Month: October 2014

David, Goliath, and Evangelism


Every believer knows the story of David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17). The Philistinian giant stood before the army of Israel boldly defying the people of God.  He was a menacing figure who stood more than 9 feet tall and was built like an NFL Defensive Lineman.  His impressive armor was made of beautiful material and weighted as much as 700 pounds.  There is no doubt that he was an impressive sight to behold.  It is true that he lived up to the Hebrew meaning of his name, Splendor.  At his appearance the Bible teaches that the soldiers of Israel were “dismayed and greatly afraid” (17:11)

Enter David. A nobody.  A nothing.  A small boy who had no business on the battlefield.  He was not trained in the art of soldiering.  He was not equipped for battle.  Yet he had incredible faith in God.  He knew that he was of God and that because of that he would prevail.  While soldiers cowered and lost bladder control, a young boy stepped forward to kill the giant.

When David boldly stepped forward in faith one might expect others to do the same. Isn’t that how it works in the movies?  The faith and boldness in one brings out the best in others. That is not what happened, though.  He stepped forward alone, while trained soldiers ran in the opposite direction and cowered in corners (17:24).  David would have been justified for having second thoughts when no others joined him, but he continued forward.

Moving into battle alone was no big deal because his faith in God was strong. He was not alone but had the infinite God of the universe with him.

Is this not the same battle that we find ourselves fighting in regards to evangelism? The Israelites knew that they had been commanded to fight the Philistines and that the Lord was with them, assuring victory in battle (Exodus 23:31) and yet they feared the army of the Philistines.  They had been commanded by God, and yet they delayed obedience out of fear.  We too have been commanded to go into battle with the promise that God is with us assuring victory.  In Matthew 28:19-20 we have a very similar command and promise given.  We are to go into all the world and make disciples and God will be with us even to the end of the age.

Like the Israelites we know what we have been commanded. Like the Israelites few would question that we must obey, but like the Israelites many have delayed obedience out of fear in one way or another.  We are at war, and God has promised us victory, and yet we cower because of the giant that stands before us.

Satan paces before us calling out for us to battle him, and he holds in his hand all that we fear. His weapons are fear, and embarrassment, and lack of knowledge, our time and any other thing that runs through our minds that keeps us from faithfully following God’s command.  He is a giant, and we are nothing.  We don’t stand a chance against him.  He mocks our God, and we let him.

David is our example.

In the face of an unbeatable giant David stood knowing that God promised him victory. He stood and boldly proclaimed, “Then all this assembly shall know that the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’s, and He will give you into our hands.”

Friends, the battle for the souls of men is the LORD’s battle and we have been called into it. We are the soldiers that he has commanded to go into the land and accomplish His will.  We are to be obedient.  Like David, we must boldly step forward and know that God is with us even to the end of the age.

Even if we, like David, step forward and find ourselves alone, we move forward into battle. If no other soul joins in the battle for men’s souls know that God has commanded you to proceed alone.

Goliath was not killed by a stone and a sling. He was dead long before that.  He was killed by one boy’s faith in God and His promises.  The command has been given, and the orders are clear.  Whether alone, or with an army we are to “Go therefore…”

J.W. Willard


Teaching them all things

teach evangelism

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age,” Amen.

Matthew 28:19-20

Matthew 28:19-20 has long been used by much of the church as the drum beat for world missions. Although there are 4 other Great Commission passages, these two verses are more widely used in church than the others (at least in my experience).  The clarity of the message leaves little wiggle room in understanding what is needed to be done.  We are to take the Gospel to the whole world, baptize those who respond with faith to the message, and teach them.

I have read this verse countless times, heard hundreds of sermons on it, and have even preached it myself, and yet today as I looked to this passage something I had not considered before came to mind.

A great deal of ink has been used working to have a greater understanding of what “Go therefore” means, and how it should be applied to the life of the church. Pastors have preached to and pleaded with congregations to obey this Great Commission.  Further ink has been used in regards to teaching, and baptism.  What do these look like, and how do we practice them.  And yet through all of the years, today I realized that I have never seen the teachings of the Great Commission brought fully together.

If the Great Commission calls us to make disciples (win disciples would be a better translation of μαθητευω, but that is for a different post) and it also calls us to teach them, should not we be teaching them to make disciples?  Does the text not demand that the teaching of evangelism must happen?

Methodology of evangelism aside, it appears clear that in order to fulfill the Great Commission one must not only be practicing personal evangelism, but one must also be teaching personal evangelism. If we truly believe that Scripture must be read and taught from its context, there appears to be no way to separate evangelism and teaching.  In fact, immediate context would show that in the teaching of all things evangelism would be at the forefront of things to teach.  The command to evangelize exists inside the same statement as the command to teach all that has been commanded.

So today it hit me, can we call ourselves a Great Commission church if we are not teaching on personal evangelism? Can we call ourselves a Great Commission church if we are not teaching that every disciple of Christ must evangelize in some way?

Matthew 28:19-20 seems to point out that the answer to that question is ‘no’. If we are to follow this command the practice and teaching of evangelism needs to be at the forefront of what we do.  It cannot be a token thing done by some of the church in backrooms once in a great while.  The practice AND teaching of evangelism needs to be front and center.

J. W. Willard

A Prayer for Boldness

In November of 2001 I found myself living a religious lifestyle.  I was beginning to acquire a head knowledge of who Christ was, but I had yet to realize that a personal relationship with Christ was needed.  There is a vast difference between, ‘All have sinned and Christ died as the offering for the sins of man’, and ‘I am a sinner in desperate need of a Savior.  Christ died for my sins’.  I knew of the Savior, yet I did not personally know the Savior.

That all changed when a group of kids (I was working in a middle school) introduced me to the book Left Behind.  While reading through the pages of this book I came across the pastor Bruce Barnes and related to him in many ways.  Through the testimony of this fictional character I understood my need to place my faith in Christ and I did so late one evening in Clearview City, Kansas.  Although I will probably never meet Tim LaHaye or Jerry B. Jenkins this side of heaven I have an eternal gratitude towards them and their ministry.  I no longer believe in a pretrib rapture of the church, but I still love the books because of how God used them to point me to Christ.

This love for the Left behind Series draws me back to the books from time to time.  I usually end up reading them about every other year.  This year, as the new movie based on the books hit the big screens, I found myself drawn to reading them again.  Wednesday of the week I knocked out book one and will probably finish the series in about a week or two.

As I was reading through book one this time around I found a prayer that called out to me.  A prayer for boldness and courage in the sharing of the Gospel.

God, fill me with courage, with power, with whatever I need to be a witness.  I don’t want to be afraid anymore.  I don’t want any longer.  I don’t want to worry about offending.  Give me a persuasiveness rooted in the truth of your Word.  I know that it is your Spirit that draws people, but use me.  I want to reach Chloe.  I want to reach Hattie.  please, Lord.  Help me.

As I read this it struck me how much I need to pray like this.  To pray with urgency.  To pray will a willingness to give up anything that has to do with me.  To pray for a selfless look to those around me.  To pray with specific people in mind.

Although, as I have stated I do not believe in a pretrib rapture of the church, would it not be amazing to live such as this.  To live with a daily understanding that Christ was returning soon.  Putting aside all things that do not matter in eternity.  To focus only on people and lost souls.  To live understanding that you are living on the front lines of a battle for the souls of men.  To live everyday in light of eternity.

I know I have a long ay to go, but perhaps a prayer such as this is the first step in the right direction.