Effective Soulwinning

 

ACTS 15:36-16:5

Do you know anyone who cannot sit still? They always have to be doing something. Even when sitting, their motor is running.  I think the Apostle Paul was like that…he always had to be preaching or witnessing or discipling or visiting. He could have settled down comfortably in the large church at Antioch, but he didn’t…not as long as there were more people who needed to be reached, he had what the world would call “itchy feet” but in reality what we all need, an undying burden for the souls of men. He didn’t view the church as a parking lot, but as a launching pad! This is the beginning of Paul’s 2nd Missionary journey…and we’ll see here some essentials of effective evangelism:

I. THE RIGHT PASSION

A. Today we would say “drive.” Some people are just driven…some have a passion for money…some for fame. Paul’s passion was reaching the lost.  1 Corinthians 9:16 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!

B. He’s saying, don’t pat me on the back because I witness and preach and proclaim…I have to do these things…it’s in my bones! He’s saying, for me, witnessing is not an option…reaching the lost is not a suggestion…for me, it’s a command! He was passionate about it.

C. Another word for it is enthusiasm, which comes from 2 greek words meaning “in God or possesed by God”! a person full of enthusiasm; specif., Archaic a religious fanatic or zealot an ardent supporter. We can’t go wrong with enthusiasm. It helps us do things and do them better.  Col. 3:23  And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord…You can’t have too much enthusiasm except:

D. ILLUS: In Nisswa, Minnesota, where they hold the popular Nisswa Turtle Races. Every Wednesday evening in the summer months, the people of Nisswa and the surrounding communities gather at a designated parking lot for the weekly races.  It’s big excitement and big business.  Vendors rent turtles; others sell "turtle products."  And the fans gather early, placing their chairs and blankets in the best viewing sites. In one recent contest, 435 turtles raced in heats of fifteen over a six-foot-long course.  Bif, the announcer, calls the turtles to their mark, gives them the "Go!" . . . and the crowd goes wild.  People stand, jump, and wave their hands in the air, imploring their turtles to be unturtle-like. The excitement grows and finally reaches a boiling point as the preliminary winners all gather for the championship race.  Amid unrestrained shouts and cheers, the first turtle crosses the finish line, and the winning "trainer" receives five dollars — along with a turtle necklace. What an uncharacteristic frenzy of emotion for the normally reserved folks of Northern Minnesota!  And some people get upset when Christians worship "too expressively" in church on Sunday morning or heaven forbid care about their souls.

E. But spiritually, we really cannot have too much passion…the opposite of spiritual passion is spiritual sleep. Romans 13:11  “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” That’s a spiritual sleep he’s referring to, and he was right…the church is sleeping in a noisy room full of lost people. A vast majority of our city doesn’t know Christ as Savior…but we walk right past them in stores, at work, on the street…and we’re “sleep-walking!” 6 & ¾ billion people are alive on this planet and most are spiritually dead. And there’s a small minority of us which are supposedly spiritually alive but we’re in some kind of a stuper…stumbling around spiritually at best! Once in a while we trip over some sinner accidentally, and we have one saved now and then…but it’s time to wake up…imagine what we could do with some passion! Alive! Alert! Awake! Enthusiastic! We come by it honestly. Here’s some of our predecessors from scripture:

1. Jonah—he was a good sleeper…he slept the sleep of unconcern. God told him to preach to the wicked Assyrians in Nineveh…but he went the opposite direction. He boarded a ship and went to sleep…a sleep of unconcern. It wasn’t just that he didn’t care if they went to hell…he WANTED God to punish those people! I could get riled up thinking about what Jonah did…but what about us? Aren’t we sleeping the sleep of unconcern? When we can talk to our neighbors about ANYTHING BUT the gospel, aren’t we sleeping the sleep of unconcern? Is there a hell or not? Do we care or not? If we saw their house on fire, we’d surely run get a hose or grab a phone, right?

a. ILLUS: soldiers heading into an almost hopeless battle on a great ship cornered their chaplain and asked him if he believed in a literal hell. He was a liberal who didn’t believe the Bible completely and he said “absolutely not…take courage and don’t worry. I do not believe that a loving God would send anyone to such a place as hell.” They then asked him to resign saying, “if there is no hell…we don’t need you…and if there is a hell…we do not wish to be led astray!”

b. Do we REALLY believe God? Do we believe the Bible is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Or do we approach it “cafeteria style”…picking and choosing what is tasteful to us? “You’re trying to scare people.” Yes, if they need scaring, then that’s exactly what I’m doing. Another Bible example of spiritual sleep:

2. Peter, James and John in the Garden of Gethsemane—they slept the sleep of the unprepared.

a. Jesus was in the most desperate spiritual struggle of his life. Facing Satan in the desert 3 years earlier was nothing compared to this! Jesus knows that just a few hours ahead of Him is the cross, where He would become sin for us! He was being tempted not to go thru with it…and He asked His 3 most trusted disciples to go with Him and pray. He said to His inner circle, I cannot explain how I feel or what lies ahead, tho’ you could never understand the anguish in my soul…just know I need you to come and pray with me now.

b. What an opportunity! The chance of a lifetime…to pray with the Son of God in His greatest hour of need! But guess what they did…they fell asleep! They acted as if they had no idea what was going on. They must not have sensed the fact that what was about to happen would change history forever…Heaven and Hell hang in the balance…eternity is at stake! And they fell asleep…the sleep of the unprepared.

c. For 3 years they had followed Jesus. It was all leading up to this moment, and now they had the chance to be involved, and they go to sleep! Once again, we can get really upset at these guys as we talk about it…but how about us? How many believers right now know in their hearts that this is them!? This is you! You have opportunities, but you don’t take them, because you feel unprepared. And so, you drop the ball! But eternity is at stake…major things are happening…but still, preachers get up in the pulpit spiritually unprepared. S.S. Teachers and youth leaders and children’s workers decide they can just “wing it”…and fake their way thru it. The sleep of the unprepared! Singers need to prepare, yes, but we’re all on stage in life, and Christians are asleep and unprepared! I believe God’s work is the most important work in the world, and we need to be prepared. The Boy Scout motto is 'Be Prepared' but are we the Soldiers of Christ prepared. I believe Christians today are much like those disciples…sleeping the sleep of the unprepared!

