INTRO: Last week I began a series of thoughts on what I call friendship evangelism (or, as I suggested, relationship evangelism. We talked about some essentials such as a knowledge of the word, the example of the faithful Christian life and a desire to share the good news with others. I mentioned that a recent survey of 14000 members of the church indicated that over 75% of them indicated that their coming to the Lord was the result of relationships with friends or relatives!. That survey is a compelling reason for my own belief that friendship evangelism is the most effective outreach for most Christian people. Certainly, there are excellent examples of this sort of evangelism in the lives of Andrew and Philip. May I continue this line of thought this morning?
I. INDICATIVE QUESTIONS?
A. Who are the people in you have the greatest interest?
B. Who are the people you are most likely to influence?
C. What people are most likely to trust you?
1. once again, I suggest it will be family and friends
2. it depends, though, on whether or not you have exemplified the disposition of Christ in your own life - you must have behaved in ways which inspire trust and confidence
3. 2 Cor 3:3 - what are people learning about Christ from your life?
4. because people close to us see and know that we are very serious about our faith in Christ and the life in Christ which we live, they are very likely going to trust you for information relating to spiritual issues
D. What people are most likely to continue in their growth of faith?
1. is it not people who have obeyed the gospel and have formed strong relationships within a local congregation?
2. the church is a one another body in which interdependence is crucial to living faithfully
3. 1 Thes 4:9 - ...taught of God to love one another
4. Heb 10:24,25 - encouraging to love, to good works, to faithfulness
II. PERHAPS, TOO, A FEW WORDS ABOUT FRIENDSHIP ARE IN ORDER
A. Prov 27:10 - A friend is faithful to his friends
B. 2 Pet 1:7 - A friend is certainly kind and thoughtful
C. 2 Tim 1:6,7 - A friend is encouraging
D. Prov 10:12 - A friend is forgiving
E. Prov 27:9 - A friend seeks what is best for his friends
F. Prov 11:13 - A friend is careful about keeping confidences
G. Prov 17:17 - A friend is constant in his love
III. SO, HOW DOES ONE BEGIN?
A. We may have very natural hesitation
1. we typically fear rejection
2. and we may have the built in fear which comes from the belief that friends dont talk about religion or politics
3. remember, though, this is a person you love and for whom you want the very best!
B. You might simply ask, Would you like to study the Bible with me?
1. the question more often than not receives an affirmative answer
2. many people, these days, are interested in knowing more about the Bible - recognize the need (but have never gotten around to it)
3. or, what about asking a friend to read the Bible through in a year - and meet for discussions of what you have read?
C. You might invite friends to a small group Bible study in your home
1. such studies have many advantages
2. but, again, people are interested in Bible study - and we should offer
D. You might watch for special opportunities in conversations to turn thoughts to a discussion of the Bible
1. so many world events can take a Bible turn
2. and the question, Lets get together to study more about this
E. Remember, a concerned friend should have no difficulty finding an approach to one about whom he is concerned!
V. WHAT METHOD DOES ONE USE IN SUCH A STUDY?
A. Your method depends on you - a method comfortable for you
B. Many of us prefer an open Bible study which uses a time line
C. Some prefer a disciplined study such as the one brother Rogers uses
D. Some prefer to use a video home Bible study series
E. Even a correspondence course as an outline is a good method
F. Point: get to the study
1. if you need help, there are people willing to help
2. be organized and stick to scripture
CLOSE: I believe that every one of us can be a personal evangelist in one respect or another: as an introducer or as a teacher. Nothing is more important to our friends than our concern for their eternal destination!
Cecil A. Hutson
24 February 2002
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)