Jesus commands every 21st Century Christ-follower to preach the saving gospel of Jesus Christ to lost people. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit empowers each Christ-follower to proclaim the gospel boldly. Thus, there is no excuse for a 21st Century Christ-follower not to take advantage of every opportunity to preach salvation through Jesus Christ.
When a Christ-follower has the opportunity and does not tell a lost person about salvation through Jesus, it is tantamount to hating that lost person. A Christ-follower’s failure to tell a lost person about salvation through Jesus is Christian “hate silence.” Therefore, the questions each of us must ask are:
How much do I hate a lost person not to tell them about Jesus?
How often do I practice “hate silence?”
JESUS COMMANDS THE HOLY SPIRIT-EMPOWERED PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL
Prior to His ascension to be with His Father, the resurrected Jesus Christ gave “marching orders” to His early disciples to preach His saving gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit. The record of Acts 1:4–5, 8 (NASB95) makes this clear:
4 Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” … 8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
Jesus’ “marching orders” to His early disciples applies to each 21st Century Christ-follower. If you are a Christ-follower, Jesus is commanding you to tell lost people about salvation through Him.
After Peter and John returned to their fellow believers from their encounter with the Jewish authorities, their group went to God in prayer. Acts 4:29–31 (NASB95) gives a 21st Century Christ-follower a formula to receive Holy Spirit power to preach the saving gospel of Jesus Christ:
29 “And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, 30 while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.
Through prayer, a 21st Century Christ-follower will receive Holy Spirit power to preach the saving gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost. For this article, it makes no difference whether being filled with the Holy Spirit is yielding to the Holy Spirit already in a believer or a separate filling. The end goal is that the Holy Spirit empowers a believer to proclaim the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.
It is apparent there is no excuse for a 21st Century Christ-follower not to take advantage of every opportunity to preach salvation through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.
TO NOT PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE LOST IS CHRISTIAN “HATE SILENCE”
To Preach the Gospel is Christian “Love Speech”
Most evangelical Christians are familiar with the charge that they practice “hate speech.” The gotquestions.org website (link: Are Christians guilty of hate speech? | GotQuestions.org) presents a definition of “hate speech” and a brief explanation of its broadening scope:
A working definition of hate speech is “speech that is intended to insult, intimidate, or cause prejudice against a person or people based on their race, gender, age, sexual orientation, political affiliation, occupation, disability, or physical appearance.” If that is the accepted definition, a Christian should never participate in hate speech. However, the problem is that the definition of hate speech is broadening over time. Proclaiming that a certain belief is wrong or that a certain activity is sinful, based on biblical principles, is increasingly being included in the definition of hate speech.[i]
I categorically disagree with the notion that proclaiming that a certain belief is wrong or that a certain activity is sinful, based on biblical principles is “hate speech.” In fact, I would characterize it as “love speech.” Why? In the context of this article, to tell a lost person that salvation is available through Jesus Christ is the ultimate “love speech” and the epitome of exercising agapē love.
1 Corinthians 13:1–3 (NASB95) establishes the importance of an underlying agapē love in whatever a believer does:
1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
It is critical to appreciate that agapē love is not a weak, fuzzy “do what the person wants to make them happy” kind of love. BADG[ii] defines it:
① the quality of warm regard for and interest in another, esteem, affection, regard, love (without limitation to very intimate relationships, and very seldom in general Greek of sexual attraction).
ⓐ of human love
To have a regard for another person is to do what is best for them according to the teachings of God’s Word. The gotquestions.org website (link: What is agape love? | GotQuestions.org) gives some insight into agapē love [emphasis added]:
Unlike our English word love, agape is not used in the New Testament to refer to romantic or sexual love. Nor does it refer to close friendship or brotherly love, for which the Greek word philia is used. Agape love involves faithfulness, commitment, and an act of the will. It is distinguished from the other types of love by its lofty moral nature and strong character. … We are to love others with agape love, whether they are fellow believers (John 13:34) or bitter enemies (Matthew 5:44). Jesus gave the parable of the Good Samaritan as an example of sacrifice for the sake of others, even for those who may care nothing at all for us. Agape love as modeled by Christ is not based on a feeling; rather, it is a determined act of the will, a joyful resolve to put the welfare of others above our own.
The austinprecept.org website (https://www.preceptaustin.org/love-agape ) describes agapē love:
Agape does not condone or gloss over sin in the one loved but actively, purposely seeks the welfare of the one loved.
Agapē love does not remain silent about salvation through Jesus Christ to a lost person who is on the road to hell.
