• Steve Derenge

Don't Throw in the Towel (頑張ってください)

It would be a hypocritical or inconsistent position for ministers to throw in the towel permanently on healing sickness, casting out demons, raising the dead, etc. if they do not also throw in the towel permanently on getting conversions.

Many have the attitude, “I have never seen or experienced healing the sick or casting out demons by God’s power...It’s not my gift...When I tried it before it didn’t work...Healing or deliverance must therefore not be God’s will for this person...God may have done it in Jesus’ day, but it’s not for today.”

Let us apply that same attitude to sharing the gospel of forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ: “I tried sharing the gospel with this person, but s/he didn’t receive Christ as Savior and Lord. Salvation and forgiveness of sins must therefore not be God’s will for this person...I don’t have the gift of evangelism...”

All those excuses are examples of forming a theology based on our experience (or lack thereof) to justify our unbelief.

Having served with a certain ministry organization for seven years, it was obvious that not 100% of people received Christ the first time we shared the message of Jesus with them. Someone indicated a decision to start a relationship with God through Jesus Christ from our gospel presentations about 10-20% of the time, depending on the country. Based on statistics, I would hear statements such as “A person [from a particular country or people group] may need to hear a presentation of the gospel message six times before they make a decision to follow Jesus.” (1)

Thus, just because a person hasn’t received Christ the first (or 80th) time they heard the gospel message, it doesn’t logically follow that God doesn’t want to save that person. (2) If a friend didn’t receive Christ when I shared the gospel with him, that didn’t mean I wouldn’t try again in the future. I still wanted them to know that God loved them and had a wonderful plan for their lives through a relationship with Him.

When I studied in East Asia from 2012-2013, I shared the gospel with some friends I made, but none of them indicated a decision to receive Jesus as the God of their lives during that entire year. After returning to East Asia for the 2013-2014 school year, I re-shared the gospel message with many of those same friends from the previous year. At least two of those friends indicated that they now wanted to follow Jesus. Although they didn’t have the understanding or faith to be saved/forgiven of sins the first time they heard the gospel message, God hadn’t given up on them yet.

In the same way, just because we haven’t yet seen a person healed of sickness, delivered from addictions or mental disorders (demons), etc., that doesn’t mean that their situation is hopeless. Faith for salvation (Greek: “sozo” -- forgiveness, healing, and deliverance because of Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection from the dead) is still God’s desire and can manifest later on if we don’t give up. I could have given up on those two East Asian friends and concluded, “Well, I already shared the gospel with them multiple times. It must not be God’s will to save them. Why should I leave my comfort zone and try to share the gospel in a fresh way with a different tool?” I’m glad I didn’t have that attitude, for otherwise I wouldn’t see God finally open up their spiritual eyes.

I am convinced that just as I got more successful at sharing the gospel from year one in East Asia to year two--finally seeing breakthrough when I did not give up--the same principle applies to healing the sick, casting out demons, etc.

How can we strengthen our trust in God to the effect of sharing the good news about Jesus accompanied by God’s power?

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Watch YouTube videos of Christians sharing the gospel and doing miracles. Testimonies (eyewitness accounts of those who experienced God’s mighty works) can strengthen our trust in God’s power and goodness. I made a Google (Excel) Sheet with descriptions and links to 120+ YouTube videos of healings, deliverances, and testimonies. I add new YouTube videos to the list constantly. (3)

  • Ask God to teach you how to walk as Jesus walked empowered by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8; 1 John 2:6; John 14:12). Honor His Word, making it the standard for your life.

  • Take baby steps. Love the people around you in little ways. This can open up more opportunities to pray with them--bringing heaven down to earth and into their situation (Matthew 6:10). It all comes down to loving God and people--knowing the heart (Spirit) of God the Father (Matthew 22:37-39; 1 Corinthians 13:13).

If you haven’t yet experienced the good news about Jesus that I’ve been referring to, I recommend my article here.

  1. Personally, I am convinced that if a presentation of the gospel message is accompanied with confirming miracles and signs by the power of the Holy Spirit, a person is even more likely to receive and follow Jesus, having tangibly experienced God’s love and power. C.f. Mark 16:15-20; 1 Corinthians 2:1-5.

  2. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9 ESV)

  3. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1_QUsIiyp-WkWe7arNG-UdImWpsGDQ3zG3V2C13HUcyM/edit?usp=sharing


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