Greg Laurie - A Crash Course On Evangelism and Discipleship
Let's go back in time a little bit, I was a young man, 17 years old, a brand new Christian. And I heard my pastor say, I should go out and share my faith. Well, I had a thimble full of Biblical knowledge, but I knew that I should tell others about what Christ had done for me. So I went out on the beach of Newport, armed with a copy of the "Four Spiritual Laws" printed by Campus Crusade. I was looking for someone to talk to and I found a middle aged lady that looked like she might not give me too hard of a time and I walked up to her and I had hair back then, so try to use your imagination, that sort of blond surfer hair like this, here's the picture of what I used to look like, so you can get a better visual.
So, my voice was shaking 'cause I was nervous and I said, "Hi there, could I talk to you a little bit about God"? And she looks up at me and says, "Sure". So sit down, and I was so new to all of this, I hadn't even memorize the contents of this booklet. So I just started reading it to her, "The Four Spiritual Laws, Copyright 1968 Campus Crusade for Christ. Law one, God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life". I'm just reading through it and as I'm reading through it, I couldn't wait to be done because I knew this was a failure, I knew I shouldn't have done it, I knew it wasn't gonna work and I just was kind of rushing through it. I'd look up at her periodically, she was just looking at me, and I got toward the end of the little booklet and a question was asked, "Is there any good reason why you should not accept Jesus Christ right now"? I looked up at her, oh, that's a question, is there any good reason why you should not accept Jesus Christ right now? She said, "No".
I looked back down, wait, no, no means yes. In other words, "Are you saying you want to accept Jesus Christ right now"? She said, "Yes". I said, "Oh great, well, hey, let's pray". And she closed her eyes and I'm frantically searching this booklet for what do you do now? I had planned for failure, not success. I found a little prayer, I let her in that prayer. She prayed it after me, a prayer of asking Jesus to come into their life and she opened her eyes and she said, "Something just happened to me". And you know what? Something happened to me too, I realized that God could use someone who knew very little to share the Gospel.
Well, I really started to enjoy talking to others about Jesus. One on one, I was never a public speaker, kind of a person, I was more of a behind the scenes guy and I always had this secret fear that one day God was going to make me preach. I thought it was gonna be a really random place like the supermarket when I'm checking out and the Lord will sweep my heart and say, "Preach the Gospel". And I'll make a fool out of myself and I never aspired to be a preacher, trust me when I tell you that. Well, as it turns out, He did call me to preach, not far from that beach where I lived that first lady to the Lord. I went down for a baptism being held by Calvary Chapel down in the days of the Jesus movement. You know, those big, giant baptisms that would be attended by thousands of people and as it turns out, I got the schedule wrong and I missed it.
And so I found a group of Christians sitting there on the sand, singing some songs. Remember, I'm not a pastor, I'm just a believer going to church. And I sat down with these other believers and there was no real leader and when the song was done, I had read something in the Bible, I thought maybe I should share it and said, "Hey, I wanted to share something with you". And I shared my little thought from scripture and, as I was talking, a couple of girls joined us and one of the girls said, "Pastor, can you baptize us"? I said, "Oh no, I'm not a pastor". "No, but could you baptize us"? And then I just thought, well, why not? I mean, I'm a believer, they're a believer, they missed the baptism. So I said, "Sure, come on".
Now, I'm walking down the beach with about 30 people behind me and I'm thinking, "How did this happen? This is way above my pay grade". Which was zero actually, and so I took these girls down to the beach there at what is called Pirate's Cove Beach and I baptized them, and I was so thankful to the Lord. He had opened this great door up for me and as I was done baptizing them, I walked up in the beach there and I saw some people had gathered up on the rocks and clear as a bell, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and He said, "Preach the Gospel". And guess what? I wasn't afraid. And I proclaim the Gospel to these people, and as I was doing it, it's almost like I stepped outside of myself and I'm looking at myself saying, "Greg, are you crazy? You're not Billy Graham, what are you doing"? Well, I just kept going and before I knew it, I was saying to these people up on the rocks, "That if you would like to ask Jesus to come into your life, come down here now and I'll baptize you". And people came and I baptized a couple more people, what a day that was.
I bring all of this up because, when we talk about sharing our faith, or preaching, a lot of us get very up tight. There's one thing that believers and nonbelievers have in common, they're both up tight about evangelism. Nonbelievers are uptight about being evangelized, and believers are uptight about evangelizing them. Okay, so we're in a new series, we're calling it faith one-on-one, and the title of this message is, "A Crash Course on Evangelism and Discipleship".
Let's remember a point from our message last time, it was simply this, if you wanna be a successful Christian, you must read, study and love the Word of God. Because failure or success in the Christian life depends on how much of the Word of God you get into your life on a regular basis and how obedient you are to it. Now, point number two, to be growing Christian, you must go into all the world and preach the Gospel. We call it the great commission. There's two variations of it, one is in the Gospel of Mark, the other is in the Gospel of Matthew. Mark's Gospel, simply states it this way, Mark 16:15, Jesus says, "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to everyone".
