Palau: Proclaiming the Gospel

There is a harvest waiting around the world for those willing to obey and gather it.

I have seen it in every country, on every continent. I’ll never forget being in Hong Kong in 1997 (the second time we went there), as the people of that beautiful island pre- pared for an uncertain future under Chinese rule. Into a packed stadium I spoke, much as I had a decade earlier in the same place: “Look at the sky! Look at those stars! Look at the moon! Do you think those happened by accident?” Necks craned, and half the crowd came forward. Just as in 1987, thousands accepted Jesus in one night. People were running to confess Christ and find rest for their hearts.

This is Good News of great joy for all people. Does it get better than that? But we seem to make that Good News hard on purpose. Are we so stupid? We are just not presenting the Gospel for what it is worth. I read 1 Corinthians 13 recently. It pierced my heart with its conviction and beauty, as it always does.

Love is patient, love is kind… It keeps no record of wrongs. — 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

That passage has always chastened me. The description of love is what we all long for but so rarely find. That love, from God to us, is the Good News.

Why do we seem embarrassed by the Gospel? Might it be that deep down, we’ve failed to embrace it as Good News? Why would we hold back? So many of us, I feel, simply say we believe it, but it has not penetrated our hearts. It cannot go out from us with conviction because it has not gone into us with conviction. Our hesitation is a clear statement of our theology. We pay lip service, but our lack of action reveals our unbelief.

Proclaiming the Gospel is just saying the Good News: “God loves you, He has a plan for your life. If you are honest enough to repent and believe, you will be forgiven and become a child of God. He will never leave you, He will live within you, and when you die, you will go to Heaven.”

That’s a pretty good deal. Why not proclaim it? It is not your job to brilliantly persuade, merely to joyfully present.

If you have a vision in your heart, don’t give it up. “Never doubt in the dark what God told you in the light,” V. Raymond Edman said. If you feel His fire inside, the Lord may be doing all kinds of things in His perfect timing that will make you ready when the door opens, and no one can shut it.

Many of my secret dreams were answered. Few knew about those dreams outside our inner circle for fear of the criticisms that come when you meet with political or cultural figures. I have been criticized by the right for meeting dictators on the left and criticized by the left for meeting dictators on the right. We led several presidents to faith in Christ. Their lives changed. Nations were quietly influenced through quiet prayers and secret dreams.

The Gospel for the poor is also the Gospel for the rich and powerful.

Because they’re all just as poor when it comes to what matters most. And often the wealthy and powerful are the poorest.

I once met a general in a country that shall remain nameless. He had seized power from a corrupt government by force but now seemed (to me) to be in danger of repeating many of the former administration’s mistakes. We met. His bluster and bravado were notable in our meeting. Eventually, he asked his aides to leave, and the two of us were alone in his presidential office.

“I act tough,” he said. “I act like I know what I’m doing, how to run this country. But you know what, Palau?”

“What?” I answered.

“On the inside…” He paused, looked out the window. “On the inside I am a small, scared twelve-year-old boy. I need God.”

In the end, we all are simply people. We have the same needs, the same fears, the same sins. And we’re all hungry for the same Good News.

There’s an old hymn I love: “Lift High the Cross,” by George Kitchin.

O Lord, once lifted on the glorious tree,

As Thou hast promised, draw the world to Thee.

Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim,

Till all the world adore His sacred name.

Lift Him high. Proclaim until the whole world adores Him, drawn by that vision of the crucified Jesus, who is perfect in mercy and love.

The Great Commission is not impossible. It is not ridiculous or stupid. Playing a part in nations turning to Christ is not a bombastic, egotistical dream. It can happen.

Jesus said go into all the world, and He meant it.

I long to see this generation move the hearts of millions of people. Two thousand years have gone by, and we still haven’t finished the job Christ gave us.

Are we afraid of the Good News? It seems that way sometimes. Why do we always feel that we have to walk into a room with a baseball bat and knuckledusters? It’s as if we’re looking for something to fight about. We can see that behavior in the Bible, but it’s sure not from Jesus. It’s the hallmark of a Pharisee.

We feel like making another person bleed inside is going to soften them to the news that their Maker loves them. Really? The Holy Spirit convicts as He applies truth. Your job is not to take His over. In fact, taking over for the Spirit is the grossest kind of idolatry. Your job is simply to tell the truth in love. To help them feel that maybe, just maybe, there might be something to this whole “love of Jesus” thing. Yet we seem more afraid of letting the Good News be good than wading into a fight.

