Who first told you the good news that Jesus’ forgiving love has reconciled you to the heart of the Father? Listen to these lyrics from an acapella Gospel group called Glad.
Did you hear the good news?
You don’t have to run and hide.
You can drop all your defenses.
His arms are open wide.
There’ll be love and laughter
when you finally give in,
and the celebration
waiting to begin.
For each person who has come to faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Savior of the world, someone has shared with them the message of salvation. Someone was key in their life to share not only their love for Jesus, but also why they believe that His shed blood and death on the cross of Calvary atoned for the sins of the world and reconciled all people to the heart of God the Father. Someone shared that, because Jesus rose from the dead, God, now, in Jesus’ name, offers eternal life to everyone who believes. The Bible says, “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). That is why faith is like a language coming alive.
Our hearts are stirred with hope when we hear this beautiful message that God created us and loves us. Though we were broken and rebellious sinners, God cared enough to send Jesus to receive the punishment we deserve. He has defeated death and wants us to be in a relationship with Him as the living God. He invites us to trust our very lives to Him. The more we hear that Word, the more the Holy Spirit uses this message to create faith in the hearts of the hearer. We hear about the grace of God in the Word of God, written and proclaimed to us.
I can still hear the booming baritone voice of my father as he preached to his congregation, inviting them to come to the open arms of the Father in Jesus’ name, confess their sin and believe that Jesus forgives them, and believe that God fills them with the Spirit. Though that was a powerful word in worship, it was my mother who would come into my bedroom at night and pray with me letting me know how Jesus was personally real. When she prayed, she talked as if Jesus was sitting there on the bedside with us. She spoke to Jesus as if He was our living Lord and personal friend. Through their witness, I never doubted that Jesus is God, that I could trust my life to Him, that I could come to Him with the burden of my guilt or my shame and that He would lift it from me.
So many people in the course of my life have spoken of their love for Jesus. Sunday school teachers, members of the churches I’ve served, other pastors, family members who have ignited my faith or deepened my passion for Christ by sharing their love for Jesus with me. That is how it works! That is how God intends to spread the message of salvation and build the kingdom of Jesus Christ until it reaches the ends of the earth. In Acts 1:8 Jesus said, “Wait in Jerusalem until you receive power from the Holy Spirit. And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth.”
So, what is God’s plan to reach the world? When Jesus ascended into heaven, He commissioned His apostles to share their faith (the message of the Gospel) with others. The Spirit would then ignite faith in the hearts of others that they, too, would become part of the kingdom of Christ. That Message would build the Church until it reached the whole world.
God, you see, is counting on us. That is why He poured out His Holy Spirit at Pentecost upon all people. In the hearing of the Word, those who believe would share it with others that they, too, might believe.
Romans 10:15 says, “How beautiful the feet of those who bring the good news.” I wonder if you would say that you have beautiful feet. When I look at my own feet, I find bunions and corns. The nails on my toes are a bit twisted and discolored. But the Bible says I have beautiful feet because I am willing to share my faith with others who have come to love Jesus and believe in Him as God’s Son and our Savior.
This is God’s plan. In fact, the Scriptures say that God is a “sending” God. Jesus sent out the twelve apostles and gave them authority to proclaim the Good News, to pray for healing, and to command the evil spirits to be gone in Jesus’ name. They returned rejoicing that they had power over the enemy.
Jesus also sent out seventy-two others with the same authority and the same commissioning. He sent them out in His name to say to all, “The kingdom of God is near to you.” How is that true? Because the Spirit of the living Jesus dwells within the heart of every believer. So wherever the believer goes, he brings the presence of Jesus. Like it says, “You’re like a winsome perfume bringing the scent of victory everywhere you go” (2 Cor. 2:14), the scent, the sweet smell of the aroma of Jesus Christ.
So God in the Word says that we are His apostles sent out in His name and under His authority. We are to be His ambassadors. Wherever we go, we represent the Lord Jesus Christ. God sends us as His missionaries to build the kingdom of God. We have a mission from God Himself, and we are called to be His witnesses. Like that old African-American spiritual says, “Can I get a witness for my Lord?”
