As I told you all last week, for the next three weeks we are going to be taking a journey around how we can best share our faith with others.
I don’t know about you, but for many believers sharing their faith can be difficult.
It can be overwhelming.
Questions arise in our minds like, “What if I say something wrong? What if they have a question that I don’t know how to answer? What if they think that I’m weird? What if they don’t like me? What if ____? What if”
These are all real question and concerns, however, they shouldn’t distract us from doing what we are called to do.
That is to make disciples of all nations.
Here’s what Jesus commissioned us with in Matthew 28:19-20
19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Notice what Jesus isn’t concerned with.
He’s not concerned with the questions that we ask.
He’s not concerned with you knowing all the answers to all the questions.
He’s not concerned how people perceive his disciples.
His primary concern is with the message being spread.
The message is the most important.
Also see here, that Jesus isn’t concerned with converts, he desires disciples.
There’s a distinct difference.
And we will talk about this a little more in week three, but here I want us to know that we aren’t just to tell people the good news and move on from there.
We are to teach, train, and equip them to live a life following after Jesus.
This discipleship part is key when it comes to the path I envision our church traveling down.
If you’ve been around me for any amount of time, you know that one of my greatest desires is to help us think biblically about the world around us.
I want us to think rightly about the word of God.
And I want us to engage holistically this life that God has given us.
The mind, body, and soul.
God tells us to love him with all of our being and we should heed his instruction.
Here’s where the problem lies.
There are too many people in our community that call themselves Christians simply b/c they believe it is the right thing to do.
They don’t want to go to hell so they want to be Christians.
But not wanting to go to hell doesn’t make you a Christian.
Trusting in Jesus for your salvation makes you a christian.
Knowing and believing the Gospel makes you a Christian.
Being transformed by the HS and the word of God makes you a Christian.
And doing that leads to:
Following Jesus and submitting you life to his lordship is what makes you a Christian, but many in our community
So what many of our friends, neighbors, and family members need to hear is the gospel message.
They need to know what the Scriptures actually teach and not necessarily what they want to believe.
I saw a study this week from Pew Research.org from 2018 that nearly 9 out of 10 American Adults that were surveyed believed in a higher power.
That sounds pretty good, however out of that 88% of Adults only 56% of them believed in God as described in the Bible.
Meaning that about 1/3 of those that believe in some higher power don’t know the Truth about Scripture.
About the God that revealed himself to us through his word and most clearly through Jesus Christ.
So this means that nearly half of the American Population is going to perish b/c they don’t believe the gospel message.
That’s roughly 110 million people who don’t believe the word of God.
Who don’t understand the message of the gospel or have completely rejected it.
This number doesn’t include those who are simply culturally christian and aren’t actually commited to following Jesus, but simply say they are Christian b/c they believe it’s the right thing to do, or b/c their parents were Christian, or for what ever other reason.
That’s a lot of people 110 million.
But let’s shrink it down to scale for us in Louise, Tx.
According to the census data for 2020.
In our zip code here, 77455, there are a total of 1,751 people.
Out of those 1,128 are adults between the ages of 20-85+.
So if we take that same 1/3 of adults from the Pew Survey and apply it to those living in our area, then that would mean that 372, people don’t believe in the God of the bible.
372 people don’t understand the gospel message.
372 people aren’t going to spend eternity with God when they die, rather they are going to go to hell and be separated from him for ever.
And more than likely their kids and grandkids don’t believe either.
So that number is bigger.
That means that those numbers are your friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers.
This should shock you.
I could continue with numbers like this all morning, but the reality is this is a problem.
Many people like to claim that America is a Christian Nation, however, when almost half of our adults aren’t believers how can we make that claim?
The truth is there are many countries that are sending missionaries here to our soil b/c they realize and recognize the reality of our state.
That soon the number of unbelievers will surpass the number of believers.
And that we need to take hold and go and tell our friends, neighbors, and family about the good news of Jesus.
One of the things I have heard often are complaints about the state of our nation.
That our country is going to “hell in a hand basket”
And there are many perceived reasons for this.
