Expectancy in action
Many missionaries have had the experience of asking themselves, “What am I doing here? Who am I to be doing this? Why would God use me? Why should people listen to me?” And there is a good reason why they ask themselves this—they know their weaknesses. When such thoughts come, we must not allow ourselves to dwell only on our weaknesses, but also upon God and His ways.
No matter who we are or what our circumstances are, all of us will struggle at times with man-centred thoughts about our witness. We have a strong tendency to make ourselves too important. When we do this, our witness is handicapped, if not stopped altogether. Here are some examples of man-centred thinking:
We overemphasize personal abilities and spiritual gifts—“I can’t be used of the Lord to lead anyone to Christ because I am not…” or “We are not like.…” We tell ourselves that God uses only certain kinds of people, people who are different from almost all of us.
We get despondent about how decadent and evil our society has become—“These are such evil days.” “We cannot…God cannot…It is not like the old days… We are too different from the world; we can’t connect.” We allow such thoughts to sap our strength and breed, effectively silencing us.
We become negative about our local church, comparing it to other ministries we deem more successful—“We don’t have the money that… We don’t have the talent that… We are not able to be like…” and therefore tell ourselves that we cannot be effectively used of the Lord.
We think too much about our physical or educational limitations—We are either too old or too young. We are not healthy enough, educated enough, or mentally “quick” enough to engage the lost. We might be handicapped with the feeling we are not “spiritual enough” to make disciples.
Thoughts such as these reveal a man-centred view of evangelism, a “ME-centered evangelism.” Instead, we must return to a God-centered view of gospel ministry. We need a God-centered, faith-filled expectancy in gospel ministry to replace our man-centred unbelief.
Three Reasons to be Expectant
I believe that there are at least five reasons why we as believers in Jesus should have a spirit of expectancy that God will work through us in evangelism:
1. We should have a spirit of expectancy because the Great Commission was given to us.
Matthew 28:19-20—“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations.”
Mark 16:15—“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”
John 17:18; 20:21—“As You sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world” and “as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”
God did not give us these commands to frustrate us with an impossible task that He would not help us to accomplish. God intends to use His people. Fruitfulness in the ministry of the Gospel should be the norm, not the exception.
Yes, there is a tension here. How much visible fruit we see and how quickly we see it is up to God; but fruitfulness we can expect. God desires to use us to have a part in reaching the nations and peoples of the world for Jesus’ sake. This reality should affect how we pray, give, and go. It affects our willingness to send our children and grandchildren with a spirit of expectancy that God can and will use them for His glory!
2. We should have a spirit of expectancy because we have God’s Spirit in us.
Luke 24:47-49—“And that repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you, but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
Acts 1:8—“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you: and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest [uttermost] part of the earth.”
Yes, Jesus gave to His people the Great Commission to make disciples among all peoples, but He told them not to act on that commission until they had received the Holy Spirit. They could not fulfil the commission without the Spirit. The Spirit’s indwelling and empowering presence in their lives was vital to enable them to obey this command of Jesus.
The Holy Spirit of God did come upon Christ’s disciples at Pentecost, and He has indwelt every believer in Jesus since then. One major purpose of the Spirit’s indwelling is to enable us to make disciples. God’s people everywhere should have a spirit of expectancy that God desires to use and speak through them because they have God’s Spirit! It does not matter what our position in life is, what kind of job we have, what our background is, or where we live. God’s Spirit is in us to enable us to be His witnesses for Jesus’s sake.
3. We should have a spirit of expectancy because we have experienced the power of the Gospel.
Romans 1:16—“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.”
1 Corinthians 1:18—“For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
This good news of Jesus Christ is the most powerful message in the universe—for those who believe it! No believers in Jesus Christ would ever question the power of the Gospel, would they? We know what Jesus has done for us. We know how He has changed us. We know how we have escaped the power of sin and death because of God’s grace. We know God and have a relationship with Him! We have hope of eternal life and purpose! Somehow, over time, many believers seem to almost forget what God has done for them. Remember: if God could save us, He certainly can save others!
Maybe our forgetfulness stems from the fact that it has been too long since we shared our testimony with others. By giving testimony and witnessing of Christ we remind ourselves of God’s power to save.
Romans 10:17—“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”
We heard and believed. The heard Word results in faith for some.