“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.
I. That They May Be Born Again
“Flesh gives birth to flesh, but Spirit gives birth to spirit.” John 3:6 NIV
The theological significance of this verse is that flesh is the created or natural humanity. It is not automatically sinful but the flesh is weak. The flesh is temporary. The flesh is limited and just as Adam and Eve were vulnerable to temptations of Satan the weakness of the flesh tends to yield to and give into temptations through the promise of power as in the Garden of Eden, the serpent told Adam and Eve if they would eat of the fruit they would be like God.
So, the weakness of the flesh tempts us with power and pleasure and influence and strength if we will only kneel and obey Satan. But friend that price is way too high. Sin will take you farther than you want to go. Sin will keep you longer than you want to stay. Sin will always cost you more than you will want to pay. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but Spirit gives birth to spirit.
There was a church that I think of as similar to ours that hosted a Pentecost service in their Family Life Center celebrating Act chapter 2 and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. Right in the middle of the evening service there was a bright flash of lighting and loud clap of thunder that caused the lights to dim and brighten several time. When they finally stayed on the fire alarm came on setting off the sprinkler system. People went scurrying out the doors in the middle of the rain to their cars. When it was all done and over, one of the members remarked, “This is probably the closest thing to ‘baptism with fire and water he had ever experienced in the church.’”
God moves in wonderful and mysterious ways. Sometimes it is difficult to recognize the Holy Spirit but God will always connect his Holy Spirit to our spirit and will affirm and encourage us. His Holy Spirit will give birth to victory in the middle of life’s battles. Give deliverance and guidance when it looks like we are at a dead end. He will give healing when we ask. He will pour out his blessing upon our children and they will see visions and we will dream dreams.
Learn this lesson: The Spirit of God is not something you see with your physical eyes but something you receive with you spiritual birth. Then that Spirit gives birth to spirit which results in love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. May I ask you today? What has filled you lately? What have you given life to on the inside and outside of who you are? “Persuade Someone ” that they may be born again.
Persuade Someone ”
II. Show Them the Meaning of Grace
“I tell you, even in Israel I haven’t found faith like this.” Luke 7:9b CEB
One day Jesus had gone back to Capernaum. There he was met by some men who began to beg him to go to the house of a very important Roman soldier of high rank. The soldiers’ slave was very sick and near death. So Jesus went with them. But just before they arrived at the house, the officer sent word by his friends to say, “Lord don’t trouble yourself by coming to my house, for I am not worthy of such an honor. I am not worthy to even come me you. But just “say the word” from where you are, and my servant will be healed.
I want you to know that I have often felt unworthy of being in the presence of the Lord. I don’t deserve the breath I take. I haven’t earned the blessings and goodness that has come my way. My life does not justify the favor and joy that I have had. Greatness is not calculated by measured by material things. True wealth is not measured in earthly riches. I have never seen a U-haul following a hearse to the cemetery. Real treasure is what is laid up for us in Heaven. Friends, I will never deserve to go to heaven.
If it cost a million dollars to get into heaven everyone here would start saving today. You would take a second and third job. You would work day and night to get your ticket. When you finally saved up enough for you to get into heaven you would continue to work to save enough for your children and your family and loved ones. Until everyone you know had earned their ticket. But you cannot buy your way into heaven. You will never earn enough or be good enough. The bible says in Romans 6:23 “the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life.” Your sin has created a debt that you cannot pay.
But here is the meaning of “Grace.” Your sin debt has been paid by the one and only one who can ever pay it. It is because of sin that Jesus came. They took Jesus and nailed him to the cross. They crucified the sinless Jesus because of my sin and your sin. “Grace” is a free. But it isn’t cheap. I am the last person to deserve Grace. Justice is getting what you deserve. You are guilty and the judge gives you a punishment equal to your guilt. Mercy is not being punished for what you deserve. Grace is God forgiving you and blessing us despite the fact that we do not deserve it.