One of the most common ones I hear is that this all started when they took prayer out of school.
Essentially people are saying if we would only have prayer in school the problems would be fixed.
And I understand their sentiment, I understand the frustration, but could we take a step to be honest with ourselves.
Putting prayer back in school isn’t going to make any difference if the church, the body of Christ isn’t out in the neighborhood, community, and world proclaiming the gospel message and making disciples.
For far too long the American Church has rested on its laurels. Looking to the past for confirmation that we were good and right.
We saw big church buildings.
Record SS attendance.
Everyone an their mama came to church.
And that’s what we long for.
And that’s not a bad desire to have, but that’s also not the reality we live in now.
People don’t generally just show up to church.
So we need to change our strategy.
We need to do what Jesus said we need to “Go and make disciples.”
That translation in Matthew 28 of “Go” isn’t the best translation.
In the Greek, it’s a participle.
Which if you missed that English class a participle is a word formed from a verb and used as an adjective.
To put it simply, Jesus’ command here is “As you are Going make disciples.”
He’s not telling us to go to foreign lands.
He is telling us that as we live our lives.
We should be making disciples.
At home, store, nail salon, work. Wherever we go it should be an intricate part of our lives to make disciples.
It should be as natural to us as brushing our teeth, taking a shower, eating a meal.
So what does this have to do with us as FBC Louise?
If you were here last week, I spoke about this for a few minutes.
The makeup of this church has grown and changed over the last 2.5 years since God called me to serve as your pastor.
Here’s the thing, the growth has been amazing.
I love seeing and getting to know new people.
However, most of our growth has been through what is called transfer growth.
Meaning that someone starts attending our services from another church.
Whether they moved, married, or were seeking out something different, they came here and decided to stay.
Praise the Lord!
I’m grateful for the new friends and relationships that have come from those new people.
Now at the same time, this shouldn’t be our focus on growth.
We don’t want to be a church that shuffles sheep with other churches.
We need to become a church body that emphasizes organic and evangelistic growth.
Now I want you to hear my heart, this isn’t about packing the church full of people.
That’s not the goal.
The goal is that people will come to a saving knowledge of Jesus.
The goal is that sinners will be washed clean.
The goal is that Jesus will be exalted. That he will be magnified.
And if the by product of our gospel centered conversations is that people come to our church service and worship with us, then that’s all the better.
So I’ve laid out the problem.
And some of you may be thinking that “Well Josh, that’s what we pay you to do?” or maybe your not being that bold.
Maybe your thinking that you understand what I am saying, but you think someone else should do it.
Or that you’re too busy.
Or that you don’t know enough.
You’re scared that you’ll say something wrong.
To answer some of the objections, I want to first tell you that as followers of Jesus it is everyone of our jobs to tell others about Jesus.
If you left it solely up to me.
Or for other people to do it then nothing will ever get done.
We already said that there are about 372 people just in our zip code that don’t know or believe, how long would it take me to talk to each one of them?
Verses how long it would take if each one of us talked to one or two people.
There are power in numbers.
So maybe your concern is that you don’t know or don’t feel like you know enough.
In Acts 4:13 “13 When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and recognized that they had been with Jesus.”
You don’t have to be a seminary graduate.
You don’t have to know all the answers to all the questions, what do you need to do.
“Be with Jesus”
You need to spend time with Jesus.
Learn to love him, listen to him, and follow after him.
In whatever stage of life you find yourself in, God has uniquely gifted you with what you need to share the gospel.
At home, at work, in the grocery store, it doesn’t matter.
Here’s the other thing we must remember, God doesn’t rely on our elegance or eloquence in speaking when you share his word.
He uses your faithfulness.
He is the one in charge of the saving.
You are simply proclaiming.
I’m gonna burst your bubble, but there will be those who reject you.
There will be those that hear what you have to say and walk away without responding.
And there will be those which you simply planted a seed.
Then there will be times you will harvest, you will get to see someone give their life over to Jesus.
But you aren’t in control of that.
