Summary: God made us who we are so we could make known who He is.
This morning we’ll wrap up our six week sermon series – I Love My Church. Six weeks ago we began this series by seeing how much Jesus loves His church and why, if we truly love Jesus, then we will love His church as well. Then for the past 4 weeks, we’ve looked at several different ways that we can manifest our love for the church.
This morning, we’ll look at a fifth way to show our love for Jesus’ bride, the church. This fifth aspect of our love is unique because it is the only one that we will not also be engaged in as we spend eternity with Jesus in the New Jerusalem that He is preparing for us. In the New Jerusalem we will constantly be participating in corporate worship. We will certainly enjoy fellowship with each other to a degree that is not possible here on earth since there will be no more sin. We will still be taking part in regular discipleship, being taught by Jesus Himself. And unlike the clichéd pictures of people sitting around on clouds in heaven playing harps, we will all be regularly engaged in ministry.
But the one activity in which we will not be engaging is evangelism. Since every person who enters into that New Jerusalem is already a disciple of Jesus and it will be too late for anyone else to become a disciple, there will be no need for it.
As many of you know, my sermon preparation begins each week at 6:30 a.m. on Monday morning during our men’s Bible study. And most weeks, much of what we discuss during that time ends up having a significant influence and impact on my message. So those men who are there on Monday morning have a head start on the rest of the church in understanding and applying the message.
But on rare occasions, God will lead me in a completely different direction after that time together on Monday morning and on those weeks, the men who were there on Monday will often wonder if I was actually present at the same Bible study where they were. This is one of those weeks.
When I planned this sermon series several months ago, I had a pretty good idea of the main direction I wanted to go with my messages each week and I picked out several passages each week that I thought would best communicate those ideas and concepts. But as you may have noticed, each week it seems like one particular passage would kind of rise to the top and we spent most of our time examining that one passage.
So this week I had picked out several passages that dealt with our individual responsibility to be witnesses for Jesus and we discussed several of those passages on Monday. And I have little doubt that because the Bible clearly teaches that every single one of us has an individual responsibility to be involved in personal evangelism, I could have crafted a message that would have been practical and helped all of us to improve in that aspect of our walk with Jesus.
But as I began to work on the message, God steered me in a different direction, one which is frankly a lot more relevant to how the church as a whole is to engage in evangelism.
Let’s begin with what is probably a familiar verse to many of us. Will you read it out loud with me?
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
(1 Peter 2:9 ESV)
I’m not sure that we haven’t made the whole idea of evangelism much more complicated and complex than it needs to be and that in the process we haven’t unintentionally ended up making it something that Christians fear or dread rather than the great joy it should naturally be.
So I’m not going to use this time this morning to try make you feel guilty or convince you of the need to reach out to others with the life-changing message of the gospel. I think we all understand that we need to do that.
Nor am I going to try and give you some kind of detailed plan or method that you can use to share your faith with others. While there is certainly a time and place for that kind of training, I want to us to take a very simple look at how I can love my church by participating in the evangelism of my church.
While I could give you all kinds of dictionary or theological definitions of evangelism, I think Peter’s definition of evangelism in this verse is actually much more helpful. Here is my paraphrase of Peter’s definition: