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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
January 10, 2015
Evangelism: The Church Goes Out
Jesus said in Matthew 16:18 that He would build His church and that the gates of Hades would not overpower it, and indeed, death has not prevailed over Christ’s church because Jesus conquered death and ever lives to continue building it. Last week I began a short series on the church by looking at the identity and commission of the church. There are many metaphors in the Scriptures to describe the church which give a good understanding of its identity and nature. These include: A temple of God; A royal priesthood; The bride of Christ; A branch; Sheep; and The body of Christ. The church consists of the people called by God to be a community in which the Spirit of God dwells and the worship of God takes place. We are betrothed to Christ and therefore willingly and joyfully submit to His headship for in His loving care He leads, cares and protects us as a shepherd does His sheep whom we are. We draw our life from Him as does a branch from its vine and root. We are the visible manifestation of His body which consists of many individual members which are dependent upon each other and interconnected to be unified into one entity. (See: The Identity & Commission of the Church)
The commission that the Lord has given to the church arises from its identity and nature. Jesus’ command in Matthew 28:18-20 is “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” As I explained last week, this is one command, to make disciples of all nations, carried out in three successive steps: going, baptizing and teaching. Because Jesus has all authority, He has the right and power to not only command us, but also to enable us to accomplish His will. We who have been saved and therefore belong to Him are to make disciples for Him. That is why the purpose statement of Grace Bible Church is to Glorify God by Making Disciples of Jesus Christ. We accomplish this by going to all nations and proclaiming the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and calling others to believe and follow Him. Those that do believe are to be baptized as personal witness of their identity as followers of Jesus Christ. They are to see themselves as those who have died with Christ and have risen to new life in Him. We then endeavor to help them obey Jesus’ commands by teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. I will expand on that in a future sermon.
Last week I concentrated on the command to make disciples. This morning I will be concentrating on the “going” aspect of this commission. This is part of the Christian identity of being a royal priesthood. We not only offer ourselves as living sacrifices in worship of the Lord, but as priests, we also have the role of mediators between God and those that are still lost. We are God’s ambassadors sent to proclaim His message of redemption and forgiveness in Jesus Christ. We express this at Grace Bible Church in the first subpoint of our purpose statement with the phrase, Communicating New Life in Christ. That does not sound like a hard thing to do, yet it seems that many Christians are hesitant or down right scared to do it.
Some years ago I heard a story about a fellow who was starting a new job. Like any of us might be, he was quite nervous about it. He was going to be taking on new responsibilities and meeting new people and he wanted to make a good first impression. He and his wife prayed about it before he left that morning. When he got home his wife greeted him at the door and asked how things went. He said, “Great, I got along real well with the guys, and they never even found out that I am a Christian.” (Before you are too hard on this fellow, consider that no Christian there made himself known to him either).
Now I can relate a little to this story because I tend to be nervous about meeting new people, and while I love to talk about Christ and it is hard to get me to stop once I get started (a qualification for a preacher?), I have a difficult time getting the conversation going. When I was in Australia many years ago with a group of pastors conducting conferences around that country, we were taking a one hour flight from Sydney up to Brisbane. I ended up seated on the aisle next to a man and a woman who obviously knew each other, so I was already odd man out. That would make it more difficult for a natural introvert to fulfill evangelical Christian Airline travel theology which is the idea that God sovereignly assigns your seat specifically so that you will talk about the gospel with the person seated next to you. I was wondering how I was going to accomplish this task and also finish up on some work that needed to be done before we got to Brisbane when I noticed that the man was dressed with a white shirt and a black tie. He was carrying a small brief case that had what looked like religious tracts in it along with what looked like one of those Jr. size Bibles that cult members carry. (Everyone knows that real Christians only carry large study Bibles like mine or Pocket testaments to give away when traveling). I thought, “Oh no, I have had hardly any sleep in 36 hours, I still have work to do, and we land in Brisbane in less than an hour, and I am seated next to either a J.W. or a Mormon, and I don’t feel like dealing with either of them.” Things went well for the first half hour for the man talked quietly to the woman and left me alone. Then it happened. His conversation hit a lull just as I happened to glance up from my reading – and it was time to acknowledge his existence. Turns out the fellow was a member of the Gideons and he was returning to Brisbane from a national conference in Sydney. We had a great time of fellowship for the duration of the flight. I sure wish his little lapel button had been on his right side where I could have seen it earlier.
