Advancing the Ball

March 26, 2005

Introduction:
1.  We’re wrapping up our series on “A Contagious Christian” – this has been challenging to all of us
- it’s so easy to be COMFORTABLE Christian instead of a CONTAGIOUS Christian
- it’s so easy to ENJOY the Adventure instead of EMBRACING the Adventure!
- the question I have to ask you: Which one are you?
Input: How have you taken some steps of growth in this area of outreach/evangelism?
[various answers]
Input:  Opportunities for outreach/evangelism? [pray for some of these as they are given]
3.  Remember the statement we put in front of you last week:
* We are not the Redeemer; we are simply a TOOL in the hand of the Redeemer!
4.  We’ve been saying this every week, but the ‘heart of soul’ of our outreach efforts is a revelation of two things:  1) Our love for God and    2) Our love for people
- but this whole process is not primarily about methods – it about your theology
> . . . what you believe about God AND what you believe about man and where he is going to spend eternity
> if there really is a place called hell, then what are we doing to spread the message that a person doesn’t have to go there?
- it’s good to think about creative ways to reach out to others:
• Community Center
• Blood Drives
• Red Cross Storm Shelter
• Special Series:  Questions That Deserve an Answer [begins April 3] / Embracing the Adventure of a Godly Family
5.  The bottom line is:  Too often we KNOW what to do, but we don’t do it – that’s why Jesus told the disciple what He did in John 13:
• John 13:17 "If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.”
- Christianity is a THINKING man’s religion – but it’s also a religion of ACTION
- God demonstrated that in Genesis 1 when He created the heavens and the earth – He called that ‘work’ – and then He rested – and He gave Adam some ‘work’ to do . . . before the fall
Input: Why is it so easy to get ‘comfortable’ in our Christian lives – to take it easy, or coast along? [various answers]
 the curse of sin leads to neglect our God-given responsibilities
 abuse of God’s grace
 disbelief that Jesus is really coming again – or we’d be ready
 too busy doing the URGENT instead of the IMPOPTANT
- thank the Lord for all those invited to the Passion Play – but now it’s time to switch gears
- we can’t just be talking about the Questions series – we need to be INVITING people to come – using the invitations, praying daily for many to come to know Christ!
6.  Last week, we studied Luke 5:27-32 – Strategic Opportunities – in Matthew’s case, it was a party for Jesus – but the guests were not the ‘pretty’ people
>  instead, he invited his friends – the ‘tax collectors and sinners’
- all this because Jesus said, “Follow me” – and Matthew obeyed!
- but as is usually the case, obedience is followed by God’s blessings . . . and the criticism of man
7. That leads us to our study today: Advancing the Ball
- I’m sure you know what I mean when I say that: 
>  We’re trying to focus on making progress in our efforts – measuring our RESULTS --- evaluating our EFFECTIVENESS in the proclamation of the Gospel message
- now, it’s not automatic that just because you share the Gospel, someone is going to get saved
- remember Paul’s words:
• 1 Corinthians 3:6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. 7 So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 9 For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building.
[Read 2 Cor. 5:14-21] (chp. 9-12
- I want read a rather lengthy excerpt from John MacArthur commentary on 2 Corinthians:
p. 197 – 198
“Today’s church is confronted by a seemingly endless variety of ministry methods, strategies, and styles.  Some argue that the church should agitate for social and political change to force cultural morality (moralism), or even help usher in the kingdom (postmillennialism). Others insist that church’s message should be inoffensive, upbeat, and affirming, to create a positive atmosphere in which non-believers can feel welcome and not threatened (pragmatism).  Still others believe their church’s primary task is to defend its theological distinctive (denominationalism).” – p. 197
- Jesus made it very clear what our responsibility is: To make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20) – of which evangelism is the 1st step!
“This definitive passage clearly articulates the heart and soul of the church’s responsibility as it represents Jesus Christ in the world. . . . The glorious good news of the gospel is that the sin-devastated relationship between lost sinners and the holy God can be restored.  That at first glance seems impossible.  God’s perfect, infinite, righteous justice demands the punishment of all who violate His law.  Standing before the bar of His justice are helpless, guilty sinners, unable either to satisfy God or to change their condition.  But through God’s plan of reconciliation all the hostility, animosity, and alienation separating the Hole One and sinner vanishes, and those who were once His enemies become His friends.  The high calling and noble privilege of preaching this message of reconciliation is the most important duty in the world, since it deals with eternal destinations.” – p. 198


