Walking signboard – you advertise wherever you go. We often think that preaching the Gospel is the preacher’s job. Actually, each of us is an ambassador for Christ. We should advertise Christ wherever we go. Wear a signboard? Direct people to heaven?
No organisation in the world will share the Good News or the Gospel of Jesus Christ, except the Church. The early churches were zealous in spreading the Gospel but not many present day churches are that zealous. Today, we do not have a transformed church but a "deformed church". The characteristics of a “deformed church” are:
A. Inward Looking - Church looking at only how to serve and please its members.
B. Distracted - Church more concerned with charity works or whatever it deems important than saving souls.
C. Secular - Church becoming more secular (serving social and economic needs of the community).
D. Business-like - Church being more concerned about “bigness” and operating like a business.
E. Dwindling - Church dwindling in number of members and activities, and looking like they are heading to “winding up” any time.
How can the church be more evangelistic? How can we keep the flame of the Gospel burning?
A. Why the early church preached and grew so fast?
The Resurrection - The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the spark that ignites the spread of the Gospel - the resurrection is the indisputable evidence that Jesus is the Messiah. If Jesus is the Messiah, then the Gospel is true and must be preached with earnestness. Thus, the Gospel spread like fire
a. Prophesied - Jesus Christ prophesied that He would be killed and raised again on the third day. Mat 16:21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Matt 16:21, Matt 17:23, Matt 20:19, Matt 26:61; Mark 8:31, Mark 10:34; Lk 9:22, Lk 18:33, Lk 24:6-7; John 2:19. b. Prevented - The Jewish leaders attempted to prevent the fulfilment of the prophecy. Matthew 27:62-66 Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, 63 Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. 64 Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. 65 Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. 66 So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch. c. Risen - Jesus was risen on the third day. Matthew 28:5-7 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. 6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. d. Seen - Many had seen Jesus alive. 1 Cor 15:3-6 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. If Jesus had risen from the dead, then He is the Messiah. If He is the Messiah, then the Gospel is true and must be preached with earnestness. Thus, the Gospel spread like fire. Today, we should continue to preach Jesus and His resurrection.
Manifestation. - The power of the Holy Spirit drew many people to the Gospel. They saw the apostles performing signs, wonders and miracles, and these testified of the Apostles and their words. a. Miraculous Tongues - On the Day of Pentecost, the apostles spoke with miraculous tongues - Acts 2:4-6 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. 6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. b. Signs and Wonders - The apostles were performing many signs and wonders. Act 5:12-14 And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch. And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them. And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.) c. Confirm the Words Heb 2:3-4 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? We do not have the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit with us today because such manifestations have ceased. 1 Cor 13:8. Do we need it? No, it had served its purpose of revealing and testifying the words of God. John 16:13-14 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. People looked for a sign but the sign that God gave is the sign of Jonas - Jesus and His resurrection. Luke 11:29-30 And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet. For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation.
Persecution. - The persecution of Christians was thought to have suppressed the spread of the Gospel but it turned out that not only it did not suppressed it but the Gospel spread faster and further. a. Scattered Acts 8:4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. b. Travelled Acts 11:19 Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. The opposition to the preaching of the Gospel caused the Christians in Jerusalem to disperse aboard with the Gospel. In this way, persecution fanned the flame of the Gospel, as it reaches out to the lost in many countries beyond Israel. Paul explained that the adversary of the Gospel turned out to be opportunity to preach it further and farther away. The persecution became the persuasion to preach because they were bold to speak under adverse condition. c. Boldness Php 1:12-14 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Are we persecuted for preaching the Gospel? We are not, though it happens in certain countries. Why are we holding back? The early Christians preached the Gospel in spite of persecution. What are we doing? The Church grew in numbers very quickly: Acts 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. Acts 4:4 Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand. Acts 5:14 And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women. Acts 21:20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law: How can we replicate the zeal of the early church? The church grew in spite of persecution.
B. How can the local church be more evangelistic? - We do not have the power of the Holy Spirit and the persecution of those days, but we have to preach Jesus and His resurrection. The local church should learn from the early church:
Commission - Illustration: Many churches come together to write their missions. Most have missed the point because God has already given us a mission – the Great Commission. It has become our Great Omission! Go back to the mission of the church. a. Preach the Gospel. Matt 28:19-20; Mark 16:16. Matt 28:19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. b. Jesus Christ wanted the Apostles to share Gospel: Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. c. Wisdom of God revealed by the church. Eph 3:10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
Conviction - Illustration: Faith comes from hearing the words of God. Rom 10:17. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Heb 11:2. If we have strong faith in the substance of things and the evidence of things, we will be convinced with our belief in our salvation and the Gospel. a. That Jesus was Christ, the Son of God. Acts 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. b. That the Gospel is the power to save. Rom 1:16. Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. c. That people will die in their sin. John 3:16. John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. d. That there is no other way whereby one can be saved. Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Courage - Illustration: Knock on doors builds up courage. Speaking about the Gospel takes courage. The early church did not drew back from preaching the Gospel: a. The Apostles were threatened not to speak. Acts 4:18-20 And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. b. The church was severely persecuted. Acts 8:3-4 As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. 4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. c. The church continues to preach constantly and consistently. 2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
C. What shall we do to be more evangelistic? - Illustration: Making fire for cooking or BBQ. You need a starter, ignites (get started), you need fuel, charcoal (support the fire), and you need to fan it, (stir the burning lest it smothers). Doing is better than talking.
Emphasis - evangelism - training, going out, sending preachers, planting.
Efforts – work on it, through investment and involvement.
Encouragement – motivate one another and celebrate success.
A. Why the early church preached and grew so fast?
Resurrection, Manifestation, Persecution.
B. How can the local church be more evangelistic?
Commission, Conviction, Courage
C. What shall we do to be more evangelistic?
Emphasis, Efforts, Encouragement
Appeal for Actions:
Let’s support the work of evangelism in the church.
A. Attend all meetings of the Gospel Meeting.
B. Bring someone to the meeting.
C. Confidence that it is the right thing to do
At one of D.L. Moody’s meetings in America he related the story of a shipwreck on a dark and tempestuous night, when not even a star was visible. A ship was approaching the harbor of Cleveland, with a pilot on board. The captain, noticing only one light as they drew near — that from the lighthouse —asked the pilot if he was quite sure that it was Cleveland harbor, as other lights should have been burning at the harbor mouth. The pilot replied that he was quite sure, whereupon the captain enquired:
“Where are the lower lights?” “Gone out, sir,” replied the pilot.
“Can you make the harbor, then?” asked the captain, to which the pilot answered:
“We must, sir, or perish.”
Bravely the old man steered the vessel upon her course toward safety. But alas! In the darkness of the harbor mouth he missed the channel, the ship struck upon many rocks, and in the stormy waters many lives were lost.
Then Moody made his appeal to his audience: “Brothers, the Master will take care of the great lighthouse!
Let us keep the lower lights burning!”
Among Moody’s hearers that evening was Mr. Philip P. Bliss, the well-known hymn writer, and the striking story at once suggested to him one of his most popular hymns:
Let the Lower Lights Be Burning
Brightly beams our Father’s mercy,
From His lighthouse evermore, But to us He gives the keeping Of the lights along the shore.
Let the lower lights be burning! Send a gleam across the wave!
Some poor struggling, fainting seaman You may rescue, you may save.
Christians – let the lower lights be burning. Show others the way. (Signboard).
Non-Christians - There is no salvation or hope in this world except in Christ. Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, died on the cross for you. He is the Lighthouse. If we do not follow Him, we will be lost. We will die in our sins.
Hear, Believe, Repent, Confess, Baptise and live Faithfully.