Thursday, June 21, 2007

This is Part 14 of a continuing series of articles examining the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. This statement of faith was adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting on June 14, 2000 “to set forth certain teachings which we believe.”

Evangelism and Missions

It is the duty and privilege of every follower of Christ and of every church of the Lord Jesus Christ to endeavor to make disciples of all nations. The new birth of man's spirit by God's Holy Spirit means the birth of love for others. Missionary effort on the part of all rests thus upon a spiritual necessity of the regenerate life, and is expressly and repeatedly commanded in the teachings of Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ has commanded the preaching of the gospel to all nations. It is the duty of every child of God to seek constantly to win the lost to Christ by verbal witness undergirded by a Christian lifestyle, and by other methods in harmony with the gospel of Christ.*

For many Christians, the Great Commission has become the great omission! It is one of the most prevalent sins in Baptist life today—the failure to share our faith, even though it is clearly commanded by Christ. How can we explain such disobedience?

The excuses are many. I’m shy. I don’t know the Bible well enough. The preacher can do a better job. I’m so busy. I wouldn’t know where to start. The list could go on—but there is no legitimate reason for our silence. Sometimes silence is golden, but at other times it’s plain yellow!

If we are ashamed of Christ, He will be ashamed of us when we stand before Him at the judgment. If we deny Him, He said that He would deny us. That doesn’t sound like a good position to be in. We may protest that we professed our faith in Christ when we joined the church. That’s a good start, but that’s all it is. The initial profession is to become a lifetime practice.

Do we truly believe that there is a heaven to gain and a hell to shun? Are we convinced that Christ is the only way of salvation and without Him people spend an eternity in the torment of hell? If so, then why aren’t we doing something about it?

Our responsibility begins in our community, but extends to the entire planet. Every person of every culture ought to have the opportunity to hear the Gospel once in their lifetime. If they die in their sins, don’t blame God—look in a mirror and see that we didn’t advance the message of the cross to all humanity. It’s our fault.

Were you and I to discover a cure for cancer, yet keep that knowledge to ourselves while multitudes die of that horrible disease, it would be such a cruel thing to do. How much more wicked is it, to have the cure for the cancer of sin, and fail to share it with people facing the second death?

Let us not say by our lack of evangelistic zeal and missionary support, “You can go to hell and we don’t care!”

* Genesis 12:1-3; Exodus 19:5-6; Isaiah 6:1-8; Matthew 9:37-38; 10:5-15; 13:18-30, 37-43; 16:19; 22:9-10; 24:14; 28:18-20; Luke 10:1-18; 24:46-53; John 14:11-12; 15:7-8,16; 17:15; 20:21; Acts 1:8; 2; 8:26-40; 10:42-48; 13:2-3; Romans 10:13-15; Ephesians 3:1-11; 1 Thessalonians 1:8; 2 Timothy 4:5; Hebrews 2:1-3; 11:39-12:2; 1 Peter 2:4-10; Revelation 22:17. (Baptist Faith and Message, 2000)