“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
Derailing the Gospel, by Randall D. Kittle

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In a vision, I saw a large and powerful train that stood sleek and silver waiting to depart from the station. Upon the locomotive was a logo which read: GN Express. With a loud blast of its horn and a powerful lurch the engine started to move out pulling a long line of passenger cars that trailed behind it. It didn’t take very long for the train to pick up some speed, and in no time things seemed to be moving along at quite a brisk clip. Suddenly, without warning, the train teetered to one side and veered off the track. I watched as one by one the cars followed the engine and were derailed — some merely coming off the tracks while others rolled over on their sides. Through a cloud of dust and debris I could see the train from above, and to my horror I saw there were dozens of train cars derailed and damaged. They lay there, a massive heap of twisted, broken, and smoldering metal.

The scene of injury, damage, and death was too much for me, so I shut my eyes. Immediately, I could see the side of the train track from which the train had derailed. Written upon it, starting back by the station, was the alphabet. It looked fine as it went from “A-B-C” to “D” then “E,” but when it got to the letter “F” there was a break in the track. I could see the letters “G-H-I” written on the rail that lay recessed, lower than the preceding track. It was this failure of the track — this break and depression — that had caused the GN Express to derail, resulting in so much loss of life.

Trained For Outreach
The train I saw in this vision represents the Church, and the tracks symbolize the teaching, training, and gifts from God we have received. The locomotive was named the “GN Express,” which stands for the “Good News” express, for it was going forth with the Gospel trying to bring many into the kingdom of God. When the train took off from the station, it began well because it was on a solid track. The alphabet written on the tracks at the start was “A-B-C,” which represents the basics of the faith. No church can effectively reach out until the basic understanding of the Gospel and the elementary doctrines of the Church have been imparted to them. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the great English evangelist, spent one entire year preaching just to those who were part of his church when he began his ministry. He told the congregation not to invite others, for first they all needed to be “soundly converted” before they could be effective as a body in reaching others. The fact that these tracks were in good condition shows that most churches with a real heart to evangelize are training up those in their midst in the basics of the faith.

The next letter on the track was “D,” which stands for
discipleship. After the elementary principles of the faith have been established in our lives, we should move on to be discipled in the faith. This time of accountable instruction helps us grow firm in the faith and begin to understand who we are in Christ. Discipleship also aids us in seeing what our gifts and abilities are, and how God might want to use us to build His Church. Almost any minister will tell you that those who have been discipled are not only better rooted in the faith, but also more fruitful. Since this part of the rail was again solid, it reveals that most of those churches with a heart to truly evangelize both see the importance of discipleship and are actively pursuing it in their congregations.

The last letter on the solid track was “E,” which stands for
evangelism. With Jesus giving the Church the great commission (Matthew 28:19–20) no one would deny the importance of evangelism. Yet, there is a vast difference between knowing we should evangelize in theory and actually deciding to practice a lifestyle of reaching out to the lost. It is easy to say we want the lost to hear the Gospel. But it is a whole different matter to actually roll up our sleeves and do the work it takes to reach out to the unsaved world around us. Still across our land, many churches are answering the cry of the Lord and are willingly receiving His heart for evangelism.

The flaw in the track, the failure that led to so much loss and damage, was at the letter “F.” The “F” on the track stands for the
favor of the Lord. Regardless of how established in the faith we are, no matter if we have been discipled and received the Lord’s heart for the lost, all of our efforts will be fruitless without His favor. Without God’s favor all of our efforts to bring the Good News to others are merely that — our efforts. We must always remember what Jesus said, “… without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). You would assume that God’s favor would go with us when we are working to bring others into the kingdom of God. But in the vision, the track was broken at the “F” because the “G-H-I” section of the track had sunken low causing a lack of support. Many of our efforts to bring in the lost have not had God’s favor because “G-H-I” has been insufficient and ineffective.

Genuineness
The missing “G” we must have to truly reach the lost is genuineness. While the word “genuineness” might sound trivial and unimportant, I assure you it is vitally important in reaching the lost. Genuineness is the exact opposite of hypocrisy. The number one excuse the enemy uses to get the lost to reject the message of the Gospel is the high level of hypocrisy found in the church. The ready excuse for not accepting the invitation for salvation is “They’re just a bunch of hypocrites playing church.”

I know that when I stopped attending church as a teenager this was the excuse the enemy of my soul made available for me to use. But something interesting happened a few years later when I started attending church again. While the dress, musical style, and values of these church members were all vastly different from mine, I found almost no hypocrisy in their midst. Whatever else I thought about them, I knew that they were genuine. They said what they meant. They meant what they said. And they did what they said. The genuineness of this small band of believers opened my heart to the Gospel more than thirty years ago, and it will still open the door for the lost and God’s favor today!

Hospitality
The second letter from where the track was sunken was the letter “H,” which stands for hospitality. Our western mindset greatly undervalues and underestimates the importance of the gift of hospitality. Recently, the Lord gave me a prophetic word for someone with the gift of hospitality that shows its importance. I saw him in construction clothes getting into a large crane. Suspended from the boom of the crane was an enormous wrecking ball. He began to move the crane to swing the wrecking ball which struck and broke through a large brick wall. As they dust settled, I saw what looked like a surge of water through the opening — as if a dam had been breeched. But it was not water pouring through the wall. It was people.

The gift of hospitality helps break through the wall of separation the enemy has built, which separates the lost from the Church. The enemy has assembled every possible feeling of doubt, fear, prejudice, shame, etc. into a wall of resistance that keeps the world isolated from the church. But hospitality — someone warmly inviting an acquaintance, someone heartily welcoming a visitor — makes a way through every barrier that has been raised. If we want the favor of the Lord to rest upon our evangelistic efforts, we need to recognize the value of the gift of hospitality and make certain it is an integral part of any outreach plan we choose to implement.

Intercession
The last letter in the area where the track was depressed and unable to support the GN Express was the letter “I,” which stands for intercession. Regardless of the Lord’s heart to save the lost He wants us to be a people who will intercede on their behalf. In fact, intercession is critically important, for it not only touches the heart of God, and prepares the heart of the lost, it enlarges our hearts with more of God’s love, desire, and purpose. Interestingly, as we pray for the lost we will find that we will have more of a heart of hospitality toward the lost, and a more genuine desire for their salvation. The Lord is unchanging. He still has the same heart expressed in Ezekiel 22:30, “So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.”

God is looking for and longing for a people who will stand in the gap for the lost through intercession. This is a prayer He is longing to answer.

In the vision, the GN Express derailed leaving a vast number injured, bleeding, and dying. Though the Good News Express was designed to take them somewhere special, they never got to their final destination because of the flaw in the rail. In our days untold thousands are not receiving the Gospel because, as a church, we do not fully have the favor of the Lord on our outreaches. Let us truly endeavor to become a people of genuineness; not coated with “Christian niceness” but solidly Christ-like throughout. Let us recognize the importance of hospitality in advancing the Gospel by both practicing it as a people and utilizing those with a special gift for it. And finally, let us choose to stand in the gap through prayer and intercession — lifting up the lost as we cry out to the Lord. If we will do this, the favor of the Lord will be with our evangelistic work, and we will see the Gospel bring many safely home. It’s time to get church evangelism on the right track!


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