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Whosoever!

  

Lately I have been thinking about the word “whosoever.”

The Bible says “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).

Whosoever means whoever. It means anyone. It means everybody.

Jesus died for the sins of all people… all 7,000,000,000 of them. He loves all people of the world and is working to draw all people to himself. His death on the cross tore down all racial, national, and cultural barriers. So why do I put limits on whosoever? Why do I think “whosoever… except that guy”?

I think we often put limits on “whosoever” when we witness. I know I’m guilty of this. I easily share my faith with people who actively express an interest in it. But it is more difficult to step out in faith to witness to someone who may or may not be interested. But how do we know?

Too often, we  judge people based simply on their appearance, race, socioeconomic status, or cultural background. We put people into categories. We look at someone who is like us and we think “that person is worth witnessing to, they seem like they would be interested,” but then we look at someone who is different from us and we think, “Don’t bother, I know their type, and there’s no way they would be interested in Jesus.”

But the Bible says “whosoever.”

That includes foreigners, rednecks, street thugs, and Wal-Mart employees.

It’s whosoever.

So why do we think “they wouldn’t be interested”? Isn’t that thought really just Satan trying to prevent us from sharing our faith?

The Bible says “man looketh on the outward appearance, but Yahweh looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). We simply cannot, by looking at someone’s appearance, know anything about the condition of their heart. Too often, the people we assume would be interested in hearing the gospel are not at all interested, while the people we assume wouldn’t be interested are actually dying to know.

Instead of only witnessing to people who are like us, we need to step out in faith and reach everyone who the Lord leads us to. We can’t allow barriers of race, class, nationality, or culture hinder the Great Commission. Paul said: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

We also must be careful not to expect the people we share our faith with to adopt our cultural norms. Rather, we must adopt their cultural norms so we can be a more effective witness. Consider these words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:20-23:

Unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.

Questions I ask myself:

  • Why do I act like some people aren’t worth witnessing to, when the Bible says “whosoever”?
  • Why do I expect the people I share my faith with to adopt my cultural norms, when Paul said, “to the Jew I become a Jew”?
  • Why do I assume people who the Lord leads me to don’t want to hear about my faith, when God has already examined their hearts? Do I know better than God the condition of their hearts?
  • Why am I so quick to judge people based on their appearance? Why do I think, “I know their type, they wouldn’t be interested in Jesus”? Isn’t this assumption just an excuse to not witness?

7 Responses to “Whosoever!”

  1. on 19 Feb 2013 at 7:24 amWolfgang

    Matt,

    you mention some very good points in this interesting article about a quite important matter.

    I wanted to briefly comment on the following

    I easily share my faith with people who actively express an interest in it. But it is more difficult to step out in faith to witness to someone who may or may not be interested. But how do we know?

    I would say the rather simple answer how we know whether or not someone is interested is by paying attention to see if they show or express their interest. If they don’t express an interest, they (as of yet) have no interest.

    Just because the Scriptures teach that salvation by faith in Christ is available to all, does not mean that all will be interested, nor does it mean that we must “confront” all with our convictions and what we perceive and believe to be the truth about God, His Messiah, salvation, etc.

    If we take Jesus’ example as it is recorded in the gospels, we easily realize that he did not walk up to everybody coming within 50 yards and preached the gospel at them … did he? Was that because he did not realize the “whosoever”? I would say, he certainly realized about “whosoever”, but he also knew that it was about “whosoever hears …” and “whosoever believes …”, etc …. and not about “preach to whosoever [all without exception] …” or “teach whosoever [all without exception] …” !
    He went about his way … and then whosoever people followed him, whosoever people invited him, whosoever came to him, etc. and those he then taught and healed.

    You do make some very good points about various things where we may fall short and “actively exclude” people who actually might be interested and thus fail to speak the truth and help someone.

  2. on 19 Feb 2013 at 10:46 amMatt Elton

    Wolfgang,

    Thanks for your comment. You make a good point. Jesus spoke in parables so that those who are truly seeking would understand.

    I’m not suggesting that we constantly share our faith with everyone – even those who clearly do not want to hear it – to the point of being obnoxious. Maybe some people who are very open and excited about their faith struggle with that problem, but for me personally, I struggle with the opposite problem.

    For me personally, I am often too quick to assume that people are not interested in my faith or would even be hostile toward my faith. I often make this assumption before I even really get to know someone. A lot of people actually are interested and have a hunger to know, but I just automatically exclude them by assuming they’re not interested. My point is that we need to get to know people before we make assumptions or judgements.

    There needs to be a balance and we need to exercise wisdom and know when to speak, and when not to speak. But I think in general, more Christians struggle with not speaking about their faith enough than with speaking about it too much.

    Matt

  3. on 19 Feb 2013 at 1:58 pmWolfgang

    Matt,

    over the years, I have been concerned with the matter of “witnessing”, and in particular when hearing about or even organizing (in years past) certain “witnessing campaigns” or “witnessing weekends” etc … it somehow never seemed to work and produce the results everybody anticipated or imagined it might have. After some time, I figured that there was most likely something fundamentally wrong with our concept because the believers involved did put forth genuine effort and yet the results were disappointing to say the least.

