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Iíd like to begin today with a little testimony. I know from personal experience that people like testimonies. We want to hear about the power of God. The more radical the situation, the more powerful the testimony. The testimony is not about the man, but about the God that is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we can ask or think.

Me personally, I love to see the miracle working power of God. Jesus walked on water, turn water into wine, healed the sick, cast out demons, raised the dead. Thatís what he did for me, raised me from the dead.

I was dead in my trespasses and sins, a slave to sin and to my flesh. From the age of 12 till I was 38 I was a drug addict. In and out of countyJuvenal facilities, California youth Authority, State prisons in Arizona, California, Nevada. I was a career criminal before they enacted the laws about career criminals.                                                                                          For the first 12 years of my life I was tossed from relative to relative. My Mother had me at 16, divorced my Dad when I was 2. She couldnít support me by herself, so I was always staying with an Aunt, or my grandparents, never for long at any one place. So I had no sense of belonging, no roots or respect for authority. I could call my self a victim, blame circumstances for my plight, but it wouldnít make any difference if I did. I was lost. I was so far lost, I fell so far down, that my own mother didnít want me around. I had lost all respect for myself. I was a drug addict, a liar, a thief. God only knows why he chose to save me, but Iím so grateful that he did.

 Ps 40:1  I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.

 2 He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.

 3 And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.

That was me. He lifted me out of that pit, out of that miry clay. Praise God.

I was saved at the end of my last prison term. I had spent 3 and a half years in prison for robbery, then almost 3 more years on parole violations. I was on my last parole violation when I got saved. I had been on a drug run where I had lost 40 lbs in 30 days on meth. As I sat in the county jail the light came on. I knew that I was going to be a Christian. Nobody preached to me, but God began to speak to me. I would read my little new testament at night, and I couldnít wait to go to prison so that I could go to chapel.

I said that God was speaking to me, because I didnít have any outside guidance. I knew that I needed to separate myself from my old friends. I knew that I had to quit smoking. They put me in a cell with a backslidden Christian. He had drugs, and he was generous. I told him no. That was the first time in my life I had said no to drugs. I was born again, a new creature in Christ.

             Iím trying to be brief on the testimony, but I canít seem to skip this part. I really liked this Christian thing. I had never felt so clean, so real. I just knew that for the rest of my life that I would serve God. I would never return to prison, I would have a family and a life. I remember a guy getting up at chapel and giving a testimony. He shared how he gotten out and then failed. I thought, he doesnít love God like I do or he wouldnít be back. I didnít think that Christians could fail. Then one day a man got up and began to share. He said that he had gotten out. That things werenít going right, that he couldnít find a job, he felt discouraged. He ran into his old girlfriend, who seemed really happy to see him. She invited him to her house, prepared a meal for him, gave him a beer, invited  him to bed and he sinned. After that it was weed, beer, sin, and he was back in. The Lord opened my eyes, He told me, thatís you.  It was as though I had walked in that mans shoes. It startled me. A few days later, another testimony from a different man. The Lord showed me, thatís you.  At that point I lost all my confidence, I was afraid to get out. You see, I really did love the Lord. All I could think now was that if I got out I would fail. I would loose my relationship with God. And I didnít want that.

I went to the prison Chaplin and ask him if he could find me some kind of a home to parole too. For 2 weeks he looked, then told me that there was nothing available.

3 days before my release, a man gave me a piece of paper with an address. He told me that he had heard that this was a good menís home. This menís home was 5 miles from my motherís house, and where I ended up working for the next 3 years. The Lord provided a safe place for me to live while I learned how to be a human being. You see, I had spent so much of my life in jail; I had never had a normal job, owned a legal car, rented my own place, had a bank account, had a normal date with a girl. I was institutionalized.

            All right, thatís where I came from and a big part of my testimony. Now let me share whatís been happening on the journey since then.

