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Greg Laurie - The Joy of Sharing Your Faith

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    Greg Laurie - The Joy of Sharing Your Faith
TOPICS: Evangelism

The title of my message is "The Joy of Sharing Your Faith," and I want you to turn to Romans chapter 10. Romans chapter 10, "The Joy of Sharing Your Faith". Let's pray:

Father, this is your message, it's not mine. I'm just a delivery boy. I'm just relating what you have related to all of us, it's called the Great Commission, we're all called to engage in it, we're all called to share your gospel. But Lord, if we're honest, a lot of us aren't doing it as much as we should, and we pray that you will help us to have a greater passion for it than we've ever had before, speak to us from your Word we ask now in Jesus's name, amen.

All right, let me start with a question, what are you afraid of? According to a study that was done of the top fears of most people, among the top ones were claustrophobia, that's a fear of small spaces. Then there's the fear of bugs, I think it's called arachnophobia, and then there's the fear of snakes and other critters like that. Then there's the fear of heights, but the number one fear of most people is public speaking, public speaking. How many of you have the fear of public speaking? Raise your hand. Okay, I want you to come up now. But listen, Jesus has called every Christian, young and old, men and women, no matter what, to go into all the world and preach the gospel. But stats tell us that only 95%, excuse me, 95% of Christians have never led a person to Christ. Ninety-five percent have not led another person to Christ.

Let me ask you, taking a quick poll, how many of you have been able to lead someone to Christ? Raise your hand up. I'm so proud of you. So you're not like the rest of those stats out there, so well done on that. But also, only 2% of churchgoers have invited an unchurched person to church in the last year. And 59% of all Christians say they seldom or never share their faith with others. Now, why is that? One of the top reasons is the fear of rejection, another would be anxiety. Maybe they'll ask a question you can't answer, or maybe feeling you're not the best example. I would say it this way. There's one thing that believers and non-believers have in common. We're both uptight about evangelism. Non-believers are uptight about being evangelized, and believers are uptight about evangelizing.

And I want to help you to change that way of thinking. I want you to discover not the mere duty of sharing your faith, but the joy of sharing your faith. So let's use an example, let's say that you found a cure for cancer and you decided you wanted to share that with others. I hope you would want to do that, of course. You would in effect be evangelizing for your cause. That's all it is, take the gospel out of it. If you're passionate about something, you'll find yourself evangelizing for it. And I suggest to you that there are people that are called to be an evangelist that have never stood behind a pulpit. Some of the most effective evangelists I've met are not preachers, they're just committed Christians that have that gifting.

You say, "How do you know if you're gifted to do that"? It's an ability. Well, starts with a passion and a concern for nonbelievers, but it's an ability to articulate the gospel. It's a kind of a person that will engage somebody and want to share this message. You may have this gift in your life, but let's take the word evangelism out of the picture here and just use another word, recommendation. Now, we do that all the time. Recommendation, advocating for something, endorsing something. So let's put it a new way. Go into all the world and endorse the gospel. Go into all the world and recommend the gospel. We all recommend things all the time. I mean, you ask me a question, I have an opinion on almost everything.

So you say, "Greg, what is the best burger"? "Okay, let me ask you a question. What kind of a burger? Take-out burger or a restaurant burger"? "No, take-out burger". "Well, it's In-N-Out Burger for sure". And then here is the way you need to order the In-N-Out Burger. And I have my own order and I think my order is better than anyone else's order. And I order it animal style with chopped chilies on it. Okay, so that's what I do. But here's what I've discovered about In-N-Out for me personally, I only like it as a guilty pleasure. When I have In-N-Out for lunch, I don't like it. I have to eat it 10 o'clock at night when I'm not supposed to, after I've already had dinner. That's when I like In-N-Out. Am I alone in this? That's the way it works for me.

Okay, so we'll get passionate about a great burger, yet we're not passionate about the most important message of all time, the message of the gospel. Go into all the world and recommend the gospel. Go into all the world and advocate for the gospel. Bringing me to point number one, "Effective sharing starts with caring". I could talk to you all day long about how to share the gospel, how to start a conversation, how to answer a difficult question and so forth, but really none of that matters if you don't care. It starts with a concern for people. And here's something that is an established fact of the universe, we don't like to share, we don't.

