Lect97Unity They Were United In Evangelism Keith Kasarjian by TgH1xH8


									                                              Chapter 22
                      They Were United In Evangelism
                                               Keith Kasarjian
Brother Kasarjian is a native of Coral Gables, FA. He was baptized at age 14. He received his B.A. at
Faulkner University in Montgomery, AL in 1990. He has preached in AL since then and is currently at the
Eastern Shore congregation in Daphne, AL. He has been on campaigns in Scotland and Russia. He is
married to the former Kim Sykes and they have 2 children, Mollie and Kyle.

The first century church is our example and our model. Sometimes we see what not to do, but most often
we find a great example to follow. Such is certainly the case with regards to evangelism. Never was there
a more evangelistic church than the first century church. That they were evangelistically minded cannot be
disputed. One only needs to read the book of Acts to gain some idea of the zeal these Christians had for the
lost of their day.

General Observations Regarding Evangelism In The Early Church
It was never limited to church assemblies. In fact, this is where it happened the least. They went out to
the lost and told them about salvation. This is the work of the church. We must not confuse the worship of
the church with the work of the church. Soul winning is our mission!

It was always initiated by Christians. Sinners rarely initiated conversations regarding salvation. This
must be done by God's children. The unsaved have never beaten down a path to our door and probably
never will. Too often we have had the "Field of Dreams" view of the meeting house. "If we build it, they
will come". How foolish! Christians must initiate evangelism.

It was never a matter of manipulation. No one begged the first century Christians to speak to their
neighbors about the Gospel. No one arm twisted or brow beat. No one had to be coerced into it. It was a
natural outgrowth of their faith and love.

It was everyone's business. There were not just a few and the apostles involved in soul winning but the
majority. Acts 8:4 says "Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word."
The greatest potential of evangelism can never be realized with only a few trying to do the work that
belongs to everyone.

What a great example to follow! But the question begs to be asked. Why were they so evangelistic? Why
were they so much more than we? This writer believes there are three basic reasons for the great soul
winning attitude that permeated the early church.

They had a Sense of Gratitude
Every member of the first century church had formerly been a sinner (Romans 3:23). Some had been guilty
of grievous sins. Peter, in his preaching on Pentecost, pointed the accusing finger at those present and told
them they were guilty of murdering the Son of God (Acts 2:22-23,36). What a heinous and unthinkable
crime! But the irony is that the innocent blood they shed was given for even their sin. They were the
recipients of His amazing grace!

One specific example is Saul whose name was later changed to Paul. He labored under gratitude for the
great grace that had pardoned him. He would later say in I Corinthians 15:8-11, "And last of all he was
seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be
called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his
grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I,
but the grace of God which was with me. Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye

                     Cold Harbor Road Church of Christ - www.cold-harbor-road.org
Their attitude was like the one Jesus spoke of in Luke 7:40-43. "And Jesus answering said unto him,
Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which
had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay,
he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and
said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged."

The one forgiven the most is more grateful to the forgiver. They never lost sight of what God had done for
them. They were continually reminded of the love of God (Romans 5:5-10).

All of this moved them to the natural act of telling others the good news with which they had become
acquainted. Even under threat of more punishment they said, "For we cannot but speak the things which
we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:20). The apostle Paul said, "For the love of Christ constraineth us" (II
Corinthians 5:14).

Well known "evangelism expert" Michael Green had this to say concerning the evangelistic zeal of the
early church:
     This gratitude, devotion, dedication to the Lord who had rescued them and given them a new life,
     this sense of being commissioned by Him and empowered by His Spirit to do the work of heralds,
     messengers and ambassadors, was the main motive in evangelism in the early church. These men
     had been gripped by the love of God which had taken concrete form in the person of Jesus and had
     stooped to unbelievable depths in the agonies of Calvary. Magnetized by this love, their lives
     could not but show it and their lips could not help telling it; 'we cannot but speak of the things
     which we have seen and heard' well sums up the attitude of spontaneous loving devotion to God
     which acted as the mainspring of their evangelistic efforts. They were convinced that the salvation
     promised long ago in the scriptures had actually become a reality through what Jesus had done.
     How could they keep quiet? In such a day of good tidings they could not hold their peace. 1

They had a Sense of Responsibility
To accompany this sense of gratitude was an overwhelming sense of being responsible to tell others the
good news they had learned. They felt the need to tell others.

They were responsible to God to evangelize. God had commanded them to not keep it to themselves.
Jesus said, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). Also our Lord
said, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and
of the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 28:19). God commands us to tell others. Paul took this responsibility
seriously. He said, "For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon
me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!" (I Corinthians 9:16).

