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Uncomfortable Evangelism


Have you ever wondered why you have tried to do something, but it did not seem to work?

You put time and effort into the endeavor, yet at the end of the day, it just did not work. Then maybe you tried again with the same result, so after a while, you just gave up.


I’ve tried many times to do something successful only to find out it just didn’t work. I’m somebody that, if interested in something, I’ll give it more than one or two tries. Not always, but usually I’ll try something five or six times and then maybe give up.

The early church was successful in their efforts to reach the world around them for Jesus and Acts 4:32-35 gives us insights as to why. As Christians, we’re called to share the message of Jesus with the world around us. You can reference the Great Commission in Matthew.


Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)


That instruction came straight from Jesus. Now, how successful have you been in making disciples? It’s pretty hard, right? You’ve got social media where everyone has an opinion, we’re in and out of a pandemic, everyone doesn’t have time for anyone else, and life is insane.


I feel like churches everywhere have so many great tools, yet so many fail at reaching people. So, how do we go about making disciples?


The book of Acts shows us how the Great Commission looks shortly after the crucifixion of Jesus. Acts provides us with an account of the early church’s spread and recounts the “acts of the apostles.” In other words, it gives us “the first page of the history of the Church”. Let’s go back shall we..


The early church was growing by leaps and bounds. Why was the early church doing so well with their evangelism? They had no social media, no You Version Bible App? No big church signs, no big shiny new churches in which to worship. Yet throughout the book of Acts, we see a great deal of growth.


All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need. Acts 4:32-35 (NIV)


I think from an intellectual standpoint, we all know we are called to reach people, yet the task seems so tricky. I can’t think of anyone who has sold their house and given it to our church. I’ve heard of people gifting cars to churches or people who need them, but selling a house? That one must have got by me. That’s uncomfortable evangelism to me.

It appears forces are working against us, which is true. However, here is something for us to consider. Many times, we excuse our lack of success in the area of evangelism on the society in which we live. We blame the pandemic, or social media, or life being busy. But… are these excuses to not make disciples? It is true that society is not too eager to embrace Jesus; however, the early church thrived in the same environment.


The honest truth is that most societies are not eager to embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ. Today I want to suggest three things that the early church did to help make the evangelistic efforts succeed. The great thing about these three issues is that we still possess them today, we just need to make sure that these things are a part of our efforts to refocus our mission and purpose in the right direction.


If all the churches strived to take advantage of these three issues, our efforts to reach lost people for Jesus would grow by leaps and bounds. Given the fact that the early church thrived in spite of their surrounding circumstances, if we refocus our efforts in the right direction, we too can succeed!


If we can grasp onto the three facts we will discuss today, we too can be successful in our endeavor to reach a lost world! Let’s go back to that scripture from Acts and focus on verse 32.


Acts 4:32 (CSB) — 32 Now the entire group of those who believed were of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but instead they held everything in common.


Our evangelism efforts are aided by:


1. A Powerful Witness

The early church possessed a powerful witness! These folks were laser beam focused on their mission, they were united in CHRIST, AND THIS UNITY GAVE THEM A POWERFUL WITNESS TO THE LOST WORLD AROUND THEM!

We have a powerful weapon at our disposal, the weapon is the powerful witness of our unity. A lot of churches struggle with the concept of unity. Be it from leadership, volunteers, or just people going out of habit and church being a routine- but the core church has to be united. Does that mean everyone has to agree on every little thing? No. Absolutely not. But you must be united in reaching people.


Now the entire group of those who believed in Acts were of one heart and mind. This one heart and one mind shows the depth of their unity. One heart is a phrase that indicates that they felt alike and were interested in the same things. The phrase represents the intellectual side of their Christian life!


One heart or mind indicates the close, loving union these early believers enjoyed. They had a deep love for one another based on their unity on behalf of Jesus. Taken together, the expression one in mind and heart may be expressed verbally as “they thought the same things and they wanted the same things.”


Another way to put it, maybe in modern terms: they all shared the same vision of ministry. These folks were not looking out for number one, they cared about one another.