Go back to your childhood when you were a little kid. Did you like to share your toys with others? Probably not. And we're that way in life, we want it for ourself. We don't wanna necessarily share it with someone else. And I think if we're honest and we may not like to admit this, but the reason many of us don't tell others about Jesus is we just don't care about them. Hey, we'll say, "I've got my eternal life. I know where I'm going when I die and I'm happy in this relationship with God, but I don't wanna inconvenience myself and I really don't care that much about that person". Even worse, we can start seeing nonbelievers as the enemy.

In these morally and politically charged times, people are more divided than any time I can remember in my lifetime. People are extremely angry at each other. And now with social media that's all amplified, we can attack one another, and as Christians we can get caught up into this. And we can start seeing that nonbeliever that maybe has made a lifestyle choice that is contrary to scripture, or a political choice we don't agree with, or some other choice, and suddenly they have become in our minds the mortal enemy. They're not the enemy. And if they've made bad decisions, they need to meet Christ who can change their life. They're not the enemy, they're under the control of the enemy.

And here's what the Bible says we're supposed to do as believers. First of all, be patient with them. And then it tells us that we should pray that they come to their senses and escape from the devil's trap for they're being held captive by him to do whatever he wants. So it starts with a concern and a burden. In Acts chapter 17, the Apostle Paul went to the city of Athens. Athens at that time was the intellectual capital of the world. And he went to a place called the Areopagus on Mars Hill. This is where all the philosophers hung out to discuss the latest things that were popular at the time and so Paul stood up before them and began to share the gospel.

What's interesting though, is before he stood up and spoke to them, we read that as he walked through Athens he was deeply troubled by all of the idols. You see, in Athens, they erected images to so many gods. There were thousands and thousands of idols in Athens. In fact, it was said in that day, it's easier to find a god with a small G in Athens than a person. So Paul's walking around and his heart is getting stirred. And the word that is used there for stirred means that he was irritated and aroused to anger. Another translation would be hot and mad. So when I look at culture, I get angry. This isn't right, why is this happening? Why is that happening?

Okay, but this is what's important. What are we supposed to do after that? I mean, think about what's happening with so many people today, especially young people. I just read that the US Surgeon General says we're facing an urgent public health crisis. According to his statement and I quote, "There's a devastating decline in the mental health of kids across the country. The rates of suicide, self-harm, anxiety, and depression are up among adolescents". And by the way, this is a trend that began before the pandemic. According to the CDC, hospital admissions data show the number of teen girls who have been suicidal has increased 50% since 2019, 2019. That's not that long ago, is it?

So young people are depressed, filled with anxiety, concerned about their future, and in many cases, even suicidal. This should concern us, this should move us. And what should we do? We need to share Jesus with 'em. We need to share Jesus with them. We need to tell them there's a God in heaven who loves 'em and whatever they're going through, they can get through it. And God has a plan and a purpose for their life. We have to care. We have to see them as Jesus sees them, as sheep without a shepherd, as people that need a Savior. Instead of cursing the darkness, we need to turn on the light. And how do we do it? By proclaiming, advocating for, and recommending the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Let's read now the words of Paul in Romans 10, I'm gonna read verses 14 to 15. Paul says, "How can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? How can they believe in him if they've never heard about him? How can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent"? This is why this scripture says, "How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news"? Look at your feet for a moment. Look at them, you have beautiful feet.

Now, when we admire a feature in someone, we don't generally notice their feet. We might say, "Oh, I love their eyes, or I love their hair". I never have people say that to me. But or, oh, you know, "You're beautiful in this way or that way". We don't generally say, "Man, you have amazing feet. I've just been looking at those feet of yours". But really what this is saying beautiful feet means, it would better be translated, full bloom. So think of a blossoming flower. So the idea being communicated here is you bloom to life when you share the gospel. When you share the gospel, you're doing as a Christian what you should be doing. The gospel by its very design is not meant to be hoarded, its meant to be shared. Bringing me to point number two, listen to this, and this is the most important point of this message. "Sharing the gospel is life-giving to us, as well as the person we are sharing with".