    Taking a closer look at the Scriptures, I began to realize that we were trying to do things which really did not even pertain to us … in other words, we were using scriptures as teaching and example which in truth were about particular circumstances and particular people and did not really generally apply to all believers and thus could not be applied to us today either in the way in which we tried to apply them (such as trying to do what Jesus did with the apostles or the seventy he sent out). The so-called great commission was obviously not given to all believers and doesn’t apply to all believers … because not even then did all believers go into all the world and make disciples of all nations … and yet, how many are taught that such is the case and then they more or less condemn themselves for not really doing what that commission says (such as staying at home instead of going into all the world). Often believers are told that they are “ambassadors (envoys) for Christ” in accordance with 2Co 5:20 … when even in biblical times not all believers were ambassadors, but certain ones (apostles) had been commissioned for such special ministry.

    So no one gets a false impression of thinking that I want to do away with witnessing by believers altogether … yes, I do think that the Scriptures indicate that all believers are witnesses, but certainly the Scriptures do not indicate that all believers are apostles, evangelists, etc … we as believers cannot claim special commissions such as were given to the apostles. It seems to me that rather than think in terms of “witnessing” as some action to take, we should realize that we are witnesses and thus take heed to ourselves and how we behave and what we say and do in general. It’s a matter of “let your light shine” and those who are looking will see it and further contact and conversation etc will develop.

    Seems to me that the important point for us is then to not refuse or find excuse when someone is drawn by our light … but to be willing to engage in conversation and have “open arms” no matter who approaches us and even if they do at a somewhat inconvenient time or in a bit of a strange way perhaps. Trying to do what doesn’t apply will end up in failure and frustration … doing what does apply will be possible and be coupled with joy and gratitude for how our witness does assist in someone believing on Christ.

  4. on 19 Feb 2013 at 4:09 pmTim (aka Antioch)

    Good article! I’ve worried whether stepping out (in awkwardness) would cause more repulsion than attraction.

    Instead of only witnessing to people who are like us, we need to step out in faith and reach everyone who the Lord leads us to

    I think this is central to my hesitation. IF the Lord leads us to it. Consider this testimony…
    My good friend’s Mom was not a Christian even though her husband was ‘hounding’ her frequently about it. He finally prayed and was led to stop and give it over to God and he did. Within a week, a woman walked up to my friend’s Mom in the store she was working and handed her a piece of paper with the name of her church on it and told her “I think I’m supposed to give this to you.” She went and soon after was hit with the Spirit and became a Christian.

    So was the husband being led by God? Probably when he was told to stop. I certainly think the woman that invited her to church was led.

  5. on 25 Feb 2013 at 5:03 pmMatt Elton

    Wolfgang and Tim – I believe the Great Commission is for all believers, and that in the end, all nations will hear the gospel and in the end, people of “every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” (Revelation 5:9) will be in the Kingdom of God. I will be writing about this more in my next blog post, which is coming soon.

    That being said, I completely understand what you mean, Wolfgang, by “witnessing weekends” and other organized campaigns that do not yield the expected results. I also think that Tim makes a great point here. Simply hounding someone with the gospel is not going to be effective.

    Like Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13, everything must be done in love, or it is only noise. I think part of the reason why organized witnessing campaigns to not always yield results is because they are forced and therefore done with the mentality of giving as many people as possible a piece of information rather than done out of genuine love and care for other people.

    Our witness is most effective when we take the time to develop relationships with other people. This is why, in my second blog post, entitled “Why Not Now?” (January 28) I encourage us to “make one disciple.” Instead of trying to reach as many people as possible with a ten-second gospel soundbyte, we should take the time to really develop a relationship with ONE person we know who is hungry for the truth. As they see the love of Christ in our lives, they will be open to learning the truth and we can really take them deep into God’s Word and lead them “all the way,” rather than just giving them a gospel tract or ten second soundbyte. After that one person becomes a believer, we can go on to make one more disciple.

    Making one disciple may not sound like much, but if everyone in the Body of Christ made one disciple, the Body of Christ would double in size. Something to think about.

    God bless,

    Matt

  6. on 26 Feb 2013 at 2:36 amTim (aka Antioch)

    I agree with that point ‘making one disciple’. I am reading ‘Out of the Ashes’ which is primarily the story of the guy who founded World Impact here in LA (out of the ashes of the Watts riots in the 60s and then later after the Rodney King riots in the 90s). He has some considerable experience with evangelism and one of the points they came to early on was to focus on witnessing to just one person a year. In just over 30 years, the multiplication effects would reach everyone on Earth but meanwhile, that one individual can focus more time/effort on each individual.

  7. on 26 Feb 2013 at 3:36 amWolfgang

    Matt

    I think part of the reason why organized witnessing campaigns to not always yield results is because they are forced and therefore done with the mentality of giving as many people as possible a piece of information rather than done out of genuine love and care for other people.

    indeed … I would add that in many cases they are unfortunately done in order to win new members for the group organizing the event (despite the fact that usually such group will certainly disagree and claim “more noble reason”, such as witnessing “for Jesus”, “carrying out Jesus’ command”, etc.

    I wonder how many folks would participate in a campaign organized by a different denomination (perhaps even one with which they would not totally agree on certain doctrinal issues) inviting people to the other denomination’s services and bible study ? Perhaps then they could show that their involvement in such witnessing is not about their group but about witnessing “for Christ”, etc …. ?

    As I mentioned before, I would say that it is far more a matter of us as believers in Christ letting our light shine from wherever we are … so that others “may be drawn to us”, instead of us sort of “going after” others.

    Developing relationships is something which will follow as someone has been drawn to us …. eh, those steps are not all that different from how people meet people even when gospel news is not involved at all.

  

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