Everyday Evangelism: Are We Too Good to Share? Part 3

Everyday Evangelism: Are We Too Good to Share?        Part 3: The Omniscient God

 

Christians can face challenges evangelizing because of intentional or unintentional discrimination based on our misunderstanding about the implications of God’s omniscience.  While we certainly affirm that God is All-knowing, our actions may perpetuate the myth that we know better than Him regarding who and how we should spend time witnessing to unbelievers.  
 
In Jonah 1:2, we see how God’s response to Jonah reveals three practical lessons about evangelism because He knows the status, source, and solution for unbelievers’ spiritual heart condition.
 
God understands the pervasiveness of the Ninevites’ status.  In fact, He provides clear instructions to His prophet in Jonah 1:2:  “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me” (NASB).
 
Nineveh is a “great city” because of both its size and its sin.   In terms of size, “There were around five times as many people living [in Nineveh] as lived in Jerusalem.” 1   Jonah certainly thought about the logistics of witnessing to enormous population!  But notice the verb tense used in this verse. Arise, go, and cry are imperative verbs indicating God’s emphatic command.  Therefore, Jonah should not have viewed this verse a suggestion or negotiation.  Evangelism is part of Jonah’s job description as a prophet who heralds, proclaims, and restates God’s message regardless of whether people want to hear it or whether he wants certain people to hear.  We, like Jonah, don’t have the right to opt out of evangelism because of apprehensions about the size or formidity of the audience.
 
God also recognizes and addresses the nature of Nineveh’s greatness because of widespread sin.  While Jonah may wonder about the logistics of evangelizing to this enormous city, he should not wonder about how God was going to save it.   In the same way, we should be encouraged that God will provide opportunities for us to share the gospel and we should not be overwhelmed by the daunting task addressing the global nature of sin.  God knows the hearts and minds of unbelievers and will equip us accordingly. It’s not our job to prioritize or pre-approve who should hear the gospel: that’s God’s business. Paul cautions us about the interchangeable nature of the evangelist but the unchangeable nature of the Deliverer in 1 Corinthians 3:6-7:  “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.” Proverbs 15:3 and Jeremiah 23:20-24 reinforce the fact that we should obey God’s command to evangelize while also realizing it’s His job to draw people toward Him.  
 
Second, God’s omniscience implies He knows the source for unbelievers’ spiritual heart condition.   Ninevites enjoyed their sin because Satan loves to appeal to people’s feelings rather than their faith.  Not surprisingly, Jonah needed to address the sin issue by proclaiming a succinct message: God hates sin.  To this end, the middle of Jonah 1:2 says “cry against it” in reference to Nineveh. Here, the concept involves speaking out in opposition to and direct confrontation about sin and those who justify sin.  A similar phrase is recorded in Matthew 12:30 when Jesus rejects Pharisee claims that He cast out demons through power of Beelzebub, the Philistine deity: “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.”
 
The Bible clearly informs us about the purpose and nature of Satan and sin which cause us to acknowledge God’s omniscience and our finite knowledge.  Scripture describes Satan as the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33), the father of lies (John 8:44), a roaring lion (I Peter 5:8), trickster (Genesis 3:1), and god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).  In contrast, God is the Author of creation (Genesis 1:1), Father of Truth (John 14:6), Good Shepherd (John 10:11), Deliverer (Psalm 18:2), and God of the universe (Hebrews 11:3). Who do you think knows more, Satan or God?  It isn’t even close!
 
Third, God is omniscient because He knows that salvation is the solution for people’s spiritual heart condition.  He informs Jonah that “[the Ninevites’] wickedness has come up before Me” (Jonah 1:2).  The Hebrew concept of “come up” relates to a direct ascendence or an object’s upward movement in a linear motion.  We see this in Exodus 19:20 in reference to Moses going up Mount Sinai to speak with God. In both cases, God’s keenly aware of everything at all times but circumstances require His immediate and direct attention to validate His holy nature.  Only a Holy God can solve the pain and torment of sins affecting the Jews at Mount Sinai (idol worship), the city of Nineveh (reckless behavior), and unbelievers (spiritual degeneration).
 
God’s clarion call to salvation is as loud, clear, and powerful today as it was during Jonah’s lifetime!  Lest we succumb to the lie that evangelism is optional for Christians, 1 John 1:8-10 provides this warning we should share with every unbeliever:  “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.”
 
1   Mackrell, Paul. Opening up Jonah. Leominster: Day One Publications, 2007. Print. Opening Up Commentary.

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