Sowing Seeds of the Gospel: Are You an Ambassador for Christ?
Four Characteristics We Should Have
February 28, 2011 - During the Month of March, a ministry theme we're examining is what it means to be an ambassador for Christ. Let’s read Billy Graham’s own words as he describes what this looks like for us. This is part one of two from the Billy Graham Sermon Series, titled "Ambassadors."
The world today is looking for holy men and holy women to live under the authority of the Word of God.—Billy Graham
by Billy Graham
We represent the Kingdom of God in a foreign and an alien world. We are citizens of two communities—the community of God and the community in which we live.
To be an ambassador is a position of dignity, although the world may not praise us. It is a position of importance, although the world may neglect or even persecute us.
What is an ambassador? An ambassador is a person, a friend of authority. Ambassadors are servants of their government in a foreign land. They are not free to set their own policies or develop their own message. In the same way, we are called to live under the authority of Jesus Christ and the authority of the Scriptures. We are servants. We must live under the authority of the Word of God. We are called not to do our will, but Christ’s.
What does it mean to live under the authority of the Word of God? First of all, it means that we live under the authority of God in our personal lives. “Be ye holy as I am holy” (Leviticus 20:7), says the Scriptures. We are to be holy men and women of God; we are to live what we preach in our personal lives. A disciplined, devotional life—a life of separation from such sins as lying, hatred, cheating, prejudice, greed and lust.
The world today is looking for holy men and holy women to live under the authority of the Word of God. They’re not going to listen to what we say unless we back it up with the way we live in our personal relationships.
Second, we are under the authority of the Word of God in our social relationships as well. As Christians we’re not isolated persons; we are part of society with all of its difficulties and problems and hopes. The Bible has much to say about social justice and social actions. Human society is affected by sin, and we know that any effort we make to improve society will always be incomplete and imperfect. We are not going to build a Utopia on earth. Why? Because of human nature. Sin keeps us from building a paradise on earth.
But we are to work for social justice—that is our command in Scripture. We’re to do all we can so that we can live a peaceable and a free life, and a life of human dignity. There is going to be a new Heaven and a new earth when Jesus Christ Himself comes to set up the Utopia that we all dream of and hope for and long for. That day is yet to come.
Only Christ can change hearts, but that does not mean that we neglect social and political responsibilities. Christ is concerned about the whole person, including the society of which he or she lives. Many of the great social reforms of the 19th century in Great Britain and America were inspired by evangelical Christians.
But the time came when many forgot that the Gospel was both vertical and horizontal. This has changed now. Evangelicals are once again proclaiming a balanced Gospel of personal salvation on one hand and social responsibility on the other, bringing their social action and responsibility under the authority of the Scriptures.
Called to Serve
Third, we are under authority in our service. It is God who has called us to serve. We are not free to choose the place or the manner in which we will serve Him. I am always amazed at the variety of gifts that God has given to the church. Every person has been given a gift from God. You may be a farmer, or a laborer, or a doctor, or a professor, but you have been given a gift of the Holy Spirit.
Paul says, “Stir up the gift of God which is in you” (2 Timothy 1:6, NKJV). What is your gift?
Jonah tried to flee from God’s authority in his ministry, but God had a fish to stop him and bring him back.
Jeremiah tried to flee from the authority of God’s Word for his ministry, but he could not. “Then I said, ‘I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name” (Jeremiah 20:9, NKJV). That is, “I’m sick and tired of talking about God and warning these people to repent because judgment is going to come.” Then he said, “But His Word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not” (Jeremiah 20:9, NKJV). “I had to tell the people the message of God.”
I know for many of us there are times of discouragement, times when we wish we did not have the responsibility of being an ambassador for Christ. But we’re under orders. It is God who has called us; we are under His authority.
Fourth, we are under the authority of God’s Word for a message. Our message is not our own. It is God’s. That is why our witnessing and our preaching must be biblical. If it is not founded on the Word of God, it becomes our ideas and our opinions, and we would be like the prophets of Jeremiah’s day. God said, “The prophet’s prophesy lies in my name. I have not sent them, … nor spoken to them; they prophesy to you a false vision, divination, a worthless thing, and the deceit of their heart” (Jeremiah 14:14, NKJV).
Instead we should be like the Apostle Paul, seeking only to proclaim the Word of God. He said, ”And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. …That your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:1-2,5, NKJV).
I have had the privilege of preaching this Gospel on every continent in most of the countries of the world. And I have found that when I present the simple message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with authority and simplicity, quoting the Word of God, He takes that message and drives it supernaturally into the human heart.
*All Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version, unless otherwise noted.