I want to start today with a little object lesson if I may.
In this dish I have a crumpled piece of newspaper. I am going to set fire to it. See how quickly the flame consumes the paper? I have to drop it back into the dish if I’m going to keep from getting burned, don’t I? Okay, now what has happened? The fire has gone out, hasn’t it? Why? Because it ran out of paper to burn.
Now, in this dish I have another crumpled piece of newspaper. I am going to set fire to this piece of paper, also. This time, however, when the flame gets to the place where it is close to where it will burn me, instead of dropping it back into the dish I am going to drop it on this pile of crumpled newspaper in this cardboard box like this. When I do, what will happen? Let’s see, shall we?
No? Why not? Thank you…you have all looked ahead and have been able to determine together what that one little act of mine would bring about. Because the fire from the first piece of paper will quickly ignite the others and the flame will get very big very fast, it will set the box the papers are in on fire, too. The box will burn and the fire will spread and will get even bigger faster and might get away from me and spread to the carpet and the furniture and the drapes and soon the whole place will be a raging fire, won’t it?
The first fire went out because it didn’t spread. The second would have continued to burn for as long as it continued to spread and set other things on fire. Unstopped, the entire building would soon be engulfed in flames. Under the right conditions we could have the entire city on fire, couldn’t we?
Now you have a little picture of what evangelism is supposed to be like. Remember what John the Baptist said when he was preaching in the wilderness: "As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire (Matthew 3:11).”