Well it is party time for Jews for Jesus this month—time for our New York Summer Witnessing Campaign! Some of the Jews for Jesus missionaries and volunteers who read this might wonder, What is he talking about?!” After all, the Summer Campaign is one of the toughest, longest, hottest, dirtiest, smelliest, I-can’t-wait-to-just-crawl-into-bed kind of projects that Jews for Jesus does. How can I call it party time?
It is party time—according to Jesus’ words in Luke 15:7, “I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”
This summer our campaigners in New York and London are handing out tens of thousands of broadsides like the one enclosed. They are talking one-on-one with thousands of people, sharing the good news of the gospel and taking names and addresses for follow-up. And we expect to see hundreds of Jews and Gentiles put their faith and trust in Jesus the Messiah. Yes, we will be doing a lot of hard work, but if what our Messiah says is true, then there will be some genuine partying going on in heaven. Why shouldn’t we do the same down here on earth?
How much satisfaction, how much joy do we take in the fruit that God brings forth from ministry and missions efforts? If our hearts are tuned to God, if we are sensitive to what makes God happy, then our lives will fill with joy as we see lost souls brought home on His shoulders. If we can’t get excited about lost ones found, knowing that a person who was on the way to a Christless eternity will now enjoy God forever, then we need to repent and experience the renewal of Christ in our own lives.
We ought to be some of the happiest, most celebratory people in the world—we should be having a party right now because of what God has done for us and for the people around us. But rarely do we reflect this kind of spirit. I think we ought to be sharing more stories of salvation with one another, so we have included a few more than usual in this newsletter to help get you started. What topic could possibly deserve more of our attention? If there is such joy in heaven over one lost sinner found, there ought to be more joy on earth and there ought to be more joy in us. We should make time to celebrate what God is doing in people’s lives and how He allows us to take part in that process. I’m not suggesting that we pat ourselves on the back, because it is God’s grace that enables us to participate in His rescue plans. But let’s remember that every day, many people’s lives and eternal destinies truly change! If we take the time to realize this, we will be changed as well.
Some find it difficult to be excited about the salvation of individuals they may never meet this side of glory. But remember that as God works in each person’s life, he or she has untold potential to affect the kingdom of God. Who led Billy Sunday to Christ? Who led D.L. Moody to Christ? Or Hudson Taylor or Billy Graham or Moishe Rosen? Who led you to Christ? Did he or she understand how your life would touch so many others?
Naturally, we are most concerned for the salvation of our family and friends because it causes us pain to imagine them in a Christless eternity—and it gives us joy to see someone we love receive abundant life in Christ. But as much as we rejoice for what our loved ones receive when they come to God, let’s remember to rejoice that God is receiving hearts that are rightfully His. If we love God, we delight in those things that delight His heart. And God places enormous value on each and every person who is lost. They are all important to Him.
Maybe we lack joy over sinners repenting because we have allowed ourselves to become anesthetized by the world. It is easy to lose sight of what is truly important when we are distracted by the comforts and the concerns of the world. Or we may have less joy over souls saved than we should because we have not experienced much anguish in considering the plight of the lost. The Apostle Paul wrote of that anguish in Romans 9: “I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh…” (Romans 9:2-3).
Can you relate to that depth of anguish and urgency over the lost? If you have lost a parent or a close loved one who did not know the Lord, can you believe that God feels that kind of burden for each and every one who is lost? That anguish finds its intense opposite in the joy over each loved one saved. It is with passionate urgency that God relentlessly pursues the hearts of those who do not yet know Him. And so the paradox of real life lived for God is that we should experience the depths of anguish in the search for the lost, as well as the heights of joy in the finding.
How are such urgency and joy best worked out in our own lives? The faithful servant will imitate God in his or her passionate search for the lost. Passion for the lost is a barometer that indicates our spiritual vitality. It demonstrates how much our hearts are in tune with the heart of God.
I expect to spend at least a week with the campaigners in New York City this month. I appreciate their willingness to endure hardship and ridicule in hopes of seeing some lost souls found in Christ. I am praying that each one will have much joy in seeing souls saved by the mercy and grace of almighty God. I am praying the same for you, dear reader. I pray that you will reflect, if you haven’t already, on the high value God has placed on your life, as the Shepherd seeks after His lost sheep. May you realize the extent to which He has searched for you. May your urgency over the lost be renewed, if need be. I hope you will also ask God to fan the flames of that urgency and forge it into diligence in your life. Allow yourself to experience joy over sinners repenting and turning back to God. Make that joy to be a centerpiece of your life.
If you are already enthusiastic about seeing souls saved, may your enthusiasm spread to others in the Body of Messiah. And pray for us, too, that we would be the kind of joy-filled servants the Lord wants us to be. We are all invited to a wonderful party. It’s called the marriage supper of the Lamb. I say, let’s get the party started now.