Evangelism – The people waited and waited and hoped and hoped. They walked around handing out photo copies and asking if anyone had seen their loved ones and if they would help them find their loved ones. Didn’t they know there is no way anyone could be alive under those tons of concrete and iron. Why wouldn’t they give up? They couldn’t give up. Those were their loved ones. To them there was still hope.

There Is Still Hope

by Delbert Young

Evangelism there is still hope

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Evangelism – There Is Still Hope – by Delbert Young 

Scriptures: Luke 15:1-8, Luke 15:11-24, 2 Peter 3:9, 2 Timothy 4:5, Acts 17:17-18, Acts 2:36-38, Luke 5:30, John 4:28-30, Acts 9:36, John 9:11

Luke 15:1 Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him.

Luke 15:2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Luke 15:3 Then Jesus told them this parable:

Luke 15:4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?

Luke 15:8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?

Luke 15:11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons.

Luke 15:12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them…

Luke 15:20 So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him…

Luke 15:24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

 

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

2 Timothy 4:5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

 

The year was 2001. The month was September and the day was the eleventh. The time was about 9:15 a.m. I was seven miles off the coast of Panama Beach, Florida with my son Lance, and close friend Buren Goss. We were on vacation fishing when my cell phone rang informing us a terrorist attack had happened. Passenger jet airplanes had slammed into the World Trade Center. The caller also said the Pentagon was under attack. We said, “That’s strange and that’s bad,” but we kept on fishing. Actually, I am not certain I believed it. We received phone calls periodically throughout the day informing us what was going on and we kept fishing. We heard there were over five thousand people killed or trapped under the concrete and iron and we kept fishing. When we came back in, we began to see the American flags at half-mast. Maybe it was then it hit me.

Why had such tremendous violence and loss of life barely gotten a response from me? How could I keep on fishing when thousands of people were trapped and dying in New York City? The obvious answer was none of those people were my loved ones. I could not have continued fishing had it been my wife or my son or my daughter.

A few days after the attack on September 11, I went to get a new watch band put on my watch. The woman waiting on me had a northern accent (I’m from Georgia). So, I asked her where she was from. She looked at me and said she was from Manhattan. I had my tilted head, surprised look on my face. She said, “Our daughter was supposed to be in the Trade Center last Tuesday. She worked there. When we heard about the attack and began watching it on TV, my husband and I nearly went crazy.” The woman waiting on me told of how she tried and tried to get through by telephone. She went on to say she was crying and hysterical. She couldn’t think. She was panicking and became nauseous. For hours she tried to contact someone, anyone to see if they had heard from her daughter. She and her husband were frantically loading the car to go to New York when the phone rang. It was her daughter. She said when she heard her daughter’s voice say, “Mom, I’m all right,” she broke down in tears of joy. She said she had never experienced anything as terrifying as when she could not find her daughter, but nothing had ever brought her as much joy as when she heard her daughter’s voice saying, “Mom, I’m all right.”

Those are two ends of the same continuum. One end hardly gives it a thought. The other end is frantic and hysterical. What was the difference? One had a loved one involved and one did not. One had a lost child she could not find. The other was going through life on vacation.

The Lord had been dealing with me about evangelism in a big way. In fact, my intentions were to teach a series at our church on evangelism when I came home from vacation. Then the thought occurred to me. Every lost soul, every person outside the family of God is one of God’s lost kids buried under tons of concrete and iron the enemy has collapsed upon their lives. Can we imagine how God with perfect love for his children must feel every day? He desperately wants to find them and hear from them. Isn’t this what Jesus teaches us about Father God in Luke 15 and other places?

Jesus is a picture of Father God’s heart (Joh 1:18). Jesus had this odd value. It was sinners were important to God. Jesus’ being with lost people was more than an event with him. It was a value. He spent much time with lost people. Lost people were valuable to Jesus. He developed conversations and relations with people far from God and they began coming to his teaching and hanging out with him. It’s what Luke 15:1 says. Sinners would come to his services because Jesus spent time with them.

Luke 15:1 Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him.

Luke 15:2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

The religious people thought the value Jesus had was wrong. Religious people live very insulated lives. So, to help them understand the heart of the Father, Jesus told three parables.

The first parable shows the Father as a shepherd in somewhat of a frantic state as he discovered one of his sheep was missing. He left everything to find this one sheep. He kept searching until he found it. When he found the sheep, he didn’t beat the sheep for wondering off. Instead, he rejoiced he had found the lost sheep. He placed the sheep on his shoulders and came back in full stride smiling. He contacted all his friends and told them. He was so happy he physically went around telling everyone about finding the sheep.

Jesus followed the story with the story of a woman who had lost a coin. She had nine other coins, but wanted the lost coin also. She became frantic. She looked everyplace and continued looking until she found it. She turned her house upside down looking for one coin. It mattered to her. It was important to her. When the woman found it, she rejoiced and she contacted all her friends and told them.

Then Jesus told the story of the prodigal son. We know how it goes. A man had two sons and one took his inheritance and wasted it on worthless stuff. The Bible says he wasted it on “wild living.” Let’s put it in some sort of context fitting today. What would “wild living” mean today? How about excessive alcohol? How about excessive women? It could mean pornography, homosexuality, or drugs? One day the prodigal came to himself and came home to his father. There was still hope. The father did not chastise his boy. Instead he ran to meet the him, hugged him, kissed him, and gave him a huge party. His son was dead, but was now alive. This is how the heart of Father God looks. People are important to God. Even people who waste their lives and go about doing “wild living” matter to God.

Religious people don’t understand this. Those Pharisees Jesus told those stories to had consigned those sinners to hell. We wonder why God doesn’t simply give up on some people and commit forever to hell. There is only one problem with their philosophy. God loves them. They are his kids.

My sister-in-law has these two kids who waste their lives on “wild living.” We get so frustrated because of what they do to their mom. We see it affect her mentally and physically. We see them waste their inheritance because their mother spends so much of it on getting them out of trouble. We say, “Brenda, why don’t you just consign them to jail. Stay away from them. Let them go and do their crazy things and leave you alone.” She says, “I can’t. They are my kids and I love them.”

A few weeks after the attack on the World Trade Center, I was at the hospital visiting a member of our church. I met a man whose mother was in the next room. He told me he was from New Jersey and could see the World Trade Center from the building where he worked. He said the massiveness of the crumbled buildings is beyond explanation. He said TV just could not show the mass of concrete and iron sufficiently. Bill Hybles was talking about it also at a conference I went to in Chicago. He had been allowed to go to ground zero and said he walked for blocks and blocks, but never got around the mass of rubble. The chance of someone being alive in the mass was nearly none.

However, a few blocks from ground zero, a fence was erected. Hundreds of people were there walking around for days and days hoping their loved ones would be found. The fence was several hundred feet long and eight feet high. On every inch of the fence were pictures and information about the lost loved ones. The people waited and waited and hoped and hoped. They walked around handing out photo copies and asking if anyone had seen their loved ones and if they would help them find their loved ones. Didn’t they know there is no way anyone could be alive under those tons of concrete and iron. Why wouldn’t they give up? They couldn’t give up. Those were their loved ones. To them there was still hope.

Picture now, if you will, God’s big wall with a photo of each of his children who are missing. Picture him walking up to you today asking, “Do you know this person? Have you seen this person? Will you help me find this person?” Sometimes we answer, “God, there is no hope. Look at the tons of rubble they are under.” He is going to be saying back to each of us, “There is still hope.”

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

There Is Still Hope. He is still holding out hoping for those he loves to come home. He wants some good shepherd to go find them. He wants some woman to turn things upside down until they are found. He wants them loved when they come home. There is still hope.

On God’s “big fence” are the pictures of some of our loved ones. Surely each of us has someone’s photo stuck in our mind we are hoping salvation for. There Is Still Hope. He’s asking each of us, “Have you seen this one? Can you do anything to help this one be found?” My prayer is through this teaching, we will be able to remove tons and tons of rubble and find God’s loved ones and our loved ones. There is still hope.

I want to tell everyone this study will be a really big deal in God’s plan for our lives. There will be people whose eternity will be changed because of this study. I’m not saying to push the study or my ability to teach. I am talking about what it will mean to our lives and to the lives of our loved ones. I have no doubt this will be a turning point for each of us. I have watched people become more evangelistic minded during the study. A value is added. Their conversations have a new dimension leading others into spiritual conversations. People lose the terror of evangelism and learn they can do this and they want to do this.

I don’t know about you, but I have to work at evangelism and work at touching the lives of people far from God. It is not my primary spiritual gift. If I am not careful, I will become insulated from people who need my light and my salt. I have to purposefully work at touching the lives of unchurched people. Sometimes I find myself so involved with church work and ministering to the “saved” I forget about the lost. This is a universal problem most of us have and a huge problem for preachers. There is a passage in the Bible speaking about this.

2 Timothy 4:5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

We notice several things from 2 Timothy 4:5. One of those things I want to point out at this place in our study is evangelism is work. Paul said, “Do the work of an evangelist” (emphasis mine). Timothy’s primary spiritual gift was not evangelism. This would be the case with most of us. A person who has a primary gift of evangelism does not need to be told to do it. They can’t help but do it. Sadly, most of us must be told and encouraged to do the work of an evangelist.

Another thing we see from 2 Timothy 4:5 is our ministry, personal and corporate, is not fully proven unless our ministry does the work of an evangelist. Evangelism is to be a part of the Christian life. Our lives do not experience their full potential until the work of an evangelist is part of our life.

There are several emotions for those reading this at this moment. One is saying, “Hurray! I agree with this. This will be fun and I will learn some things sharpening my evangelism abilities.” The ones saying this have a high gifting in evangelism. Another emotion at the other end of the continuum is something like this. “Here we go. He is going to beat us and try to make us go out and get people saved.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

I do want us all to know how each of us has the spiritual gift of evangelism in us. It may not be your primary gift, but it is in there. How do I know this? Because we all have the Spirit of God within us. We all are being conformed to the image of Jesus by the Spirit (2Co 3:18). We are created in the image of God. So, a desire to see the lost saved is in there. The problem is we have been terrorized by the enemy about using it. I want to talk about this more over the next few weeks. Today, I want us to know evangelism is personal. Each of us has our very own method or methods. I want to quickly show you six evangelism styles. One of these will be your primary evangelism style. You are already moving fearlessly in it. All needed is to show you it is there and adjust it a little and you will find yourself doing the work of an evangelist.

Let’s look some different biblical styles of evangelism.

  1. Intellectual Style

One type of evangelism is the Intellectual Style. We find a lot of people with eagle temperaments with this style of evangelism. Often these people are very educated and intelligent. Reason is a way of life for them. Reason is a high value in the way they operate their lives. They have studied and proven to themselves that Jesus is the Christ and the only way to salvation. Paul was like this in Acts chapter 17.

Acts 17:17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there.

Acts 17:18 A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.

You may know someone with this style. It’s the person you think about when you want a question answered about the Bible. It’s one of my higher styles, but not my primary. This may be your style. Perhaps you would be very uncomfortable about asking your waitress in the restaurant if she knows Jesus. However, if your waitress were to ask you a question about Jesus or the Bible, you have confidence giving the answer. This actually happened to me before. The waitress serving me and a friend recognized me and asked me a question and wanted a Biblical answer. I had no problem answering the question with chapter and verse and was very confident with my answer.

People with a high intellectual style of evangelism can do this. All I needed to do was direct the conversation toward my waitress’s salvation. I did it by simply asking her, “Where do you go to church.” The answer was she went no place to church. I simply invited her to our church complete with invitation card/map and business card.

  1. Confrontational Style

This is the style most of us think of when we think of a stereo-typical evangelist. These people often appear obnoxious and embarrass the rest of us. Sometimes you want to gag them and say, “Shut up.” This is the person who will ask the waitress if she knows Jesus and wonders why you don’t jump in there with him. This was the style Peter used in Acts 2.

Acts 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ . . .

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Peter told those people they had rejected and crucified God’s son and they were in big trouble unless they repented, received Jesus, were baptized, and received his Spirit. This style is an in your face evangelism style. It’s the “you are going to hell if you don’t receive Jesus” style. Maybe this is your style. Perhaps you wouldn’t embarrass your waitress in a restaurant, but don’t challenge you.

I use this style from the pulpit. I am very confrontational from the pulpit. I let people know they are in trouble without Jesus, but with Jesus they can have abundant life. Needless to say, many people have responded over the years to me and received Jesus. However, I am not comfortable doing evangelism this way. I use it when the situation calls for confrontational evangelism.

  1. Relational (Interpersonal) Style

Most of us were affected by this style in our own story about how we came to the Lord. I was and you probably were. Someone we respected and enjoyed being around developed a relation with us and their relation played a part in our coming into the kingdom of God. A wonderful Biblical example would be Levi (Matthew) in Luke chapter five.

Luke 5:29 Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them.

