“Every day, people witness preventable crimes or tragedies and do nothing. A bystander may be willing to call 911, yet often allows that single action to be the extent of his or her responsibility. There are at least two assumptions present in the bystander effect. The first is that if there are many people who could do something, I don’t have to. The second is that if I am not the one committing the crime, I don’t carry any guilt for the crime’s occurrence. If we do the minimum we think is required of us, we can believe we have done enough. If we avoid doing something bad, we can believe we are good people. If the ‘moral arc of the universe bends toward justice’, as Martin Luther King, Jr. so eloquently expressed, then why does our moral arc bend toward apathy?”
Ken Wytsma, Pursuing Justice; The Call to Live and Die For Bigger Things
“God’s Word calls Satan “the god of this age”. He leverages a tremendous asset when he is on his home court. However, he is much too cunning to depend solely on closed countries, undiscovered people groups, the persecution of believers, and cultures hostile to the gospel. He employs other strategies to deter the advancement of God’s kingdom inside the Christian community to hinder believers and churches from ever deploying to vast pockets of lostness around the world.
In trying to convince Christians that missions is optional, he diverts churches to focus on their own programs and to see their mission as reaching people for their own church. If he can persuade Christians that reaching the nations has no relevancy or urgency to their own life, he has raised a barrier that makes other barriers obsolete. Who, then, will be willing to leave their own comfort and security to take the gospel and declare God’s salvation to the peoples of the world?”
Ed Stetzer, from “Spiritual Warfare and Missions; The Battle For God’s Glory Among the Nations”
“…if the death of Christ on the cross is the true meaning of the Incarnation, then there is no gospel without the cross. Christmas by itself is no gospel. The life of Christ is no gospel. Even the resurrection, important as it is in the total scheme of things, is no gospel by itself. For the good news is not just that God became man, nor that God has spoken to reveal a proper way of life for us, or even that death, the great enemy, is conquered. Rather, the good news is that sin has been dealt with (of which the resurrection is a proof); that Jesus has suffered its penalty for us as our representative, so that we might never have to suffer it; and that therefore all who believe in him can look forward to heaven. …Emulation of Christ’s life and teaching is possible only to those who enter into a new relationship with God through faith in Jesus as their substitute. The resurrection is not merely a victory over death (though it is that) but a proof that the atonement was a satisfactory atonement in the sight of the Father; and that death, the result of sin, is abolished on that basis.
Any gospel that talks merely of the Christ-event, meaning the Incarnation without the atonement, is a false gospel. Any gospel that talks about the love of God without pointing out that his love led him to pay the ultimate price for sin in the person of his Son on the cross is a false gospel. The only true gospel is of the ‘one mediator’, who gave himself for us.”
James Montgomery Boice
The world today views Christians and Christianity in a drastically different light from how they were viewed in the first and second century. Don’t just take my word for it.
“They dwell in their countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all others; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death and restored to life. They are poor yet make many rich, they are in lack of all things an yet abound in all; they are dishonored and yet in their very dishonor are glorified. They are evil spoken of and yet are justified; they are reviled and bless; they are insulted and repay the insult with honor; they do good yet are punished as evildoers. When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life; they are assailed by the Jews as foreigners and are persecuted by the Greeks; yet those who hate them are unable to assign any reason for their hatred. To sum it all up in one word – what the soul is to the body, that are Christians in the world.”
The Epistle to Diognetes, early Christian writing – AD 130
One can only imagine how different our world would be today if the same thing could be said of the Christian faith in the twenty-first century.
“The God of the Bible is a missionary God. For someone to suggest that one’s biblical beliefs should be disassociated from one’s philosophy and practice of mission ignores the important relationship between the two. In reality, one’s theology faithfully generates one’s missiology; and likewise, one’s missiology clearly reflects one’s theology.”
J. Sam Simmons, Missiology; An Introduction to the Foundations, History, and Strategies of World Missions
“The great truths which the apostles declared were that Christ had risen from the dead, and that only through repentance from sin, and faith in Him, could men hope for salvation. This doctrine they asserted with one voice, everywhere, not only under the greatest discouragements, but in the face of the most appalling terrors that can be presented to the mind of man.
Their master had recently perished as a malefactor, by the sentence of public tribunal. His religion sought to overthrow the religions of the whole world. The laws of every country were against the teachings of His disciples. The interests and passions of all the rulers and great men in the world were against them. The fashion of the world was against them.
Propagating this new faith, even in the most inoffensive and peaceful manner, they could expect nothing but contempt, opposition, revilings, bitter persecutions, stripes, imprisonments, torments, and cruel deaths. Yet this faith they zealously did propagate; and all these miseries they endured undismayed, nay, rejoicing.
As one after another was put to a miserable death, the survivors only prosecuted their work with increased vigor and resolution. The annals of military warfare afford scarcely an example of the like heroic constancy, patience, and unblenching courage. They had every possible motive to review carefully the grounds of their faith, and the evidences of the great facts and truths which they asserted and these motives were pressed upon their attention with the most melancholy and terrific frequency. It was therefore impossible that they could have persisted in affirming the truths they have narrated, had not Jesus actually risen from the dead, and had they not known this fact as certainly as they knew any other fact.”
Dr. Simon Greenleaf, Harvard Royall Professor of Law from A Treatise on the Law of Evidence
“There is a spiritual battle presently raging for the souls of billions of men and women around the world. The scope of this spiritual battle is universal. It covers and comprises every tongue, tribe, language, nation, person, and people group. There is no place on this earth where this war is not being waged.
The stakes in this spiritual battle are eternal. There is a true God over this world who desires all people to experience everlasting joy in heaven. There is a false god in this world who desires all people to experience everlasting suffering in hell. The enemy in this spiritual battle is formidable. He is like a lion looking for his kill, and he is dead set on defaming God’s glory and destroying God’s people. Where the church exists, he works to draw us in through temptation and discourage us in trial. He lures us with possessions and prosperity, and he lulls us to sleep with comforts and complacency. He deceives, deters, and distracts the church from knowing the wonder of Christ and declaring the worth of Christ to the ends of the earth.
Meanwhile, he holds thousands of unreached people groups captive through deceptive philosophies, hollow worldviews, and false religions. These people groups are virtually untouched by the gospel of the glory of God, and this is where the adversary’s stronghold exists. Any Christian and any church that desires to proclaim the gospel among the unreached people groups of the world can expect to be met with the full force of hell in the process.”
David Platt, from the foreword of “Spiritual Warfare and Missions” by Jerry Rankin and Ed Stetzer
“I wonder if our lack of creativity stems from a false definition of faithfulness. Let me tell you what faithfulness is not. Faithfulness is not doing it the way it’s always been done. Faithfulness is not holding down the fort. Faithfulness is not defending the status quo. Faithfulness is the courage to incarnate the gospel in creative ways. Faithfulness is experimenting with new ways to of doing discipleship. Faithfulness is playing offense for the kingdom even if some Pharisees find it offensive.”
Mark Batterson, Primal
“You ask me what I shall do if I am called by the emperor. I will go even if I am too sick to stand on my feet. I f Caesar calls me, God calls me. If violence is used, as it may well be, I commend my cause to God. He lives and reigns who saved the three youths from the fiery furnace of the king of Babylon, and if He will not save me, my head is worth nothing compared with Christ. This is no time to think of personal safety. I must take care that the gospel is not brought into contempt by our fear o confess and seal our teaching with blood.”
Martin Luther, December 1520