Intro: What are the” works of the church”? We often use this language to describe the activities God has authorized for a local church to do: evangelism, benevolence and edification. But these works are not just for the congregation collectively. Individual Christians are also commanded to engage in evangelism (teaching the lost), benevolence (helping the needy), and edification ( strengthening other Christians).
In regards to evangelism, sometimes we may spend so much time talking about evangelism being a work of the church that we forget to remind ourselves that it is also the work of individual Christians. Let’s notice ways in which we, as individuals, can help reach the lost and bring them to Christ. Sometimes we call this “personal work”, and it doesn’t work unless the person does.
- How does the individual do the work of evangelism – teaching the lost? There is more than one element involved in this work.
I. Speak: The apostle Peter says we are to always be “ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3:15). This is the foundation of our responsibility to teach the lost. We must be ready to explain to others how we became a Christian and why. Earlier, Peter wrote that as God’s people, we are to “proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9) It is our responsibility to be speak (proclaim) to others about the God we serve, His power and grace.
A. Can you teach another person how to become a Christian? Can you show them from the Bible? If not then we need to learn how to do this. This individual effort is the key to local church growth.
1. Acts 8 –Because of the citywide persecution that arose in Jerusalem following the death of Stephen, the disciples were scattered. (v. 2). Those then “who had been scattered went about preaching the word” (v. 4). The early church recognized the individual duty of every Christian to teach others.
a. One such person was Philip. Acts 8:5 begins the record of his work preaching in Samaria. The text says he went there “proclaiming Christ to them. The crowds with one accord were giving attention to what was said by Philip” (v. 5-6). Verse 12 says, “when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike.” The gospel was being taught and people were being saved from the work of one man – Phillip.
2. In Acts 18 we find a husband and wife — Aquila and Priscilla – working as a team, teaching others in Ephesus. They encountered Apollos, “an eloquent man…mighty in the Scriptures” (v. 24), but he was “acquainted only with the baptism of John” (v. 25-26). He needed to know what to do to be a Christian. So Aquila and Priscilla “took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately” (v. 26). Apollos went on to effectively teach others the gospel.
3. We need to prepare ourselves to do this work. The only way to prepare is to spend time in God’s word: 2 Timothy 2:15 – Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. This involves not only teaching the truth, but also confronting denominational error and leading people out of it. Can you give answers?
B. Another part of this work is our everyday conversation. How much do you bring God or the church into the talk?
1. Don’t be afraid to mention the Lord in your everyday speech. We naturally talk about the things we are interested in—our kids, our teams, our cars, politics, etc. So Christians should naturally talk about Jesus.
2. Give glory to God for the good things in your life; let unbelievers know you are praying for them; point hurting, troubled people to God’s word; speak positively about the church.
3. Have you confessed Jesus? Just once before you were baptized? The daily opportunities that we have to speak about Jesus in our conversations with unbelievers may be what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 10:32. Notice the NIV translation of this verse: “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.” (NIV)
II. Invite: It may be that you are not yet able to teach another, or feel inadequate at the task. We need to work towards that goal, but in the meantime we can still do the work. We can invite.
A. In John 1, we find the example of Philip (a different Philip than the one we looked at earlier). Jesus called Philip to follow Him (v. 43). After this, “Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote — Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (v. 45). Nathanael, however, was skeptical: “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip simply told him, “Come and see” (v. 46). After Nathanael came to Jesus, he developed faith in Him as the Son of God (v. 49). Philip was involved in his conversion through a simple invitation.
B. We read of Cornelius in Acts 10. Cornelius was a good man who wanted to please God and do what was right. An angel came and told him to send for Peter (v. 4-6). A few days later, Peter came with Cornelius’ men to Caesarea. However, they did not find only Cornelius there. They found Cornelius “waiting for them and [he] had called together his relatives and close friends.” He understood that others need to hear what he was going to hear. He told Peter “we are all here present before God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord” (v. 33). He invited others, and as a result all those present were baptized into Christ (v. 48).
1. All Philip and Cornelius did was invite another person to “come and see”. We need to learn to talk positively about Bible class; then invite others to come. Talk enthusiastically about worship; then invite others to come. Talk up a special study; then invite others to attend. Studies show that 25% of those who do not attend church say they would come if someone invited them.
III. Shine: The effectiveness of our teaching is directly related to the holiness of our conduct. Matthew 5:16 – 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (NIV)
A. Timothy and Titus, two young evangelists, were instructed to be examples. Timothy was told to “show yourself an example of those who believe” (1 Tim. 4:12). Paul told Titus, “in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds” (Tit. 2:7). People will necessarily jusge the credibility of the doctrine by the conduct of the teacher. One of the biggest complaints people have about religion is the perceived hypocrisy. Even if we teach the truth, many will ignore it if we’re hypocrites.
1. Showing love for one another is crucial to our work of evangelism. It is a vital proof that we are Christ’s disciples. Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn. 13:34-35).
2. But letting our light shine is only one element of our work, and we should not think that since we’re setting a good example to those around us, we are doing everything we need to do to help reach them. Teaching is still necessary. No one will develop faith by our example. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17).
IV. Welcome: James tells us in his epistle that God cares about how we treat those who come into our assemblies. We are not to show favoritism to some while ignoring others (James 2:1-4). In Romans 12:13 Paul reminds Christians to be “given to hospitality” which literally means to be kind to strangers. There is no more important place to practice this than in our assemblies. How we welcome those who come to our assemblies is a big part of our work of evangelism as well. And it is a part that all of us can do. How do we do this work?
A. Start your welcome in the parking lot. It is difficult for many people to come to a new place. Introduce yourself and make them feel comfortable about coming inside.
B. Let visitors know this is the place where they belong. Give them a welcome packet from the tract rack. Give them a songbook or ask them if they need a Bible.
C. Invite them to sit with you in Bible class and worship. Remember that there are no reserved seats in this auditorium. Nobody has your seat! If they have children, introduce them to the teacher for their class or show them to the room where the class meets.
D . After services are over follow what some call the ten-minute rule. For the first ten minutes after service, seek out the visitors. Don’t talk to the other members until you have spoken to the visitors. Don’t let guests get past you without speaking to them. The worst thing that can happen is for no one to speak to the visitors.
Conclusion: Have you ever wanted to go and do the work of the Lord on a mission field? Many people dream of the opportunity to go to South America, Africa, Asia, or some faraway place to teach the lost. But the reality is that our mission field is right here, and the time to work it is now.
Jesus told his disciples: Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. (John 4:35)
- You can do the work of evangelism right here . There are things you can do, beginning today, to bring others to Christ. You can teach, shine, invite, and welcome.