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Greg Laurie - The Secret To Sharing The Gospel Effectively

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    Greg Laurie - The Secret To Sharing The Gospel Effectively
TOPICS: Evangelism

Let me ask you a question. Let's say that you got a brand new car, and there's nothing like a new car. You've got that new car smell, everything is nice and clean and shiny, and you're driving down the road, you're enjoying your new car, and at the end of the week, all of a sudden, you're having a mechanical problem. Your car is sputtering, your car completely stops. You have to have it towed back to the dealership, and you demand an explanation. You say, "I just bought this car, and it broke down already. What is wrong"? So, the dealer gets in the car and he turns on the ignition and he says, "Um, you're out of gas". "What"? "Yeah, you have to put gas in your car". And our Christian life can be like this sometimes. We sort of run out of gas. Speaking of that, my wife, whenever she borrows my car, gives it to me with so little gas in it. Literally, she's driving around running on fumes. We can take the same idea and apply it to charging something like your cell phone.

I don't know about you, but I can barely make it through a whole day without my cell phone going dead, so I plug it in and recharge it periodically. You've gotta keep your cell phone charged, right? I have a friend who has an electric car, and we drove up to Los Angeles from Orange County, and it drove incredibly on the way up, but on the way back I noticed that the air conditioning just shut off and other features were shutting off. I said, "What's going on"? He said, "Well, I should have fully charged it before we left. It's shutting down because the battery's really low". You say, "Why are you talking about this"? When your batteries are low, when things are shutting down, when you find your life spluttering, it's because you need a recharge, or you need to be filled and refilled and filled again with the Holy Spirit. And that's what we're gonna look at it in our message today. We're gonna look at the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on a group of believers gathered together on the day of Pentecost. They're in Jerusalem, and this outpouring of the Spirit on this day set the church into motion.

Now, what does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit? Well, we're looking at the day of Pentecost. This is a one-off event. We never read of the phenomenon that we say on the day of Pentecost happening again, like the mighty rushing wind and the flames of fire on the heads of the apostles. This was a special event. Coming back to cars again, when you start a car, there's the explosion, if you will, that gets the car started. You don't keep turning it over and over again once the car is started. You put it into drive, and off you go. So, the day of Pentecost was like the explosion that set the church into motion. It was a one-time event, but there's a lot of things we learn about our lives as followers of Jesus from what happened on this important day.

So, let's read now together from Acts chapter 2. I'm gonna read verses 2 to 7, and I'm reading from the New Living translation. "On the day of Pentecost, all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like a roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting, and what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit. They began speaking in other languages as the Holy Spirit gave them ability. At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem, and when they heard the loud voice, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers, and they were completely amazed, and they said, 'How can this be?'"

So, people from all around the world were gathered in Jerusalem. Many languages were represented, and now the outpouring of the Spirit takes place on the day of Pentecost. Everyone heard God glorified in their own language, and it's a reminder to us that the gospel is for everyone. It's not just for the white man, it's not just for the black man, it's not just for the Asian man or woman or the Hispanic person, it's for all people, for all tribes, for all languages. Young people, old people, it's for everyone. In fact, the Bible tells us in Revelation 7:9 that when we get to heaven, there'll be people from everywhere up there. It says, "I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could number from all tribes, peoples, and languages". So, amazing thing, but the critics standing nearby came up with their conclusion as to what was happening. They said, "All these people are just drunk". Really, is that the best you can come up with? "They're just drunk". It reminds us of the passage in 1 Corinthians 2:14, it says, "People who weren't spiritual can't receive these truths from God's Spirit, nor can they understand it".

You know, nonbelievers just don't get it, and these people didn't get it at all. God was about to change the world with this group of 120 people that were gathered together. How was God gonna do it? Here's some takeaway principles. The first one is so simple, but let's not miss it. Point number one, they were unified. "They were unified," verse 2, "on the day of Pentecost. All the believers were meeting together in one place". Understand, these people are human beings just like you and I are. They had their disagreements, they had their squabbles, they had all the issues that you and I have, but they understood this was as moment to be together. They were gathered together in one place. These believers had no earthly power whatsoever. They had no armies, they had no money, they had no political power, they had no status, but they had Jesus, and Jesus had them. They were together.

