Beautiful feet are ugly, but beautiful are the feet made ugly by bringing the Good News.
KIDS WATCH FOR: The Magician and the book in the trash.
Our sermon title today is “Our Beautiful Feet”. How are your feet? Summer’s almost here! For a lot of women there’s nothing like a pedicure. Whether it’s summer sandal time or you’re going in for surgery or you’re just getting pampered, pedicures are one of those blessings (great gift ideas if you’re stuck btw!)
As Christians I think we might neglect our feet. Yet the Bible says a lot about our feet. Jesus washed the disciples feet as a symbol of humble service. Our feet need to “be fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” (Eph. 6:15). And then for our home base, Paul in Romans 10:15 quotes Isaiah “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring Good News.”
We need beautiful Christian feet. The feet of messengers were beautiful. Did they get regular pedicures? No. In ancient contexts the messengers of news had to travel – often great distances. Their feet would not look like they just walked out of some high end salon. They would be filthy, bleeding, red and raw from their long journey. When you saw that messenger walk in and inform you of whatever good news they had to tell you, you would look at their feet and see the tremendous sacrifice and effort to bring you that news. You were thankful to get the news, and at the sight of their aching feet you were thankful for what the person went through to get you the news. Indeed: how beautiful are the feet of those who bring Good News! It reminds me of Amy Carmichaels poem: No Scar?
Have you no scar?
No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?
I hear you sung as mighty in the land,
I hear them hail your bright ascendant star:
Have you no scar?
Have you no wound?
Yet, I was wounded by the archers, spent.
Leaned me against the tree to die, and rent
By ravening beasts that compassed me, I swooned:
Have you no wound?
No wound? No scar?
Yes, as the master shall the servant be,
And pierced are the feet that follow Me;
But yours are whole. Can he have followed far
Who has no wound? No scar?
Have our feet been made beautiful by the wounds, red rawness, aching and bleeding that comes from traveling to bring good news? Beautiful feet are ugly, but beautiful are the feet made ugly by bringing the Good News.
Question: How many people in the last year have you told the Gospel to? Not how many have you told where you go to church or that you go to church. Not how many that you’re involved with this charity or that cause. But I’m asking very specifically: How many people have you had a conversation with where you told them very specifically about their need for salvation and that Jesus is the only one that can save them?
WHAT IS EVANGELISM?
This is a good question. Not because its up for debate or complicated, but, because so many Christians categorize things as evangelism that aren’t evangelism. Charity is not evangelism. Political activism is not evangelism. Praying on the street with people is not evangelism. All good things for sure. All not evangelism.
Illustration: UPS Delivery. One of life’s joys is home delivery. Is there anything like seeing a UPS or Amazon delivery truck stopping outside your house? Anyone else feel that way? You get all excited thinking your package has finally arrived. Or you can’t remember if you ordered something but the sight of the truck makes you excited and you’re hoping you did! I told one guy he’s got the greatest job because he’s like Santa every day to people. That’s why one of the biggest disappointments is when you look at the package and rather than seeing “Cabelas” it says “Planner Perfect” some Etsy sticker shop brand. Rather than something you need for fishing you get something that is totally not needed for planners.
That’s what its like when we go to people as Christians without the Gospel. We deliver the wrong packages. We have one package that needs to be given to people and when they read the label it should say “The Gospel”. When they open it up it should be an explanation of who Jesus is and why they need to believe in Him. We can deliver other packages too, but not to the exclusion of the one package we’re charged to deliver.
Evangelism is informing people that they need to be saved and how they can be saved. Evangelism is telling people that there is only One Person who can save them: Jesus Christ. Evangelism is telling people the Gospel. The word Gospel comes from the Greek word meaning “Good News”. The Gospel is a message about what Jesus has done on the cross. It is a message that has to be told. That’s called evangelism. Evangelism is the activity of telling someone the message that Jesus died for their sins and they need to believe in Him to be forgiven and saved. As Romans 10 says, “How can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone telling them? Faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the word of Christ.” Telling the Gospel leads to hearing the Gospel leads to believing the Gospel leads to Salvation!
Yet at the same time, the Gospel is a command on unbelievers. It is a command to believe. What works does God require of us? The Jews asked Jesus in John 6. “To believe on the One He has sent” was His response. “He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus.” Obey refers to believing the message God commands you to believe. The obligation God puts on those who hear the message is to believe it. Disobedience is unbelief, obedience is belief. We are among those who obey the Gospel of salvation because we believe it. Have you obeyed the Gospel? Have you believed it?
FIRST: Christ is worth telling. Isn’t He? “Whatever was to my profit” Paul said in Philippians 3, “I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss for the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.” Jesus said “out of the heart the mouth speaks.” If our hearts see Him worth all, then our mouths will talk of Him
Illustration from Tortured For Christ or VOM issue
SECOND, because it’s commanded. The Great Commission is the Great Commandment to Go and evangelize. Mark 16:15 Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” Paul told Timothy “Do the work of an evangelist” (2 Tim. 4:1-5). Be active in sharing your faith Paul told Philemon. Evangelism is obedience to the command of Jesus and His Apostles to tell the world the Good News.
