Letter to the Saints

A Culture of Evangelism & Sovereignty of God

A Culture of Evangelism & the Sovereignty of God

If God is sovereign in salvation why must we share the gospel?
If God has chosen those who will be saved before the foundations of the world (Eph. 1:4), if he has predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will (Eph. 1:5), and if no one can thwart his perfect plans and purposes, then why do we need to share the gospel? 

That’s the heart of JI Packer's Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God. 

Packer's answer: 
1. God has appointed us as the means by which he'll accomplish his unstoppable plan– "God's way of saving men is to send out his servants to tell them the gospel, and that the church has been charged to go into all the world for that very purpose."
2. God guarantees us success– "God's sovereignty in grace gives us our only hope of success in evangelism."

So, rather than being a deterrent from sharing the gospel, God's sovereignty is the driving force for our faithfulness in sharing the gospel. It's what gives us hope to tell people what God has done in sending his Son to die as a sacrifice for the sins of his people and rise again in victory over sin and death, knowing that some will respond to our call to repent and believe. God has sovereignly guaranteed success. It doesn't rest on us and how winsome we are, or how persuasive we can be, but on God who has ordained to save a people. The Apostle John saw it!

9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

A deep and abiding trust in God's sovereignty in salvation drives us out to share the gospel with the lost around us. God will save his people, and he's graciously chosen to do it through us, both individually and as a church! 

But how do we do this work together as a church?

The best way for a church to do this together isn't to host an easter pageant, or an evangelistic outreach program, as good as they might be. The best way for a church to share the gospel is to pursue a culture of evangelism.

What is a culture of evangelism?

A culture is a set of shared ideas, values, language, and practices. So churches with a culture of evangelism are those that long "to be loving communities committed to sharing the gospel as part of an ongoing way of life." (Evangelism, Mack Stiles)

That's what we desire for Covenant Hope Church, a community that loves the lost and shares the gospel as a part of everyday life, not the occasional obligatory gospel sales pitch. Where we all understand the gospel, can share the gospel, and live out the gospel in acts of love and kindness towards one another. Where we pull together to share the gospel with our family, friends, and colleagues who don't know Jesus. Where we don't assume everyone is a Christian. Where we pray for one another's evangelistic efforts. Where we seek to grow in being bold and faithful to speak the gospel. Where we welcome sinners in but point them to the Savior. Where we offer forgiveness quickly because we've been forgiven much.

Pray that the gospel would so grip our hearts, that these fruits would be more and more evident among us. 
Pray that we'd display and proclaim the gospel more beautifully as a community than we ever could alone. 
Pray we'd love our Savior more, and the lost. 

All for the glory of God,

Mark

God or Money?

Trust God, not money, therefore be generous.

Last night, Pastor Harshit from Satya Vachan Church in Lucknow, India taught our church on What Jesus Says About Your Money. Have you ever considered that topic before? I found his talk to be encouraging and convicting, reassuring, and challenging. He worked through Jesus’ teaching about money from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5–7. I’d encourage you to take some time this week to sit at Jesus’ feet in the Sermon on the Mount and learn from him. He’s the king, this is his kingdom, and we are all his subjects–How should we then live?

Examine Motives (Matt. 6:1–4)

Giving and generosity aren’t means to impress God, and if giving and generosity are used to impress people, we actually get nothing. We may want the praise of man and on this earth we might receive it, but in heaven–nothing! Harshit showed us these startling truths from Matt. 6:1–4. Before we consider generosity or stinginess we must examine our hearts. Why do we give? Who are we seeking to please? What are we hoping to gain?

You Can Store Up Treasure in Heaven Or On Earth (Matt. 6:19–21)

All of us are storing up treasure. Harshit urged us to consider where that treasure is being stored. Is it in heaven, or is it on earth? On earth, it will be destroyed by moths, rust, and thieves. Maybe not in your lifetime even, but eventually! But in heaven, it’s untouchable. Heavenly treasure is the securest, safest investment you could make. And where your treasure is located simply reveals what your heart loves. Follow the money. There’s always a trail. Many of us are willing to sell our souls now for financial gain that will just betray us later in life. Jesus offers us a better way.

You Can Have a Good Eye or Bad Eye (Matt. 6:22–23)

If you consider this section of the Sermon on the Mount in light of Prov. 22:9 and Deut. 15:9, it becomes clear why Jesus transitions from the location of our treasure to the health of our eyes. Harshit reminded us, good eyes are generous and bad eyes are stingy. If you see someone in need and choose stinginess, you harden your heart. If you see someone in need and choose generosity, your heart only grows. Is your heart hardening or your grip tightens? Or is your heart growing as you open your hands?

You Can Serve God or Money (Matt. 6:24)

Lastly, Harshit reminded us there are two masters to serve but we have to choose. Will we serve God, or will we serve money? Will we love God, or will we love money? Generosity can’t wait until you have an emergency savings settled. Generosity can’t wait until you get that job promotion. Generosity can’t wait until you get out of school or out of debt. Ultimately, generosity only reveals which kingdom we are living for and which king we submit to.

Be Generous, Don’t Be Anxious (Matt. 6:25–34)

If you choose to give, rather than to hoard, you have no need to be anxious. God, your Father, provides bread, drink, and clothing to his children. It might be roti and not butter naan. It might be water and not juice. It might be used clothing and not designer. But he takes care of his children, and he’s called his children to take care of one another and the world, through acts of generosity that reflect how generous he is.

With love,
Michael Abraham

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