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Continuous Evangelism (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
May 4, 2024 4:00 am

Continuous Evangelism (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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May 4, 2024 4:00 am

The early church experienced dramatic growth because Spirit-filled Christians simply had to tell others about Jesus. Learn why being “sold out for Jesus” doesn’t have to be a high-pressure endeavor. That’s our focus on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.



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This listener-funded program features the clear, relevant Bible teaching of Alistair Begg. Today’s program and nearly 3,000 messages can be streamed and shared for free at tfl.org thanks to the generous giving from monthly donors called Truthpartners. Learn more about this Gospel-sharing team or become one today. Thanks for listening to Truth For Life!





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After Pentecost, the early church experienced dramatic growth. It wasn't because they organized giant apostle-led tent revivals. It was because spirit-filled Christians simply had to tell others about Jesus. Today on Truth for Life weekend, we'll learn why being sold out for Jesus doesn't have to be a high-pressure endeavor. Alistair Begg is talking about the early church in the book of Acts in chapter 2. In the explosion of activity, you have this effervescent community of God's people who cannot help but speak of the things that they have encountered in the Lord Jesus Christ, and in their expressions, the Lord is adding to their number daily those who are being saved.

Now, we shouldn't pass over this just too quickly. It's good for us to ask the simple question, Who was it did the adding? Who did the adding? How were these people added?

As a result of what? Well, the answer is, as a result of the Lord doing the adding. Who adds to the church? The head of the church. He who sits enthroned maintains the prerogative to admit people to the church's membership. It is Christ, the head of the church, who adds to the church. Now, admittedly, he does so through means, and has made it perfectly clear that by the means of the preaching of the Word, by means of the worshiping of God's people, by means of their wholesale, sold-out endeavors in personal witnessing, he will add people to the community of the faithful. And it is very, very important for us to acknowledge that point, especially when so many endeavors in continuous evangelism—or in any kind of evangelism, for that matter—in local communities often are very man-centered. They are often very man-oriented. They have slick methodologies.

They have little programs and little packets and little ideas and little schemes. And it would be possible, not wishing to diminish the rightful usage of these things, but it is distinctly possible for people to get the impression that there is a kind of mechanism, there is a press-button-A, press-button-B formula whereby any church can just grow itself. And we really don't need to worry about the Holy Spirit.

If you just apply this methodology, it will all be fine, and so you go different places. And they have all of these mechanisms in place, and it's not surprising there are many, many people being added to the crowd. But there are, of course, many people being added to those who subscribe to Amway products, using very similar methodologies to those which are employed in a number of churches. Therefore, the fact of an increase in numbers need not give any indication at all of the work of the Spirit of God.

And that, you see, is why it is imperative that a local congregation always keeps its head concerning these things and does not fall into the trap of using numerical growth as some quantifier of effectiveness in ministry or of the outstanding evidence of the Spirit's work. Or you say, Are you not talking out of both sides of your mouth? Are you not, on the one hand, extolling this amazing expansion, and now you're apparently decrying it? No.

It may sound like that. Let me try and clarify things. I am extolling the expansion which comes about as a result of God adding to the church, and I am decrying the kind of numerical preoccupation which says more about man's ability to manipulate other people than it says anything about what God has chosen to do. 1 Corinthians 3, Paul says—I know that some of you are keen on Apollos, others of you are very strong on myself, some of you are following Cephas—and we all have a part in what God has assigned us. He says in verse 6 of 1 Corinthians 3, I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.

God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who makes things grow. The man who plants, the man who waters, of one purpose. Each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers, you are God's field, you are God's building. Wouldn't it be a dreadful tyranny to have to waken up in the morning and try and build a church?

Can you imagine the burden? And so it is wonderful to realize that it is the Lord who does the adding. Who was it that was being added? Well, the answer is those who were being saved.