How do you get a passion for the lost? R. A. Torrey said that you need to not only know what the Bible says about the separation of the lost from God but believe it, letting it lead you to prayer and action. The crisis of the current generation is not a crisis of knowledge but a crisis of belief. In half a second we can pull up any verse, commentary, perspective, or sermon onto a screen in front of us. Now that’s convenient! But once there, what is done with that truth? Too often, nothing is done. The idea is sampled like wine at a vineyard tasting — swirled in the mouth, noted eloquently, like a connoisseur of doctrine, and then simply spat out. “Wow! That’s great!” But has it gone into you? Has it touched your heart? Or have you merely sampled it and now moved on to the next novel idea?

We need to believe, not merely to know. We need to take truth and let it change us. We will never have true compassion for the lost, no true commitment to the Good News, if we do not believe it. This seems painfully obvious. But I ask you, if you really believed what you say you do, would your life change? Isn’t life the truest test of belief? All too often, our lives are so divided, so segmented, that we can smile and nod at the Gospel and then go about our routine as we always have, without more compassion and without the slightest sense of urgency for those who are sinking into meaningless despair.

Truth is vital. It is not relative. America’s most destructive export of the recent decades is the idea that the truth is a shifting, malleable commodity. Today we see this more clearly than ever in our politics and national life — people at the highest levels having the gall to claim “alternative” truths. Perspectives may be different, sure. But truth is truth. Period. If that objectivity is lost, all that remains is propaganda, people trying to use others for their own ends.

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Many people have expressed their feeling that they owe their conversion to my work. But I owe my life and work to others — many others. And they in turn only ministered for Jesus because they themselves had been influenced, inspired, and trained by others. We could trace generations upon generations of ministers back through time until, inevitably, the trail would lead us to twelve men who spent three years together in Palestine, walking and working with a man from Nazareth.

Yes, to Him is where all the credit goes — not only because of His Spirit which lives and works in us today but because the chain of conversion and discipleship has been unbroken through the generations. We all owe a debt to those who have gone before, but the initiator of it is Jesus Himself. We carry His Good News, His ministry, and His heart for all souls and all nations. We are part of His movement. And we pray that we might be faithful to pass along to others what has been given to us — the message that God’s love is here to bless the nations, beginning with you.

Proclaiming the Gospel doesn’t mean walking around with a sermon prepped and stuffed into your back pocket. It’s much simpler than that. It’s my mother, smiling and sharing the truth over steaming coffee in her house in Argentina.

It is a wonderful time to be alive and ministering to the world. I see young pastors growing, dedicating their lives bravely to the mission of the Gospel. I see young evangelists, as creative and adaptable as ever, seeking new ways and means to take the Good News to bless the nations.

The young have a hunger for the voices of wise and open-minded elders, but they also have the strength and bravery to forge a new way, often one more faithful to the Bible than the last few generations have done. I am very encouraged. There will always be advances and reverses in church and culture. But the Good News remains good. For all our faults, God’s people remain the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

Deep down, everyone feels unworthy. We should speak to that part of a person, not to their façade or the mask that they’re putting on. We need to speak to that small, childish, unworthy-feeling place in their soul that Jesus wants to save and love. The worth and joy of life in Christ will pull them in like a magnet.

Every sin and problem we fall prey to is just another way of covering up our pain. Our relationship with God must be set right. Our agony at being separated relationally from the One who made us brings us the torment that we seek to numb and the brokenness that hurts others. We are lost. We need to let our heavenly Father find us. This Good News could change the world.

Excerpted with permission from Palau by Luis Palau, copyright Palau Family Trust.

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Your Turn

If you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, you have Good News to share! Maybe not on a platform or from a pulpit, but the kitchen table, or the front porch, or your office cubicle. With whom are you sharing the news of Jesus? Come share with us on our blog. We want to hear from you!

 

Luis Palau

For more than 50 years of ministry, Luis Palau and his team have been known for their commitment to the Word of God and the clear teachings of Jesus Christ. Luis is a dynamic evangelist and teacher, living a life of dedicated service and commitment to God as he shares the life-changing message of Jesus Christ.

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