Now, people are fighting so much today about vaccines, getting the vaccine, not getting the vaccine. "You have to get the vaccine". "I don't wanna get the vaccine". "You have to wear a mask". "I don't wanna wear a mask". Listen to this, if people know more about your position on vaccinations, politics, and masks than they know about what you believe about Jesus and the gospel, it's time to refocus. Our message is Christ, our message is the gospel, let's not allow ourselves to be divided. Listen, we are part of the family of God, and there's power when we pray together. There's power when we work together, and Satan knows that, and that's why he divides us, or at least seeks to. My response is, to hell with the devil and his divisions. Let's get together, let's pray together, let's work together, let's love one another. Let's not divide over secondary issues. Let's get together for the gospel.

What if God was ready to send a spiritual awakening to America, but he was waiting for his people to get together? Don't forget 2 Chronicles 7:14, God says, "If my people which are called by my name will humble themselves". Notice that's addressed to a group of people, not an individual. "Humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways," then God says I'll hear from heaven, "And forgive their sin and heal their land". So, there's this amazing phenomenon on the day of Pentecost. Luke uses the word suddenly. "Suddenly there was a noise like a violent, rushing wind," and the way he phrases this implies that this was a supernatural incident, something unexpected, and the Spirit of God was poured out on the believers. But let me point out again as I alluded to earlier, God fills us with the Spirit, and then he fills us again, and again, and again.

In fact, as we go forward in the book of Acts a little bit, we find them gathered together in Acts chapter 4. They had been told by the authorities to stop preaching the gospel, so what do they do? They got together at a prayer meeting and said, "Lord, give us even more boldness to preach the gospel". And we read in Acts 4:31, after this prayer, the building where they were meeting shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and then they preached God's Word with boldness. There is not a better example of what happens when the Spirit fills you than Simon Peter himself. Less than two months before Pentecost, Peter went into hiding with the other disciples. He outwardly denied the Lord, and no doubt his faith was strengthened when he met the risen Christ, but this boldness, this courage, this is from the Holy Spirit. And listen to this, the same Holy Spirit that filled Peter will fill you.

Remember what Peter said on the day of Pentecost, "This promise," speaking of the Holy Spirit, "Is to you, it's to your children, and all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call". Let's read some more verses together. Acts chapter 2, verse 14, "Peter stepped forward with the other 11 apostles and shouted to the crowd, 'Listen carefully fellow Jews and residents of Jerusalem, make no mistake about it, these people are not drunk as some of you are assuming. It's only nine o'clock in the morning. It's much too early for that.

Now, what you're seeing was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel.'" Let me loosely paraphrase this. Hey people, these folks are not drunk. The bars aren't even open yet. This is a fulfillment of prophecy. This is a fulfillment of what Joel said. And then Peter quotes from Joel, "In the last days I'll pour my spirit out on all flesh. And your sons and daughters will prophesy and your old men will dream dreams". And on he goes but I love the way that he based it on scripture. Listen, whenever we see God working we should be able to back it up biblically. So whatever is happening in your life or in your church you should be able to say this is that which was spoken of by. In the case of Peter it was the prophet Joel. You should be able to support this happening biblically.

Hey everybody, Greg Laurie here with some thoughts about how to pray effectively. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said this, "Ask and it shall be given. Seek and ye shall find. Knock and the door shall be opened". That's really interesting, because one of the keys to answered prayers is to not give up. God answers prayers three ways, "Yes," "No," and "Wait". We hate that last one don't we, "Wait". But the Bible says, "Those that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength, they'll mount up with the wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint". So, it's waiting that's the hardest thing to do, but we should not stop praying. Keep asking, that's how this verse would better be translated. Keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking. You know, if you were to knock on a door and no one answered, and you knocked again, and no one answers, then you knock and you knock and you even pound on the door, they'll probably eventually answer if they're there. We should keep knocking, we should keep seeking, we should keep praying.

I know some of you that are watching this right now have been praying about something for a long time. You've prayed for God to heal you, you've prayed for a prodigal son or daughter, you've prayed for a husband or a wife that does not yet know the Lord, you've prayed for a spiritual awakening in our nation. We need to keep praying, folks. Could God use COVID-19 to help to bring about a revival in America? I wonder about that, because it seems to me that a lot of people who had not time for God are all of a sudden thinking about spiritual things again. All of a sudden, they're opening up the Bible again. Sales of Bibles are up dramatically right now. I think people are realizing that certain things really matter that they have forgotten all about. So, let's not give up. Keep praying for your nation, keep praying for that non-believing person, keep praying for that prodigal son or daughter, keep praying for your own healing. God hears your prayers. He has his timing, but we need to keep asking, keep seeking, and keep knocking.

