There is an apocryphal story that imagines a conversation between the archangel Gabriel after Jesus ascended back to the Father. Gabriel asks Jesus, “Well how did it go? Did you complete your mission to save the world? Jesus replies, “Well, yes and no. I modeled a godly life for about thirty years. I preached to a few thousand Jews in one corner of the Roman Empire. I died for the sins of the world and promised that those who believe in me will live forever.
And I burst forth from the tomb on the third day to show my circle of 120 frightened followers that my life and story are God’s way to save the world. Then I gave the Holy Spirit to those 120 and left them to finish the task.” “You mean,” Gabriel asked in amazement, “your whole plan to save the world depends on that ragtag bunch of fishermen, ex-prostitutes and tax collectors?” “That’s right.” Jesus replied. “But what if they fail?” Gabriel persists with growing alarm. “What’s your back-up plan?” “There is no back-up plan. I am counting on them,” Jesus said confidently.
Jesus has left you with His plan, His command. So, who did you share the Gospel with this week? Maybe you didn’t use words, but can you think of a time when you think your life actions showed Jesus to others? Today let’s focus on methods and message.
You may think I digress but maybe last week you wondered and still wonder: “Why do we need to tell people about Jesus?” You know the simple answer, Jesus has given a direct command to tell other people about Him. If you were sleeping last week or missed last week: “Therefore, (that means based on what I’ve done before this moment) go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Peter in Acts 4:12 clearly tell us why we need to tell people about Jesus: “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” People are not saved by being nice. People are not saved by their good deeds. People are not saved by attending church. People are saved when they repent and place their faith and trust in Jesus as their Lord and Savior and wholly surrender their lives to the will of Jesus. When they are new and different from the world. An important part of being a Christian and saying you are a Christian involves sharing the truth of who Jesus is with others.
Jesus has called us to tell others of their urgent need to repent from their sins and surrender their lives to Jesus as their Lord and Savior. We have a message of hope, a message of love, a message of eternal consequence – Jesus is the only way of salvation. Jesus’ words speak to us today and to many today, especially those outside of “church” as well those attending church.
Matthew 7:13-14 “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.”
Many think they are “good people” and God would not send “good people” to hell. They convince themselves that they can get to Heaven on their own merit – judged by their own standards. They customize God to their standards. The problem with this is that we are judged by God’s standards; He is never brought down to our standards.
But there is hope, Romans 3:24-26 –“Yet God, in His grace, freely makes us right in His sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed His life, shedding His blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when He held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for He was looking ahead and including them in what He would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate His righteousness, for He Himself is fair and just, and He makes sinners right in His sight when they believe in Jesus.”
This is the essence of the message of the Gospel. The good news is there is hope, there is a savior, He died for you, turn to Him, trust Him, receive the gift of eternal life. Be saved, be set free, become a child of God, become a disciple of Jesus. Escape from a lost eternity without God and be assured of a place in Heaven because of what Christ has done for you. That is why people need to hear the message of truth, the message that can save their eternal lives.
In Luke Chapter 15 there is the parable of the Lost sheep, listen to the words of Jesus in Luke 15:4-7, “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!”
Jesus understood the power of the story. As disciples of Jesus, when we read this parable, we probably identify ourselves with the ninety-nine sheep that were safe. We rejoice over being one of the ninety-nine. We include ourselves in the majority of this parable.
We have already come to know the Good Shepherd for ourselves, we know we enjoy the safety and provision of God’s loving care. Do we miss the point of the parable? The Shepherd cares about the one. The one who is lost. The one who needs to be found. The one who needs to be rescued. If we ignore the importance of the message of Jesus, if we ignore what Jesus has commanded us to do, then we ignore the lost, we ignore the fact that hell awaits every person who does not trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and surrender their life to Him.
Are we so comfortable being part of the flock, part of the church, part of the ninety-nine that we have become apathetic and indifferent to the lost sheep? Do we care about the ‘ones’ that have not fully surrendered their life to Jesus and are lost in sin? Have we forgotten the free grace of God that reached out to us? Have we become as self-righteous and cold hearted as the Pharisees of Jesus day?
