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If Each One Would Reach One

Scripture: Ephesians 4:11-12
Date: 01/03/1998 
Every Christian should be equipped to be a minister, to go out and share Jesus and the gospel with others. Part of personal growth is witnessing. Share what you do know. Jesus sent out the disciples to do his work, we are to do the same.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

[greetings]

We had a really blessed communion service. No better way to begin the New Year. There are three priorities that are essential to church growth. Three secret weapons for your own personal growth. Just as there are physical laws, you need to breathe, eat, exercise, in order to thrive physically, there are some spiritual laws that must be included if you’re going to succeed. The breathing is prayer, pray without ceasing just like most of you breathe without ceasing. You need to eat God’s word. Man doesn’t live by bread alone. Then the exercise, which is my subject today, is using and sharing your faith. Now I want to see our church grow. I want to see it grow spiritually. I want you to grow. I want us to grow in numbers. That’s not, I hope, for our own name. We don’t want to make a name for ourselves, or our own success. But we’ve been given some marching orders. Jesus told us to go into all the world and preach the gospel. We are to invade enemy territory and expand His kingdom. And I thought it was appropriate to begin this year by helping us to retune, recalibrate what our priorities are. And I want to give you a challenge. That each one of us accept the missionary challenge of reaching at least one person for Christ this year.

Now some of you may have already brought several to Christ in past years. Some of you haven’t ever brought a soul to Christ. And so one a year is a big challenge. Last week Pastor Bailey and I were talking about the way the Lord blessed. In ’97 we prayed for a hundred baptisms and the Lord honored us with 110 and we praise the Lord. We’ve already started today with our baptisms for the coming year. And then I think some of you were a little stunned when Pastor Bailey and I said we’re hoping to have 2,000 people attending here by the year 2000. Now you didn’t hear me say we’re looking for 2,000 baptisms. I said 2,000 people attending. And I think that’s an achievable goal. Matter of fact, I hope God forgives us for our lack of faith because I know He’s capable of much more than that. In one day 3,000 were baptized during Pentecost.

And you might be thinking, “OK, Doug, that is a noble ambition. How are you going to do that?” I’m not going to do it. You are. That’s the biblical formula for church growth. The job of the minister is to mobilize the members. My job is to work myself out of a job. Want to read some scriptures to you. Turn with me in your Bibles, the book of Ephesians 4:11-12. “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors.” I want to stop right there. Don’t ever miss that point. Some are evangelists, some are pastors, some are not evangelists, some are not pastors. They are different jobs, biblically. “Some teachers.” What is the purpose of those job descriptions there? “For the equipping of the saints,” that’s you, “for the work of ministry.” They are to equip the saints for the work of ministry. Every Christian is to be a minister.

Now a terrible plague spread through the Christian church during the Dark Ages. The plague was not the bubonic plague. The plague that went through the church was this concept that the priest was the one, he was the parson, he was the person, he was the one who forgave the sins, who told you what you’re supposed to believe, and then you were to just, the members were just to soak that up, absorb it. The priest was the one who issued forgiveness. He was the one who did all the baptizing, the marrying and the burying. And unfortunately even though the Reformation, the battle cry of the great Reformation was “the priesthood of all believers.” You are a nation of priests. Even though that was the core, we are still contaminated with this mindset. More so in America than anywhere.

You may have heard me refer to the fact that the places in the world where our church is growing the fastest they have the fewest number of pastors per capita. The places where they have the most pastors we’re growing the slowest. It’s sort of self-indicting, isn’t it? It’s because, especially in North America we are entertainment oriented. I understand that the average child by the time he graduates has spent twice as much time in front of a television as in a classroom. We are spectators. One reason that there are also so many quarrels and sibling rivalry in some churches is because spectators quickly turn into critics. People who watch football on Sunday become Monday morning quarterbacks and start critiquing everything. Instead of being on the front lines we do everything by enjoying other people working and winning vicariously instead of participating ourselves.

Now I want you to be honest with me. I’m just talking to you from my heart today. I’m very excited about what I want to share [with] you and I don’t know where this is going to go. If you thought you were going to die next Sabbath, if you showed up at church without bringing a nonmember guest, could you manage to track down and find one nonmember guest and prevail upon them to come with you? Let me see the hands of those who think they would find the resources and the ingenuity to get one person to church if your life depended on it. Could you do that? You know what you just told me? That you’re just not motivated enough. So I’m hoping by the grace of the Lord to motivate you a little bit. With rewards, maybe a little guilt, whatever it’s going to take. To encourage you to get involved in sharing Jesus with others. You need to do this for your own soul. Part of personal growth is prayer, bible study, and witnessing. Part of personal growth is witnessing.

Now you heard here where Christ sent out the disciples preaching. He sent them out by twelve. He sent them out by 70. And after a number of these successful missionary tours that Jesus sent them on they came back. And you know, the disciples reported even the devils were subject unto them. They cast out devils. They healed the sick. They did all kinds of miracles. After that the disciples were arguing among themselves which of them was greatest. Peter denies Christ. Christ says to Peter, “When you’re converted,” future tense, “strengthen the brethren.” They were not thoroughly converted, but the Lord still used them in reaching others because working for the salvation of others is integral to your conversion process.

Some of you have hesitated sharing Christ because you think, “I don’t know enough.” Well if we wait until we know everything no one’s qualified. Is that right? Share what you do know. We don’t know enough, or we don’t think we’re holy enough. Have any of you ever felt a sense of inadequacy when it comes to sharing your faith? You’re not good enough, you’re not educated enough, you’re not holy enough, you’re intimidated, you’re frightened. Do it anyway. You need to make yourself do it.

I have some friends that are involved in the health and exercise industry. The beginning of the year is their biggest subscription time. Everybody has these New Year’s resolutions. One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to what? Lose weight and exercise. I’m just curious, anyone want to confess that that was part of their thinking this coming year? We’ve got a few here. Does exercise come easy or do you have to discipline yourself to do what normally; not too many people want to wake up on Sunday morning, go run in circles. Right? You’ve got to make yourself do it because you know it’s good for you. Well you know, it takes a little self-discipline to learn to be a witness for Christ, to be a missionary.

Some people have this concept the Holy Spirit is just going to pour out on them someday and then they’ll be able to share their faith. The way the Lord works is when you pray for strength and you make an effort to share your faith then the Holy Spirit comes in and meets the need. God has told you what He wants you to do. He said, “I want you to go into all the world, preach the gospel.” Then He promises you’re not going alone. “I am with you.” Whenever God tells you to do something; inherent in every command of God is the power to perform what He’s asking you to do. If He’s telling you to go and if He says, “I am with you,” and if He says, “all authority is given unto me,” then you don’t have to worry about failing unless you just don’t go. Some of us are so afraid to do something wrong instead we do nothing very well. And you may make some mistakes, but I’ll tell you, there is no reward greater than knowing that God has used you in some way to convert a person who was labeled for doom, and the Lord relabels them for eternity because of you.

Let me ask you another question, one of these tough questions. If you could choose between earning $1,000 a day in the next year (that would be $365,000 at the end of the year) or winning one soul a month to Jesus where would your priorities be? What if it’s one soul a year, where would your priorities be? When Jesus comes how much will the money be worth? Zero. How much will the souls be worth? Eternal treasure in heaven. The devil has us distracted with trivial things. The primary reason for the ministry of Christ was not to necessarily convert the world. He, of course, died for the sins of the world, but His walking and living among men, He didn’t expect to convert all of Israel. He wanted to train and convert 12 men to then in turn do that to others, discipling.

Want to read a scripture to you. John 17:4, Jesus said, “I have glorified You on earth,” in His prayer. “I have finished the work You have given Me to do.” Now think about this. John 17 He says, “I have finished,” passed tense, “the work you have given me to do.” This is before the Last Supper. I'm sorry; this is just after the Last Supper. It's before crucifixion. “I have finished the work.” Before the crucifixion He says, “I have finished the work.” What was that work He’s referring to as having finished? In this prayer He’s also praying for the unity of the apostles. The work that He had accomplished was spending 3 1/2 years training 12 individuals to in turn to try and reach the land of Israel and the world. So what is my job? To reach the world? Or to train you to reach others? That's what good discipling is. That's what good pastoring is. I'm hoping that we can crack this shell, this mental stupor that we're in, of being spectators; pew warmers [who] come and critique the sermon, judge its entertainment value. Amen? We need to be coming, learning how we can be minister. Every one of you is a minister.

I Peter 2:9 “You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” I don't question my calling to ministry. At times I'm a little disappointed. The reason I'm in ministry now is because I had the idea, once I was converted, that every Christian was a minister. And when I started giving bible studies and bringing people to church people said, “Oh, you're not supposed to do that if you're a laymen. What you're doing you'd better be a pastor.” And I wonder if some things mixed up in our thinking if we think that any member who's successful in bringing people to church and bringing them to the faith: “They’ve missed their calling. They're supposed to be a pastor.” “You're not supposed to cut wood anymore, Doug. You're supposed to be an evangelist or a pastor.” I'm not saying there aren't cases where that's true, but look at how automatically we assume that. I think that you ought to be experts that soul winning. And what ever your occupation is it ought to be secondary to pay the bills for soul winning. Because if you're a Christian you sew tents while you preach the gospel. That is your primary occupation. At least it should be.

Matthew 14:15-18, “His disciples came to Him, saying, ‘This is a deserted place, in the hour is already ready.” They came to the pastor, to Jesus. “Send them away, Jesus, so they can go get something to eat. Nothing around here to eat. And what did the Lord say?” “They don't need to go away. You give them something to eat.” That's a message to you today. Don't send them off. On evangelistic meeting somewhere, you don't need to

send them off to the pastor. You give them something to eat. You might be thinking, “Doug, I'm not equipped.” We'll help you get equipped. “I don’t have the tools. I don’t know my Bible well enough.” You will never learn the Bible faster than while you are sharing it with others because the Holy Spirit will miraculously bring to your mind the thing you need to write when you need them. Some of you who might be so afraid that it won't happen and you've never given God a chance.

I wish I could calculate quickly how many times I've needed a scripture while sharing with someone else, and even though there are over a thousand pages in the Bible I just happen to open to the very page I need. You ever had that experience? The chances of it happening as often as it does by accident are staggering. There has to be a God if for no other reason than the flip-open Bible evidence. I've just seen it happen so many times. Right when you need it there it is, staring you in the face. So many times I've been searching for a scripture and just when I need it there it is. And sometimes ones I wasn't thinking of the Lord shows me while I'm looking for something else. He'll give you what you need if you at least place yourself on the ground where you're willing to share your faith. You give them something to eat.

There's something, especially in the American mentality, and I worry about us as a nation. In America we want to shift everything to the government, have leadership take care of all of our problems. If we don't have enough of what we need, have the government get it for us. Whatever the problems are we’ll take it to the government. The danger is the government then takes over and we become a nation slaves eventually. That's what happened to the church during the dark ages. The church took over. It became the government and the people were the peons of the church. You want that to happen again? I can see a trend. We like to shift responsibility to leadership. You are a minister. You are a priest. You are responsible to spread the gospel. The great commission was not Jesus telling 12 apostles, “Go unto all the world.” He's telling the church, “Go unto all the world.” And He’s also telling the church, “I am with you.” Isn't it nice to know wherever you go Christ is with you? You don't have to be afraid.

Matthew 9:37. Now this is a little bit like our scripture reading. “Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are,” what? Is the problem with the growth of the gospel with the spreading of the message? Is the problem that nobody out there is really interested? Is there a deficit in people who are hungering for salvation and purpose? Or is the real problem that there are very few people who are willing to labor in the field? This is what Christ kept hammering all through His ministry. The crowds are starving. You give them something to eat. Don’t send them away. I am looking for people, not who are hungry, I'm looking for people who are willing to labor in my field to feed the hungry. The masses are out there.

During the holiday season, it's not that I don't appreciate the holiday season. I just loathe shopping. I think this is more true of men because men are more task oriented. We have no problem going to buy something if we know in advance what we’re buying. It’s hard for me sometimes to get excited about going to buy something, I have no idea what I’m going to buy. Karen told me some things she wanted, but it was pretty vague. She said, “I want a fancy, thin watch.” You wanted a plastic watch. I couldn’t find one. There is no store called plastic watch store. I looked up and down the mall. But while I was at the mall, enduring the shopping experience, I looked at people’s faces. Now you would think that during the holiday season folks would look jovial and festive. Daniel was doing some shopping and we had a meeting point and so I just sat there and looked at the faces of the people. And you know, it really struck me for the first time in years how hollow, empty, lonely, purposeless people look. The expression in their countenances, it’s like they were chasing after joy by climbing ropes of sand; trying to find it through buying junk. And all the glitter and the music and the paraphernalia, the pageantry that surrounded Christmas, it all seemed so empty if a person doesn’t know the Lord.

And I was struck with new force: we’re running out of time. It struck me with new force: Jesus is coming much sooner than we think and so many people don’t know. And they want to know! It would be so easy to double our attendance in one year—if we had room physically. That’s one challenge we’ve got. God can take care of those things, amen? But if every member would see themselves as a minister and have a burning desire as though not only your life depended on it, but their lives depend on it. I asked you a minute ago: could you get one person to church if your life depended on it? You said yes. Could you get them to church if their life depends on it? It does. This is a matter of life and death. The gospel is a matter of saved or lost. And it’s not politically correct to talk about it this way, friends, but we’re talking about heaven and hell. That’s what it’s about. The Lord has given you as Christians, especially Seventh Day Adventist Christians with the incredible comprehension of the gospel and the full message, the serum for the disease of sin the world is perishing from. And if we come to church every week and we hug vials full of this serum without distributing it to the world that’s perishing that doesn’t send a good signal.

If we’re not sharing the gospel typically it’s indicative of one of a few things. One, we don’t love Jesus enough. If we could see Him on the cross for our sins I think we’d love Him more. Two, we may not love our neighbor enough, if we have no burden to share the gospel with them and we know that they’re lost. The love of God can’t abide in a breast that is not willing to share. Three, we may not really believe in heaven. I think if we could see heaven we’d be more motivated, don’t you? Four, you may not believe in the other place. I think if we could understand what the punishment of the wicked is going to be like, to know that it's forever too late, and to know not only that it's forever too late, but you've lost out on the glories of eternity and the dwelling in the presence of God, and know that it was free. That's going to burn in our conscience much more than the flames of that lake of fire. Five, it's evidence that we don't have very much of the Holy Spirit in our lives if we have no desire to share Christ and the gospel with others. We wouldn't be so afraid.

Matthew 28:18-20. “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority,’” power, “has been given Me in heaven and on earth.” Everything in heaven's available. Everything on earth is available. He owns it all. It's given to Him. Now what's implied here? For your needs. It's all been given to me and I'm ready to distribute to you according to your need. “Go therefore.” Who is He talking to? He's talking to Doug and He's talking to you. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.” There's teaching before and then there's teaching after baptism. “Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” How many things? All. Don't ever be ashamed that we teach all the commandments. Jesus told us to. “Teaching all things that I have commanded you. Lo, I am with you.” He says, “I've got all power and I'm with you always, to the end of the age.” He has not given up on us. The Holy Spirit was poured out back at Pentecost. It's still available today. The great commission has not been retracted. I wish there was an urgency pill that I could distribute. I’d give everybody a double dose. If we could sense the urgency. One, because Christ is coming soon. Two, because people are perishing every day for lack of Christ. There ought to be in a burning urgency, a love in our hearts, for lost souls.

Another thing, it's so good for you. You'd be so much happier if you were doing it. As you share Christ with others you get your priorities straight. You don't become so distracted because you don't have all the toys are advertised that everyone else has. You start thinking about eternal values. You put more priority on relationships and people and the value of a soul than human achievements and the pride of this world. Everything just sort of shakes into position when you focus on winning souls. We’re missing some wonderful blessings. Millions of Americans are just conversions waiting to happen. The devil wants us to think that people aren't interested. This is a lie. He's put a false fear in our minds.

I’ve discovered, people in the world are not afraid to talk about almost anything in public. We think that talking about religion is a personal matter and it's politically incorrect to talk about Jesus in public. Are you noticing that? It's not accepted. I was standing in line yesterday at an office supply store. I was getting my January calendar. It finally occurred to me I couldn't use December anymore. I was getting a new desk blotter and some things for my Day Minder. While I'm standing in line there's this gentleman, a young man, he's ahead of me a couple of people in line. He's got a completely bald head. Much more than mine. He shaves his head. Just shiny all over. He had a mustache. The couple in line just ahead of me, the lady was intrigued by this. And she said, “How often do you shave your head?” A total stranger she's asking. And he said, “Well, I shave it every other day.” He was happy to offer the information. He said, “I shave it every other day. When I do it every day I get a little rash on my head.” I thought that would look pretty scary. She said, “Can I touch it?” “Sure.” He holds out his head. She’s there in this public place rubbing this bald guys head. And he's telling about how he uses alcohol and it makes it stand up. “What do you use?” “I use a straight edge razor.” “You do a very good job.” “Thank you very much.” They're going on talking about how he shaves his bald head. Total strangers can be standing in line at Taco Bell talking about hemorrhoids but they're embarrassed to talk about Jesus. You wonder what's wrong with us. You can talk about almost anything in public, but don't talk about Christ. We’re afraid. That is a fear that the devil has put in our minds.

