At Least One Time!


At Least One Time!

(Reaching Each Person
at Least Once)

Richard Hollerman

Have you ever considered how vital it is that someone hears or reads the good news of Christ?  It is absolutely essential.  It is necessary for you and for me—and for all others on earth.  Although certain ones hold to an inclusivistic view, thinking that people around the world without Christ can be saved without a personal faith in Him, we know that only those who know God through Christ (and through a deliberate repentant faith in Him) can be saved (Mark 16:16; John 3:36; 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5).

Do you remember the account of Cornelius?  He is described as “a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many alms to the people and prayed to God continually” (Acts 10:2).  Was he saved and did he know God?  Absolutely not.  An angel from God appeared to him and told him to call for Peter who was then located in Joppa, along the coast of Judea.  Specifically, the angel said to him, “Send to Joppa and have Simon, who is also called Peter, brought here; and he will speak words to you by which you will be saved, you and all your household” (11:13-14).  The account in Acts 10-11 details how Peter did arrive in Caesarea, the city of Cornelius, and spoke the words of the gospel (the good news of Christ) to him and his household.  Through this means, they all repented of their sins, believed in Christ Jesus, and were baptized (cf. 10:35, 43, 47-48; cf. 15:7-11).

Note again these significant words of the angel of God: “He [Peter] will speak words to you by which you will be saved, you and all your household” (Acts 11:14).  It was essential that Cornelius hear words—the words of the gospel, the words of the good news of Christ—for it was through this message that he could be saved from sin, death, and hell.

Paul discusses this very point in Romans 10.  In this chapter, the apostle says, “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord [Jesus] will be saved” (v. 13).  From this premise, Paul elaborates, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed?  How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard?  And how will they hear without a preacher?  How will they preach unless they are sent?” (vv. 14-15a).  He concludes his point by saying, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (v. 17).

Paul says that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and in His saving death and resurrection is necessary if people are to be forgiven of their sins and given eternal life.  People can’t be saved by their good deeds, their religion, their sincerity, or their good intentions (Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Timothy 1:9).  People can only be saved by God through Christ Jesus, and we come to Christ by faith in Him and His redemptive death and resurrection (Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11).

Continuing this train of thought, Paul says that people can’t have faith unless they hear the gospel.  Today we can probably say that one can come to faith through the reading of the gospel, something that was not possible in the first century.  And one can’t hear (or read) the gospel unless there is someone (such as a preacher—or you!) to present the gospel.  This is the chain that God uses.  He could have announced the gospel directly to Cornelius, but He chose to use people to reach people.  In this case, the Lord used Simon Peter to communicate the gospel and, through that means, Cornelius was led to Jesus the Savior.

This same procedure is used in our day.  You and I and everyone else had to come to Christ in order to be saved from sin and given new life.  We couldn’t have come to Christ without the message of the gospel that is called “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).  It is not only true for you, but also for your family, your friends, your relatives, your fellow-workers, and everyone else, including those “unreached peoples” on the other side of the earth!  Christ is “the way, and the truth, and the life” and the only way to the Father and heaven for everyone on earth (John 14:6).

Have you ever seen or sung the “gospel” song, “You Never Mentioned Him to Me”?  The song is mean to ask whether, at any time in your life, you brought up Christ and salvation to your friends, neighbors, family, and others.  The song has these words:

When in the better land before the bar we stand,

How deeply grieved our souls will be;

If any lost one there should cry in deep despair,

“You never mentioned Him to me.”

The chorus has the following:

“You never mentioned Him to me,

You helped me not the light to see;

You met me day by day and knew I was astray,

Yet never mentioned Him to me.”

 

The second and third verses read:

 

O let us spread the word wherever it may be heard,

Help groping souls the light to see,

That yonder none may say,

“You showed me not the way,

You never mentioned Him to me.”

 

A few sweet words may guide a lost one to His side,

Or turn sad eyes on Calvary;

So work as days go by, that yonder none may cry,

“You never mentioned Him to me.”

 

While the judgment scene may not be exactly like this, the point is clear: If we want to see someone come to Christ, now is the time to reach him or her with the gospel.  I have a friend who is convinced that those who don’t come to Christ now, in this life, will have the opportunity to find forgiveness in the life to come on a renewed earth.  I’ve pointed out to him that this is a vain hope that doesn’t rest on the truth of Scripture.  Now is the only time we have to reach people. And now is the only time that people have to come in faith and repentance to the Savior.

