Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Loving God and Loving Our Neighbor Through Our Evangelism by Tony Zabala


"Loving God and Loving Our Neighbor

Through Our Evangelism"


Tony Zabala

"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" And He said to him, " 'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' "This is the great and foremost commandment. "The second is like it, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' (Matt. 22: 36-39)

Last time, we took a look at the primary reason why Christian's evangelize which is to glorify God. We glorify God not only in our evangelistic efforts, but we also found out that if there are any sin issues that we refuse to deal with despite the fact that we continue to evangelize we will not bring glory to God and our evangelistic efforts will be in vain. Today, we will take a look at the next two reasons why Christians' evangelize, and that's because they love God and love their neighbor.

Jesus and the two greatest commandments

In Matthew 22: 36-39, our Lord is asked a question by one of the Scribes. The Scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees were always trying to catch our Lord in a trap by asking him trick questions. On this day, the Scribe's question was, "Teacher, which is the great commandment of the Law?" Jesus, adeptly answered him by summing up the whole moral law, "You shall love the Lord your God will all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' "This is the great and foremost commandment. "The second is like it, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself.', thereby fulfilling the whole moral law.

How does the Christian fulfill those two great commandments? The Christian shows his love for God by obeying the first four commandments of the 10 commandments or moral law. The Christian shows love for his neighbor by obeying the last six commandments of the 10 commandments.

How do we show our love for God through our evangelism?

So how do we show our love for God through our evangelism? The first thing we must do, simply, is to follow God's commands concerning evangelism. First off, we show our love for God by keeping His commandments. Jesus said in John 14:15, "If you love me you will keep my commandments". If you want to show your love toward God through your evangelism all you have to do is follow His commands to "evangelize":

“And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:15)

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matt. 28: 19-20)

". . .but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." (Acts 1:8)

Another way that we show our love for God through our evangelism is to be concerned about the things that God is concerned with. The Christian shows love toward God by caring about the things that God is concerned about. One concern that God has is to seek and save those that are lost. Jesus said in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." Jesus concern for the lost was the same love and concern that the Father has for the lost as illustrated in the parable of the lost sheep where the Shepherd (God the Father) in the parable was concerned, cared for, and even went after that one lost sheep (Luke 18:12-14).

Jesus, the Son, has the same love and concern for the lost like God the Father has, and likewise, as His adopted children, we should have the same care and concern for the lost as well. Now that we have looked at two reasons how we show love toward God through over evangelism, let's now look at how we show love toward our neighbor through our evangelism.

How do we show our love for our neighbor through our evangelism?

Once again, we show our love to our neighbor through our evangelism by following God's commandment to proclaim the Gospel to our neighbor. The greatest love you can show your neighbor is to proclaim the Gospel to him. To tell your neighbor that they are lost, dying sinners without hope unless they repent of their sins and put their trust in faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior is the greatest love you can ever show your neighbor.

Paul stated in Romans 10:15, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!" The Gospel is "good news" despite the fact that your neighbor may despise and reject you for your faithfulness in proclaiming it. As a Christian, you are an ambassador and a representative of Christ called out to bring the Gospel of peace to unbelievers who are currently at war with God because of their sinful and wicked ways (2 Cor. 5:20).

If God so chooses, he may save that person you are witnessing to through the power of the Holy Spirit and that person will no longer be at war with God (John 3:8; Rom. 9:15). That's why Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God" (Matt. 5:9). One characteristic of a son of God is that he is a "peacemaker" who is a bearer of the "Gospel of peace" and the proclamation of that Gospel of peace through the power of the Holy Spirit can turn a wicked sinner who is at war with God and an enemy of Christ into a son of God, who is at peace with God, and a friend of Christ.

Another way that we can show love toward our neighbor through our evangelism is by showing our compassion to them (Matt. 25: 35-40; Jam. 4: 14-17). Whether it be listening to their troubles or meeting their physical needs, we show our love to our neighbors through our evangelism by showing compassion toward them by meeting their needs and using that as a springboard to present the Gospel to them. However, none of this matters, if you don't lead a holy life that is pleasing to God.

You still need to lead a holy life

Living a holy life is vital to our testimony and shows our love for God and for our neighbor through our evangelism. God commands us to lead holy lives. (Matt. 5:8; 1 Tim. 4:8; 1 Pet. 1:16). As I stated in a previous post, I have met many Christians or professing Christians over the years who are skilled evangelists, have zeal for evangelism, and desire to honor God through their evangelism, but do not lead holy lives. There is usually some sin issue they will either deny or ignore and still insist on evangelizing despite their sinful behavior. This always leads to disastrous results.

That's because they are measuring their Christian lives through their evangelism rather than first and foremost living a life that's glorifying to God and bearing the fruits from their evangelism through the holy life that they lead. Remember, it's all about God's glory as I pointed out the last time. Your life does not honor or glorify God in any way if you still continue to evangelize and have a sin issue in your life that you are either denying or ignoring. Jesus said, "If you love me you will keep my commandments" (John 14:15). Loving God means that the Christian follows all of God's commandments not merely the commandments to evangelize.

Finally, you are neither showing love to God or to your neighbor if you continue to evangelize and not deal with your sin issue. You will eventually bear the fruits of your sinful behavior and you will bring reproach to yourself, your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, and most importantly to Christ Himself. That's something to seriously consider.

Fight the Good Fight of Faith


Some helpful resources to consider:

Words to Winners of Souls by Horatius Bonar

The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges

The Practice of Godliness by Jerry Bridges

One Thing You Can't Do In Heaven by Mark Cahill

Humility by C.J. Mahaney

Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer

Holiness by J.C. Ryle

Tony Zabala is currently the lay leader of Grace Community Church's Neighborhood Outreach Ministry located in Sun Valley, California. Neighborhood Outreach is an evangelism ministry which reaches out to the community surrounding Grace Community Church. The views and recommendations from this blog site do not necessarily represent the views and recommendations of Grace Community Church, John F. MacArthur, Grace To You, the Master's Seminary, the Master's College or any other associated ministry.

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