Summary: The goal of this sermon is that everyone will become active in sharing the faith.
“Persuade Someone ”
“I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.” Philemon 6 NIV
Intro: Greg was a new Christian. He had only been baptized a few weeks when he started attending a group bible study. The first night at the closing of the gathering the group formed a circle holding hands. The leader invited everyone to pray. He explained that when it came their turn if they did not want to pray aloud to simply squeeze the hand of the person next to them and that would signal the person beside them to go on, it was their turn. Many people in the group were young in their faith and so there was a lot of hand squeezing the first several weeks. One night Greg was standing next to the pastor when it came his turn. He squeezed the hand of the pastor but the pastor did not pray. So, he squeezed the hand of the pastor a little harder but there was still silence. This time he clamped down so hard the pastor let out a guttural sound and squeezed back. Having heard the sound from the pastor and the long silence everyone in the group had raised their eyes and was looking at Greg. With all eyes upon Greg he froze. A second firmer squeeze came from the pastor. It caught Greg off guarded and startled him. Greg let out a “Holy Father.” To which the entire group responded, “Who art in Heaven hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done…”
The goal of today’s sermon is that you will “Persuade Someone.” To be active in sharing your faith. The Greek word for “faith” (Strong’s 4102 pistis pis'-tis from 3982) is persuasion, meaning specifically to rely on Christ for salvation.
It is difficult for us to imagine what it would have been like for Nicodemus that night he came to Jesus and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. No one could perform the miracles you are doing if God were not in you.” Then Jesus says, “Unless you are born again you cannot see the Kingdom of Heaven. Nicodemus was a very important person. He was a Pharisee, a ruler of the Jews. He was also a teacher. He was successful and a very significant person in his community. But none of those things mattered to Jesus. Jesus knew if Nicodemus were to stand before God that God would not let him enter heaven because Nicodemus had not yet been “Persuaded.”
So, Jesus tells him to do something that Nicodemus cannot possibly do by himself unless he makes the decision to trust in Jesus and to have faith. He tells him to be born all over again. The English translation doesn’t do a very good job at explaining the meaning here. In the original Greek the term means “anew” or “from above” because Jesus himself is from above. Jesus had already given the example of coming down from above when he was with John the Baptist and was baptized both by water and spirit. The water baptism was in the Jordan river. The spirit baptism was the Holy Ghost descending from heaven and the voice saying “this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.”
Then Jesus goes on to explain the meaning by which this new birth is possible. He tells Nicodemus about his death on the cross. Jesus speaks the famous words of John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” There is only one way to get to heaven. Let me squeeze you hand one more time. There is only one way to escape hell. That is to be born again. Paul prays that you will be active in sharing your faith. To “persuade someone” to fully understand everything good about Christ.”
Oh, listen. It used to be that the most people in the world who have not heard about Jesus were in foreign countries. The church would send mission teams around the world to share the faith because people had not heard about Jesus. Today the world’s largest mission is here in America. The mission field is not just those who have not heard about Jesus, because there is church on every corner. Most people have heard about Jesus. But the biggest mission field has become the community where the church is not active in sharing the faith.
I am thankful to be pastor of a church that is active in sharing the faith. Where people are alive in the spirit, because they have been born again by the spirit.