Then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:2-4 (NIV)


The powerful witness we see from the early church was the generosity they had toward one another. They did not just talk about unity, they displayed it. This is why unity cannot be commanded, it takes a right heart by all involved to make it happen.


This is like when we do what we do for the Lord. If we do it with a bad attitude, it profits us nothing. These Christians were helping one another as the needs arose. This was not communism. Communism is, "What is yours is mine, and I will take it." By the way, socialism is not far off that point.


Fellowship is, “What’s mine is yours; I’ll share it.” The unity on display was a powerful witness to the world around them.


Let’s look at verse 33:


With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all

Our evangelism efforts are aided by:

2. A Powerful Message


The next tool in the tool chest of the early church was with great power the Apostle were preaching the Word! Specifically, they were preaching on the resurrection! The phrase WITH GREAT POWER, could indicate that the Apostles were performing miracles, or it could refer to their preaching or both.


I believe the focus of the great power was the message of the resurrected Jesus! This message would hit a nerve with the Sadducees who did not believe there was an afterlife. The message of Jesus was the primary message of the early church. They focused squarely on Jesus.


The early church did not have social media, multi-media, or really anything fancy, they merely proclaimed the message of Jesus Christ. Imagine the messages they gave back then. I like to imagine they stood on a hillside, shouting the message and worshipping Jesus, with a crowd surrounding


What is one thing we have that nobody else has? It is the message of Jesus Christ, it is the fact that Jesus is the son of God and that He died for our sins and rose on the third day and is seated at the right hand of the Father. Look, anyone can preach pop psychology, and I am not against psychology. Anyone can put on a multi-media show that will knock your socks off, and I am not against that either. We can have cool church name, cool signs, cool multi-media presentations, awesome music- which by the way I think is excellent; however, if we neglect the message, we are wasting a powerful tool!


When the verse tells us that great grace was on all of them, this refers to God’s favor. The early church had it right! They were united in spirit, heart, and mission, and God was blessing them. They preached a message without compromise, without fear, even though some were beaten for doing so. Can we say we’d take a beating for witnessing to others?


Our efforts to reach the lost today will be significantly aided by us understanding that we must share the gospel of Jesus Christ to be able to save people and see them transformed! People are dying every day and going to hell because we couldn’t or wouldn’t reach them.


Let’s look at verses 34-35:


there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

Our evangelism efforts are aided by:

3. Powerful Love

This ties back to the first point concerning a powerful witness. That witness was built on unity, and that unity was based on a powerful love for one another that led folks to sacrificially give to help anyone within the church who had a need.


It is one thing to give a couple of dollars to help someone, it is another thing to be willing to sell your stuff, lay it at the feet of the apostles so they could use it to help those within the church who had need. One thing to consider, there was basically no safety net for those who were in need, or for the widows. If their families did nothing for them, they had nothing. By the way, this was not a system where they did anything for someone who was looking for a free ride, they helped all who had need.


We are blessed to have a generous, loving church. I’ve seen this in action with Outlaw Church. When folks know of a need, they will do the best they can to step up to help meet the need. That is love.

I want to say something about love.

When Jesus was being beaten within an inch of His life, what kept Him in the fight? LOVE. When he was being scorned on the cross, what prompted Him to say concerning those who beat Him, spit on Him, and scorned Him, hhe simply said: "FATHER, FORGIVE THEM FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO!"

That is LOVE! One thing the world is looking for from us is love. We have to show love to our Church family, and to our family at home. It is a terrible witness when we do not love each other, or if we do not love our spouses. The early church in Acts were people MOTIVATED by love! I pray this church is motivated by the same! Each one of us has a difficult, job to do for God. The church has a difficult task to do for God. We have some powerful weapons at our disposal that can help us to be successful in what God has called us to do! I want the world to see how beautiful this church, and all you folks are.

Let's tell the world what a great Savior and Lord we serve!

Blessings.

Pastor Stephen Semones Outlaw Church

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