Keep focusing on the gospel need

  • Joe Towns
  • 29 July 2019

It’s hard to imagine a greater need for our world than the one that evangelists and their ministries are labouring in Christ to meet. What could be better for your city, for your country, for your planet than new Christians filling new churches? This beautiful picture should captivate our minds and hearts, turning each of us into a disciple-maker where God has placed us.

But what we find—I certainly experience this every day—is that if we stop focusing on Christ’s coming we tend to lose our gospel ‘imaginations’. We stop envisioning countless friends and neighbours and strangers on Judgement Day departing on Jesus’ left to eternal condemnation (Matt 25:41). We stop dreaming of countless brothers and sisters at that moment on his right hearing Christ say, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father!” (Matt 25:34).

I recognize that as finite human beings we cannot be conscious of or even sustain this type of biblical vision for every moment. At the same time, Jesus gave us these word-pictures for a reason. To listen to him and ‘hear’ his parable in Matthew 25 must mean more than a mere understanding of the facts of heaven and hell. Jesus didn’t just seek to stir in his disciples an intellectual assent when he spoke this way about the realities of his coming.

Yes, it seems easier to watch the nightly news than to look too long into the New Testament’s window on hell. However, even Christ’s hard-won everlasting reward has for most of us grown fuzzy and escapes our regular gaze. This is why it’s not surprising that home missionaries and evangelistic parachurches are rarely amongst the top recipients listed on our monthly bank statement. But church planting ministries are based on more than merely fuelling efforts to see more new churches established. The point of all this effort to start more churches is that, on our horizon, Jesus is bringing the renewal of all creation—nothing less. This is the firm, clear and real vision that we are all moving towards: Christ’s coming.

So practically, how do we do this more? How can we keep the End in our sights on a day-to-day basis? Most of my suggestions amount to simply re-assigning little bits of time regularly to things that bring Christ’s coming into focus:

  • Every night and morning briefly meditate on the Final Day (e.g. think about heaven as you go to bed; remember hell as you get up in the morning).
  • Attend a parachurch evangelistic ministry regularly (e.g. a few times a year or more). Why not just turn up to a local university AFES ministry, for example.
  • Listen to audio Bible passages that provide word-pictures about judgement and restoration (e.g. Isaiah 34-66; Revelation 1-22). Listening passively can help these parts of the Bible sweep over us regularly.
  • Attend or start a prayer group exclusively dedicated to praying for evangelism, evangelistic ministries and conversions
  • Use an app such as PrayerMate to receive reminders to pray each day. Set it up to remind you of key biblical prayers from the New Testament that you can reflect on before and as you pray (e.g. the prayers that Paul prayed).

Perhaps the best idea is for you to go away after reading this article and brainstorm what you can practically put in place to keep the gospel need in-focus in your everyday life.

Imagine on that day:

  • Less poor sinners than today would be sent away on Christ’s left
  • More Christians than we currently have in Christ’s, coming with us to eternal glory
  • Countless people from across our communities praising Jesus for saving them
  • Your joy unending in the reward of joining with countless friends and strangers converted to Christ.

Can you picture it? Do you want it?

Let’s join evangelists, missionaries and church planters as every-day disciple-makers for the gospel and for glory!