|Vol. 15 No. 1 January 2013||
Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor
Spiritual lessons sometimes come in the last place one would consider. Recently, a spiritual lesson became crystal clear as I watched a pair of God’s bushytailed creatures. A few days ago, I found myself literally enthralled with a pair of fox squirrels that were busying themselves with the needed preparations for winter. As I watched these two critters, three spiritual lessons regarding evangelism “jumped” out at me.
Firstly, like squirrels, evangelism requires diligence. These two bushy tails jumped from tree to tree and from branch to branch for hours on end without stopping. They were industrious and quite active in the task that was before them! What a lesson for Christians regarding spreading the message of Jesus! Honestly, how busy are most Christians when it comes to evangelizing the world? Our first century brothers and sisters seemed to have the proper diligence; they “…went every where preaching the word” (Acts 8:4b; cf. 11:19). Paul was so diligent in evangelism that he traveled all over the eastern world carrying the saving message of Christ crucified (cf. Acts 13-14; 16; 18ff). As I observed these two squirrels, I could not help but think how much the church belonging to Jesus could accomplish, if we were just half as diligent! Like squirrels, evangelism requires diligence!
Secondly, like squirrels, evangelism requires assurance. Squirrels do not concern themselves with “every” aspect of nut gathering. For example, squirrels do not intentionally plant, prune and prepare trees for harvest. They rely on God to take care of these parts, and they simply do the part that they have been assigned. What a lesson for us! Our part in evangelism is simply to plant and water the Gospel message (1 Corinthians 3:6), but God and God alone gives the increase! We must rely on God to open doors and melt hearts (with the Gospel)! Do we really have the confidence in God to perform His part? God is faithful and will never fail to do that which He promised! God’s Word never returns unto Him void (Isaiah 55:11)! Do we really believe that? Evangelism requires assurance!
Thirdly, like squirrels, evangelism requires endurance. One thing that really impressed me about these two fox squirrels was their endurance. They worked all evening, for several hours and never appeared to grow weary. What a lesson! How often do we grow weary, faint and become distraught at spreading the message of salvation? Paul reminded Christians to “…not be weary in well doing…” (Galatians 6:9). We are to always abound in God’s work (1 Corinthians 15:58). It is the Christian who endures to the end that is given the crown of life (Revelation 2:10). Evangelism requires endurance! Jesus’ supreme goal for His church is outreach! Are we reaching out to others with the Gospel? Henry Crocker summed it up well:
Give us a watchword for the hour, a thrilling word, a word of power;
A battle cry, a flaming breath, that calls to conquest or to death;
A word to rouse the church from rest, to heed her Master’s high behest;
The call is given; Ye host arise, our watchword is evangelize!
To dying men, a fallen race, Make known the gift of gospel grace;
The world that now in darkness lies, O Church of Christ, evangelize!
Amen and Amen!
Some people teach error because they simply don’t know any better. They have good intentions and are sincere in what they believe, but they just happen to be wrong in what they believe and what they are teaching. Others are just plain wicked. Jesus calls them “ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15). One of the last messages Jesus gave in the Sermon on the Mount was to beware of these false teachers who are dressed in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are selfish beasts. It is the duty of all believers everywhere to test the spirits (1 John 4:1). We must constantly be on the lookout, and constantly observing fruit. This is so important because it is impossible for good trees to produce bad fruit, and bad trees to produce good fruit (Matthew 7:18-19), and Jesus told us that we can spot these wolves by observing their fruit (20). There are many out there who talk a good game and look the part, but really have no part of Christ. We must watch out for them and remove them from the flock (Romans 16:17-18; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13).