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Sunday, November 27, 2011 pm

The Call to Reach the Lost

 In 1 Corinthians 9:16 Paul speaks of his need to preach the gospel to the lost.  In that text he said, “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.”  While Paul was an apostle and certainly had great ability in the matter of reaching the lost and a calling that cannot be denied, the charge he proclaims in this verse rings close to home in the heart of each of us.  At least it ought to.

From time to time we need to remind ourselves of our need to try to reach and teach others the gospel of Christ.  It is a “calling” that each of us has.  By a calling I do not mean that the Holy Spirit is directly whispering in our ears to go and talk to someone, but through His word, by precept, example and inference, we find that each of us is compelled to be share the gospel with others.  In our lesson this evening I want to talk about this “calling” and where it comes from.

 I.                    A Calling from Above – God commands it

a.        Directly – Mark 16:15, Matt. 28:18-20 – the “great commission” was a command from Jesus to the apostles as He was about to ascend to heaven.   While it was spoken specifically to them, it was implied to all believers.  This is true because the apostles were not the exclusive teachers of the gospel.  For example: Philip went to Samaria and the Eunuch (Acts 8), and the disciples being dispersed from Jerusalem because of persecutions “went everywhere preaching the word.” (Ac. 8:4)    They carried with them what the apostles had taught.  The message of the apostles was passed on and on (cf. 2 Tim. 2:2) and in the course of a few decades Paul could say of the gospel that it “was preached to every creature under heaven” (Col. 1:23).

b.       Christ sets the example
With Christ as our Savior, He is also our example.  In all that we do, we follow His example.  1 Cor. 11:1 we imitate Christ.  1 John 2:6 says, “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” 
He came to seek and save the lost – Luke 19:10, 4:43.

c.        The church as the pillar and ground of truth – 1 Tim. 3:15.  One of the works you find the church engaged in is evangelism, or reaching the lost.  Primarily, other than local teaching, it was done through supporting preachers to reach the lost.  The church saw this as important.
Paul commended the brethren at Thessalonica because of their efforts to sound forth the word.  1 Thess. 1:6-8 describes their conduct, “…for from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place.  Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything.”

d.       The example of first century Christians – Acts 8:4 – they went everywhere preaching the word.
Acts 20:20 – Paul taught publicly and from house to house.

e.       Throughout scripture we see the instructions from God to teach others.  That ought to “move us” to strive to teach others.

 

II.                  A Calling from Without – Mankind needs it

a.         When you study the subject of sin, it becomes clearly evident that man needs salvation.

b.       Romans 3:23 tells us that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. 
Rom. 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death.

c.        Because of sin, man needs a Savior -   Jesus is that hope.
He realized it - Matt. 9:36-38 - Jesus saw them like sheep having no shepherd and was moved with compassion.  John 4:34 records a similar occasion when Jesus told His disciples to open their eyes because the fields are already white unto harvest.
Rom. 5:6-8 – Christ died for the ungodly.

d.       But how does man learn about that Savior?  It is through the gospel – Rom. 1:16, 1 Cor. 15:1-4
1 Cor. 1:20-25 describes how “the foolishness of the message preached” saves those who believe.

e.       Friends we have been saved by the blood of Christ through the preaching of and obedience to the gospel.  When we realize that sin separates man from God and we have the gospel, it ought to move us to do all that we can to reach them.    We need to seek opportunities to reach the lost.  We need to look around and realize that so many around us are lost.  As one preacher said, “Untold millions are dying untold.”  We may not be able to convert every soul (in fact most will reject it), but that doesn’t change our need to plant the seed whenever we have opportunity. 
1 Cor. 9:19-23 – Paul became “all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”

f.         Is that our attitude toward those that are lost without?  Their voices are crying, yea CALLING for us to say something to them.  Will we? 

III.                A Calling from Within –

a.        My conscience tells me I need to do this. 
The conscience is a gift to us from God.  As a friend of mine once said, “It just works.”  We sometimes talk about training the conscience, but in reality we educate it.  God gave it to us to discern between right and wrong, and generally it depends upon what we LEARN. 

When we learn the truth, after a while (if not before), our conscience begins to tell us we need to share this with others.  Like the four lepers outside of the gates of Samaria, who found food from the Assyrian army that had fled they had to tell the people of the city (2 Kings 7:9).  They couldn’t keep it to themselves.
Psalm 39:1-3 describes an occasion when David could not keep the message to himself.  He had to tell someone.

b.       Within the Bible we read of many whose “spirit within” moved them to act.
Acts 17:16 records Paul in Athens where he sees a city given over to idols and “his spirit was moved within him.”
Lot, (even though we do not read of how much he did about it), lived in the wicked city of Sodom.  We are told, “for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day seeing and hearing their lawless deeds.” (2 Pet. 2:8).
Romans 9:1-2 – Paul had great sorrow and grief because of his lost brethren.

c.        Do we feel compassion for the lost?  When we see those wandering about us, do we see lost souls that need Jesus?  As we live our lives, do we think about how our conduct might affect opportunities to teach others?  Do we really care about the lost?  In reality, this is what much of our concerns boils down to.

d.       One more point before we move on: Where would we be if someone didn’t take the time to tell us the truth?  Even those of us “raised in the church” had parents who took the time to teach us something.  And for many of us, there are brethren that we can point to who had impact in our lives spiritually.  While we might thank them and be grateful to them the rest of our lives, what is the best way we can demonstrate our gratitude?  Would it not be to “pay it forward”?

 

 IV.                A Calling from Below –

a.        In addition to all the above thoughts that call us to seek the lost, don’t forget this one. 

b.       For those who are lost, there IS a place of eternal torments described in scripture.  And the danger of eternal damnation is very real to the lost.  Matt 25:46 speaks of everlasting punishment that awaits the lost.

The danger of eternal condemnation ought to motivate us to snatch men out of the fire (Jude 23);

c.        In Luke 16:27-31 – we read about the rich man (and Lazarus) waking in torments and desiring to spare his brethren from that awful fate.  The answer Abraham gave him was, “They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them.” (vs. 29).  Friends, we too have God’s word, the message of redemption, we CAN strive to use it to deliver souls from torments, but will we?

d.       In 2 Cor. 5:10 – speaks of a day of judgment when we will ALL stand before God. 
2 Thess. 1:6-9 speaks of the eternal punishment that awaits those who do not obey the gospel and those who do not know God. 
2 Cor. 5:11 says, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord we persuade men.”

e.       But the danger of eternal salvation may be very real to us as well, IF we fail to do what we ought to do, and that includes our need to seek the lost.
In Ezekiel 3:15-21, the prophet was sent to a rebellious people.  The LORD described him as a watchman and held him accountable for preaching the message (not the response of his audience).  What a lesson for us.

f.         Friends, even if we do save our souls in the end, I would not want to know that there was someone I could have saved but I failed to try and teach them.

 WE conclude where we began: Paul said, “Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.” (1 Cor. 9:16).  Yes it was written to a preacher and apostle, but it is my hope that we have seen that the message rings just as true for each of us. 

We are now only one month away from a new year (2012).  As we begin to examine our successes and failures for 2011 and determine what we need to do better, let us not forget this “calling” that each of us has.  The Lord IS calling you to service, will you answer?