Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Where does the bible tell us to lead others to Christ?

The question came up one Sunday; where does the bible tell us to lead others to Christ? A believer was asking this, since he was of the opinion that the bible didn’t have a scripture that actually says, “Lead others to Christ,” and that the sinner’s prayer is actually for the church, not the unsaved. It was a challenge, because, in a sense, he was right, and I didn’t have a two minute argument. I asked him for a few days to put a study together that would clarify the need to bring the Gospel message to unbelievers, and lead them to a relationship of grace and salvation. This is my first draft, and if you take the time to actually read through this, you might want to add something to it. I’d like to rewrite it with a little more clarity. Please feel free to add your comments, as this is really a work in progress.

The New Testament is full of direct references to evangelism and leading others to repentance, and many scriptures give a compelling argument for the saving of souls and leading others to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. This study is by no means exhaustive, and I can find no scripture that directly says, “Lead people to Christ;” however, there are many direct references to evangelism and telling people they must repent, receive remission of sins, and be transformed in order to be saved. The life of a disciple involves not only bringing others to Jesus, but teaching them to bring others as well.

Even the Old Testament admonishes us to evangelize the lost. Approximately 1000 years before the ministry of Jesus, David wrote in Psalm 51:12-13 – “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You.” King Solomon also wrote, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.” Proverbs 11:30 Evangelism has been at the heart of godly men from long before Christ showed up on earth.

The “Great Commission,” is found in Matthew 28:18-20, and Mark 16:15-17. It is touched on in Luke’s account, chapter 24:46-47, which gives us some specific charges. Even John’s writing of Peter’s restoration (in chapter 21:15-19), reveals the heart of Christ in His charge for Peter to “Feed my sheep,” and, “Follow me.” While Jesus did not say directly, “Go out and have people recite a sinner’s prayer,” His direction to us involves some very specific actions that are necessary for us to fulfill His commission. At the heart of this matter is the process of repentance, transformation, and restoration of the soul. The subsequent response and more outward evidence of this is evangelism.

Matthew 28 gives us 4 parts:
  • Go – a definite action, a command to get away from the immediate area

  • Make disciples of all the nations – no limited to our surrounding area, the spreading of the Gospel is not limited to a geographic area

  • Baptize – a definite, outward expression of faith

  • Teaching to observe all things – all of the commands and precepts of God, “teach” – to disciple, instruct
Mark 16 tells us 3 things:
  • Go – as above

  • Preach the Gospel – “preach,” kerusso, Gr. Strong’s #2784 - to herald (as a public crier), tell abroad, proclaim, publish, especially divine truth (the gospel), exhort, call out with a clear voice, communicate, preach. “The herald is to give a public announcement of an official message to issue whatever demands the message entails. The Christian herald is to proclaim the message of salvation through Jesus Christ and issue a summons to repent and receive forgiveness of sins.” (note from the “Spirit-Filled Bible”)

  • Signs will follow
- Casting out of demons
- Speaking in tongues
- Immunity to snakes – ref. to be able to shake off snakes, as Paul did, immunity to its effects
- Healing the sick – lit. physical and emotional healing

Luke 24:46-47 tells us to preach repentance and remission of sins to all nations.
This is a conscious act of bringing the Gospel to the lost, witnessing, and “leading people to Jesus”

Examples in Jesus’ ministry:

In John 3:3, Jesus tells Nicodemus, “…unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” This is the foundation of repentance, transformation and restoration. Here is the beginning of making disciples; getting a person to new birth. A person that does not have a transformation will not be able to understand spiritual teaching. Romans 8:7 tells us that “the carnal (natural) mind is enmity (in direct opposition to) against God; for it is not subject to the laws of God, nor indeed can be.”

Jesus commissions the disciples to “Go …to the lost sheep of Israel.” Matt 10:6. verse 27b…”that what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops.”
V 32. Whoever therefore shall confess me before men, him I will confess before my Father which is in Heaven.” Luke 9:2 “…And He sent them to preach the kingdom of God.” Chapter 10 has Him commissioning and sending out 70 disciples, two by two, to heal the sick and preach the kingdom of God.

Luke 22:32 KJV But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

Examples from the apostles’ ministry:

One doesn’t have to get far into the Acts of the Apostles to find them first commissioned to be witnesses (v. 8), and after being filled with the Holy Spirit in Chapter 2, Peter delivers a bold sermon that reignites their ministry. Peter states in v 21 “that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Here he is proclaiming Christ’s own words and further confirming that a man needs not only to be led, but confession is necessary. Peter later calls for repentance and baptism for the remission of sins, and further, to receive the Holy Spirit. At the end of chapter 2, we see that their fellowship (no doubt involving the sharing of their faith with the unsaved) caused signs and wonders. The Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

Chapter 3 again solidifies Peter and John’s example of discipleship ministry. There is healing and preaching. Again Peter states in v 19, “Repent…and be converted…” bringing the message of Christ, the Gospel, leading people to Him. He was doing what Jesus commissioned him to do. (Feed my sheep. – John 21:15-19)

The power of the disciple’s ministry continues throughout the book of Acts. Chapter 5:12-14 “…through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders…believers were increasingly added to the Lord…” healings, demons cast out, they continued to preach and lead people to Christ. V 42 says, “…they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”

The book of Acts is full of the apostles leading others to Jesus. The only instance recorded where Jesus personally appeared to a person that got converted was in Chapter 9, when he appeared to Saul as a light, and He directed him to go into Damascus. V 6 …”the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.” Then, Jesus directed Ananias to go speak to Saul. V 15, “But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:” Paul’s mission was revealed to Ananias, that he would be leading people to Jesus.
V 17, “And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” V 20, “Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.”

More scripture that encourages evangelism:

Jude 1:21-23 21keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. 22 And on some have compassion, making a distinction, 23 but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.

1 Cor 9:19-20, 19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law;

John 4:35-36 35 Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! 36 And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.

Luke 12:8-10 8 “Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. 9 But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God. 10 “And anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but to him who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven.

Luke 15:10 “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

John 5:25 Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.

John 15:8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

John 15:16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.

John 17:18, 23 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world… I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

1 Cor 11:1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.

There are many direct references and charges from Jesus, examples from the apostles’ ministry, and words to the church from Paul that direct us to lead others to Christ. 2 Tim 4:5 tells us to “do the work of an evangelist.” Eph 4:11 lists evangelists as one of the necessary components of the ministry. This one passage, however, is probably the most convicting:

Romans 10: 8-17 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart ](that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved, 14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “ How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!”
16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “LORD, who has believed our report? 17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

The study of this scripture has me conclude this one thing; we are called to lead others to a saving relationship with Jesus, and to preach the kingdom of God.

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