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General James Green
E MILIO CASTRO, missionary to Latin America in the early part of the 1960's, made this profound statement: “The greatest obstacle to evangelization is the Church which is preoccupied with its own existence. It would be amusing, if it were not pathetic, to see entire denominations concerned with wholly secondary questions of form or doctrine—the pastor’s clothing, women’s adornment in Church, the possibility of having a cross in the sanctuary—while the revolutionary ferment is raging in the streets and countryside of Latin America.”
What do you think of that? Is Mr. Castro perceptive? Forward his profound statement to today, and it would be even more profound! Not only is there revolutionary activity all around the world, but murderous terrorism, wickedness, and evil at all levels of society…all while the church plays church. Pathetic alright!
Having been to the mission fields for a number of years myself, there is no doubt that the GREATEST OBSTACLE to evangelization is the CHURCH which is PREOCCUPIED with its own existence. May I ask, “Who and what are you taking to the world: Jesus Christ, or your particular church denomination/organization?” Surely too much “Church” is preached, and not enough Jesus Christ and HIS Kingdom. Church bodies certainly have their place, but that place should always be in subjectivity unto the ONE who died to bring forth the Church (Ekklesia)—the body of Christ.
Sadly, poor leadership, lack of Spirit-anointing, consecration, dedication, and even separation (from the sins of the world!) hinders true evangelism. TOO MANY “GO” JUST TO MAKE RELIGIOUS CLAIMS, NOT TO MAKE GODLY DISCIPLES FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD.
Territorial jealousy is another obstacle to the evangelism task. It is just sinful to see denominations fight over territories and what “name” will win out. But I ask: “What about the name of Jesus Christ the Lord??” Be honest, I find it literally repulsive when I see “Americanism” being preached to the pagans instead of “Jesus.” As if the U.S. Church is so great with all its money, machinery, and men! We are cheating the lost by giving them such a self-centered witness. I’m all for organization, but not dead and man-made organizations. Money, men, and machinery should be assets, not hindrances; but these have become gods! Idolatry!!
When the Church puts away her idols, her leisure time, her lack of concern for lost souls (souls in her very own midst!), it is the beginning of the Spirit Revolution we need today. I cannot believe how shallow missionaries/ministers are that we’ve met while out in the fields. I would consider some totally UNSAVED themselves. Worse yet is that they preach worldly sermons at best: no anointing, no Spirit, no impact! DEAD MEN PREACHING TO DEAD MEN.
To evangelize is to bear witness to the reconciling power of Christ between parties, races, and nations.
“To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath COMMITTED UNTO US THE WORD OF RECONCILIATION” (2 Cor. 5:19). If we go back up to verse 18, it says: “…Who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION.” May I ask: “who is the centralized person: Paul, or Jesus Christ?” Without being reconciled to God by and through Jesus Christ, none of us would be saved. Sinners NEED reconciliation, not just to be attached to a Church denomination. The sinner needs restored fellowship with their Creator...Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit make this possible, not Church. Men have made their Church an end in itself.
The apostle Paul states in 1 Cor. 1:23 that: “…we preach Christ (not Paul!) crucified…” Again Paul states in 2 Cor. 4:5 that “...we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord…” WE SIN WHEN WE PREACH ANY OTHER NAME. This is not to say that we cannot be organized, and have a name, but it is the name of Jesus that is the “winning” factor, not our name. The church is so occupied and preoccupied with its own self-interest and self-importance, it is failing to win the field of battle- and demons and devils laugh...and souls perish and go to an eternal fiery Hell FOREVER...while the church plays church!
Presenting our “church” does little for the saving of souls. It is through Christ’s atoning death and His glorious resurrection that God removes the barrier of sin and opens a WAY, THE WAY, for the lost sinner to return to God, not our church. (read Rom. 3:25; 5:10; Eph. 2:15, 16).
Reconciliation becomes effective for each person through his/her repentance and faith in Christ...not joining a church. Church has its place, but it is NOT the mediator, Christ Jesus is: “For there is ONE God, and ONE mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave Himself a ransom for ALL, to be testified in due time.” (1 Tim. 2:5-6). Verse 7 states plainly that the apostle Paul’s ministry was to preach and teach this. He was not lifting up himself, but Christ. The Church (as a building or denomination) can play a vital role, but not THE ROLE.
If all religious institutions could forget about THEIR OWN preservation (even praise of it!) and existence, and seek the will of our Lord for the lost, we would discover that more souls are Biblically and spiritually saved, and that the Christian body could fulfill its role in Christ-like unity.
