Summary: A consideration of evangelism, and how to do it.
Title: God Wants Us To Be . . . A Church That Reaches Out To The World
Series: The Church God Wants Us To Be, Sermon # 5
COPYRIGHT © Joe La Rue, 2008
Date Preached: February 10, 2008
A. A fictional story is told of a time shortly after Jesus was raised from the dead and returned to heaven. In this made-up story, the angel Gabriel was talking with Jesus and congratulating Him on having defeated the devil with His death on the cross and resurrection from the grave. and secured the salvation of mankind. And Gabriel wanted to know what the plan was, to announce the salvation of mankind. Gabriel suggests that perhaps they should call out the angel choir and appear in the sky to proclaim to the world the good news.
And Jesus responds, “No, Gabriel, my followers are going to tell the world about Me.”
“Your followers!” Gabriel gasps. “Jesus, You can’t be serious!”
“Oh, but I am,” Jesus replies. “I’ve told the ones who believe in me to tell everyone they know abut Me. And they then will tell the ones that they know, and on and on, and, well, they’ll get the word out.”
“But Jesus,” Gabriel says, “You can’t trust them! Look at how they’ve failed! Remember how scared they were when you were arrested? Peter even denied he knew You. And, this is the most important message ever! The people of earth can experience peace with God because of what You did! Shouldn’t we angels tell the news?”
“No!” Jesus says. “My followers will spread the news.”
“But, what if they fail? What’s plan B? Can the angel choir be plan B?”
Slowly, deliberately, Jesus replied, “They must not fail. There is no plan B!”
B. My friends, the story is fictional. But the point of the story corresponds perfectly well to what the Bible says: the proclamation of the message of salvation depends on us.
1. And so it was that immediately before Jesus returned to heaven after His resurrection, He told the Apostles, “When the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8, New Living Translation).
2. And that’s exactly what we find throughout the pages of the book of Acts in the Bible, which records the history of the early Church. The apostles preached, and people came to believe in Jesus. And then those people told others, who told others, and on and on it went.
3. In fact, one of the most heartwarming stories in the book of Acts concerns Cornelius, who was a gentile convert to the Jewish faith and was trying his best to live a life that was pleasing to God. And God sent an angel to Cornelius and directed him to send for the apostle Peter, and the angel said, “He will speak words to you by which you will be saved, you and all your household.” (Acts 11:14, NASB).
4. And so the Bible says, “God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” (1 Cor 1:21, New American Standard Bible). And so the Apostle Paul could say, in another place, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” (Rom 1:16, NASB). And again, the Bible says, “Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?” (Rom 10:13–14, NLT).
5. You see, my friends, there is no neon-flashing sign in the sky! There is no angelic choir heralding the news! If the message of Jesus is going to reach the world, the church must be the messenger, and individual Christians must carry the message. There IS no “plan B.”
C. For the last several weeks we’ve been discussing what the Bible says about the type of church that God desires us to be. We’ve talked about true worship and real discipleship and meaningful service, all traits that God wants in every church and in the life of every Christ-follower. Today we are considering a fourth trait, and it is this: God wants us to be a church that reaches out and shares the Good News about Jesus with the world.
D. Look with me, if you will, at the passage of Scripture known as The Great Commission. It’s found in Matt 28:18–20. Jesus spoke these words after He had been raised from the dead, telling His followers to tell the world that He had risen. Look at it with me. Matt 28:18-20: