by Hershel Conley, BMA of Arkansas Annual Message
Editor’s Note: Part 1 of this sermon appeared in the Nov. 9 issue of the Baptist Trumpet.
I have more young families coming to our church saying they want their children to study the Word of God. There is nothing wrong with having things for children to do, but the church should make sure it is teaching the youth more than songs and games. The carrot that should be dangled in front of our children is the Word of God. That makes future churches grow as well!
What a purifying effect the Word has on each of His churches. I truly love to see a new convert start reading God’s Word and see its affect on his life. Some of the best soul winners I have had are new converts, and I attribute this to sincere Bible study with a heart that is open to its directives. Some church members are satisfied and setting in a pew. The Lord sees our actions, and a church that is doing the will of God by going out and searching for the lost will be healthy. I have found out that not many souls are being led to Christ by some of our churches. Start up and go!
I remember when I went to Billy Graham’s School of Evangelism class and gleaned a lot from it. But on the last day, the instructor asked us to find someone we didn’t know and share the gospel with them. I picked an older gentleman and asked if he would like to do this. He reluctantly said yes, and then he explained that he had been a deacon in his church for 30 years and had never led someone to Jesus. I looked at him and told him I was glad that the Lord convicted him to finish well and we became friends. So many today are not sharing the gospel and it is showing up in our churches and communities, as well as our country!
(John 17:21) Jesus said He wants us to be one with us. I love to hear of our people that are going out and sharing the gospel and also the ones that are living a life that is pleasing to the Lord. To experience a healthy church, just like the human body, it must be given the right spiritual nutrients. A good helping of daily devotion and prayer unto the Lord with a great deal of love abounding and a heart that is full of gratitude so much, will influence your whole life. Then the “want to” gets in gear!
The last part of this verse tells us the reason for our actions and lifestyles! “That the world may believe that thou hast sent me” — good enough!
The Lord expects fruit from a church. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). Dwight L. Moody once said “Out of 100 men, 1 will read the Bible, the other 99 will read the Christian.”
Do you want a healthy church? Be as one. Make sure you equip your church. Teach hands-on witnessing. Go and show. Find places like the laundry mat and put in a few quarters. They have to sit there, so share the gospel with them. Grocery stores and WalMart are great places, and so are at the gas pumps, in the hospital surgical waiting room and down at the intensive care waiting room.
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (I Peter 3:15). One time a few years ago, I went to Highland Hills Baptist Church where Paul White was the missionary. He formed a team of men to go out and visit every home in the surrounding area. One particular day, I had someone upset me and I didn’t want to go. The van was waiting for me, and Dude came over and said, “Aren’t you going?” I said, “No, my heart isn’t in it today.” He insisted that I go and just drive them. So I went and the longer I sat in that van, the more the Holy Spirit convicted me that I was wrong in not going. I looked down at the clipboard, grabbed it and remembered a home about a quarter mile back we had missed. I reluctantly knocked on the door and the lady of the house asked if she could help me. I said, “We missed this house, and I walked back here to share Jesus with you and your family.” She looked and me and said, “My husband and I were just talking, since we now have a child, that we should learn more about church!” I knew the Lord had planned this from the start. I started talking with her, and her husband came home from work and walked by me. Then a neighbor walked in and took the children in another room. To make a long story short, I led both of them to the Lord! Never back away from the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
(John 17:22-23) Christians will know unity in the church if they are one with God. Jesus told His disciples “the lost will see your oneness in the church body.” Fellowship is powerful for evangelism in a church. When a lost world looks at your church, do they see people just going through the motions or true love abounding and unity that draws people to Jesus and His church?
Powerful things will happen when the church follows these instructions. It won’t be because of great preaching, but the love, encouragement and kindness shown by the people. With this in mind, wont it be wonderful to see someone come and enjoy the fellowship at your church and be drawn by true love and then hear the gospel and be saved?
There have been two large churches in Mountain Home that have split recently because of a lack of oneness. As a church, get all your people and educate them about the attacks of Satan and how he wants to cause trouble in God’s church. “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (I John 4:4).
Rely on the Lord for He is in you and we are in Him. Nothing can defeat a church that completely relies on Jesus! We have overcome the world with the One who is always with us. May we always believe together as one!
A Church that is as one with the Lord God will have power. It is not of men, but of God. The early church didn’t wait on someone to walk in the door, they put shoe leather on the gospel. The church today needs to get up out of the pews and start sharing the gospel with the lost or it will not be of the same mind.
“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” (Act 1:8).Jesus, before His ascension, told His disciples they would receive power from the Holy Spirit. This power from the Holy Spirit will start a person on his way to being a soul winner and a person who follows Jesus steps. This power can fill us with works for the Lord and abilities we didn’t know we had. There is no greater power! This power is for equipping us to carry out witnessing for the Lord God!
The one thing I know is that before I go anywhere, I must have enough power to get there! I grew up a mechanic’s son working on cars and trucks. One of the main concerns of a doctor we knew was whether his car would pull his new boat. Looking at his car, we most certainly knew that old Bonneville just didn’t have enough power to pull that boat. He later asked me to work on his eight-track player under the dash on his Bonneville. I asked him what was wrong with it, and he said, “My boy, the car took a dip. It couldn’t pull that big boat up the ramp, so I guess it has water in it. I drained everything else!”
When we, as a church, look at our work that is to be done, we can be sure of the power supply given to us by the Holy Spirit. When people see the church and the power it has to accomplish the work of the Lord, it attracts them, and favor of the people will show by the souls that are saved.
It is not from lack of power; it is from the lack of love and devotion to the work of the Lord that stops Christians in the work. I always bring up Heaven when I am teaching a soul winning class. It is our love for Jesus paying our way on the cross that stimulates me and others. My friends, we have Heaven waiting on us with no more sickness pain or sorrow. Complete happiness awaits us. Why do we not work? Has this become weak in our minds or just knowing a guarantee of Heaven? This same power that raised up Jesus is with us now. We should be so committed to sharing the gospel that we would die for this cause. The word “witness” (Greek, martures, mar-too-reh-o) is the same word as martyr.
Each one of you possesses the Spirit and power in your life and a nature to be witnesses unto the Lord, the example was Christ. He came to seek and to save that which was lost. We will not do it standing in the stagnate waters of mediocracy. The only way we will see the church flourish is when the church decides to go everywhere with the gospel.
Please let the Holy Spirit lead your heart. You will never regret following the Holy Spirit’s inspiration! May all of our churches flourish with new converts and with much Bible training and discipling them and they may be one as we are!