Karen was reminding me this morning as I was practicing my sermon on her. She said, “Sometimes it's hard to introduce the subject. We don't know how.” This lady just said, “I notice you've got a bald head. Can I feel it?” There are ways. If you ask God for grace He'll tell you, He'll give you wisdom, the Holy Spirit will guide you. If you are willing to do God's will God will give you wisdom to know how to begin. And sometimes you've just got to jump off. You might take the risk of seeming; sometimes the Holy Spirit has impressed me and I’ve picked up hitchhikers. I wanted to talk about the Lord and I didn't know how to introduce it and I kept trying all of these clever, smooth ways so I wouldn't seem too abrupt. And finally the Lord said, “This person is dying, Doug. You need to talk to them.” I felt a spiritual battle raging and I just came right out and said, “Are you a Christian?” “No.” Once I broke the ice it was easy. And then you share your testimony. That’s another thing. You ought to be able to share your testimony. That’s the first sermon everybody ought to be able to preach. The Lord has a work for us to do.

Where are we supposed to go? First of all, He promised to give us power. Acts 1:8, “You will receive power.” Now that word power is dynamite. God's going to give you dynamite, dunamos. “When the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem,” here's the sequence, “in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” He says, “I'm going to give you power to be my witnesses starting at Jerusalem.” Now what would that be? That would be your family. Then Judea, that would be your neighborhood. That's what it was for them. Samaria, that's where they had to interact with the pagans. They knew who they were, but they didn't have a lot in common. And the ends of the earth. That's your outer limits. The limit of your sphere as far as you can go. The interesting thing is this is a sequence because when you read through the book of Acts, as the Holy Spirit was poured out, Acts 2, it was poured out in Jerusalem. They started preaching there. Then it says in Acts 8 they went into Judea. Acts 8:1 is Judea. Acts 8:5 they went and then into Samaria. You go to Colossians 1:23 it says the Gospel had then gone to every creature. There is a sequence. You begin sharing at home. Keep this in mind; don't think you've got to stay at point A until everybody in your home is converted. You do your best where you’re at and then you go on. Jesus didn’t say everybody is going to believe. He said the gospel of this kingdom will be preached in all the world for a witness. People will have an opportunity to believe then the end will come. If you're waiting for the whole world to be converted, that's not going to happen. I wish it would, but that's not what prophecy tells us.

How many of you if you could would want to accelerate the coming of the Lord? You know there is one scripture that's been much contested where He talks about looking for and hastening, II Peter 3, the coming of the day of God. Jesus said, “The gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world for a witness then the end will come.” Not might come or may come. It will come. It's going to all the world now through radio and TV and videotape and Internet and everything else. It's going to go the whole world in this generation. Would you like to participate and hastening that? You have an opportunity by sharing Christ. Why do we go? We go to make disciples. The Bible says in Proverbs 11:30, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.” Nothing more important than winning souls.

Some have thought, “Well, I'm going to be a Christian, but I'm going to just witness quietly through my lifestyle.” I don't like that. You've heard that before. That’s sort of a copout. Now there are places and times when you have to do it that way. Amazing Facts is talking about going to India now. And there are places in northern India where the Muslims are so zealous about their religion [that] if you preach Christ publicly you can be killed by a mob. So what they do is they send Christians into a town to try and live out their faith and they do it [in a] more subdued way, inviting people into their homes and that's where they begin sharing the Gospel. Public evangelism will never fly. I hear in Africa, a number of villages are converted by placing Christians in various villages. They live out their experience there and gradually the whole village becomes Christian, by the influence and the witness. But I think for us, a lot of us use that as a copout. We don't have that kind of persecution in North America.

I want to read a quote here by William Barkley. “Christianity is something which is meant to be seen. As someone well said there can be no such thing as secret discipleship. For either the secrecy destroys the discipleship or the discipleship will destroy the secrecy.” You can't be a secret Christian. That's an oxymoron. And in working to save others you will save yourself. I Timothy 4:16, “Take heed unto thyself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee.” You know what's implied in that? As you share with others, they're hearing you; you’re saving yourself in sharing with them.

