Saturday, January 17, 2009

Reach the Lost, Romans 1:16-17

After nearly a month (a busy one, but who isn't busy these days?), here is another post. The next three will reflect the messages on our vision statement at First Baptist Church: "Reach the Lost, Teach the Found, Glorify and Enjoy God."
The passage for today is from Romans 1, verses 16 and 17. It prompted me to ask the question: "What was my most embarrassing moment?" How about you? Have you had any embarrassing moments recently? While visiting my wife's family near Chicago over Christmas, I was carrying our infant in his carrier-seat, and escorting another of our kids over a street covered in ice. I lost my balance and fell. Before I completed the embarrassing act, I reacted normally and was about to catch myself, but I would have had to toss my infant son in his carrier. I mumbled something like, "You owe me one, boy!" and took the hard fall.
I read of some other embarrassing moments, like when the actress Billy Burke was on a cruise and saw a man sitting at a table with a terrible cold. She walked up to him and asked him, "Are you uncomfortable?" He nodded, "I'll tell you just what to do. Go back to your room, drink lots of orange juice, take two aspirins, cover yourself with all the blankets you can find, sweat the cold out. I know just what I'm talking about, because I'm Billy Burke the actress." The man smiled and warmly introduced himself, saying, "Thank you. I'm Dr. Mayo from the Mayo Clinic."

A bishop and his wife were retiring after many years in ministry. Upon reaching their home they saw a large crowd gathered on the street in front of their house. The wife was so overwhelmed that so many people had waited to say how much they appreciated the many years of service. It almost moved her to tears. She decided to thank them all publicly, telling everyone how much it meant that they would come and meet these who were retiring from so many years in ministry. The startled crowd suddenly turned around as the city bus pulled up, and they all got on board and left. That's funny, and embarrassing (and, sad, we're not heartless).

The third one takes the cake. A man wrote that when he was in high school musical car horns were popular. He said his mother's deluxe model played the first line of 48 different songs. But in the cold, the horn would develop a short and play on its own. He urged his mother to take the horn out in the winter but she wouldn't. That is, until that cold winter afternoon when they were at the funeral of their elderly aunt. As they pulled out of the cemetery, the horn blared the first line of "We're in the Money." He wrote he has never heard of that horn since. Hilarious! But embarrassing too.
Sometimes we get embarrassed in life. It starts when we are young, and there are some things to be embarrassed about. However, there are some things in life we should never be embarrassed about. One thing we should never be embarrassed or ashamed about is the good news of Jesus Christ. Yet, sometimes if we're honest, we are embarrassed to tell people about the good news of Jesus Christ. But God never meant for us sharing the good news of Jesus Christ to be one of our most embarrassing moments. He meant for it to be the greatest highlight of our lives.
Why are we embarrassed? We're afraid of rejection. But we need to remember that just because someone initially rejects us, doesn't mean they will always hold that view. It's natural for people to initially respond in a thinking manner when they hear the good news of Jesus, and how He demands to be Lord and center of their life.

Read Romans 1 starting in verse 11, through verse 17.

First, we should be unashamed of how God saves people from their sin (v. 16). Again, there is no reason for God’s people to be ashamed to share how God saved them. Paul wanted to share the Gospel with the Romans because he was not ashamed of it. The great news of Jesus should be like how quickly we heard about 9/11/2001. By noon that day, everyone in the U.S. had probably heard about what happened only a few hours earlier.
Who said Paul was ashamed of it? He was in a Roman prison for it, so he wanted them to know he did not regret the reason for his persecution. 2 Timothy 3 tells us that everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. Do you believe in the Gospel enough that you want to share it with people? Do you believe in it enough that you would go to prison for it? Death?
f. Whenever we see a conjunction starting a sentence, we need to look behind it and see why it is there. Here, “For” can be translated “what I mean is” or “because” when Paul tries to explain the reason for him wanting to see the people in the city of Rome.
g. What is it explaining? V. 11, “for I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong.” Also, v. 15, “That is why I am so eager to preach the Gospel also to you who at Rome.” Paul wanted to share with the Greeks and Barbarians, since he had gained so much from them.
Are you ashamed to share your faith? Without saying the good news of Jesus, people will not be saved because they will not conclude something God has created such as Him dying on the cross in our place for our sin, and that by believing that (without working for it), our sin is covered by that act and we have eternal life.
Jesus warned all disciples Luke 9:26, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”
Paul said in v. 11, not “I am obligated,” nor “I will do my duty to share the gospel,” but “I long to see you.” Paul understood if he just showed up God would use him to impart some “spiritual gift,” or “grace” somehow. ¾ of ministry is just showing up. If God’s people show up, God will show up! The greatest witness is not knocking on doors. That works for a small percentage of people, as do bullhorns, street preaching, and similar sales-type methods. Most people will be more relational. Joe Aldrich says in his book, Lifestyle Evangelism, that the greatest witness you'll have is your marriage and family.
What is the greatest symbol of Christianity? The cross? Communion? Baptism? Preaching God’s word? ------YOU are the greatest symbol of Christianity! Your changed life showing up in the life of a lost person who needs the love of Christ. Show up! Share it with people! With the poor, hungry, needy, those who have everything material; nothing spiritual. I thank God all the time that I get to do what I get to do for a living. After the Cardinal's game the camera showed Kurt Warner kneeling, holding hands with other football players and praying.
The press was waiting to interview the winning quarterback, but the quarterback first wanted to talk with his God before anything else. He was not ashamed (Go brother Kurt!).
Being ashamed of something like the Gospel would be like winning the Nobel Prize and telling no one or trying to disprove it; killing a trophy buck and being ashamed of it; or meeting someone famous and being ashamed of it. Last summer, the city of Darlington shut down so everyone could see Johnny Depp. Kids skipped school to get a picture with him. Are they ashamed? Tim Tebow, winning quarterback of the Florida Gators, who are National NCAA Champions, said to the cameras, "I knew God would do this for us," as he faded out. His first words! Unashamed (Go Tim and Tebow family! God bless you all!)
Secondly, not only should we not be ashamed, but we have the power of salvation in our words as the Spirit works.
WE have the medicine. The only thing that has power in the spiritual world for eternal life is this Gospel (v. 16). As mentioned above, we need to use words when the opportunities come. Step out.
b. Paul wanted to share the Gospel with the Romans because it has power to save all who will believe
c. What is the Gospel? 1 Cor 15:1–4, “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 3For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,” (NASB). To whom is it power for salvation? Everyone automatically? NO—“everyone who believes.” Literally in Greek “the ones who believe."

