Summary: Giving priority to the work of evangelism results in untold blessings.

Over the years I’ve had the privilege to be involved in pastoring, one of the most amazing things I have had the privilege to witness is to see the difference that a newborn baby can make in the lives of people. I have seen, for example, parents who did not think their son’s wife was worthy of him, or relatives who had not spoken with one another for months, or grandparents who were very disapproving of their grandchildren, suddenly decide that

daughter-in-law was ok, those relatives were worth associating with, those grand-kids were worth visiting, whenever a newborn enters the picture. Nothing can pull a family together more than a newborn. Same with God’s family. Whenever people are born again, through faith, into God’s family, there is something about that that warms the cold heart, fires up those who are lukewarm, and makes being part of God’s family exciting!

That’s why the writer of Hebrews tells us that if we are going to be the church God would have us be, we need to give priority to evangelism.

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Evangelism as a priority will put a fire in our hearts for God, because:

1. Evangelism Makes Us Look At What We Believe - v. 23a

The writer refers to evangelism as he speaks of “holding unswervingly to the hope we profess.” Nothing will test the sincerity of your beliefs like the work of evangelism.

Do you really believe the basic truths of the Bible? That, as one preacher put it, “Hell is hot, sin is black, judgment is sure, and that Jesus saves?” Do you really believe that Jesus Christ is the way, the Truth, and the Life, and that no one comes to the Father but by Him? (John 14:6)? Do you really believe that there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12)? Do you really believe that he who believes on Jesus is not condemned, but he that believes not is condemned already because he has no

believed on name of the one and only Son of God (John 3:18)? Do you take seriously the command of Christ to go make disciples (Matthew 28:19)? Do you really believe Jesus said what He meant and meant when He said that we were to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8)?

Do you really expect to stand before the Lord to give an account to Him and is it really the conviction of your heart that He will hold you personally accountable for how you and your church obeyed His admonition to go into all the world and preach the Good News to all creation (Mark 16:15)?

If you really believe these things you say you do when you’re “in here,” you’ll see to do your part to share Jesus “out there!”

Did you know that legally every religious belief can be categorized as either a belief of conviction or a belief of convenience? In a 1972 landmark case (Wisconsin vs. Yoder), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the only religious beliefs protected by the First

Amendment are beliefs of conviction, and gave clear criteria for distinguishing them from beliefs of convenience.

The case involved three families, members of the Old Order Amish religion and the Conservative Amish Mennonite Church, who sued the state of Wisconsin because of a requirement that children be enrolled in school until the age of sixteen. The parents refused to follow the law and removed their children from the public schools after the eighth grade and continued their education at home, emphasizing domestic and farming skills. According to them, any further education in the schools would present their children with too much exposure to the “evil world.” The families won the case, but only after it could be proved that their beliefs were beliefs of conviction, not convenience.

The Supreme Court said that a belief of convenience is one where a person can be motivated by certain circumstances to change his belief, while a belief of conviction is one that does not change regardless of the circumstances.

The court further said that a belief of conviction possesses certain characteristics that will distinguish it from a belief of convenience.

Let’s consider these four characteristics of a belief of conviction, let’s test our conviction concerning the need to reach people for Jesus. The court said that a belief of conviction is . . .

A) Predetermined - It is a belief that isn’t “spur-of-the-moment,” but a premeditated response to a situation that is likely to occur.

Is sharing your faith something you’ve predetermined you will do when given opportunity?

B) Non-negotiable - It is a belief that isn’t up for discussion and about which we will not consider compromise.

Are you absolutely convinced in your heart of hearts that Jesus is the ONLY WAY to heaven and that others need to accept Him as their Savior or they are going to Hell, or are you willing to absolve yourself from the responsibility to share Jesus with a friend because you think that, after all, he’s a pretty good person.

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