Sharing God’s Truth- From John the Baptist to “It’s Gonna Be HUGE!”
This composition may read more like an editorial than sermon and it is for group discussion as we are a fellowship. Everyone’s thoughts and opinions are valued. It’s been nearly a year since we’ve been gathering as a group under First Century Fellowship. A whole year. We have had the pleasure of the addition of adding a family from Immokalee in Pastor Louicesse Dorsaint and several folks from his church attend study on a fairly regular basis. We have had one brother become baptized and committed to serving God according to His Commandments. But we have not grown with respect to adding any members. It was not our mission at the onset but it’s time to rethink the position or at least how we share God’s Word.
We’ve been given a blessed truth and a veil has been ripped away (Isa. 42:16). We’ve been given God’s truth we are not to keep it hidden (Matt. 5:15). We have been called by God (John 6:44, 6:65) to share His True Gospel message, not to recruit numbers for an alter call for sinners’ prayer. I can’t see us standing around in a group all wearing identical t-shirts handing bumper stickers or tracts either. A booth at the Mall? I don’t think so. I sincerely doubt any of us are ready for the diet of locusts and wild honey but that is probably a good foundation to start with. Not only these things, but we were given our marching orders so to speak in Matthew 28:19– “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
Let’s take a look at John the Baptist in Matthew 3:1-15. “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 2) And saying Repent ye: for the kingdom of God is at hand. 3) For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esasias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight. 4) And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. 5) Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region about Jordan, 6) And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. 7) But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8) Bring forth fruits meet for repentance: 9) And think not to say within yourselves, we have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. 10) And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore, every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 11) I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: 12) Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. 13) Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be Baptized of him. 14) But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? 15) And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.”
Now without media, the press, emails, twitter and so on the word got out. “Hey, some looney is out there baptizing people talking about the coming kingdom of God.” Curiosity I’m sure but the crowds came (John 1:7-8). His message was pretty simple and straight forward, repent and be baptized, the kingdom of God is at hand. No gimmicks, no give aways, a simple message of get right with God. Once baptized, did Jesus preach anything contrary? No, He did not (Matt. 4:17). He detailed the plan and it wasn’t complicated. He too did not advertise and yet the multitudes were drawn unto Him. None the less, they were “out there.” They both had a holy boldness in a society that was “getting it all wrong.” True Christianity is not a popular way of life today, and it was no different during the first century. After three and a half years of preaching, Jesus Himself had only about 120 disciples (Acts 1:15), which does not support the idea that “everyone” was trying to enter the Kingdom upon hearing the gospel. God was not calling everyone then (or now), and so everyone was not “pressing” to get into His Kingdom.
I must admit the boldness is coming out a bit as I responded to a Baptist email seeking donations for Christmas with a cut and paste of Jeremiah 10 in lieu of a donation. I haven’t received any nasty response yet. How much does society differ today? (Ecc. 1:9)
In the past twelve months, longer than that for most of us, we’ve been learning and growing in God’s Word, keeping His Commandments and His Holy Days. As a body of believers, I feel we have been growing in knowledge and preparing for the next steps of service. The sharing of His truth. I’ve never thought of myself as a missionary, preacher, teacher, evangelist or anything remotely associated with a church title or term. Cop or servant will work as at least in my opinion servant is the highest rank anyone can achieve (Matt. 23:11). Certainly, not for notoriety but to keep in line with Matthew 5:3- “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” So, what do we do to step out and take these steps?
We live in a time of social media, email, internet, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and several others I am not even aware of as I can barely figure out AOL. Reaching the masses internationally can happen in Nano-seconds. Our Lord Jesus had no such devices and yet He alone changed the Earth more than anyone who ever walked upon it (John 21:25). We have a website under construction and it is supposedly near completion. We hope to have several interactive applications available which will make information available. We certainly do not need to sound trumpets to draw attention to ourselves, rather we desire to make the truth available in an accessible forum for those prompted by God’s Holy Spirit seeking His truth.
Our witness and fellowship is more of a personal way of sharing God’s truth. Does this mean we go door to door? In reading Acts 2:46- “And they continued daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking of bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.” This referred to the apostles and new converts. Notice that all of these folks were in harmony and continued “daily with one accord.” They were all of the same belief. This verse is simply recording the actions of people who ate meals together as one who might have close friends over to his home. It says nothing about preaching to strangers.
Quite the contrary. We all know how well received Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormon Missionaries are. It is also legitimate to ask, “Should we invite into our homes just anyone who is going from house to house trying to persuade us to accept his form of doctrine?” The apostle John gives God’s instruction: “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine [the truth of God], do not receive him into your house, nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds [spreading false doctrine]” (II John:10-11). Guilty by association? The example of Jesus Christ and His apostles shows we should not to preach from house to house. Neither should we accept into our homes any peddlers of religion who might show up on our doorstep. So much for the grass roots or “Fuller Brush” approach (Yea I know, what’s a Fuller Brush…)
We know too that the annoying type of “witnesses” that shove stuff in your face rarely make an impact. Most often whatever item they give rarely gets read, most often whatever item they give you (and you accept it out of kindness) never makes it past the first trash can. Usually it’s a little paper Bible with a “are you going to hell?” warning with a sinner’s prayer inside. God’s truth should never be forced on anyone. As Jesus remarks in Matthew 7:6, the truth is too precious for that. (6) “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.
Today, when the gospel is proclaimed, anyone is at liberty to listen or not to listen. The gospel is available from most churches on line and also being published and sent free of charge to all who request it (Matt.10:8, Rev. 21:6). We don’t need to offer it with CD’s or miracle spring water or numerous other gimmicks today’s carnies masquerading as preachers are hustling on T.V. They’re not quite to the level of pinwheels and banners or the HUGE of a used car lot but I really wonder how long it will be before they do.
Thinking back on John the Baptist, he was simply being obedient to God. He was righteous, humble and loved God first. The scriptures I read and sermons I skimmed in looking at ideas on this topic seemed to have a common thread. No one glorified themselves. Their focus was always on God. When Jesus spoke, He spoke of doing His Father’s work (John 10:25). I’m confident we will not need tambourines or fancy buildings or sound systems so long as we have the light of God guiding us in all that we do (2 Cor. 4:6). As far as how we share with others I know as evidenced by this past year’s fellowship meetings, God will direct our path (Prov. 3:6).