Assessing the Risk
What is the risk?
In general terms, risk is a formula that presents the likelihood and the magnitude or impact of a loss event occurring. Likelihood is a 0-99 percentage. It can’t be exactly 100% because it is then a certainty not a risk.
In the broadest sense, we are given the great commission, the commandment from the Lord to preach the gospel. We can calculate a 100% likelihood – a certainty, that everyone will die. It’s the universal human truth. It’s also a certainty that the God of the universe who is a just judge will rightly judge sin; and we’ve all sinned. He wouldn’t be God if He turned a blind eye to sin.
And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment”.Hebrews 9:27
Additionally, the magnitude of that penalty, according to the righteous judgment of God, is eternal separation from light, life and hope. If one was to put this into a formal risk statement, it might read something like this: It is a certainty that souls will die and be eternally punished as a result of their own choice to reject the gospel of Jesus Christ.
What is the risk of not evangelizing?
So, what about us? Those who have repented of sin, and have been reborn, baptized and are walking with the Lord in sweet fellowship? What is the risk if we do not obey His command? Here is also the certainty that the Lord will judge our works at the judgment seat of Christ. Our works, not souls, will be judged as either praiseworthy or fuel for the fire.
Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.1 Corinthians 3:12-13
From our view, the primary loss is the consumption of our fleshly deeds. There is a secondary loss that the Lord Himself experiences (and we indirectly through Him): the loss of the souls who reject the gospel.
(God) desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.1 Timothy 2:4
The magnitude is incalculable. The matchless Christ shed His blood for souls, how then could we put a price on a single soul? There is a certainty that the heart of God will ache for souls that reject His offer of grace. It is a certainty, and the loss measurement is beyond human calculation.
What is the risk of not discipling?
Again, this is a clear commandment from the Lord of glory.
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…Matthew 28:19
At the highest level the risk is the same as the risk of not evangelizing. There is another risk in view however. The risk of the body not being built up because of a lack of discipleship. We should note that discipling is more than just ministry, more than just teaching from the platform on the Lord’s day or a midweek bible study. If you didn’t know that, you should ask someone to disciple you.
There is also the risk that our body life suffering from the lack of discipleship will affect the body in other ways. From the outsider’s perspective: not seeing healthy loving relationships. Or the inside not seeing growth in the body.
It is a certainty that man’s failure to disciple will impact the integrity of the body of Christ resulting in incalculable loss.
As I consider this risk the secondary risks become more apparent.
What is the risk of not exercising gifts?
For those of us who are born again and have in some measure been discipled, do we know what our gift is? Have we asked? Have we tried to find out?
The almighty God gave gifts for the building of the body, for the work of the ministry for the edification of the saints.
…for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.Ephesians 4:12
The risk is apparent in the output, the body life. Imagine one gifted with teaching, or evangelism, or hospitality not given an opportunity within the body to exercise their gifts? What about one with the gift of encouragement, helps, mercy or faith?
On a personal level we can exercise gifts but they are primarily for the body. When a gift isn’t exercised within the body, it’s strength wanes. Like our own human bodies, other body parts try to adjust and pick up the slack, often with limited effect.
There is an 80% chance that a person with a particular gift that isn’t being exercised will become frustrated. I say 80% because they may not know they have that gift for a myriad of reasons. The magnitude could vary depending on the size of the local body. If there are two or more with the same gift, they too might become frustrated by doing more. If this one person is the only one with that gift in the local body, then their frustration could lead to a split.
What is the risk of not living holy lives?
We know the Lord will cleanse and sanctify His bride. We know He will prepare us for glory without spot or wrinkle.
That He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.Ephesians 5:26-27
It is a certainty that the world and angelic host, both holy and unholy see our behavior (1 Peter). It is a certainty that the all-knowing God knows not only our actions but our thoughts as well. You would have to distinguish specifics before you could make a risk statement but think about this in your context.
This is all very corporate-America sounding, it’s true. Still, I found this to be a useful exercise to consider the worst case of disobeying the Lord of Glory for my own walk. I trust if you are challenged by this, you’ll take it to the Lord for His direction.