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Enter the Revolution

Acts 1:8 

 

"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." 

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 http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)

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 there!

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 news.

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 9:17)

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 http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)

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.

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