Summary: A church without evangelism is a contradiction in terms, just as fire that does not burn is a contradiction.
How to Make Your Reputation as a Believer Precede You
A Elton Trueblood, Quaker scholar, once compared evangelism to fire.
a Evangelism occurs, he said, when Christians are so ignited by their contact with Christ that they in turn set other fires. It is easy to determine when something is aflame. It ignites other material. Any fire that does not spread will eventually go out.
b A church without evangelism is a contradiction in terms, just as fire that does not burn is a contradiction.
• After Paul’s conversion, he spent about 3 years in Arabia. (Damascus)
• I think Paul was schooled by Jesus during this time. (How long did the dozen disciples spend with Jesus? 3 years, too.) Seminary.
• The Judizers were accusing Paul of getting this teachings from the Apostles in Jerusalem. (He spent 15 days in Jerusalem with Peter and a little less time with James, Jesus’ half brother, during this same trip to Jerusalem.)
• Revival in Syria & Cilicia (Tarsus was Paul’s hometown.)
• Paul is defending his witness, ministry, & calling.
B Gal 1:22-24 (NASB) I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea which were in Christ; 23 but only, they kept hearing, "He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy." 24 And they were glorifying God because of me.
a Paul experienced an encounter with Jesus that was evidenced in a visibly changed life. (ETS)
b When Jesus moves into a heart, He leaves stuff lying around. (ESS)
C I want my listener to look for Jesus’ stuff lying around their hearts. (OBJ)
a What’s lying around your heart that belongs to Jesus? (PQ)
b Let’s look at some stuff that should be visible in the life of every believer (TS)
I. The first stuff we should be able to see is our B.C. (Before Christ) stuff. but only, they kept hearing, "He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy.
A Paul wasn’t always the poster boy for preaching the gospel.
a He stood in staunch opposition to Christ in two major ways:
1 Devoted to Judaism
Galatians 1:13-14 (NASB) 13 For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it; 14 and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.
• Judaism was the Jewish religious system of salvation by works, based on not the OT texts but on rabbinic interpretation.
• V. 14 tells us he was “advancing”. Literally means to chop ahead, as if blazing a trail through the forest (cutting down anything in his path such as Jewish Christians and gospel). “Tried to destroy”-literally as a soldier would ravage a city.
• The Halakuh (ancestral traditions) was a body of collected oral teachings about the OT law that had been given equal authority with the law itself.
2 Persecuted the church
• He was a major influence in the death of Stephen.
Acts 22:19-20 (NASB) "And I said, 'Lord, they themselves understand that in one synagogue after another I used to imprison and beat those who believed in You. 20 'And when the blood of Your witness Stephen was being shed, I also was standing by approving, and watching out for the coats of those who were slaying him.'
• Paul’s overriding passion was to perform a postpartum abortion on the infant church.
b There was nothing in Paul’s past that would prepare him for the Gospel of grace through faith completely apart from works.
• Paul was as polarized from Christ as a person could be!
• Going from Rabbi Saul to Apostle Paul took a miracle.
B All of us have our BC days, don’t we?
a Possible sins were drinking, sleeping around, language, lust, homosexuality, pornography, anger, honesty issues, steal, etc.
• Also: sin of self-righteousness: we believe we’re good enough for God! (Tried to live a good life, help people, haven’t really hurt anyone)
• The sin of self-righteousness is just as much a sin as any of the obvious sins.
b Before Christ, whether we had glaring sin or camouflaged sin...we had sin.
C University of Sin (for ALL have sinned!)
II. The second stuff we should be able to see is our AD (after Damacus/deliverance) stuff. but only, they kept hearing, "He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy.
A God worked a life-changing miracle in Paul’s life on the road to Damascus.
a God called Paul
• Salvation (grace, not works)
• God chose Paul, Paul didn’t choose God