They were responsible to the lost to evangelize. Once again notice the concern in the words of Paul in
Romans 1:14-16. "I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the
unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. For I am not
ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the
Jew first, and also to the Greek." Why did Paul see himself as a debtor? Because he knew something they
did not! We must come to feel the same way.

Charles Spurgeon gave this simple but profound definition of evangelism. "Evangelism is one beggar
telling another beggar where he can find bread." It is that simple and that important. When we have tasted
of the Bread of Life (John 6:35), we are then responsible to tell the starving where to find nourishment for
their soul.

A newspaper carried the story of a lawsuit brought against a doctor who passed an accident scene without
stopping to render medical assistance. One of the drivers died from blood loss and his family then sued the

1 Michael Green, Evangelism in the Early Church, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdman's Publishing
Company, 1970) pp. 242,243.

                     Cold Harbor Road Church of Christ - www.cold-harbor-road.org
doctor. The court ruled against the doctor and awarded a great settlement to the dead man's family. Why
this judgement? It was ruled that the doctor's knowledge of medicine automatically made him responsible
to assist in the saving of life under all circumstances.

Evangelism is, and always has been, an "every member responsible business"! It is not something for a few
who "like that kind of thing". This is a personal responsibility. During the Civil War, a humorist named
Artemus Ward boasted, "I have already given two cousins to the war and I stand ready to sacrifice my
wife's brother!" Jokingly, Ward admitted the same lack of personal responsibility some have regarding the
souls of lost men and women.

They had a Sense of Concern
More than just a knowledge of being responsible (that which appeals to the head), they truly were
concerned about the lost condition of their fellow man. Concern appeals to the heart. A love and concern
for the lost will move us to reach them with the gospel. Paul expressed this deep concern in Romans 9:1-3.
"I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have
great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ
for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:" What a love for the lost that one would be willing to
give his soul for theirs! What are we willing to give for the lost?

If we are going to claim Jesus as Lord and ourselves as belonging to Him, it is imperative that we have the
same concerns as did He. Jesus made it clear what His concern was. "For the Son of man is come to seek
and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10). Can we claim to be a Christian while not being concerned
about the lost?

Consider this syllogism:
   • Major premise: Concern for the lost will cause us to be evangelistic.
   • Minor premise: We are not as evangelistic as we should be or could be.
   • Conclusion: We lack the proper concern for the lost.

Apathy toward the souls of others is wrong! George Bernard Shaw said, "The worst sin towards our fellow
creatures is not to hate them but to be indifferent to them." May it never be said that we are indifferent to
the lost condition of others. I have seen people moved to tears over the death of a family pet. I have seen
folks weep because of an unexpected turn in the plot of a movie. I have even seen people cry over the
outcome of a football game, but I have rarely seen anyone weep over a lost soul.

Until we are concerned and disturbed by lost mankind, we will not do anything about it. How can we be
satisfied until we have done everything we can to prevent eternal damnation to the souls of men and
women everywhere?

How do I cultivate this concern the first Christians had?

•   Remember that everyone has a soul. One thing common to all is the possession of an eternal soul.
    Your neighbor, your coworker and everyone you see has a soul.
•   Remember the value of every soul. Your soul is worth more than all the world combined (Matthew
    16:26) but so is everyone's soul! The soul is the most valuable part of everyone's being.
•   Remember the price paid for every soul. We often determine the value of something by the price
    paid for it. The price paid to redeem even one soul is mind boggling. In I John 2:2 we read "And he is
    the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."
•   Remember that there are only two possible eternal destinations for the soul. Everyone will
    "spend" eternity in one of two places. There is no third option. That valuable soul that Jesus died to
    save will reside forever in either Heaven or Hell. What am I doing to prevent the second choice?

To have the evangelistic zeal the early church had we simply need to come to our senses! We need a sense
of gratitude for what God has done on our behalf. This is good news that we cannot keep to ourselves! We
need a sense of personal responsibility. This compels us to act! We need a sense of concern. This cures

                     Cold Harbor Road Church of Christ - www.cold-harbor-road.org
our apathy! Let us come to our senses! When we do what the first century church did, we will enjoy many
of the blessings they enjoyed.

One Mercedes Benz television commercial shows their car colliding with a cement wall during a safety
test. The test is designed to demonstrate the energy absorbing design of their new model which is safer
than former models. Someone asks the company spokesman why they do not patent this invention. He
replies, "Because some things in life are too important not to share". Spiritually speaking, some things are
too important not to share.

                     Cold Harbor Road Church of Christ - www.cold-harbor-road.org

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