All of creation lies within God’s providence. Here is the sovereign tension between what God allows and what God causes. On one hand, God allows the sun to rise on the evil and the good. [Matt 5:45 NASB] “so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” On the other, he causes all things to work together for good for those who love him. [Rom 8:28 NASB] “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.”
Within this context, then, how shall we (the church) respond to the good and calamity within the world?
With all the things we get to do in life: eat, sleep, work, go on vacation, retire, graduate, learn, study, find a career, suffer loss, welcome a new child, suffer an illness, grow older, meet new people, move, change a job, grow in ministry, etc. we have three key things mentioned in the Scriptures that connect and bring clarity to the believer in all aspects of life: evangelism, discipleship and fellowship.
Fundamentally we have to deal with sin in the world as manifested by apathy, spiritualization, abortion, same sex marriage, selfishness, and no fear or reverence for God, just to name a few. How do we engage the darkness if we hide our candles under a basket? What are the ramifications of disobedience? The world is content for us to retreat within the four walls of the physical places of worship, but for us there is no retreat according to the gospel and commandments of Jesus Christ.
“One of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, testing him,
‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’
And he said to him, 'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND. ‘This is the great and foremost commandment.
‘The second is like it, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.'
‘On these two commandments depend the whole law and the prophets.’"
[Mat 22:35-40 NASB]
“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’" [Mat 28:18 -20NASB]
Evangelism, discipleship and fellowship help us to evaluate and assess our Christian growth and maturity. Having one without the other is like a three-legged stool. If one leg is broken, it will collapse under the weight of its own purpose.
Evangelism feeds from the original call in our lives, where we have heard the Gospel originally and responded to His call. [Titus 4:5 NASB] “But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” The urgency should continue to grow from that if it has taken root. Evangelism, the heart of discipleship feeds the original call in our lives. The Gospel prepares you for anyone you encounter, in that you will be ready to give the answer for the hope that is within you.
Discipleship is to answer that Gospel call with the patience to walk with and guide a new believer in the new relationship with Jesus. Some water, some plant… [1 Co 3:6 NASB] “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.”
Fellowship is the submitting in worship and being equipped together by the God of the Gospel. [Heb 10:25 NASB] “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Being fed by the Word, we are raised up to be more like Christ. Being sent out (ecclesia—a Greek word) into the world is the command. Though we are going into the world of uncertainty, we can “roll” with God’s wheel of certainty—evangelism, discipleship, fellowship.
The Gospel encourages us to be engaged and involved with people who do not know the truth. We are called to STEP OUT in areas in which we may need to learn about social and political policies in our culture that are being formulated into policies that go against God’s truth. So, we need to be informed. We need to study to show ourselves approved, ready to give an answer. [I Peter 3:15] “But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”
So, through evangelism, discipleship and fellowship, being sanctified in Christ becomes a way of life. It will help us to minister to people, be they Christians or not, who have been hurt by many things.
Ignoring the things that vex our culture will NOT make it better, nor expecting others to do it when we are more than capable. Believers are called to be evangelists, called to discipleship, and called to fellowship in the context of God’s ultimate calling of us as children of God. The government didn’t die for us, politics didn’t die for us, culture didn’t die for us though they all have a place, but we are to engage all of these entities with the truth of the Gospel. Or, we may simply be relegated to the aforementioned four walls of a building, preaching to our own choir, and stuck in the routine of blessings long past. Brighter days are to come, even in the last days, if we are faithful. So then evangelism, discipleship and fellowship are three fundamental things that will sustain us through the darkest of times and the most challenging adventures to the highest of heights. Time is one thing we cannot control, but within his providence, we have the freedom to use it wisely.
Stepping out in faith in these three areas of living will bring purpose, passion and clarity as we live out the promise of abundant life as stated in John 10:10: "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
Is Jesus the center of your evangelism? Is Jesus the center of your discipleship? Is Jesus the center of your fellowship? God gives us the time. It is time to WAKE UP and GET GOING!