- I will hear in heaven. —Beethoven, Composer
- I am about to—or I am going to—die: either expression is correct. —Dominique Bouhours, French grammarian
- I have tried so hard to do the right. —Grover Cleveland
- How were the receipts today at Madison Square Garden? —P. T. Barnum, entrepreneur
- All my possessions for a moment of time. —Elizabeth I, Queen of England
- Too late for fruit, too soon for flowers. —Walter De La Mare, writer
- Go on, get out—last words are for fools who haven’t said enough. To his housekeeper, who urged him to tell her his last words so she could write them down for posterity. —Karl Marx, revolutionary
- They couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist. . . .Killed in battle during US Civil War. —General John Sedgwick, Union Commander
- Don’t let it end like this. Tell them I said something. —Pancho Villa, Mexican revolutionary
This had me thinking about Jesus’ last words. Some would go to Luke 23:46, “Father, into your hands, I commit my spirit.” While those are His last words on the cross, they are not His last words on earth. Matthew records Jesus’ last words before His ascension in Matthew 28:19-20, we call it the Great Commission:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Luke records this in Acts 1:7-8,
“It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
What should we make of these last words? It is obvious that Jesus wanted people to know how important it was to multiply the gospel message in the world. His objective is that everyone would hear His message through what His witnesses are proclaiming. So, how are believers doing with this mission?
Studies show that we are not doing well…
Lifeway’s research found that “80 percent of those who attend church one or more times a month, believe they have a personal responsibility to share their faith, but 61 percent have not told another person about how to become a Christian in the previous six months.”
This is distressing. What this reveals is that Christians know what they should be doing, but they are not doing it! The study goes on to describe how, of the eight areas tested for spiritual maturity, sharing the gospel had the lowest score across the board.
Chuck Lawless responded to this by saying that this, “…means we’re not doing the Great Commission at its most basic level – sharing Christ with our family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors.”
Almost every study shows that the vast majority of Christians are not sharing their faith in Christ with anyone. Paul challenges believers to share the gospel because it is the only way that people can come to salvation. Romans 10:13-15 says:
“for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Jesus called believers to share their faith, Paul exhorted believers to follow the command of Jesus. When was the last time you shared your faith? If you are a ‘normal’ Christian, it’s been awhile—or not at all.
So what should we do? I believe we need to take three actions to help change the stats.
- Pray. We need to pray in three areas.
- We must repent for our disobedience in not sharing the Gospel. To put it simply, disobedience to a command of God is called sin. So, we must ask Him for forgiveness.
- We must pray for strength to be obedient. When I haven’t worked out in a long time and try to start back up, I am tempted to quit early—or not do it all—because of the pain involved in getting back into the routine. The same is true of starting to share your faith for the first time in a long time—or maybe the first time ever! So, we must pray that God would help us to not give up.
- We must pray for the lost. On our own, we cannot reach anyone. It is only through the power of God’s spirit moving in the heart of someone that they will understand and believe.
- Look for Opportunities. We have to always be on the lookout for ways to point our conversations to the gospel. It is amazing how many opportunities we have during the day if we would simply look for them.
- Share the Gospel. In the end, you have to bring up the gospel. You can pray and look for opportunities but come up short if you never share the gospel. There are many excuses that people give for not sharing the gospel (maybe I will write a blog about it some day), but the reality is that Paul nails the reason in Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes…” Don’t be ashamed of what you believe!