We began our study on the ministry of the local church several weeks ago by considering the desire for the revival of God’s truth in our community and in our nation. We discovered ten elements in revival and found that revivals are more complex than a person may initially think. In a subsequent message, we found that for the church to be what God designed it to be, a change in thinking must occur. Christians must learn to think biblically, above and beyond the way the world thinks. Their thoughts, decisions, attitudes and actions must be shaped by the truth of God’s Word. There must be a transition from self-centered thinking and the way to develop God-centered thinking is to return to an understanding that God has revealed in His truth to us in the Bible. Nowhere else will you find His truth. Because of this, we are called to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.
We then found that God’s purpose for the local church is to make disciples, following the Great Commission the Lord Jesus Christ gave to His church before His ascension to heaven. It is recorded in Matthew 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples.” I am here to encourage you to do the things that God said in the Bible. I am not here to tell you jokes and make you laugh or to entertain you. We learned that we are not only to make disciples, but we are to bring them to spiritual maturity and leadership both in the local church and in their homes. To add to that thought, last week we found ways that the Lord Jesus Christ through His grace enables us and empowers dynamic Christian growth and maturity from verses in Acts 2:41-47. In those verses, six aspects are shown that reveal how God expects believers to develop spiritually and grow together as a local church. These six aspects include baptism, transformed lives, focus on the Bible and Bible teaching, fellowship with other believers within the local church, partaking of the Lord’s Table and individual and community prayer. We are supposed to be working to make disciples. This command comes right out of the Bible.
To help complete our understanding of God’s design for the local church and to answer the need for spiritual revival and awakening, we must consider evangelism. Evangelism is the effort of local churches and the people in the church to obey Christ’s command by reaching the unsaved and bringing them into a saving relationship with Jesus. From the very establishment of the local church, our Lord has instructed His people to reach the unsaved with the Gospel message. Historically, there have been times when society welcomed the preaching of the gospel and urged its members to embrace Christ and live a Christian life. We do not live in those times. Many Christians have been so intimidated by the culture that they are afraid to tell anyone about salvation in Christ alone through grace alone by faith alone. Elements of our culture continue to marginalize born-again believers and relegate them and their message to the periphery of society. We do not want Bibles in our classrooms. We do not want prayer at athletic events. We do not want the Ten Commandments to adorn the walls of our courtrooms. There is intense pressure on the church and its people to keep the gospel message quiet and make no attempt to influence the world or reach others with the message of salvation. Yet, as true believers who have chosen to follow the Lord, we cannot ignore the command to be winners of souls. That is who we are and what we do!
Why must we be evangelistic? The reason we are to reach people for Christ is because people are lost. Please allow me to momentarily digress. Long ago (400 AD), a Catholic monk named Pelagius concluded that the doctrine of total depravity was wrong, and his idea has come to deeply infect the thinking of many Americans. Total depravity is a biblical truth that says that all humans are born in sin and are by their nature’s sinners. We find clear and bountiful evidence of this in both Testaments of the Bible, but I have time to share only a few. Ecclesiastes 7:20, written by Solomon, Israel’s king, wrote, “Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.” In the New Testament, the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 3:10, “As it is written, THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE.” We find Paul is even more explicit in Ephesians 2:1-3 when he writes, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.”
Beyond doubt, the Bible says all people, young and old, rich and poor, all are sinners. Because that is true, all stand in peril of divine judgment. Also, because all have sinned, none have the capacity to save themselves. We are all lost and will remain lost unless God does something to change us. The Bible tells us that is exactly what God did: He sent His One and Only Son to give His life for us so that by believing in Him, we may be given everlasting life. We find that Jesus came for the purpose of saving souls. In Luke 19:10 we are told, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” That is what Jesus Christ is! He is a soul winner!
Jesus came to seek and to save the lost and only Jesus can save a lost soul. Therein rests the reason for our evangelism. People are lost, Jesus came to save them, and we are called to take that message to a world languishing in sin. Today we will first discover the biblical warrant for evangelism followed by biblical illustrations for soul winning. We will conclude with a practical application designed to help you reach people for Christ.
INSTRUCTIONS (OR MANDATES) TO WIN SOULS: Jesus’ Command To Believers.
Preach the gospel to all creation. Jesus told His disciples, “Go into the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:15) Regardless of personal feelings, this command cannot be ignored. It is as relevant to the twenty-first century church as it was to the first century church. This is not option. This is His command to you and me.
Jesus sent us into the world. The Lord Jesus reiterated His command to win souls in John 20:21, where He tells his disciples “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” We have been given the same purpose as our Lord and that is to go into the world to reach people with the gospel. We are going to encounter people and we are going to impress upon them the necessity of salvation.
We are called to be His witnesses. I am sure you are familiar with Acts 1:8 which says, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in al Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” We do not carry our own message, but we are witnesses of what the Lord Jesus has done. We don’t talk about our church. We are to talk about Jesus Christ and why He came to earth.
God’s Will. Second Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”
1.God is merciful and does not want any soul to perish. 2.The offer of salvation in Christ is available to anyone. 3.Trusting in Christ brings eternal salvation; rejection of Christ brings
Angelic Involvement. (Revelation 14:6) So important is the gospel message that God will literally assign an angel to fly through the sky above the earth proclaiming it during the days of the Tribulation. This is a legitimate offering of salvation to those living in those days. Some will receive the message and Christ. Others will reject the message. This will fulfill Christ’s prophecy that “the gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14)
ILLUSTRATIONS OF SOUL WINNING: Paul Was Not Ashamed Of The Gospel.
(Romans 1:16) God called the apostle Paul to witness for Him among both Jews and Gentiles. His mission was “to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.” (Acts 26:18)
Because of that Paul was not ashamed of preaching the gospel because he knew it was God’s power for saving souls. All who believe, whether Jews or Gentiles, were given the same gift of eternal life.
