Him We Proclaim
“Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.” - Colossians 1:28
Spring Bank Holiday walking around the Downs in the early evening we were presented with an opportunity. Ambling with a dear brother and enjoying the sunshine we talked about the kingdom of God, the Church, our longing to see more fruit in our everyday mission, to see people coming to know Christ in our work and homes, the royal wedding, judgment, hell and the Lindsell Train global equity fund - of all things. Stirred up with a godly zeal, I was challenged by my dear friend to turn these frustrations into action.
“Tell them”, he said with a cheeky grin on his face as he saw a couple walking in our direction. Now feeling exposed and unable to do anything but comply, I knew his provocation was in fact the nudging of the Holy Spirit. The usual internal wrestle ensued but with every passing second, they were approaching our bench. There was not the time to worry about looking a fool, being awkward, or the self-doubt about not knowing how to win people to Christ through an appropriately winsome, biblically accurate, culturally appropriate articulation of the gospel.
We did not want to fall into the trap of only telling Matt and Jayne on that sunny spring evening, that God loved them, had a plan for their life and wanted to bless them. Although true that is not the whole gospel.
Sometimes I fear that in our witnessing we offer people forgiveness, blessing, pray for physical healing, pray for God’s presence, tell them about an unexplained love of God which demands nothing of them, offer them a prophetic word of encouragement, throw in a free ticket to the marriage supper of the lamb, 24/7 access to the en-suite room Jesus is preparing for them, a snazzy crown, and first dibs on any heifer out of the cattle of the thousand hills that belong to him; yet we neglect to offer people Christ.
In our desire to see people brought into the family of God, are we trying to save people who do not know they are lost? Luke 5:8 records Peter’s first response to Jesus in his gospel – “O Lord, get away from me for I am a sinful man.” Have we forgotten that lostness comes before ‘foundness’?
Proclaiming Him, Jesus Christ, requires us to not soft pedal, skip past, ignore, or down play sin. Jesus Christ, is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. People need to know that the wages of sin is death. Their sin separates them from God. Those who practice sin are slaves to sin. That all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. That Repentance from dead works and eternal judgment are elementary truths of the faith according to the writer of the Hebrews! That through repentance (changing the way we think, turning our back, forsaking) and confessing our sin, we are delivered from the dominion of darkness into the kingdom of his beloved son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sin, and are sealed with his Holy Spirit.
Saints, this is not a call to browbeat, condemn and judge people rather we must hold truth in tension. God desires than none should perish and all come to saving faith in him. When we speak of weighty matters of sin and judgment we must do so with burning love and compassion in our hearts. Let us remember ALL wisdom is required, that mercy triumphs over judgment, that a bruised reed Jesus promised not to snuff out and the tenderness of Christ towards the lost. Mercy is no trifling thing, Charles Spurgeon described God’s mercy as “so great that you may sooner drain the sea of its water, or deprive the sun of its light, or make space too narrow, than diminish the great mercy of God.”
Some of our friends, colleagues, family are longing for a truth encounter, to understand the Christian worldview in opposition to the prevailing secular worldview; others a power encounter to taste of the powers of the world to come; others a love encounter to know the love of the Father and his church. Jude exhorts us (1v22-23) “to have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh”. Eugene Peterson, in his Message Paraphrase/idiomatic translation leads us to “Go easy on those who hesitate in the faith. Go after those who take the wrong way. Be tender with sinners, but not soft on sin. The sin itself stinks to high heaven”
One of my favourite preachers often declares that – you can’t have an Acts 1v8… “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” without an Acts 8v4 .…“Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went”.
Everyone, everywhere went about preaching the word. The early church was busy serving the Lord in Jerusalem and had failed to give heed to the call to Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth. It took the efforts of all the “amateurs” for the gospel to spread like wild fire across the known world, whilst the professionals stayed at home. Only the apostles remained in Jerusalem (Acts 8). We can’t leave the work of witnessing to the professionals. We cannot abdicate our responsibility to those who are “evangelists” or in fuller time ministry.
I love the Alpha course, it was an important part of my journey to faith and I’ve had the privilege of serving on numerous teams, giving numerous talks, serving on the prison team but it must never be that it is our only means of reaching out to a harassed and helpless world. Do we still know how to win the lost without Nicky Gumbel’s winsome intellect and Tim Hughes’ dulcet tones? Jesus needs workers in the harvest field as they are few. We are all called to witness everyone, everywhere, proclaiming him.
For those of us whose best working hours of our day belong to our employer, we have a special privilege to see and hear the cries of the lost cheek and jowl for at least 8 hours every working day. Into those businesses, schools, offices, workspaces, with all wisdom we proclaim Jesus Christ and him crucified. I am not a capital E evangelist, but I am called without question to be a witness. In fact, we all are. Everyone, everywhere proclaiming him. Every hand is needed to be put to the plough, every mouth is needed to proclaim him wherever they are.
Matt and Jayne, heard the good news, they heard about the plight of their sinful condition and the mercy of God. They heard about a God who demonstrated his love for them that whilst they were still sinners he died for them. They heard the testimonies of people coming to faith and the offer of new life. Maybe today God has put a Matt and Jayne in your path in the park, or the gym, or in your office, or on your commute home. You are needed. We cannot leave it to the professionals. Let us pray that wherever the body of Christ is scattered they are found proclaiming HIM, teaching and warning everyone they can with all wisdom.
Or as Will Booth so eloquently proclaims… “Not called!' did you say.....'Not heard the call,' I think you should say. Put your ear down to the Bible, and hear Him bid you go and pull sinners out of the fire of sin. Put your ear down to the burdened, agonized heart of humanity, and listen to its pitiful wail for help. Go stand by the gates of hell, and hear the damned entreat you to go to their father's house and bid their brothers and sisters and servants and masters not to come there. Then look Christ in the face — whose mercy you have professed to obey — and tell Him whether you will join heart and soul and body and circumstances in the march to publish His mercy to the world.”
Julian is a solicitor who works in professional sport in Bristol.
Having been saved at university, Julian is passionate about seeing young men come to faith in Jesus Christ.