A week ago tomorrow I asked for prayer as I spoke about “The Fear of God and its Relationship to Evangelism.” Many of you prayed and God was good to bless me as I spoke. In the comment section of that post, after confirming his prayer for me, Guy Muse asked if he could see a few excerpts from my message. After thinking about it I thought it might possibly be profitable for someone to read portions of my message and so I thought I would make the basic outline – and a few illustrations that I used – available to those who would be interested. You will find them below.
Let me setup the message by saying that I was preaching a series of three messages to a small group of youth leaders from the Midwest and the West. I was dealing with the topic of the Fear of the Lord and its application in our lives. I used 3 separate passages that dealt with aforementioned fear and then I looked at the ramifications of the same passages in our lives today. I hope the following outline is helpful to you.
The Fear of God and the Priority of Evangelism
“If there is one God, Creator, Redeemer, Judge, as the early Church passionately asserted, then those who have been brought back from their rebellion against Him into fellowship with Him cannot but pass on the knowledge of that rescue to others; the new life cries out to be shared.”
Michael Green, Evangelism in the Early Church
1. We are should value opportunities to share. (1-3)
We shouldn’t fear crowds, but we neither should we bow to them. We must take every opportunity to embrace a chance to communicate the gospel to groups of people, but we must be equally ready to share the hard truths of scripture at that time as well. Jesus had the opportunity to address a group of what most scholars believe was over 20,000 people, while doing so through the teaching He offered his disciples.
“Popularity can breed a desire to remain popular and thus to soften the hard truth of our sinfulness before God.” – Darrell Bock
a. Beware of hypocrisy. (1)
Jesus warns his followers not to mix godly with unholy. It is the same charge that He later would level at the church at Pergamum in Revelation 2. It is not so much the actual act of mixing faith that He is condemning, per se, but rather the act of simply condoning it.
1 Corinthians 5:6, Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough?
Isaiah 29:13, The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men”
Karl Rahner, “The number one cause of atheism is Christians. Those who proclaim God with their mouths and deny Him with their lifestyles is what an unbelieving world finds simply unbelievable.”
b. “Closet sin” is a myth. (2)
God will reveal our hearts. That is a terrifying thought. We often segregate our actions in our minds. We have the public actions and we have the private actions. We have learned when to pull out each one. God wants us to realize that there is no difference between the two.
1 Corinthians 4:5, Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.
c. We will all be held accountable. (3)
The purpose in the revealing of every action is that we may be held accountable for it. God is specific here as well. The phrase “inner room” is literally translated as the innermost closet in the house. In other words, God is going to take our every thought, word, action etc. and cause us to give an account for it.
1 Peter 4:17, For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
2. We must remember the price to be paid. (4-10)
Following God is not easy. As a matter of fact, following God and teaching others to follow God, involves the sacrifice of our own lives. This life, however, is not without reward either.
Galatians 2:20, I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
a. Consider our fear of God. (4-5)
What motivates us to serve? Is it personal enjoyment? Is it popularity? Is it to please others? If we are motivated, primarily, by anything other than God we are wrongly motivated.
John R. Stott, “We engage in evangelism, not necessarily because we want to, or because we choose to, or because we like to; but because we have been told to. The church is under orders. The risen Lord has commanded us to go, to preach, and to make disciples, and that is enough for us.”
John 15:9, As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.
b. Consider our value to God. (6-7)
A sparrow was the cheapest item sold in the market. Their cost was the lowest valued coin in the monetary system. The cost was approximately 1/32 of an hours wage at minimum wage. In today’s economy that would roughly translate to $0.17.
There are approximately 100,000 hairs on an average persons head. Translate across the world’s population and that is approximately 650,000,000,000,000. When you compound that with the fact that the average person loses and re-grows approximately 75 hairs a day, that means that God has to relearn 487,500,000,000 new hairs on a daily basis.
c. Consider our passion for God. (8-10)
Not only should we be motivated by God, but our motivation is empty if it is not accompanied by action. Saying it is simply not enough. We have to be people of action.
Acts 7:54-60, The Jewish leaders were infuriated by Stephen’s accusation, and they shook their fists at him in rage. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand. And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!” Then they put their hands over their ears and began shouting. They rushed at him and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. His accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died.
Foxes Book of Martyrs (William Tyndale), “Master Tyndale, remaining in prison, was proffered an advocate and a procurator; the which he refused, saying that he would make answer for himself. He had so preached to them who had him in charge, and such as was there conversant with him in the Castle that they reported of him, that if he were not a good Christian man, they knew not whom they might take to be one. At last, after much reasoning, when no reason would serve, although he deserved no death, he was condemned by virtue of the emperor’s decree, made in the assembly at Augsburg. Brought forth to the place of execution, he was tied to the stake, strangled by the hangman, and afterwards consumed with fire, at the town of Vilvorde, A.D. 1536; crying at the stake with a fervent zeal, and a loud voice, “Lord! open the king of England’s eyes.” Such was the power of his doctrine, and the sincerity of his life, that during the time of his imprisonment (which!
endured a year and a half), he converted, it is said, his keeper, the keeper’s daughter, and others of his household. As touching his translation of the New Testament, because his enemies did so much carp at it, pretending it to be full of heresies, he wrote to John Frith, as followeth, “I call God to record against the day we shall appear before our Lord Jesus, that I never altered one syllable of God’s Word against my conscience, nor would do this day, if all that is in earth, whether it be honor, pleasure, or riches, might be given me.”
3. We must no be swayed by opinions. (11-12)
Why do we say what we say? Why do we do what we do? We’ve consider our motivation and now we want to conclude by thinking about it again. We cannot honor God through evangelism until we are unconcerned about the pressures of our peers and find ourselves only concerned with Christ.
a. We need an attitude without fear.
“Don’t worry, be happy” is the loose translation of verse 11. God is saying to us to be without anxiousness in the face of persecution.
John 15:18-20, If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you.
Christian Solidarity International reports that more Christians were martyred in the 20th century than at any other time in history.
Reports indicate that over 150,000 people died for their faith in Christ last year alone.
b. We must learn to trust our helper.
We need to understand that what allows us to be fearless in our approach to evangelism is not our effectiveness, but God’s faithfulness. We need to be compelled by this truth as we commit to taking the message of the gospel around the world.
Matthew 10:19-20, When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.