Remember Nicodemus, the man who to in the night to visit Jesus. Nicodemus brought embalming ointment made from myrrh and helped to wrap the body of Jesus in a long linen cloth with spices placed the body of Jesus in a tomb near the garden where Jesus had been crucified. Nicodemus was persuaded. Nicodemus was born again.
We need to Persuade Someone
III. Because They Have Not Heard
“I have been following the plan spoken of in the Scriptures, where it says, "Those who have never been told about him will see, and those who have never heard of him will understand." Romans 15:21 NLT Paul preaches this verse from the Prophet Isaiah 52:15.
The message is to preach the gospel where it is unknown, unheard, and where the lost have not yet believed. I saw someone wearing at shirt this week that said, “The Church has left the building.” That is the kind of church that I want to belong to.
We can’t wait for the world to come to us. That is the laziest route you can take is to wait until someone comes to you. “be active in sharing your faith” means engaging physically, mobile, on the go, diligent, enthusiastic, hard working, physically taking the Word to the world. Every Christian needs about a dozen unbelieving friends. People who when you close your eyes you can see what they are headed for. That they have reject God; Their sin is unforgiven. They are lost. The thought of where they’re going to spend eternity causes you to just bawl your eyes out. When you care and love this much about the lost you will pray every night, “God give me the opportunity to help these people. God use me to go and share Gospel with them.” Don’t let yourself become callous, and unfeeling about the lost people who are dying apart from Christ. This means that you will have to work harder to build relationships. You yourself will have to grow stronger in your faith spiritually so that you can share the what you have.
I know a lady named Joy who is the type of person who just can’t stop talking. You know the type I am talking about. If someone is looking at you right now…, you are a talker. Hello. But Joy is a Christian and she has developed a habit that anyone she talks to she is going to share her faith with. Now, it is a little scattered sometimes and I am going to give you the quick, condensed version but it goes something like this. “The weather is nice, how about that ball game last night. They are having a huge sale going on down at the store. By the way let me tell you about Jesus.” What if you made it your goal to share your faith or at least say a prayer with anyone you talk to for more than 30 minutes.
I met a lady named Rhonda who said, she had a difficult time sharing their faith. Rhonda is one of the few people I have met in life who really is shy, soft spoken and quiet and for her it is very difficult to speak out and talk to anyone in public. I tried several times to schedule a visit with her to encourage her. So, I finally gave her a phone call. Guess who I put in charge of the prayer chain ministry the next week. Rhonda. She could talk and talk and tell you her testimony over the phone.
My point is this: when you get a burden for the lost you will find a way to share your faith. Do you know what a burden is? It is when your heart is so heavy because you see the real human condition. You see the brokenness, You see the hurt, You see the suffering, You see the wounded, You see the unsaved and that results in you sharing your faith. Any can do it. Sharing your faith is One begger telling another begger where to find food. One lost sinner telling another lost sinner how to find Jesus.
The southern part of the African continent was dominated in the 19th by war. During the fighting when the soldiers were going to the front line and were passing another unit whom they recognized, they would use the salute, “Four-nine-four, boys; four-nine-four;” and the greeting would be answered with “Six further on, boys; six further on.” The significance of this was that, in the hymn book ‘Sacred Songs and Solos,’ a limited number of copies of the small edition had been sent to the front line. Page number 494 was “God be with you till we meet again”; and further on-- 494, plus six or page 500, was “Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine”
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
“This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.”
From the first day Fanny Crosby wrote these words they have provided comfort for millions of Christians in the face of fear, persecution, sorrow, and doubt. In spite of all the fighting and struggles that may come, we know that we serve a Savior who came to bring the Kingdom of God on earth, and as we serve Him, we participate in, and we belong to, that Kingdom. We each play our own part in “Persuading Someone” else that the “glorious foretaste” is still to come. We belong to Christ and his Kingdom – what an assurance this is! Persuade Someone.
Closing: Hold somebody’s hand until they know you love them. Hold someone’s hand until they understand every good thing we have in Christ. If they don’t get it then hold their hand a little long. Be active in sharing your faith. If they still don’t get it then squeeze a little hard. But don’t let go until you “Persuade Someone.”