There’s a Time to Move on!

“Then Paul and Barnabas boldly said: “It was necessary that God’s message be spoken to you first. But since you reject it, and consider yourselves unworthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles!” -Acts 13:46 (HCSB)

Having been appointed, ordained and sent on mission by the Church, Paul and Barnabas set out and clearly presented the Gospel to the Jewish community.  Instead of understanding the truth and readily accepting it, they instead were offended by it, and rather than displaying an attitude of repentence they rose up in opposition to Paul and embarked on a campaign of name calling, finger pointing and slander. 

In spending some time examining the OT prophets, the post resurrection Church missionaries(including men like Paul and Barnabas), and even the earthly ministry of Jesus Himself one thing emerges as a characteristic of their style of preaching.  If their message met with rejection, they did not whine about it, and they did not waste much time arguing about it or defending their postion.  They simply took their message and traveled somewhere else to proclaim it.  Clearly, their philosophy was one of of expedience and urgency, understanding the time constraints and the eternal peril on the lives of the people whom they sought to reach.

I love the phrase that Andy Stanley uses again and again in his sermons and teaching, “Everybody is going to spend eternity somewhere.”   The implication is that every day, and in fact every minute someone is leaving this life for an eternal destiny either in heaven with Christ Jesus, or in Hell eternally separated from Him.  It makes me wonder how many of them never heard the clear presentation of the Good News of God’s plan of salvation because we were busy trying to convince someone who has continually rejected it and declared it either untrue or irrelevant.  Or worse yet, we have spent too much time bickering with another believer or group of believers over a point of doctrine or theology.

Here is what I believe we should consider when trying to reach a resistant unbeliever.  1)  Have we made the message of the Gospel easy to understand and have we delivered it with clarity?  2)  Have we presented the message of Jesus Christ and His saving grace with love and genuine concern for the person’s present and eternal good?  3)  Do we view the person as one for whom Christ paid the ultimate price or are they just another number and notch on our spiritual gunbelt? (Is this for our own good or the people we desire to reach?)  4)  Are our efforts based on our own ability and communicative skill or have we prayed up and been empowered by the person of the Holy Spirit?

When the above considerations have been met fully and the person before us still rejects the message we are presenting, then perhaps it is time for us to literally and figuratively pick up our soapbox, unfold our tent and move on to the next town.  No time to point our finger and tell them what a reprobate they are or condemn them for their stupidity and stubborn spirit.  Paul rightly recognized that it was not he himself who considered them unworthy.  They filled that role quite nicely without anyone else saying it to them.  There is another waiting, perhaps at the next door down, who is eagerly awaiting for some…any…good news!  No time to waste…..GET TO THEM NOW!


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