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Sunday, January 24, 2016 pm                                    Evangelism Index

EVANGELISM 2016
Obstacles to winning souls – Without (1)

 

Last year, we addressed the importance of reaching the lost our fourth Sunday evenings of the month (most months).   We want to continue that this year not only by talking about how to reach the lost, but addressing some topics that we are likely to encounter as we study with them. 

In November 2015 we presented a lesson dealing with obstacles to winning souls – within.  By within, we meant misconceptions (such as a failure to trust God and the gospel, as well as thinking that no one is interested), faulty attitudes (including – a lack of boldness, lack of zeal, discouragement, etc.)  and faulty motives (prejudice, turning our heads, losing sight of eternity, selfishness & laziness, as well as misunderstanding about the church) that keep us from getting to work.   The challenge is for us to examine ourselves and where we find such obstacles, to work at overcoming them.

In our lesson tonight, we want to continue looking at some obstacles to winning souls by noticing obstacles without.  By without, we mean those outside of the body of Christ. 

 I.                     Worldliness

a.        Worldliness has always been a problem.  It was dealt with in the days of the Bible and every generation, both before and since then.    Worldliness is having affection for this world and its ways and letting the ways of the world govern how you live.
1 John 5:19 – the world lies under the sway of the wicked one.
Romans 1:21 – is a good description of why there is worldliness – even those that knew God did not glorify Him, but were foolish and futile
Romans 8:5-8 – they live according to the flesh and perish.
1 John 2:15-17 – all that is in the world is not of the father but is of the world.

James 4:4 tells us that friendship with the world is enmity with God.

b.       Another problem with worldliness is OUR worldliness – do we let our love of the world stand in our way of influencing others?  Does it keep us from presenting the whole truth, lest we expose ourselves?  Does worldliness keep us so distracted that we neglect the weightier matters of truth?
Matthew 13:22 – the thorny ground.

c.        Worldliness is an obstacle to reaching the lost because following Christ means you have to be willing to give up this world and the things in the world  - 1 John 2:15-17 – do not love the world.
Consider the rich, young ruler – Matthew 19:21-22.
Far too many, for far too many reasons, are simply unwilling to do that.  And such as always been the case.  John 3:19-21 – men loved darkness rather than light.

d.       We need to be different- we have to show them that living for Jesus is worth it.   
Romans 12:1-2 - We need to be careful that the world does not influence us. 
Colossians 3:1-2 – set your mind on things above!
2 Corinthians 6:14-17 tells us to be separate.  BUT, the answer is NOT to isolate ourselves – there is a difference between isolationism and being separate, 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 bears this out.  AS Jesus prayed for His apostles, He made the distinction -  (John 17:13-16). 
IN Matthew 5:13 Jesus said we are the salt of the earth, “but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it then be seasoned?”  Is this calling for us to be a good and appealing example for the Lord?

"The best argument for Christianity is Christians; their joy, their certainty, their completeness. But the strongest argument against Christianity is also Christians--when they are somber and joyless, when they are self-righteous and smug in complacent consecrations, when they are narrow and repressive, then Christianity dies a thousand deaths." – Vanauken

 II.                    Busyness

a.        WE are living in the time of technology and gadgets, which is supposed to make our lives easier.  Instead, we are busier more now than ever before.   Some have their lives so planned out that every hour is “budgeted”.  When something unexpected comes along there is chaos. 
There are also so many choices of what to do.  Cable companies can have hundreds of channels, movie theatres have dozens of screens, etc.   Children’s activities keep parents running from sun-up to beyond sun-down.

b.       And that is not just the world.  It might be us as Christians as well.  While business can be a good thing (since laziness is clearly condemned, and if you look at Jesus you find One who was very busy as He went about doing good – Acts 10:38), it is possible to be so busy with stuff, that what is really important is crowded out.

c.        We are commanded to redeem the time – use it wisely (Ephesians 5:15-16, Colossians 4:5)
1 Thessalonians 4:11 speaks of leading a quiet life – while this is more about not drawing undue attention to yourself, it also involves solemn time.
Matthew 6:6 – we are told to find time to privately go to God in prayer.

d.       Evangelistically, it is sometimes a challenge to find time to study with others – THEIR time and OURS!

e.       What can we do?

                                                   i.      We need to show priorities.   Even if you are busy, God needs to be first in your calendar.  Matthew 6:33 still applies.  Matthew 22:37 – what is the FIRST commandment?
Our brethren need to be a priority in our lives – we prefer one another.
This is another example of letting our light shine!

                                                  ii.      We need to show that the sacrifices we make for the Lord are worthwhile and that our life is better because of it.   Make it as appealing as possible.  It is already difficult to serve God in an ungodly world as it is, but our attitude and actions can possibly cause others to pause and consider. 

                                                iii.      We need to work on being flexible so that we can study with others when it is convenient for them – what would you give up to study with others? 
We may need to sacrifice some activities to have more time to do spiritual things – 2 Cor. 13:5 – we need to examine ourselves.  How often can we do this?
NOTE: This doesn’t mean you can never plan anything recreational, etc.   It is about being so busy, you have no room for weeks on end.  Life is about balance!

