The Lord saved me at the age of twelve and has given me a wonderful life. God gave me Nellie Mae Burton, the best wife a man could possibly have, at the very time that I needed a wife. We were married on the 25th day of May in 1947, and she lived until December 22, 2010, when God called her home. We had a wonderful life. I could never complain about anything.
God used some wonderful Christians to help me after the death of Nellie, just like He used some wonderful Christians to help me as I entered the Gospel ministry at the age of eighteen and was ordained for my first church. God kept putting people in my path to open doors of opportunity as I was maturing and learning to trust God and Christ for everything.
Early on, I came to the conclusion and conviction that the Church of Jesus Christ was the light of the world, and the church is the Gospel-preaching agency of Jesus Christ to all the world, beginning in Jerusalem, then Judaea, Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth. We have an indebtedness to Christ and to those with whom we come in contact to give them the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is good tidings. The Saviour of the world was born in Bethlehem of Judah. He based His ministry on love, grace, ad truth. Matthew 22:37-40, “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Isaiah 61:1-2, “The Sprit of the lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, AND THE DAY OF VENGEANCE OF OUR God; to comfort all that mourn.”
Luke 4:18-21, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them. This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.”
Preach the Gospel to the poor. Does that mean only to the poor? No, Mark 16:15 says, “And he said unto them, God ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” We are to preach not just to a few, but to the world, the cosmos.
Jesus said in Luke 6:46, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? The very beginning of the Gospel in Matthew 3:2 was preaching repentance: “And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” That meant people were going in the wrong direction. They were outside of the grace and love of God.
Does the command of Jesus Christ apply to us today or was it just for the first generation of Christians? I believe the crisis of the church today is that we have left our first love. He did not say you have lost your first love, but you have left it!
Some of the churches say, “We do not want new people in our church.”
I am quite sure of that, because they don’t even love the old members. Most churches that have been around for several years have names on the church roll who have been absent for several months and sometimes years and no one has contacted them, shown love to them, or seemed to even care. I John 4:20 says, “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother; he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?”
Jesus, early in His ministry, taught to go after the lost children of the house of Israel. Matthew 10:6, “But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Later He taught to preach the Gospel to all the world, every creature, the Jew first and then to the Greek.
See Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
Romans 2:9-11, “Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God.”
Recently, a friend of mine said, “I am thinking of taking a church that only has about 50 people with a building that seats 500. What do you think?
I asked, “How old is the church?”
He replied, “It is several years old.”
I said, “There are probably at least that many on the church roll who have not been heard from in a while.”
He said, “At one time, about 150 were attending.”
I said, “They are your first prospects.”
He said, “I never thought about it like that.”
We must be motivated by love and guided by truth if we expect to see God’s blessings on our ministry.
Some say, “You are only interested in numbers.”
I am interested in people, whether the number is one or one thousand! A good motto is:
CHRIST CENTERED, PEOPLE POINTED.
To do the work of the church we must have the Spirit of the Lord. The Spirit of the Lord will guide everyone to love God and our neighbor. John 5:24, “But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you,” and Luke 6:46, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”
If I did not love the Lord, I would not believe in evangelizing my community and those in other communities of the world. I cannot believe that God is pleased with a church that does not care for lost people on their way to a devil’s Hell in sight of the church’s meeting place. I believe the trouble is a lack of loving God and our neighbor.
You can do it, so why don’t you do it? That’s the question.
Our churches are dying. We are closing churches all over America. Every month more churches close. Why? They close because there is not enough love within the church to reach out. The Scripture never says that the sinner should go to the church, but it certainly says often that the church should be going after sinners trying to reach people. Do we care? Do we not care?
I hope this will challenge you! I know it makes some people mad. I also know that when we were winning souls and baptizing 8 to 15 a month (we baptized over 200 in one year), we were fighting the devil (as Brother Henkle Little used to say) by the half acre. I am willing to fight the devil, backslid Christians, and the “I-don’t-care” Christians to win souls for Jesus Christ, because that is why He came: to seek and to save that which was lost.