Summary: All of us know we should witness as an evangelist, but few of us do. This sermon examines the first century church and how the comments of Jesus led them into evangelism. That practice still applies to our church today.
"A FIRST CENTURY PRACTICE
FOR OUR 21st CENTURY CHURCH"
Dr. David L. Haun
April 4, 2004
Hope Christian Church, Tamarac, Florida
One of the first activities of the first century church was evangelism. On Pentecost, the church began with some 3000 individuals accepting Christ. At that point believers started meeting together in church groups. Those groups grew and divided as more and more confessed their faith and were baptized. During the next thirty years the church spread across Jerusalem, throughout Israel, and around the Roman world. It must have been exciting to be part of the first century church. Individuals still lived who had walked with Jesus, heard first hand his teaching, and witnessed with their own eyes his miracles as a rabbi. The church was fill of people who knew and had witnessed the truth of his resurrection.
It must have been exciting, for that first century church was filled with people who recognized their gift and spiritual responsibility as a witness and evangelist. They believed they had a God-given responsibility to tell everyone they met about Jesus and as a result, literally thousands of people each week accepted Jesus as their Christ and savior. Evangelism was not like it is today, where the average believer may or may not -- and usually doesn’t -- share the message of Christ. (1)
The church in that first century was not like the American church today, where it is easy to belong to a church in our neighborhood. The first century was different. There was danger in the first century for a Christian. Open belief could lead to arrest, prison, or death. But still the command of Christ was believed -- and followed: "Go and make disciples...."
The situation has changed in the Western world in the centuries since that first exciting church. But the fact remains that what those first century believers practiced in their faith, we are called to do today in the same way.
THE COMMAND OF GOD IS CLEAR FOR
THIS CENTURY, AS IT WAS FOR THE FIRST
17 When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted.
A. Everyone won’t believe, but some will. God knows that, but he still calls us to be his witnesses. Jesus compared witnessing to the planting of seeds. Some seeds, Jesus said, never sprouted. Some started to grow, but died. Some were overcome by weeds and were killed. "But," Jesus said, "some seeds fell on fertile soil and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted. (2)
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
B. Christ has, and is the authority; we have the responsibility .. to go.
I cannot help but evangelize;
Not if I am to remain true to Christ.
I cannot stop actively using
my eyes and ears to see and hear those