For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16)
By Roger Oakland
What is the Gospel? To every Christian believer, the word Gospel means “the Good News.” And this Good News has no denominational, racial, ethnic, or national boundaries. It is a free gift anyone can receive. Unfortunately, as simple as the Gospel is, too many people try to make it complicated. Actually, the Good News is not complicated at all.
In fact, the way to eternal life is so basic a child can easily grasp it. Perhaps that is why it seems much easier to talk to a child than to an adult about God’s saving grace. If adults would humble themselves by shedding their protective layers of pride, their decision to accept God’s gift of eternal life would be much easier to make.
While presenting a message to a group of Spanish-speaking people in Argentina, an idea for making the message of salvation clear and understandable popped into my mind. Speaking with the help of an interpreter I mentioned that I had a copy of one of my books to give away to the first person who raised a hand. As soon as the interpreter finished the sentence, a small boy sitting in the front row responded. His little hand was high in the air well before any others. I invited him to come toward the platform, and without hesitation, he grabbed the book then quickly returned to his chair.
“What we all just observed,” I explained to the congregation, “is a demonstration of giving and receiving. The act of giving the book required action from two different people. I was the one who gave the book, and this young boy eagerly received it. The gift of eternal life is exactly the same. God is the one who gives the gift. You and I are the ones who can choose to receive the gift. In the case of the gift of salvation, there are no limits and no shortages. There will always be enough of this gift to go around; salvation is available to all those who want to receive the free gift.”
I then went on to explain to the congregation that the gift of salvation comes with just one string attached. The recipients must place their faith and trust in the saving power of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. In doing so, salvation is received, and the transforming power of the Gospel begins its work. This is a life-long process of changing the life of God’s newly adopted child from the inside out.
He Will Do His Part
Using a somewhat different metaphor than the idea of a gift, the prophet Isaiah referred to salvation as a seed. His words declare God’s reliability when it comes to His gift of salvation. Isaiah stated:
For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10-11)
Throughout Scripture, God often expresses His thoughts using illustrations that involve farming terminology. In this case, the moisture from the rain and the snow provide the necessary conditions for the dormant seeds to germinate. In the same way, the Holy Spirit will stimulate growth in the dormant seeds planted by the Word of God. And once the word has been planted, it will bring forth fruit in due season. What a beautiful illustration that virtually everyone can understand.
The Parable of the Sower
Jesus often taught in parables, and He took Isaiah’s picture of the seed a bit further in the Parable of the Sower. He was speaking to people who could relate to farming or gardening, and He described to them the different things that happened when a sower went out to sow his seed.
Some seed fell by the road, and the birds devoured it. Some seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew, it withered away. Other seed fell among weeds, and when it grew up, the plant was choked out. Still, other seed fell into good ground, grew up and produced a crop that multiplied itself a hundred-fold.
When Jesus’ disciples questioned the meaning of the parable, this was His response:
Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience. (Luke 8:11-15)
The parable of the sower is a perfect description of the various results that may occur when we witness to our own generation. The degree of skill with which the witness plants the seed may not necessarily be related to the failure or the success of the final harvest.
The Hard-Working Farmer
In the second chapter of Timothy 2, Paul points out the attributes of a strong Christian. In verse 6, he said a believer should be like a hard-working farmer, deserving to receive the first share of the crop.
I grew up on a wheat farm, and because I treasure my farming background, this illustration is very meaningful to me. It is with this in mind that I have chosen a farming illustration to capture the essence of this book. It is my hope that this illustration will help you to remember some of the basic principles that apply to Christian witnessing, as you read the following pages of this book.
In the province of Saskatchewan in Western Canada, sometimes the farmer prepares the seed bed by “summer fallowing” the land for a complete growing season before the crop is planted. In other words, the land is taken out of production and tilled so that moisture can be preserved and weeds can be controlled. In so doing, the farmer gives the land a rest and makes it suitable for planting the seed the following year.
At seeding time, usually in the latter part of April or the first part of May, the farmer begins to plant the seed. It is important to wait until the conditions are suitable. The farmer then goes out with his seeding equipment and works long hours planting the seed. After he has planted the seed, he must undertake a few other operations to ensure everything possible has been done to provide a good seed bed.
Following all the effort and preparation that has been made, basically two things can happen: the seed will germinate if there is enough moisture, or it will lie dormant in the soil if there is none. The germination of the seed is totally dependent upon conditions which are beyond the farmer’s control.
That is exactly the way it is with witnessing. You and I can do everything possible to be an effective witness. But positive evangelistic results happen not as the result of our might and power but by God’s Spirit. Yes, we must work hard; we need to be diligent and obedient; but it is God who brings the harvest.
Are You a Witness?
Will you be a witness to our generation? This is the challenge I place before you. And, what is the difference between this generation and those that have come and gone before us, you may ask? I believe that one of the most distinguishing elements in our society is the moral and spiritual erosion brought about by a belief in evolution and by a re-emergence of paganism. Since these dangerous beliefs are especially prevalent in our contemporary culture, we must arm ourselves with specific truth in order to confront their spurious teachings. I also believe that we are living in times that the Bible calls “The Last Days.” This too, should make an impact on both our motivation and our message.
With these concepts in mind, I hope you will prayerfully read on. Most of all, I encourage you to gather together your storehouse of “seed,” survey the land around you, and begin the business of patiently sowing precious truth, trusting that God will provide a bountiful, eternal harvest.
The article above is an extract from Roger Oakland‘s book, Witness to This Generation. Photo from the cover of the book; design by Lighthouse Trails using photos from bigstockphoto.com; used with permission. You can read Roger’s story of becoming an evolutionist biology teacher in Canada to becoming a creationist and then a born-again believer in his book, Let There Be Light. Also check out the mission program to widows and children, Bryce Homes International, on Roger’s website, www.understandthetimes.org.
Other articles by Roger Oakland: