Why Witness?

Why Witness?

Scripture: 1 Timothy 2:3-4
Date: 07/04/2020  Lesson: 1
'Why witness? When we understand who He is and have experienced the marvels of His grace and the power of His love, we cannot be silent.'

The Ultimate Deliverance - Paper or Digital PDF

The Ultimate Deliverance - Paper or Digital PDF
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Doug Batchelor: Hello, friends, welcome to our "Sabbath School Study Hour." We're so thankful that you are tuning in and joining us through one of the various different media outlets. We're on AFTV, we're streaming on the internet, Facebook, YouTube, Granite Bay website, and we're trying to get these messages out as far and wide as possible. Want to welcome all of you who are part of our regular Sabbath School study class around the world.

As Mrs. Batchelor and I travel, we meet so many people in all the different continents that say, "We study the Sabbath School lesson with you." And it's a delight to be with you today. And some of you who are a part of our online Granite Bay membership, there's people scattered around the world who are part of God's church that have no local congregation that they can attend for some reason, and so we've adopted them, they're part of our digital church family. If you're in that category and you want to know, "How can I become part of the Granite Bay online membership?" you can simple go to the website, and that is granitebaysda.org, and you'll find out more about that.

Now, today's exciting because we are beginning a new quarter study, talking about making friends for God. And this is a very, very important study dealing with the subject of witnessing. This is one of the three principle disciplines in the Christian life.

Maybe I'll pause and say something about that before I get deeper into the lesson. You know, there's three secret weapons to growing spiritually. You need to pray, prayer's like breath. You need to eat, that's the Word of God. And you need to let your light shine, you need to exercise your faith, witness for the Lord. In the holy place of the sanctuary, before you get to the Holy of Holies, where you've got the Ten Commandments and the presence of God, you go through the holy place. Three pieces of furniture in there, and those represent the three principle disciplines of Christian success. You've got the table of shewbread, that's your Bible. You've got the altar of incense, that's prayer. And then you've got the light, that's letting your light shine, that's the witnessing. And so, that's this whole quarter, we're going to be dealing with this.

And I should mention right now that if you do not have one of these, you can often go to the website, you can download the daily lesson. You just type in the word "Sabbath School." There are two or three websites that are kind enough to post this lesson, might post the whole quarterly. I know some do, may just post the lesson. If you're near a Seventh Day Adventist Church, they'd love to have you come and visit. Say, "I'd like to study the lesson with you," and they'll give you a quarterly. And those of you who are members of the Granite Bay Church family, of course we'll have them here at our meetings or wherever we're gathering in our pilgrim wandering in the next few weeks until they completely lift these restrictions connected with the COVID-19.

Now today, we're in lesson number one that is in our new quarterly, "Making Friends For God." And it's asking the question, why witness? And before we get to that, I want to remind you we have a free offer. And the offer is called "The Ultimate Deliverance," talking about the Lord's coming. And if you would like a free copy of this, simply text SH090 to 40544. You can download this right there. And if you want to get a copy, if you're in North America, we'll be happy to send you one. Simply call 866-788-3966. That's 866-STUDY-MORE. One more time, 866-788-3966 for North America and its territories, and we will mail you one of these.

So, before we dive into lesson number one, let's begin with a Word of prayer. Father in heaven, we're very thankful for the truth, and we're thankful for this study now that we're going to be talking about one of the priorities of the Christian experience. And after we come to You, going for You, sharing You with others. And I just pray that Your spirit will take charge of this presentation, that hearts will be stirred, and moved, and inspired, that we might all be better witnesses for You. We pray this in Jesus's name, amen.

All right, there's a memory verse in our lesson, and it comes to us from 1 Timothy chapter 2, verse 3 and 4. And this is the New King James version. "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth."

So, what we're talking about both in the lesson today and in this entire quarter of studies, by the way written by my friend Mark Finley, pastor evangelist Mark Finley, is talking about the priorities of the Bible. If you go to the beginning of the gospel, it says that the angel told Mary, "You will call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." This is why God sent His Son into the world, to save us. He so loved the world that He sent his Son, that we might not perish. And this is the priority of God, he wants to save people.

There's nothing that God is more interested in in this world than redeeming people because if--it's a matter of life and death. If they're not saved, they're eternally lost. But unfortunately, Christians are losing their passion for reaching people, even though this was such a priority with Jesus. Last thing Christ says is, "Go ye, therefore, teach, baptize." Teach what? About the gospel. You go to Acts chapter 1, "I'll send you My Spirit." Why? "That you might be My witnesses." And so, we're asking this question, "Why witness?"

Well, I saw some interesting statistics from a couple of Barna studies. You know, George Barna had that famous Christian Research Institute. I had the privilege of eating with him one day, just a delightful man. And they've done some excellent studies on trends in Christianity in North America and even other parts of the world. Barna study in 1993, it discovered a growing number of Christians feel no personal responsibility for sharing the good news. In 1993, 10% of Christians agreed that converting people to Christianity is the job of the local church. They said, "Well, it's not my job, it's the job of the local church." That's 10% thought that. But by the time you get to-- and that's opposed to individual witnessing. By the time you get to the present day, now 25%--oh sorry, 29%, a threefold increase of Christians think, "Witnessing is really the job of the church, it's not my job." And this is part of bad theology because evidently people don't realize they are the church. The buildings don't do any witnessing, it's the people in the buildings.

So, what has happened? What cultural trend or what bad teaching or theology has led such a large number of Christians to miss that one of the primary purposes that we are Christians is to share our faith? We are saved to bring glory to God. And one of the ways we do this is by witnessing and by sharing our faith. But wait, there's more. It says that in 1993, nine out of ten Christians who had shared their faith agreed--well, let me say that again. Yet the most dramatic divergence over time is on this statement, and here's the statement, "Every Christian has a responsibility to share their faith." In 1993, nine out of 10 Christians believed that every Christian had some responsibility. Today--and that was 89% back then. Today, only 64% believe every Christian has a responsibility to share their faith. Wow, 25% drop. And it's especially severe among the young, the millennials. And it says almost half of the millennials, 47% agree that it is actually wrong to share your personal belief with someone of a different faith, hoping that they will one day share your faith. That somehow it's immoral for you to try to convert somebody to your beliefs.

What has happened to the Christian mission? Well, we're going to be talking about that a little bit in our lesson today and in the quarter ahead. This is--like I said, this is part and parcel of what it means to be a Christian is you come to Lord and then you go for the Lord. And every Christian every day should be praying about and looking for opportunities to share their faith with somebody. Just yesterday, I was visiting with a gentleman, had an opportunity to give him a DVD. Actually gave him the little statue of our kingdom's prophecy or DVD documentary. I gave him some lessons, gave him a testimony book, shared a little bit of my personal testimony. And every day, we have opportunities in varying degrees. You know, you can't grab everybody by the collar and hold them down and preach to them, but we have opportunities every day to share our faith in some way even if it's, you know, in a casual way.

You don't--we don't do all of the farming. Every individual doesn't plant the seed, and cultivate the seed, and water the seed, and harvest the seed all by ourselves. But have some part in people's conversion, have some part in that farming process of reaching the lost every day. And you'll find that if you pray--because this is the thing that is the most important to Jesus. If you pray and say, "Lord, I'm willing to be used of You today to tell others about You," stand back and watch what happens. God is going to work miracles for you, He's going to bring people into your path, He's going to arrange things providentially. The Holy Spirit will then nudge you, usually through God's angels, and say, "This is that opportunity you prayed about. This is that person." And you're going to go, "Wow, I'm working in partnership with God." And so, you'll see battles going on. You'll see events and providence being arranged behind the scenes because God is wanting you to share your faith. There's nothing the Lord wants more than for us to share our faith.

I remember praying one time, and some of you know my story that I was living up in the mountains in a cave, accepted Jesus through reading the Bible. Was not a Seventh Day Adventist Christian yet, I hadn't even heard of Seventh Day Adventist. But I felt impressed. You know, after you come to the Lord, you're happy, and you want to tell other people about your faith. And I felt impressed, I said, "Lord, I feel like You want me to tell other people, but I don't know how that's going to happen because I live up here in a cave right now, and I almost never see anybody." And after I prayed that prayer and said, "Lord, you know, I think You want me to share my faith, but You're going to have to show me if that's what You want me to do."

I went to town and I called my mother. I used to call her once a week or so just to check in, tell her I was okay. And she said, "Doug, you'll never believe what happened. I was having lunch with somebody in NBC News and telling him that, yeah, my son lives in a cave above Palm Springs, and his father's a millionaire." And he thought, "Well, that would be a great human interest story." And the short version is that within a week or so of praying that prayer, a helicopter flew to my cave, made two trips with a film crew. You can't get up there any other way. And they videotaped me sharing my testimony, and I was on national television three times sharing my faith.

So, talk about God giving opportunities. You go from being a hermit and thinking you're not going to see anybody, to having God send a film crew to your cave. So, if you're willing to be used of the Lord, you watch what He does. He will work miracles for you.

Some of you know the story of William Miller. He just was learning so many things, he said, "Lord, if You want me to share this, I don't want to, but if You want me to, You show me." And then he got a knock on the door out of nowhere. He was a farmer. Someone says, "You know, they've asked if you would come preach about the things you're studying." God will open doors. God is a hundred times more eager for you to share your faith than most people are to share their faith. And if you say, "Lord, I'm willing to be used," you stand back, He's going to open opportunities, you'll see that.

You know, in the beginning of the lesson, there's a good quote, "Mission, Christian witnessing, is primarily the work of God. He is employing all of the resources of heaven to save our planet. Our work is to cooperate joyfully with Him in His work." So, you don't have to act or worry like the whole business of witnessing is on your shoulders. God is just asking you, are you willing to work alongside Him, to participate in His work of saving people? Romans chapter 5, verse 8, "But God demonstrates His own love towards us in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us." It's through the love of God that we do this. He's demonstrated His love and He wants us to-- it's why we're sinners too. You don't have to wait until you feel like you're perfect, you don't have to wait until you feel like other people are ready. God is taking the message from sinners to sinners.

Now, this is an important point I don't want to rush past. A lot of people never witness because they feel like they're not qualified. I had an old friend that he told me, he was an old mountain man, and he said, "The number one step to teaching a donkey something, you need to know something the donkey doesn't know. That then qualifies you to teach him." And I remember the first few Bible studies that I gave to other people after accepting Jesus, I was up in my cave and I was a flower child back then, and I didn't even have any clothes on. But the people I was studying with didn't have any clothes on either. We were just kind of natural hippies up then, but I was so excited about the gospel, here I am up there. I obviously have not studied dress reform, but I was sharing what I had learned.

Now you think, "Pastor Doug, that's taking it a little far." You know, Jesus sent out the apostles witnessing before they were fully converted. He sent out Peter, James, John, and the others teaching, preaching, casting out devils. And the Bible says that then Jesus turns to Peter and He says, "Peter, when you are converted, strengthen the brethren." "What do you mean when I'm converted? Lord, I've been following You three years. I've been out teaching, preaching, casting out devils, healing, doing miracles." Jesus said, "You're not fully converted yet." And of course, he was preparing to deny the Lord. And even Paul years later had to kind of rebuke Peter on some inconsistencies in his life. And so, God uses us where we're at.

Don't wait until you feel like you're perfect. Now, your witness is going to be a lot better when you're fully consecrated, but don't wait until you feel like you know everything before you share what you do know. And if someone asks you something you don't know, say, "Well, I'll go study that. That's a good question." And you'll be blessed in the process.

All right, so why witness? We've all got a responsibility. First section here under Monday, providing opportunities for salvation. Actually, God is using us to bring these opportunities of salvation to others. Luke 19, verse 10, and we're going to read this verse a lot in this quarter I'm quite sure, "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which is lost." From the beginning of the Bible to the end, this is the message of God. The whole purpose is that man has been separated from God. Adam ran from God in the garden. God came, He said, "Where are you?" Adam ran. And you know, the first question that's asked in the New Testament is the wise men looking for Jesus. They're saying, "Where is He?" And so, you've got God saying, "Where are you?" And you've got man saying, "Where is He?" And man, through sin, has been separated from God.

The purpose of the plan of salvation is to show people who are lost how to get back to the garden and how to get back to their creator. And so, Jesus came to seek and to save that which is lost. You know, I remember a lot of people, when they're converted, they say, "I found the Lord." And someone reminded me, they said, "No, Doug, you didn't really find the Lord, He found you. He was not lost, you were." And so, Jesus came to seek those who are lost. James chapter 5, verse 19: "Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins."

Well, it's good to cover a multitude of sins, but He says you'll save a soul of death. You know, if you ever had any doubts, friends, the Bible is really clear, you've heard people say, "Urgent, matter of life and death." Sometimes, people will send me an email and they flag it urgent. So, I go to that email because it says urgent, you've got a flag by it. And I read the email and I thought, "Well, that's not that urgent." But sometimes, the 911 operators get a call, and they say, "What is your emergency?" And they say, "I can't figure out how to program my microwave." And they say, "That is not an emergency."

So, there's a lot of things in life that we fret over that really are not important, but when it comes to salvation, you are really dealing with a matter of life and death. And I think sometimes we forget that through neglect of sharing our faith, some people are going to miss out on eternity. And it's not that God can't save the lost without humans. He could use angels, God can speak to people directly if He wants to, like He did to the Apostle Paul. But we have been given the privilege and the responsibility to share the gospel with other people. And you know, if we only knew how horrific it's going to be when the lost discover that probation is closed, or they rise in the wrong resurrection and they hear the words, "The harvest has passed, the summer has ended, and we are not saved." And it's forever too late for them to be saved. And we see that there are people that are out there, and we think, "You know, if I had cared a little more, I could've reached some of those people and they'd be here."

I think that it's going to be a very sobering time for Christians to see that we have the stains of blood on our garment from people that we could've warned, we just were too lazy or indifferent to care about. Now, don't get me wrong, all of us are in that category. And we're thanking God for His mercy that sometimes we haven't been caring, we haven't been good witnesses, we've neglected. But let's not leave it there, let's realize what's at stake. We're talking the life and death issues here. So, really and the lesson is talking about now making friends for God. And one of the most important things you can do is witnessing to people and making friends with them.

You know, I remember when I was little that kids just kind of have a habit if you see another kid at a park and you don't know them, we just boldly walk up to them and say, "You want to be friends?" I didn't even know their name yet. "You want to be friends?" They look like they're about my--" Well, how old are you?" "Well, I'm five, how old are you?" "I'm five. Wow, look, we got so much in common." It didn't take much. And you've seen it before, just little kids, they just run up. I've seen kids, my kids did it. We got one kid that's really huggy. And when he was little, he'd see total strangers in China, we're in Tiananmen Square, little Nathan, he's running up, he's hugging these Chinese kids, and they're going, "Who is this kid?" And they're uninhibited. They just want to make friends. They want to play with someone.

Friends are so important in life. Somebody said one time that friends divide your sorrows and multiply your joy. And so, you know, God designed us to be social creatures. It is not good that man should be alone. And it's really important that we show people that we care. And then--and you share with them. So, we want to make friends, we want to be witnesses for him. Jesus, when he began his ministry, he was filled with the Holy Spirit. You know, Christ said, "Pray for the filling of the Spirit." And as soon as Jesus was filled with the Spirit, then He began witnessing. The apostles did the same thing after Pentecost. He said, "Wait for the Holy Spirit." They were filled with the Holy Spirit and they began witnessing.

When you're baptized, Peter said, "Repent and be baptized, and God will give you the promise of the Holy Spirit." Why does He give it? So you can live the life and you can be a witness. Jesus is not in the world today. When Jesus was in the world, He went around, He went teaching, healing, preaching. Now, we are the body of Christ. You and I are His feet, we are His hands, we are His eyes. It is through us that He now goes through the world and ministered to the needs of the world. He does the healing, He does the miracles, but He did all of that in the context of preaching and teaching about salvation, seeking and saving the lost.

Under the next section here, it talks about making Jesus glad. One of the greatest motivations I think for us to witness and make friends for the Lord is this is what brings joy to God is when we are telling other people about Christ, it just thrills the heart of God. Nothing made Jesus happier than to see other people come to Him.

The Bible tells us that when someone is saved, the angels rejoice. And we've got several verses that talk about this. Luke chapter 15, matter of fact, you've got three examples here in Luke 15 we're going to look at where it talks about this principle, this priority. Luke 15, verse 6, "And when he had come home." Now, this is the parable of the shepherd. He has 99 sheep, he's lost one of his sheep. And when he searches over hill and dale, he finally finds that sheep. Doesn't tell us that sheep was a prize sheep worth more than the other sheep, it was just a sheep, but he loved them all. And he went over hill and dale, he finds that sheep, and he is so excited. He comes back into town, he tell all his friends, he says, "Rejoice with me, for I've found my missing sheep which was lost." And his friends that share in his joy and sorrows, they rejoice with him. And then God goes on to add, Jesus says in this parable, "I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 just persons that need no repentance."

Now, Jesus said, "It's not the sick that need a physician." I'm sorry, "It's not the well that need the physician, it's the sick." And most parents, when they wake their kids up for school in the morning or they see them first in the morning, they say, "Hi, did you sleep good? Good to see you. Glad everything's well." But if that kid had been struggling with a terminal disease for six months, and they were just in pain, and they were in a potentially terminal condition, and then through all of the right treatments and the doctor gives them the medication, finally the doctor says after the final checkup, "You know, the cancer is gone. They're completely healed. They've got great health." When that parent wakes up the child in the morning and says, "How do you feel?" and they say, "I feel great," it means so much more to them because they were at death's door and now they're well.

And so, this is what Jesus is saying. When the human race is fallen, we are perishing, we're under a death sentence. And the Lord is not willing that any should perish. There's nothing that can separate us from the love of God. He longs to see us saved. Think about this, the Lord longs to see us saved infinitely more than any earthly parent wants to see their child saved from a terminal disease. So, how happy does it make the Lord when someone turns from darkness to light and they're saved? And you and I get to bring joy to heaven in sharing our faith. And it's not just God, it's Jesus, it's God the Father, it's the angels, it's the unfallen worlds. They're all beholding this theater to the universe, what's happening down here.

It's like the story of Job. You got this meeting in heaven, where the sons of God are meeting before the Lord. And Satan comes, and God says in the presence of all these heavenly beings, angels, and unfallen leaders of worlds, "Have you considered My servant Job, that there's none like him in the world? A man who hates evil and he loves what's good." And here God is in heaven bragging about Job. He's intensely interested in what's happening on earth, and the righteousness and the godliness and the salvation of one man. All of heaven seems to know about Job.

It's like Jesus said, "If you confess Me on earth before this wicked and adulterous generation, I will confess your name before My Father and His angels in heaven." Heaven is interested in what is happening here on earth. Angels are watching what we do. And they rejoice when even the little things we do to try to plant seeds of salvation in someone's life, or to speak a Word for Christ, or offer to pray with someone that's discouraged. And it doesn't mean that you've got to be responsible, like I said, for the whole shooting match, but doing something every day to try to bring people closer to salvation. Heaven rejoices in that because that's the mission of God, and He wants us to do that.

Now there's--you got the next parable. By the way, Jesus shares that first parable and He talks about a shepherd's love for His sheep. And I can't help but wonder if Jesus is not thinking back about those stories of David. Now, Jesse had probably a lot of sheep. He didn't have one lamb, he had a lot of sheep. But when a bear came and took one sheep, David loved that one sheep so much that he put his life on the line to save that one sheep, and he killed the bear. And then a lion comes and he takes a sheep, and David goes out to save that one bleating sheep, and puts his life on the line to save that sheep.

Now, I've got a confession to make. Years ago up in the hills in Covelo, where we lived, we had milk goats. And I remember having two goats and a baby kid. And one day, for some reason, one of the goats disappeared. We don't know, we thought--'cause we let them free range, but they always stayed around to get milked, and I didn't know what happened. It's up in this wild country, and I thought that this goat just wandered off. And then I woke up one morning, I heard this terrible bang and the whole house shook. And then it's still dark out, it's like five in the morning. And then we heard our goat Libby crying, "Baa, baa." It was a terrible distress call, and it was getting more distant. And I looked out the window, and in the dark I could see there was some shadow dragging Libby up the hill. Now, Libby was like, you know, a 70-pound goat, 80-pound goat. And my gun was out in the truck.

And I'll admit I did not want to go out in the dark. I knew there was either a mountain lion or a bear out there, and I was afraid. This is when I first moved the hills, I was a teenager who rode subways in New York City. The idea that there was a bear out there that was trying to eat my goat, I wasn't ready to put my life on the line for my goat. And I'm ashamed to tell you that today. Today, I would've gone outside, I know a little more about bears and mountain lions. But back then, I was still just a 19 year old out of New York, scared to death. And I feel some--I feel some comfort in knowing that a good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.

It never says they do it for the goats because, you know, the sheep are saved, the goats are lost anyway. But David, when I read that story in the Bible, it's very real to me because I think I was--I didn't even have--David didn't even have a gun. And he went and he put his life on the line to get into almost hand to hand combat with a bear to save a sheep. So, when Jesus says this shepherd goes in search of this sheep and he's going out at night, he's got 99 left. Why doesn't he just say, "I'm happy with 99"? But he goes and he finds that one missing sheep, and he rejoices over that.

You know, God could say, "You know, I've got billions of unfallen worlds. Isn't that enough?" But this world is special. Man is made in the image of God, we are His children. Adam is called the son of God, that means we're all grandchildren of God. And God, His love is perfect. He loves us more than earthly parents or grandparents love their children. So, when you cooperate with God to save the lost, it brings joy to God. There's nothing that God is more intensely interested in. Proof, He sent Jesus, gave His Son to save His other children. And so, this is very important.

All right, I'm going to carry on. The other parable, and we're still in Matthew 15--I'm sorry, Luke 15, verse 8. "What woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And then she calls her friends and her neighbors together." I don't know if I'd ever go to some lady's party because she found a missing coin, but evidently maybe this was part of her dowry. They used to give coins out, and it had some special meaning. She says, "Rejoice with me. I found my piece that I had lost. Likewise, I say to you there is joy in the presence of the angels over one sinner who repents."

You know, when you do an evangelistic, first he says joy in heaven, now he says joy in the presence of the angels. Angels, they love what God loves, and God loves to see people saved. They are rejoicing. Angels have feelings, you know? And they're rejoicing over one sinner who repents. Luke 15, verse 22. You know the story of the prodigal and that father, wandered from home. Now, it starts to get a little home--a little closer to home. You got the shepherd with his sheep.

You know, I mean, I love animals. Karen and I, we've got three dogs up in the hills, and we like our dogs. We got to be careful when we go up there, we can't pet them a lot certain times a year because they run through the poison oak, and we get poison oak when we pet them. Karen puts on rubber gloves because she wants to pet them so much, she'll even put on gloves so she can pet them. And you know, Americans spend more money on their pets than some countries spend on their people. People love their pets. And it's amazing the care and the pampering that people go through for their pets. I just saw a relative that spent $10,000 on medical treatment for a dog. Now, we love our dogs, and I'll probably get letters from you, but I don't think I'd spend that much on a dog. To me, it just doesn't seem right. I think you got to keep things in perspective. I know I'm going to get letters now. I'll be getting letters from those of you who ask for the book, "Will My Pets Be in Heaven?" This man's rejoicing over his sheep.

You see how much people love their dogs, there are people that love their pets more than they love lost souls. But the priority for Jesus is people. You know, nowhere in the Bible does it say Jesus died to save our parakeets. It doesn't say that He died to save our cats, especially cats. No, I like cats too. But people love their pets so much, and they think that there's some people that are more interested in, "Will my pet be saved?" than, "Will my relatives be saved?" This man, his friends rejoiced over his found sheep. These neighbors rejoiced over the found coin, inanimate coin, and they're rejoicing.

Finally, now Jesus brings it home and He says, "What about people?" A man had two sons. And one son said, "Father, I don't want you, but I want all of your resources." And he went into a far country, took his father's inheritance, and he squandered it living recklessly. He just frittered it away, finally ends up in the pig pen, longing for the food the pigs eat. And then he remembers his father's love and his father's abundance. He said, "Even the servants in my father's house eat better than I eat, I'm eating pigs' food." And he goes home to his father.

Of course, you know the story. Father runs out to meet him, he embraces him, covers him with his best robe, adopts him back into the family. Brother comes out and he says, "What's this? You're having a party for this son of yours that went out and he squandered your inheritance and he, you know, lived a reckless, evil life, and here you're having a big celebration because he's come home. He ought to come home with his tail between his legs, and he should be whipped for what he's done." Father says, "No, my son was dead and now he's alive. He was lost and now he's found. It is right that we should rejoice and make merry."

And so, here Jesus is illustrating that heaven celebrates when the lost are saved. And this should be the central purpose of the church. The church is a lifeboat that is launched out into the waters where people are drowning. And one by one, we are pulling them into the boat and we're saving them from certain death.

