"God's Heart for the Lost"
By Francis Frangipane
The Christian life can become full of duty, but
I feel the drawing of the Lord's heart for the Church to return to what should be our first purpose: fulfilling the Great Commission. Indeed, as we draw closer to the Lord's return, His passions shall increasingly become our passions, and to rescue the unsaved
world is the epicenter of His heart.
To understand the Lord's desire for the unsaved, we simply have to review Peter's discourse in Acts chapter two. Remember, the disciples had been with Jesus for forty days after His resurrection. The
words, which Peter took from Joel, conceivably might also have been spoken by Jesus Himself during this last intimate time with His disciples before the ascension.
"I Will Pour Out My Spirit On All Flesh”
it is Pentecost Sunday and several thousand people are suddenly drawn to the spiritual phenomena exploding in the upper room: the sound of rushing wind and flaming tongues of fire. Peter rose and proclaimed to the crowd below the significance of what they
were observing. Quoting the prophet Joel, he said:
"'And it shall be in the last days,' God says, 'that I will pour forth of My Spirit upon all mankind; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your
old men shall dream dreams; even upon My bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit and they shall prophesy.
"'And I will grant wonders in the sky above, and signs on the earth beneath, blood, and fire,
and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come. And it shall be, that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'" (Acts 2:17-21, emphasis mine)
With such signs the Church was born and with greater signs shall this age be completed. Indeed, as significant as this inaugural event was, Pentecost represented only the first installment of the anticipated outpouring of the Spirit. Pentecost
celebrated only the first fruits of the coming harvest. The full harvest, Jesus said, will be at "the end of the age" (Matt. 13:39b).
The Lord promised He would pour out His Spirit, not merely on the Jews or North Africans and southern
Europeans, but upon ALL mankind. The disciples experienced a great beginning, yet even today, nearly two billion souls have yet to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Beloved, the passions of God are for all peoples, regardless of their class, culture or geography.
So, looking at Peter's proclamation in Acts, let's study not only what happened, but what the Word of God clearly declares still awaits us.
What to Expect at the End of the Age
First, to understand
God's heart, the Lord said He would pour forth of His Spirit. The concept, "to pour forth," means to give to reach one's goal. When athletes compete, for instance, to win, they will pour everything they have onto the field. Having fully spent themselves, they
hold nothing back. Likewise, the Lord is saying this: "Before the day of My great wrath, I'm going to do all I can to turn the unsaved toward Me.”
So, here's what the Lord is telling us we should expect at the end of the age. First,
an anointing will come to the living Church that will raise up and release a prophetic generation; even our "sons and daughters will prophesy.”
Additionally, there will be a restorative grace from God: people who seemingly have missed
their destiny, the middle-aged and elderly, will be filled and our "old men will dream dreams." The Lord says that the young and inexperienced will not be excluded, for "young men will see visions" (Acts 2:17). The Lord is promising that He will be alive in
the Church, bringing Christlikeness to full stature among His people (Eph. 4).
Yet, to reach the world, the Lord will multiply the graces He supplies the Church and take us beyond what the first century knew. He promises to "grant wonders
in the sky above." The word "grant" implies that these attesting signs are not expressions of God's wrath but answers to prayer! Thus, we should expect spectacular wonders in the heavens that arrest the attention of every soul on Earth.
Yet, to those who refuse to heed His signs, the Lord declares more fearsome things: "The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood..." (Acts 2:20). Yet, even these terrible, unavoidable signs are servants to divine mercy and will be manifestations
of God's heart reaching to the stubbornly unrepentant.
Our Father is saying that He will do absolutely everything to fill the Church with power, the heavens with signs and the earth with judgments to bring the lost to Himself. He says
this for one summary purpose: "...that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Acts 21:2, emphasis mine).
If we are truly going to possess the heart of God, then we must care about
the spiritually lost. This is why we have, for example, 'Lighthouses of Prayer' to reach and love our neighbors. This is why we work toward unity in the citywide Church. The final goal is not unity, but outreach. The ultimate purpose of Pentecost was not phenomena
but winning the lost.
The outcome of the unified prayer focus of the disciples was, again, winning the lost. The disciples were in "one place" and in "one accord," and because of that unity, the Holy Spirit fell with power. The final outcome
of Pentecost was salvations: three thousand people came to Christ.