 

With these thoughts in mind, I have tried, over the years, to reach people at least once with the glorious good news of Christ.  Recently I had the blessed privilege of reaching out to people I had not seen for many years.  I was able to learn the names and addresses of the classmates of our high school graduating class whom I had not seen for many years.  A couple months ago, I sent each one of them an envelope with a New Year’s card, a New Year’s letter, a personal letter focusing on the classmates, a written presentation of the gospel of Christ, a card advertising our Christian website (Truediscipleship.com), a touching gospel tract, as well as a small pocket Christian calendar, along with a photo of me and my wife, Moni.  I even wrote personal, individual  letters to those classmates I had been with since elementary school.  The packets were substantial and powerful.

 

I had done something similar on a smaller scale maybe 20 or 25 years ago, and I think that one person responded.  This time, I was able to send about 310 packets out to the classmates.  And the response?  Four people replied!  I don’t know whether any more will respond in the coming weeks and months.  You may wonder why there was only about a 1.0 to 1.5% response rate, especially since I sent so much and it was somewhat personal in nature.  I don’t know why more didn’t write back and let me know what they thought.  The ones who did respond merely wrote friendly letters without commenting on the gospel presentation and the truth I was conveying by means of two gospel tracts and the letters—or the website.  Yes, I am disappointed that there was not a larger response, but I commit the outcome to God.  Sadly, I learned that one person died about two days after I sent the bulk of the envelopes (thus before she received the gospel presentation).

 

Outreaches like this to people with the gospel of Christ may not result in a large response.  When I’ve distributed literature at convention centers, on the street, and at other locations, the overwhelming majority do not show an interest and don’t respond.  I may distribute 500 tracts without even one response or request for further information!  I may distribute 1,500 tracts (as I did for about 10 years at one location) with only two, three, or four responses.  Thus, few will respond, and the response could be negative—or, thanks to God, it could be positive.  But people had the opportunity.  None of them will ever be able to say, “You never mentioned Christ to me!”

 

When I was working for a certain business, I made it my yearly purpose to reach everyone each year with at least some means for them to learn of the gospel.  For example, for some 10 to 12 years, each New Years Day I would place Christian literature and a pocket calendar on each desk where they worked.  To those who had no desk, I would hand the person the literature.  This would be some 220 to 250 people each year.  Was there a great response?  No, most never even mentioned again what I distributed, while a few did offer thanks.  But none of them will ever be able to say, “You never mentioned Christ to me!”

 

Each New Year time I also have tried to reach about 20 of my neighbors with a Christian New Year’s card and calendar and maybe a card for the website.  You may say, “Why do this when there doesn’t seem to be an interest?”  But we just don’t know.  There could be a spiritually hungry person out there who dwells in darkness but is praying for light—and your literature came at just the right time.

 

This outreach can be done in all kinds of circumstances.  Years ago, I was a student at a small “Christian” college.  I was able to obtain permission to distribute literature to all the student body by using their mailboxes and it didn’t cost me anything.  I was able to sent envelopes with about five tracts in them to about 600 students, as I recall.  Again, there was very little response, as I remember, but none of them will ever be able to say, “You never mentioned Christ and His will to me!”  It is true that most of them knew something about Christ already but despite the fact that most of them claimed to be “Christian,” there was much that wasn’t “Christian” on the campus, including much worldliness.  They too needed the light of God’s Word.

 

We’ve seen that everyone on earth needs to learn the truth of Christ Jesus and His way of salvation.  We can do this person-to-person, which must be the best way.  In this way, we can have the personal touch and also deal with any objections or questions on an individual basis.  But it is also possible to reach large numbers of people in the way I’ve mentioned above.  This is a feasible way to get the message of the gospel out to a great number of people.  There’s a real benefit in placing literature into the hands of the sinner or the compromising professing Christian.  Literature is the way I, personally, was reached with at least some of the truth of God back when I was a sincere fifteen-year-old boy.  It could be the means of reaching other people—young and old—with the truth of the Word for their eternal benefit.

 

There is great comfort in knowing that people have had at least one opportunity in their life to learn the gospel.  It doesn’t need to come from you.  It may come from another person and God, in His grace, may choose to reach them with the gospel twice or multiple times.  But the point is that we should want everyone on earth to have at least one occasion to learn the good news of Christ and to have some point of contact (a mailing address, a telephone number, a website address, an email address) so that they can learn more.

 

Will you take this challenge to do something to reach everyone you know with the truth of God?  Let your love be so strong for those in darkness that you want to reach out with the love of God and present the light of the gospel that they may see (2 Corinthians 4:3-7).  Purpose to reach everyone you can so that no one will ever be able to say, “You never mentioned Christ to me!”

 

“If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies.  And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay.  If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of their exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.” (Spurgeon)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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