And it reminds me of the story of the Titanic, which I studied at length, read a lot of history about it. And when that ship went down, several of the lifeboats, the early lifeboats that were launched from the Titanic, nobody wanted to get into the lifeboats, but they had to launch them. And so, some of them were launched less than half full, even though there were not enough lifeboats for the people that were on the boat. I think 1,500 perished because they didn't have enough lifeboats.

And after the boat sank, the lifeboats, it was not even windy, it was very calm, they could hear the people off in the distance shouting for help, calling for salvation. They're freezing in the water, saying, "Help me, help me, save us." Parents were looking for their children, and husbands are calling for their wives. It was just a--it was a horrendous sound. The ship went down, all these people sprang to the surface, especially those wearing life jackets. And many of the lifeboats did not go and venture over to try to save those who were perishing because they were afraid. They were afraid that, well, maybe too many of them will swim on our boat and they'll swamp the boat. It'll be overcrowded and we will all drown as a result. Only a handful of the lifeboats went back and picked up a couple of people.

It's such a tragedy that they would stand by and watch them all drown. But you know what? This is what a lot of churches doing. That's right. There's a lot of churches that sort of exist for our own comfort. And we're not aggressively working to make friends for God and to reach out and save the lost. The purpose for the church, we are supposed to be a lifeboat. We're supposed to be launching out and taking risks to reach the lost, that's our mission. It's not about our entertainment or our comfort, but--and we'll find our greatest joy in doing that. And that's what'll make a church grow is to have the priority of evangelism.

And something else I've noticed, a lot of churches are all--they say, "We're not ready for evangelism because we're too embroiled with internal problems. Our members aren't converted enough for evangelism." I've actually had pastors tell me that. "Yeah, I can't do evangelism here because our people, just they're not spiritual enough or whatever." One of the ways to get your church converted and spiritual is get them involved in what they're supposed to be doing. Get them involved in soul winning, and that brings about a big change. This is what makes Jesus glad.

In Matthew chapter 25, you know that story where it says that in the judgment, He separates the sheep from the goats? I alluded to that a moment ago. And He tells the sheep, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of the Lord. I was hungry, you fed me. I was thirsty, you gave me drink. I was sick and you came to me. I was a prisoner and you visited me. I was a stranger and you took me in." And they said, "Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or sick, or in prison, or stranger, or naked?" And He says, "In as much as you did it to the least of these, you did it to Me."

Anything we do to relieve the suffering of other people, Jesus feels that joy. And Jesus, because He knows all things, He knows how people feel. And when people find salvation, there's such a relief, He senses that. It brings joy to his heart. Isaiah 62, verse 5: "For as a young man marries a virgin, so your sons marry you. And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you." You know, that ought to be one of the happiest days in the world is when a couple get married. I tell the groom and the bride, I say, "Look, if you're not happy today, you ought to call it off because this should be the happiest day. There should be an excitement and a joy." And sometimes, you see arranged marriages in other countries. And the groom and the bride, they had no pride in the choice, and they don't look very happy. But normally, it should be a happy day.

Zephaniah 3:17, "The Lord your God is in the midst of you. The mighty one will save. He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will quiet you with his love. He will rejoice over you with singing." One of the only verses in the Bible talks about God singing is in connection with the lost being saved. This is what brings great joy to the heart of God.

All right, let's go to the section growing by giving. John 7, verse 37 and 38: "On that last great day of the feast, Jesus stood and He cried out, saying, 'If anyone thirsts, let them come to Me and drink. He that believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'" You know, when you're a Christian, you need to realize that maintaining your Christianity is dependent on God sharing through you. If you receive from God His goodness, His blessings, His truth, and you don't pass it on, you'll lose it, it's like a muscle. If you don't use it, you lose it.

In the Christian life, the only way you get to keep the gospel is by giving it away. It's a principle in life. If you withhold your grain, you'll get to eat some, you'll be full. But if you don't scatter some, if you don't cast it out, you're not going to have another crop. If you want to tend to increase, you need to scatter. That's what the Proverbs tells us. In the Christian life, if you want to grow in your faith, give studies to other people. You want to grow in your understanding, share the Bible with other people. Be involved in some capacity, share literature. Not everyone can preach or give a Bible study, but everybody can do something. And you will be blessed in doing this.

You know, there are two principle bodies of water in the Promised Land. You've got the Sea of Galilee, sometimes called the Sea of Gennesaret or the Sea of Tiberias, it's all the Sea of Galilee. And the Jordan River runs into the north. And then you've got the Dead Sea. Interesting thing about those two seas, the Jordan River runs into the Dead Sea and the Jordan River runs into the Sea of Galilee. But the Sea of Galilee is full of life, there's still fish in it today after thousands of years. And the Dead Sea has nothing alive in it, why? Because the Dead Sea only takes. Same river runs into both, but the Dead Sea's dead, Sea of Galilee is alive. The Dead Sea only takes, it only receives. Because it's so low and because the evaporation exceeds the input, it's dead. It becomes stagnant, it's full of salts and minerals, and nothing can live in it.