To Not Preach the Gospel to a Lost Person is Christian “Hate Silence”
A 21st Century Christ-follower who remains silent in the face of an opportunity to witness to a lost person evidences their “hate” for that lost person. Now, please understand that this “hate” is not in the sense of the Greek verb miseō used in Matthew 6:24 (NASB95), which reads:
24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
In the above passage, the NASB95 translates the Greek verb miseō as “he will hate,” and it means to dislike strongly, with the implication of aversion and hostility—‘to hate, to detest.[iii] For our purpose, the sense is more like the usage of miseō, which the NASB95 translates as “does … hate,” in Luke 14:26 (NASB95), which reads:
26 “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.
One commentator[iv] explains the usage of miseō in the context of Luke 14:26 [emphasis added]:
If anyone comes to me. “Comes to me” means seeks salvation or makes a decision to follow Jesus (cf. 18:26, 28). And does not. The decision to follow Jesus must be accompanied by three conditions (14:26–27, 33). Hate. This is the first condition. From Matt 10:37 we know that this means to “love [one’s family] less.” This is evident from Gen 29:30–31, where Jacob’s greater love for Rachel (29:30) is phrased as hating Leah (29:31, RSV). Compare also Deut 21:15–17, where the same love-hate dichotomy is used. (The KJV translated the Hebrew literally as love/hate, but the NIV and RSV have translated the Hebrew as loves/does not love and love/dislike.) Compare also 16:13, where a love-hate, devote-despise dichotomy describes preferring one master over another. A person who commits himself or herself to Christ will develop a greater love for both neighbor and family, although at times loving and following Christ may be seen as renunciation, rejection, or hate if the family does not share the same commitment to Christ.[v]
There many impediments to a Christ-follower telling lost people about salvation through Jesus Christ. In a February 12, 2009 article in the Baptist Press (link:
) Penn Jillette identified social awkwardness as one reason:
“I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life or whatever, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward, and atheists who think that people shouldn’t proselytize — ‘Just leave me alone, keep your religion to yourself.’
He then on to say something that has stuck with me and convicted me more than I would like to admit [emphasis added]:
“How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize?” Jillette asked. “How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? If I believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that a truck was coming at you and you didn’t believe it, and that truck was bearing down on you, there’s a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that.”
Clearly, to not tell a lost person about Jesus when given the opportunity is Christian “hate silence.”
SOME “UNCOMFORTABLE” EXAMPLES
No doubt it can be uncomfortable to tell irreligious people about salvation through Jesus Christ. However, I believe it can be just as uncomfortable to preach the saving gospel of Jesus Christ to religious people who are a part of a church with a non-saving doctrine. Let me identify a couple of examples, and hopefully, I will elaborate on this in future articles.
First, I believe it is more likely than not that a person who is a member of a church or denomination that requires baptism for salvation is lost. This is because such a denomination teaches works-based salvation, which is a damning theology. To approach such a person may be uncomfortable because they are indoctrinated in their works-based theology, but their eternal destiny may be in the balance.
Second, I believe it is more likely than not that a person who is a member of a church or denomination that denies the Trinity is lost. A theology that denies the Trinity proclaims a non-biblical Jesus whose death on the cross is non-saving. Non-Trinitarian theology is a damning theology. To approach such a person may be uncomfortable because they are indoctrinated in their false doctrine, but their eternal destiny may be in the balance.
Finally, a Christ-follower will display some evidence of salvation, i.e., sanctification to some extent. Therefore, I believe it is more likely than not that a church member of a biblically-solid church, but whose life does not display any evidence of salvation, is lost. To approach such a person may be uncomfortable because it challenges their religion, but their eternal destiny may be in the balance.
I hope this article has caused the Christ-follower to reassess their preaching of the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. For me, I am going to going to grid my loins and make a more intense effort to always tell the lost about salvation through Jesus Christ when the opportunity arises. By doing so, the relevant questions become:
How much do I love a lost person by telling them about Jesus at every opportunity?
How often do I practice Christian “love speech?”
IF YOU ARE UNSURE ABOUT YOUR SALVATION
If you are unsure about your salvation, you need to check out my new (published in October, 2021) book The Salvation Meter: Biblical Self-Diagnostic Tests to Examine Your Salvation and Spiritual Growth (book link at Xulon Press: https://www.xulonpress.com/bookstore/bookdetail.php?PB_ISBN=9781662828638 ). At Amazon the book link is https://www.amazon.com/Salavation-Meter-Biblical-Self-Diagnostic-Spiritual/dp/1662828632 . I also have website in which I am updating the content in the book. The link to my website for the book is https://thesalvationmeter.com .