True, the Church has been given the ministry of reconciliation—calling ALL peoples to be reconciled to God, but it is Christ that we are to lift up, not we ourselves. Jesus said in John 12:32, “...if I be lifted (upon the cross) up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” It is Jesus, not any particular church or person, that is to be preached. Only He saves!
Also, the grace of God is NOT EXCLUSIVE, i.e., for some and not for others, as some teach. Salvation is available to ALL men, not just the special “elect,” while others are sent off to Hell. This is why it is important to “GO AND TELL” the good news! Jesus died for ALL, but not ALL will respond, some will, by their own choice, refuse that call. Because some love their sins, they nullify the grace of God (Matt. 23:37, John 3:19).
The church in this generation has stooped so low as to “sell” the gospel. It is easier to extend our particular church organization than to LIVE the Gospel. Actually, the church in this hour is nothing more than a dead system reaching out to the dead. The basic criteria is not in numerical results, but dynamic SERVICE AND WITNESS in the church itself! Unfortunately we see little of this. AMEN!!
Various systems of evangelization are not formulae to be applied indiscriminately. No. They develop within the framework of a given situation, and are determined by the reality of the existing churches. But usually these systems are carnally-minded, not Spiritually-minded. Unfortunately again, we have evangelism promoted, arising out of a church situation characterized by envy, strife, and division, with the merits and defects inherent in such a situation. Once souls are “saved(?),” we bring them into this kind of religious confusion.
One wonders if it is the SYSTEM OR THE MESSAGE THAT IS IMPORTANT. Which one helps or hinders? True, we, at times, need a system/a method, but we must strive to let the Holy Spirit be in control—not a church staff with differing opinions and goals in mind. Our method of witnessing may change in changing circumstances, but the Gospel message itself is to remain comprehensible and relevant. Look at what this satanic “Politically Correct” bull has done all around the world—calling good evil, and evil good...all for the sake of not shaking the boat.
THE GOSPEL IS THE SAME, BUT SERMONS MAY BE DELIVERED DIFFERENTLY, A TECHNIQUE TO BRING FORTH RESULTS IN THE MAX:
You see, the modern church is full of “religious sinners” that feel no need of repentance...could it be that the Holy Spirit has departed, and that is what is bringing on that conviction of wrong-doing?
Don’t you feel that the word “witness” must regain its original meaning: “one who witnesses for the King”?
“...and ye shall be witnesses unto me (Jesus)...unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The “power” to do this would come, not by the power of men, money, or machinery, but by the Holy Ghost: “But that ye shall receive power, after the Holy Ghost is come unto you...” (v. 8). Just about every Christian out there thinks they are full of the “power” of God, but in reality, most are no better than empowered by religious flesh.
That Greek word “power” (dunamis, G1411), means more than just mere human strength or organizational abilities, but means a SPIRIT POWER, especially power in operation/in action. Preaching with Spirit Power is not the same as human spirit power. This is one reason that so little is being done eternally. Collecting church members is not too hard if one offers the poor riches—especially American riches! Much could be written here advocating the BAPTISM OF THE HOLY GHOST, which so few have these days!
The word “power” also denotes or implies the ability to work miracles, which is also very much missing in today’s evangelism. Heal the sick, cast out devils, even raise the dead at times: did not Jesus and His apostles/disciples/missionaries do miracles? Sure! There are missionaries, both past and present, that have NEVER even seen, yet performed, a real “Power miracle.” But aren’t miracles Biblical? For sure; I’ve seen many myself.
But again, the church gets in the way. In fact, whole denominations teach that “all this miracle and power stuff has passed away.” Really? When? You see, the church in this hour relies upon their men, money, and machinery to do the job for them, and regretfully, it is the church that becomes the redeemer, not Christ.
IT IS THE BETRAYAL OF GOD’S PURPOSE AND PLAN FOR MAN TO BECOME THE SAVIOR AND SOURCE OF NOURISHMENT FOR THE CONVERT. Sure we are to be laborers together with Christ for the redemption of souls, and also to feed them, but without the “Power of God,” we labor in vain. The church thusly becomes a “religious” organization, preoccupied with her message, method and means.
Let us all passionately seek to be a true witness for Christ, to the complete transformation that He desires, not we ourselves. This will take some dying to self, but “SELF” MUST DECREASE, AND CHRIST MUST INCREASE. Amen.