google-site-verification: google3e8cc4742c5fd8a2.html Sermon - I Will Share My Faith

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I Will Share My Faith

(preached at United Methodist Church, Embury, Tennessee, USA)

We continue our worship with the sermon! Did you know that the sermon is part of our worship – both the delivery and the hearing of it?
When I was growing up my favourite question was “Why?” “Why is it so?” Of course being a young’un, that question came to mind for all sorts of things. I am sure you have all heard kids in Walmart yelling out “Why?” to their parents or guardians. We all have, I am sure, questions we want to know the answer to. Why? Ask for any examples of things you ask “Why is it so?”

Our theme today in this new series is “I will share my faith” and our key text is taken from Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost”.

Why did the Jesus say that He came to seek and save the lost and how did He do it and how does he still do it today? So why are we to share our faith? Hopefully by the end I will have at least answered those 2 questions a little, given the time we have.

Why Is It So?


Let me start our journey today by first telling you my testimony. That is a good starting point and is what most people probably consider today as evangelism.

Before I do though, I will say this. A Christian testimony is more than just saying how a person became a Christian. It should also include why the person became a Christian. Have you even thought about your testimony and why you became a Christian?

So here is mine! I am sure you have all heard kids in Walmart yelling out “Why?” to their parents. We all have, I am sure, questions we want to know the answer to. Why? The question I am often asked is “You are a Christian. Why is it so?” My father was and remained throughout his life a convinced agnostic and in the few conversations we had about religion and Christianity, he could never understand why it was, that I could not just admit that I would never know if God existed or not, far less a God who was personally interested in me. My reply as ever, was that the very question “Why is it so?” needed to be answered, in order for me to be satisfied.

Why I am a Christian?


So why I am a Christian? The reason that I am a Christian is not because I chased God, but rather He chased me. Unknown to me at the time, God was chasing me and following my every path with the urgency of a lover after the beloved.

How did that happen? As a teenager I was actually invited to a church and I subsequently accepted that invitation. I thought “Ok! If church is so dangerous, let’s go for a bit of danger!” So I rebelled and went to church, and after a few weeks, became a Christian. Much to the dismay of my father, who as I said could never understand why I would want to be a Christian of all things!

So at that church, it was the first time I had heard of God’s love for me, that I was indeed apart from God and that this God had been on a mission to seek me, and change me from being lost and apart from Him to being found by him and accepted as His child! Amazing news to me as a teenager back a long time ago now! Additionally, it was not in my search for Him that I found Him, but rather through His search for me that I found Him! It was that there, that I discovered there was nothing I could do in order to be reconciled to God, but that He had done it all, when Jesus died on the cross 2000 years and rose again from the dead!

So what is the answer to why am I a Christian? I am a Christian, not through anything I have done or my own pursuit of God, but rather I am a Christian because of God’s constant pursuit of love after me. Continuing with our topic for today about Sharing our Faith, What is to be the goal or aim of a person being a Christian – a dedicated follower of Jesus Christ? Is it praying a lot? Perhaps it is reading and memorizing the whole Bible? Perhaps it is by doing lots of evangelism, sharing the faith avidly or doing lots of work for the church? As admirable and important as those things are, they are not the prime focus and goal for those who call themselves “Christian.”  How is that for a WOW?


1. Evangelism


1a. Evangelism of Being

1b. Evangelism of Doing

1c. How to verbally identify with Christ

1d. Making right decisions in questionable areas

1e. Overcoming barriers.


2. The message we share


2a. The Gospel Message!

2b. The Problem - Humanity's sin

2c. The Solution – God to the rescue!

2d. Substitution! Propitiation! Redemption!

Our response? What is our response to this to be? Sacrifice, substitution, propitiation and redemption can be summed up in one word: love. For 1 John 3:16 states: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” Jesus told us to take up our cross if we are to follow Him as His Disciple (Luke 9:23). Are you as a Christian Disciple willing to take up your cross and do all you can do to love others? Loving others to love them into the Kingdom of God to follow Jesus just as you are?


3. Worldview We Share


3a. Atheism Worldview vs Christian Worldview

3b. Paul’s Method of Evangelism

3c. Where Paul Evangelised

4. Questions


As we wind things up now, I will ask yet more questions. It is hard to ask these questions, because I am aware that I am not only speaking to you, but also myself. I did ask God if I could skip asking them, but as usual I was told to behave and just do it. Several times. Questions like…

1. Which Gospel message are we sharing with others by being and doing?

Is it the message we heard earlier and as expressed succinctly by Paul in 1 Timothy 1:15 ““Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners!” Or do we deliberately or inadvertently live and tell another gospel – a false gospel, just as the Ephesian troublemakers were doing.

2. Which God do we tell others about?

Is it the God of the Bible who is Tri-unity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – of whom humanity is made in the image of? Or is it some kind of false God made in our own image ?

3. Which Jesus do we confess and live for?

Is it the Jesus who said in Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all of you who are weary and over-burdened, and I will give you rest! Put on my yoke and learn from me. For I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Is it the Jesus who was welcoming to all but made demands on them in order to transform them –such as the rich young man who left distraught at the demands made upon him by Jesus or the woman at the well who had her sins forgiven but was told by Jesus to stop her lifestyle of sin? Or is the Jesus we share some kind of modern day Jesus who makes no demands at all? And some churches do indeed preach and teach that kind of insipid, powerless, nodding-head Jesus.