Ambassadors For Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:20-21) To the Gentile church in Greece, Paul urged them to obey Christ’s command to reach out to the lost acting as Christ’s personal representatives in giving the message of the gospel. Through soul winning, God actually makes an appeal to the lost soul through us to be reconciled to God. This is God’s plan for every local church. We are ambassadors and priests!
Local Church Evangelism. (1 Thessalonians 1:8-10) Also in the Greece of the first century was the church of the Thessalonians. Paul wrote something very interesting about them. First, the word of the Lord sounded forth from them. These were ordinary Christians who were concerned about their community. So, they went out intentionally to spread the gospel. This is why we are here! When Paul attempted to evangelize in those communities, he found he did not need to say anything because the Christians from the local church had already been there to spread the message of salvation. The building doesn’t get up and win souls, it is the people who are winning souls!
Their message was a personal message that reflected their transformation in Christ. Be-cause they had received Christ, they had turned from idols to serve the living and true God, and were waiting for the return of the Lord Jesus. They included Christ’s resurrection and His rescue of believers from future judgment. They were talking about what was to come.
INTENTIONAL SOULWINNING: We Must Give An Answer. (1 Peter 3:15 NIV)
We really have no choice. Both as individuals and collectively as a church, God has made us responsible to win souls to Christ. God does not demand that all of us become world-class theologians or apologists, but He does want us to be prepared with an answer in case someone asks about our faith. I am sure that means we are ready to show someone from the Word of God why they need salvation in Christ and how they can be saved. If someone asked you how to become a Christian, what would you say? What would you tell your children or grandchildren if they asked you how you became a Christian? That is what this verse demands from us. Last week, my wife and my granddaughter spent part of the afternoon baking cookies. If you had a similar occasion and your granddaughter asked you how to be saved, would you be able to show them from the Bible how a person comes to Christ? Can you show them how to become a Christian? I have spent time in hospital rooms where people are close to death and had this question asked of me. Do you have an answer?
Let me give you a basic plan that can lead a person to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. It has been called the Romans Road. There are many other verses, but this will help you get started. When I was 17 years old, I accepted Christ as my Savior. I was excited. I went out to the local malls and beaches and talked to everyone I could. I also talked to people at my high school. I kept a Bible with me at all times and was ready to talk to anyone who would listen. In the following paragraphs are some verses that I used to show to anyone who was interested in becoming a Christian.
Answer Those With A Basic Bible Background. (Romans 3:23, 5:8, 6:23, 10:9-10, 13)
1.An unsaved person’s real status before God. (Romans 3:23) 2.The penalty for sin is eternal death. (Romans 6:23a) 3.God loves us so much He offers an alternative called eternal life. (Romans 3:23b) 4.God provided His Son, Jesus, as an atoning sacrifice for my sin. Jesus took
my penalty. (Romans 5:8)
5.God will accept anyone who calls to Him using the name of the Lord Jesus
Christ. Have you ever done this? (Romans 10:13)
6.To receive eternal life we must confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord
and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead. (Romans 10:9)
7.We continue to live by faith and allow the Lord to transform us by renewing
our minds. (Romans 12:1-2)
Answer Those With No Bible Background. (Acts 17:22-31) As the apostle Paul traveled preaching the Good News of eternal life in Jesus Christ, he found people who had no idea what the Bible contained and what their true spiritual condition really was. They were lost and heading toward eternal condemnation but did not know this was true about them. Paul used a different approach in reaching those people. This example is found as Paul spoke to a crowd gathered in Athens, Greece, at a place called Mar’s Hill. His message to these people can be summarized in three points.
1.They must recognize that God is–His existence. They knew there was a god but not Who He really is. (Acts 17:22-223) 2.They must recognize who God is–His genuine uniqueness. They must understand who this God is. (Acts 17:24-29) 3.They must recognize what God has said–His revelation to mankind. This is absolute truth. (Acts 17:30-31)
“Evangelism (or soul winning) we have learned is a task appointed to all God’s people everywhere. It is the task of communicating a message from the Creator to rebel mankind. The message begins with information and ends with an invitation. The information concerns God’s work of making His Son a perfect Savior for sinners. The invitation is God’s summons to mankind generally to come to the Savior and find life. God commands all men everywhere to repent, and promises forgiveness and restoration to all who do. The Christian is sent into the world as God’s herald and Christ’s ambassador, to broadcast this message as widely as he or she can. This is both our duty (because it is a great thing to speak for God and to take to our neighbor the remedy–he only remedy–at can save him or her from the terrors of spiritual death). Our job (as a local church) is to go to our fellow men and women and tell them the gospel of Christ, and try by every means to make it clear to them; to remove as best we can any difficulties that they may find in it, to impress them with its seriousness, and urge them to respond to it. That is our abiding responsibility and it is a basic part of our Christian calling.” (J.I. Packer)
Do you know someone who is not a believer in Jesus Christ? Is there someone in your family who has never confessed their faith in the Lord Jesus? Do you have a neighbor who has never invited Christ to save them from their sins? Perhaps you have a friend or acquaintance at work or at school who does not share your love for Christ and who needs salvation. I am not suggesting that you must ambush that person as a Christian commando preaching the gospel, but I am suggesting that you be ready with an answer if they ask you about your salvation. And, I am suggesting that we all get busy and pray for the salvation of those we know of who are lost and ask the Lord to use us in reaching them for the sake of the gospel. Begin the process of winning souls through prayer and then be ready to show them the Scripture references on salvation. What a wonderful blessing it would be for all of us if God begins to fill these pews with people who we lead to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Updated by Pastor Vernon Welkner 8/13/2018