Introduction – What is evangelism? It is Christians teaching others how to be Christians. It is a cycle of “instruction” - 2 Timothy 2:1-2 Thou therefore, my child, be strengthened in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2. And the things which thou hast heard from me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
It is “bearing fruit” in the most direct way – cf. John 15:4-5 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; so neither can ye, except ye abide in me. 5. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for apart from me ye can do nothing. It is “lacking” in so many churches today. We talk a lot about seeking the lost, but we need to recover what we have lost: a sense of URGENCY to preach the gospel, to evangelize the world.
2 Timothy 4:1-2 I charge thee in the sight of God, and of Christ Jesus, who shall judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2. preach the word; be urgent in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
Do we care? If we do, we will evangelize them. Even when we do care, we let the work slide until tomorrow. It is not that we do not want to evangelize, we just don’t want to do it right now – today.
I. PRINCIPLES OF EVANGELISM
A. A concentration of effort
1. one thing that characterized the evangelism of Christians in the first century was a massive concentration of effort to reach the lost
2. there was a high level of personal involvement in preaching (personal evangelism)
a) the individual Christians was committed to taking the message to his neighbor
b) when he could not go as far as he wanted, he supported others to go
Philippians 1:3-5 I thank my God upon all my remembrance of you, 4. always in every supplication of mine on behalf of you all making my supplication with joy, 5. for your fellowship in furtherance of the gospel from the first day until now;
Philippians 4:15-17 And ye yourselves also know, ye Philippians, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church had fellowship with me in the matter of giving and receiving but ye only; 16. for even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my need. 17. Not that I seek for the gift; but I seek for the fruit that increaseth to your account.
3. the results of such deep personal involvement: rapid expansion of the church
a) we marvel at how they grew so fast
b) we wonder “what was the secret?”
c) there is no secret to evangelism – it is hard work
B. Taking care of the newly converted
1. they need to be nurtured in their new faith
2. the success of their new faith is essential to OUR well-being
a) we have a vested interest in them
b) they need us...
c) we all need each other
3. if the new babe in Christ does not mature in his faith... then the process of evangelism is ABORTED... before it brings forth the whole, ripe fruit that we seek.
a) consistent dedicated efforts have to be made to teach new Christians so they will have a chance
b) this, too... is sometimes a neglected part of evangelism
C. What have I said in this lesson that is really new information?
1. Nothing – and maybe that is the problem
2. It is not a lack of understanding that keeps us from doing more evangelism
a) It is a lack of personal involvement that keeps us anchored to our seats
b) We may be like the lawyer who made trial of Jesus – asking Him “what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” – Luke 10:25. He already KNEW the correct answer... but, he was NOT doing it. We may even try to justify ourselves for not doing what we know to do.... but, God knows the truth of us. HE will rightly judge us for our works – or the lack thereof.
3. We have passed by on the other side (priest and Levite) long enough
a) It is time to get involved
b) it is time to put our energies, resources and abilities to work
c) it is time to expend ourselves.... to “give our lives” to this work of saving souls
d) in so doing we will save our own souls.... and we will see evangelism in the church again
Note – I realize that in some respects I am preaching to brethren who have shown a remarkable willingness to do these things. I can bear witness to your efforts. I know you WANT to see this church involved in the work of evangelism – we ARE involved in preaching the gospel; I only encourage you more and more... to abound in the work that you already do. There is still so much more than can be done... that needs to be done.
II. SEEKING THE LOST
A. The first step in evangelism is to seek the lost
1. they are not hard to find
2. and the honest man is not hard to convert
B. The gospel is the power of God to save – Romans 1:16
1. but, it must first be preached
2. and then when someone is converted... we might ask, “to what have they been converted?”
• Are they converted to Jesus Christ?
• Or to America?
• Are they being grounded in their new faith?
• Or in English?
• Are our new converts united together in their faith?
• Or are they just “disjointed parts” that never integrated into the body of Christ?
• Are these new Christians being equipped to serve?
• Or are they content to be served?
• Are they developing independence?
• Or are they slavishly dependent?
• Are they prepared to stand?
• Or ready to fall?
C. How do you make a Christians?
1. According to Paul (Colossians 1:27-29) – we must put Christ in them, for HE is their hope of glory – “to whom God was pleased to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: 28. whom we proclaim, admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ; 29. whereunto I labor also, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.”
a) we must proclaim Christ to them – teach them
b) and then we must teach them so more – cf. Matthew 28:19-20.
2. The process only begins at baptism
a) we must teach them, help them grow – mature
b) but, we must also BE what we are trying to help them become In other words, it takes one to make one!
III. PRESENTING EACH MAN PERFECT IN CHRIST JESUS
A. The goal of evangelism is more than baptisms
1. our aim is to present each man perfect in Christ Jesus
a) this involves change, transformation – it is more than switching churches
b) we are talking about the “development of character”
2. What is the Christian’s character?
a) we recognize it when we see it
b) but, where does it come from? – and how is it developed?
