By Ronald Graham
Ron Graham was called home on March 14, 2013. He began writing this commentary before his death and had asked me, Nathele Graham, to continue his service to our Lord by finishing what he began.
“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, how beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:14-15)
Every day we read the news and we are bombarded by reports of violence, hatred, and fear. Schools are closed while police investigate the latest shooting. Families are torn apart by anger toward each other. Suicide bombers destroy lives because they serve the god of hatred who demands his followers to destroy life. On the other hand, Christians have Good News that needs to be shared about the one true God who gave His life so all can live. Are we sharing that news?
Why is it so difficult to speak up for Jesus? Somehow the world around us has made Christians feel uneasy about speaking out for Christ. So often I am offended by the messages on t-shirts and astounded that anyone can brandish such vulgar messages without apology. There was a time not so long ago when such public displays of vulgarity would be shunned and looked down upon. But today it is accepted anddeemed freedom of speech. Conversations are filled with profanity. Why? What has changed in our society to make it acceptable to be vulgar?
Christians are keeping quiet. We have stopped speaking out and so we are being silenced. Sadly there are even some Christians who see nothing wrong with putting forth a worldly message rather than being uncompromising as they stand upon the gospel. We whisper among ourselves how sad it is that the few who find it offensive to say, â€˜Merry Christmas,” have silenced the majority who are not offended, yet we whisper in secret rather than speak out.
Christianity is not something that should be kept secret and it needs to be shared. How will anyone come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior if nobody tells them? Brothers and sisters, it is time to speak out. We must speak with love, but we need to stop compromising God’s truth because we might offend someone.
Trying to silence truth is not new. We just need to look into the book of Acts to see examples of attempts to stop the spread of Christianity. Peter, John, and some others were publically teaching about Jesus when the high priest became offended by their words and arrested them. While they were in prison an angel came and opened the prison doors for them to leave. His direction to them was, “Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life” (Acts 5:20).
These same instructions need to be followed today. We need to publically speak of Jesus. If we don’t, who will? The apostles were not ashamed of Jesus and followed the angel’s instructions. Yes, they were arrested again. They were brought before the high priest. This was one of Peter’s shining moments. He was not intimidated by those in authority who wanted to silence the spread of the gospel.
“Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, â€˜We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him'” (Acts 5:29-32).
The word dei is translated “ought” and speaks of necessity. Can you imagine what a difference you could make in the life of a co-worker, or a neighbor, or even the leaders of this nation if you would just speak up? Like Peter said, we ought to (or rather, it is necessary to) obey God rather than men.
What is it that we need to speak up about? What’s the Good News? Jesus took the sin of the world upon Himself and purchased our salvation. All we have to do is believe and we will live with Him forever.
“Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house” (Acts 16:29-32).
Sometimes we tend to think of Christianity as a list of rules…things to do and things not to do in order to be good enough. Just so you know no one will ever be good enough without Jesus. God gave Adam one rule – “Don’t eat the forbidden fruit” – and Adam failed.
Then God gave an extensive list of His “rules” known as the Jewish Law. It is summed up in the Ten Commandments. Can anyone keep them perfectly? Only Jesus was able to do that. Although the Law was true for all of humanity it was given to the Jews. The sacrifices of bulls and lambs could only cover sin, never take sin away.
“For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4).
No, you and I will never be good enough on our own, but Jesus Christ paid our price for salvation. God knew that it would take His own death upon the cross of Calvary to redeem us. He became a man to save humanity from our sin.
He became as one of us and was born a baby in a manger. And so the sharing of the Good News began. The angels told the shepherds the Good News.
“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, â€˜Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men'” (Luke 2:13-14).
The shepherds went and found Him in the manger and they spread the Good News:
“And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child” (Luke 2:16-17).
Many years later, John the Baptist recognized Jesus and told his followers:
“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
During Christ’s ministry on earth He met with many people and some recognized who He was and told others. The Samaritan woman had many strikes against her….she was a Samaritan (Samaritans and Jews didn’t get along), a woman (women were not to publically speak to men), and she was full of sin (she had been married five times but was now unmarried and living with a man). After talking with Jesus she realized who He was and went and told others.
“The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this man the Christ?” (John 4:28-29).
After His resurrection Jesus met Mary Magdalene at the tomb. When she recognized her risen Lord she worshiped Him then went and told the disciples.
“Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her” (John 20:18).
These people all have the same thing in common, they told others about Jesus.
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
Finally, Jesus Christ Himself gave the command to spread the gospel:
“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15-16).
This wasn’t a suggestion.
In my own life my best friend, my husband, Ron Graham, died in March of this year. I feel the loss but have no doubt that he is with Jesus. His life reflected Christ in all that he did. Oh, I feel a great sorrow but my sorrow is for my loss and not for his gain. When we were first married he was not a Christian. He and I talked about Jesus and somewhere along the line my words, as well as the words of others who dared to speak to him about Jesus, touched him.
He gave his life to Jesus and loved Him with his entire heart. I know where my husband is right now, but I don’t have that same assurance about my father. He died a few years before my husband and I just don’t know what he believed. I was hesitant to talk with him about Jesus and after his death I was left heartbroken and kicking myself for not speaking up. I wrote this a few days after his death:
Why Didn’t I Tell You
I knew that, like me, you were a sinner in need of grace. Why didn’t I tell you?
I knew that sin, no matter how small, cannot enter Heaven. Why didn’t I tell you?
I knew that you were searching, in need of peace. Why didn’t I tell you?
I knew that eternity is forever. Why didn’t I tell you?
I knew that we can choose where we spend eternity. Why didn’t I tell you?
I knew that all roads do not lead to Heaven. Why didn’t I tell you?
I knew that if there was any other way of salvation, Jesus wouldn’t have had to die on the cross.
Why didn’t I tell you?
I knew that Jesus chose to die on the cross for me….and you. Why didn’t I tell you?
I knew that you had to accept that free gift which God gave us in order to be saved. Why didn’t I tell you?
But now I don’t know where you are. I was going to tell you tomorrow, but there are no more tomorrows for you.
Where are you? Did somebody else tell you? Oh, dear God, forgive me. How about you? Have you told others about Jesus? We never know when death will come and tomorrow may be too late to tell someone about Jesus. As we are coming to a new year, many people are making resolutions. Make your first resolution to serve Jesus better and share the Good News.
God bless you all,