Sun. a.m. AGCC 11/28/99

TEXT:     Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 1:8; Lk. 9:1-6


The early Christians could not imagine failure to share their faith with others! In fact, the very term used to describe Christians "Evangelicals" comes from the idea of "Evangelism" - telling others about Christ! Evangelism to Christians should be like breathing to the human body, it is natural and just happens! ILLUS:In the People's Republic of China, the largest nation in the world and a billion people strong, is what is called the Three-Self Church. That is the state-approved church. Several of us from Wooddale, a couple of years ago, were in Beijing, and we went to one of the services of one of the Three-Self Churches. It was an old building, built around the turn of the last century. We had a translator there. There were hymns sung, some of them were to western tunes which we knew. They read the Bible. They had prayers. There was a sermon, a Bible teaching, that I thought was fine. But they're not allowed to evangelize. That's part of the deal with the state. "You can do your thing as long as your thing doesn't include persuading somebody else." There are about 50 million Christians in the People's Republic of China who have chosen not to be part of the Three-Self Church, and meet in house churches, because they're convinced you can't be a Christian unless you evangelize. They say that the two go together; and if you don't evangelize, you're not a Christian. They would say that those who are in the Three-Self church are really not Christians, as far as the New Testament definition is concerned. -- Leith Anderson, "Making More Disciples," Preaching Today, Tape No. 165. One of the cardinal disciplines of Christianity is sharing our faith with others. The only instructions Jesus gave His disciples before returning to heaven were to go and preach the Gospel and make disciples of all nations. PROP. SENT: The bible teaches us that it is the responsibility of all Christians to share the good news of salvation with others.

