Seeking and Saving the Lost

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Lk. 19:10).  With these words Jesus let the Jews at Jericho know why he had taken the time to visit a hated tax collector who had climbed a sycamore tree to see Him (Lk. 19:1-9).  Our Lord had a mission, a purpose.  Precious souls whom he had created (Col. 1:16; John 1:3) were lost in sin, and he was sent to save them (John 3:16).

It was this that motivated him, a Jewish rabbi, to initiate a conversation with an immoral Samaritan woman (John 4:1-30).  When his disciples marveled that he was talking with her (v. 27) and urged him to eat (v. 31), he replied, “I have food to eat that you do not know about…My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.  Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’?  Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest” (vs. 31, 34-35).

Christian, you claim to be His follower, His disciple.  Your Master said, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Lk. 6:40).  Your Teacher “came to seek and to save the lost” (Lk. 19:10).  What kept him going just as much as physical food was accomplishing the work of evangelism which his Father in heaven had tasked to him.  Are you making the effort to seek out and save the lost in your life?  If not, are you truly Christ’s disciple?

Your Lord left this earth with these words on his lips:  “…Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mk. 16:15).  “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:19-20).  This Great Commission is more than a memorable title we give to these verses as we gave “the Golden Rule” slogan to Matthew 7:12.  It is OUR mission, OUR purpose.  The church exists not only to charitably “do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10) and “build one another up, just as you are doing” (1 Thess. 5:11).  Our primary purpose for existing as those who are called by God’s gospel and assembled together as his family in Christ’s church is to share that gospel with the lost.  Indeed, the mission of evangelism is the purpose, the end goal, behind any benevolent enterprise upon which we embark and every effort made to spiritually edify each other.  As Peter said, the reason we are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession” is “that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9).

Paul, the apostle whom we are called to imitate and who himself imitated his Lord (1 Cor. 11:1; Phil. 3:17), recognized the inevitable fact that all who have ever existed will stand before God in judgment (2 Cor. 5:10).  It was his knowledge and acceptance of this truth which prompted him to “persuade others” to follow the Christ (2 Cor. 5:11).  He knew of the Old Testament prophet’s warning:  “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel.  Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me.  If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.  But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul” (Ezek. 3:17-19).  Thus, Paul could confidently say, “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:26-27).

Christian, God expects you to make efforts to share the good news of salvation with the lost just as much as he expects you to worship him with the saints, do good works, and live according to his Word.  The Ezekiel passage makes clear that whether those with whom you share the gospel heed it and are converted between them and God; all our Lord expects of you is to make the effort to “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15) while letting your light shine by your good deeds (Matt. 5:16; 1 Pet. 2:12).  The only way you can fail at evangelism as far as God is concerned is to simply not make any attempts to reach others with the gospel.  Ezekiel warns that the eternal consequences of that failure to even attempt to evangelize is catastrophic for both the lost and you.  Paul knew this, and it joined his love for lost souls as motivation for continually sharing Jesus with them.

We must be the same, Christians.  We must make sharing Jesus by discussing the Bible with others, inviting them to church, sharing the good news online, teaching through correspondence courses, or sharing written gospel material with others a higher priority than in years past.  Our Lord who died for us and the lost expects this of us.

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