Summary: Reaching the lost is an enormous task. It is not for everyone, and it takes some highly specialised skills, one of which is to motivated our own congregations which this sermon attempts to do, but from a different angle.
This sermon was delivered to Holy Trinity in Ayr, Ayrshire, Scotland on the 11th September 2016; Holy Trinity is a Scottish Episcopal Church in the Dioceses of Glasgow and Dumfries.
The readings for today are:
“Please join me in a short prayer from Psalms 19:14, and ” Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. Amen.
Away back in February this year, I asked Andrew to take me off all rotas due to my health and by increasing workload at school; I was simply not coping, however I did suggest that I was available to help out where I could, and I was delighted last week when I was asked to do today’s sermon, … delighted that is, until I took a look at today’s readings, … because you don’t need to be a genius to realise that today’s readings are all about evangelism, and reaching the lost. …
But unlike Andrew, my first thoughts were, “I do not do evangelism”, … that is the job for the Pentecostals, .. they just love all kind of stuff, and I just love them for it, … but as it is me who has agreed to deliver today’s sermon, I have spent a very troubled week putting it together, but in doing so, I have really had to make myself think, because, I find this evangelism a very difficult calling to relate to, and … yes, we have all heard sermons on evangelism before, and yes we all know that we all are called to spread the gospel, but I have discovered some truths that I find very uncomfortable, … so I warn you before hand that I am going to be rather blunt in places in order to get this message across. I will apologise for this before hand, but the word of God can be very brutal, … so please don’t shoot the messenger, but let us examine his word first, and you will see what I mean.
To make a start, look at Ephesians 4:11 which tells us that the Lord, “gave some apostles; and some prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and some teachers”. So we ask, why would he do this, and verse 12 tells us why, “For the perfecting of the saints, … for the work of the ministry, and … for the edifying of the body of Christ”.
Ok, so the next question to ask, has actually been asked in 1Corinthians 12:29 which says, and I quote, “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? “Are all evangelists”? Have all the gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?” And the answer to these questions is clearly NO. Italics mine.
So we can conclude from these verses of Paul, that many of us in this church today, like me, just do not have that evangelical calling. So don’t feel condemned, and don’t let anyone else condemn you either, … because the bibles tells us clearly that we all have different gifts, different strengths and different abilities that we aught to use.
So relax, and I am not on your case; I will not be telling you to stand on street corners and try and convert someone, I will not be telling you to chap on doors either, … because I am sure you have all heard all that Evangelical talk before, … and I am sure you agree it is a difficult calling, I mean: we have a pastoral group, we have a choir, we have worship leaders and servers, and we have many other groups within the church, but do we have an Evangelical outreach group dedicated to spreading the word and reaching the lost? No.
Yet Ephesians 4:11 & 12 tells us that he did give us “gave some apostles; and some prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and some teachers”; so from this list, clearly, some of us here today are called to be evangelists, and it is to them that I would like address this sermon, even though, this may interest us all. Now the bible is clear, there are two types of people in this world, … those who are saved and those who are lost.
Those who are saved can confidently say that Jesus is their Lord, and they have no doubt in believing this at all. In fact, the book of Revelations, Revelation 21:27 tells us that that our names are already written in the “Lamb's book of life”, and that our place in heaven is already secured, and awaiting on us.
How great is that, eh!, that is what the bible tells us, … but what about those who are not saved, … well the bible is even clearer on what happens to them: Matthew 13:42 for example, tells us that they “shall be cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth”. … Now, I can’t imagine what this furnace of fire will look like, nor the gnashing of teeth, but I will tell you something, … I do not want to know, … but whatever the alternative is, I will take it.