I. PROCLAMATION      Matt. 28:19-20

A. Pursue!     28:19 1. Someone made this statement: "No Contact, No Impact!" - and it rings true for the church and the gospel of Christ. a. The gospel cannot impact other people's life if it is not given to them by someone. b. Jesus gave no other orders when He left for heaven except going and making disciples of all nations. c. The goal of every Christian is the spreading of the gospel of Christ. 2. Look how hard the world works to spread its ideas around! a. They will use fabulous advertising schemes. b. They will spend huge amounts of money to promote their products. c. They will build whole departments around "promotion" for their products and services. d. Can the Church do less with the gospel? ILLUS: In 1990 newspapers reported that city workers in Newport Beach, California, were sifting through two and one-half tons of trash, looking for $42,500 mistakenly discarded at the Great American Bank and hauled away by garbage trucks. That's a significant loss of money, but it is only money. The loss of human lives and souls is infinitely more significant. Evangelism deserves our very best efforts. -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997). 3. It is amazing how hard the world will work to find something valuable … and we have the most valuable gift that is available for free … just have to share it with others! 4. The purpose of the Church is NOT to have wonderful services together, it is to reproduce itself over and over again with new believers! ILLUS:The church is the only cooperative society in the world that exists for the benefit of its nonmembers. -- William Temple, Leadership, Vol. 5, no. 4. B. Prepare     28:20 1. Notice that Jesus didn't just say "get people saved" - He said, "make disciples … teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you …" a. Christians need to realize that "birthing" a new believer into the kingdom is the BEGINNING of responsibilities; developing them, preparing them to face a world with spiritual principles rather than earthly ones is a major role of the Church. b. Jesus did not just call the disciples to Himself, He also spent 3 years training them, stretching them, teaching them. 2. God's call for evangelism is work! ILLUS:During his ministry John Wesley rode over 250,000 miles on horseback, a distance equal to ten circuits of the globe along the equator. He preached over 40,000 sermons! -- "John Wesley--Revival and Revolution," Christian History, no. 2. 3. As a Christian we cannot be content with being in the family of God while others around us are still in the family of darkness! II. PLAN     Acts 1:8 A. Personal     1:8a 1. Notice the emphasis in this verse on the personal nature of God's power … "…YOU will receive power …" a. It is not just the "church" as a whole that is empowered to take the gospel to the world, it is the individual also! b. Christ not only works through the corporate body, He works through individuals. 2. Once the Holy Spirit had fallen on those 120 believers in the upper room they could not keep still about the gospel, Peter immediately gets up and preaches and over 3,000 people get saved! a. These were then brought into the Church and taught the doctrines of God. b. None of those baptized with the Holy Spirit were indifferent to the joy they now knew as spirit filled Christians and the need to share the good news with others! 3. The Gospel is too important not to share with others! ILLUS:It's almost impossible to see a rainbow and not point it out to someone else. It's the kind of thing that just must be shared. You see one and you want to tell someone about it. If you are by yourself and see one, it's frustrating. The gospel is such a beautiful expression of God's love that it just must be shared. -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997). 4. The great gift we have is for everyone, can we keep it to ourselves? B. Pervasive!     1:8b 1. Notice the language in this part of the verse, it doesn't say, "you might be witnesses …" it says, "you WILL be witnesses …" a. The Gospel when understood by the Church will be so powerful that it will invade the whole world! b. Notice that the influence of the Gospel will begin in their hometown but then spread outward after that … "to the ends of the earth." 2. The pervasive power and spread of the Gospel will move by one person to one person at a time in most cases. a. As we share our lives with others we can also share our Lord with them. b. The gospel we hold is so important that we dare not keep it to ourselves! ILLUS:Another illustration is about former Secretary of State James Baker. James Baker has become a truly committed servant of Jesus Christ. He's a lawyer from Houston, Texas, an Episcopalian with a good tradition of Bible in his background. At a presidential breakfast several years ago, he testified of his faith in Jesus Christ to heads of state and all sorts of people. He said he never really paid much attention to the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Then his first wife came down with cancer, and he really began to think about death and eternity and God. Why was he being left alone with all these children? He still couldn't find the key to eternal life. His second wife, Susan, came to know the Lord Jesus. She began to teach community Bible studies and pray for Jim. Soon some of the Senators who know Jesus Christ began to pray for him. And then one day he said he understood. All his life he had thought he had to earn the love of God. He said, "I realized I could never earn the love of God. God loved me before I was even formed in my mother's womb. God loved me when Christ died on the cross." And James Baker bowed the knee to Jesus Christ and opened his heart to the Savior. The immediate result was this: As Secretary of State, he was dealing with the foreign secretary of the USSR, Eduard Sheverdnadze. Baker liked Shevardnadze. As soon as he became a believer, the first thing that crossed Jim Baker's mind was "I've got to win Shevardnadze to Jesus Christ." Baker has a ranch in Wyoming, and after a diplomatic event in 1989, he invited Shevardnadze to his ranch. At dinner Baker presented his guest with a pair of Western cowboy boots. Then Shevardnaze presented Baker with a surprising gift: an enameled picture of Jesus washing the disciples' feet. Then Shevardnadze said to Baker, "You see, Mr. Secretary, even we Communists are changing our minds about spiritual things." Later when the two went fishing, Baker began to share his faith. It wasn't long before Shevardnadze opened his heart to the Lord Jesus Christ. In diplomatic circles, you're not supposed to meddle in personal religion, but when you're filled with the love of Christ, you want other people to come to faith in him. -- Luis Palau, "Go to the Ends of the Earth," Preaching Today, Tape No. 124. 3. Jesus had used the idea of the gospel spreading like yeast in dough … Luke 13:20-21 Again he asked, "What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough." a. The idea is that the gospel will spread slowly perhaps, but it will spread! b. Just as it takes work to knead yeast into a large bowl of dough it will require effort to mix our influence into this world! 4. The mission for every believer is quite clear … we are to make disciples of all nations! III. POWER      Lk. 9:1-6 A. Powerful     9:1-5 1. God does not call us to a task without equipping us for it! a. Notice that God gives us power! b. This was also the emphasis in Acts 1:8 - "power to be witnesses…" 2. It does not require great communication skills in order to witness to others, it is NOT a matter of being "gifted" to evangelize or "not gifted" - ALL believers are empowered to evangelize! a. What we lack in skills we can make up with God's power! ILLUS:Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; pray for powers equal to your tasks. -- Phillips Brooks. Leadership, Vol. 12, no. 2. b. The spread of the gospel of Christ does not hinge on human capabilities, it hinges on the power of God! 3. Do we believe we can go forth to minister in this world and believe God for the same power to do His work that the early disciples had? a. Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever … His power is the same too! b. It is not a matter of learning communication skills, though these might help, it is not a matter of having more money, though that might help .. it is primarily a matter of having God's power! 4. We are not to worry about the reactions people have to the Gospel, we are just suppose to be faithful to go in God's power and not our own. a. Our job is to be faithful to the task. b. It is not our responsibility for the outcome, only to go and believe Him for power to do what He has asked us to do. B. Preaching     9:6 1. "So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere." a. With God's power and His command to go they went! b. It was not the results that motivated them, it was the obedience to the Lord that motivated them. c. They had zeal to share the gospel with others. 2. We must never underestimate what God can do with only a few who will go and be faithful! ILLUS:When missionary Ray Dibble and his wife left Nigeria at the beginning of World War II, they had just finished translating the New Testament into the Igala language. There were only six typewritten copies of the New Testament and a handful of Christians when they left. Returning after the war the Dibbles found fifty congregations. Tribesmen had made at least one hundred copies of the New Testament by hand. Some pages were torn, so some tribesmen had committed whole gospels to memory that they might not be lost. The believers were persecuted by nonbelievers and called "The Word of God People." They never gave up, and they deserved the title! -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997). 3. If we go, He will go with us! 4. If we go, His gospel will spread! 5. If we go, God's power will be at work to do great things! 6. If we go, the Church will become a major force in the world. 7. How involved are you in taking the gospel to every creature? CONCLUSION:    Evangelism to the early church was like breathing to a human being - it just happened automatically! If we were saved only to go to heaven God wouldn't leave us here after we got saved, He did so we can share the gospel with others before they have to face God. No Christian or church is a New Testament Church if it doesn't reach the lost!