TEXT: Acts 1:6-11 “When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
Certain words in the English language can produce negative feeling in most people. Words such as exercise, diet, dentist (No offense), and taxes. There are certain words in the spiritual language that produce negative feelings as well. Perhaps at the top of the chart is the word, evangelism. There might be an attempt to hide the word by using phrases like “sharing our/the faith” or “connecting others with our Savior”, etc. Yet it becomes impossible not to use the word ‘evangelism’ when you get right down to the point. What makes us kind of cringe at the word? Could it be negative experience relayed to you by a friend or relative? Or witnessing a pushy member steam roll over someone and call it his/her duty to set them straight? Does fear come upon you at the thought that further demands of your time and comfort will be stretched beyond limits? When a preacher speaks on it, is there a feeling of guilt like I should be doing more? Or is it because it is associated with failures and having to face rejection from people who are unresponsive, even hostile?
Those in the New Testament did not fare so well when evangelism was first tried. We see from the very first proclamation (Acts 2) a hostile crowd. Just think about it – here these men were sitting on ready. They had seen the risen Lord! Is was as if they were gassed up, on the starting line with the engine running. The green flag is waved and they are off!
They open their mouths and out comes the message that had never been heard before! Yet they were met with an accusation of being drunk. In Acts 3 they were arrested. In Acts 4 they appeared before the rulers and the teachers to be mocked. In Acts 5 they spent night in jail and had to make an appearance before high priest. In Acts 7 Stephen put to death. In Acts 8 – persecutions that would destroy any other movement.
Christians were expunged from Jerusalem and lost jobs. Everything they had accumulated was gone because the dared to speak the word ‘evangelism’. In Acts 16 Paul and Silas were beaten a d put in prisons. In Acts 23 Jews take an oath, not to eat or drink until Paul is dead. As we read we wonder, what is wrong with these folks? I mean even a monkey learns after the third time. Why do they not just keep it to themselves? Don’t they realize, hey you can be quiet about this thing and you are not going to be mocked, stripped, imprisoned. If you will just keep quiet. Why don’t you just go about your life, believing in Jesus, being faithful to Jesus, but just don’t talk about Jesus. After all people can see your actions and learn about Jesus that way, can’t they? Christianity is better seen than spoken, right? No need to open your mouth, just live it out and that is all that is needed to evangelize, right?
It is what many of us have learned to do, isn’t it? What is the best way to keep your peers, friends, co-workers from giving you a hard time about being a Christian? We are lulled into the modern correctness that we need not offend or cause people to choose, but live like a Christian and keep your mouth shut. The best way to keep your neighbors is to keep your views to yourself? But in this view, we have allowed the world to set our boundaries and not Christ. We allow our fear of friendship loss, persecution and rejection place stop signs where Christ has placed green lights.
Why didn’t these early Christians just keep it to themselves? Somehow, someway, they bought into this Biblical concept: That obedience to the commands of Christ, always results in blessings. It may not always appear that way. In the long run, it will always breed blessings. Until we become convicted that making disciples by opening our mouths means greater blessings than consequences, we are going to continue to be silent about our faith in Jesus.
Luke 24:46, 47 “And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” This meant communicating the gospel not only in deed but also in word. The gospel requires it. In Acts 1:8 the clarion call began in Jerusalem, the moved to Samaria and now covers the utter most parts of the world. If you are still reading this, most likely the question is not about the “how to”, but about “why to”. You did not become a Christian by accident. Surely you know what made you so and can point to the passages that convinces you of your Christian claim. If not I would seriously suggest that you not call yourself a Christian until you can.
Why speak? What’s the blessing? If we are faithful to the call of Jesus, what is the blessing to our lives?
1. The blessing of leaving a real mark on this world. Most of us have a longing to feel that this world is a better place because or our existence. We would humbly like to think that we will leave some mark, long after we have passed and it varies how some endeavor to fulfill this desire. Some give away a lot of money. Give away enough of it and your name will be embedded on the side of a building. To have university library named after you – your name will forever be remembered. Another way someone may try to satisfy this feeling is by inventing or discovering something no person had ever seen before. Maybe it is some revolutionary thing that makes Facebook obsolete. Maybe even thinking that you have discovered some hidden bible passage that has been misinterpreted low these many ages and receive recognition for it. How my name will be forever remembered is the mind that seeks such type of blessing. How about efforts to gain unparalleled achievements? Many remarkable things have been done and names of achievers will long be remembered by the world.
But let me ask you, have they made that great of an impact? Sure, the world is more comfortable and we can boast about accomplishments. Even life on the earth has been extended due to such works. But really, what eternal impact have such things made? It’s a temporary impact. When this world passes, all these gifts pass as well. What can man do, better yet, what can you do that will far exceed them and have an eternal impact?
The Lord says, only one way possible by pointing people toward a relationship with me. When you introduce others to Jesus you change peoples’ lives in the here and now. This is only done by communicating the gospel of Christ. By giving words of Christ, the ultimate blessing of salvation occurs. By sharing the words of Christ, marriages are saved, families are healed, peace exists, and a sense of belonging a purpose replaces hopelessness and fear.
2. The blessing of having God’s Approval. Nothing as important to the ears of child as hearing parents say we’re proud of you. To gain this type of approval, what is necessary? Only thing: Obedience is at the very heart of approval. To be good at anything requires obedience to the rules that govern the particular goal. Whether it be sports, school, work, or home. God’s standard of approval is the same: obedience. In John 15:14 Jesus gives this standard: “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” Not, if you make a lot of money, accomplish a lot in the corporate world, if you are popular, good looking , and athletic. We have God’s approval when we share the words of Christ with others (Matthew 28:18-20). Though we may encounter rejection and loss, we know that God is watching and says, “My child, I am so proud of you.”
3. The blessing of spiritual life. You may attend worship three times a week. You may be comfortable in singing “Lead me to some soul today” and not feel the need to act upon it. You may pray “Father, use me to share Christ with others” and be fine with letting people walk by you as they make their way to hell. If this is your feeling then you are spiritually dead. No pulse, a walking corpse.
Philemon 1:6: “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.” Notice the connection between sharing your faith (evangelism) and having an understanding of the good things found in Christ. No other Christian virtue brings such depth as the one exercised when we tell others of Christ.
4. Many other blessings comes to those who voice the gospel. One of the greatest blessings that I can think of is the joy that occurs in heaven when one soul responds to the gospel we share. In facing the fear, we may lead one soul to Christ which wipes away recent memories of past rejections. While our salvation is not dependent on the response of others, the enjoyment of heaven is greatly increase when positive results are had (1 Corinthians 3:14-15).