            Lets talk about soul winning. Nobody had to tell me that soul winning is a big part of Christianity. Itís like wielders wield, swimmers swim, Christians follow Christ. What he did, we do. The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. Jesus came to bring salvation to a lost and dieing world. He preached repentance (Matt 4:17) told Peter follow me and I will make you to be fishers of men (Matt 4:19) gave us the great commission (Mark 16:15, Matt 28:19)

            I was just naÔve enough, coming out of my menís home to believe that the Bible was true. If Jesus said it, then we weíre suppose to do it. I remember being at that first church, being involved in the soul winning class, trying to get people to sign up. I could not understand how a church of 2000 could have so few that weíre willing to go out. Our soul winning class averaged 30.

             I was in for a bigger shock later, when our church of 4000 averaged 5 in attendance. What the heck is going on? Am I the only one that thinks that the great commission is a command from our Lord Jesus? Even now, as we offer our class every Saturday, we have a scattering of attendees from several different churches. How can we, the followers of Christ, show so little regard for the lost, knowing that Jesus gave everything he had for those same lost souls. Have we lost the meaning of Christianity? Have we reinvented the church and made it into a social gathering? A nice place for nice people to hang out?

           This is what I believe has happened over the past hundred years. We have stopped preaching the gospel. We donít lead people to Christ; we invite them to church. At church they are discipled to be church members. We teach them to fulfill ministry positions that mainly serve to make the church run. We use our Pastors as a draw card to get them to church. We say things like ďour pastor is so funny, or heís such a good teacherĒ Itís not suppose to be about the pastor or the church. Itís suppose to be about Jesus. Itís time for the church to wake up. Itís time to return to the real gospel, to do what Jesus and the disciples did, which was to preach repentance. People are dying and going to hell every day while we sit comfortably in our pews laughing at another wonderful sermon.

             This is what I believe. A Christian is a follower of Christ. That means that each and every one of us should be out winning souls. I can usually get an amen when I make that statement, but then I ask how many are actually doing it I get a very different response.

I would like to list here some of the biggest enemies of soul winning.

      1. The fear of man, fear of  rejection. Everything else stems from that.

      2. The mind. Those that think that they cant do it. They tell themselves that they lack the ability

      3.   False teachings that prevail in the modern church.

  1. Soul winning is listed as one of the gifts only for a certain few.
  2. Lack of caring or compassion for the lost. They just donít care.

Let me address these one at a time.

          The fear of man.  What weíre really saying is that weíre ashamed of Jesus. We want to fit into the world, and we perceive the world as seeing religion as fanatical. We talk about the things that are important to us. If your son was a football star, and he won a championship, youíd be telling everyone.

I saw an interview with a collage student. The student said that he was a Christian and had been all his life. When ask if he ever shared his faith he said that he was shy, that he would never approach a stranger, that his personality prevented it.

The interviewer offered him $100 if he would pass out a gospel tract. At that point the student got all excited. He ask, youíll give me $100 to hand out a tract? The interviewer said yes. At which point the student took the tract and handed it some passer buyers. After he collected the $100, the interviewer said; let me get this straight, youíll pass out tracts for money, but you wont do it for the Love of the Lord.                                        

          Because we fear man, witnessing is hard. So we tell ourselves that we canít. Itís a mental block that keeps you from even trying. Some people are doers, and some arenít. Itís really a matter of motivation. Like the story I just told about the collage student. He thought he couldnít, until the proper motivation was put before him. What motivates you? Do you fear God? Are you concerned about the vast multitudes that are sinking into hell each and every day?

          False teachings. Jesus gave the great commissions to all believers. He didnít regulate it to a certain few. One of the teachings Iíve seen is that there are different kinds of personalities, thus different types of witnessing. One would be confrontational, another relational. A non-confrontational person wouldnít actually witness to a stranger, but would instead, witness with their walk. Eventually that lost person would approach and ask what made you so different. Youíll be waiting a long time for that to happen. A lot of people will go to hell because of that lie. Friendship evangelism. Earn your right to witness. Well thatís fine if your trying to win them over to you. But we donít want them in church to please you. We want them in church to flee the wrath to come. To love, and to serve Jesus.