Luke 5:30 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”

These people with the relational style of evangelism have a lot of friends. There friends consist of people far from God, people walking very close to God, people who are very religious, and those fitting somewhere in between all of these. They enjoy being with all of them. They are respected and impact the lives of many people. They have parties or suppers with people far from God and include spiritual people to “rub elbows” together. They include people far from God when they do their recreation and hobbies.

I have used this style many times to bring people to Jesus. I have taken people to play golf, fishing, out to eat, to my house for supper, to their house, and anything else I could think of to impact them. I know eventually they will ask questions and I will be able to share with them the truths of salvation.

  1. Invitational Style

People with this style are always inviting people to church. They seem to always be picking people up and bringing children to church. They may not be comfortable answering a Biblical question, but they are very comfortable inviting people to come see Jesus. A Biblical example of this evangelism style is the woman at the well in John chapter four.

John 4:28 The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men,

John 4:29 Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?

John 4:30 Then they went out of the city, and came unto him.

People with this evangelism style have no problem inviting people to church. They invite everyone. This style is one of my weaker ones today. It was not always this way. I use to invite everyone before I became a pastor. I went through this thing where I felt I was asking them to come hear me preach. Today, our church has so much more to offer than my preaching. I find myself inviting people today to church because of drama productions and youth ministries and great music and video presentations.

  1. Serving Style

Those with this evangelism style actually enjoy doing special things for people. They get a buzz spending their time and even money on doing something for others. A Biblical example would be Dorcas in Acts chapter nine.

Acts 9:36 In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which, when translated, is Dorcas), who was always doing good and helping the poor.

These people will keep your kids free or bring you food or cut your grass. They love to serve others.

I am not very good here. It’s not I don’t love people. It’s every minute of every day is planned and set aside to do something I feel needs doing. It is here I remember evangelism is work (2Ti 4:5). I am changing by the Spirit and realize Jesus did serve people and by doing so won them for his kingdom (Mar 10:44-45).

  1. Testimonial Style

This style is my primary style. I love to get the opportunity to use this one. It usually gets the job done for me. A Biblical example would be the blind man in John chapter 9.

John 9:11 He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight.

It was impossible for anyone to argue with the man who was once blind. Any idiot could see he had changed and now had vision. The once blind man said, “All I know is I was blind but now I see. Deal with it!” What options were left for those listening but to deal with it? Jesus had changed his life. It’s is the message of the testimonial style.

I close this section with an illustration. We were on vacation this past September and one of my nephews wanted to go fishing with me. This particular nephew has had it rough. He has suffered a divorce. He has had multiple DUI charges. He has a messed-up life. I took him fishing. All day we just enjoyed catching fish. I am a very good fisherman and usually catch a lot of fish. By my nephew’s own acknowledgment, he caught more fish than he had ever caught. Finally, the conversation turned and I had a door into his life. If we watch, we will see the door open and hear the Holy Spirit say, “Now.” Brian began to tell me in detail how screwed up his life was. He knew I already knew most of it anyway. I let him talk and when he was done I told him life didn’t need to be this way. Brian is very far from God. I said, “Brian, church and serving the Lord is more than going to heaven when we die. It’s having a great life now. It’s is what Jesus really came to give us (Joh 10:10). If your aunt Judy and I have tried to show you guys anything, it’s because we love the Lord we enjoy our lives to the fullest.” It was very difficult for Brian to argue with me about my testimony. He had to deal with it. The point of the testimonial style is it says, “All I know is that once I was blind, but, because of Jesus, now I see.” Once my life was a mess, but now it is wonderful. Brian could not argue with this. He has known me all his life and knew I was telling him the truth. Also, at the moment he was in my brand new 2500 series Dodge Ram pickup pulling a very nice boat he had loved fishing from all day. Beyond this, my wife and I were in Panama City, Florida on vacation in a luxury Condo for a full month which we had done for several years running. He knew I was telling him the truth and he could not argue with it. Brian said, “Uncle Delbert, you have done exactly that. You have shown all of us that we can have a good life and be good people. I want what you have and I am going to have it.” It was about this time that we pulled into the parking lot. He went to his mother at the pool and told her his being with me was the greatest day of his life and he was going to get himself straightened out.

I have a lot more stories I will be sharing during the study. At the moment my point is we all have different styles because we are all made differently. My goal is to help you find your primary style, use it, and make good use of all the others.

Other Related Sermons:

Reaching Through Relationships – church growth sermon video audio notes

Challenge to Belong – sermon video audio notes

Invite A Friend sermon video

Also see:

Sermons Change The World

Life Gate Church sermons by Delbert Young