We were swimming in the Dead Sea, oh, a couple years ago. It really is quite a sensation because you can't hardly swim. I turned on my belly and tried to swim and it floated me so much, I couldn't kick with my feet, my feet were out of the water. And you can actually stand straight up, it's like this much of you is out of the water when you're standing up because it's just so full of--thick with minerals. Nothing lives in it because it constantly takes, but it doesn't give. But the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River runs in from the north and the Jordan River flows out. It stays clean because it's being constantly refreshed. It's a channel of blessing.

Every Christian should be a channel of blessing. We're receiving God's blessings with one hand, we share them with the other. If you have morning devotions, you'd be surprised how often during the day God will give you an opportunity to share with others what you read that very day. And so, God wants us to be a channel of blessing. He flows through you. "Desire of Ages" page 142, "God could've reached His object in saving sinners without our aid. But in order for us to develop character like Christ, we must share in His work in order to enter into His joy, the joy of seeing souls redeemed by His sacrifice. We must participate in His labors for their redemption." It's part of Christianity 101.

You remember the Barna study I read at the beginning of our study today? A growing number of Christians do not recognize their personal responsibility and privilege of doing something to share their faith. And it's just so unhealthy. From the "Book of Education," page 207, another good quote. "Those who would be overcomers must be drawn out of themselves. And the only thing that will accomplish this great work is to become intensely interested in the salvation of others." It's so easy for us to become eccentric and self-centered, think that it's all about me. And being involved in reaching others.

You know, I've seen it so many times, "Amazing Facts" will take a group on a mission trip or they'll go on a church building project, and there's something that is transformational about you going to a poor mission field, doing an evangelistic meeting, doing some health ministry, being involved in building up a mission or a church. It helps you realize, you know, it's a big world out there, and I'm just one little person out of 7.8 billion people. Jesus loves them all, and your greatest joy's going to come in telling other people about Christ.

The other thing that's amazing, you go to some of these countries and, you know, we've had the privilege of going I can't even count how many different countries, and you go and you see very poor people in India, in Africa, in Asia. And they're so happy that you've come to their house, they're so happy that you've come to share with them. They're smiling, they have almost nothing, but they're just so happy when they hear the good news that you realize maybe in our materialism in North America, we sometimes forget that it's not all about this stuff, it's about souls, that's what really matters. So, we need to be involved in this unselfish work. And in doing this, you save yourself.

I like what Paul said to Timothy. 1 Timothy 4:16: "Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save yourself and those who hear you." In sharing with others, you're helping to save yourself.

In the book "Steps to Christ," page 79, it's got some more on that principle. "Unselfish work for others helps make our characters like Christ. It brings peace and happiness. It gives us strong desire to be more helpful. There will be no room in our lives for laziness and selfishness. If we exercise our faith and other Christian graces, we will become strong in our work for God. We will see the truth clearly. Our faith will keep growing, and we will pray with greater power. God's Spirit will move in our hearts, helping us develop characters that will honor Him. If we give ourselves in unselfish service for others, we are surely working out our own salvation."

One of the ways for us to break the dead spirit many struggle with, get out of yourself, get involved in serving others. Even if you don't feel like it at first, something will happen to you in the process of doing it. Faithfulness to Christ's command. Acts 26, verse 17, he says, "I will deliver you from the Jewish people as well as from the Gentiles." Jesus is speaking to Paul in vision, "To whom I now send you, to open their eyes and order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they might receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith for Me. Open their eyes, turn them from darkness to light, from the power of the devil to God."

This is what we're doing. We're taking people and their lives are so completely and utterly transformed, from the devil to God, from darkness to light. And that they might be saved from slavery to freedom. It's such a dramatic change. God wants everybody to be saved. You know, some dispensationalists think, "Well, you know, Jesus only saved--He died for the elect, not for everybody." God doesn't want anyone to be lost. The Bible says He is not willing that any should perish. And that's in 2 Peter chapter 3, verse 9, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise as some men counts slackness, but He's long-suffering to us, not willing that any should perish." And in 1 Timothy, he says in verse 3 and 4 of chapter 2, "This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved."

It breaks the heart of God that one should be lost, which is a good transition into the last section. What's the motive for our sharing our faith? Love. Isaiah 48--41, verse 8: "But you, Israel, are my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the descendants of Abraham my friend." God loves us more than a friend. 2 Corinthians 5:14: "For the love of Christ compels us because we judge thus. And if one died for all, then all--then all died." He says it's for the love of God, it compels us. We're constrained when we see Jesus on the cross not just for us, but for every soul. Sometimes in people that we would dismiss as worthless, Jesus loves them and He died for them. And He wants us to have tender sympathy for every soul.

You need to see in every soul not what they are, but what they can be through the gospel. It makes it easier to love. 2 Corinthians 5, verse 18: "Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them. And He's committed to us the Word of reconciliation." He's given us His job, He's sharing with us His job. "Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ as through God we're pleading through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God, for He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."