There's a story, I remember reading this as a kid, a true story. The school bus was making its rounds at the end of the day up in the north in the middle of winter going down a country road to drop off some kids. A blizzard came up, the bus slid off the road in the snow. It was just blinding conditions. The driver knew that they couldn't stay there indefinitely and he went tromping off down the road as long as he could see where the edges of the road were to try and find help. He told one boy, he was about 12 years old, this was an elementary school bus, named Tony. He said, “You’re in charge. Try and keep everyone in control, to behave well.” Well, after the driver left a few minutes the bus engine died. It was subzero temperatures and it began to freeze inside the cab of the bus. And after a couple hours went by and the driver wasn’t back some of the kids were dropping off to sleep and Tony knew if they went to sleep they were going to freeze to death. So he went from one kid to another, range at all the way from six years up to 12, and he was shaking them and singing and slapping them and fighting and struggling to keep everybody awake, knowing that if they went to sleep they could freeze to death. Finally, when the driver came back with a rescue party, Tony ended up getting an award. They called him a hero. And he said, “I'm not really a hero because in trying to keep everyone else awake and alive I kept myself warm.” I've told you before, that's one reason I'm involved in ministry. Quite honestly, it's selfish, but it's still true nonetheless that as I preach to others I get some of what's going through me. And I'm blessed. And that will be true of you if you are sharing your faith.

Now I've been ranting and raving. Let's be practical for a minute. How are we going to make this happen? We need to open up our homes. Preaching the gospel takes place in the home. Christianity, when you read the New Testament, it happened in the home. I'm going to just quickly go through the few scriptures that will reiterate this fact. Luke 10:5, “But whatever house,” when He sent them out of preaching, Jesus said, “whatever house you enter say, ‘Peace to this house.’ And if the son of peace is there, your presence will rest on it; if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house.” They were to pick a house and do studies in that house and people were to come there and they were to share their faith from a home. He didn't say go to the synagogue.

Mark 2:1-2 speaking of Jesus, “He entered Capernaum and after some days it was heard that He was in the house. Immediately many gathered together, so there was no longer room to receive them, even near the door. And He preached the word to them.” What did He do in the house? Wait a second. During the Dark Ages and during the 1700’s and 1800’s, Westley and Whitfield and this great revival they were really ridiculed by the church because they said you've got to preach the gospel in the church, in a place designated. They said no, you can do it in a field. You can do it in the home. This was a big debate during that time, the Victorian era. We still are influenced by that mentality. We think we’re supposed to come to church and hear the Bible. This is the dessert. The main course is what's happening in your homes through the week. And it's supposed to not just be you and your private devotions. You should be bringing people into your home and opening the word, at least once a week. Is that too much time? You take one hour once a week and you open your home.

That's my challenge. I would like to encourage, plead, beg, threaten every member of Central to participate in a home study group during this year. Some of you I think are willing to open your homes. Some of you may want to go to a home that's been opened. Either one is okay, but go to a home bible study. We're going to have a whole variety of them going on here in Central. The gospel can explode all over town as we do that. We've got everything going for us here if this church. You know that? We’re using everything. We've got things in print, we're on TV, we’re on the radio. There's no reason this church can't just explode with growth. “Be it unto you according to your faith.” Do you believe that? I believe that. Well it's not going to be me making it happen. It's you that are going to make it happen.

Let me give you more scriptures. “And when they had entered they went into an upper room where they were staying,” Peter, John, James, Andrew. Where was the Holy Spirit poured out? In the temple? In the synagogue? Or in somebody's house? The New Testament church began in a house. I think it's going to end that way, too, by our going into homes. Represents our relationships with each other. Acts 12:12, “So when they considered this,” after Peter was released from prison, “he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John, where many were gathered together praying.” Many gathered together praying at a house, Mary's house. Deuteronomy 6:9 says you're to write the word of God on your house. It's not just to be in the church. Matthew 9:10, “Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples.”

Now you notice if Christ had met in the temple or the synagogue the prostitutes and the tax collectors didn't feel very comfortable meeting Jesus there. But the house provided sort of a halfway point. We have people who are in church today because they felt comfortable going to a home bible study, but they maybe were a little intimidated coming to our church. The house becomes a halfway point. It's a stepping stone into the church. This is how Christ used it. The tax collectors and the publicans and the sinners and the worldly people who felt. Have you ever heard people say, “The church is going to fall in if I go. I'm too big a sinner. When I get some things straightened out then I'll go to church.” Those people are afraid to go to church, but they're not afraid to go to a home bible study. And you shouldn't be as afraid to invite people to your home. It's not politically correct to invite them to church. I hope you're doing that anyway, but you can invite them to a home.

