When those in attendance at the recent “Paralyzed” Equip Night were asked to describe some of the things that cause them anxiety, many responded that they are anxious about their friends and family dying without knowing Jesus. Of course, this is a deep concern for all of us because we all love people who seem to be far from God.
The truth is, of course, that we should be concerned when our loved ones are lost. This concern is expressed by Paul in Romans 9:1-3, “I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit—that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” Like many of us, Paul wished that his family could experience the joy of knowing Jesus that he knew himself. Why was Paul so burdened and why do we share his burden?
First, because God is holy and the Bible is clear that no man can see the Lord without holiness. Hebrews 12:14 states this plainly, “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” When our faith is in Christ for salvation, His holiness is applied to our account so that we stand justified before the Lord. As the writer of Hebrews emphasizes, without this “no man can see the Lord.”
Secondly, we should feel this burden because the alternative to eternal life with Jesus can only be eternal death in Hell. We know from scripture that Hell is a real place and the final destination of everyone whose name is not recorded in Heaven (Revelation 20:15).
The good news in all of this is that Jesus has done everything necessary to prevent such a horrible outcome for any of us AND we can do something to help our loved ones escape Hell and live forever in Heaven! Let me encourage you to take these three proactive steps.
1. Pray for your loved ones today.
This is the most effective thing we can do when we care about someone who is rejecting Christ. The Holy Spirit can get their ear (and their heart) when we can’t reach them. He knows exactly how do draw them to faith, so we should pray fervently that He will do this. Interestingly, Luke 16 describes a rich man in Hell who, upon realizing his own eternal fate, prayed for his brothers to respond to the truth so that they would never join him in the lake of fire!
2. Invite your loved ones to church.
A recent poll revealed that 82% of people said they would likely go to church if a friend or family member invited them. Isn’t that amazing?! We just need to ask them. This is very personal for me. I was saved because my friend, Tommy Freeman, simply invited me to go to church with him one day. That’s it…he just asked, I accepted and my eternal destiny was changed.
3. Learn to share the gospel in a simple and winsome way.
Let’s be honest, some of the anxiety we feel about our family not being saved comes down to personal guilt over our inability to have gospel conversations with them. We don’t want them to be lost forever and we certainly don’t want to bear some responsibility for having never shared the truth with them. This concern is well founded. Ezekiel 33:6 warns us that God will hold us responsible for the blood of those we fail to warn of the impending judgment. But, because we know the truth, we can be well equipped to share that truth with those we love. At Brookstone, we are always training people how to share their faith. Beginning on Wednesday, April 3rd, I’ll be teaching our next evangelism training class, called We Share. I invite you to register for this training session and learn how to have these eternally significant conversations with your loved ones, co-workers, classmates or just people you meet along the way. You can do this!
Feeling anxious about the lost condition of our friends and family is a normal, even proper, emotion. The key is to let that negative feeling motivate us to positive action. God is able to use us as we do so!
This is a follow-up post to our second Equip night on Stress, Fear, and Anxiety. Join us March 6th for our 3rd night: Epidemic. For more information and to register go to www.brookstonechurch.org/epidemic