INTRO: From Acts 2 through the early chapters of the book of Acts it is very evident that the church was growing rapidly. At Acts 8:4 we are told that the disciples went every where preaching the word. I have no doubt that the Lords intention was and is exactly that ... that disciples should go everywhere teaching others. The spiritual vitality of a congregation of Gods people is dependent in large measure on the evangelistic fervor of that congregation. I do not need, I think, to convince most of us of the need to take the word, the gospel to our friends. But we do need to be consumed with that word go. Notice that the first two letters of the word gospel spell go! Friends and family are our immediate field of interest here. And we have talked about friendship evangelism.
I. NOW, A WORD ABOUT FRIENDSHIP IS APPROPRIATE
A. Are we the kind of friend (or relative) to whom others might listen?
1. so many relationships, even among relatives, are very shallow
2. the society of which we are a part places so much stress of me - to the extent that I wonder if friends and family can be lost in my self interest
3. so, lets think about the kind of friend we should be
B. Prov 27:10 - A friend is faithful to his friends
1. faithful brings words like steadfast, consistent, constant to mind
2. faithful also brings to mind the word dependable
3. I hear so much about friendship, but what I often see is friendships of convenience
4. if we want to make an impact on someones life, they need to see us as being dependable, consistent - they seek answers from true friends
C. 2 Pet 1:7 - A friend is certainly kind and thoughtful
1. there is a drought of kindness in our world
2. the pushing and shoving that goes on in every realm is just a symptom of the lack of kindness
3. our being kind and thoughtful with friends will open doors!
4. Eph 4:32 offers some of the best relationship advice I know
D. 2 Tim 1:6,7 - A friend is encouraging
1. true friends discern the down times in the lives of their friends
2. to encourage is to say to another just how much you do care
3. such sympathy given at critical times will be remembered and will make our approach with the gospel welcome
4. Heb 3:13 - exhort is a wonderful, tender, practical word which has in it all of the best possibilities of encourgement
E. Prov 10:12 - A friend is forgiving (1 Pet 4:8)
1. even the best friendships will have their misunderstandings, stresses
2. forgiveness delayed, however, will injure those relationships
3. we are privileged to forgive quickly and to make nothing of the little things which can trouble a relationship
4. go back to Eph 4:32 - kind, tenderhearted people are forgiving!
F. Prov 27:9 - A friend seeks what is best for his friends
1. friendship certainly speaks of some degree of mutual concern
2. so, I want what is best for my friend(s) - thats the nature of agape
3. in so many ways over time this can be manifested
4. but how could it be better manifested than in spiritual desire for that person - my asking that person to study the word with me?
G. Prov 11:13 - A friend is careful about keeping confidences
1. could we call this the integrity of friendship?
2. trust is a vital ingredient in friendship - and trust can be quickly ruined by ones not keeping confidences
3. trust is absolutely essential to our being able to study with friends
4. if a friend can depend on us in other matters, he will have the security of trusting us for spiritual guidance
H. Prov 17:17 - A friend is constant in his love
1. I think perhaps it is this quality which will help us to patiently appeal to our friends need to consider his soul
2. a friend must have no doubt of our love and good will for him/her
3. a first approach may be met with some reservation, but with constant love future opportunities for Bible study will probably eventuate
4. I have no doubt of the power of constant love in the influencing of others - it is the hot and cold love which causes others to question!
II. HAVING SAID ALL OF THAT, IT STILL COMES BACK TO GO!
A. Lk 10:2 - Should we pray if we are not willing to be used by the Lord?
1. nothing has really changed in 2000 years
2. the harvest is great (perhaps we have not been able to see it because we are not seeing with faith)
3. loving our friends, relatives should be all it takes to send us to them with an opportunity to study Gods word
B. Rev 22:17 - And let him that heareth say, Come.
1. we have heard and received the benefits of the water of life
2. now, its our turn to give by helping another to enjoy that life giving water!
CLOSE: Friends are waiting. Dont keep them waiting.
Cecil A. Hutson
10 March 2002
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)