IF YOU ARE NOT A CHRISTIAN
God’s Plan of Salvation
In the beginning, God, who is holy, created the entire universe. As a part of His creative actions, He made humans in His image to know Him. For a while, everything was right between God and our ancestors, Adam and Eve. But Adam sinned, and his sin was passed down to all of humankind whereby we became separated from God. Nothing we could do on our own could bridge that separation so that without God’s intervention, hell would be our eternal destination.
Fortunately for us, in His great love and mercy God provided humankind with the only means of salvation, which is through Jesus Christ who is God’s only unique Son. While retaining His deity, God the Son became a man in Jesus, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross, thus fulfilling the law Himself and taking on Himself the punishment for the sins of all those who would ever repent and trust in Him for their salvation. Jesus rose from the dead, showing that God the Father accepted Christ’s sacrifice and that God’s wrath against us has been exhausted. He now calls us to repent of our sins and trust alone in what Christ did to save us.
If we repent of our sins and completely trust in Christ alone that He died for our sins and rose to life from the dead, we are born again into a new life, an eternal life with God.
Scripture References: Genesis 1:1, 27, 31; Habakkuk 1:13; Genesis 2:7, 18, 21-25; Genesis 3:1-7, 23-24; Isaiah 59:2; Romans 3:19-20, 23; 5:17-19; Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 6:23; John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 1 John 4:10; John 3:16-18; Mark 1:15; Romans 1:4; 4:25; John 3:5-8; 1 Peter 1:3.
If you are unsure about your salvation, then please pray the following “Sinner’s Prayer” from the bottom of your heart sincerely meaning what you pray:
Lord, Jesus Christ, the only unique Son of God, thank You for Your free gift of eternal life. I know I’m a sinner who cannot save myself no matter what I do, and I deserve to spend eternity in hell. But, I know that because You loved me so much, You voluntarily died on the cross for me taking my sins upon Yourself, and You physically bodily rose from the grave showing that Your sacrificial death was sufficient payment to give me eternal life in Heaven. I now repent of my sins and trust alone in what You did for my eternal salvation. Please take control of my life as I now receive You as my Lord and Savior. Thank You so much for saving me. I am now Yours forever! (Scripture references: John 1:1-4, 11-14; John 3:16; Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 3:21-26; Isaiah 53:4-6; Mark 1:15; Acts 16:31; Acts 4:12; Romans 10:9-10, 13; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; John 10:27-29).
If you prayed that prayer, please contact me and I can put you in contact with a Bible-believing church in your area.
NOTICE OF PERMISSIONS
I am mindful of and respect the rights other authors and/or publishers possess in their works. I thus try my best to not violate any copyright rights other authors and/or publishers possess in their works. The below copyright permission statement is the result of my best efforts to understand that limited usage or “fair use” is available and/or to secure direct permission for specific works. The quotations from commentaries are considered to be “fair use.”
Scripture quotations marked “ESV” are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version) copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture marked “NASB95” are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.”
Scripture marked “NCV” is taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”
The Scriptures marked “NET” are quoted are from the NET Bible® http://netbible.com copyright ©1996, 2019 used with permission from Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved”.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Scripture marked “GW” is taken from the God’s Word Bible that is a copyrighted work of God’s Word to the Nations. Quotations are used by permission.
[i] While it is not the case in America, to practice ad preach Christian exclusivism and restrictiviem may subject a church to penalties for “hate speech.” Such a prediction is set forth by the Gotquestions.org website (link: Are Christians guilty of hate speech? | GotQuestions.org )
In some countries, it is illegal to declare one religion right and other religions wrong. This steady broadening of what qualifies as hate speech could eventually lead to any evangelistic effort to be declared as hate speech, since it would be “hateful” to tell a person that what he/she currently believes is incorrect.
Bill Hull a well-known Christian writer on the subject of living the Christian life, writes about this basis (at page 113) in his book “Choose the Life”:
One of Satan’s favorite false ideas is that religion is a private matter because nice and benign Christians are no threat to him. He wants us to worship the God of tolerance and political correctness. I predict that one day in the not-too-distant future [written in 2004] witnessing to the exclusive nature of the gospel will be classified as a “hate crime”. The thought police will turn in people who speak words that exclude and make people feel left out and guilty. Churches will exhort members to let their lives speak but won’t ask then to say anything or stake a stand.
[ii] Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). In A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 6). University of Chicago Press.
[iii] Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). In Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, pp. 762–763). United Bible Societies.
[iv] Stein, R. H. (1992). Luke (Vol. 24, pp. 396–397). Broadman & Holman Publishers.
[v] Matthew 10:37 (NASB95) reads, “37 “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.”