You can only do what you have been called and saved to do and that is to tell others about the one who saved you.
Here’s what I want you to do for just a moment.
When you came in here you were given a prayer focus card.
It says “Life on Mission” then some lines
On those lines, I want you to think about who you know that doesn’t know the gospel.
This can be some one who you know is out right not a Christian.
This can be someone you know who proclaims to be a Christian but doesn’t live a life compatible with Jesus’ teaching.
And on that card I want you to put down 1-3 names of people you know.
And when you write their names down, know that this is you committing to praying for them.
You don’t have to share the gospel with them, yet, but you do need to pray for them.
Commit to praying for them everyday.
So make sure that your prayer card is somewhere that you will see it and remember.
As you think about the people you want to pray for.
Those who eventually you want to share the gospel with.
Over the next 9 weeks, we are going to learn about a simple gospel presentation tool that will help us feel equipped to talk about Jesus to others.
This tool is called the 3 circles
There will be 3 sermons going over the different circles, then Beginning August 6 we are going to do a 6 week Sunday Evening training course to get you familiar and comfortable with the tool.
With all that being said, I want you to think about furniture.
What a weird transition.
Stay with me.
Have you ever bought an unassembled piece of furniture?
From Walmart, Target, Amazon or Ikea?
I’m sure most of you have.
What’s the worst part of buying that new furniture?
Putting it together.
Now thankfully, the manufactures do include instructions on how to put the furniture together.
They know that when we pull all the pieces out of the box we may feel overwhelmed by the prospect of putting it together.
We may not know where to start?
Which screws, nails, or joints go into which holes?
Why would it be overwhelming?
B/c we aren’t the ones who designed it.
Now you have a choice when you open the box, pull out the pieces, and start assembly.
You can choose to look at the instructions or you can choose to discard the instructions.
But by discarding the instructions you are probably going to miss a step, end up with extra parts, or with pieces out of order only to stop and look at the instructions.
That furniture had a designer and through his design you are able to get the bookcase, side table, or play ground that you ordered.
However, outside his design and instructions you are never sure what you are going to get.
This silly but practical illustration points us to the reality of our life.
God has designed our lives to be lived in a specific way.
That’s the first of the Circles:
Now we see God’s design from the very opening words of the Scriptures
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
I’ve told you before that this is perhaps the most important verse in all of Scripture.
B/c if this verse is true then we can believe all that follows.
But if this verse is false then we can ignore all that follows.
And we believe that this verse is truth.
God created the heavens and the earth.
And in his creating of the heavens and the earth.
He had a specific design and purpose.
He is the sole architect of every created thing.
We aren’t going to read through all of it, but through verse 25 here in chapter 1, we see that indeed God created everything.
Light, Atmosphere, Dry ground, plants
Sun, moon, stars, Birds & sea creatures
Land animals, and ultimately humanity.
The beauty in this poem is that if you take all the days and put them in two columns
Days 1-3 on the left
Days 4-6 on the right you see the grand design of God.
God created the elements in days 1-3 and then gave them function in days 4-6.
I talked about this back in oct 2021 if you want to go back and check it out.
Needless to say, all of God’s creation had a purpose, design, and function.
There was not one wasted atom.
Not any wasted energy.
Nothing was out of place
God’s creation was designed exactly how he wanted it to be designed.
Functioned as he wanted it to function.
And in this retelling of God’s creation the most beautiful verses are
27 So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female.
31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good indeed. Evening came and then morning: the sixth day.
God’s creation was good.
And the pinnacle of his creation was humanity.
Now there’s a lot of arguments over what it means to be made in God’s image.
And we aren’t going to take the time to go over that here today, what we need to see is that without God we wouldn’t have been created to begin with.
We were created to be his representatives and dwell with the rest of his creation.
And when he created us, when he designed us he designed us to live and operate in a certain way.
He gave us instructions on how we are to live.
And he didn’t leave any aspect out.
God designed us with our specific gender identity.
Gen 1:27 says “he created them male and female”
In God’s design for his creation, there isn’t any confusion on who we are.