Let me give you some more. I want to really impress this. “So they continued daily with one accord in the temple, breaking bread from house to house.” Now what does breaking bread mean? They were cutting the loaves of food? What's bread? The bread that came down from heaven is Christ, the Word. What were they doing from house to house? Breaking bread. Should we be doing that in our homes, from house to house all over town? Breaking bread, studying the word. That's how revivals take place. Very seldom does it happen in the church. It starts in the homes. Luke 24:29-31 on the road to Emmaus. These two disciples walking with Jesus after the resurrection. He opened the scriptures and their hearts were burning. “They said, ‘Abide with us, for it is toward evening, for the day is far spent.’ And He went in to stay with them. Now it came to pass, as He sat at table with them, that He took bread, blessed it, broke it, give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.” You know where Christ first revealed Himself to the disciples? In a home. In what context? In the breaking of bread. The breaking of bread and a home is when He was revealed.

I think you get the point now. We need to open up our homes. If our religion is just going to be a spectator religion where we get to church once a week and we critique what the service was like and were looking for all the pageantry and the procession and the programs. If we could only come for one thing it would be breaking the bread. That's what really matters. Opening the word with one another. Incidentally, I'm hoping that you're being stirred right now. Anybody here being stirred? Good. And you would like to get involved in studying God's word and bringing people to church and to home groups. Take your bulletin; we've got that little tear-off spot on your bulletin. I know some of you already handed them in. If you're interested in being part of a small group study; see, that's one of the options on your leaf there. Write your name on there and your phone number. Check that with an obvious checkmark that you're interested in small group study. We're going to ask some of you if you're interested in going to one or opening your homes. We'll be talking in weeks ahead about how to implement this, but I think we can turn the world, not to mention our church, upside down as we get involved in sharing the gospel this way in our homes.

Something else I'd like you to do. We have a department in our church, our small group leaders. Some of you gave away your little tab. You got a pencil? [personal information on group leaders] Some of you think, “I’d like to open my home, but I'm not a teacher.” Open your home and have someone else lead. Every one of us can use our gifts and one of those gifts is hospitality, right? We are going to mobilize the members this year. I'm going to challenge each one to reach one. And I hope you're willing to accept that challenge.

Psalm 51, before you can really go for the Lord you come to the Lord. King David's repentance prayer. “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with Your generous Spirit.” And after a person is saved, “then I will teach transgressors Your ways.” Was David a preacher? No. “Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted.” David understood the concept that as we repent of our sins and we come to the Lord just like we are He gives us the Holy Spirit-- for what purpose? That we might teach transgressors His ways and sinners will be converted unto Him. That's what we’re supposed to do, friends. That's why we exist as a church. That's why we've got a building. That's our whole purpose is to preach the gospel. We come to Christ and then we go for Christ.

You know the parable of the rich man and Lazarus? The rich man sits in his house, within his gates, he feasts while the beggar lies at his gate starving for the crumbs that fall from his table. The only comfort he gets is from the dogs that lick his sores. Everybody always takes that parable and we try and create some doctrine of hell and we miss the point. The purpose of that parable, it represents God's people. The New Testament was the Jewish nation. Just incredible truth in the Bible. They had the oracles of truth. They had the scriptures and they stayed among themselves and they critiqued the word of God and they argued and disputed while the world was lost around them, dying for the crumbs that they were eating. In that parable who is saved? The ones who hungered for the crumbs. Who is lost? The rich man who refused to share the feast.

Friends, you and I could be in the wrong group when the saints come marching in. We've got a feast of truth. Amen? The Lord has given us tremendous information. We know what purpose of life is. We don't have to wander up and down the malls with that hollow look in our eyes thinking that happiness comes from credit card limits. Happiness comes from knowing the Lord. John 17:18, “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. How did the Father send Christ?” He sent Him to train, to teach, to share. He's sending each one of us the same way.

