Confronting the “What if?” questions in evangelism
Doubt breeds a distracted heart. Whims supersede trust in God’s promises. Questions lend to inactivity — especially when it’s something we know the Lord wants believers to do.
When God commissions us to go out into the world and proclaim the gospel, have you found yourself asking:
“What if nobody is going to listen to me?”
“What if I don’t know what to say?”
“What if I just don’t want to do it?”
It is comforting to know that an important figure in the Old Testament wrestled with the same doubts and excuses when God commissioned him to carry out an important task.
God does provide a solution to confront the “What if?” questions in evangelism. It’s based on trust.
“Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The LORD did not appear to you.’” The LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A staff.” And he said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent, and Moses ran from it. But he LORD said to Moses, “Put out your hand and catch it by the tail” – so he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand – “that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.” …But Moses said to the LORD, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak. But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.” [Exodus 4:1-5, 10-13]
If the Bible were a Marvel comic book, Moses would be a super hero. With all of the great things that God did through Moses, we forget that he was a feeble man.
I can identify with Moses.
Not the Charlton Heston-type of Moses who led a great number of Israelites out of Egypt, raised his staff to part the Red Sea, and boldly confronted the Egyptian pharaoh.
I closely identify with the questioning Moses who initially tries to get out of what God has commissioned him to do.
But God was patient with Moses and his questions by giving him power to perform miracles.
When Moses answered, “They will not believe me or listen to my voice,” God displayed his power through him by changing a staff to a snake and healed a leprous hand.
When Moses answered, “I am not eloquent…, but I am slow of speech and of tongue,” God promises that he will be with his mouth and teach what to speak.
When Moses answered, “Please send someone else,” God’s anger towards poor excuses was kindled against him. (Exodus 4:14) It seemed that God had heard enough. It was no longer about Moses’ lack of confidence in his own ability, but a lack of trust in God’s abilities.
The same lesson can be applied on how we respond to God’s commission for all believers to go out into the world and proclaim the gospel.
“Humility is a high virtue in the Lord’s service. But feelings of humility should not lead us to think up all sorts of excuses when the Lord calls us to do some special task for him. Which person is by nature worthy to do the Lord’s work? Who is adequate to serve as the Lord’s own representative? Yet we can trust that the Lord who supplies the message and callus to do his work will also give us the necessary strength to carry out his commands. It is in the spirit that we say, “Here am I, send me!” (Rev. Ernst H. Wendland, Exodus: People’s Bible Series, p. 31)
The ability to perform miracles was not enough to convince Moses to be obedient. It didn’t turn the heart of the Pharaoh either. Miracles do not bring faith but reveal God’s authority over the universe. Only trusting God’s promises receives faith and that can only come from God.
Miracles do not prompt our obedience but trusting God’s promises and his abilities through us.
When we think, “Nobody is going to listen to me,” we remember God’s promise, “Open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” (John 4:35) “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” (Matt. 9:37)
When we think, “I don’t know what to say,” we remember God’s assurance, “..do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” (Matthew 10:18-19)
When we stubbornly conclude that our heart is not into witnessing, the Lord patiently and lovingly rebukes us. As any good parent, God disciplines us to deepen our trust in him. When we stop looking in the mirror and feast our eyes on the message of the cross, only then can we “do all things through Christ who gives us strength.” (Phil. 4:13)
This includes verbally proclaiming the message of salvation to a lost soul.
Very few of us are called upon to be a Moses and lead millions of people out of the slavery of sin and to the promised land of heaven.
We may not have staffs that causes miracles, but believers do have something that is even more powerful.
It is a invisible power that is not of this world.
It is a divisive power that cuts to the Truth.
It is the only power that brings a lost soul to believe in what Christ has already done for us.
God commissions all believers to be his messengers and get the Word out so the Holy Spirit can unsheathe its power and accomplish what God desires and achieves the purpose for which he sent it.
Moses needed to trust God’s promises and his power to carry out God’s commission.
And so do we.
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