I.  Advancing the Ball . . . in our God-given POSITION: As an  AMBASSADOR for Christ


Q: What does it mean to be an ‘ambassador for Christ’?
- this fits into what Jesus said in Matthew 5:13-16 [READ] – to be the ‘salt of the earth and the light of the world’! 
While God is sovereign in the whole justification/sanctification process, He allows us to be part of that process
-  This ‘ambassador’ and ‘salt and light’ thing is a privilege AND a responsibility.
ambassador [presbeu,omen/ / presbeuomen –actually a verb, present/active/indicative/1st person plural from presbeu,w / presbeuo] = be a representative (for someone)
>  A term that is related to the more familiar Greek word often translated “elder.”
>  It described an older, more experienced man who served as a representative of a king from one country to another.  
- An ambassador is both a messenger for and a representative of the one who sent him
- Paul is not only describing his role, but the role of EVERY believer!
Point:  We have been given a position of a MESSENGER – we have a delegated office from the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords – from the high court of heaven!
> we represent Christ with the gospel message
> He is the one doing the pleading – but it is through us – as His tools
-  Remember, we are not the Redeemer, but we are TOOLS in the hand of the Redeemer!
• Romans 10:13 for "WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED." 14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15 How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, "HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!" 16 However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, "LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT?" 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. 18 But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have; "THEIR VOICE HAS GONE OUT INTO ALL THE EARTH, AND THEIR WORDS TO THE ENDS OF THE WORLD."
* This is not only a responsibility, but a privilege!
- Just as an ambassador lives in a foreign land, so do we – ‘this world is not our home, we’re just a passing thru!”
- We are aliens and strangers:
• 1 Peter 2:11 Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.
- Our citizenship is in heaven:
• Philippians 3:20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;
Q: What kind of an ambassador are you?  What needs to change in order to be more effective?
Q:  When are you going to make those changes?  Talk about it – or DO IT?
- This is where the book Becoming a Contagious Christian can be helpful – especially chp. 9
- The authors break down some specific ‘types’ of ambassadors – i.e. different gifts, abilities, and personalities
“On the believer side of the equation, misconceptions about the outreach enterprise itself tend to inhibit people from getting involved.  In fact, I’m convinced that one of the greatest impediments to individuals in churches getting active in personal evangelism is that many Christians misunderstand what it actually entails. The dreaded “E word” fills them with fear and guilt. “ – p. 120
* Caution: Don’t be thinking for one second that you don’t have to be function as an ambassador because you don’t have that gift (though the gift of evangelism is spiritual gift) or you’re just not like that / or you’re not wired that way (if that’s the case, then you need to change)
- here are some different approaches (just going to mention these for you to think about)
- these are taken from Becoming a Contagious Christian – chp. 9)
A.  Peter’s Confrontational Approach
- Peter was like a ‘in-your-face’ kind of guy
- he was the first one out of the boat & walked on water – he pulled out his sword and wacked off Malcus’ ear in the Garden of Gethsemane
- yet God used Peter in Acts 2 @ the Day of Pentecost – Peter wasn’t afraid to take a stand [not after the resurrection – the ‘light’ finally came on and Peter connected the dots!]
“Some people are just waiting for a contagious Christian who won’t beat around the bush, but who’ll clarify the truth of Christ and challenge them to do something about it.” – p. 124
B.  Paul’s Intellectual Approach
- Paul was a thinker – an explainer – he could convince you with his arguments – he tried to speak kindly and loving, yet he also told the truth straight out – but in compelling ways (book of Romans & Acts 17)
- Maybe you’re more like a Paul – and God places you around people who need things thoroughly explained
“So many seekers need to hear the gospel not only declared but also defined and defended.” – p. 126
C.  The Blind Man’s Testimonial Approach – John 9
- sometimes people are convinced of the truth when the ‘see’ what truth has done to change your life!
- this is the guy who basically said, “I don’t know about all that stuff – all I know is that once I was blind and now I can see”
- some people don’t respond to well-defended arguments or intellectual dialog –all they need is to hear how God changed your life
D.  Matthew’s Interpersonal Approach
- he threw a party . . . for Jesus – and invited his friends
- he didn’t confront these people, or get into some intellectual dialog or tell the Matthew story, he just invited everyone over to dinner
- he continue to build a relationship with them – he ate with them – and showed them the love of Christ
E.  The Samaritan Woman’s Invitational Approach – John 4
- this is similar to the blind man (testimonial) but she went and invited people to the Passion Play . . . not really, but she did invite them to come meet a Person that told her things she had never been told (‘whatever she did’)
Q: What was the result? – John 4:42 [READ]
p. 129 – Recent George Barna poll – 25% of the adults in the US would go to church if a friend invited them!
F.  Dorcas Service Approach – Acts 9:36
- she was ‘always doing good and helping the poor’
- you could call it Community Minisitries!


II. Advancing the Ball . . . with our God-given URGENCY:  We BEG YOU on behalf of Christ


- As we present the gospel, God speaks (lit. “calls,” or “begs”) through us and urges unbelieve sinners to come in an attitude of faith and accept the gospel, which means to repent of their sins and believe on Jesus (cf. Acts 16:31; James 4:8)
- This demonstrates a great passion and urgency
“This begging of people to be reconciled makes it clear that the sinner is never delivered from wrath and judgment to blessing and reward without personal response to the truth of the gospel throught he means He has provided – faith,” – 207, 2 Corinthians, MacArthur
Q:  Who have you been begging lately? Pleading, urging, etc.?

