Two thousand years ago, Jesus called His disciples from among the rank and file of His day with the simple words, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." (See Matthew 4:19; Mark 1:17.) These men, who became dedicated followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, turned their world upside down with the message of God's salvation. Along with their converts, they faced horrible persecution; some were imprisoned, and some were thrown to lions. Many lost their lives for the cause of Christ, but the effects of their faith spread throughout the world. They followed the instruction of Christ to "go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15).
Today there are millions of Christians throughout the world. Modern technology has given us the means of reaching multitudes with the Gospel. Still, we are told that the percentage of the world's population who have heard the Gospel decreases every year.
Here in the United States, a large portion of the population claims to be Christian. Our Constitution protects the rights of Christians to preach the Gospel unhindered. Christians in the United States have more wealth and leisure time than ever before in the history of the world. Yet multitudes in this country, including many children of faithful Christians, are turning from Jesus Christ to the gods of Eastern religions, the occult, drugs, alcohol, and immorality of all kinds.
What has happened? For one thing, the Early Church understood that Jesus meant what He said when He told them to go into all the world and to preach the Gospel. Today, with Satan's help, many more excuses are offered as to why the preaching and witnessing of the Gospel is not being expedited. Some of those excuses are:
• "I don't know how to witness." The Early Church did not have training in witnessing, yet they revolutionized the world with the Gospel. Any born-again person can be a witness by sharing what Jesus has done in his or her life, but the anointing of the Holy Spirit is given specifically to empower us to be fully effective witnesses for Christ. Jesus said, "Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me . . . unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8).
• "I'm too busy to witness. My job, my family, and my church activities occupy all my time." If we look, we can find opportunities to witness. We find time for the things we want to do. If we were offered a thousand dollars to go out and witness, the chances are good that we would go, no matter how busy our schedule. It is more important for us to win souls for Christ than it is to earn money. See Matthew 6:19-21.
• "I don't say much, but my life is a witness." Our lives certainly should testify of Jesus Christ to those in our daily contact, but what about all the unsaved people who do not have friends, relatives, or coworkers who live the Christian life before them? The Good Shepherd will leave the ninety-nine sheep and go after the one that has gone astray. In the same manner, we should actively seek and speak to those who are lost, so they might know about Christ. See Luke 15:4-7.
• "I try to witness, but nothing happens." Many people try to tell someone about Jesus but if the person doesn't come to the Lord right then, they stop. Paul the Apostle addressed that problem when he said, "I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase" (1 Corinthians 3:6,7). It is not our job to save those we witness to. God will be the one who saves them. It is our job to tell them!
It was a picture of a large pier, and on the pier were tables of every size covered with beautiful linens and set exquisitely. Silver candelabras adorned the center of each table. Violins played as guests were served by tuxedo-clad waiters. Smiling faces showed that the people were enjoying their meal and the fellowship with their friends. On both sides of the pier, though, the water was filled with drowning people. Some seemed to be going down for the last time. Others were frantically calling out to those on the pier. Under the picture was this caption: "Do you care?"
How can we expect the unbelieving world, or even our own children, to take the Gospel seriously if we do not? When we, as Christians, start crying out to God for the salvation of those around us, and are willing to make any sacrifice to reach them with the Gospel, we will see unbelievers repenting of their sins and calling on Jesus Christ to save them.