Summary: Deals with the importance of sharing the gospel.
In a small church on the U.S. East Coast a pastor delivered a sermon on abortion, and after the service a German man who lived in Nazi Germany told of hi experience: I lived in Germany during the Nazi Holocaust. I considered myself a Christian. We heard stories of what was happening to the Jews, but we tried to distance ourselves from it, because, what could anyone do to stop it?
A railroad track ran behind our small church, and each Sunday morning we could hear the whistle in the distance and then the wheels coming over the tracks. We became disturbed when we heard the cries coming from the train as it passed by. We realized that it was carrying Jews like cattle in the cars!
Week after week the whistle would blow. We dreaded to hear the sound of those wheels because we knew that we would hear the cries of the Jews en route to the death camp. Their screams tormented us.
We knew the time the train came past our church and when we heard the whistle blow we began singing hymns. By the time the train came past our church we were singing at the top of our voices. If we heard the screams, we sang more loudly and soon we heard them no more.
Years have passed and no one talks about it anymore. But I still hear that train whistle in my sleep. God forgive me; forgive all of us who called ourselves Christians and yet did nothing....
There are people all around us in a similar situation as those Jews in the train cars, but their destination is an even worse one: they are on their way to hell. Are you like those German Christians? Do you only want to ignore the problem, or do you want to do something to help? There should be no question as to what you should do if you are a Christian because you have the one thing that is able to save them from destruction: the gospel.
Vance Havner once said, “We do not have a secret to be hidden but a story to be heralded.”
The act of sharing the gospel is called evangelism.
• Evangelism is the sob of God. It is the anguished cry of Jesus as He weeps over a doomed city.
• It is the cry of Paul, “I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.”
• Evangelism is the heart-winning plea of Moses. “Oh this people have sinned.—Yet now, if thou wilt, forgive their sin—; if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of the book which thou hast written.”
• It is the cry of John Knox, “Give me Scotland or I die.” It is the declaration of John Wesley, “The world is my parish.” It is the sob of parents in the night, weeping over a prodigal child.
The key to evangelism is a burden for the lost.
I. THERE IS A REASON FOR SHARING THE GOSPEL (v. 1).
1 For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance [visit] in unto you, that it was not in vain:
The word “vain” denotes what is empty of real meaning and purpose. Paul had come to them because he believed the gospel himself, and truly felt that the people of Thessalonica were eternally lost without that message.
Britain’s King George V was to give the opening address at a special disarmament conference, with a speech relayed by radio to the United States. As the broadcast was about to begin, a cable broke in the New York radio station, and more than a million listeners were left without sound.
A junior mechanic in the station, Harold Vivien, solved the problem by picking up both ends of the cable and allowing 250 volts of electricity to pass through him. He was the living link that allowed the king’s message to get through.
We are the link between God and the unsaved. We have His message, and we are told to take that message to those who need to hear it.
II. THERE ARE EXCUSES FOR NOT SHARING THE GOSPEL (v. 2).
Right now you’re probably thinking of reasons why you shouldn’t share the gospel.
2 But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.
The opposite of the empty ministry denied in v. 1 is one where no obstacle or threat is sufficient to deter the speaker of God’s gospel.
Paul’s troubles in Philippi (Acts 16:19-24).
Paul’s troubles in Thessalonica (Acts 17:5).
David Brainerd once shared his burden for the lost when he said, “I cared not where or how I lived, or what hardships I went through, so that I could but gain souls for Christ. While I was asleep, I dreamed of these things, and when I awoke, the first thing I thought of what this great work.”