Now let's shift here because God gives us his power for a purpose. It's not how high you can jump. It's how straight when you hit the ground again. Let's go back to Acts 1:8, it says, "You shall receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon you to be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth". God gave this power to the church so they could evangelize the world. God wants to do the same through us. So, let's talk now about how to share the gospel effectively. Go back to Acts chapter 2, start in verse 36. Peter gives this sermon. This is the first sermon of the early church, a very important message. He says, "Let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah". Peter's words pierce their hearts, and they said to him and the other apostles, "Brothers, what should we do"? Peter replied, "Every one of you must repent of your sins and turn to God and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, your children, all that are far away, as many as been called by the Lord our God".

Verse 40, "Then Peter continued preaching for a long time". That's an interesting verse, so therefore I'm gonna give a three hour message 'cause Peter did it. No, I'm kidding. "Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all of his listeners, 'Save yourselves from this crooked generation.' Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day about 3.000 in all". Wow, 3.000, that's a lot of people to believe in one day. But let's come back now to what Peter said, and let's see if we can learn something about sharing our faith, whether it's in a public setting speaking to a group of people or just you having a one-on-one conversation with someone about Jesus. Point number one, Peter knew his audience. The fact of the matter is that people that Peter were speaking to witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus. Not all of them, but many of them did, and even more, there were some in the crowd that literally played a role in the actual crucifying of Jesus, so he's speaking to them. He quotes a lot of Old Testament scripture because this was largely a Jewish audience that knew the Bible.

That is not our culture today, by the way. Our culture is more like the people Paul spoke to on Mars Hill in the city of Athens in Greece. These were people that worshipped many gods, and Paul walked around and took note of the fact that they were very religious and had many idols, and he said, "Men of Athens, I see you're very religious," and his message was quite different in its structure than Peter's was. You see, Peter was speaking to a biblically literate, Paul was speaking to a biblically illiterate audience, and by and large in our culture today people don't know the Bible anymore. There was a time, maybe 30, 40 years ago, when you would say to someone or ask them, "Are you a Christian"? They'd say, "Yes, I'm a Christian". Nowadays, a lot of people would say, "No, I'm not a Christian. I don't even really know what a Christian is".

There was a time, maybe 30 or 40 years ago, when you would reference Bible stories like Adam and Eve in the garden or Noah's Arc or even talking about Jesus and they would understand what you were referring to. Today, people are oblivious of so many of those things, so you have to adapt to your audience. You need to adapt to the person you're speaking with and make it understandable to them. Don't assume your listener knows what you're talking about. This is why I think it's a good idea to get to know the person you're speaking with. When I speak in a crusade, it's effectively a monologue, it's me speaking. There might be an occasional person that yells back at me, but it's mainly me saying what I want people to hear. But when we're engaged in evangelism with individuals, it's a dialogue, it's give and take, it's listening and getting to know people. You know, if you really want to get a conversation going, ask someone about themselves, because everyone's favorite subject is themself.

Point number two, knowing his audience, Peter adapted to the situation. He adapted, he understood he had to pivot now and make it understandable to the group of people that he was speaking to, and that's what we need to do as well. The apostle Paul said, "I become all things to all men". In fact, in 1 Corinthians 9, he says, "I become a servant of everyone so I can bring them to Christ. When I'm with the Jews, I become as one of them so I can bring them to Christ. When I'm with the Gentiles, I, who do not have the Jewish law, I try to fit in with them as much as I can so I can gain their confidence and bring them to Christ". Paul says, "I try to find common ground with everyone that I might bring them to Christ". You see, it just starts with caring about people. Listen to this, people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. So, just start with some compassion, take an interest in the person you're speaking with.

Number three, Peter's message was effective because it was scriptural. There's a lot of verses in his message. He quotes Joel 2:28 to 32, apparently from memory. In verse 25 he says, "David said," and he quotes Psalm 16 and Psalm 110. You know, he didn't have, like, a scroll of Joel that he's rolling, no. "Look, see, where is it now". It was in his heart, it was in his mind, and he quotes freely from it, and that's why we should commit the scripture to memory, why? Because Isaiah 55 says, God speaking, "As the rain comes down and the snow from heaven, so shall my Word be that goes forth from my mouth. It shall not return to me void, it shall accomplish what I please, it will prosper in the place where I send it". There's no power in Greg's words, there's a lot of power in God's Word. That's why I quote scripture.

