Tuesday, August 31, 2010 – Evangelism involves Everyone
Matthew 28:18-20 - "And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
As we draw closer to political elections, everyone seems to have the answer for what remedy is needed to fix this country. We are told it is a better health care system, fewer wars, less taxes, more government, etc. But none of those "remedies" provide the real help that this country, even this world needs. What the world really needs is a saving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, most people are largely oblivious to that fact if not hostile toward it.
Christians face a special challenge to try to reach as many individuals with the Gospel as possible in a limited time with limited resources and energies. Further, we must overcome prejudice, ignorance, wrong beliefs, and general apathy on the part of most of those whom we meet and try to influence. The overriding words or concepts are "influence" and "persuasion." Personal example is indispensable if we are to maintain credibility before a cynical world, and example is a means by which we influence.
So, we are in the persuasion and influencing business. Philippians 2:12 tells us to, "...work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." Fear and trembling" describes the seriousness of our conduct, and is found in 1 Cor. 2:3; 2 Cor. 7:15; and Eph. 6:5. This is not fear, which has torment that love removes (1 John 4:18), but deep regard for God and His will. We are to serve God with reverence and godly fear (Heb. 12:28). 2 Cor. 5:11 says, "Knowing the terror of God we persuade men." This is not just the job of a select few, but of each disciple of the Lord who desires to be pleasing to him. Proverbs 11:30 provides insight into how God views soul winners when it states, "The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who wins souls is wise." Obviously, the Lord God is interested in our cooperating in the process of "bringing many sons unto glory," (Heb. 2:10).
So, it is up to us to find the best ways by which to proceed. Furthermore, we must find ways to overcome personal fears, feelings of inadequacy, lack of interest, etc., so that we can fulfill this commandment of the Lord.
There are 4 areas I would like us to consider:
- The Need
- The Methods
- The Challenges and Obstacles
- The Rewards and Punishments
1. The Need - The importance of sharing the gospel with others cannot be over-emphasized...
1.1. Jesus wants everyone to hear the good news of salvation
1.1.1. Mark 16:15-16 - And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned
1.2. He has provided the gospel as God's power to save all who believe
1.2.1. Rom. 1:16-17 - For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith.
1.3. Whether we are willing to admit it or not, the world is lost in sin.
1.3.1. Rom. 3:23 -- For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
1.3.2. Rom. 3:10 -- There is none that is righteous, no not one.
1.4. Our nearly overwhelming challenge is to evangelize the world.
1.5. This does not mean we have to convert the world or else feel guilty.
1.5.1. Johnny Ramsey made an accurate statement saying, "We get the cart before the horse in our evangelism. Instead of asking how many we will baptize, let us ask how many we will teach. That is our responsibility in the great commission. The honest and good hearts will respond and be baptized" (Luke 8:15). The increase to be brought forth is God's duty, not ours (1 Cor. 3:7). Ours is to plant the seed of the
1.6. OUR WORK IN THE LORD IS SOWING THE SEED OF THE KINGDOM
1.6.1. Problems arise, in any endeavor, when we forget what our work is.
1.6.2. In the Lord, our work is presenting the gospel to as many people as possible.
1.6.3. Even more accurately, our work is attempting to present the gospel to as many as possible.
1.6.4. All the Lord has ever asked us to do is “plant” and “water” — it is His part of the work to “give the increase.”
1.6.5. “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase” (1 Cor. 3:6, 7).
1.6.6. When we assume responsibility for the Lord’s part of the work — a thing that we have no control over — we are bound to become discouraged.
1.7. The saying should not be "let's bring the world to Jesus," but "Let's take Jesus to the world."
1.7.1. After all, it is a matter of personal choice, whether or not one accepts the grace of God through Christ on the conditions set.
1.8. It is crucial, though, that we attempt to clarify for those outside of Christ the stakes involved.
1.8.1. These are not small or temporary, but infinitely large and eternal.
1.8.2. For us to convince the world, we are first going to have to be convinced ourselves.
1.8.3. And let us not think that mere "visiting" without the express purpose of persuading and teaching is a true substitute for the business at hand.
1.8.4. One non-believer was reported as saying words to this effect: "If I were a Christian and believed, as you claim that you do, that the world is lost and going to a certain and eternal punishment without the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus, I would not be able to sleep or rest for the urgency of my task."
1.9. But what is the most effective way to reach people today?
1.9.1. The Institute For American Church Growth asked over 10,000 people this question: "What was responsible for your being in church?" Their replies were:
188.8.131.52. I had a special need - 3%
184.108.40.206. I just walked in - 3%
220.127.116.11. I liked the minister - 6%
18.104.22.168. I visited there - 1%
22.214.171.124. I liked the Bible classes - 5%
126.96.36.199. I attended a gospel meeting - 0.5%
188.8.131.52. I liked the programs - 3%
184.108.40.206. A friend or relative invited me - 79%
1.10. What can we learn from a survey like this?
1.10.1. The obvious point of the survey is this: If the church is to grow, it will be through the efforts of individual members! The greatest potential lies with people who have some contact with members of the local congregation
2. The Methods - There are as many methods as there are people to carry out those methods.
2.1. No two of us will approach the conversion of another soul in exactly the same manner.
2.2. That is no problem, as long as we do not decide to insist that our method is the only acceptable method.
2.3. Of course there are some methods or techniques that are better than others. Some just work better. It is up to us in being "As wise as serpents and as harmless as doves" to learn and utilize the differences (Mat. 10:16).