3. the best way to help someone else develop their character – is to work on yours
a) show them a living example of what it means to be a Christian
b) help them to SEE the lessons you are trying to teach – show them with your life
4. Jesus washed feet
a) in so doing he taught them a lesson he could not convey in words
b) when we wash feet / serve others... we are walking in His steps... and others will SEE Christ in us.
c) it is a “sermon in life” – a most powerful and convincing lesson
B. Moral development
1. this is an area that is sometimes neglected
a) why? different reasons
b) something may be lacking in the teacher (his life may not be what it ought to be)
c) or he may lack courage to confront the issues of “repentance”
d) it may be inexperience
e) or it may be an imbalance in the teaching (emp. Doctrinal issues over moral issues)
f) it may stem from a fear of losing the new convert
2. it is essential to the proper development of the new convert
a) this moral training cannot be neglected – it is vital to his spiritual development
b) it takes time to “learn Christ” – and new converts need to start immediately
c) teaching in moral areas is not hard to understand... just hard to do
d) let these areas be developed quickly
IV. EQUIPPING THE TEACHERS
A. Not every man is suitable to be a teacher –
1. James 3:1 Be not many of you teachers, my brethren, knowing that we shall receive heavier judgment.
2. some lack the proper temperament
a) this can be changed
b) but, let each man be first proven, then charged with the responsibility
3. some have the wrong motivation
a) think preaching is a way to make gain
b) see preaching as an easy way of life * it is neither. Teaching the gospel is a difficult task that will involve much personal sacrifice and loss
4. some lack the moral qualifications to be a teacher
a) they do not live the message that needs to be preached
B. teachers need to be trained
1. this is more than a weekend seminar
a) we should give some consideration to the way Jesus “trained” his disciples
b) He lived with them... traveled with them... taught them
2. you do not train someone by giving them “homework to do”
a) you train them by giving YOURSELF to them
b) this is done in a way that implies a deep involvement in their development
c) more than a lesson... you impart yourself to your student * and if you are what you ought to be.... he will learn what it means to follow Jesus
3. we must be willing to turn loose our students... to do their own teaching
a) we cannot teach them if we do not trust them to be capable
b) we must be willing to relinquish our own opportunities... for new students to develop
c) this is esp. true in the work overseas
V. ESTABLISHING THE CHURCH
A. A church is more than the sum total of its various parts
1. It should be a harmonious, functioning unit capable of independent existence. It should be an enthused, directed and motivated entity that is working to build itself up. Having painted the picture, again we ask the question: how do you get there?
2. each church needs a sense of its own “identity”
a) churches planted overseas are not different from churches here
b) they should not be taught to be dependent on churches in America * Without a real sense of their own identity, new churches in other countries will never develop in a healthy, autonomous manner
3. What can we do?
a) There are a number of things we can do, but the acid test of true independence is in the word “finances.” How does the church exist? Does it have a building? Does it need a building? Where will the money come from to buy it? Who administers it? Does the church rent a facility for their assemblies? Who chose it? Who pays for it? Does the church have their own preacher (native to their country, culture and language)? Who chose him? Who supports him?
b) When we answer these questions, we will have a better idea about what it means for a work to be “established”. For if the answer is: all these things are paid for by American money, then the question becomes: what will happen to the work when American money is withdrawn? In providing the financing for all of their needs we undermine our own goals to develop truly independent, self-sufficient local churches in other places. We fail to accomplish what we desire because our procedure is flawed. We unconsciously encourage a slavish dependence on American teachers, American support and American ideas. Once we have started down this road of fully supporting the “work” in other places, we teach our converts to embrace a kind of spiritual welfare mentality from which they rarely escape
c) We should examine our plan for evangelism to see if our efforts have been to make “little American looking churches”, copies of the real thing, in far off corners of the world. While there is some level of comfort in entering a service in Timbuktu and all things being familiar, is that what we really want to do?
Two songs, a prayer, a song and then the lesson? Silver plated communion sets with little plastic cups, all imported so they can have the Lord’s supper in a scriptural manner? Services done in English for years and years (with translation, of course)? Their own building, bought and paid for with American dollars? At what point do we recognize that we are exporting our American experience along with the gospel?
Evangelism is preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is not a message of capitalism. It is not the good news that America has arrived and English is available to all who want to learn it. The gospel is an offer of hope for spiritual salvation in the next life, not material gain in this world. We need to reorient ourselves in what it is that we are trying to do in evangelism.
How do we recover the essence of evangelism... here, in this church? I believe we are on our way to rediscovering the joy of preaching the gospel to the lost. We have numerous works planned... and we are seeing the fruit of our earlier efforts.
Let us not be weary in well-doing, rather let us work with zeal and enthusiasm – the work that God has created us to do.
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