“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?” (I Thess 2:19 NKJV)
People we win for the Lord would constitute our Crown of rejoicing. While an ethereal visit to Heaven –a la Apostle Paul (II Cor 12:1-4)-may help us better understand this subject, at this stage, if the truth that evangelism is of two types-Mass and Personal-grips us, then a blessed realization would also dawn upon us that all those who would lay their hands on the Incorruptible crown by virtue of their disciplined lives in the matters of worship, fellowship and courtship (personal evangelism), would also go on to bag the Crown of rejoicing. It is given to those who win “souls” to the Lord. And mind you, those who are entailed to the Incorruptible crown have no doubt also already fared outstandingly on soul-winning matters!
At the supernatural level, as directly relaying the Gospel to a sinner in an ethereal manner through a direct Divine-human “one on one” communication mode would deprive a sinner of taking the leap of faith, which is oh-so-necessary in the matter of Salvation (believing/acting without seeing with a naked eye is FAITH-Heb 11:1), the Master depends on His stewards who are “enjoying Him” to be carriers of the Gospel to the sin-infested World.
Oh yes, only once in this age of human history, after the end of the Grace dispensation (during the second phase of 7-year terrible tribulation to be more precise), would an angel be used to convey the Eternal Gospel (Rev 14:6)!
On the subject of personal evangelism, which everyone can participate in, (unlike Mass evangelism, that requires anointed Apostles and Evangelist to undertake the work), it needs to be reiterated here “if Worship puts you on fire and Church Fellowship fuels the fire, then by personal evangelism one would pass on “LOVE FOR THE LORD” fire to the unbelievers”. Yes, it is this speaking with love about the Lord in the marketplace that would attract the unbelievers to Him, rather than evangelism done as a matter of duty.
An insightful one-liner in this context sums it up aptly “Work done for the Lord with a worshipping heart is a delight, while the same done as a duty is a drag”.
When it comes to personal evangelism, it would serve us well to remember ONE cardinal truth. The truth is that since Gospel sharing on a personal basis can be done broadly amongst only two “difficult” groups (I would come to that point shortly), nothing, absolutely nothing can ever be accomplished without His power. It needs no reiteration that if to us belongs the responsibility of sharing the Gospel (I Cor 15:1-4 defines the Gospel oh-so-lucidly), that to the Holy Spirit belongs the role of touching the needy one’s heart. The “needy” one is everyone living without the Saviour. Oh, the biggest sin is not transgressing any of the ten commandments, but living life on one’s own terms, keeping the Creator of every cell and every drop of blood in our bodies at an arm’s length! Talk of a tenant living as though the house is his, to the utter dismay of the Landlord (Psalm 24:1 Job 41:11)!
Now coming to the two “difficult” categories of people to whom we can possibly reach by way of personal evangelism, an exercise which needs “investment of time”. If in the first category belong those whom we meet regularly (our co-students, office colleagues, family members etc), the second category are those whom we may meet only once in a while (our seat mate on a plane, long-journey bus/rail passengers etc). If influencing the former needs us to not only speak, but also live our faith, day in and day out, which can be accomplished only by His strength (John 15:4), then the latter would need to see the urgency in our demeanor and earnestness of the message in the few hours we may be with them (a la Phillip – Acts 8:26-39), which too can be accomplished only by His power. Oh how true the words of our Lord “…for without Me, you cannot do anything” (John 15:5).
Mass evangelism (a public manifestation of God’s power) as opposed to personal evangelism (SILENT manifestation of God’s power) would entail operation of Apostolic gifts (2 Cor 12:12/Acts 19:11-12) too. At all times during Mass evangelism (organized by way of massive public meetings) “signs and wonders” would carry the day for God’s servants. Apostles and Evangelists (Eph 4:11-12) are especially anointed by the Almighty to do several astonishing miracles whereby public attention is drawn to them and then eventually to the all powerful One, who is the source behind all the miraculous works. Needy public (mostly facing health problems) are drawn to them as iron filings to a magnet. Once delivered from physical distress say life-threatening diseases like cancer, what other choice is left to the “delivered lot” and their family members who are personal witness to a stupendous miracle then to accept the “Omnipotent Deliverer” into their hearts!
While on the subject of Apostles (the highest in the ranks of Christian Ministerial hierarchy-1 Cor 12:28) mightily used by the good Lord, it needs to be noted that the good Lord in His sovereign wisdom, places at times “some thorn in the flesh” (read some secret physical or emotional infirmity) of the wonders-working Apostles, lest they get puffed up with pride (2 Cor 12:1-10)! Strong as is their relationship with the Almighty, they accept “these thorns in the flesh” get on with it HUMBLY!
Amazing thing about the Lord’s amazing grace is that both personal evangelists (read lay Christians) and mighty, full-time Apostles would be entitled to the CROWNS OF REJOICING, though it needs to be remembered Apostles and Evangelists would get more of them as they would be winning more souls en masse.
A personal evangelist or a mighty apostle, let’s be earnest fishers of men! Caught any “fish” of late, pal?
Please join us next Tuesday for THE CROWNING GLORY, Part 4: The Crown of Glory.
(To access the entire “The Crowning Glory” mini-series, please click here.)