The lost sheep of this parable is a symbol of those without God, those who are out in the darkness and danger of night where there is no light, no joy, and no safety. God has chosen us, commanded us to tell others about Jesus the Good Shepherd who came into the darkness of our world to reveal the concern God has for us.
The shepherd had concern in his heart for the welfare of the lost sheep when he discovered it was missing from the flock. Because of his concern for the sheep, and because of his love for each one, he went out into the darkness and danger and loneliness of the night looking. He continued to search until the lost sheep was found and restored. He experienced joy on finding the lost sheep, and he lovingly carried it to the safety of the fold.
The Good Shepherd continues to seek the lost sheep. Our Lord has commanded us to seek the lost. With this parable Jesus did more than tell an interesting story about a shepherd and a lost sheep. Jesus was speaking about God’s individual and personal care for people.
If one sheep is outside in the dark, our Father God is concerned. Jesus is still seeking the lost. He wants to find them and receive them. We have already experienced the safety of belonging to Father God and we are to take the message of the Gospel to others.
Here is some questions: Who do you know that needs to hear the message of the Gospel? Family members? Spouse? Brothers and sisters? Daughters and sons? Mothers and fathers? Friends? Fellow workers? Neighbors? Doctor or dentist? The cashier where you shop? The Butcher, Baker, Candlestick maker?
These are the people who need to hear the truth. Have you told those you know and love that a place in Heaven is assured to them if they repent and trust and surrender their life to Jesus as their Lord and Savior? These are the people who don’t need to be impressed with how well you know your bible, these are people who probably don’t want to hear those classic religious sayings and quotes, these are the people who simply need YOU to tell them what Jesus means to YOU and what He has done for you and how it changed you. That’s the method. Then tell them, Jesus can do the same for them if they ask Him to.
When you speak God will be with you. Trust Him to use you for His honor and glory. We have a message of truth to share. We have a message of eternal consequence to speak. We know the truth about sin and salvation. We know the truth about Heaven and Hell. Knowing the truth we are compelled to speak. Knowing the truth we are to seek the ones that are lost so that the may find Jesus for themselves.
How many people have you shared the truth of the Gospel with? How many people have you told about why you believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Sidenote: if all the people you hang with are believers, you need to greatly expand your acquaintances and circle of people you’re around.
How many of your family and friends know next to nothing about your relationship with God? How often do you look for opportunities to share the message that forgiveness is possible in Jesus?
I want to encourage each of us, myself included, to write down the name of at least one name or more of people we want to pray for and speak to. People with whom we will take every opportunity to share the truth with, to be a witness for Christ, to be the messenger who brings the Good News of the Gospel.
Pray for these people, pray the words of Ezekiel 36:25 where God said: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove your stony heart from your body and replace it with a living one.” Jesus is the only way to God, in John 14:6 Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”
There are no other ways, Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for our sin. God has given only one way of salvation. The word of God, the gospel of Christ must be proclaimed so that the lost can surrender and receive the free gift of grace. Perhaps the best method to begin telling another person about Jesus is to tell our own story, to give our own testimony, to speak of what God has done in our own life.
Every time we tell our story, our testimony, we give honor and glory to God. Our story is actually the story of how God found and rescued us:
I was the one that had gone astray. I was the one who was lost. I was the one that Jesus rescued! I was the one that He saved. I have an eye-witness account of how my life has changed. You have the personal experience of being lost, helpless, you were on the broad road that led to hell, then Jesus rescued you and led you to the narrow way that leads to Heaven. You were there when it happened, and I pray you are living a different life now because of what Jesus did for you.
My final encouragement to you is this: Share your story with someone this week! If you haven’t written down a name or names, do it, keep it by your Bible, make a covenant with God to: share your story, your life before Jesus, how you came to Jesus and your life now with Jesus as His disciple with them.
What did your life revolve around that God used to help bring you to Him? What your life was like before you came to Christ? Why and how did you became a Christian? What are some of the changes that Jesus has made in your life? How has your character, your attitude, your perspective and your behavior changed?
When you share your story be realistic. Life is far from perfect, isn’t it? We still struggle as Christians. But knowing God cares for us makes all the difference. Look for, pray for and take the opportunity to share your story. This week allow God to use you as part of His rescue mission to the ones who are lost. May God be glorified and the lost surrender. Amen.