By Bill Imrisek
There was no preacher pounding on the pulpit to impress upon his hearers their God-given responsibility to go out and tell others about Jesus. But for some reason they did it anyway.
The shepherds who tended their flocks in the fields about Bethlehem were told by angels sent from God that “there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is .Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). Determined to see it for themselves, “they came with haste, and found both Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in the manger. And when they saw it, they made known concerning the saying which was spoken to them about this child” (Luke 2:16-17). No one told them to do it. They just did it. They made it known.
A man named Andrew listened to the prophet John, the one who baptized in the Jordon, tell about “He that cometh after me, the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to unloose” (John 1:27). One day Jesus appeared in public, and John “looked upon Jesus as he walked, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God” (John 1:35). Andrew was interested. He followed Jesus and spent the day with Him. But what he found was too good to keep to himself. “He findeth first his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messiah (which is, being interpreted Christ). He brought him unto Jesus” (John 1:41-42). No one told him to do it. But the truth about Jesus was such that he felt compelled to tell others.
Shortly after this Jesus spoke to a man named Philip, and said to him, “Follow me.” Philip learned enough about Jesus during this brief encounter that he went out, and “Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, wrote, Jesus of Nazareth” (John 1:45). Philip could not contain himself. This was good news. He had to tell Nathanael. And so, he related to Nathanael the conclusions that he had come to about Jesus, inviting him to “Come and see” (John 1:46).
Then there was the Samaritan woman who came to Jacob’s well to draw water. Upon arriving she not only located Jacob’s well, but also found “a well of water springing up unto eternal life” (John 4:14). There at the well, she found a wearied traveler named Jesus who was savoring a few moments of rest. They began to converse. Shortly the conversation turned to spiritual matters. The woman was amazed at Jesus’ knowledge, and said, “Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet” (John 4:19). She had discovered something important, but she was to learn more, much more. She continued to speak, saying to Jesus, “I know that Messiah cometh (he that is called Christ): when he is come, he will declare unto us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he” (John 4:25-26). Could this be true? Jesus was certainly unlike any other. “The woman left her waterpot, and went away into the city, and saith to the people, Come, see a man who told me all things that ever I did: can this be the Christ?” (John 4:28-29). This woman, in her urgency to tell others, left behind her vessel of water. It could wait. She had to tell others about Jesus.
And let us not forget about the two Galilean fishermen, Peter and John, who left their trades and took to the streets of the big city to tell the thousands of Jerusalem about Jesus, whom the people of the city had crucified, but whom God raised from the dead. These men were looked upon as being “unlearned and ignorant” (Acts 4:13). But this did not stop them. They even received the disapproval of the city rulers. In fact, they were imprisoned and then called upon to give an account of their actions before the council. After hearing them out, the men of the council commanded Peter and John “not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus” (Acts 4:18). But this did not dampen their spirits or squelch their enthusiasm. They responded respectfully but forthrightly, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to hearken unto you rather than unto God, judge ye: for we cannot but speak the things which we saw and heard” (Acts 4:19-20). They had to tell it. Public disapproval could not hold them back. What they knew about Jesus had to be made known. Their love for God and concern for the souls of mankind compelled them to tell others about Jesus.
What all of these people who were acquainted with Jesus knew, that many are closing their eyes to today, is that Christ is one’s only hope of salvation (Acts 4:12). The implication of this is well stated by John in his first epistle, “He that hath the Son hath the life; he that hath not the Son hath not the life” (1 John 5:12). To put it another way, Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned” (Mark 16:16). We owe it to the world to give them the opportunity to believe and obey. But how can they believe unless they first hear the gospel from us (Rom. 10:17)? The one who has the saving knowledge about Jesus, but keeps it to himself, is guilty of criminal negligence. He stands watching his neighbors in the world step over the brink and plunge to an eternity of sorrow and punishment, when he could have warned them and given them the opportunity to obey the gospel and travel the road that leads to eternal bliss.
James asked in his epistle, “What doth it profit, my brethren, if a man say that he hath faith, but have not works? can that faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked and in lack of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Go in peace, be ye warmed and filled; and yet he give them not the things needful to the body; what doth it profit?” (James 2:14-16). I think James stated His case well. We make a mockery of the needs of another if we merely give them our well-wishes, but withhold from them the assistance they desperately need. In the same way, what good is it if we greet our acquaintances on the street and wish them the best if we do not give them What they need the most for their soul, a knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ and direction on how to be saved from the eternal fires of hell? Will your “best wishes” save them’?
The shepherds near Bethlehem, along with Andrew, Philip, the woman of Samaria, Peter and John, all knew how precious Jesus is. They knew how much the world needed to know about him. And they knew what they had to do. They had to tell others what they knew about Jesus.
Are there those whose company you enjoy, whose friendship you cherish, whose love you share, but to whom you have never spoken about your Savior, His church, and His salvation? Then be a friend to them. Show them how much you really love them. Contemplate where they will spend eternity if they do not obey the gospel (2 Thess. 1:8-9). Think about what you know that can help them. Then go tell them about our Lord. In the words of the song by Jesse pounds and J.H. Filmore,
If the name of the Savior is precious to you,
If His care has been constant and tender and true,
If the light of His presence has brightened your way,
O will you not tell of your gladness today?
If your faith in the Savior has bro’t its reward,
If a strength you have found in the strength of your Lord,
If the hope of a rest in His palace is sweet,
O will you not, brother, the story repeat?
If the souls all around you are living in sin,
If the Master has told you to bid them come in,
If the sweet invitation they never have heard,
O will you not tell them the cheer-bringing word?
Truth Magazine XXIII: 48, pp. 780-781
December 6, 1979