I like the story about how during the reign of Oliver Cromwell there was a severe shortage of currency. They used real money back then, gold and silver, and they had none in England. And he had his servants looking all over the empire to find out where all the resources were. And they came back and they said, “We can't find any silver anywhere in the kingdom except in the churches. All the statues are made of choice silver.” And Cromwell quickly said, “Well, let's melt down the saints and put them into circulation.” That's what we want to do here, friends. We want to melt down the saints and put them into circulation.

After Isaiah saw the Lord, after he was cleansed from his sin, he saw the Lord in His glory. The Bible says in Isaiah 6, “In the year his king died he saw the Lord.” You and I need to see the Lord in the year our king died, high and lifted up in His holiness. When he saw God in His holiness he then became aware of his sinfulness. He says, “Woe is me, I am undone. I'm a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips. For mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” After he confessed his sin an angel took a hot coal from the altar and put it on his lips, that's where the sin was. He said, “Your sin is washed away.” As soon as God washed away his sin, as soon as he was forgiven, you know what God said? “Whom will I send and who will go for us?” Just as soon as he was forgiven. God asks this question. He didn't say, “Isaiah, I want you to get out there and start preaching.” He asked him to volunteer. He said, “Who will go?” God already knew, but Isaiah said, “Here am I, send me.”

Is that your prayer, friends? After you come to Christ and He forgives your sins, He’s saying, “Who’s going to go?” He wants you to volunteer into His army, to enlist, to be willing to be used of Him in sharing the gospel with those that are perishing. Would you like to say, “Lord, here am I. Send me.” Is that your prayer? If you really mean that, I'd like to invite you to turn to our closing hymn, 578, So Send I You. “As the Father has sent me,” Jesus said, “so send I you.”

[verse]

Before we sing the last verse, its appeal time. Perhaps the Holy Spirit has spoken to you. I sure pray that He has. And you realize that maybe you've been distracted with lesser issues, storing your treasure down here, squandering your precious time that could be employed in winning souls with all kinds of useless diversions. Or maybe you've been engaging in the spectator sport of church, just watching it go by. You're missing a tremendous blessing. If you're not involved in working side-by-side with Christ in His power to give the gospel to others. Some of you wondered what happened to your first love. I'll tell you a quick way to find your first love is to share what you do have with somebody else and that will revive you. I promise. It's amazing what you hear yourself saying when you start sharing Jesus with others. If you'd like to say today to the Lord, “I believe Jesus is coming soon. First of all, Lord, I want to come to you just like I am and then I want to go for you to tell the lost world that Jesus saves.” Is that your desire? You come to Him and then you go for Him. The cross runs in two directions: it’s love the Lord and love your neighbor. And the way we demonstrate our love for our neighbor is by bringing them to Jesus.

You might think, “Doug, I'm not a teacher. I'm not preacher. I'm not an evangelist.” I promise you if you're a Christian He has given you gifts of the Holy Spirit. The reason for those gifts, the reason for the Spirit, is that you might be His witnesses. That's why He gives you the Holy Spirit, to be His witnesses. Do you think God will fail you? Don't worry about how He's going to do it if. If you come to the Lord He’ll give you gifts to use in winning souls. Everybody can do something.

I wonder also today there may be some, even with a message like this that's very specific for witnessing, some might need to pray that prayer of David, saying, “Lord, I have wandered and I want to come back to you, and then sinners will be converted.” As we sing the last verse, if there are some here today, maybe you know that Jesus is not your Lord, may you need to return to the Lord, if you'd like to come to the front now and ask for special prayer, you've got the time it takes to sing one verse to come. We’d like to pray with you. Don't be afraid. Come, as we sing verse four.

[verse]

Father in heaven, Lord, we believe we have heard the voice of the Spirit speaking to the church. I pray that you will impress upon our hearts the urgency that the harvest is great, but the laborers are few. I've pray, Lord, that each one of us, whatever our relationship with you right now might be, no matter how frail or feeble we might be, I pray that we can receive that coal from the altar, be cleansed from our sins and then say, “Lord, here am I. Send me.” Knowing that we don't go alone, that you go with us to the end of the world. We go in your power and your strength and your authority. Lord, forgive us for our indifference to a world around us that's perishing. Sometimes we've made the mistake of that rich man, feasting on the truth while people are starving at our gate. I pray that we will be willing to open our homes or go to homes where they're opening your word because this is how the gospel will explode. Bless this church with your Spirit, Lord. We know that we can do nothing without you, but we're trusting through Christ for great things. Thank you now for meeting with us and answering these prayers because we’re asking and praying in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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