                                                iv.      Don’t burn yourself out – don’t overcommit.  This too can be a challenge.   Is it possible to do too much of a good thing?  What if it means neglecting other good things?  Think of Mary and Martha – Luke 10:38-42. 
Sometimes we have to say “NO!” and sometimes we have accept that others say “No!”

 III.                  Impersonal

a.        Communications today are so advanced, that in a second, we can carry on a conference with numerous parties around the world.  I am a part of as many as 3 online Bible studies a week – each with multiple hosts from all over the United States.   That is the wonder of technology.  Cell phones and social media have allowed us to connect & reconnect with old friends at virtually no cost.  We can have as many “friends” as we want.

Yet for many, the number of actual friends they have that they interact with on a regular basis is minimal.  And it can stand in the way of being able to reach others with the gospel.  Why?  Because we don’t know who our neighbors are and our circle of friends/acquaintances is very small.

YET, we are also constantly in contact with so many people it can be overwhelming and difficult to develop personal relationships with few, if any of them. 
I am not opposed to social media and participate in it regularly.  In fact, much good can be done and many of my “friends” on a regular basis post thoughts that lead me and others closer to Christ.  In fact, whether we like it or not, social media is here to stay and should be considered as we seek exposure.  But I realize it is NOT a substitute for real interaction with people, nor is it as effective!

b.       NOTE: Hebrews 10:24-25, 1 Corinthians 14, etc. One of the benefits of assembling with the saints is personal interaction with others of like precious faith.  That is what edification is about. 
But even that can become impersonal, if we don’t take the time to get to know each other better.   ONE of the best things we can do to reach others is to act like the family of God we are supposed to be!  Consider what Jesus said in John 13:34-35.

c.        The impersonal nature of many is a challenge to reaching the lost.  And it might be a contributing factor as to why we cannot win everyone.  BUT that does not give us an excuse to not try and win ANYONE. 

d.       The best way to reach others is through personal contact!
Every survey I have seen on why people come to a worship service or a gospel meeting AND those who obey the gospel is overwhelmingly (90+%) at the invitation of a friend or acquaintance. 

In the Bible, every act of conversion was based upon a personal conversation.  Even occasions that involved miracles and direct intervention from God (Pentecost, the Eunuch, Paul, Cornelius, the Philippian jailer, etc.), someone was still sent to verbally tell them what they needed to do to be saved.  2 Timothy 2:2 reminds us that is by passing down the message that souls are won.
Acts 8:4, when the disciples were spread, they went everywhere preaching the word.

e.       To overcome the impersonal barrier, we need to care about and interact with others – sometimes this includes those that others might avoid – James 2:1-4.  It is no mistake that Jesus often associated with “sinners” – Luke 15:1-2, Matthew 9:10-11, John 4:6-10, etc.
1 Corinthians 9:19-22 – Paul became all things to all men that he might save some.  That’s what we need.

 IV.                  Broken lives  (Next month) –

a.        This world is broken in so many ways.  There seems to be a great emphasis on self.  The moral compass seems to have been damaged.  There are problems with broken families, unscriptural marriages, addictions, etc.   Sometimes, people’s problems stand in their way of turning to God. The problems themselves can be overwhelming.  At times they lead to attitudes that are difficult to overcome- bitterness toward God, doubts, despair, etc. 

b.       There is no easy answer when you are faced with such.   As Christians there are things we need to keep in mind:

                                                   i.      Continue to be the godly example they need - there is nothing better than that when you are dealing with those who are hurting.  Perhaps by your good works, perhaps they will glorify God in this – Matthew 5:16

                                                  ii.      You have to love them!  Genuine love cares and has compassion.  Again, consider the example of Jesus who had compassion – Matthew 9:36, 14:14, 15:32, 18:27, 20:34, etc.
Jude 22 tells us to have compassion on some.

                                                iii.      Try to be a friend to them.  Be there for them.  BUT, be cautious and don’t get caught up in sinful conduct if you are dealing with that -

                                                iv.      Be careful in your judgments!  As we have already noted, Jesus was harshly and wrongly judged by egotistical leaders.  He warned us in Matthew 7:1-5 to be careful in judging others.  While we know this doesn’t mean we never judge, but it does mean we need to not render harsh or prejudicial judgments.

                                                  v.      Pray for them.  They need the prayers of the righteous – James 5:16.  Matthew 5:43-44 – while dealing with enemies, it also would apply to those struggling. 

                                                vi.      Be patient – problems don’t go away overnight.  1 Corinthians 13:4 – love suffers long. 
1 Thessalonians 5:14 calls for us to be patient with all.
Colossians 3:11-12 – put on…longsuffering, bearing with one another….

 

There are other obstacles that we need to be concerned about.  Next month we will address some more of them.   Our point in addressing obstacles is to be aware that they do exist.  1) With trying to reach the lost, you will face resistance and objections.  2) But there is also a proper way to deal with these things which we have seen and will continue to see.   

The improper way is to do nothing!  May we pray to God to help us do what we can to reach as many as we can.  Think about it.