2.4. Television; radio; magazines; newspapers; tracts; advertisements in various periodicals; campaigns (door-to-door efforts); religious surveys; neighborhood Bible studies; kind religious discussion with a guest in one's home; Bible Call tapes; computer Bible displays in shopping malls; correspondence courses offered in various places and ways; the list is very long indeed.
2.5. All that Jesus said was "Go!"
2.5.1. Mat. 28:18-20 -- Go ye therefore, and teach [make disciples] of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to obey all things whatsoever I have commanded you....
2.6. So, whether by boat, train, plane, or ox-cart, we must go. The HOW of it is up to our good sense.
2.7. You can start by making a list
2.7.1. IN MAKING THE LIST, Start with those who are close to you and work outwardly
220.127.116.11. Relatives of fellow church members
18.104.22.168. Regular visitors to the services of the church
22.214.171.124. Casual acquaintances (mailman, store clerk, etc.)
126.96.36.199. Keep this list where you will see it daily
2.8. PRAY FOR THOSE ON YOUR LIST DAILY
2.8.1. WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT...
188.8.131.52. It is God who gives the increase when it comes to evangelism
184.108.40.206. We are but servants whom God can use in His providential workings
220.127.116.11. So though we may work as though it all depends upon us, let us pray as though it all depends upon God!
2.9. WHAT YOU SHOULD BE PRAYING FOR...
2.9.1. To give you "opportunities" to do good for them
18.104.22.168. Col. 4:3 - meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains
2.9.2. To give you the "wisdom" to make the most of those opportunities
22.214.171.124. Col. 4:4-6 - that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one
2.9.3. To give you "boldness" to say what needs to be said
126.96.36.199. Eph. 6:18-20 - praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints--and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak
188.8.131.52. It will take boldness, because to speak the truth means that sometimes you must make choices
184.108.40.206.1. Luke 12:51-53 - Think ye that I am come to give peace in the earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: for there shall be from henceforth five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. They shall be divided, father against son, and son against father; mother against daughter, and daughter against her mother; mother in law against her daughter in law, and daughter in law against her mother in law.
2.9.4. That those on your list will have:
220.127.116.11. Have the opportunity to hear the truth
18.104.22.168. Have honest hearts to be open and receptive to the truth
3. The Challenges and Obstacles to Evangelism - If there is any one thing that Satan considers as important as getting us to live immoral or less than Christian lives, it his interest in diverting our attention from the business of saving souls.
3.1. If we save no souls, then several things happen:
3.1.1. The church slowly dies out with age;
3.1.2. Those who don't die of age "die" of indifference and unfaithfulness (for if we are not adding to the furtherance of the ongoing cause of the Kingdom, then we are likely to lose interest in both it and that for which it stands);
22.214.171.124. Mat. 6:21 -- For where your treasure is there shall your heart be also.
3.1.3. Thus, the real first challenge to our efforts in evangelism is that of becoming sufficiently aware of its importance that we become motivated to become involved in it in a personal way.
3.1.4. You might guess some of the other obstacles -- or shall we call them challenges -- to evangelism:
126.96.36.199. The prejudice, ignorance, wrong beliefs, and general apathy that we earlier mentioned;
188.8.131.52. The difficulty of living up to the code of behavior that we espouse;
184.108.40.206. The time and energy limitations that constrain each of us as we involve ourselves in personal evangelism at the cost of some other priority in our lives.
220.127.116.11. The challenge is to keep a proper perspective on the work of evangelism and to overcome every obstacle to its success.
4. The Rewards and Punishments
4.1. It goes without saying that there is great satisfaction in a soul being saved. There is nothing quite like the realization that you have fulfilled:
4.1.1. James 5:19 - Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.
4.2. It is a God-like effort on our part when we have a part in either the turning of an alien sinner to Christ, or in bringing back an erring brother or sister to faithfulness and full fellowship with God and the church.
4.2.1. Rewards in Scripture:
18.104.22.168. Rom. 2:6 - Who will render to every man according to his deeds.
22.214.171.124. 1 Cor. 15:58 -- Therefore, my beloved brethren be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
126.96.36.199. Gal. 6:10 -- ...in due season we shall reap if we faint not.
188.8.131.52. 1 Cor. 3:8,11-14 -- ...and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man'swork abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himselfshall be saved; yet so as by fire.
4.2.2. The punishment of any unfaithful steward of the blessings of the Lord has always been, and will always be, the disapproval of the Lord and the possible loss of his salvation.
184.108.40.206. Mat. 7:21 - 23 -- Not every one that saith unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
220.127.116.11. While the Lord never said that our results all had to be equal, he certainly did say that we all must give our best to the effort of saving souls. It is not an optional activity.
The Lord provides a great many doors for us to tell others about him. Some doors we open, some we ignore and some we seem completely oblivious to. But thanks be to God for His Son, "who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross."
May we all strive to have that same kind of spirit as we contemplate the opportunities we are given to lead someone's soul to Christ. .