Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Hindrance to the Gospel

This scene confronted me as I puled up to the church this afternoon.  It wasn't there this morning.  The problem comes from an apparent sinkhole in front of the doors to the church.  This isn't a modern recapitulation of the ground swallowing Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. (Numbers 16)  I'd rather think of it as hell falling apart before the proclamation of the gospel.

More seriously, I am again reminded of the opposition that the world, the flesh, and the devil poses against Christ's church and the gospel.  This sinkhole could challenge the ministry our church conducts during the Natchitoches Christmas Festival.  Each year, we open the doors of the church during the festival parade and allow visitors to use our bathroom, grab a cup of coffee, or snag a cookie.  Every visitor receives a bag from the church with a bottle of water, a gospel tract, and a letter from the church that proclaims the truth that Jesus Christ came to save sinners.  Christmas provides a perfect opportunity to remind people of their responsibility before God and the salvation freely offered to us in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  With our front door effectively blocked, our opportunity to minister would be more difficult.

Shall it stop our ministry?  Shall we skip the opportunity this time of year affords?  Unfortunately, many choose to stay silent when challenges to the presentation of the gospel arise.  We remain silent when speaking for Jesus would be inconvenient, when its message might be offensive or ill received.  When opportunity appears, we have a duty to meet the challenges.  The gospel will always meet with opposition.  It will always cause offense.  Jesus reminded us, "In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)    Men reject the gospel because of their own preferences.  "This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." (John 3:19)

We minister in a challenging area where the truth of the gospel meets with opposition.  The biggest hindrance is not a sinkhole but the choice every man makes to suppress the knowledge of God. (Romans 1:18)  We come to the gospel saying "No."  It is only the grace of God manifest in the work of the Holy Spirit that enables us to say, "Yes."  Since we cannot effect conversion, we preach in opposition in faith that God uses our efforts to do the impossible, to change "No's" into "Yes's".  In light of this, we make the same request that Paul made to the church at Thessalonica.  "Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you." (II Thessalonians 3:1)

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