August 16, 2017

Ambassadors-at-large

Monroe Parker

“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20).

Dr. Bob Jones, Sr., founder of Bob Jones University, used to say, “Nearly every false religion is founded on an overemphasis of some truth.” He did not mean that every truth should be denied or neglected, but that every truth should be placed in its proper perspective. Everything in the Bible should be observed in the light of everything else in the Bible.

In our day it seems that men go to opposite extremes in their attitude toward the responsibility God has given us to evangelize the world. There are those who go forth with an “I-can-lick-the- Devil” expression on their faces and a “Madison Avenue” approach to Christianity and who, from their attitude, appear to feel that by their wits and personalities they can win the world to Jesus Christ. These are good people. They love the Lord. They serve Him diligently. They pray. But they do not await the divine answer; instead they rush out to force the answer.

It is one thing to “put feet to your prayers”; it is quite a different thing to substitute feet for answers to prayer. Despite a good measure of carnality, some of these people win many souls to Christ; but they also win to themselves many others who never really come to Christ. It is doubtful that they win as many to Christ as they would if they relied less on gimmicks and more on the Holy Spirit.

A pastor or an evangelist who depends on his personality, his wits, his ability, gimmicks, publicity, or a reputation of great success — deserved or not — is going to wind up with a lot of rubbish in his program. Likely as not he will have to borrow a great deal of money to keep it going “till Jesus comes.” Some lending institutions ought to make them cover their loans with Rapture Insurance!

On the other hand, there are many who “strut the intellect” and talk piously about the sovereignty of God but disdain any responsibility for winning souls. Some of them will split a theological hair long enough to reach from Augustine to Calvin and on down to the kink thrown in by Barth. I believe in scholarship and accurate teaching. But these anti-evangelism teachers seem to overlook the fact that the Holy Spirit is the Great Teacher. They go all out to prove that “this” means “that” and do not seem to be afraid that they will get in the way of the Holy Spirit when it comes to teaching; yet they are afraid they will get in the way of the Holy Spirit when it comes to soul-winning.

May God give us a great company of Spirit-filled men and women who can say with the Apostle, “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.”

Paul was a scholar and a leader among men, but he was also a humble, Spirit-filled missionary with a burning zeal to win men to Christ. The fact that grips me first as I read this text is that the apostle was filled with passion. What wrought such passion in the heart of this man? I know that the Holy Spirit wrought passion in Paul’s heart, but the question is not who wrought such passion. The question is what means did the Spirit use? In other words, what facts did He impress upon the Apostle’s mind? I believe our answer to this question lies in the context.

Several incentives for soul-winning are given in this fifth chapter of 2 Corinthians. First, there is the incentive of the

Judgment Seat

In verse 10 Paul says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” This is an incentive to be faithful in all phases of the Lord’s work, but the foremost thing that seems to have been in the apostle’s mind as he wrote of the judgment seat is soul-winning. This is seen in the following verse when he says, “We persuade men.”

It is at the judgment seat, the Bema, that Christian works will be judged. The believer’s sins were judged at the cross. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). The judgment for the believer’s daily walk is in this life, either by himself or by God. “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world” (1 Corinthians 11:31, 32).

The next thing on God’s prophetic calendar is the coming of Christ and the rapture of the saints. This may be soon, or He may tarry; but His coming is imminent — the Rapture could take place at any moment. It has been imminent ever since apostolic days. He will come. “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17).

When the Christians have been raptured, they will stand before the Bema to receive their rewards. Jesus said, “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be” (Revelation 22:12).

Some Christian may hear something like this: “Come in. There is a place for you but no reward. I have loved you with an everlasting love, and I have redeemed you with my blood. There is a place for you all right, but there is no crown for you. There is no crown of joy. That is the soul-winner’s crown. You were not a soul-winner. When there was a soul-winning effort, you dragged your feet. You had no passion for the lost. Oh, you were glad to see people come to Me, but you had no real burden to reach them or even to help reach them. You had no real missionary vision.”

But some Christians will receive beautiful crowns of joy. Many years ago I heard an old preacher tell about a testimony service he held in which a little blind girl named Sally told of a dream she had had. In her dream she stood before Jesus in Heaven and received a beautiful golden crown. She was thrilled until she noticed that her crown was plain while many others had crowns studded with diamond stars. She asked an angel why so many others had stars in their crowns. The angel explained that the stars represented souls those people had won to Christ. Sally said that when she awoke she began to work to get stars for her crown. The old evangelist said that everywhere little blind Sally went she was trying to win souls to Jesus. He said that one day as Sally gave her testimony, E. E. Hewitt sat on the platform. By the time Sally finished, E. E. Hewitt had written the first stanza and chorus of the lovely song that says:

“I am thinking today of that beautiful land
I shall reach when the sun goeth down;
When through wonderful grace by my Saviour I stand,
Will there be any stars in my crown?