Matthew's version states it this way, in Matthew 28 and that's our text for this message by the way. We read in Matthew 28:16, "Then the 11 disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them and when they saw Him, they worshiped Him, but some doubted, and Jesus came and spoke to them saying, All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth, go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I've commanded you and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age, amen". That's the great commission, to go into all the world and preach the Gospel and make disciples of all nations, preach the Gospel and make disciples. Where is Jesus calling us? Into the world. Who is supposed to do this? All of us. What are we supposed to do? We're supposed to preach the Gospel.
So here's point number one, we are commanded by Jesus to share our faith. Let me say that again, we are commanded by Jesus to share our faith. Now we call this the great commission, but honestly, for some it's become the great omission. The commission of the church is not to wait for the world to show up, the commission of the church is to go to the world. Jesus did not say, "The whole world should go to church". But he did say, "The church should go to the whole world".
Point number two, these words are directed to every follower of Jesus Christ. Listen to me Christian, I'm talking to you right now. I'm talking to men and women, I'm talking to boys and girls, I'm talking to students and businessmen and homemakers and construction workers and surfers and guitarists and skateboarders and nerds that hang around, playing with computers all the time, I'm talking to everyone! Put down your junk food nerd and listen to me, God wants you to preach the Gospel, put down that thing that distracts you and take up this word that God has given you and proclaim it to other people. Actually in Matthew's version, when he says "We're to go". The implication is, everyone is supposed to do it. Not just the so-called professionals, the pastors, the evangelists, the missionaries, everybody is suppose to do it. We are all called to go to all people everywhere.
Let me say that again, we are all called to go to all people everywhere. So here's my question for you, are you doing your part to fulfill the great commission? Understand that these words of our Lord were given before His Ascension. What does that mean? Christ died on the cross, He rose again from the dead, He had a period of ministry following His resurrection, and then He ascended, He went into heaven. These are in effect, His final words. Last words matter, when someone gives you their final words on their death bed, so to speak, you should listen. These are the final words of our Lord to all of us. So it's a big deal to Him and they should be a big deal to us.
Point number three, this one might surprise you. To not share the Gospel can be a sin. You might say, "Greg, you've gone too far". We'll understand, sin has many definitions, there's the sin of commission and sin of omission. The sin of commission is when you break a commandment, when you cross a line, when you do a wrong thing. A sin of omission is when you don't do a right thing. The Bible says, "To him that knows to do good and does not do it to him, it is sin". So how could failing to share my faith, possibly ever be a sin?
Let me illustrate, let's say that you were in a house that caught fire and you rushed out to save your own life, but you knew there were other people in there. Innocent people who can not get out and you didn't lift a finger to help them, you didn't even call the fire department, you just walked off and acted as though it didn't happen. Is that wrong? Yes it is, that's even a criminal act. Or let's say you're a doctor and you run a series of tests on a person, and you realize that they have a condition that should be treated with a course of antibiotics or perhaps a simple surgery, we'll fix it. But you're uncomfortable telling people bad news, it's kind of awkward for you. So you don't tell him anything and you say, "You're good to go, go on your two month vacation, enjoy yourself". You're an irresponsible doctor.
Okay, so those are illustrations that say how much worse is it for me to know the way to heaven, the way for a person to be forgiven of their sin and find the meaning and purpose of their life and not tell them. You see that's how not sharing the Gospel could potentially be a sin. Let's remove the word preach and let's remove the word evangelism for a moment and let's put a different word on the table. Instead of me saying, you need to evangelize, let me say to you, you need to make a recommendation. Now we do this all the time, like maybe you're in a town you've never been to before and you see a restaurant and you wonder, "Is this a good restaurant"?
So you go to Yelp and you read what a bunch of strangers have to say about that restaurant and what you should even order, they might even post photos. "Oh well, let's go in here, there's a lot of great recommendations". So obviously the recommendation of a person carries weight, now, take that idea and apply it to sharing the Gospel. How about if I said to somebody like this, "Here is the best thing that you can do for life in eternity, believe in Jesus Christ". Wait, we're willing to talk about hamburgers, but we're not willing to talk about Jesus. You get what I'm saying? You'll tell people, "Oh, watch this on Netflix. Oh, go check this movie out". We recommend all day long. You won't recommend for Jesus? So go into all the world and make a recommendation. Call it what you like, you need to tell other people. Why is this important?
Point number four, that's three, let's add one more. Point number four, the primary way people come to Jesus is through hearing the Gospel. The primary way people come to Jesus is through hearing the Gospel. 1 Corinthians 1:21 says, "Since in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God", listen, "Through the foolishness of the message preached to save those that believe". Understand the word preaching doesn't mean you have to project. We think of preaching in a negative way. If someone's saying something to someone else they don't like, they'll say, "Hey man, don't preach at me". Like that's a bad thing. Actually, the Bible says, it's a good thing. But you don't necessarily have to do it loudly, you can do it quietly. You can whisper the Gospel, you can share the Gospel conversationally, you can tweet the Gospel. You can do it so many ways, the idea here is just communicate it, just do it.