           Soul winning is thought to be one of the gifts. Itís even taught that way by some well meaning pastors. But Jesus didnít designate or exclude when he gave the great commission. He commanded to all that want to be disciples. Repentance and obedience are not options. And they are absolutely necessary for salvation. Can he be your savior and not be your Lord? He says, why call me Lord and do not the things I say? By this we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. Works do not save us, but they are the evidence that we are saved.

Matt.7:21 Not everyone that saith unto me Lord, Lord will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, but he that doeth the will of the my Father which is in Heaven

           No concern for the lost. I donít care what you claim with your lips, if your not soul winning then you have no concern for the lost. What would you think of a man that watched a baby drowning in a pool and did nothing. He said, itís not my baby, not my pool, so itís not my business. Youíd cry out in outrage. Youíd have the man arrested. Demand that he be punished severely. So what about all these people that are going to hell while you sit in silence. Is hell not real for you? Are you really saved? Is Jesus abiding in your heart or not? Jesus says that if we abide in him then we will bear much fruit. Are you bearing fruit for the kingdom?

           2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith, prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

Why are you here? Why do you go to church week after week? What is the purpose? Are you wanting to follow Jesus, take up the cross, suffer persecution, pay with your life if necessary? What if it was going to cost you everything? Would you still be willing to follow Jesus, would you still be showing up for church on Sunday morning?

Jesus spoke to the church in Laodicea. He rebuked them for their lukewarm ness, then said, as many as I love I rebuke and chasten; be zealous therefore and repent.

Thatís what heís speaking to the church today, be zealous and repent. Wake up Christians. Donít let them go to hell while you slumber in your pew. Do something while thereís still time.

Rev. 22:12 And, behold, I come quickly and my reward is with me, to give every man according to his works shall be.

We will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. We will give an account of ourselves. How will you fair?

           Jesus gave us 3 very strong parables in Matthew chapter 25. The 10 virgins, the talents, and the sheep and the goats. He illustrates in each that there will be a day when judgment will happen. You need to be ready, producing and doing. Or you will be locked out, pushed into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, into everlasting punishment. In John 15 He tells us that we will produce much fruit, or we will be cut off, cast aside and burned.

Is this the Jesus they teach in most churches? No, theyíre teaching a feel good Jesus that just wants to bless you and make your life all fuzzy and warm? Iím sorry, but this is not the Jesus that I read about in the bible.

2 Timothy 4:3 Says that the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lust shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

They will radically change the church to suit their own lustful lifestyles. A social hangout with no demands, full of humanistic teachings. No body wants to go soul winning. Thatís way far out of the comfort zone, way too inconvenient. Oh ya, that doctrine about hell, well thatís got to go also. What kind of a loving god would send his children to hell.

Matt 7:13 Enter ye in at the straight gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many there be that go in thereat:

14 because straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it..

Thereís a mind set in the modern church that has to change. Maybe you have that mind set? Maybe youíre comfortable with your Christian life. You look around and compare yourself with other Christians who are doing the same things that you are doing. Really nice people, helping out at the church, fulfilling a ministry position , making the church run. All fuzzy and lukewarm, comfortable.

  Re 3:14 ∂ And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;

 15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

 17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

 18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

Is that you? Are you busy for the Lord? Are you baring fruit for the Kingdom? Is there strong evidence in your life that you are a Christian. The church in Laodicea had no idea that they were lukewarm. The Lord had to rebuke them. At the same time he left us an example of what we should not be.

Today is your day of repentance. Pray right now. Iím sorry Lord. Iím sorry for being religious and not obeying you. Please give me a new heart. Stir me up Lord and use me to bring Glory to your name. Give me a heart for the lost Lord and a new zeal. Use me Lord. Amen

 

 
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