The Great Omission
Seven Excuses for not Preaching the Gospel
By Larry Rosenbaum, Director
"And they all with one consent began to make excuse." Luke 14:18
Two thousand years ago, eleven dedicated followers of the Lord Jesus Christ turned their world upside down with the message of God's salvation. They and their converts faced horrible persecution, were imprisoned and thrown to lions, yet their faith spread throughout the world.
Today, there are millions of Christians throughout the world. Modern technology has given us the means of reaching multitudes for Jesus. Yet every year the percentage of the world's population that has heard the gospel decreases.
Here in the United States, a large percentage of the population claims to be born again. The Constitution protects the rights of Christians to preach 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 of the children of these Christians, are turning from Jesus Christ to Eastern religions, the occult, drugs and alcohol, and sexual immorality of all kinds. In the San Francisco Bay Area, tens of thousands of Christians are attracted to Christian events. At the same time, a mere handful of Christians are witnessing on the streets.
Millions of unbelievers go on in their sins, many of whom never hear a Christian witness. The voices of the political radicals, Eastern cults, and homosexuals are heard loudly in the streets and in the media. At the same time, the voice of the Christians is scarcely noticed.
What has happened? For one thing, the early church believed that when Jesus said to go into all the world and preach His Word, He meant what He said. Today, with Satan's help, we have developed many sophisticated excuses not to preach the gospel. In this teaching, I want to examine some of these excuses in the light of God's Word.
1. "I don't know how to witness." The early church didn't have any witnessing classes, yet they turned the world upside down with the gospel. Jesus said, "You shall receive power, after the Holy Spirit has come upon you: and you shall be my witnesses" (Acts 1:8). All a person needs to witness is to know Jesus Christ and be filled with the Holy Spirit.
2. "I don't feel called to do evangelism. That is the work of the evangelist and pastor." The ministry of the evangelist is to prepare God's people to witness for Jesus. Evangelism is the responsibility of the entire church, not just a few people. "And he gave some to be . . . evangelists . . . . To prepare the saints to do the work of the ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ." Eph. 4:11-12.
3. "I'm too busy to do evangelism. My job, my family, and my church activities occupy all my time." We find time for what is important to us. Is seeing souls saved from eternal hell as important as earning money? Witnessing for Jesus can be an excellent family activity. It gives wives a chance to get involved in spiritual ministry. It gives children a chance to see the reality of spiritual warfare, the ugliness of sin, and to acquire boldness in being used by the Holy Spirit in reaching the unsaved. Often, families are divided by petty carnal disputes. Preaching the gospel gets our eyes on eternal things, the things that really matter, and can heal divisions and unify families. All told, it has many advantages over that most popular and time-consuming Christian activity: television.
4. "I witness at my job and to my friends and family," or "My life is a witness." We should witness in our everyday life, and our life should be a testimony of Jesus Christ. But what about all the unsaved people who don't have friends, relatives, or co-workers who witness to them? As the good shepherd will leave the 99 sheep and go after the one who has gone astray, should we not actively seek after those who are lost, that they would be brought to Christ?
5. "Discouragement from lack of results." Noah preached God`s Word for l00‑600 years, but only his family was saved. Jonah had no love in his heart for the people of Nineveh, but the entire city of over 120,000 repented at his warning of judgment. Our job is to be obedient to the Holy Spirit, and leave the results to God. "He who watches the wind will not sow and he who looks at the clouds will not reap. . . . In the morning sow your seed and in the evening do not withhold your hand: for you do not know which shall prosper, either the one or the other, or whether both of them will be good" (Eccl. 11:4,6).
6. "Satan." Did you ever notice while you are praying, that you suddenly remember something you need to do, or find yourself getting tired and distracted? Satan will do everything he can to keep us from prayer, because he knows the importance of prayer. Similarly, often when we decide to go witnessing, we will think of all kinds of reasons not to go, or something will come up that needs to be done, or we will feel sick. Satan does not want Christians to witness, and he will do everything in his power to distract us.
The best way to combat this is to set aside a regular time for witnessing, and give it the same priority you would give to your job. Are you sick enough, or is this distraction important enough, that you would stay home from work on account of it? Is the salvation of souls as important as earning money? If it isn't, then we will never find time to preach the gospel.
7. "Lack of burden for the lost and lack of vision of the importance of evangelism." How do we get a burden for the lost? We need to pray for them. As we do, God will give us a burden to reach them. Also, He will open their hearts to receive God`s Word, and He will equip us to witness to them. If we have a great enough burden for the lost, we will not allow any obstacle to keep us from witnessing. We will not let fear keep us from speaking with someone about the condition of their soul and we will set aside time from the busiest schedule to witness.
The missionary C. T. Studd was challenged to an all-out dedication to Christ by an article written by an atheist: "If I firmly believed, as millions say they do, that the knowledge and practice of religion in this life influences destiny in another, then religion would mean to me everything . . . I would esteem one soul gained for heaven worth a life of suffering. Earthly consequences would never stay my hand, or seal my lips. Earth, its joys and its griefs, would occupy no moment of my thoughts. I would go forth to the world and preach to it in season and out of season, and my text would be, `What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?'"
How can we expect the unbelieving world or even our own children to take the gospel seriously when we ourselves do not take it seriously? 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 God`s Word, we will see unbelievers repenting of their sins and calling on Jesus Christ to save them.
Larry Rosenbaum is Director of SOS Ministries in San Francisco and has been involved in street ministry in San Francisco for the past 30 years. Raised in a Jewish home, Larry studied psychology at Yale University (B. A.) and Brandeis University (M. A.) before receiving Christ in 1970. www.sosmin.comLast Update: 2012-10-19 17:10