Summary: A powerful sermon on the true mission of the church, based upon a sermon from the late Dr. E. V. Hill and the iconic skit by Abbot and Costello.

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Who’s On First

Luke 19:10

Back in 1986 I heard Rev. E. V. Hill preach at a pastor’s conference. It was great. He preached a sermon he called, “A Spiritual Homerun.” Today I want to use that sermon as a skeleton for my own.

E. V. told about preaching at a conference in Lucerne, Switzerland. He was to be one of several preachers.

The first speaker was Billy Graham who preached… as you might guess… “Win The Lost At Any Cost.”

His message was greeted with thunderous applause.

The next speaker was from South Africa and he preached, “Feed the Hungry; so that men will see your good works and accept Jesus.”

Rev. Hill tells that the conference was immediately split between the “Winners” and the “Feeders.” All week long the speakers vacillated between the two sides and the crowd cheered their side.

Rev. Hill had the unenviable task of being the closing speaker. He wondered how in the world he could bring the crowd back together in order to have unity.

God gave him just the right message.

Rev. Hill started with a baseball analogy. He asked the question, “In baseball, what do you do after you hit the ball? Do you go running to third base?”

The crowd shook their heads in the negative.

“Do you run to second base?”

Again the crowd responded in the negative… except those who had figured out where he was headed… they did not respond.

Then he asked, “Where do you go?” And the answer came back… “Run to first base.”

That is right… You want to get to first… FIRST

First… before you go to second base

First… before you go to third base

First… before the ball gets there


But what is first base for the church? Or… Who’s on first? What’s first base?

What do we call Matthew 28:18-20? The GREAT Commission

What did Jesus say was HIS reason de- etre… HIS reason for being?

Luke 19:10 “For the Son of man has come to seek and save the LOST!

Not to heal… not to feed, not to clothe

NOT FIRST… not primarily


Did He say feeding and clothing and healing are not important?


But it is like the baseball analogy.

Second base is as important as first. Third is likewise.

But in baseball… the first and most important base is FIRST.

A Player who skips first base or goes there second will be out.

He has to go to first first.



Not lost as in unsaved… but lost in it’s priorities.

The purpose… the FIRST purpose of the church is to SEEK AND SAVE THE LOST… Feed My Sheep… Go ye therefore and teach all nations…

It is the purpose for which God created the church.

It is the mission Jesus gave the church.

It is the calling to which Jesus called the church.

It is the thing Jesus said he would make us to be… fishers of men

It is the thing we do that Jesus promised us He would be with us

But if we do not fish… witness… seek and save the lost… what are we…

Lost… like a little boy who hit the ball and started running to third, but turned toward second, then toward first… but ran into the dugout.

Too many churches are like that… flitting from place to place… from thing to thing… trying to find their purpose.

They are frustrated, ineffective and they look silly.

*I like what Rev. Paul Black said, “If a church does not fish, it will…

1. FIGHT disunity, fussing, in-fighting…

Fussing/fighting/bickering/hard feelings/hurt feelings-Then church has lost its focus!

2. FLEE nothing to hold them, they will fly apart and fly away in times of trouble.

Peter ran when times got Hard/Persecution! (EXPOUND-Things didn’t go like he planned-expound, Lost sight of purpose & ran!)

Church does the same!

When we lose sight of our call to fish for men-We Flee from every little problem!

Little things make us cut & run!

We can’t stand adversity because we’ve lost sight of our purpose


After all Jesus had taught Peter! After all the miracles he’d seen (EXPOUND)

He forgot everything & said, “I’m going out to fish”

The Fisher of Men had once again become just a fisherman!

When Fishermen don’t fish, they forget the things of God!

Their wants become more important than God’s will!

Their desires become paramount to God’s decrees!

So… for the church… what is first base?


Teaching, feeding and helping are all important to Jesus. He did them all the time.

However, they are not the reason God called Jesus to the throne and said, “Son, I have a very important job for you… so I am sending you to earth, to live in the flesh, where you will be murdered to accomplish my mission.

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