4. Are we wanting to enjoy all the benefits of being a Christian?

Things such as our salvation, our sins being forgiven, access to that glorious throne of grace – without enjoying the Joy-giver who wants to transform us willingly into the image of Jesus Christ the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us. It is simply idolatry to want to enjoy these benefits without enjoying and submitting to the benefit giver, the Majestic King who is the only true God. It is idolatry because those other things are taking precedence over worship to the King.

5. Are we as 21st century believers, as part of our taking for granted our salvation, by not meeting together with other Christians when we can?

If we aren’t, why are our prayer meetings and services not filled with Christians wanting to worship, be taught and to pray for this church, this town and the mission work around the world?

6. Are we as part of our taking for granted our salvation, not sharing about Jesus when we have opportunities?

We in the UK & USA regularly take for granted the opportunities to tell those who are not Christians, about a God of love. Let us go out of here, making a choice to submit to the power of the Holy Spirit, follow Jesus closely to the praise and honour of God the Father. Let His light shine out from us into our communities that are in spiritual darkness, dying to know personally our majestic God who is King. Let His love shine out of us as we learn and submit to him – loving others, loving each other to reflect a God of love. Put your thinking and doctrine of God into practise which is evangelism – sharing Jesus. If the God we serve is a majestic King who is personal, ageless, without decay or corruption, invisible and the only God – then we are duty bound to tell and show others about Him. Engaging in both the evangelism of being and the evangelism of doing. After all, each of us who are Christians here are in part because somebody somewhere and at some time told us about the offer to succumb to the fathomless patience of Jesus and accept Him as master of their life. Let us go! Are you ready?


Recapitulation

Now let me briefly recapitulate before I conclude for today.

First of all we shared about what is a testimony before we moved onto looking at Evangelism… The Evangelism of Being and the Evangelism of Doing. We discovered that the key link between them is to verbally identify in every aspect of life with our Lord Jesus Christ.
Then we looked the message and worldview we are to share with others – just as Jesus who is to be our Lord did during his time on earth and the early church did which revolutionised the ancient world and we still feel the repercussions of that still today! Then we looked at these questions briefly.

  • Which Gospel are we sharing by being and doing?
  • Which God do we tell others about?
  • Which Jesus do we confess and live for?
  • Are we wanting to enjoy all the benefits of being a Christian?
  • Are we taking for granted our salvation?


Conclusion


God in pursuit

The key verse for today from Luke 19:10 “ For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” speaks about the love that God has for his people, and the energy He puts in to calling people to Himself. God is always reaching out, and willing for all people to return to His arms.

As I shared earlier, it wasn’t until I was in my teenage years that I heard that I needed to accept Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. Before that I didn’t know I had to do anything with this Jesus. Jesus was only a curse word for me at the time. That or was just someone or something that the Religious Education teachers bored me with at school.

In my more smug moments I used to think that God was a jolly luck God to have me, Dave Roberts, as one of His children and he should thank his lucky stars that I was a Christian and not some other kind of person. That is when I am reminded by Him, that we are primarily Christians, not because we come to church services or just happened to have been born in a supposedly Christian country. We are primarily Christians, because God first chased and harried us into His arms. You are a Christian, if you are one, because God first loved you. And as a tremendous lover, God beckons and calls people all the time to respond to His call, and back to Him.

As Christians we are to go out and show our new life, new hope, empowered and safeguarded by God’s power alone. We are to engage in the Evangelism of Being and the Evangelism of Doing. As Christians, we have good news for the world. It is up to us to go out living in the joy of salvation. It is up to us to share and show others about this great God of salvation and joy we claim to follow, love and worship.

Being a Christian is to be for 24 hours a day, 7 days week. No point just being a nice little Christian on a Sunday and not showing it the rest of the week. That kind of faith will not last and that kind of Christianity is not even Christianity. It is a lazy and insipid form of religion. For sure, as Christians we will be alienated by some as we go about sharing with others about our faith and living out what we truly believe about the God we worship, but we will also embraced by others. God is for us – who then shall we fear? God is a mission God, and because He is a mission God, we the church, Christians,, are also on a mission to share about this great God. We have to take risks in order to continue this mission. History is filled with churches that failed to adapt and take the mission opportunities available to them. The church needs to be reaching out, including those forgotten people in our community. History is also filled with churches who did not evangelise and had to put the “For Sale” sign up as the building became empty due to lack of members there.

Did you know that as Christians, we will be held accountable by God for what we have done with what we have been given. We will be held accountable by the God we claim to follow for the opportunities we have been given to share our faith. We will be held accountable not for our salvation. Our salvation is guaranteed by grace alone and not by any works we do. But rather we will be held accountable for the rewards and our place in the New Kingdom to come. But that is perhaps for another day, eh Pastor Don!

Embury United Methodist Church is to be a community of love. A love which mirrors that of the God of love... A love which looks not to its own interests but to the interests of others... See the others around you! You are to sacrificially love them, even if you don’t like them or know them! So go and show God’s love by being God’s love to others. Love others and not just your friends or those you like... God loves you... Let’s go and reflect the God we claim to love, follow and obey... I look forward to hearing from Don and Michelle how this church is affecting the community here for Jesus Christ and Him alone.

As I finish, I am compelled to say this. Maybe you are here today, and you would not call yourself a Christian. Then please do not leave here today without asking somebody here about how you can become one and start this new life and the new hope which only those who are Christian can claim. God the Father’s love is calling you. God the Father has chosen you. God the Holy Spirit is waiting to set you apart and cleanse you. God the Son is waiting for you to accept his obedient sacrifice. Come!

Let’s pray.

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