How many of us can remember seeing Billy Graham holding this Bible? He'd hold it like this sometimes, sort of fold it back and point to it. "The Bible says". He'd say it over and over again, "The Bible says, the Bible says," and we should do the same. You know, it's interesting that the Bible is referred to as the sword of the Spirit. So, I've got a sword down here. I don't always carry a sword around but happened to have one for this occasion. This is a replica of a Roman sword, so this would be the sword that Paul is referring to, the Roman short sword for close battle. So, what Paul is saying is, the Word of God is like a sword. So, what do I do with this sword? Well, the sword can be a defensive weapon, but the primary defensive pieces of armor are the breastplate and the helmet and the shield. But the sword, this is when I'm attacking, this is when I'm stepping in and I'm gaining ground. It's an offensive weapon, and the same is true of the scripture.

I use the sword of the Spirit, so let me ask you a question. What shape is your spiritual sword in? Is it polished from daily use as you study the scripture on a regular basis and sharpened on the anvil of experience as you have applied its truth and obeyed it in your life? Or is your sword rusty or dull by disobedience? So, keep your sword sharp, keep your sword ready, keep the Word of God hid in your heart. Listen to this, Peter's message was effective because it was Christ-centered. It was effective because it was Christ-centered.

Look at Acts 2, verse 22, he says, "Jesus of Nazareth," verse 32, "This man," speaking of Jesus, verse 36, "God has made this Jesus whom you crucified the Lord and Christ". Peter spoke of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the core of our message. Paul said, "I don't want to know anything else among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified". Listen to what I'm saying here. When you're sharing your faith, remember, there is power in the message of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul says, "It is," speaking of the gospel, "the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes".

Here's a final point, the Holy Spirit will do his part, make sure you do yours. The Holy Spirit will do his part, make sure you do yours. Remember, it's a work of the Holy Spirit to bring us to Jesus, right? It's my job to proclaim the gospel. The Bible says, "How will they hear unless someone tell them? How will someone tell them unless they be sent". So, we have to be the ones to tell people about Jesus. And the verse here, verse 37, says, "The folks were cut to the heart," cut to the heart. This phrase appears only here in the New Testament, and the word cut means to pierce or to stab, as though it were something sudden and unexpected. This is the conviction of the Spirit. Only God can do this. So, let's review. Number one, know your listener, ask questions, take time to talk to a person. Number two, adapt to the situation, make sure they understand what you're saying. Number three, quote scripture. Number four, focus on Christ crucified and risen again. And finally, remember conversion is God's job, not yours.

Maybe God has spoken to your heart and you have seen your need for Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came from heaven to this earth. He was born in a manger, he died in a cross, he rose again from the dead, why? Because he loves you, and he wants a relationship with you. Listen, I'm not talking about religion. I don't wanna be a religious person, I don't think you want to be one either. I'm talking about relationship with God. Jesus, who died and rose again, stands at the door of your life and he knocks, and he says if you'll hear his voice and open the door, he will come in. Question, have you asked Jesus Christ to come and live inside of you?

You might say, "Well, I think so, I'm not sure". Hey, if someone moved into your house in the middle of the night, do you think you would be aware of it? I'm sure you would, and in the same way, if Christ has come to live inside of you, you will know. And if you don't know, maybe he has not come in yet. He's just a prayer away. All you need to do is say, "Jesus, I want this relationship with you. I want you to forgive me of my sin. I wanna go to heaven when I die". Would you like to do that? Would you like Christ to come into your life? If so, why don't you just pray this simple prayer with me. You could pray it out loud or you could pray it in the quietness of your heart, but this is a prayer where you're asking Jesus Christ to be your Savior and Lord. Pray this with me now:

Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner but I know that you're the Savior, who died on the cross for my sin and rose again from the dead. Now come into my life. I choose to follow you from this moment forward. Thank you for hearing this prayer and answering this prayer. In Jesus's name. Amen.

Did you just pray that prayer with me? If so, I want you to know on the authority of scripture that Christ himself has come to live inside of you. And let me be the first to say to you, congratulations, and welcome to the family of God.

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