why are we not weeping for the souls of man?
The Biblical mandate is clear: Take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the nations, starting from where God has placed us. Much has been taught about the importance of the Great Commission in the life of the Church and in the life of the individual believer. Emphasis has been made on the significance of evangelism as part of our discipleship essentials. Many evangelistic events and activities have also been organised.
Yet to what extent does every believer take the Great Commission seriously enough to do something about it, in the midst of our busy and cluttered life? Why are some of us not actively involved in missions and evangelism at all? Why are we not weeping for the souls of men and women? In this article I’d like to reflect and offer some possible reasons why we are not obeying God’s Great Commission with commitment and passion.
Not Seeing the Cross of Christ Clearly
I once heard this statement at a Missions Conference: “Missions is not just about crossing the seas, but seeing the cross.” When we can see the cross of Christ clearly, we will understand the love of God deeply. Hence, we will be motivated and challenged to commit our lives to reach out to others with the good news of the gospel, whether in Singapore or overseas.
The hymn-writer Isaac Watts understood this and wrote the inspirational hymn, “When I survey the wondrous cross”. In his last stanza, he wrote, “Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small; Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.”
May the Lord grant us His grace to fill our eyes with the vision of the cross.
Not Thinking About Heaven and Hell Seriously
A brother in Christ shared about his encounter one day while driving past a petrol station, during those days when words on banners consisted of individual alphabets assembled together and pasted with glue. After a heavy storm that afternoon, one of the alphabets dropped off and the petrol station banner became an effective evangelistic banner which reads, “YOU CAN BE SURE OF _HELL”.
Yes, hell is a sure reality. But has this reality really sunk into our hearts and minds, for us to realize the seriousness that those who depart this earth without salvation in Christ will have the fiery hell as their destination?
Each time I scan the obituary pages, my heart responds with sadness silently for those who die without coming to faith in Jesus Christ, “for the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Much as we like to hear about the love and mercy of God, we must also remember the wrath and judgment of God. Only in Christ will there be forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life.
May the Lord grant us fervent hearts to proclaim the gospel, for there is a heaven to be gained, and a hell to be avoided.
Not Loving The People Around Us Deeply
In my pastoral ministry, it is encouraging to have come across church members who love their family very much. You can sense their desire and heart’s cry to see their pre-believing loved ones come to faith in Jesus Christ. This loving desire leads them to decisions that honor the Lord and to actions that sow the seed of the gospel.
When we truly love the people around us, family, good friends, colleagues, people we meet on the streets, etc, we will want them to receive the most important gift that they can ever have, the gift of eternal life. A well-known Mandarin song entitled, “you yi jian li wu”, translated as “There is a gift”, encourages every Christian to have this desire in their hearts to see their loved ones, friends and strangers receive the most significant gift of all.
Our Lord Jesus Christ demonstrated His loving compassion so well in Luke 19: 41-44. As Jesus drew near the city of Jerusalem, He wept for the Jews and their salvation, foreseeing the destruction of Jerusalem that was to come. The people of God did not recognize and believe in the Messiah who had dwelt in the flesh among them.
May the Lord grant us His compassionate love in our hearts to love the people whom He placed around us, so that we will be deeply concerned for their salvation in Jesus Christ.
Not Setting Our Mind on Things Heavenly
We live busy and cluttered lives. We are constantly faced with pressures in life, demands at work, struggles of family and anxieties about the future. These life realities often drain us and distract us from being purposeful in our evangelism and being a good witness at the workplace or to our family. In our life pursuits, our minds become so preoccupied with “things that are on earth” that we forget to “set (our) minds on things that are above” (Colossians 3:2).
Do we just drift along in our outreach and evangelism? Or are we intentional and clear in what God would want us to be and to do for the sake of the gospel? When we set our minds on heavenly things, we will be deeply concerned for the salvation of others. A great way to begin is to be faithful and “faith-filled” in praying for the Spirit of God to touch the lives of our pre-believing loved ones and friends. Then ask God for wisdom and direction in sensing the Spirit’s leading and guidance in reaching out to them.
May the Lord grant us heavenly minds that seek after Him and His purposes, that we may be intentional and purposeful in how we live our lives for the sake of the gospel.
Not Willing to Pay the Price Sacrificially
In our goal and purpose to reach out to others with the gospel, there will be times when we are called to suffer for the gospel or to pay a price so that others can hear the gospel. For some Christians, it may involve the strong endurance of faith in the midst of fierce persecution, bearing a powerful witness and testimony for Jesus Christ. For others, it may mean leaving the comforts and security of home and homeland to live and bear witness amongst a people group in another country.
I have often been inspired by the Apostle Paul’s willingness to give up his life so that fellow Jews will know and trust Jesus Christ, the Messiah, and be saved. Paul told the Church at Rome in Romans 9: 1-5; “I am speaking the truth in Christ — I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit — that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.”
May the Lord empower us to live our life sacrificially and courageously for the sake of the gospel, fearing no one and nothing else, except to fear the LORD God only.
Not Sensing the Task of Evangelism Urgently
As pastors, there are times when we are called upon by church members to the home or hospital to share the gospel to a critically-ill family member. We have joyfully experienced and witnessed a number of “deathbed” conversions, all by the amazing grace of God at the eleventh hour. But there were also sad occasions when it was too late for any conscious response or when there was no response forthcoming.
There will be many times in our life, whether planned or unplanned, when the still, small voice of God speaks into our hearts and minds these words: “Be courageous and share the gospel with this person now.” When those moments come, let us not delay, for tomorrow may never come for that person.
May the Lord grant us the urgency of mission and purpose in sharing the gospel.
Weeping For the Souls of Man
I met a Thai Christian at a Missions Camp in 1987. In sadness and tears, he spoke these words to the Singaporean campers during the time for sharing: “Why didn’t Christians come much earlier to my country to share the gospel? My family members in the previous generations died without an opportunity to hear the gospel. Why didn’t you come and share the gospel?”
All the campers sat in silence. Our hearts were stirred to weep for the souls of man and to purposeful action as we sensed the great urgency to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.
As we weep, let us pray for “beautiful feet” for ourselves and for everyone in God’s family.
Romans 10: 11-15:
‘For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”
For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed?
And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?
And how are they to hear without someone preaching?
And how are they to preach unless they are sent?
As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”’
Author: Revd John Lin (Revd John joined SAC in 2005 and is now the Vicar of St John’s Chapel, Singapore. He is also the Dean of the Deanery of Vietnam, Diocese of Singapore.)
First published in The Courier, January 2013.