Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place,
Pulpit Series Volume 17 Issue 42 11/18/2007
The Scribes and Sadducees of Jesus' day debated about which was the greatest commandment and they asked Jesus about it. He told them, first, to love the Lord, with all their heart, soul, mind and strength; and second was to love their neighbor as themselves. Matthew 22:37-38
People in the world are looking for real answers. They want to be part of something that works. Too much of what they've seen called "Christianity" hasn't worked.
We've disappointed them for one reason or another and they just don't believe our message. The number ONE reason people give for not being interested in receiving Christ is the lives of Christians they've known.
Unsaved people hear us "talk" about how God changes us but they don't see a real change in our lives. We have to "walk the talk." If there's no real change in us, if unsaved people look at us and believe they're just as good or even better than us, why would they want to change to be like us?
The first step in evangelism is living a changed life; living a "reconciled" life. The second step is becoming their friend.
That brings me to the importance of Friendship Evangelism. It begins with our having a deep and viable relationship with God. If your life is full and rich, it's just natural to tell others about what's so great about your life. But if it isn't, well, there's not much you can say. Start by enjoying your relationship with God.
Remember that "evangelism" is more than just leading someone to receive Christ as their Savior. The "good news" of Christianity is more than just starting with Christ. It's "finishing" with Christ.
The best evangelism takes place in a context of mutual trust and respect. It takes place between friends.
Christians need to care about the people they hope to reach.
Christians need to accept the people they hope to reach.
Christians need to love the people they hope to reach.
Christians need to establish meaningful relationships with the people they hope to reach.
God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
The best evangelism comes when you really love and care about someone. Demonstrate your love for others. Show them, don't just tell them.
How do you do that? Lots of ways:
Think about them.
Pray for them.
Look for opportunities to show His love for them.
Go out of your way to do good things for them.
Be the best friend they have ever had.
Let God's love pour through you to them.
Share God's truths with them. Keep in mind that we are God's "ambassadors”, as though God Himself was making His love appeal through us.
An ambassador speaks on behalf of the leader of his nation and makes an appeal to the one in opposition. Unsaved people are just like what we once were: lost, separated from God, in the dark, dead in sin.
God makes His appeal to them through us. We are conduits of Grace. This means you need to know what the Bible teaches.
Show them the way to Christ, by sharing with them how you started your relationship with Christ.
Once they begin their own relationship with Christ, stay close to them, like you would a newborn baby. A new Christian needs lots of guidance. Continue to be their friend. Remember what it was like when you were a new believer.
Help them become grounded in God's Word. Show them the kind of life God has for His children. Demonstrate it.
Pray for them day and night. Never give up.
Being a friend is something we can all do.
You and I can make the difference in a the lives of a lot of people during our lifetime. If every believer would be a friend to someone and gently lead them into a relationship with Christ ... what a world we would see!
God's eternal purpose is the redemption of man Ephesians 3:8-11.
God gave His only Son to die on our behalf Romans 5:8.
There is nothing dearer to the heart of God than the salvation of lost souls John 3:16.
Q. Who do we have the greatest influence over? A. Our relatives, friends and associates.
Friendship evangelism is the most effective and the simplest way to bring people to the Lord. There are husbands and wives who have been won to Christ by their spouses; there are children who have been won by their parents and perhaps grandchildren. Others have been won by their friends and associates on the job. Older Christians have a wonderful opportunity to have a positive influence on the generation behind them.
Friendship evangelism was practiced in New Testament times. In John 4:53, there is a story about a man whose son is healed and he and his whole house believed. Andrew followed Jesus and brought his brother Peter to Him. John 1:40-42
Philip introduced his friend Nathaniel to Jesus John 1:43-45
In Acts 10 we read how Cornelius sent for Peter to come and tell him words whereby he might be saved. When Peter arrived, Cornelius had gathered his friends and family together to hear what Peter had to say.
Paul and Silas were in prison for preaching Christ. an earthquake came causing the prison to be opened the prisoners were loosed from their chains and the doors to be opened.
The jailer was about to take his life. They said, Do yourself no harm: for we are all here. Then he invited them to his home. In a short time, this man became a believer in Christ and was baptized along with all his family Acts 16:22-31.
What about our friends and associates? In Mark 5:19, we read of a man who was healed and then wanted to go with Jesus. But, Jesus replied: Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.
The Samaritan woman came to draw water from the well, Jesus was there and He engaged her in conversation and she soon decided he was from God. She left her water pot and went back into the city and brought her friends to hear Jesus. Many became believers because of her influence. Although she was not a disciple at that time, she did believe that He was sent from God and she led others to believe upon Him John 4
When Jesus was going through Jericho there was a little short man named Zacchaeus who climbed up into a tree to get a better view.
Jesus saw him and said, Come down, for today I must stay at your house Luke 19:1-10
Zacchaeus was a tax collector an occupation that was despised among the Jews. I don't know what all Jesus said to him, but he made a friend of him very quickly and the man showed repentance and a desire to change his life.
Use every single opportunity to spread the gospel with everyone that comes my way. We need to be soul-conscious. Often we never get around to doing what we know we ought to do. We may wait until it is too late. I mean who knows whether that person is going to live another day? Who knows whether they will ever hear the Gospel?
True Christians are the light of the world and the salt of the earth and wherever they go they ought to touch every life with the Gospel. Studies have shown that the fastest growing churches are loving churches.
I believe that love is the root of friendship evangelism. Something in your heart has to say that you care about the other person. I wish we could love all people as we see them and have concern for where they will spend eternity.
We can hold the right doctrinal positions, come to every service of the church, take the Lord's Supper every Sunday, and give of our means, but if we do not learn to love it is not worth anything.