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One of the most valuable ways to study the Bible is comparative. By that I mean we can look at the pattern and history of God’s people (church of the Bible) and compare ourselves to them. We often do this in a desire to restore N.T. Christianity, and reject current denominational practices. We certainly need to seek to restore Christianity to the pattern of the N.T. (if it has been lost). But this type of approach can, and should go further.
We often are selective in what items we seek to imitate the N.T. church, or N.T. Christians. Are we striving to be like them in every way? I am convinced that there are some points where we differ greatly (may not even be recognizable to others).
I. Restoring N.T. Evangelism: We cannot describe the N.T. church apart from their intense efforts to convert the lost to Christ. Let’s start with a familiar scripture: Matthew 28:18-20 – 18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “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 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.” Amen. Jesus gave command to the apostles to make disciples of all nations. This became, not only the marching orders for the apostles, but for the church as well.
A. The infant church at Jerusalem was immediately involved in teaching the lost. When persecution came, and the apostles were threatened (“commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.” Acts 4:18), the church prayed for the courage to speak the word without fear.
- Acts 4:29 – Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, God granted them the courage and under the leadership of the apostles, the word of God went out. Acts 5:14 – And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women,
1. Later in chapter 5, the apostles are arrested. After their miraculous release, the angel of God commands them “Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.” 21 And when they heard that, they entered the temple early in the morning and taught. ( Acts 5:20-21) The Council was astonished to find the apostles out of prison, and when the High Priest inquired about their whereabouts, the people answered… “Look, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!” Acts 5:25
a. The officers brought the apostles back to the council, where they were once again threatened not to speak about Jesus. Peter gave his courageous and inspiring answer, “we must obey God rather than men” (5:29)
b. When they were released the text says they “departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.” (Acts 5:41-42)
- Acts 6:3 – Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.
c. But persecution intensified, and eventually after the death of Stephen, many Christians had to flee the city. What about the mission? Acts 8:4 – “4 Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.”
2. My question is, Do you see us anywhere in these verses? Is that what we are all about? This may be our biggest deficiency in the church today. Where are the soul-winners?
B. Becoming Conscious of Lost Souls: For the most part, we react and decide in life through our perception of the world around us. During our waking hours we are constantly assessing our environment and adjusting accordingly. Some perceptions demand immediate attention. (ex. – if your driver begins to turn the wrong way onto the interstate highway. If you see a child getting ready to cross 41 unattended.) What should you do? There is no disagreement. No need to discussion. If you are conscious of this type of danger, you should do something to prevent it.
1. We are not conscious of the lost (People who ae destined to spend an eternity in hell.) John 4:35– 35 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.
2. Jesus was always conscious of the lost – even among the religiously acceptable. (Nicodemus, Simon, Judas, Peter, etc)
3. I am convinced that if we spent more time in God’s word, (meditating on what God has done for us) and engaged in more serious introspection (confessing our sins to God & each other), we would be more conscious of the lost around us.
II. What if We Were Soul Winners? What would be the impact on this church (or any church) if we began to focus on evangelism and became more like the N.T. church in this work? It would solve a lot of problems that the church faces – some of the basics:
A. Growth. We can easily access our number. Are we growing? Are we seeing more people converted. — Often the questions is asked, “Why are we not baptizing more?” “Why are we not growing numerically?” If we were planting the seed more, we would be growing more. That is not to suggest that no seed is being planted. But how many people have you spoke to about Jesus in the last month? Last year? Is there another way for this church to grow in number?
B. Prayer. The church needs prayer, and a concerned member prays. If you were earnestly trying to win another person to Christ, you would be praying about it, wouldn’t you?
- Romans 9:1-3 – I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh,
- Romans 10:1-4 – 10 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. –
C. Attendance. We all wish we could get folks to regularly attend the assemblies. (Preacher ought to preach on it more). There will be no need to plead for members to attend every service when they are soul winners. Those who are involved in teaching the lost will seek every opportunity to learn more of God’s word (sharpen their sword). They will also cherish the encouragement of others who are also teaching the lost. Heb 10:24-25 – 4 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
a. They will be present for every service, as an example to those whom they are teaching. How embarrassing it would be for your friend to visit and you not be here!!!
D. Ignorance of God’s Word. The prophet lamented that God’s people were destroyed through a lack of knowledge of God’s word. So many Christians are spiritually immature and can only handle the most basic teaching. They ought to be teachers, but are still children. (“why do I need to learn all this stuff, I am never going to use it”)
1. This would not be the case if we were actively engaged in teaching others. The need for Bible knowledge would be apparent every day – as actuely as food to a hungry person. Matthew 5:6 – Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. The teacher is ever learning.
- 1 Tim 4:15-16 – 15 Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. 16 Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.
- Paul also told Timothy – 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Tim 2:15)
E. Lack of Love and Compassion for Others: I am amazed at the plan of God in coming to earth to save us. The incarnation is beyond our comprehension. The writer of Hebrews tells us that one benefit of Jesus’ incarnation is His identification with us as our High Priest. He has compassion for our weaknesses.
- Heb 2:17-18 – 7 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.
- Heb 4:15 – For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
1. When we begin to teach others who are lost, we lose our vanity and sense of pride, and self-righteousness. We more easily recognize the power of Satan and sin. We become less likely to be hypercritical of others.
- Galatians 6:1-2 – 6 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
- This is not to suggest that we learn to excuse sin, but to the contrary, we learn to see its true devastation and hate it more.
2. Sharing in the work of teaching others also creates a camaraderie of love, just as the Lord designed among His people. 2 Tim 1:7-8 – For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God,
3. Those who are focused on saving the lost will have less inclination to fight among themselves. There is just something more important than having our own way.
- Paul shows us this principle in 1 Cor 8:9-13 – But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. 10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? 11 And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 12 But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble. The one who is truly conscious of sin, and fcused on saving the lost will not allow his liberty to get in the way. He will put the soul of the other person first. So those people are less likely to have problems and fight among themselves.
F. Ungodly Conduct: A soul winner will realize the importance of living a good example. He/She will do nothing to discourage another from following their path.
- Matthew 5:14 – 14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.
1. Those who are actively engaged in teaching others will not seek to justify questionable practices, but will desire to be pure in every way.
2. When Christians are teaching others, they will give generously to the work, beign able to see the fruit of the word in their own efforts.
Conclusion: There may be more ways to recognize the value of evangelism in the church. But we need to see the urgency of the gospel. Men are dying on their sins. Without Jesus they are lost. Who will you speak to this month? This week?
What about your soul? Are you lost? The blood of Jesus is the answer.