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Enter the Revolution
"but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you;
and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria,
and even to the remotest part of the earth."
At a recent speaking engagement, Pastor Jerry Falwell noted that believers
are in very critical point in history. He said we are called to proclaim
the gospel to a culture that rejects it and to a world that is in desperate
need of it.
Falwell encouraged his audience to live radical lives for the Gospel
of Christ and to prepare themselves toward that end. He added, "You've
got to decide who you are. Between now and the time the Lord calls you
home, be a dreamer. Be a revolutionary."(Fresh Illustrations
I think he is right. It is time for the church to enter the revolution
that Jesus began. We should be revolutionaries. To dream big dreams. To
accomplish great things for God's Kingdom. You've heard me say it before,
but I want to say it again. This is a year of unprecedented opportunity
for us. The congregation has responded beautifully to our call to rally
around the cause. Because of your generous giving, our Stewardship committee
is recommending we increase our budget objective by over $16,000.00-a third
of which is specifically designated for evangelism and missions. Now all
that is left for us to do is to use the resources, both human resources
and financial resources to spread the gospel here and abroad.
My message today is simple, let's get involved in the revolution that
began in the first century. This morning I want us to consider the evangelism
strategy of the First Century Church, first notice:
• The Completed Work of Jesus.
The great High Priest never sat down on the Day of Atonement until his
work was finished. Using the imagery of the Old Testament Priest, Hebrews
1:3 depicts the completed work of Christ "When He had made purification
of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high;" (NASB)
Jesus' work is not in process, it is finished!
His completed work made Salvation Possible
Acts 4:12 makes it crystal clear. "And there is salvation in no one
else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among
men, by which we must be saved."
His completed work also made evangelism a priority.
Let's look at the context for Acts 1:8: And so when they had come together,
they were asking Him, saying, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring
the kingdom to Israel?" 7 He said to them, "It is not for you to know times
or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; 8 but you shall
receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be
My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even
to the remotest part of the earth." (Acts 1:6-8 NASB)
The disciples asked a question about the end times and Jesus redirected
their attention to a task at hand. It is easy to become fascinated with
a future that no one can control and miss today's opportunity.
Please also notice:
• The Controlling Work of the Spirit
The Holy Spirit Precedes the Witness. If you are going where He directs,
you will never go there alone, nor will you get there first-He will be
If you showed up for visitation night, and I gave you an assignment
to witness to a Christian killer, how thrilled would you be? That's what
happened to Ananias. Listen to his response in Acts 9:13-16 But Ananias
answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he
did to Thy saints at Jerusalem; 14 and here he has authority from the chief
priests to bind all who call upon Thy name." 15 But the Lord said to him,
"Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the
Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; 16 for I will show him how much
he must suffer for My name's sake."
Ananias went and Saul of Tarsus became the Apostle Paul.
The Holy Spirit also Convicts of Sin
John 16:8 says: "And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning
sin, and righteousness, and judgment;" It is not our job to convict the
sinner, God can do that Himself. But it is our job to proclaim the good
The Holy Spirit also changes the Sinner. We cannot change anyone, but
the redemptive power of Christ can. In John 3:5-6, the evangelist quotes
Jesus as he witnesses to Nicodemus, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless
one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of
God. 6 "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born
of the Spirit is spirit. So far, we've seen the Completed work of Christ
and the Controlling work of the Spirit, now its time to focus on our duty:
• The Continuing Work of the Witness
After Saul's conversion, he was Filled with the Spirit-a direct fulfillment
of the prophecy in Acts 1:8. "And Ananias departed and entered the house,
and after laying his hands on him said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus,
who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so
that you may regain your sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit." (Acts
After the filling, Saul received personal training
Look at Acts 9:18-19 "And immediately there fell from his eyes something
like scales, and he regained his sight, and he arose and was baptized;
19 and he took food and was strengthened. Now for several days he was with
the disciples who were at Damascus," Saul stayed with the disciples. What
do you think happened while they were together? A daily lifestyle of evangelism
is more often "caught" than "taught."
Lastly, notice that Saul proclaimed the Gospel
"and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying,"
He is the Son of God." (Acts 9:20) Saul didn't wait until he was an expert,
nor did he rely upon others to do the evangelizing, he jumped right in
himself. He joined the revolution.
As did Karen Watson. When Karen felt God's call to go to Iraq, we responded
by resigning her job, selling her car, house, and other possessions. When
she left, everything she owned was contained in a duffle bag. Today, her
duffle bag has become a reminder of the work she did in telling people
in Iraq about Jesus Christ.
Watson's family shared her story with the President of the Southern
Baptist International Mission Board, Jerry Rankin at her funeral. Rankin
then took Watson's message of sacrifice to a Missions Conference in New
Orleans. He encouraged students, faculty, and staff at New Orleans Baptist
Theological Seminary to consider missions not out of obligation to fulfill
the Great Commission, but because they are compelled by the Love of Jesus.
Rankin said, "Media and culture, they just don't get it. Why would anyone
go to a place that their lives would be at risk?" He added, "We have all
succumbed to a culture and a philosophy where it is all about us, it's
all about our comfort, all about our security, all about our future in
this life. They never understand that there is something worth giving your
life to. There is a purpose that's worth dying for. But the world doesn't
understand that." Rankin says no one becomes obedient to the point of giving
their life through a sense of obligation because Jesus told them to go.
He says, "No, you are driven by a passion in your heart for a lost world."
In addition to her duffle bag, Watson left a letter with her pastor
that was to be opened only upon her death. When the letter was opened after
she and three other workers were murdered in Iraq, Watson made it clear
she had counted the cost of going. In handwritten capital letters she wrote,
"THERE ARE NO REGRETS." (Fresh Illustrations
2 Cor. 5:14 says, (NIV) "For Christ's love compels us, because we are
convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died."
Today I pray that the love of Christ will compel you to enter the revolution.
But I know you will only do it if you are driven by a passion in your heart
for a lost world.
This sermon was heavily influenced by the Lay Evangelism Schools and
lectures by Boyd Hunt at Southwestern Seminary.