Point number five, we're not only to preach the Gospel, we are to make disciples. Imagine for a moment, if a doctor delivered a baby and there's this little newborn and gave him a little tiny box of pampers with the little handles that, "Here you go son, it's a rough world out there, but somehow you'll make it". No, a baby has to be nurtured and cared for and loved. Well, the same is true of a brand new believer, you've got to help them and you've got to ensure to disciple them. They're in Matthew's, account of the great commission, "It is to teach them to observe all things I have commanded you". The idea of discipling is modeling for someone what it means to be a Christian and taking them through the basics of the Christian faith, getting them up on their feet spiritually and encouraging them to do the same for someone else. Paul summed it up this way, in Colossians 1:28, "We proclaim Christ, we warn everyone we meet and we teach everyone we can, all that we know about Him, so we might bring every man to his full maturity in Christ".
Point number six, we need to seek to lead others to Christ. We need to seek to lead others to Christ. Now, the Bible does teach that this is a work of the Holy Spirit, no man comes to the father unless the Spirit draws him. That's true, but God reaches people through people. And I think one of the reasons we've never led another person to Christ is we have not asked them the question, we can call it, popping the question, let's apply it to marriage. I've heard of a lot of imaginative proposals that have taken place. One that I'm reminded of as of a friend of mine who went out snorkeling with his fiance, well, not his fiance, just his girlfriend at that point. They were underwater and he had one of those little underwater tablets and he wrote out, "Will you marry me"? So that's very imaginative.
Now my wife says I never properly proposed. She says that we're sitting in a restaurant and I looked at her and I said, "Well, I guess we're gonna get married, huh"? I thought, "Really I said that"? She said, "Yeah". I said, "Wow! Well at least I said something". I didn't do a very good job of it, but thankfully she said "Yes". And we've been married 46 years now, so hey, maybe there's something to that, I don't know. But my point is simply this, you've gotta ask the question that's awkward for you to ask, but do it anyway. And here's the question, ready for it? Would you like to accept Jesus Christ right now? I was in a restaurant a while ago with some friends and we had a waitress come and take our order and she said, "You guys are all pastors, aren't you"? "Yes, yeah we are". And so she said, "When are your church services"? And I said, "Well, they're at this time and this time". She goes, "Oh, okay, okay".
And so she's taking our order and I don't normally do this, trust me, but I felt prompted by the Holy Spirit. I said, "I'm glad you wanna know when our church services are, and I'm glad you wanna come to our church, but you don't have to wait till Sunday to get right with God, would you like to accept Jesus Christ right now"? And she said, "Yes, I would". She's standing there you know, like with their little order book and the good news is the owner of the restaurant is a Christian who attends our church, so I knew she wouldn't get in trouble. I said, "Why don't we pray, right now"? She said, "Pray here"? "Yeah, let's pray". Jesus said, "There's joy in heaven, over one sinner that comes to repentance".
Let me close now with a question for some of you, now I've been talking to Christians about sharing the Gospel, let me talk to someone that's watching, that is hearing this all for the first time. And let me ask you this, "Would you like to accept Jesus Christ right now"? Say, "Well, yeah, what do I need to do"? You need to admit you're a sinner and acknowledge the fact that you're separated from God and then you need to believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sin and rose again from the dead and you need to ask him into your life. You see, only you can do that, I can't do that for you, but I can lead you in a prayer where you ask him into your life to be your savior and Lord. And in a moment, I'm gonna pray and I'm gonna ask you that want Christ to come into your life to pray this prayer with me.
So again, if you want your sin forgiven, if you wanna know that when you die, you will go to heaven. If you want that big hole in your heart filled, if you want your guilt taken away, if you want this relationship with God, I've been talking about, I want you to pray a simple prayer with me right here, right now. And as I pray this prayer, you can pray it out loud if you like, you can pray it in your heart quietly, but you pray this prayer. The Bible says, "Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved". The Bible says, "For God, so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son and whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life". That's what you're doing right now, you're believing in Jesus. So if you want Jesus to come into your life, if you want Him to forgive you of your sin, pray this prayer right now.
God, I know that I'm a sinner, but I believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sin and rose again from the dead. I turn from my sin now, and I choose to follow You Jesus. From this moment forward, be my savior and my Lord, be my guard and my friend. Thank You for hearing this prayer, thank You for answering this prayer, in Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
Hey listen, if you just prayed that prayer, admit it in your heart, Christ Himself has come to live inside of you. You have made the right choice, your choices on earth are binding in eternity. And because of that choice, if you now follow Jesus Christ, you can have the hope of one day, seeing Him in heaven. Thanks for tuning in to our program and until next time, God bless you.