I want to establish from the offset that I’m not some great evangelist nor have I travelled the seven seas in the name of the Kingdom of God. I have done some work in this field locally and perhaps this writing is meant more for your truly rather than for my readers. When gathering His apostles on the shores of the sea of Galilee, the Lord Jesus chose many who were by trade fishermen. Fishermen knew quite well the challenges that come with fishing. You can run into problems such as navigating a boat through a turbulent storm, dealing with the damage or loss of equipment, and, of course, fish that simply won’t bite. These were realities that they faced daily, and they needed to be prepared to meet these challenges. His appointment of these fishermen wasn’t so that they could gather fish from the waters of Galilee but men from among the whole world (Matthew 4:19). They would gather men out of the sea of nations and help them become truly human. Fishing humans wasn’t going to be any easier, in fact it was going to present them with far greater challenges and dangers. These fishermen needed to recognize that the response from the fish wasn’t going to be welcoming. The Lord was clear “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you (John 15:18). Nonetheless, these apostles went out to the nations and gave their lives to proclaim the death, burial and resurrection of their Lord.
I believe the task of evangelism is a responsibility like no other. It is an honorable yet daunting endeavour that comes quite naturally to some but not so much to others. Whether sharing in the context of outdoor preaching or in a one-on-one conversations, for many this is accompanied with a little shaking of the boots. Going out with the gospel to a fallen world is the equivalent to invading another country with a book or at least it could seem that way. The evangelist, however, wields a sword-book, the word of God, and the power behind this sword-book is capable of changing men’s hearts and building incredible communities. This is probably a good thing to remember when your knees begin making noises when the fear strikes.
Having a proper mindset when approaching this work can help ease the dread. There are certain presuppositions that we need to establish prior to sharing your faith. The first and foremost of these is simply determining the why on earth are we doing this. Nobody wants to place themselves under this daunt unless there is a purpose behind the task. There are truly two significant reasons to evangelize: (1) God commanded us to do so, and we bring glory to Him in it (2) Men need to hear the gospel and believe it. Of the latter, if one believes the bible, then one is required to acknowledge that we all will stand before God. Yes, this same God who created the world and the humans within it, who tasked His people to share the good news, is the One who will judge the world (Romans 14:10)! Every man will stand before Him to give an account of him/herself. It’s inevitable. But let’s not get lost in the judgment and focus upon the judge. While it’s probably not a good idea, in a human court or tribunal, when an individual is being accused, one could easily throw a few faults right back at the judge. With a little digging, it wouldn’t be hard to discover that even the most upscale and moral judge has shortcomings. The difference with this judge is that no one will be able respond back with any accusations. Truly every mouth will be shut. This One will exhibit justice in its fullest sense. No accusation can be thrown at Him because He is holy.
THE HOLINESS OF GOD
When we consider the holiness of God, it should really put things into perspective as to why we should share our faith. When we consider something as holy, we should think of something set apart from something else. In the scriptures, The Sabbath was a holy day. It was a day that was set apart from the ordinary days and dedicated to the glory of God. In Exodus 20:11 we read: For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy. There was a place in the tabernacle called the “Holy of Holies” which was an area set apart from the rest in which the Lord dwelt.
God is holy in that He is separate from sin and devoted to seeking His own glory! God is infinite greatness and there is no flaw in his purposes or promises, in contrast of that of the failings of men. The holiness of God denotes his perfect purity and righteousness. Puritan Stephen Charnock put it this way:
“Power is God’s hand or arm, Omniscience His eyes, Mercy his bowels, eternity His duration but Holiness is His beauty”
The 110th Psalm speaks of the “beauties of His holiness”, and we should see God as beauty divine. It’s almost impossible to really grasp the fullness of what the Holiness of God entails. A.W. Tozer once wrote:
We cannot grasp the true meaning of divine holiness by thinking of someone to the highest degree we are capable of…It stands apart, unique, unapproachable, incomprehensible and unattainable…Holy is the way God is. To be holy He does not conform to a standard. He is the Standard. He is absolutely holy with an infinite fullness of purity that is incapable of being other than it is.[i]
When Isaiah Ben Amoz, a man considered one of the most upstanding and respected of his day received a vision of God, nothing could have prepared him for what he was about to see. When he fixed his eyes upon the Sovereign King of eternity, his response was woe is me, for I am undone, I am a man of unclean lips (Isaiah 6:5). What he saw was terrifying, but what he heard was magnificent. These angelic beings, in a harmony of worship, exclaimed with a loud voice: “Holy, Holy, Holy is the LORD of Hosts”. Isaiah gazed at the absolute standard of holiness and recognized quickly who he really was. Take a moment to put yourselves in Isaiah’s shoes. What would be your reaction to what he saw? Every shred of pride, every shred of self-righteousness this man may have had was completely and utterly taken away. Isaiah saw for the very first time, in a true sense, the absolute standard of Holiness. If we ever want to get a sense of humility, we need to experience the holiness of God!
The fact that God is holy, holy, holy, and not love, love, love, should be a wake-up call for people. Holiness is the characteristic that gives justification to other of His attributes, His justice, and His wrath. All we can truly understand about God’s holiness is that He is so pure, so undefiled that He can’t stand sin and literally hates sin. It’s impossible to gain any acceptance before His eyes as an impure human. When we recognize this precious truth, it will allow us to appreciate the hopelessness of sinners at the judgment. A man before a holy God requires more than what he possesses, he needs to be made righteous and that’s nothing short than a miracle. This is precisely the problem in that we are commanded to be holy as He is holy, and we are not! Men can only be holy through faith in Jesus Christ who is the Holy One, but to do so, they need a preacher. So, the task of evangelism is preparing men to meet this holy God (Amos 4:12) and this meeting can only go two ways (Matthew 25:31-46). We mustn’t forget that the gospel is how God saves them, but He doesn’t save them to stay in the same state that He found them. He saves them towards the goal of becoming holy as He is holy.
[i] The Knowledge of the Holy, A.W. Tozer, Page 104-105