feeling is we are afraid they won’t understand or like what they hear. We’re fear rejection because of our beliefs. It may be tempting to try craft our words or analogies in such a way that the Gospel sounds more appealing and maybe not so harsh. 

This is the most dangerous misconception of all because when we change the main points of the Gospel, The Gospel loses its power. Paul is very clear on this issue in Romans 1:16. He makes the bold statement:

“ For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.”

The key phrase in this verse is he calls the Gospel “the power of God for salvation.” When we witness to someone, it more than just words we are speaking and sharing, we are literally becoming a channel of God’s power—we’re giving someone a spiritual truth that has the ability to alter their life, to alter their eternity.

The flip side is this: when we give a version of the Gospel that leaves out some of the truth of the Gospel (even the parts we know people won’t like), we offer them something that is half-hearted and filled with fear.

Apart from the Spirit of God revealing the truth of the Gospel to an individual, they can’t receive it any other way. The reason the watered-down Gospel “works” is because it appeals to a person’s fleshly nature, not to their spirit. Sadly, if someone accepts the Gospel because it sounds good to their flesh, then they really haven’t gotten it at all.  We do them a great disservice by doing this.

Saving people is Jesus’ job. Our job is to be His witnesses. We see the power of the Gospel at work when we choose to believe it is powerful, exactly the way God intended it to be. This is spiritual wisdom that God can use to change people’s lives—to change people’s eternity.

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Posted by Stephen Baragwanath, 2 comments

Encouragement during COVID-19 lockdown

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Move from idleness to encouragement

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
    the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it on the seas
    and established it on the waters.
Psalm 24:1-2

My hope today is that you will benefit deeply from this post, during these difficult and unprecedented times, as it points you toward hope, toward the Lord, and you experience the trials – and opportunities – of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) crisis wherever you are in the world.

The first time Paul travelled to Thessalonica he was met with strong opposition. A mob of bad characters started to riot the city in search of Paul (Acts 17:5).  This mob was so set on destruction that they chased after Paul when he travelled to Berea. 

Life in Thessalonica was especially dangerous for a Christian. But still, in spite of the imminent danger, the church continued to grow, Paul still sent Timothy to watch over and care for the church in Thessalonica. Actually, a better way to phrase it is in light of the danger, Paul writes:14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14-18) 

It would have been easier for Christians to hide quietly, in secret and ride out the danger. It would have been easy for the church to succumb to the dangers Thessalonica faced.  It would have been easy for Christians to lay low quietly, secretly, ride out the danger. 

The dangers and fears facing Thessalonica are perhaps similar to the dangers and fears facing the world today, not just with COVID-19 9 (Coronavirus), but in general too.  When lock down restrictions in your country are lifted, whether gradually or instantaneously, many of us may fear going out, many of us may fear to gather with people at church, attend social events or even have a family get together.  We may fear going back to the workplace. We may fear contact with other people completely. Some of us may choose to draw our curtains closed and barricade ourselves in our homes in hopes of avoiding the virus altogether. Should this happen, there is certainly the danger of us becoming idle. Even during lock down, there is the danger of becoming idle. We could start eating unhealthily, binge-watching TV series and movies, obsessing over news articles and becoming disconnected from the larger body of Christ.

Yet, despite the testing of any hope by an outbreak of death (1 Thessalonians 4:13), the Thessalonians were called to open their curtains and let light in. They were called to walk ahead of outsiders (1 Thessalonians 4:12) so that the Gospel could manifest. They were called to not be moved by afflictions (1 Thessalonians 3:3), but instead to encourage one another, to help the weak, and above all to be patient and persistent in encouragement and prayer.  

We are also called to do this. People are afraid. Every day the numbers of those affected are growing higher. Countries are on lock down, which means movement restrictions and social distancing.  We aren’t allowed to visit family and friends or go to work. This creates fear! Remember, Christians are called to generate faith, not fear! So instead of fuelling the fear fire, fuel the faith fire –  who can you encourage today? Who can you strengthen today? Who can you seek to do good for today? As needs arise, so do opportunities.  You too, like the Thessalonians, can rejoice (1 Thessalonians 5:16), pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:16) for it is God’s will that you are here, it is God’s will we find ourselves in this situation, it is God’s will for “the reason for this season”. “For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus” for you.” So, put down the news articles. Close your laptop. Get off the couch. Get off your phone. Change out of your pyjamas and find someone you can bless. Start creating new and good habits that you continue when this season is over.

23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. 25 Brothers and sisters, pray for us.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23-25

Rejoicing in hope and praying with you all.

Posted by Stephen Baragwanath, 4 comments