T H E E N D - T I M E S T I M E S December 24th, 1999 ==================================================================
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------------------------------------------------------------------ H O L I D A Y S A N D E V A N G E L I S M By Frank Ritters.
The season of Christmas is viewed differently by various groups of people. However, with many it has a religious connotation, and people in general are in a different mood around this time of the year. Also, the beginning of the New Year has many connotations that provide an opportunity for evangelistic discussions, that are not so available at other times.
There are many ideas associated with Christmas, that causes different reactions. There are "Christians" who SEE so many pagan things associated with Christmas, that they have little to do with celebrating the season, and are in a mind set to speak and react relative to, other than take a day off from work/business, and meet with family members. Of course, the meeting with the family and showing love, respect, and concern is always good. That is something to be commended and evaluated in a positive way. We, "Christians" ought to see this as an opportunity to extol the value of the family, as God created it. Let us identify and speak positively of "family values."
Then there are those who try to PUT CHRIST in Christmas and have various church activities -- making it a very religious season. I recognize that you may feel differently. However let us all have an optimistic attitude and show respect for each other, but let us make ourselves available and feel free to speak openly of the opportunities we are afforded by the present environment.
There are many activities that I see people participate in during the holiday season, which anyone familiar with the Bible knows, has no place in any one's life -- such as the excessive alcoholic beverages, carousing and using foul language that is unfit for any human to speak. Stories are told that have no VALUE to convey to the hearers. Let us be determined to have no part in such, and perhaps look for opportunities to turn the discussion in a constructive way.
But, the point of this article is to look for opportunities that exist for disciples of the lord to speak of the Lord's message of salvation, let our light shine (Matthew 5:13-16; Philippians 2). We should look for and seize opportunities, so as to influence and persuade people to examine the Lord's plan and possibly yield their lives to Him (Romans 6:16-18).
Notice the commission of the Lord to the apostles, and then how that spreads to ALL CHRISTIANS, including you and me, if INDEED we are followers of His:
Matthew 28:18 "And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, `All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 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, 20 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.'"
Acts 8:4 "Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word."
II Timothy 2:2 "And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also."
I've always been impressed with the method (approach) Christ used, to take whatever the situation was and turn it into a discussion of things on a higher plane. Often, contrasting the difference between God's plan/teachings and what the people had accepted or were practicing! He wanted them to SEE the different SOURCES and DESTINIES involved If you have read the Gospels closely, I am sure you have noticed that too, and been impressed!
Some may be thinking -- WHAT IS EVANGELISM, anyway? Are you just thinking about getting people "in Your church"? No! That's not what I'm thinking about or encouraging each of us to be sensitive to. Evangelism is the concept of presenting people with the GOOD NEWS of Christ (I Corinthians 15:1ff) as did Paul and others as recorded in the New Testament! Christ gave Himself for all (Hebrews 2:9; I John 2:2). It's a great privilege to say COME (Revelation 22:17) The GRACE of God that brings salvation has appeared to all --being available to each person, regardless of his/her gender, race, social standing, etc. (Titus 2:11ff).
Be ABLE and WILLING to make the distinction between TRADITION (Matthew 15:1-9) and the Scriptures. That was where Christ focused His attention, addressing and challenging people. If we would follow His example (I Peter 2:21), we must do the same. There's so much in the religious community that is NOT scripture, and many fail to make the distinction. Of course if we are unable to make that distinction, we're in no position to help others see and apply the teachings so as to have their lives changed! We do not have the right to alter the scriptures; tradition, if and when it contradicts (sets aside) the teaching of scripture (Matthew 15:3-4; Mark 7: 8-9), is VAIN! If we would help people, we have to KNOW the difference, and be able to call such to the attention of others, being motivated by LOVE!
Yes, I believe the opportunities are many in this season (as in all seasons, really) particularly.
Perhaps there are people in need -- physically, financially, etc. -- that we individually could show our Christ-like-spirit by assisting them (Luke 10:30-37). However, at this time of the year, this kind of assistance (physical and/or material need) is ALL that some think about doing. Let us, recognize that there is something BETTER that we can do (Cf. Acts 3:6ff), by assisting in EVANGELISM -- helping people FIND Christ and COMMIT their lives to Him, or perhaps be RESTORED (Galatians 6:1ff).
May each have a happy and merry season in contemplating the opportunities the Lord provides us with! May the word's of Paul be achieved in all:
II Corinthians 13:14: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen."
================================================================== T H E E N D - T I M E S T I M E S December 24th, 1999
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