Have you ever felt like that? Today I want to try to take away some of that fear of talking to others about Jesus by taking a brief look at what Scripture has to say about evangelism. The first step in making disciples is to go out to Communicate New Life in Christ. People must hear the good news about Jesus Christ before they can believe and follow Him. This morning we will looking at the Nature, Message and Challenge of Evangelism.
The Nature of Evangelism
What is the nature of evangelism? What does evangelism mean? Who performs evangelism? Where does evangelism take place?
Our word, “evangelism,” is a transliteration of the Greek word group eujaggelivzw, eujggelivon / euangelizo, euangelion. We also get our word, “gospel,” from this same word group. It is a compound word made up from a word meaning “good,” and another meaning “message.” To evangelize then is to give someone a “good message” or “bring glad tidings.” The word is translated exactly that way in a number of texts. In Luke 1:19, the angel announces to Zecharias that he will have a son named John by saying, “I have been sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news. “In Luke 2:10 the angel said to the Shepherds upon Jesus’ birth, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people . . .” Romans 10:15 speaks of those who bring “glad tidings of good things.” Most often the word is used in Scripture in relation to good news from God concerning His plan for mankind, the gospel message. In fact, this association is so close, that the word is often translated as “preach the gospel.” (Luke 9:6, Acts 14:7; Romans 1:15; etc.).
The meaning of “evangelism” then is simply to “tell good news” or bring “glad tidings” to others. That should certainly be a lot easier than having to bring “bad tidings,” but then again, the good news of Jesus Christ is not necessarily what men would like to hear. I will speak more about that later. Who is it that gives the good news and when and where do they give it?
One reason for looking at this question is that people are sometimes confused by Ephesians 4:11 which states, “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers.” This causes some people to think that since God has gifted certain people to be evangelists, then the responsibility to evangelize belongs to them and not ordinary Christians. But is that what the Scriptures say?
We have already seen that Angels give out good news (Luke 1:19; 2:10). Romans 10:15 and Hebrews 4:2 indicate that the prophets of the Old Testament were among those who gave out God’s good news. Add John the Baptist to that list since he “preached the gospel to the people” (Luke 3:18) and he is considered to be the last of the prophets. Of course we would expect Jesus and the Apostles, including Paul, to be among our list, and they are. But what about Philip? Acts 6:5 indicates that Philip was one of the Seven, often referred to as the first Deacons. In Acts 8 He is preaching the gospel to the Ethiopian Eunuch and in all the cities he passed through between Azotus and Caesarea. Philip was so much involved in evangelism that he is referred to by Luke as “Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven” in Acts 21:8. But who else is this task of evangelism given to?
In Acts 11: 20 there are some people referred to as simply being “from Cyprus and Cyrene” who are speaking to the Greeks and preaching the Lord Jesus. Acts 8:1-4 tells us a little more about these folks. “And Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him [Stephen] to death. And on that day a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 And [some] devout men buried Stephen, and made loud lamentation over him. 3 But Saul [began] ravaging the church, entering house after house; and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison. 4 Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.” These men were just part of the many who had been scattered throughout the Roman Empire because of the persecution that had risen in Jerusalem following the martyrdom of Stephen. They were not individuals gifted in particular as evangelists. They were just people who were part of the church forced to move to new areas, and they told the new people they met about Jesus.
Evangelism belongs to every believer. The evangelists of Ephesians 4:11 are those especially gifted by God to train the people of the church in evangelism. They hold an office in the church just as the pastor/teacher does for the purpose of “equipping the saints for the work of the ministry.” Certainly there are those that have an easier time and are better at evangelism, but sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with others is something all believers are to do as best they can.
The time and place of evangelism is any time and any place there is opportunity. The gospel has been declared at all times – morning to evening, day and night. It has been proclaimed along rivers, lakes and streams, in jungles, forests, woods, prairies, and deserts, on the streets of cities and towns, and even in churches.
