“Therefore, the one who confesses and acknowledges Me before men [as Lord and Savior, affirming a state of oneness with Me], that one I will also confess and acknowledge before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But the one who denies and rejects Me before men, that one I will also deny and reject before My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33)
The fear of man ensnares Christians into a guilty silence and inactivity. When the invitation is given for Christians to go to work and speak to the unsaved, few want to do it. Oh, you would like to lead someone to Christ. What joy it would be to you! But you say, “Suppose I talk to somebody and they don’t like it; suppose they laugh at me; suppose they say some hard things to me.” The fear of man in your home, in your shop, in your hotel, everywhere you go is shutting your mouth and robbing you of the joy of leading others to Christ.
Suppose they laugh at you. They spat in your Master’s face. They won’t spit in yours. They struck Him with their fists. They probably won’t strike you. They nailed Him to the cross. Are you not willing to be laughed at for a Master like that?
I believe that the fear of man keeps Christians from giving their testimony for Christ and working to bring others to Christ does far more to hinder the work of God than any other cause. Men are being saved by the thousands, but if Christians would abandon their fears and have the boldness to witness and work for their Master, people would be saved by the tens of thousands.
The fear of man ensnares those who are not Christians into the rejection of Jesus Christ. Hundreds of men and women would like to be Christians. They see the joy of it. But they are afraid that if they accept Christ, somebody will ridicule them. The fear of man shuts them out of the acceptance of Jesus Christ. I believe that more people are kept from accepting Christ by the fear of what someone will say or do than by any other cause. If we could get rid of this fear, there would be thousands saved every night at evangelistic crusades instead of two or three.
The fear of man ensnares those who think they have accepted Christ into not making a public confession of Him. Jesus says distinctly, “Therefore, the one who confesses and acknowledges Me before men [as Lord and Savior, affirming a state of oneness with Me], that one I will also confess and acknowledge before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But the one who denies and rejects Me before men, that one I will also deny and reject before My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33)
Paul said distinctly, “For with the heart a person believes [in Christ as Savior] resulting in his justification [that is, being made righteous—being freed of the guilt of sin and made acceptable to God]; and with the mouth he acknowledges and confesses [his faith openly], resulting in and confirming [his] salvation.” (Romans 10:10) Yet a host of men and women are trying to be Christians and never stand up and say so. “I don’t believe in this publicity. I don’t believe in this standing-up business. I believe in doing things more quietly. I don’t believe in excitement.” You can give a thousand and one reasons, but if you were honest with yourself, as you will have to be honest with God someday, you would say, “It is because I am afraid to do it.”
In bygone years, water baptism was the public confession of our salvation. It’s single purpose was to testify publicly that we had received Christ as our Savior. When the Brethren chose triune baptism as their testimony of faith, they faced tremendous persecution and mockery. The common name for the early believers was “Dunkers”, for their odd method of baptism. When they rejected infant baptism and proclaimed that baptism as to be done with understanding of salvation, they set themselves apart by this practice. As a matter of fact, most Protestant churches see baptism as an outward declaration of salvation. In the earlier years creek baptisms were the norm and usually not only the church but the community was present witnessing the baptism of their friend. Quite often the baptism of some notorious sinner resulted in others responding to Christ in salvation. Most who are baptized today are done so inside our buildings in an almost private ceremony. Oh there are Christians and perhaps family gathered there to witness but for the most part the community is excluded. In the process of modernization with baptisteries we have lost a powerful witness to those who have not yet received Christ.
However, the commission to witness has not been rescinded by God. We are still called to go and proclaim the message of the Gospel to everyone. Most of us would give assent to this being the commission of Christ but few ever actually engage in its work. Jesus tells us that the challenge is not the harvest but the lack of laborers.
“Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is [indeed] plentiful, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-38)
There is no reason for churches to be declining other than the fact that they have ceased their labor of reaching the harvest. We have discovered many reasons for church decline such as, “people are too busy to come to church, people aren’t interested in the gospel, people have become too sinful and too involved in the world, the church is irrelevant, we don’t have the right programs or activities…..and on and on.” The truth is that we don’t have passionate laborers in the harvest. Far too many see the job of reaching the lost as that of the pastor or maybe a select few. So we gather in smaller and smaller groups, wishing that somehow we would attract more people to our churches. We express to each other how much we would like to grow but we do nothing to share Christ with the lost. We have bought into the theory that if we live a model life, others will automatically find Christ but that is not the biblical way. To be sure we ought to model Christ, but that is nothing more that being Christian. We may expect those who aren’t Christian to become one without us saying a word but listen to what Paul tells us about salvation.
For “ whoever calls on the name of the Lord [in prayer] will be saved.” But how will people call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how will they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher (messenger)? And how will they preach unless they are commissioned and sent [for that purpose]? Just as it is written and forever remains written, “ How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” (Romans 10:13-15)
“How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?” The expectation of people coming to Christ without hearing is without merit. As you read the Gospels and Acts, you will find that Jesus and the apostles verbally proclaimed the Gospel. As Jesus introduces His ministry this is how He describes it:
“So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me (the Messiah), Because He has anointed Me to preach the good news to the poor. He has sent Me to announce release (pardon, forgiveness) to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are oppressed (downtrodden, bruised, crushed by tragedy), to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord [the day when salvation and the favor of God abound greatly].” Then He rolled up the scroll [having stopped in the middle of the verse], gave it back to the attendant and sat down [to teach]; and the eyes of all those in the synagogue were [attentively] fixed on Him. He began speaking to them: “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing and in your presence.” (Luke 4:16-21)
As He speaks to His disciples and us He says: “Then Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you [as My representatives].” (John 20:21)
You may say, “I’d like to witness about Christ but I don’t know how or I am afraid to do so.” If that’s the case then understand that you are no different from the disciples who hid themselves in fear and for days were silent in proclaiming the resurrection. We can do what they did by following their pattern.
“While being together and eating with them, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Of which,” He said, “you have heard Me speak. 5 For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized and empowered and united with the Holy Spirit, not long from now.” So when they had come together, they asked Him repeatedly, “Lord, are You at this time reestablishing the kingdom and restoring it to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know the times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority. 8 But you will receive power and ability when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses [to tell people about Me] both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.” And they were all filled [that is, diffused throughout their being] with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues (different languages), as the Spirit was giving them the ability to speak out [clearly and appropriately]. Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout and God-fearing men from every nation under heaven. And when this sound was heard, a crowd gathered, and they were bewildered because each one was hearing those in the upper room speaking in his own language or dialect. They were completely astonished, saying, “Look! Are not all of these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears in our own language or native dialect? (Acts 1:4-8,2:4-8)
Following the beating of Peter and John for preaching Christ in the healing of the lame man, the church gathered for prayer. May we join them in this prayer!
“And now, Lord, observe their threats [take them into account] and grant that Your bond-servants may declare Your message [of salvation] with great confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders (attesting miracles) take place through the name [and the authority and power] of Your holy Servant and Son Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place where they were meeting together was shaken [a sign of God’s presence]; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness and courage.” (Acts 4:29-31)
Phenomenal growth occurred in the Acts church as the people boldly proclaimed salvation through Christ. Phenomenal growth can occur in 2021 should the Christians boldly proclaim salvation through Christ. May it be so!
Dr. John Thompson