What shuts our mouths?
We wish to “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks [us] a reason of the hope that is in [us]”. But sometimes we get talked out of speaking up.
In the early 1900’s Bible scholar E. W. Bullinger set about to correct a doctrinal error taught in his day that was discouraging Christians from telling others about Jesus Christ. This song, “Christ Will Come Again” was inspired by his effort. Please give the song a listen, then come back here for more.
“The Gospel is failing its mission”
A hundred years ago, there was a popular belief that the Gospel was sent to convert everyone AND that the Gospel was a failure unless everyone got converted. Of course, then, as now, there was no shortage of people who rejected the things of God. So the Gospel appeared to be failing its mission. They believed Christ would not return until ALL on earth believed, and that was a very long way from happening. That thought overwhelmed believers and discouraged them from speaking up.
E. W. Bullinger, in a chapter called “The Church’s Motive for Service”, wrote, “If the Gospel was meant to convert the world, it will be a failure if this is not done. But if the Gospel was meant “to take out … a people for his name [Acts 15:14],” then it is not a failure, for this is being done.” Our song makes the point that God’s invitation to life is for all people, but some will reject Him. Still, it is our joy to teach about Jesus and proclaim he is coming back.
“We report, you decide”
The Gospel succeeds in its mission when it is shared, when it is spoken. God’s Word does not come back void. There will always be a blessing to the speaker, whether or not it is received and believed by the hearer.
It is disappointing to be rejected. But it is a mistake to think of being rejected as a personal failure.
The Bible offers many examples of rejection that did not cause the speakers to quit. No one was more rejected than Jesus Christ himself, and no one was ever as great a success. It is no wonder we are instructed to learn from his example by “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Mockers and talkers
Another great example of speaking up and handling rejection is recorded in Acts 17, with Paul at Mars Hill. He literally risked his life by daring to introduce yet another god to Athens. He had seen a local statue “To The Unknown God”, and brilliantly launched into teaching about the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He had an audience until he taught the resurrection. At that point the crowd got agitated. We can read what happened: “And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.“
Notice, even the great Apostle Paul did not win 100% of the people when he spoke. We don’t need to feel bad if the same happens to us.
It looked like Paul had two options. Either he could be discouraged by the mockers, and stop talking, or he could be encouraged by the talkers and keep the chat going.
He does neither of those things. Keep reading: “So Paul departed from among them.”
“Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed”
Paul was not stopped by the mockers.
Paul did not waste time by hanging around and entertaining the talkers.
Paul walked away … and a third group walked away with him.
What a great example and lesson! Mockers, talkers and walkers. We don’t want to let mockers discourage us or let talkers waste our time and energy. And we don’t want to deny walkers the opportunity to move forward with their believing by following our lead.
LYRICS: Christ Will Come Again
Song by Dale Reichel
1) Even though the Lord desires none would perish,
Some reject Him, and mockers will remain.
It’s our joy to proclaim Christ is coming.
God will take out a people for His name.
Christ will come again, Christ will come again
He’s coming, shout out and proclaim.
Christ will come again, he is coming
God will take out a people for His name.
2) It is not for us to know the times or seasons
Which the Father has put in His own power,
But we cherish hope with good reason
Though we don’t know the minute or the hour
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