Now that we know that everyone who professes faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior is to proclaim the gospel, we need to make sure we know the message of this good news.
The Message of Evangelism
First, be aware that there are other gospels. There are other messages that claim to be “good news” that are in competition with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul states this very strongly in Galatians 1:6-9. “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you, and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.”
Those are strong but necessary words because of the importance of following the true gospel and not some perversion of it. There are too many cult groups around for us not to take the warning seriously. These groups range from outright denial of the Bible as the source of truth, to those that subtly twist the Scriptures to pervert the truth into lies. The greatest tragedy are those that think they are following Jesus, but will find out too late that they were following an imitation gospel. Jesus warned in Matthew 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name; and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ and then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” The second greatest tragedy are the many that are deceived by the false gospels preached in many churches, printed and available in Christian bookstores, and broadcast on TV, Radio and internet. Make sure that you are following the true gospel, for it is a matter of your eternal destiny.
What then is the true gospel?
It begins with the message of John the Baptist who according to Luke 3 was “preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (vs 3). John was fulfilling his commission to prepare the way of the Lord (vs 4-6). He called sin what it was and removed any basis for self-righteousness. He called the people to repent, (change their minds and turn away), from sin in a manner visibly demonstrated by its proper fruit (vs 8-9). For the general population, this would include sharing with others what they had (vs. 10-11). For tax gatherers, it would be honesty (vs 12-13). For Soldiers, it was to be content with their position and not use their power to take from others (vs 14). John’s message was based on the hope of the coming of the Messiah who would baptize those who repented with the Holy Spirit and judge those who did not.
According to Matthew 4:17, Jesus began His ministry with the same message, “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Jesus then expanded on the hope of Messiah and the coming of the Holy Spirit. This can be seen in his explanation of the gospel to Nicodemus in John 3:13-21 which includes these elements.
1) The gospel is a message brought directly from heaven because Jesus was descended from there (vs. 13), And no one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven, [even] the Son of Man.
2. God is loving toward man and provided a way to save him by giving His only begotten Son. He grants eternal life to those who believe. Believe is pisteuvw / pisteuo which also means faith and trust. This was salvation by faith, not works, as explained in verse 14-17, And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 15 that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.
3. Those who do not believe are under God’s judgment (vs 18), He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
4. The truth of belief will be demonstrated by the manner of life for actions reveal the heart (vs 19-21), And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.
That is the gospel according to Jesus. Some other elements of the good news found in the gospel of John include:
* John 8: 36 – the good news of being freed from sin’s bondage
* John 11:25,26 – the good news of the hope of resurrection.
*John 14:1-4 – the good news of the hope of a place in heaven.
*John 14:6 – the good news of the hope of eternity with the Father.
The Apostle Paul summarizes the key elements of the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, 1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
To summarize this passage:
1. Jesus is the Christ / Messiah (v. 3)
2. We are sinful (v. 3)
3. Jesus paid the penalty of our sin (v.3)
4. Jesus was buried and raised to life third day (vs. 4)
1 Corinthians 15:17-20 goes on to state that “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. 20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.
5. Jesus’ resurrection confirms our hope of being free from sin’s bondage (v. 17)
6. We have hope of resurrection (v. 20)
What then is the gospel message? A General Summary includes:
Bad news: Man is sinful and deserves death and Hell (Rom 3:23)
Good News: Jesus rose from the dead, conquering death and sin (1 Corinthians 15)
Good News: Man can get a great package deal in Jesus, and it only comes as a complete package.
1. Jesus’ death is appropriated to your account (Romans 3:21-26). This is redemption and includes forgiveness of sin and Jesus’ righteousness imputed to your account
2. The bondage of your personal sin broken (Romans 6:17-18)
3. The Holy Spirit lives right inside you, changing you from the inside out. Outward righteousness will be displayed because of an inward reality. (John 16:7-13)
4. You will receive a great place in eternity with Jesus (Jn 14:1-4)
The Challenge of Evangelism
The purpose of the church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ, and that process begins by Communicating New Life in Christ to others. The challenge of evangelism is simply to be involved with it. Note carefully what I said. The challenge of evangelism is simply to do it.