“Will there be any stars, any stars in my crown,
When at evening the sun goeth down?
When I awake with the blest in the mansions of rest,
Will there be
any stars in my crown?”

Although the Bible speaks of five crowns that will be given to Christians, the soul-winner’s crown is the one that brings unbounded joy. Daniel said, “And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:3).

I have often thought that if one time in eternity the Lord Jesus Christ will look and smile as if to say, “Thank you for your efforts to serve Me,” it would be enough to make any sacrifice worthwhile. But the prospect of having a beautiful crown to lay at His feet almost overwhelms me. Christian, the Lord knows your works and He will judge your works!

Another strong incentive used by the Holy Spirit to impress Paul was

The Terror of the Lord

Paul said, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Corinthians 5:11). We, too, ought to be moved by the fact that God “is terrible in his doings toward the children of men” (Psalm 66:5).

God is infinite in His love and mercy; but being a holy God, He is a terror to those who will not partake of His mercy. The Psalmist said, “Say unto God, How terrible art thou in thy works! Through the greatness of thy power shall thine enemies submit themselves unto thee” (Psalm 66:3). The holiness of God requires terror to the wicked. “By terrible things in righteousness wilt thou answer us, 0 God of our salvation; who art the confidence of all the ends of the earth” (Psalm 65:5).

If God did not demand the wages of sin, He would not be “the confidence of all the ends of the earth.” Ile is holy, and His holiness demands a Hell for those who rebel against Him and against His authority, It is right that there is an eternal “lake of fire.” Hell is a terrible reality; and knowing this, we should persuade men.

A third fact used by the Holy Spirit to impassion the Apostle Paul is

The Love of Christ

Verse 14, “For the love of Christ constraineth us.” God’s great soul-winners are people who are motivated by a burning passion. This passion is wrought by the Holy Spirit. “The fruit of the Spirit is love” with its component parts — “joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Galatians 5:22, 23).

It is love for the souls of men that caused Jesus to come to earth and suffer the infinite agony of the cross for us. It was that love of God that filled the soul of Stephen and caused him to plead so effectively in his effort to persuade the Jews. Their ringleader, Saul, never lost his burden of conviction until on the Damascus road he cried, “What wilt thou have me to do, Lord?” It was that love that changed Saul, the persecutor of Christ, into Paul, His “bondslave forever.”

May that love so constrain you and me that we will be empty of self and “full of the Holy Ghost.”

“Lord, lay some soul upon my heart,
And love that soul through me;
And may I humbly do my part
To win that soul for Thee.”

A fourth incentive used by the Holy Spirit to burden the Apostle and us for souls is

Ambassadorship

Scripture says that God has “committed unto us the word of reconciliation to God” (2 Corinthians 5:19). As an evangelist, I always find this passage a strong rationale for giving an invitation. Psalm 127:1 says, “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it.” But God uses the human instrumentality — “as though God did beseech you by us,” This does not mean that we are inanimate tools. “We pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God,”

The fifth incentive to soul-winning is

Responsibility

A young man once related his experience to me and asked if I thought he was called in the ministry. I answered, “If you are a Christian, you are already in the ministry. I do not mean that God has necessarily called you to be an ordained minister and to stand in the pulpit and preach; but every Christian is called as a witness and is therefore called to serve!’

The last incentive is

Privilege

What a privilege God has given His children — to be His ambassadors! As the songwriter says:

“I am a stranger here within a foreign land.
My home is far away upon a golden strand;
Ambassador to be of realms beyond the sea,
I’m here on business for my King.

“This is the King’s command,
That all men everywhere
Repent and turn away
From sin’s seductive snare;
That all who will obey
With Him shall reign for aye,
And that’s my business for my King.

“My home is brighter far,
Than Sharon’s rosy plain,
Eternal life and joy Throughout His vast domain;
My Sovereign bids me tell
How mortals there may dwell,
And that’s my business for my King.”

Christian, let us be about our ministry of reconciliation which God has given us.


The late Dr. Monroe Parker served the Lord in many roles through a long and fruitful ministry. His ministry came to its conclusion in leadership with Baptist World Mission.


Although Proclaim & Defend is the blog of the FBFI, the articles we post are not an expression of the views of the FBFI as a whole, they are the views of the author under whose name they are published. The FBFI speaks either through position statements by its board or through its president. Here at Proclaim & Defend, we publish articles as matters of interest or edification to the wider world of fundamentalist Baptists and any others who might be interested.

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