I started my summer reading with The Evangelistic Zeal of George Whitfield by Steve J. Lawson. George Whitfield had an incomparable desire for the gospel to be preached through the world. Whitefield was known throughout the world in places such as London, Bermuda, and a number of American colonies. He faced a number of challenges while still continuing to preach the gospel. As I have read Lawson’s book I have learned several lessons.
1. Use the Platform God Gives You.
God opened a number of doors for Whitefield to preach the gospel. He preached while he was in his hometown. He preached while he traveled on the ships. He preached wherever he could gather a crowd, even if it was in a field. Whitefield determined he would not spend 15 minutes with a person without them hearing the good news of Jesus Christ. God has opened a door for all of us and has placed us in our positions on purpose. We should use our influence to influence people for Christ and to explain how they are desperately in need of Jesus. A wise person once said “wherever God has you, that is your mission field.” Our excuses are many for not sharing the gospel, but the promises of God should overwhelm every excuse.
2. Love people.
Whitefield’s life was a demonstration of Mark 12:31. He was passionate about reaching the souls of the lost and he was burdened by the sinfulness of man. Whitefield’s preaching was often accompanied by his emotions such as weeping. When he was criticized for weeping he said:
“You blame for me weeping, but how can I help it when you will not weep for yourself though your immortal souls are on the verge of destruction, and for aught you know…“
Whitefield had a heart for all people despite the popular opinions of the culture and even some Christians. Whitefield preached to African slaves in the American colonies. He went to them and preached the same gospel he preached to any other audience. Our culture and some Christians are guilty of labeling people as unredeemable. We have labeled them as Gentiles and if we all think a little we can begin to notice our Gentiles. However, God has given us the command to love our neighbors as ourselves, even our Gentiles.
3. Preach the Eternal Gospel
Whitefield did not change his gospel because the crowd changed. He was fully persuaded that the gospel was needed by all men and it the message does not change with the crowd. Sin must be called sin and must not be given a softer a name such as a mistake, slip up, or fault. He boldly proclaimed the depths of man’s sin and the consequences of man’s sin. He proclaimed “You are lost undone, without him, and if He is not glorified in your salvation, he will be glorified in your destruction; if He does not come and make His abode in your hearts, you must take up an eternal abode with the devils and his angels”
Whitefield also preached boldly and passionately about the only hope sinners have is in Christ. He pleaded with them to cling to the ultimate sacrifice he made on the cross. Whitefield cried out “Come as guilty, helpless, hell-deserving sinners, and find righteousness and life in Christ.”
Whitefield’s life forces me to ask the following questions to myself:
1. Do I use the influence God gives me? Do I spend too much time wishing I was someone else doing something somewhere else? Do I look for opportunities to share the gospel where I am?
2. Do I love the people who are around me? Do I wait for them to conform to my standards to love them? Do I see people as God sees them?
3. Do I preach the same gospel? Do I try to soften the words? Do I avoid using the language God uses to not offend men?
I thank God for men like Whitefield who can be an example of what a life swallowed up by evangelistic zeal looks like. However, with the Lord’s help I will learn to love the people under my influence enough to share the wonderful news of Jesus with them and plead with them to come to Jesus.