This is a wonderful message, friends. "The love of Christ must dwell in the heart. And through that love, we will have an unselfish interest in the salvation of others." Well, friends, I hope you've been blessed by our study today. In closing, I want to remind you we have our free offer, "The Ultimate Deliverance." All you've got to do is call 866-788-3966, we'll send you a free copy of this. That's 866-STUDY-MORE. And you can also get it through texting the number on your screen. God bless you, you can join us for our worship service afterward.

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Announcer: Amazing Facts: Changed Lives.

Justin: Growing up as a kid, my mother was on drugs and alcohol, lots of fighting in the home. My mom would be abused mentally, verbally, physically. Went from California to Oregon, spent some time in Oregon, and it was just the same cycle of drugs, alcohol, violence. My mom's boyfriend would go to jail at times. She would wait until he would, you know, get out of jail and it was back to square one. The drugs and the alcohol escalated to a lot harder drugs, crystal meth, cocaine, and lots and lots of alcohol. So, I started using the alcohol too as a medication. It was like it took the misery and the fear that I had, I wanted to drown all that misery. Times I would just grab, you know, a bottle of beer and go out into the desert and just drink until sometimes I'd just pass out in the desert somewhere and wake up the next morning. And you know, and I just couldn't find rest.

My stepdad had got me a motorcycle, and so I started riding motorcycles. I'd drink a lot of beer, get on the motorcycle, ride into the desert, do donuts and just--you know, just ride on private property. People would chase me off and I was just causing, stirring up dust and rocks and just causing chaos. And the adrenaline rush that I had was so exciting and the feeling of it was so intense that I loved it, and I forgot about all my problems, you know, at the moment. And I thought that material things would make me feel so good, you know? And so, I started working, started making money, had a responsibility.

But as time went by, I had more money, so I would use my money that I made to buy drugs and alcohol. Got pulled over, drinking and driving, ended up going to jail for a couple days. I lost my job because I missed work for a few days. Lost my girlfriend, lost all the money that I had. So, once again I was empty, no money, no drugs, no alcohol, and that was a turning point in my life.

At this time, I was living with my grandfather. And as I was flipping through the channels on the satellite system, I found "Amazing Facts." Pastor Doug Batchelor was telling his--sharing his testimony about how he was living in a cave. And he was--he struggled the same struggles of alcohol and drugs, and I continued to read the book "The Richest Caveman," and it really impacted my life, and really related to the things he was struggling with and all the events that took place in his life. And when I started reading the Bible, Philippians 4:13 says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." And I recognized that I had no strength. I was weak, and I was wretched, and I needed help. So, I just asked the Lord, I said, "Just help me, Lord." And the Holy Spirit convicted me, and I decided to be baptized and to give my life to Jesus Christ.

A few years after the Lord took the temptation of drinking and doing drugs, he gave me a beautiful wife I met at church. Now, I have a beautiful baby boy, two year old baby boy. It's just exciting to see, you know, what God is doing in my life and my family. I met with some friends from my local church that I was attending and they had told me about Amazing Facts Center of Evangelism Training Seminar. The AFCOE to Go program really inspired me and motivated me to tell young people about, you know, the same struggles that I was struggling with, to help these kids give their life to Jesus Christ. And there's nothing else that you could ask for. I'm Justin, and God used you to change my life.

Doug: Hello, friends. We all know a marathon is one of the longest and hardest races a person can run, but did you hear about the ultramarathon they used to have in Australia? It was 544 miles from Melbourne to Sydney. It attracted as many as 150 world class athletes, but then something happened that no one would ever forget. In 1983, a 61 year old potato farmer named Cliff Young decided to enter the race. People were very amused because he had on rubber galoshes over his boots. And when the race began and all the runners took off, sure enough old Cliff was left behind shuffling along very slowly, but he was shuffling very persistently. Normally during this seven-day race, the runners would go about 18 hours running, and then they'd sleep for six hours. But nobody ever told Cliff that.

When the other runners stopped to rest during the night, Cliff just kept on running. Some people were afraid old Cliff was going to have a heart attack, and they were asking the race organizers to show mercy and stop the crazy old man, but he would have none of it. Each day, he was gaining on the pack because when they were sleeping, he was plodding along. During the last night of the race, Cliff passed all of these world class athletes. Not only was Cliff able to run that 544-mile race without dying, he won, beating all the other racers by nine hours, breaking the record and becoming a national hero in the process.

What's really amazing is when they told him that he had won the $10,000 prize, he looked confused and said he didn't know there was a prize, and he decided to share it with the other runners. When asked how he was able to run all night long, Cliff responded that he grew up on a farm where they had about 2,000 head of cattle. And because they couldn't afford horses, he used to have to round them up on foot, sometimes running two and three days nonstop. So, throughout the race, he just imagined he was chasing after the cows and trying to outrun a storm. Old Cliff's secret was to keep on running while others were sleeping.

You know, the Bible tells us that the race is not necessarily to the swift. Something like Aesop's parable of the Tortoise and the Hare, the tortoise just kept on plotting along. That's why Jesus tells us in Matthew 24:13, "He that endures unto the end, the same will be saved." Now, you might slip and fall during the race. You might even get off to a bad start. But in the Christian race that we run, the main thing is you want to finish well. Keep on running, friends, and don't give up.

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