Let me say that again. Sharing the gospel is life-giving to us as Christians, as well as the person we are sharing with. Far too often we think of sharing our faith as something that's hard, undesirable, something we really don't wanna do, but it's life-giving to the one who's hearing it and it's life-giving to you too. Another translation of the word beautiful, as in how beautiful are the feet of those that share the gospel, is lively. How lively are the feet of those that preach the gospel of peace. So if you want happy feet, if you want a spring in your step, tell others about Jesus. I honestly believe this is a key to personal revival, to share your faith. And I find that new believers make the most effective evangelists.

Have you noticed that? Those that have known the Lord for the longest usually share the gospel less, and those that have known the Lord only for a short time often share the gospel more. Why do you think that is? I think it's because when you first come to Christ, you're just so amazed by what God has done for you. You're so thrilled that God has forgiven you of your sin, you're so close to it and you can't wait to tell other people about it. But when you've known the Lord for a while, you start to take these things for granted. My son Jonathan and his family have two pet rats. And that's all I have to say about that.

So my next point... no, they're... So and they have a snake too, or had a snake. Christopher, my grandson, had this little pet snake, little king snake. And as you may know, they eat live prey, mice or rats or depending on the size of the snake, maybe a rabbit, occasionally a human, hopefully not. But so you go down to the pet store and you buy little mice or feeder rats and they don't cost much, they're a couple of bucks, and you feed it to the snake. So Jonathan and Christopher went down to the pet store and they got this little feeder rat, cost them a couple bucks, put it in the cage with the snake and the snake looked at it and struck and started to coil around the rat, and the rat somehow freed himself. And next thing you know, the rat is sort of sniffing the face of the snake and they realize this snake is probably not gonna eat this rat.

So Jonathan takes the rat out of the cage, puts it in another cage, and says, we'll take it back and get a smaller rat or mouse for the snake. But his daughter, Ally, fell in love with the rat. And a little bit later he found that she had set the cage up and she had given him a name and had little places for food. And so now she's adopted this rat, and I think she named the rat Tilly. And so he realized, okay, we now have a pet rat. But as it turns out, it was a great little pet. I don't know if you know this, rats make great pets. They're very friendly. And so they're enjoying this rat so they decide, "Maybe we should get another rat".

So they start doing some research on rats and they find this sort of rat that has a pedigree. It's a little fancier, this rat. He came with his own adoption papers. In fact, when he arrived, they said, "You are the owners of this rat". Okay, but the problem with the second rat is he was a little, I don't know, snooty. I didn't know rats could be snooty. It's almost like he knows. "Yeah, I have a pedigree". And they did some research and found out, I didn't know this, that rats like walnuts. So the first rat Tilly, which they found out was a boy, so they changed his name to Louie. Anyway, so Louie didn't need a lot of research to figure that one out. So Louie would eat a walnut, loves the walnut, so excited. They bring the walnut to the second rat that... was it Remy? They named it Remy and Remy was like, "I don't want that walnut". And then they went into the fridge and got some really nice cheese, really good cheese. Remy didn't want that either, this is a aloof, arrogant rat.

I said to Jonathan, "You should take that rat back and feed him to the snake". That's how heartless I am. See, so what's the point of all of this? Well, the first rat reminds me of a new convert and the second rat reminds me of a somewhat jaded believer. Jesus says, "To whom much is forgiven, that one loves more". So the first rat is saying, "This is awesome. I was gonna be snake food, now I'm eating walnuts, I'm happy, I've been saved". Second rat, he wasn't saved. He has a pedigree. He has personal papers, and he doesn't appreciate all that's happened. That's why he should be fed to the snake immediately. In the same way, we should never lose that gratefulness for what Christ has done for us, right?

When we hold in what God has done for us and we don't share. And when I say share, I don't just mean sharing the gospel, I mean serving God, discovering your gifts that God has given you. God gives spiritual gifts to believers. When we don't think of others, when we don't start serving and helping others, and it's all about us and the world revolves around us, we're gonna become a very unhappy person spiritually. In Isaiah chapter 58, God speaks to Israel. They had been drying up spiritually and thinking only of themselves. They were very dutiful with their prayers and external things but they lost sight of the needs of others. So God says this to them in Isaiah 58. "Let the oppressed go free. Remove the chains that bind people". Then God makes a beautiful promise. "Then your light will shine out from the darkness and I will guide you continually,' says the Lord, 'And give you water when you're dry and restore your strength. And you'll be like a well-watered garden with an ever-flowing spring.'"