J.I. Packer defined evangelism well in his book, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, – “Evangelism is to so present Christ Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit, in order that men may put their trust in God through Him, to accept Him as their Saviour, and serve Him as their King in the fellowship of His church.”
First, this means that you must evangelize according to the moving of the Holy Spirit and in His power and not in your own scheming and fleshly strength. By scheming I am referring to those who try to win their opponent through point and counterpoint in debate. That is seeking to win an argument. That is not evangelism. You are to seek to win a person to Christ by speaking the truth in love. You may contend for the faith, but you are not to be contentious. It also means you do not use bait and switch tactics as salesmen sometimes do to sell something the person will not want when they figure it out.
Evangelizing in the power of the Holy Spirit also means that you are praying for the salvation of individuals, you are walking in the Spirit yourself, and you take advantage of the opportunities to turn a conversation to Christ and lovingly talk about Him. You do not wait for perfect conditions. You look for and create opportunities to tell others the good news of Jesus.
Second, this means that you must be accurate with what you share. You must be careful to present the whole gospel before challenging someone to put their trust in Him. This may take several conversations over quite a period of time, or maybe everything comes together at once, but be sure to share the whole message of the gospel. I am not talking about every nuance of soteriology, the theology of salvation, but at least present the basic facts. I have talked with too many people that had Jesus sold to them as a great fire insurance policy or a great genie who would make their lives wonderful without problems. They were told that Jesus loved them and wanted them to have an abundant, wonderful life. But they were not told that the abundant life of John 10:10 is life in the Spirit and that being in relationship with God will result in receiving persecution from an unrighteous world (John 16:33; Titus 3:12). Too many people want and have been sold a false Christ who seeks to fulfill their temporal and worldly desires. To come to the true Jesus for salvation from sin, you must understand who He is, what He has done, and that He is your only eternal hope. The challenge of evangelism is to present the whole gospel which includes both the positive and the negative consequences.
“Evangelism is to so present Christ Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit, in order that men may put their trust in God through Him, to accept Him as their Saviour, and serve Him as their King in the fellowship of His church.”
That is the challenge of evangelism. You must leave the results in God’s hands. To quote Packer again, “the way to tell whether in fact you are evangelizing is not to ask whether conversions are known to have resulted from your witness. It is to ask whether you are faithfully making known the gospel message.”
That is how you are to go and tell others of the hope you have within you. Tell those who are down and out that there is a way out through Jesus Christ. Tell those who are caught up in drug and alcohol abuse that there is a way to deal with the difficulties of life without spacing out or getting drunk. Tell them that the hope which comes with faith in Jesus Christ will enable them to face life full on. Tell those with marital and other relational problems how to work through those problems by first getting their relationship right with God. Tell those suffering physically and those who are dying that there is a hope in Christ of a world beyond this one in which suffering and death will be no more. Tell those who are lonely and hurting that in Jesus Christ they can have a love that is unending and a friend that will always be present.
This desire to obey Jesus in making disciples of all nations is what fuels all true missions work. Missionaries want to take the gospel message to other lands and other cultures that those people might too know the savior and glorify Him with their lives.
If you are here today and have not yet given your life to Christ, today is the day of salvation. We have an open invitation at this church. Please talk with myself or one of the church leaders after the service. Don’t leave this place until you have peace with God. We will be happy to explain more about Jesus Christ and how you can be forgiven you sins and be given the promise of eternal life.
If you are a Christian, then take up the challenge of evangelism and share the hope that is within you with others. I have included a couple of gospel tracts with the bulletin today to help get you started, and don’t forget the Evangelism Crash Course on January 16.
