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Series: Kingdom Evangelism
Sun am 19 October 2014 – Kobus Swart
(Matt. 16:18); Eph. 3:10; John 13:35; John 15:18-20; John 17:14-18, 21;
(Matt. 11:19); (John 8:3-11); 2 Cor. 6:14-18; 1 Cor. 5:9-13;
Matt. 23:13, 25-27; 2 Cor. 5:18-21; (Rom. 6:8); (Eph. 2:6).
The true Church is God’s vessel in the earth. Jesus said, “I will build my Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). God wants to demonstrate His manifold wisdom through the Church to principalities and powers in heavenly places (Eph. 3:10). However, the word ‘Church’ has many meanings today which created a mind-set, a perception that takes away from what true Church is all about.
How does the world see the Church? One of the effective windows through which the world views the Church is ‘oneness.’ Jesus prayed, that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me (John 17:21). By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another (John 13:35). This is the window that the enemy attacks and is distorting, so what the world views does not impress them. The world is sceptical, cynical when they look at the Church. Amidst the chaos, however, God is still building His Church.
How will the Church truly, effectively impact the world? The basic Scriptures that drive the vision of Bizweni is that we are to be the salt of the earth, the light of the world. We are called to be kingdom leaven but we cannot be that if we have a churchy mind-set and think everything has to happen in church on Sunday morning or during conference meetings. It has to be your experience seven days a week. Wherever you move and work, if people do not see or feel the salt and light, there is something wrong with your testimony.
The question is, “How deeply must we get involved in the world to influence it? Standing on the street corner handing out tracts or Bibles, or preaching judgement and condemnation has lost its impact. Jesus said, If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also (John 15:18-20). The world hates us because we are not of the world. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world (John 17:14-18). Jesus was known as the friend of sinners (Matt. 11:19). He was not a friend of the religious order. Are you aware that wherever you are, you may be surrounded by sinners? Are you truly their friend? Do you listen to them, share in their pain and help wherever you can? Do not withdraw or condemn but identify with them in whatever situation they are in. Cry with them when they cry; laugh with them when they laugh; be sincere but remember who you are.
How far do we go in being a friend of sinners? If we can absorb these principles we are going to become effective kingdom evangelists. The old way of evangelising always involved the pointing of fingers, activating sin consciousness, condemning people, warning them about hell. Kingdom evangelism is driven by the ministry of reconciliation.
How can two people walk together unless they are going in the same direction? (Amos 3:3 Msg). Do not be bound together with unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14). There cannot be proper agreement; you cannot engage in a relationship with an unbeliever who is not going the same direction as you. For what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God (2 Corinthians 6:14-18). You must not read in these verses that you should isolate yourself from unbelievers. To have fellowship and friendship is something else.
I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves (1 Cor. 5:11-13). There is no way we can disassociate from ‘bad’ people. We are amongst them, we work with them. But the so-called brother or sister who carries these sins in their heart, he says, “Break with them, do not even eat with them.” I think in many ways we have tolerated or failed to deal with situations like this. When we get to know each other, we will find out if there is something like this happening amongst us. But if we do not know each other, how will we know?
Matthew 23 gives us a glimpse of how Jesus related to the religious order of His day. Jesus had no soft words for them. He was a friend of sinners but not a friend of the religious order (Matt. 23:13, 25-27).
Did Jesus sin? He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus was a friend of sinners but He never sinned. If we go back to the Garden of Eden, Eve took the first bite and she broke the command given by God. What did Adam do? He took and ate. He who knew no sin became sin so that humanity could taste of the grace of God in the ultimate reconciliation of Christ Jesus. It is a picture of Christ. That is why the Bible says, “We died with Him” (Rom. 6:8). We were also raised with Him and are seated with Him in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6). The key is with Him and in Him. If you are a friend of sinners, can you be like Jesus who did not sin? That is the test. The only advantage you have is that you have connected with the truth of who you are; ‘sinners’ have not yet. You can be instrumental and be a ministry of reconciliation to them.