I'm telling you, evangelism is important for you. Not just for the person you're sharing with, you need to do this. This will spiritually replenish you, this is part of your spiritual growth. There is a joy in doing this and I want you to discover the joy of doing it. So I have a test for you today. Put what I'm saying to the test. Intentionally try to start a conversation today with someone about Jesus Christ and sow that seed of the gospel. Look at verse 14 of Romans chapter 10. "How will they hear without a preacher"? Well, that's the last thing most of us wanna do. "Preacher, I don't wanna be a preacher".

If you're saying something to someone, they'll say, "Don't preach to me. I don't need a sermon, man". So this is something people avoid, but remove the word preach. Let's just say talk. Go into all the world and talk the gospel conversationally. And you don't have to elevate your voice unless you're speaking to a large group of people. But this is the idea of verbal communication. Listen, the primary way that God has chosen to reach nonbelievers is through the verbal communication of the gospel. Now, in effect, you earn the right to do that by living a godly life and being a good example.

Now, some people will say, "Well, I don't like to preach, I'm uncomfortable with that. I'll just be a good example and that will bring people to Christ". Well, it may open their hearts a little bit, but you need to engage them in a conversation. And the greatest compliment that a non-believer can pay to a believer is when they come to you and say, "What is it that makes you so different? Ah, now the door is open for you to share your faith, but you gotta speak up". Jesus said, "If salt has lost its saltiness, it's no longer good for anything". What good is salt that isn't salty? What good is a Coke that's gone flat? What good is a decaf soy latte? I mean, really why? And now you get it with almond milk. I love almond milk. I want oat milk. You know, and we have all these variations on it as well. I want a kale latte and my cat I'm not giving one to your... the cat wants a tuna latte, all right?

Now we need to understand the role of salt in the ancient world, it was extremely valuable. It had both preservative and medicinal value. Number one, it kept meat from rotting. So you would rub salt into your meat and it would last for a long time, there was no refrigeration. And in the same way, in many ways the Christian keeps culture from rotting. Well, they're to speak up for what is right and speak out against what is wrong. But that's not all salt did, salt also helped to heal wounds and stop infection. People love to go to the Dead Sea that has a very high salt content to heal their wounds. And for salt to do its work, it must come into contact with the person who needs to be healed or to the product that needs to be preserved.

And in the same way if we're gonna be salt in the culture, we have to come into contact with people, and the last thing is salt stimulates thirst. If you have something that's really salty, it makes you thirsty. Like when you go to the movie and you order popcorn and maybe they over-salt it. So you go and ask for, "Can I have a little cup of water"? "We can't give cups for water". But that's the whole point. So when you have salt, it means that you're stirring and stimulating thirst in others, and they wanna hear what you have to say. There's no question that nothing drives a person away from the faith more than hypocrisy in the church, right?

Mahatma Gandhi certainly made his mark on history, especially in the nation of India. Many people don't know that Gandhi admired Jesus and actually quoted the Sermon on the Mount. So a missionary met with Gandhi and asked him why he was not a Christian. And Mahatma Gandhi said this in response, quote, "I don't reject your Christ, I love your Christ. It's just so many of you Christians are so unlike your Christ," end quote. Wow, and unfortunately that can be true. So we wanna live this and it will earn us the right to preach this.

One of the best illustrations of this is found in Acts 16. Paul and Silas are imprisoned for preaching the gospel, they're put into a dungeon. Their feet are fastened into stocks where they would pull them apart. And this is a hellhole, the worst environment you can even imagine. And they were treated with such cruelty by this jailer. But we read at midnight, Paul and Silas began to sing praises to God and the other prisoners were listening. That's interesting in the original language. It could be translated, they were listening with pleasure. They had never heard anything like this in that prison before.

Paul and Silas singing, kinda harmonizing like the Everly Brothers, I don't know, but it was beautiful music to their ears. And then a great earthquake comes and shakes the walls and the foundation of the prison. And suddenly every prisoner is free to go and the chains even come off of their arms and legs. And the jailer pulls out his sword and is ready to kill himself, why? Because he would be executed for losing his prisoners. And Paul says, "Stop, don't hurt yourself, we're all here". And that jailer goes over to Paul in silence and drops on his knees and says, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved"? Paul says, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you'll be saved, and that goes for your household too," and that man believed right there on the spot.
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