The next chapter is John MacArthur’s “Evangelism in the Hands of Sinners: Lessons from the Book of Acts.” The main point is this: the danger the church faces is losing evangelistic fervor when it flirts with sin from within. You would think the danger comes from the outside, when there is constant pressure from the world to conform to its ways, and persecution when she doesn’t follow suit. However, this leads to a stronger faith in the people of God, and the church grows in its witness of the power of God to change hearts. In response, Satan goes after the hearts of those in the community of faith and lead them to pursue worldly things, thus becoming an inward focus that loses sight of pointing those outside to Him upward. The fight then becomes as much a fight for holiness as it is of seeking the lost and calling them to Christ. Over the past few years, I can testify that when sin has a hold on your life, and you do not fight the battle against sin, you will not be an effective witness, or even desire to witness of the Savior to others. Hearing of those who once had a zeal to introduce others to Christ now leave the faith demonstrates the validity of this truth. It becomes a battle lost over who will have dominance over their life: them or Christ. When Christ comes up against a sin that is coddled within the heart, that’s where the call for purity is most relevant.
Every trip is always a reminder of how important pursuing purity in your life really is. If there is secret sin that is being carried, and not just your luggage, you walk into dangerous territory. You spend a vast amount of time with others that you only see once or twice a week and speak maybe for a few minutes out of one whole week. This trip does not allow for that. There is continual down-time, as well as times of busyness that can wear you out and bring your guard. If you are not constantly depending on God to keep you from becoming prideful or selfish, it can directly and immediately affect others. This can become a distraction in relation to accomplishing the goals set for the trip, and hinder relationships with those we spend time with in Argentina. The great realization is, though it looks less obvious when here at home, it’s just as important, if not more, to maintain a purity in our lives that increases our influence to this culture that hypocrisy is not an essential aspect of man. When we are redeemed by Christ, we have been what is necessary to escape every temptation to sin and not drag Christ’s name through the mud. These were lessons the apostles and the church at large learned early on, and continue to be lessons the church today needs to hear again and again.
Moving to section 2, “Evangelism from the Pulpit,” we get a picture of what it means to be a biblical preacher: one who calls many to come to faith in Christ by way of the Gospel message. Rick Holland, in his chapter, “Sunday Morning: Evangelism’s Role Within the Service,” argues for evangelism to be a central aspect of a pastor’s sermon. Whatever text is being preached, it isn’t a matter of trying to fit Jesus into everything, but common themes in Scripture always lends itself to be a call to faith and repentance. Holland gets into territory that is not immediately relevant to laymen, but it is helpful to see that whenever a sermon is preached, if it is a biblical message, a message devoted to expositing a passage of Scripture, then not only will a theme of the Bible come up, but it can also be a transition for a Christian to speak Gospel truth to a non-Christian who heard the same message.
Spending a couple pages on 2 Corinthians 5:20-21, Pastor Holland draws out the truth that every minister of the Gospel, as well as every Christian, is an ambassador for Christ, and is called to represent the King with His message of reconciliation. The word that changes the way we view being a representative is “implore.” It carries in its range of meaning the idea of pleading, or begging, those who are headed to hell to abandon their destructive course and turn towards Christ. This is what refreshes believers: to know that there are still lost people out there, and that we are under teaching that will not back down from calling people to leave their life of sin and embrace Jesus as their all. To close this reflection, Holland writes: “May it never be said or even perceived that we are too proud to beg people to approach the cross and to have their sins forgiven” (p.114).