Christian, Don’t Lose Your Gospel Urgency!
As I type these words I’m sitting in front of The Old Water Tower on 800 N Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago. I’m getting ready to do Lead THE Cause, a training event that will inspire, equip and unleash over 500 teenagers to share the Gospel with their lives and their lips.
As I gaze upon this old building I can’t help but remember the fact that it was one of the few surviving structures of what is now known as The Great Chicago Fire of October 8, 1871. This fire rapidly ravaged downtown Chicago which, at the time, had an overabundance of wooden structures packed and stacked in the heart of the city.
On that tragic night some 300 people died, roughly 3.3 square miles of the city was destroyed and more than 100,000 residents were left homeless.
D.L. Moody was right there when it happened.
The greatest evangelist in the history of Chicago had travelled one million miles (long before airplanes and fast trains) and preached the Gospel to one hundred million people (long before voice amplification.) But this fateful night he happened to be back in his beloved Chicago, preaching to the largest crowd he had ever addressed.
His text that evening was Matthew 27:22, “What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?” That night he preached with power and intensity. But it all was a set up for the next week, the finale of his sermon series where he would call his audience to believe in Jesus.
At the conclusion of his sermon he said, “I wish you would take this text home with you and turn it over in your minds during the week, and next Sabbath we will come to Calvary and the Cross, and we will decide what to do with Jesus of Nazareth.”
With those concluding remarks his song leader, Ira D. Sankey (whose hymns are sprinkled throughout most evangelical hymnbooks) began to lead in singing the hymn,
To-day the Savior calls;
For refuge fly;
The storm of justice falls,
And death is nigh.
But Sankey never finished the hymn. He later said,
“My voice was drowned by the loud noise of fire engines rushing past the hall and the toll of bells, among which we could hear the deep sullen tones of the great city bell, in the steeple of the old courthouse close at hand, ringing out an alarm…Tremendous confusion was heard in the street and Mr. Moody decided to close the meeting at once for the audience was becoming restless and alarmed.”
To his dying day, Mr. Moody deeply regretted that he had told that congregation to come next Sabbath and decide what to do with Jesus.
“I have never since dared,” he said, “to give an audience a week to think of their salvation. If they were lost they might rise up in judgment against me. I have never seen that congregation since. I will never meet those people until I meet them in another world. But I want to tell you of one lesson that I learned that night which I have never forgotten, and that is, when I preach, to press Christ upon the people then and there and try to bring them to a decision on the spot. I would rather have that right hand cut off than to give an audience a week now to decide what to do with Jesus.”
That night Gospel urgency re-ignited in Mr. Moody’s already on-fire soul with even more consuming intensity. He never again preached to a crowd without giving the Gospel clearly and challenging the audience to put their faith in Jesus right then and there.
What’s it going to take for you to get your Gospel urgency back?
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Greg Stier is the Founder and President of Dare 2 Share Ministries International. He has impacted the lives of tens of thousands of Christian teenagers through Dare 2 Share events, motivating and mobilizing them to reach their generation for Christ. He is the author of eleven books and numerous resources, including Dare 2 Share: A Field Guide for Sharing Your Faith. For more information on Dare 2 Share and their upcoming conference tour and training resources, please visit www.dare2share.org.