God is not going to add people to a divided, selfish, ambitious, or carnal Church. He's going to restrain the harvest until we step up to Christ-centered unity. This is
why we labor to unite the Body of Christ. Only as the Church becomes one does the world then believe (John 17).
So, regardless of your occupation, let your focus be upon praying for and reaching out to the lost. If you are a hairdresser,
silently pray as you work, and, in your loving conversation with your customers, look for openness in their hearts to accept Christ.
If you are a doctor, even as you treat the body, look for opportunities to heal the souls of your patients.
Whatever your skill or gift is, it should be used to serve this purpose. You do not have to be an evangelist; you simply have to love people and speak as the Lord provides opportunity.
God Desires All Men
all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority... This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the
knowledge of the truth." (1 Tim. 2:1-4)
The Lord desires all men to be saved. No matter what we think of anyone, God desires them to be saved. So willing is He that He gives many opportunities for people to choose Him, even right up to
the moments before the unsaved die.
I once met a doctor whose personal conversion was a living illustration to the importance of people being told about Jesus. He and I were guests on the Christian television network TBN. As an emergency
room doctor, he had documented many cases where people about to die had their lives flash before their eyes. Much of what they saw was their failures and regrets.
God has so constructed mankind that even in the last moments of life, time
slows, and in an instant, a lifetime of mistakes can be pondered. I believe God causes this to happen to give the human soul one last chance to repent—one last hope.
This doctor also told how he came to Christ. He was dying, and
as his life flashed before him, he remembered someone telling him about Jesus Christ. He didn't have all the doctrines or the understanding; He only knew the name of Jesus because someone witnessed to him. And because of that, as it says in the book of Acts
(2:21), he called "on the name of the Lord" and was saved.
I think there are a lot of people, maybe more than we realize, who remember your witness in the final moments before dying. They remember hearing you tell them about Jesus paying
for their sins. Then, when confronted with the failures, God gives them this last opportunity. But, if we don't witness, if we don't talk to people about Christ, how will they come to know Him? How will they call on His name?
we fail to witness by the way we live during crisis times, how will they know that Christianity is real? They will have concluded that Jesus is just a myth. They will have no name to call on.
our multi-cultural, tolerant world, the unsaved are fortressed by deception concerning the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. They believe all religions are the same. The fact is, Buddha was an atheist who taught that the supreme state of spirituality was reached
only after a million reincarnations, and only after the soul fully surrendered to "nothingness," which was called “Nirvana."
Jesus did not come so that we could accept an utterly empty life; He came so that we might have life in
abundance! Islam and Judaism require that we accept strict laws to attain the next life; Christianity, on the other hand, calls us to a relationship with a Person, Jesus Christ, who fulfilled the law so that we might discover God's love.
Even if you are shy about speaking of the good things God has given, you can invite people to church. Make sure you go to a congregation where the Gospel is presented and people have an opportunity to accept Christ into their hearts.
of the best times to bring people to church is during the main holidays, Christmas and Easter. During these times, people are traditionally compliant with the idea of attending religious services somewhere. So, invite your unsaved loved ones; encourage your
neighbors and co-workers.
"To the Jew," Paul said, "I became like a Jew..." and to the Gentiles, like a Gentile. He said, "...I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some" (1 Cor. 9:20 and 22). To win some, you
must be winsome, not obnoxious or confrontational. With grace and love in our hearts, we must speak to those who do not know the Lord. We must, as Scripture teaches, present the truth in love.
One of the most important things in witnessing
to people is not saying anything until you hear who they are and what they believe. Listen to them. I once picked up a hitchhiker who told me that he was into yoga and karma. (Karma basically means you reap what you sow, but also includes reincarnation.)
People use karma as a defense against Christianity. They think they can make themselves perfect through successive lifetimes. Instead of mocking him, I became 'like him,' even though I did not believe in karma.
listened to what he believed, I asked him if he had any bad karma. He said he had plenty. I told him that Jesus died for all my bad karma and that now, because I received Christ's righteousness, I didn't ever have to go through reincarnation or live with bad
karma. In five minutes he was saying a sinner's prayer with me and accepting Christ into his heart.
The days ahead will see great wonders. In the meantime, let us cultivate a heart for those who do not yet know Christ. Certainly, there
is no greater, compelling passion than God's own heart for the lost.
By Francis Frangipane
Ministries of Francis Frangipane
528 Ellsworth St. SW
Albany, OR 97321