Sermon Notes: Evangelism: The Church Goes Out
The many ________________describing the church give a good understanding of its identity and nature
Jesus has commissioned the church to make ________by going, baptizing and teaching – Matthew 28:18-20
As part of God’s “royal priesthood,” we ______________between God and man by proclaiming the gospel
Communicating New Life in Christ is not hard, but many Christians are _______to talk to others about Jesus
The first step of making disciples of Jesus is _____________to them and proclaiming the gospel
The Nature of Evangelism
Evangelism (eujaggelivzw / euangelizo) is to proclaim a “___________message” – same root as “gospel”
Those from Cyprus and Cyrene (Acts 11:20); evangelism belongs to _______________believer
The evangelists of Ephesians 4:11 ______________believers to evangelize
The time and place of evangelism is _________time and ____________place there is opportunity
The Message of Evangelism
Beware of ___________”gospels” – Galatians 1:6-9
The greatest tragedy – false teachers who think they are serving Jesus but are in reality ___________
The second greatest tragedy – those __________by a false gospel – and they abound even within Christianity
Jesus’ explanation of the gospel in John 3
1) It is a message brought directly from _______________(John 3:13)
2) God is loving toward man and has provided a means of eternal life through _____in Jesus (John 3:14-17)
3) Those who do not believe are under God’s ______________(John 3:18)
4) The truth of belief will be demonstrated by the ____________of life (John 3:19-21)
John 8: 36 – the good news of being ______________from sin’s bondage
John 11:25,26 – the good news of the hope of _______________.
John 14:1-4 – the good news of the hope of a place in ____________.
John 14:6 – the good news of the hope of _____________with the Father
1 Cor. 15:3-4 gospel summary: Jesus is the Messiah, man is sinful, Jesus paid sin’s penalty (vs. 3)
Jesus died, was buried and was resurrected on the third day (vs. 4)
1 Cor. 15:17-20 Jesus’ resurrection confirms _________of forgiveness and being resurrected in the future
Bad news: Man is sinful and deserves ____________and Hell (Rom 3:23)
Good News: Jesus _________from the dead, conquering death and sin (1 Corinthians 15)
Good News: Man can get a great package __________in Jesus, and it only comes as a complete package.
1. Jesus’ death is appropriated to your account (Romans 3:21-26) – ____________and forgiveness of sin
2. The bondage of your personal sin ____________(Romans 6:17-18)
3. The Holy Spirit _____________right inside you, changing you from the inside out (John 16:7-13)
4. You will spend eternity in Heaven with ____________(John 14:1-4)
The Challenge of Evangelism
“Evangelism is to so present Christ Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit, in order that men may put their trust in God through Him, to accept Him as their Saviour, and serve Him as their King in the fellowship of His church” – J.I. Packer in Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God
Evangelism is to be done by the power and moving the Holy Spirit, and not by human _______________
Evangelism involves __________for people and opportunities – and taking advantage of them, creating them
Evangelism requires accuracy and the ___________message – we proclaim Jesus, we do not sell Him
Faithfully proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ – and ______________the results in God’s hands
The ____________to obey Jesus in making disciples of all nations fuels evangelism and missions work
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Write down all the verses mentioned in the sermon and look them up later. 2) Count how many times the term “evangelism” or “good news” is used in the sermon. Talk with your parents about what you understand the gospel to be.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. Are you nervous when you meet new people? Why can’t the gates of Hades prevail against the church? What metaphors for the church are the most meaningful to you and why? What is the Great Commission? What three means are to be used in carried out that command? What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus? Are you such a disciple? Do you feel self-conscious when you talk to someone you don’t know about Jesus? What does “evangelism” mean? Who is supposed to tell the good news of Jesus? Who were some of the people in the Bible that declared the gospel? What does the evangelist of Ephesians 4:11 do? What are some of the false gospel you have heard? What was wrong with them? What is the importance of repentance to the true gospel? What is the gospel according to Jesus in John 3? What is the gospel according to the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15? Summarize the gospel in your own words. J.I Packer said, “Evangelism is to so present Christ Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit, in order that men may put their trust in God through Him, to accept Him as their Saviour, and serve Him as their King in the fellowship of His church.” Do you agree or disagree with that statement? What is your responsibility in evangelism? Are you responsible of the results? Explain? Do you know the gospel well enough to tell it to someone else? Can marketing techniques be used to help proclaim the gospel? Explain. What are some of the dangers of marketing based approaches to evangelism?
Recommended Resources: Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, by J.I. Packer. Lifestyle Evangelism, by Joe Aldrich, How to Give Away Your Faith, by Paul E. Little, http://www.wayofthemaster.com/
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