I am often asked the question, “Why are believers not declaring the gospel?” My firm belief, pastoral experience, and observation is that “believers do not declare the gospel if they do not delight in God.”
As we all know, people will talk about what they find most interesting or exciting. If you really like sports, cooking, children, etc., you will talk to others about those things or about the relationships that matter the most to you. As Peter and John replied (Acts 4:20), “For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” People will talk about the relationship that they are the most passionate about or delight in. Webster defines delight as “to take great pleasure.” As the Psalmist wrote, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” There are many “Christians” who are not declaring the gospel because they simply do not delight in God. We cannot proclaim Christ is above all if we do not worship and love Him above all things. Deuteronomy 30:19b-20a states: “Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life…” As it has been said, Christ cannot be praised above all if He is not prized above all.
I really grew in my delight with God when I began to realize how great His love is for me. Several years ago I was playing golf with my five year old at our neighborhood golf course. When we got to the fourth hole, I hit an amazingly great shot onto the green (miracles still happen). After the shot, my son yelled out to me, “Great shot Dad! Now it is my turn!” He then took off and ran to his golf ball and began to hit his next shot. I picked up my golf bag (and his little golf bag) and I began to walk to the green. While I was walking, I began to pray in my spirit this praise to the Lord, “Oh Lord, I love you. I praise You for giving me my son. This is so much fun to be out with him, playing golf and just enjoying him. Thank you Father.” After I said this prayer, the Lord impressed His words to my heart and told me this, “Now you know what it is like for me to be your Father.” After the Lord said these words to my spirit, I began to weep. I was on the green and my son said, “Dad what’s wrong?” I looked at him and said, “Nothing, I think I may have gotten some grass in my eyes. Son, I love you.” He replied, “I love you too Dad, now make the birdie putt.” I often reflect on that day and rejoice in knowing that the Lord loves me. That day has helped me pursue God with all of my heart, all of my soul and all of my mind. The Lord answered Paul’s prayer to me that day,” And I pray that you being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17b-19)
Jesus stated that the most important commandment is to love God. “The most important one (commandment),” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31) In verse 28, a Pharisee asks Jesus, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” Jesus answers their question by quoting Deuteronomy 6:5, “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with your entire mind.” Then he adds his own words to put the commandment even higher than the question required. The question was, “Which is the great commandment?” and Jesus says, “This is the greatest and foremost commandment.” The greatest and most important thing you can do is love God — love GOD — with all your heart and soul and mind. John Piper summarized it this way: “The love of God is not God’s making much of us, but God’s saving us from self-centeredness so that we can enjoy making much of him forever. And our love to others is not our making much of them, but helping them to find satisfaction in making much of God. True love aims at satisfying people in the glory of God. Jesus Christ did not die to make much of us, but to free us to delight in making much of God forever. God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”
I was at a conference in Urbana, Illinois in the fall of 1999. I had several hours before the conference was to begin, so I went to the nearby university to read God’s word. While I was reading I came upon this passage in Jeremiah. The Lord challenged his people in Judah through His prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 23:22) by saying, “If they had stood in my council (Delighted in God), they would have proclaimed my words to my people (Declared the Gospel) and would have turned them from their evil ways and from their evil deeds.” The Lord impressed upon me that day that if I would stand in His council and delight in Him then I would proclaim His gospel to His people. If believers are devoting themselves to growing in their passionate relationship with Christ (Delight in God), then they will share Christ (Declare the Gospel) to a lost world.
Do you delight in Jesus Christ? Does your small group encourage delight in Jesus and declaration of the gospel? What do you think is the main cause believers do not delight in Jesus and do not share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others?