Do you know anyone who cannot sit still? They always have to be doing something. Even when sitting, their motor is running [leg shaking]!
The Apostle Paul was like that…he always had to be preaching or witnessing or discipling or visiting. He could have settled down comfortably in the large church at Antioch, but he didn’t…not as long as there were more people who needed to be reached, he had “itchy feet.”
He didn’t view the church as a parking lot, but as a launching pad!
This is the beginning of Paul’s 2nd Missionary journey…and we’ll see here some essentials of effective evangelism:
1. The Right Passion
Today we would say “drive.” Some people are just driven…some have a passion for money…some for fame. And Paul’s passion was reaching the lost.
1 Cor. 9:16
For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!
He’s saying, don’t pat me on the back because I witness and preach and proclaim…I have to do these things…it’s in my bones!
He’s saying, for me, witnessing is not an option…reaching the lost is not a suggestion…for me, it’s a command! He was passionate about it.
Another word for it is enthusiasm, which comes from 2 greek words: en and theos… “in God”! We can’t go wrong w/ enthusiasm. It helps us do anything and do it better.
And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord…
You can’t have too much enthusiasm.
Ill.—one man may have had too much enthusiasm. He ran an open air fish market in NYC…he had a very good day and had sold almost all of his fish…matter of fact, he only had 1 small fish left in a barrel. He was closing up shop when a lady came by and said, I’d like to buy a large fish for my husband’s supper. He looked down in his barrel at that one little fish. He reached in and threw it up on the counter… “how’s this?” “It’s a little small” she said. “have another?” He took the fish, swished it back around in the barrel and lifted it out and said, how’s this? “Still too small” she said. He tried a 3rd time, and w/ all the enthusiasm he could muster he got excited and said, “ooooh, take a look at this guy!” She replied, well…they’re all a little small…I believe I’ll take all 3!
But spiritually, we really cannot have too much passion…the opposite of spiritual passion is spiritual sleep.
And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
That’s a spiritual sleep he’s referring to, and he was right…the church is sleeping in a noisy room full of lost people. A vast majority of our city doesn’t know Christ as Savior…but we walk right past them in stores, at work, on the street…and we’re “sleep-walking!” 7 billion people are alive on this planet but most are spiritually dead. And there’s a small minority of us which are supposedly spiritually alive but we’re in some kind of a stuper…stumbling around spiritually at best! Once in a while we trip over some sinner accidentally, and we have one saved now and then…but it’s time to wake up…imagine what we could do w/ some passion! Alive! Alert! Awake! Enthusiastic!
We come by it honestly. Here’s some of our predecessors from scripture:
Ill.—soldiers heading to an almost hopeless battle on a great ship cornered their chaplain and asked him if he believed in a literal hell. He was a liberal who didn’t believe the Bible completely and he said “absolutely not…take courage and don’t worry. I do not believe that a loving God would send anyone to such a place as hell.” They then asked him to resign saying, “if there is no hell…we don’t need you…and if there is a hell…we do not wish to be led astray!”
Do we REALLY believe God? Do we believe the Bible is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Or do we approach it “cafeteria style”…picking and choosing what is tasteful to us?
“You’re trying to scare people.” Yes, if they need scaring, then that’s exactly what I’m doing.
Another Bible example of spiritual sleep:
Ill.—before the Titanic struck the iceberg she received 5 telegraph warnings about icebergs, and all were ignored. The crew and even the captain must have grown too confident in all the press and hooplah surrounding this new ship. Before she launched, people were saying, “even God couldn’t sink this ship!”
35 minutes after the final warning they were sinking, and history records that crew as “criminally complacent.”
The 1st essential to effective evangelism is passion, and we need to wake up to the needs of the hour!
2. The Right Priority
The Apostle Paul had the right priority. He knew that the main thing is keeping the main thing the main thing…we get off track in churches way too easily! The main thing is winning souls…keeping people out of hell! Everything else is subservient to that one goal.
Paul never forgot that Christ was born to die, to rise again, to save that which was lost…He came not to be ministered unto but to minister and to give His life for His priority!
Once upon a time there was a community of people who lived along a stretch of dangerous sea-coast where shipwrecks often occurred. Eventually they organized a rescue operation. They decided to do something about all the drowning people near their city. And so a small life-saving station was built, and the devoted members of the rescue team kept an ongoing watch over the sea…ready to man their little boats to search for survivors in case of shipwreck. As a result, the town became famous for the many lives that were saved. More and more people joined the team, and soon a new building was needed. It was much larger than the 1st building, and was beautifully furnished and decorated. But as more and more amenities were added for the members pleasure and comfort, the building was slowly transformed into a kind of clubhouse. Some of the members then began to lose interest in the rescue operation. But then a shipwreck occurred, and many survivors were rescued and brought to the clubhouse for first aid. During this several day period, the frenzied activity caused the elegant clubhouse to be significantly marred, by such things as blood stains and the smell of the sea. At the next meeting there was a split in the membership. Most members felt that the life-saving operation was a hindrance to their social life. And those who disagreed were told they could go to another operation further down the coast. As years went by, history continued to repeat itself, and today, that seacoast is lined with a number of exclusive clubhouses lining the shore, but no one in the area seems too concerned w/ the rescue operation.
Sing “The Lighthouse”
You know, there’s a church on almost every corner of this city, but it’s so easy to lose our priorities, and even we are not immune.
I like what Charles Haddon Spurgeon said, “If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap into hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish w/ our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.”
3. The Right Presentation
16:4-5 You have to have passion, you have to have priority, but ultimately, you have to have the right message. We’re put to shame by some cults w/ much more passion and priority than we have…what a shame the message, the presentation, they are communicating!
The right message is that salvation is by grace alone, thru faith alone, in Christ alone, plus nothing, minus nothing. [15:11]
That’s the right message, and when you couple that w/ love, souls WILL be saved.
They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.  He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.
Ill.—Fanny Crosby, that blind hymn writer, wrote so many hymns we love to sing. When she was up in years she visited the Macaulay Rescue Mission in NYC. She stood before a crowd of homeless, drug-addicted, alcoholic men. She said, “Is there a young man here who doesn’t have a mother?” One young man timidly raised his hand. He explained she died when he was very young. She asked him to come to the front. She gave him a big hug and kissed him on the cheek. It touched her heart so much that she went home that night and wrote these words, “Rescue the perishing, care for the dying, snatch them in pity from sin and the grave, weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen, tell them of Jesus the Mighty to save.”
Years later Ira Sankey was singing for D.L. Moody in St. Louis. He rose to sing that song, but before he sang he told that story. As he told the story a middle-aged man jumped up and shouted, “It was me! I’m the young man she wrote about. She kissed me. I could never forget that moment.” He explained that as a result he became a Christian and straightened out his life.
When we take the right message and couple it w/ love, people will be saved. We have to have the right passion…it’s time to wake up. We have to have the right priority…it’s time to put first things first. We have to have the right presentation, the right message.
Let’s sing it together, “Rescue the perishing, care for the dying…”
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