I had intended to finish the series of articles on evangelism last month. However, while we were on our trip, Christopher and I were discussing those to whom we had witnessed. I appreciated what he shared with me and asked him to write a Corner about evangelism. The following article is what the Lord put on his heart.
It is a joy when our children embrace the Lord Jesus and want to tell others about Him. When a man has something with which he truly is thrilled, he wants others to know. It is a wonderful confirmation that the Lord Jesus is at work in our children’s lives when they will actively witness about Jesus, the only true Savior of a man’s soul.
A few weeks ago, we drove on the interstate through New York City, a massive urban center with miles and miles of apartments. If you had watched me staring out the window, you could have easily guessed I was from Kansas as I watched the towering expanse of concrete, brick, and humanity pass by. We even pulled out the camera and took some photos of the city through the van window. At one point, we saw smoke drifting across the interstate ahead of us. We assumed it was a factory smokestack, but we were wrong—an apartment building was on fire. Flames were shooting almost fifteen feet high out of a fourth-story window. A fire truck had just arrived in the street below and was beginning to raise its massive ladder. I snapped a few quick photos as we passed, and we prayed for those whose lives were being impacted by the fire.
It wasn’t until later, as I reviewed the photos in detail, that the significance of what we had seen really hit me. The magnified images revealed two details. The first was amazing, but the second was heart-wrenchingly incredible. As I stared at those photos, the parallels between the fire and evangelism were almost impossible to overlook.
The first detail we noticed as we zoomed in: two firefighters heading up toward the flames on the metal fire-escape stairs. These men had lost no time upon arriving at the building and were demonstrating a willingness to risk their lives as they climbed closer to the fire. Their goal was not to put out the fire, for they carried no water hoses with them. Instead, the oxygen tanks they wore showed they were intending to save lives, even if it meant entering flame-filled rooms.
Those firefighters had a duty and a job to perform, and they were doing it no matter what it cost them (although I suspect they were also motivated by a heartfelt compassion for those facing danger). What would have happened if none of the firefighters had responded to the call? What if they had responded to the call but then sat in their comfortable fire truck and simply watched the building burn? If either one of those situations had occurred, wouldn’t there would be many people, perhaps including you and me, who would have condemned them for their actions (or lack of actions)?
For us, as Christians, not to speak up and seek opportunities to share the gospel with the lost would be a similar, unconscionable, shirking of (God-given) responsibility. “Go ye therefore and teach all nations . . .” (Matthew 28:19). We have a duty toward those headed for a horrendous future: “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:44). “And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh” (Jude 1:23).
Jesus never said that sharing the gospel with others would always be easy and comfortable. I believe Peter is a perfect example of that. He wasn’t willing to stand up and identify with Jesus when he was asked, three times, if he were a disciple. Granted, Peter was in the midst of a difficult situation, but he was nonetheless given an opportunity to speak out and share, and he didn’t. But isn’t Jesus merciful? Peter confessed his failure and repented. Grace was given. And from that point on, we no longer see a fearful man, but one who was willing to speak out, no matter what the cost.
Whether a firefighter or a soul-winner, is the man who experiences fear called a coward? No! It is the one who gives into his feelings of fear and fails to do what he should. Even brave men will at times feel fear, but they choose to do what is right despite their fear!
Some don’t want to be spiritual firefighters – despite what the Lord has called us to do. For those who don’t want to be a firefighter, I ask you to consider what we saw as we zoomed even closer into the photo of the fire!
On the fifth floor, only a few feet over from the flames that were roaring out of the fourth-floor window below, was a woman with a child in her arms, standing on a small fire-escape platform perhaps fifty feet in the air. She was well aware of the danger her life was in if she stayed in the building. She could have chosen the way of escape for herself alone, and it would have been much easier for her to do so, because then both of her hands would have been free. However, she was taking the time and effort to see that the infant child was also safe.
Have we repented of our sin and believed in the Lord Jesus Christ? Has He saved us from the flames of hell? If so, how could we be so selfish as to escape the flames ourselves (by His grace) and yet leave others to such a terrible fate?
“And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).
Will you one day stand alone before the Lord Jesus Christ with no one else standing beside you whom you helped rescue by pointing them to Jesus? Might the work we are so busy filling our days with burn up on the judgment day? “If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (1 Corinthians 3:15).
Whether you see yourself as a firefighter or simply someone who has been rescued from the fires of hell, won’t you reach out and help rescue others? Don’t be paralyzed by fear! Let us each be bold as we gently help those who are lost and dying!
Written by our son Christopher