So the question really comes not, “Has God sent you to go in His name?” but “Are you willing to go in His name?”Are you willing to share with others what you have come to believe about Jesus Christ? Will you tell others about what an integral part of your life He is, how He fills you with His spirit, graces you with forgiveness, fills you with the promise of eternal life, and that you belong to Him? Will you tell others that great truth? Are you willing to go in the name of Jesus?
What if you said, I will not go. Jonah from the Old Testament is a biblical example of a person telling God no. He was asked by God to go to the village of Nineveh and preach the Word to them that they might repent. But in the first chapter of Jonah, it says that Jonah fled from the Lord to Joppa. He boarded a ship and went down into the belly of the ship. A great storm put the ship and those who were sailing with Jonah at risk, and so they said to him, “We need you to pray to your God.” They cast lots, and it was determined that Jonah was the problem.
What should they do? Jonah told them to throw him overboard, and they did. Then God sent a great fish who swallowed Jonah where he remained for three days until the fish spit Jonah out on the sand. Then God repeated his call to Jonah. “Jonah, will you go?” God gave him a second chance. I need you to go. I need you to share my Word. That’s how My kingdom works. When God’s people share the Word, His Spirit works, and lives are drawn to God.
I love the story of Peter. I resonate with that blue-collar fisherman. He was bombastic in his personality, impulsive and passionate. According to Luke chapter 5, Peter was cleaning his nets after fishing all night. Jesus was preaching about the kingdom of God on the beach. He got into Peter’s boat and began to preach some more. Then He said to Peter, Let’s go fishing. Peter said, “Lord, we fished all night and have nothing in our catch.” His next words were significant: “But at Your word, I will do it.”
Although the command of Jesus was illogical, Peter began to experience the miraculous power in his obedience. He began to witness about Jesus as the Lord of creation. The fish filled the net so much that the boats were sinking, and Peter realized he was in the presence of God Himself. He fell flat on his face and said, “Depart from me, Lord. I am a sinful man.”
But, as Peter lay face down on the bottom of that fishing boat, Jesus tells him, “Don’t be afraid, Peter. From now on, I am going to use your life to fish for people (to attract people to me).”
So God, in the name of Jesus, comes to where you are and wants to use the uniqueness of your personality, your life story, and the difference Jesus’ Spirit has made to your perception of reality by using your ability to attract people to Jesus Christ, to invite people to meet your best friend, Jesus.
Mary was another one that God came to. In Luke chapter 1, the angel Gabriel said to Mary, “Hail, favored one. God is with you!” Then he told her that the Spirit was going to come upon her, and she would be the mother of the Lord, the Messiah. She would give birth to a son.
Of course, because she was a virgin, she naturally asked how can this happen. And the word from Gabriel is profound. He said, “Nothing is impossible with God.” No word is impossible with God. Mary’s response can be the response of all of us, “Let it be to me according to your word. I am the Lord’s bond servant.” It literally means that I am the Lord’s slave. My life belongs to the Lord Jesus. Use me as You will.
Are you willing to allow your voice, your life, your personality to be an ambassador, an apostle, a missionary, a witness? Are you willing to pray for those with whom you might be sharing your love for Jesus? I guarantee you that many people you meet day after day need to hear the Good News. They need to know that the uniqueness of your life and the authenticity of your faith in Jesus can be used by God’s Spirit to build the kingdom.
Do you have beautiful feet? Will you go? I remember the prophet Isaiah who in the presence of God, in a vision of God’s holy Temple, had his lips purged with the burning coal, and the Lord asked, “Who will go? Whom can we send?” Isaiah replied, “Here am I. Send me.”
If the Lord comes to you today, even as you hear this message, knowing that you have received His grace, that you have received forgiveness of all your sins, knowing that Jesus is in your life, and you belong to Him, would that you and I say like Mary, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it happen in my life just as you said,” or like Isaiah, “Here I am, Lord. I will go. Send me.”