In other words, Christ did not add them to the church without saving them. He didn't, if you like, have a friends category. He didn't have a sort of nominal group. I'm going to add some of you to the nominal group, and I'm going to add some of you to the core group. No, everyone he added, he added having saved them. Nor did he save them without adding them.

So in the developing church, there was no nominalism. Nobody was added to the group without being saved. In fact, fear was going around the place, especially after Ananias and Sapphira had dropped dead. Any sensible person was going, You don't want to get involved with this group. There's some wild stuff going on there. See, apparently some guy and his wife cooked up some deal that they sold property, and they tried to say it was worth more than it was. I heard the guy dropped dead.

And apparently his wife came in, she lied through her teeth as well, and she dropped dead. You don't want to get involved with that group. So there's no idea, Hey, let's go down to Jerusalem and spin around on the fringes.

No. He didn't add them to the church without saving them, and he didn't save them without adding them to the church. There was no solitary Christianity. There is no such thing as solitary Christianity. There is no such thing as disconnected Christianity. Salvation, baptism, and membership all go together. Read the Bible! So this idea that I can opt in for one package but not the second part of the package or the third package—it's all a package.

That's all I wanted to say about that. The third question is this. When were they being added? Who did the adding? The Lord. Who was getting added? Those who were being saved. When were they getting added?

All the time. In fact, it's in the imperfect tense. It says, And the Lord kept adding to their number. He kept adding to their number.

The NIV actually translates it with this word daily in order to help us get to the point. Daily, the Lord was adding. Their evangelism wasn't sporadic.

It wasn't occasional. It wasn't that they went along for periods of time where they did nothing concerning witnessing, where they were not, as it were, living out their faith, where they were not telling others about Jesus, but they were just living their lives. And as a result of the overflow of a Spirit-filled life, men and women were coming to ask questions of them. Why is it that you go to that place? Why is it that you declare Christ as your Lord? Why is it that you don't say, Caesar is Lord? Didn't I see you in the river getting baptized?

What was that all about? Do you really believe that the Galilean carpenter is alive from the dead and so on, and the people in their homes and in the streets and in the bazaars were simply answering the questions? And as a result, God was adding daily to the community those that he was saving. So don't you think we should ask him to do this? If he, as our heavenly Father, delights to give good things to those that ask him, if he works in answer to prayer, if he works in relationship to our unfettered and zealous commitment to let others know that we belong to the Lord Jesus, don't you think we ought to give it a go? You say, Well, we are.

I know. In fact, one of the things that excites me as I travel is people always ask me, And what is your strategy at Parkside for evangelism? What are you doing?

And I tell the people, I say, Frankly, I don't know. I don't know really what's going on at Parkside. I just get the distinct impression that our people are living out their Christian life on a daily basis. As a result of that, through friendship, evangelism, through the opportunity to engage people in conversation, the chance to come near them in their need, the opportunity to share with people in their joys and in their encouragements, people are actually coming to faith in Jesus Christ. And so we thank God for that. But we want to see it happen more and more. For the sake of numbers? No.

Why? Because Christ's love compels us. Isn't that what Paul said in the reading that we had?

2 Corinthians 5? In fact, he backs it up, and he says, Knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men. Since we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try and persuade men. We want to be persuasive.

We're not going to be ashamed. We want to be persuasive. He says in verse 14, It's the love of Christ that compels us, because we're convinced that one died for all and therefore all died. It's this whole matter of what was happening on the cross, he says, which has burned itself into our lives, and so much so that we don't even look at people from a worldly point of view anymore. We're tending not to look at people in terms of what we can get out of them.

We're not looking at them simply as patients, simply as clients, simply as pupils, simply as instructors. But we've now begun to look at them in a whole different way. And what we've discovered, verse 20, is that we've been made the ambassadors of the Lord Jesus Christ, and it's as though Christ himself is making his appeal through us.

Isn't that a staggering thought? That through you, Christ makes his appeal? That he appeals to people who are your work colleagues and your school chums and your friends and your family, and he makes his appeal through you? He who could do it in a vacuum if he chose has determined to use the likes of you and me?

What a wonder! And so we need, then, to ask that God would give us the kind of stirrings in our hearts that were stirring in the heart of the apostle Paul. Paul was so very honest about things.

When he writes to the Corinthians—I hope in 1 Corinthians 9, because that's where I'm going—about verse 19, he says, though I'm free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone. Notice the phrase, to win as many as possible. And when you're like… You're an area sales manager, right?

For Xerox Corporation? Don't you want a guy like this on your sales team? He gets up in the morning, and you say to him, What are you gonna do today? He says, I'm going to sell as many as possible. Good man.

Go for it. And what are you gonna do on Tuesday? I am going to sell as many as possible. I am consumed with the idea of putting copy machines in as many places as I possibly can.

Some of you are becoming wealthy on that very basis alone. Okay? Paul says, This is what drives me. I get up in the morning, he says, and I want to win as many as possible for Jesus Christ.

That's my goal, he said. When he goes into the city of Athens, it is therefore understandable in Acts 17 that when he looks around, it says he was absolutely stirred in his spirit, because when he saw all of the altars and all of the shrines and all of the interest in spiritual things, he was consumed within him, understandably, because he wanted to win as many as possible, and he saw all these people with religious zeal, and he said to himself, Oh, I wish I had the opportunity to tell every one of them about faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. And so he says to himself, Well, I might as well start where I am, and in the marketplace he begins. And to begin to call for him, I'd ask him, and he explains, Why does he do so?

Because of what's inside of him. So we need the stirring. I need the stirring in my heart that Paul knew.

It's the stirring of the Spirit of God. I need the compassion in my heart that Jesus knew. Matthew chapter 9 verse 36.

You'll know it when you get there, if you go there. And Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. And notice, when he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd. And then he turned to his disciples, and he said, You know, the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Well, you ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. In other words, do you want to get serious about missions? Do you want to get serious about missions? And not everyone's going to become a missionary with a large M, but everybody is a witness with a big W. It's just a question of where we want to invest our resources.

Forget the money for a moment and take the potential of life, capacity, ability, genius, endeavor, drive, initiative, skill, talents, and giftedness, and then answer this question. Are you fully convinced that if you continue as you are, where you are, that you are honestly sold out for Jesus Christ in the issue of continuous evangelism? If the answer is yes, then go to it with boldness. If the answer is, I'm not sure, then pray about it with consistency. And if the answer is no, then ask God to move you to where he wants you. When we studied in Genesis, I thought about this this week in relationship to this. You needn't turn to it, because our time is gone. But in Genesis 40, when Joseph is in the jail with the cupbearer and the baker, remember, he's been unjustly accused.

He never did anything in relationship to Potiphar's wife. He was a model of purity. And just when his life was on track, just when things were going pretty well, he had a super job and a nice location, all of a sudden he's dumped in the jail. He's got every reason in there to feel sorry for himself, to moan, to complain, to say, You know, I managed to keep my spirits up for so long, but I don't think I can do it any longer. And when they waken in the morning, we read this, When Joseph came to them, that's to these two fellows, he saw that they were dejected. He saw that they were dejected.

It's pretty good, isn't it? How did he see that they were dejected? Because he was looking. See, if he was only consumed about the fact that he was stuck in the jail, and he shouldn't have been in the jail, and he didn't do anything wrong, and so on, and he was having his own celebration with his own little party for his pity, then he would never have had the occasion to notice that they were dejected. But it doesn't simply say that he saw that they were dejected. He asked them, Why are your faces so sad today?

I'm gonna give you, and I'm gonna take, the same challenge I want to give you. If you will, in the next seven days, ask God if we will in the next seven days, ask God to open our eyes to people around us who are obviously dejected. And if we will be bold enough to ask them one simple question, Hey, why do you feel the way you feel today?