Third, we are directly responsible for others to hear the Gospel God’s people are directly responsible for making sure other people hear the Gospel (v. 17)
Paul wanted to share the Gospel with the Romans because it is shared from one person to another. Paul saying this in v. 17 emphasizes how the Gospel is passed from “faith to faith.” It is passed from person to person, as one of us shares with another.

I am always baffled that Jesus trusted the pathway to eternity with the common people like us. Our decision not to share with someone is a decision not to show them how to find the cure for their illness, from which they will die forever. Paul understood this. Look at the text: He hoped the Romans who did not believe might hear so that (v. 13) “I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.” Paul followed Jesus’ command “Great Commission” So should we. Habakkuk 2:4 “for the just will live by faith,” means what it means here: by faith
e. Literally “the righteous” and Paul wrote that the Gospel passes righteousness from one person to another. There is a righteousness that God requires of every person who wants to be in His presence forever.
If we want to stand in God's presence forever, instead of the only alternative--hell, and want to get there based on our own works, it would be like going to the bank in town with a hand full of Mexican pesos and asking them to convert it to dollars, or using it to pay for something in town. They would reject it, because here we use American dollars. In heaven, God will only accept the act of the sinless Savior Jesus Christ to pay for sin, and if you reject Jesus' act of dying for your sin and rising again, then God will reject you too. Only Jesus pays the way to heaven.

It doesn't matter what you have done, or what you haven't done, as long as you have believed in Jesus. When God forgives the sin of the one who believes in Jesus, all of their sin of every kind is forgiven!

I love sharing this news with people--Jesus' death and resurrection--because even if someone rejects us, the gospel of Jesus is in them now. They can reject it, but they can't forget it, and the Spirit convicts them so they will be restless until they find rest in God.

Larry Berkett came to know the Lord by initially rejecting his wife's pastor. The pastor, on his way out, said, "Larry, you're going to hell!" The next week Larry was in church, and eventually trusted in Jesus, and founded Crown Financial Ministries.
We are faithful when we share, and successful when we share. Don't count who responds, but count who hears.
Rom 3:21–22, the righteousness that God requires comes to men and they are declared righteous if they believe the Gospel
Application: When you find a person who acts unrighteously, the answer to them finding the righteousness of God is in you.
Our vision for Darlington is for each of us to share our faith with one person a month. 1/month with 130 people (our church size) for 24 months = over 3,000 people in two years. Almost 800 people by June 2009; almost 1,600 people by December 2009.
If we are not ashamed of the Gospel, and people respond positively, we will run out of room in this sanctuary by December 2009.
Will you do it? Will you tell one person about Christ?
I’ve shared Christ with 3 people this week. I haven’t heard of they responded or not, but I’ve shared the gospel and I pray for them now. I hope to share Christ with 4 people this coming week.
Will you consider 1 this month? Think of one person and start praying that person would believe
Find ways to share your faith that fit your personality (relational, direct approach, writing, music, art, serving).
We haven’t shared our faith until we’ve shared our Savior, Jesus. Count who hears, and pray for them. If you've read this blog and want to do something, then if you're here locally come to our Sunday night evangelism training, or Monday night prayer (see website for times).
If you're not local, no matter where you are, get involved and start ways to share your faith in your local community and through your church. It starts by loving people, praying for them, and befriending them or helping them (sounds like Jesus, right). Talk to your pastor or leader about plans and offer help--share the love and great news about Jesus.

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