We are one or the other.
That’s what is so detrimental about the transgender movement.
They are denying their fundamental design, but we will talk more about this next week.
Not only did God design our gender identity.
He also designed our families.
Gen 1:28 “28 God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply...”
28 God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.”
One man and one woman were designed to come together in marriage and make babies.
To be fruitful. That was the design.
That God’s creation would continue to produce offspring.
Marriages and Families are an essential part to God’s Design for his creation.
They aren’t something that can be cast off or put on the back burner.
They are fundamental to living life the way God designed it.
To go on a tangent, this is the reason that God Hates Divorce, b/c it fundamentally tears to shreds something that God holds as his good design.
God has also designed us to work.
Many Christians lament the fall of Adam and Eve b/c they see that it was b/c of them that we have to work.
But right here God created a garden for Adam to work in.
God designed us to work
To have dominion over the earth. To subdue it.
We can’t do that passively we must be actively working.
We were designed to work.
How many of us would be better lights in our work place if we realized that God designed us to be there.
That it is good for us to work.
That it is right for us to work.
That working is part of what makes us in the Image of God,
We need to see that work isn’t a curse, it’s a blessing.
Its a good thing, sure work is harder now after Adam and Eve rebelled, but it’s still a good thing.
And when we don’t work well, with the idea that we are glorifying God in all we do, then we aren’t working within our design.
Something that goes hand in hand with work is God’s design for his creation to rest.
We were created to take time away from the hustle and bustle of life and refocus on God and family.
In fact, God modeled it for us in
1 So the heavens and the earth and everything in them were completed. 2 On the seventh day God had completed his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, for on it he rested from all his work of creation.
God didn’t need to rest, but he wanted to show us that rest is a good and godly thing.
In fact, if we don’t live according to this design then we are living outside of his design for our lives.
So every aspect of our lives from our gender identity to our resting from work has been designed by the architect of creation.
And his design is good.
But can I tell you the most amazing part of God’s design.
He designed us for a relationship with him.
He designed us to be in communion with himself.
We were designed to have unbroken, unfettered communion with him.
In Gen 3:8, after the fall we see that God was walking in the garden.
This was something that wasn’t unusual for both Adam and Eve to experience.
God would walk with them in the cool of the evening breeze.
God walked and talked with his creation.
This was how we were designed to live.
In fellowship, relationship with our creator.
However, this isn’t how it is.
God has a design for every area of our lives—our families, marriages, money, sex life, work life and just plain life.
God designed us to be in relationship with Him, but we have all departed from that design.
The Bible calls this sin.
We’re born with a sinful nature so sin comes naturally to us.
There is no one who gets it right all of the time. We all sin and fall short of God’s perfect design (Rom. 3:23).
This sin leaves us in brokenness.
Brokenness is easy for most of us to understand.
It feels like broken relationships, addiction, depression, discouragement, guilt and shame. We all want out of brokenness, so we try to fix it (squiggly lines out of brokenness).
We medicate it with drugs or numb it with alcohol.
We strive to be better people, hoping that somehow, someway, our good will outweigh our bad. We look for ways to alleviate our pain.
When we do that, we just get more and more broken.
This feels like a bad thing, but in many ways brokenness is a good thing because it’s the way God gets our attention.
When we feel broken on the inside and everything’s all messed up, we know something needs to change.
The Bible word for change is repent. Brokenness is what gets us ready to try God’s solution, which is to repent and believe the gospel.
The change we really need comes from Jesus.
God sent Jesus to live a perfect life, die the death we deserve, and be raised to life again, proving He is who He says He is and can do what He says He can do.
Jesus came to forgive our sins.
When we repent and believe in Him, He gives us His Spirit who helps us recover and pursue God’s design.
Then Jesus sends us right back out into a broken world to tell others how to find their way out of brokenness.
Where do you see yourself in this diagram? If you’re in brokenness is there anything that would keep you from repenting and believing the gospel right now?
For those who believe, what would prevent you from being trained to share the good news with others who are still in brokenness?