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"And they all with one consent began to make excuse"

LUKE 14:18

As this preacher has visited and preached in churches the past several years, he has noted a disturbing trend: an increasing number of professing believers who simply "don’t want to get involved" in vital spiritual endeavors because they are overly involved with secular activities.

In Luke 14, Jesus told a parable about three men who were invited to a great feast but who all declined the invitation, a parable that illustrates this increasing non-involvement in spiritual ministries. These men could humorously be appropriately named: (a) Retail Joe—"I have bought a piece of ground and I must needs go and see it"; (b) Farmer Brown—"I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them" and (c) Handsome Harry—I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come." (Luke 14:18-20)

Each man conveniently "excused" himself by citing respectively responsibilities concerning (a) merchandise, (b) maintenance and (c) marriage. While these were all legitimate activities, they replaced the most important event, an event that Christ applied to himself and participation in the eternal kingdom of God—Luke 14:15. As the writer pondered this parable, he thought about the increasing reticence of professing believers to become engaged in the following three vital Scriptural endeavors.

I. "WE DON’T WANT TO BECOME INVOLVED IN THE DISSEMINATION OF THE FAITH." Without a doubt, this writer states, that as he has ministered in churches in recent years, he has observed a sharp decrease in saints who are involved in personal witnessing and soul-winning endeavors. In many instances, weekly evangelistic soul-winning outreach programs are being downgraded and even discarded for low-key so-called "non-confrontational" activities where man’s depraved sinful condition is never mentioned.

However, genuine soul-winning outreach should never be confined to a "once-a-week" church activity. Believers should be soul-winners" at heart every day of the week—Acts 5:42, seeking active opportunities to witness for their Lord at home, at work, in the community and everywhere. Personal witnessing is not a ministry reserved exclusively for vocational "professionals," but for all genuine born-again believers—Acts 17:12.

God the Father is greatly concerned about the spiritual state of the unconverted. He doesn’t have any delightful pleasure "in the death of the wicked," but longs "for the wicked to turn from his wicked way" and earnestly pleads for the unconverted to turn from their wicked ways—Ez. 33:11. God’s concern should be our concern and His priorities our priorities!

Jesus exhibited a similar concern during his brief earthly ministry. In Matt. 9:36-37, the Scripture states that "when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them," declaring that "the harvest truly is plenteous while the laborers are few." Matt. 23:37-39 states that as he stood above the hills overlooking Jerusalem, he pleaded compassionately for a city that was rejecting His divine claims. In John 4:35, he beseeched the disciples to "look on the harvest fields" because they were "white unto harvest."

The Apostle Paul’s ministry also exhibited a comparable burden. In Rom. 9:2-3, he expressed his "great heaviness and continual sorrow" over the unconverted state of his own race, the Jews, while in Rom 10:2 he declared that his "heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel" was "that they might be saved." In II Cor. 5:14-21 Paul’s passionate zeal for lost souls caused him to declare that the love of Christ constrained and motivated him to act as a reconciling ambassador for Christ.

Despite these clear Biblical examples and commands, some pastors opt out of soul-winning endeavors by declaring that they are simply "Bible-teachers," ignoring Paul’s injunction in II Tim. 4:5 for them to "do the work of an evangelist." [The word evangelism simply means "good news,"—the good news of the saving Gospel of Christ—Rom. 1:16, while the word evangelist refers to a "bearer or spreader of good news."]

Even the apostle Jude whose short terse epistle is mainly devoted to the exposal of apostasy, would write in Jude 22 "And of some have compassion, making a difference." This writer prays as he pens these lines, that some readers will be stirred anew with an evangelistic fervor to reach the lost as they read these words.

II. "WE DON’T WANT TO BECOME INVOLVED IN THE DEMONSTRATION OF THE FAITH. There is an increasing tendency of believers to draw themselves into private shells where they say in effect to their pastors: "Don’t bother me in my personal life. My conduct during the week, how I live is strictly my private business. One sermon a week that makes everyone feel comfortable is all I desire or want. Stay out of my life!" "Closed door" believers is becoming a major problem in good churches today.

However, the demonstration of a believer’s faith centers around a godly example in the home—Eph. 5:19-6:4, personal civic responsibilities to society—Matt. 22:21 and dedicated ministry/service to the Lord in a local church—Eph. 4: 7 & 16.

In addition, the priority of the Great Commission Mandate is being shoved into the background in many Christian families/homes—Matt. 28:18-20. There is an alarming decline in missions interest among Christian young people today as secular concerns take priority, while spiritual verities occupy only secondary import. Very few Christian young people are surrendering for full-time missionary service today. "Retail Joes," "Farmer Browns" and "Handsome Harry’s" are in abundance and dominate the youth scene today among many professing Christian young people.

The thieving culprit is the secular home atmosphere created by materialistic oriented parents who are captivated by entertainment "gadgets," and the secular pursuits of this life, an attitude quickly caught by culpable impressionable children and young people. The practical activities of Christian families, while not neglecting other family times, should revolve around local church activities.

Non-involvement in the Great Commission mandate is a tragic oversight and this writer ardently entreats Christian parents to place this divine injunction at the top of their spiritual agenda, both in their family atmospheres and their local church activities. The front of the family refrigerator [or an equivalent item] should be loaded with missionary pictures.

III. "WE DON’T WANT TO BECOME INVOLVED IN THE DEFENSE OF THE FAITH." The number of saints willing to actively and courageously "defend the faith" is definitely on a declining slide. Many believers seem to be growing tired of contending for the truth, choosing to "sit out" the current vital struggles in the battleground areas concerning manuscripts, music and moral standards, choosing to take a "silence" route regarding current trends.

Scriptural militancy within professing Fundamentalism is in a period of disturbing decline. Despite the clear admonition of Jude to contend for the faith, Fundamentalist defenders of the faith are increasingly fewer in number, especially when it comes to the printed page. The militant defense of the faith is not just the responsibility of a few Fundamentalist journalists, but a labor in which every saint should become involved.

As this writer has delineated numerous times, the Apostle Paul was militant in his labors, militant in his language, as well as militant in his last will and testament. In defending the faith, believers must avoid bitterness [coldness, harshness, crudeness], busy-bodyness [telling someone else how to operate his ministry] and softness [tiptoeing through the tulips on vital issues.] They must always strive to attain the balance of "speaking the truth in love"—Eph. 4:15 and exercise Christ-like Christian graces even when standing firmly in hotly contested battles.

Saints must also never place friendship bonds above Biblical admonitions and personality ties above eternal Scriptural injunctions. Some pastors will not speak out against their college alma maters because of fear of reprisal or loss of acceptance by peers. Other preachers seem to be conveniently "out-of-town" when vital issues confront them, or they conveniently turn the matter over to naïve subordinates to handle the "hot" potatoes.

Lest readers misunderstand, this writer thanks God for that uncompromising minority who continue to unflinchingly defend the faith. He is also encouraged by e-mails, letters and phone responses from saints who are beginning to discern evil trends and who are taking their stand. He is also grateful for the new friends with whom he has recently become acquainted; individuals who have been contending for the truth without fanfare for many years, but whom he never knew existed. May their tribe increase! D. J

A biographical profile of Dr. Jasmin

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Editorial – April - May 2008 The Fundamentalist Digest: Permission granted for reprint, so long as proper credit is given
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