Or why do you look the way you look today? Not in every case, but in a staggering number of cases, you are going to find yourself with such a wide-open door of opportunity to tell others about the amazing good news of Jesus Christ. And God, who adds to his church those who are being saved, stirs his people, engages us, re-engages us, orientates us in another direction away from ourselves, in order that we might have the inestimable joy of seeing unbelieving people become committed followers of Jesus Christ. One of my Christmas books is The Starbucks Story. I've started a slowdown in my reading of it, because I'm enjoying it so much.

I'm on page 253, and I put it aside, because I didn't want it to finish. I've been intrigued by this guy, Howard Schultz. The growth is phenomenal, as you know. He had a vision when nobody understood what he was talking about. He said that people would refer to coffee as Starbucks before he was finished. He said that people would be walking in the streets of Chicago, all carrying his cups, and they would be identifiable by the symbol on the cup.

He tried to get people to invest four million dollars in his scatterbrained plan, and nobody hardly would believe him. And one adventuresome physician with an extra hundred thousand dollars gave it to him one evening in a moment of passion. And when Starbucks was an initial public offering on Wall Street, the physician's hundred grand returned him immediately ten million dollars.

And the amazing thing is this. I say to myself, how can somebody get this excited about coffee? But he's not that excited about coffee. When he went to the people, to the merchant bankers, with the idea of an IPO, he didn't just tell them about his dreams concerning coffee. He said this, But I told them, Starbucks was attempting to accomplish something more ambitious than just grow a profitable enterprise. We had a mission to educate consumers everywhere about fine coffee. We had a vision to create an atmosphere in our stores that drew people in and gave them a sense of wonder and romance in the midst of their harried lives. We had an idealistic dream that our company could be far more than the paradigm defined by corporate America in the past. We had a mission. We had a vision. We had a dream. We got a mission. We got a vision.

You ready to dream a little? You are listening to Truth for Life weekend and that is Alistair Begg with the conclusion of a message he's titled Continuous Evangelism. Keep listening. Alistair returns to close today's program in just a minute.

Well, today is the last day of our current series. I hope you have benefited from our study in the book of Acts. If you've missed any of these messages or would like to re-listen, all of Alistair's teaching can be heard or watched for free through our mobile app or on our website at truthforlife.org.

You can find the series by using the search feature at the top of the homepage. Just type in seven marks of an effective church. And while you're on our website, be sure to check out a booklet we are featuring called How to Memorize Scripture for Life. If you've never practiced scripture memorization, let me encourage you to make this a part of your spiritual routine. There are so many benefits that come as we impress God's word in our hearts and minds by regularly committing scripture to memory. This little book makes the process easy by giving you a day-to-day approach for memorizing some of the verses that mean the most to you. In the back of the book, it even lays out a daily plan to learn and memorize the entire book of Ephesians.

For more information about the booklet How to Memorize Scripture for Life, visit our website truthforlife.org. Now, here is Alistair with a closing prayer. Gracious God, I just pray that you will help me not to talk about things that I'm unprepared to do. That as we think along these lines, that you will remind us of the wonder of your saving love and at what great cost you saved us. And we pray, Lord, that we may not get lost in ourselves, that you will give to us always a healthy sense of dissatisfaction, that you will keep before us always the vision of a company that no man could number, from every tribe and race and nation under the sun, gathered around the throne and declaring Christ as Lord and Savior and King. We pray that you will send us out to our immediate environment and to the ever-widening circles of influence to see unbelieving people become committed followers of Jesus Christ. For we ask it in his name. Amen. I'm Bob Lapine.

Thanks for including us in your weekend. Have you ever felt like there's nothing exceptional about you? Maybe you're too unremarkable for God to use you? If you've ever thought this, join us next weekend as we'll begin a series that points to how God uses ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-04 04:08:17 / 2024-05-04 04:17:04 / 9

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