Opening thoughts: Tonight I start in Luke 10. When I started reading it I got very excited because this topic is very near and dear to me. I admit that although I love evangelism I still hardly do it enough. I would venture to say we can never do it enough. There’s so much teaching out there on evangelism, some people say you should preach with actions, others say you should preach with words. When the late Bill Bright did a survey on how many professing Christians actually share their faith, the numbers that came in were shockingly devastating. Less than 2% of professing Christians in North America actually share the Gospel.
I had a thought just now, If you were on the Titanic all those years ago and you were on a cruise with your family and friends. You were having a great time together when all of a sudden the ship started to sink, panic spreads and people are separated by class. You happen to be upper class and your friends are lower society. When they called your name and placed you safely in a boat would you not ache as you watched you’re friends disappear as you sailed away into the night. Would you not beg the captain of your little boat to go back and try to save one of them? You would do whatever you could to help save your perishing friends.
What if you knew a way that your friends could be saved, perhaps there was room in each of the boats for 10 more people if everyone squished up more. You also realized that suggesting such a thing could get you kicked out of the boat yourself. What do you do? Do you leave your friends to perish or do you face the persecution and backlash by opening your mouth in effort to save their lives? Persecution is a given with evangelism, whether it’s from the people that you are witnessing to or the many people in the church that don’t think you should be filling the boat the way you are doing it, which is by preaching! One thing that should make it all worth while is that you will not get any persecution from the one who is being saved…
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 1:8 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
The people who are being saved will be so grateful that you made yourself a spectacle for them, they won’t care about your dignity or that you lost friends, they won’t care that you were hated or despised, because to them all your persecution was worth it because now they are ALIVE!
Main Text: Scripture Reading: Luke 10:1-3
[10:1] After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go.  And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.  Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.
Sent Them Out: Jesus never did anything just because, He always had a reason. So when it says that He sent them out ahead of Him there must be a reason. John the Baptist was the first runner up to Jesus in the New Testament. He went out ahead of Him to prepare the way not even knowing it was his very own cousin! John the Baptist had a job and that job was to prepare peoples hearts for Grace. He was a voice calling in the wilderness “Preparing the way of the Lord”. What was John the Baptist’s main message? It’s pretty clear, it was Repentance and turning back to God and exemplifying their heart change through the waters of baptism.
John the Baptist was not a pleasant looking fellow (in my mind anyway). He wasn’t your typical treat to look at, yet crowds and multitudes came to hear him preaching in the Open air. Preaching the message of repentance.
Scripture: Luke 3:8 Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.
John the Baptist was preaching a message of repentance and a warning to those who saw themselves as Abraham’s seed (Modern Day Church Folk). He was saying to them “You must repent and turn to God and don’t kid yourself, if the fruits that are in your life are not in line with repentance then you are sadly mistaken about the genuineness of your salvation”
So if John was sent out to prepare the way for Jesus, and now we see Jesus sending these disciples out to prepare the way for Him “sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go” then we can conclude that this is our job as well. In order that we prepare someone for the message of Grace we must address the issue of His holiness, through His law, which reveals their sin and their inevitable judgment. This is the message that either brings someone to their knees or causes them to clobber you on the head with a stick. The message does not prove to be wrong because of persecution. According to the Bible the opposite would be true, that without persecution you are delivering the wrong Gospel.
Scripture: Luke 16:8-11 (speaking of the Holy Spirit) And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
Sloppy Evangelism: I heard Leonard Ravenhill say one time in a message “It’s time the church was done with sloppy evangelism, bumper stickers saying ‘Jesus Love You’, do you warn someone of the their sin? That they’re are headed for destruction? Do you warn them of the severity of a Holy God?” Paul says in Romans 7:7 that without the Law he would have not even known what sin was. He also says in Galatians 3:24 that the Law is our teacher that LEADS us to Christ. I could literally go on for hours with passages that would refer to the law and it’s proper place in evangelism and that without it you don’t have proper evangelism at all.
Shooting The Target: In order to shoot a bulls-eye on a target you need training, first of all you need training on how to shoot a gun or you might end up with a backfire and that’s never a good thing. Or perhaps you know how to shoot and operate a gun safely but when you shoot you’re all over the map, you can’t shoot straight. If we are to prepare the soil of a hard heart for Grace we must be trained to skillfully use God’s law to bring about conviction of sin so that the result will be Godly sorrow, repentance and salvation. Don’t tell someone that “God has a wonderful plan for their lives” they may know you too well and think, “if it’s anything like your life you can keep it”. That’s not a biblical drawing card. Their pursuit of Christ must be one like a cat fleeing for a tree when being chased by a dog. They must flee to the cross in sorrow over their sin knowing that without Him they are lost forever. He must be their only Hope not a life enhancement.
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.
Who’s Harvest?: Seriously I think that we take too much credit for the souls that come to faith. Yes we are commanded to go out and preach, and we are called to witness…. But we must remember who’s harvest this is in the first place! This is the Lords harvest. “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” God has already gone ahead and started preparing hearts that are ready for the harvest, that’s why there will be people that embrace the Gospel on the spot, and others will seek to defame you and destroy you. This is because ultimately this is His harvest not ours, please do not take any credit for the crop that is taken in. You are simply obeying your orders to go and seek and save the lost.
Can you imagine if a farmer had 10 fields and they were ripe and ready to harvest, and upon calling His sons to go and bring it in, they all said they were too busy spending His money, eating his food and staying cozy in the homes that He gave them! What would the response be for those sons? The heart of a grateful son or daughter is one of willingness to help the generous father out whenever they are called upon. So remember, it’s His harvest and you don’t choose the people, He does, your job is to go out and prepare the way for Grace and those who cling to that hope are those that are ripe in His field not yours. I think the reason why most professing Christians don’t evangelize is because it’s an inconvenience on their comfortable lifestyle. At least that was our excuse until God took all our comfort away:-) and now we have nothing to lose….. What do you have to lose?
Scripture: John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
Beware of the Wolves: If you are to engage in evangelism the Bible is filled with warnings to us about the wolves that are out there. There are also warnings of the wolves in the church… Seriously if I meet a wolf in the forest, I want to know far in advance that this is a wolf… Would be pretty creepy to see a nice little sheep that when you get nice and close he throws of the disguise to reveal he’s a wolf. The Bible says that there are many of those in the church, for this reason you can expect persecution from the within the church as well when you decide that you are going to be active in God’s Field of Evangelism. Do not expect it to be easy or comfortable, you will be yelled at, sworn at, maybe beat up and possibly accused wrongfully. But remember it’s not about you. It’s about obedience to Christ and about the millions of souls that are tragically headed for hell. You are the voice of the Gospel. Go and Preach!!
Scripture: Romans 10:14-17  How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?  And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”  But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?”  So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Preparing The Way
~ Shane Martin