3. Samson—where did he fall asleep? In Delilah’s lap! He slept the sleep of the unaware. Once he revealed the source of his strength he lost his power, but he didn’t know he lost it. The Philistines came upon him during nap time, and he sprung up to flex and rip and tear and watch them run like always, but the Bible says “he wist not the Spirit of the Lord had departed from him.” He was sleeping the sleep of the unaware. He was overconfident and too comfortable! God help the pastor and the church that starts feeling like the well oiled machine… “we don’t even need to pray—the way God is blessing”. We don’t need to visit and invite people—they way they are pouring in the door!” “We have lots of money in the bank, we don’t have to depend on God!” Nobody would say these things audibly, but so often we act that way!

a. ILLUS—before the Titanic struck the iceberg she received 5 telegraph warnings about icebergs, and all were ignored. The crew and even the captain must have grown too confident in all the press and hooplah surrounding this new ship. Before she launched, people were saying, “even God couldn’t sink this ship!” 35 minutes after the final warning they were sinking, and history records that crew as “criminally complacent.”

b. The 1st essential to effective evangelism is passion, and we need to wake up!

II. THE RIGHT PRIORITY

A. The Apostle Paul had the right priority. He knew that the main thing is keeping the main thing the main thing…we get off track in churches way too easily! The main thing is winning souls…keeping people out of hell! Everything else is subservient to that one goal. Paul never forgot that Christ was born to die, to rise again, to save that which was lost…He came not to be ministered unto but to minister and to give His life for His priority!

B. Modern-Day Parable: Once upon a time a community of people who lived along a stretch of dangerous sea-coast where shipwrecks often occurred organized a rescue operation. They decided to do something about all the drowning people near their city. And so a small life-saving station was built, and the devoted members of the rescue team kept an ongoing watch over the sea…ready to man their little boats to search for survivors in case of shipwreck. As a result, the town became famous for the many lives that were saved. More and more people joined the team, and soon a new building was needed. It was much larger than the 1st building, and was beautifully furnished and decorated. But as more and more amenities were added for the members pleasure and comfort, the building was slowly transformed into a kind of clubhouse. Some of the members then began to lose interest in the rescue operation. But then a shipwreck occurred, and many survivors were rescued and brought to the clubhouse for first aid. During this several day period, the frenzied activity caused the elegant clubhouse to be significantly marred, by such things as blood stains and the smell of the sea. At the next meeting there was a split in the membership. Most members felt that the life-saving operation was a hindrance to their social life. And those who disagreed were told they could go to another operation further down the coast. As years went by, history continued to repeat itself, and today, that seacoast is lined with a number of exclusive clubhouses lining the shore, but no one in the area seems too concerned with the rescue operation.

C. You know, there’s a church on almost every corner of this city, but it’s so easy to lose our priorities, and even we are not immune. Spurgeon once said, “If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap into hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.”

III. THE RIGHT PRESENTATION

A. Acts 16:4-5 You have to have passion, you have to have priority, but ultimately, you have to have the right message. We’re put to shame by some cults with much more passion and priority than we have…what a shame the message, the presentation, they are communicating!

B. The right message is that salvation is by grace alone, thru faith alone, in Christ alone, plus nothing, minus nothing. [15:11] That’s the right message, and when you couple that with love, souls WILL be saved.

1. Psalm 126:5-6  They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. [6] He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

2. ILLUS—Late in Fanny Crosby’s life she visited the Macaulay Rescue Mission in NYC. She stood before a crowd of homeless, drug-addicted, alcoholic men. She said, “is there a young man here who doesn’t have a mother?” One young man timidly raised his hand. He explained she died when he was very young. She asked him to come to the front. She gave him a big hug and kissed him on the cheek. It touched her own heart so much that she went home that night and wrote these words, “rescue the perishing, care for the dying, snatch them in pity from sin and the grave, weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen, tell them of Jesus the Mighty to save.” Years later Ira Sankey was singing for D.L. Moody in St. Louis. He rose to sing that song, but before he sang he told that story. As he told the story a middle-aged man jumped up and shouted, “it was me! I’m the young man she wrote about. She kissed me. I could never get away from that moment.” He explained that as a result he became a Christian and straightened out his life.

CONCLUSION:  When we take the right message and couple it with love, people will be saved. We have to have the right passion…it’s time to wake up. We have to have the right priority…it’s time to put first things first. We have to have the right presentation, the right message. Let’s sing it together, “Rescue the perishing, care for the dying…” A-B-C-D-E:   an alphabet of vision

A. Attitude.  When you have vision it affects your attitude.  Your attitude is optimistic rather than pessimistic.

B. Belief.  This is nothing more than having a strong belief in the power of God; having confidence in others around you who are in similar battles with you; and, yes, having confidence in yourself, by the grace of God.

C. Capacity.   What I have in mind here is a willingness to be stretched.

D. Determination. Determination is hanging tough when the going gets rough.

E. Enthusiasm.  Great word. Its Greek origin is "God in."  It is the ability to see God in a situation, which makes the event exciting.