Summary: Most Christians today only share the Gospel among those with whom they are comfortable, which will result in only a relative few being reached for Christ. A few Christians today step out of their comfort zone and share the Gospel with those who are diffe
1. The impact of many – vs. 19
2. The impact of some – vs. 20-21
3. The impact of others – vs. 22-24
4. The impact of one – vs. 25-26
Who has ever heard the name, Edward D. Kimball? Doesn’t ring a bell? Well, let me tell you about him. Many years ago, Mr. Kimball was a Sunday School teacher at Mount Vernon Congregational Church in Chicago. It was a tiny little church, and Mr. Kimball’s class consisted of just a handful of teenage boys. One Sunday morning, a new boy came to class who had been attending church by himself for a few weeks. The boy was unchurched and couldn’t even find the Gospel of John in the Bible Mr. Kimball gave him. After the boy had been to Sunday School for a few weeks, Mr. Kimball decided to visit him and talk to him about salvation. The boy worked in a shoe store, and Mr. Kimball was nervous about witnessing to him. He paced back and forth in front of the store several times before he worked up the courage to walk in. Finally, he stormed in, put his arm on the boy’s shoulder and nervously gave him the Gospel. Right there, in the back of that shoe store in Chicago, Dwight L. Moody, one of the greatest evangelists the world has ever known, gave his life to Christ. Through Moody’s ministry, hundreds of thousands of people have come to know Jesus. A few generations later, one of those people was Billy Graham. If you haven’t heard of Dwight L. Moody, you certainly have heard of Billy Graham. What an impact those two men have had for Christ! But if you think about it, what an impact Edward D. Kimball had for Christ. This morning I want each of us to consider the impact we are making for Christ and determine in our hearts to increase our impact. In order to do that, we’re going to look at the impact of four levels of commitment to spreading the gospel that can be seen in the passage we just read. The first level of commitment we can see is the impact of many.
The impact of many. Remember back in Acts 6, Stephen was chosen as one of the first deacons. Well, he didn’t last long. Because later in that same chapter, he was arrested by the Jews and in chapter 7, he was killed by stoning. He was the first Christian martyr. Stephen’s stoning marked the start of a great persecution of Christians in Jerusalem. Now they weren’t being persecuted by the Romans yet—that would come later. Now they were being persecuted by the Jews. And when they were persecuted, they scattered. Our passage says they fled to the cities of Phenice, Cyprus, and Anitoch. Those were cities that were known for their large Jewish populations. So they fled to places where there were people who were like them. They looked like them. They talked like them. They ate the same foods they did. They fled to places that were comfortable. And when they got there, they did what they were supposed to do. They preached the Gospel. But look who they preached it to. They preached to none but unto the Jews only. They preached only to those who they were comfortable being around. Those who looked like them and talked like them and acted like them. Isn’t that what we do so often? We might do what we’re supposed to and witness to folks, but who are we witnessing to? Are we witnessing to the easy ones? The ones who agree with us on most issues? The ones who look like us and talk like us and act like us? Or are we going beyond that? These folks didn’t. They stayed with what was comfortable to them. So, what was the result? What was the impact of their witnessing? Look real hard in verse 19 for the impact. Do you see it? You don’t. You don’t see the impact, because the Bible doesn’t mention any. The impact of their staying in there comfort zone and only witnessing to those who were just like them was minimal at best. Here’s the reality. Statistics report that in 2005, 40% of Americans could be considered born-again Christians. Of those 40%, less than half even bothered to invite even one person to church with them in a whole year. That means that the vast majority of born-again Christians in America have about as much impact as the Christians in verse 19. Why? Because they don’t want to do what makes them uncomfortable. They don’t want to step out of their comfort zone. Many of our churches today have become self-contained clubs where we have enough programs that if we’re lucky we won’t ever have to come into contact with the lost. That’s wrong. If we do that, when future generations tell of us, it’ll look like verse 19. A lot of work, but impact that’s so insignificant it’s not even worth mentioning. But thank God there were some that stepped out. There were some who weren’t content with being comfortable. Those were the people who made the second level of commitment. The second level of commitment is the impact of some.