1 Thessalonians 1:2-2:10

Title: We Persuade Others

Text: 1 Thessalonians 1.2-2.10

Introduction: We’re going to be in 1 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy and Acts 17 this morning.

I want to talk to you today about Building a culture of evangelism at Calvary…it isn’t easy, but how powerful when you feel confident that you can invite someone to an activity at Calvary and you’ll have confidence that Christ will be shared? A culture of evangelism is not a program – it’s a way of life. It is the confidence that you can participate in an activity at Calvary and know that the Gospel will be demonstrated and communicated.

This week and next week, I’d like to focus our attention on creating a culture of evangelism.

This morning I would like to answer this simple question: What is Evangelism?

Evangelism is communicating the Gospel with the sole purpose of converting someone to Christ.

Note the four components:

  1. Communication
  2. The Gospel
  3. Purpose
  4. Conversion

My hope is that we’ll identify these marks in the passage I’ve chosen: 1 Thessalonians. Let’s begin by looking at this first mark.

Transition: Evangelism is

I.     Communication (2.1-10)

exp.: people don’t just come to Christ by osmosis. It isn’t your smile or your stride that makes them turn to Jesus. It isn’t beautiful facilities or awesome programs. People chose to follow Christ because someone tells them. We’ve heard stories of people getting a Bible and reading it and being converted. That means:

  • Going: rd 1.5; 2.1, 5;
  • Speaking: rd 2.2-5; 8-9; 12-13;

While it is true that there are some saved by reading the Bible in a hotel or in a vision during a dream, that isn’t the method God has given to us. You and I have been sent to share. And, the way we do that is with our words.

ill.: There is a quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: Preach the gospel and if necessary, use words. That’s nice, but I’m not the way Jesus told us to Evangelize.

Jerry Falwell, Jr. said in a sermon at the Evangelism Conference in Euless some years ago: You can’t live well enough to save yourself. How can you expect to live well enough to save others?

app.: The truth is that a life lived in a manner unworthy of the Gospel of Christ destroys the testimony of the one sharing it. So, yes, you must demonstrate that what you’re proclaiming to others really does work. You should be able to say: Just look at my life. But, in the same breath I must warn you that a life well lived just isn’t good enough. You must choose to share the same way God did. He used words.

t.s.: And what is it you share? Evangelism is communicating the Gospel…

II.    The Gospel (2)

exp.: εὐαγγέλιον; Translitterated: evangelism; Translated, lit.: good message or good news; 1 Thessalonians teaches us three truths about this Gospel and the 1st is…

  1. The Gospel is a story that is told. Rd v 2.2; In this verse, it is reiterated that the Gospel is something that is communicated, proclaimed, declared; that is what point #1 is all about, so let’s move on.
  2. The Gospel is a precious gift with which we have been entrusted. rd 2.4; Turn to 1 Timothy, I want to show you something. We could go to one of 20 different verses that declare the Gospel is a precious gift entrusted to us to share with others, but 1 Timothy presents this in a beautiful way. The context of 1 Tim 1 is that of unsound doctrine. Rd 1.11-18; he closes the letter with this reminder – rd 6.20; rd 2 Tim 2.1-2; he touches on this gospel in v 8; back to 1 Thessalonians
  3. The Gospel is a story made relevant through your life as it is lived out before others. Rd 1 Thess 2.8-10; Your verbal witness is made relevant by the way you love the ones you’re witnessing to. Some of you may be saying…love? Who said anything about love? Well, you see that word translated ‘dear’? That is the word you know as ἀγάπη in the noun form. ἀγάπη is a verb – ἀγαπητός is the noun. He is saying that they were willing to share their very lives with these folks because of the love they have for the Thessalonians.

app.: Don’t miss this incredible truth: Your words are given meaning when you love the ones you’re talking to. The Gospel is made relevant when we live out this gospel with which we’ve been entrusted before the eyes of those with whom we share.

t.s.: Evangelism is communicating the Gospel with the sole purpose…

III.   Purpose ()

exp.: When I say purpose, I think of the following words: intent, aim, goal, focus. That’s probably our biggest problem in this day and age – believers aren’t purposeful in sharing Christ.

  1. The Gospel was never intended to be passed on by accident. You will not communicate the gospel of Christ on accident. You have to have purpose. You have to make it your intention.

ill.: Read from Evangelism: How the whole church speaks of Jesus by J. Mack Stiles. P. 76-78app.:

app.: wouldn’t it be wonderful if you and I could adopt a philosophy of intention? Maybe you’re thinking that right now. How can I be intentional?

  • Invite them over for dinner. Maybe it is BBQ or a novelty meal, or something foreign. Do one of those fon doo meals. Don’t do it just to show them what nice people you are, but to share with them that God loves them and gave his Son to die for their sin.
  • Go to the shooting range; play a round of golf; invite your lost friend fishing;

t.s.: Evangelism is communicating the gospel with the sole purpose of converting someone to Christ. Let me talk to you lastly about…

IV.  Conversion (Acts 17.1-4)

exp.: When we share, the goal or intent of sharing the gospel is that someone might be saved.

2 Cor 5.11 says: We persuade others. That’s what we do. We’ve been given this ministry of reconciliation – and our job is to persuade others to be reconciled to Christ.

But how is that measured? When do you know if someone truly accepts the Lord? Is it enough to just share, let them pray and leave them to it? No! The end game of Evangelism is conversion. That has to be something that can be measured and seen. Article 4 of the BF&M 2000 states:

Article IV. Salvation

Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.

  1. Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.
  • Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God.
  • Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Savior.
  1. Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ. Justification brings the believer unto a relationship of peace and favor with God.
  2. Sanctification is the experience, beginning in regeneration, by which the believer is set apart to God’s purposes, and is enabled to progress toward moral and spiritual maturity through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in him. Growth in grace should continue throughout the regenerate person’s life.
  3. Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed.

Note the two parts of our work:

  1. Work on the part of the converted:
    1. Repentance: rd 1.9; how you turned to God from idols. That’s repentance. It is the idea of doing a 180 from your old life to your new life in Christ. When you share Christ with someone and you’re intention is conversion – repentance is a true indicator that someone has been converted.
    2. Faith: rd 1.9b-10; to serve and to wait; you see, when someone is converted, they begin to live by faith. They serve God in faith and they watch for his return in faith. This was true for the Thessalonians: rd 1.2-3; Now that’s the work of the converted… there is more…
  2. Work on the part of God:
    1. Chosen because they are loved: rd v 4; Deut. 7.6-9; that’s the church now. That’s you! That’s the converted.
    2. The Power of the Holy Spirit: when you share, it isn’t your job to guilt or shame someone to Christ. Your job, my job is faithfulness to the story. God’s job is to do the convicting by the power of the Holy Spirit.

app.: He loves, He chooses, He convicts. Conversion is truly a demonstration of God’s power at work through the Holy Spirit.

Conclusion: Dale Galloway in his book rebuild your life tells the story of a little boy name Chad. Little Chad was a shy, quiet young fellow. When he came home and told his mother, he’d like to make a Valentine for everyone in his class. Her heart sank. She thought, I wish he wouldn’t do that! Because she had watched the children when they walked home from school. Her Chad was always behind them. They laughed and hung on to each other. But Chad was never included. Nevertheless, she decided she would go along with her son. So she purchased the paper and glue and crayons. For three whole weeks, night after night, Chad painstakingly made 35 Valentines.

Valentines day dawned and Chad was beside himself with excitement! He carefully stacked them up, put them in the bag, and bolted out the door. His mom decided to bake him His favorite cookies and serve them up warm and nice with a cold glass of milk when he came home from school. She just knew he’d be disappointed; maybe that would ease his pain a little. It hurt her to think that he wouldn’t get many Valentines –maybe none at all. That afternoon she had the cookies and milk out on the table. When she heard the children outside she looked out the window. Sure enough here they came, laughing and having the best time. And, as always, there was Chad in the rear. He walked a little faster than usual. She fully expected him to burst into tears as soon as he got inside. His arms were empty, she noticed, and when the door open she choked back the tears.

“Mommy has some warm cookies and milk for you.”

But he hardly heard her words. He just marched right on by, his face a glow, and all he could say was: not a one… Not a single one. Her heart sank. And then he added, “I didn’t forget a one, not a single one!”

Oh to have a heart that isn’t so focused on me. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could be so focused on the lost around us that we’d work hard to bring them the most incredible valentine ever? To say,  “Christ loves you!”

 

Let’s pray. God give us hearts that see people as you see them. Move us, in our hearts to determine not to forget a one, not a single one – but that we’d share this incredible story of Christ with purpose and intent. Oh God, make us Evangelists.

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