III. Advancing the Ball . . . with our God-given MESSAGE:  Be RECONCILIED to God
- this goes all the way back to Gen. 3 – especially v. 15 – God the Son making it possible to be a ‘friend of God’ – to reconcile the broken relationship
- you know what it’s like to sin – ask forgiveness – be forgiven – and the relationship strengthened
- we can have that with the God of Heaven – wo is holy, righteous, just – a God of truth and grace, love and mercy!

Quote:
“There is therefore no higher calling, no greater privilege, nor more urgent task than the ministry of reconciliation God has entrusted to all believers.” – p. 208


A Contagious Christian
A Contagious Christian: Advancing the Ball – 2 Corinthians 5:14-21


Introduction:

Input: How have you taken some steps of growth in this area of outreach/evangelism?


Input:  Opportunities for outreach/evangelism?


Input: Why is it so easy to get ‘comfortable’ in our Christian lives – to take it easy, or coast along?


• 1 Corinthians 3:6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. 7 So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 9 For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building.

Quote by MacArthur

I.  Advancing the Ball . . . in our God-given _______________: As an  ____________________ for Christ

ambassador = be a ______________________ (for someone)

• Romans 10:13

• This is not only a ___________________, but a ___________________!

• 1 Peter 2:11 Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.
• Philippians 3:20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;


“On the believer side of the equation, misconceptions about the outreach enterprise itself tend to inhibit people from getting involved.  In fact, I’m convinced that one of the greatest impediments to individuals in churches getting active in personal evangelism is that many Christians misunderstand what it actually entails. The dreaded “E word” fills them with fear and guilt. “ – p. 120

A.  Peter’s _________________________ Approach
“Some people are just waiting for a contagious Christian who won’t beat around the bush, but who’ll clarify the truth of Christ and challenge them to do something about it.” – p. 124

B.  Paul’s _______________________ Approach
“So many seekers need to hear the gospel not only declared but also defined and defended.”

C.  The Blind Man’s _____________________ Approach – John 9

D.  Matthew’s _______________________ Approach

E.  The Samaritan Woman’s _______________________ Approach – John 4

F.  Dorcas _____________________ Approach – Acts 9:36
* Jesus embodies ALL of these and more!


II. Advancing the Ball . . . with our God-given _________________:  We ___________ ________ on behalf of Christ
“This begging of people to be reconciled makes it clear that the sinner is never delivered from wrath and judgment to blessing and reward without personal response to the truth of the gospel throught he means He has provided – faith,” – 207, 2 Corinthians, MacArthur

 

III. Advancing the Ball . . . with our God-given __________________:  Be __________________ to God
“There is therefore no higher calling, no greater privilege, nor more urgent task than the ministry of reconciliation God has entrusted to all believers.” – p. 208

A Contagious Christian
A Contagious Christian: Advancing the Ball

Introduction:
Input: How have you taken some steps of growth in this area of outreach/evangelism?
Input:  Opportunities for Outreach/ evangelism?
Input: Why is it so easy to get ‘comfortable’ in our Christian lives – to take it easy, or coast along?
• 1 Corinthians 3:6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. 7 So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 9 For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building.

Quote by MacArthur

I.  Advancing the Ball . . . in our God-given POSITION: As an  AMBASSADOR for Christ

ambassador  = be a representative (for someone)

• Romans 10:13
*This is not only a responsibility, but a privilege!
• 1 Peter 2:11 Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.
• Philippians 3:20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;
“On the believer side of the equation, misconceptions about the outreach enterprise itself tend to inhibit people from getting involved.  In fact, I’m convinced that one of the greatest impediments to individuals in churches getting active in personal evangelism is that many Christians misunderstand what it actually entails. The dreaded “E word” fills them with fear and guilt. “ – p. 120

A.  Peter’s Confrontational Approach
“Some people are just waiting for a contagious Christian who won’t beat around the bush, but who’ll clarify the truth of Christ and challenge them to do something about it.” – p. 124
B.  Paul’s Intellectual Approach
“So many seekers need to hear the gospel not only declared but also defined and defended.”
C.  The Blind Man’s Testimonial Approach – John 9
D.  Matthew’s Interpersonal Approach
E.  The Samaritan Woman’s Invitational Approach – John 4
F.  Dorcas Service Approach – Acts 9:36
* Jesus embodies ALL of these and more!

II. Advancing the Ball . . . with our God-given URGENCY:  We BEG YOU on behalf of Christ

“This begging of people to be reconciled makes it clear that the sinner is never delivered from wrath and judgment to blessing and reward without personal response to the truth of the gospel throught he means He has provided – faith,” – 207, 2 Corinthians, MacArthur

III. Advancing the Ball . . . with our God-given MESSAGE:  Be RECONCILIED to God

“There is therefore no higher calling, no greater privilege, nor more urgent task than the ministry of reconciliation God has entrusted to all believers.” – p. 208