Summary: John Wesley's charge, "You have nothing to do but save souls," still holds true today.
WHAT MUST I DO? REPENT
Big Idea: Jesus’ church is commissioned to share the Gospel with the world; that is our single greatest reason for existence.
In his book “The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission” John Dickson writes about his introduction to the Christian faith:
My own conversion was the result of one person's willingness to embody the mission of the "friend of sinners." … One of the relics of Australia's Christian heritage is the once-a-week Scripture lesson offered in many state high schools around the country. … One of these Scripture teachers—Glenda was her name—had the courage to invite [my] entire class to her home for discussions about God. The invitation would have gone unnoticed, except that she added: "If anyone gets hungry I'll be making hamburgers, milkshakes, and scones." … As I looked around the room at all my friends—all skeptics like me—I was amazed that this woman would open her home (and kitchen) to us. Some of the lads were among the worst "sinners" in our school: one was a drug user (and seller), one was a class clown and bully, and one was a petty thief with a string of breaking-and-entering charges to his credit.
I could not figure Brenda out. She was wealthy and intelligent. She had an exciting social life; married to a leading Australian businessman. What was she thinking inviting us for a meal and discussion? At no point was this teacher pushy or preachy. Her style was completely relaxed and incredibly generous. When her VCR went missing one day, she made almost nothing of it, even though she suspected (quite reasonably) it was someone from our group. For me, her open, flexible, generous attitude toward us "sinners" was the doorway into a life of faith. As we ate and drank and talked, it was clear this was no missionary ploy on her part. She truly cared for us and treated us like friends or, perhaps more accurately, like sons. As a result, over the course of the next year, she introduced several of us from the class to the ultimate "friend of sinners," Jesus.
(John Dickson, The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission (Zondervan, 2010 ), pp. 51-52)
Listen to Paul’s testimony about sharing the Gospel.
18 When they arrived, he said to them: "You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia. 19 I served the Lord with great humility and with tears, although I was severely tested by the plots of the Jews. 20 You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. 21 I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.
The Apostle Paul, like Glenda, understood that the Gospel is first proclaimed through genuine love but at some point requires a clear articulation about turning to God (repenting) and placing one’s faith in Jesus Christ.
Both John Dickson’s story and Paul’s story challenge the church today to make certain they preach the Gospel. It is essential that you genuinely love people and have genuine relationships with them (even if they do not come to faith) but, if you are not careful, you can genuinely love them and usher them into hell.
We must declare “that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.”
It is the message of the church.
It is what is required of everyone who follows Christ.
It is what we must first do ourselves and then encourage others to do as well.
Anything less is a false Gospel.
So, this morning, I want to share with you some basic axioms about sharing the Gospel.
1. IF WE WILL GIVE THE WORLD JESUS’ MESSAGE WE WILL GET WHAT JESUS EXPECTED.
Romans 1:16-17 says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’”
Kyle Idleman (in his book, “Not a Fan”) tells the story of an old country deacon explaining why their congregation was complacent. The straight-shooting farmer simply said, “What you get them with is what you keep them with.” What he meant was: if you gained them with a message of comfort they will expect and demand a life of comfort; if you gained them with a message of repentance, self-denial, service, and sacrifice you will keep them with that same message.