THIRD, we evangelize to continue the church’s historical activity of evangelism. You can’t read If we want to be like the early church, and the true church all throughout the last 2,000 years, then we will follow the example handed down to us to bring the Good News to our world. Shame on us if the Gospel stops with our generation.
FOURTH: we care about people. Paul cared so much for his fellow Jews. Romans 9:2, “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race.” Then in 10:1 he bleeds again for them, “My hearts desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.”
Penn Jillette, the famous magician of Penn & Teller, is an atheist. There’s a video he uploaded on YT you can go look at later today where he explains how a guy came up to him after a show and gave him a Bible. Penn speaks very highly of the guy, you should go watch it. Penn said he has always respected people who evangelize (proselytize) and the real lightning strike is his explanation why he, as an atheist, respects religious evangelism. He said, “How much do you have to hate somebody to not evangelize? How much do you have to hate someone to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? If I believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that a truck was coming at you and you didn’t believe that there was a truck coming – there’s a point where I tackle you. And this [eternal life] is more important than that.”
Do you get what Penn is saying? Our silence while people are going to Hell is our hatred of them. But when we love people we cannot but speak. Love drives us to tell. Someone said to me recently that one of the reasons they go to speak at council and board meetings for public schools is that they care about the students. What they see happening in the public schools so burdens them that they have to go speak to try and change what’s happening. When you care you speak! Do we care about the souls of people and the eternity in Hell they will slip away to if they don’t hear from us the Gospel? If we love them we will speak.
No matter how much we care about people we don’t care about people if we don’t care about their salvation. On the one hand, 1 John 3 rebukes us if we say we love someone but don’t care for their physical needs. And rightly so. But the opposite is true too: if I clothe someone, house someone, feed someone, bind up their wounds, weep with them and hold them when they cry, and I do not tell them about eternal life then I don’t care about them. It is not caring about someone to make them comfortable on their way to Hell. It is caring about someone when we tell them how they can avoid Hell and be with God.
This is the answer to fear: Loving those we would be afraid of. The number one obstacle people have to the idea of evangelism is FEAR. The solution is love. Turn to 1 John 4:18 with me, “Perfect love drives out fear.” Other versions say “Perfect love casts out fear” or “expels fear”. Do you get the point? When you love you don’t fear. The person at the office, or on the jobsite, or in the family, or in the classroom that makes you afraid is God’s way of showing you that you’re not loving them. Choose to love their souls and you will find your fear of them drain away.
FIFTH: Compelled by the Spirit. Jesus said, “The Spirit will testify about me.” The Spirit speaks. He speaks of Jesus. He spoke through the prophets. We have in our hands a record of what the Spirit has spoken. The Spirit is a speaking Spirit. So whoever He lives in He is going to compel to speak. I can’t see how every true born again Chrsitain with the Spirit of God living in them wouldn’t have to some degree a desire to confess Christ. The Spirit wants the salvation of the lost, how – if he lives in us – could that not also be a desire we also have then?
SIXTH: Coming of Jesus. No one knows the day or the hour, but, we live like its today. We are one week closer to the coming of Jesus than we were last week. But that also means the lost are that much closer to Judgment. With each day their time is running out.
SIXTH: Combat. Evangelism is front line battle for the souls of people. You could not be more engaged in spiritual combat than evangelism.
SEVENTH: Christian growth is a reason we evangelize. There are returns in your own faith that come from evangelism. I actually believe a stalling out occurs in a Christian’s life at some point if they don’t make telling others a part of their faith. Here are some benefits:
First, you will grow in your faith. Your belief in God and faith in Him will strengthen as you engage people who don’t believe
Second, you will grow in that you will be controlled less by fear. When fear rules your life you’re not living by faith. If fear is what keeps you from evangelizing then fear is what you live by. But, evangelizing will break you out of that, and you will see that the Spirit of God empowers you and overcomes your fear, and you will learn that it is very possible to not give in to the impulse of fear.
Third, you will grow in caring for people’s souls. You will start to see them as made in God’s image, people whom God loves, people whom Christ died for. In short, you will find that they matter enough to risk telling them of salvation. And it will draw your heart out towards them.
Fourth, your Bible study will grow. What you get out of reading and studying will be taken to a whole new level. You will have a hunger to know the Bible more. Partly because you will want to know what it says so you can be more informed when you do evangelism. (By the way, this is why getting “stumped” is a good thing for you. It drives you to the word.)
But also, there is something about evangelism that creates a greater hunger for knowing the Scriptures. I don’t know how to explain it, but I just know from my own life, and everyone who does it, experiences it.
Fifth, your prayer life will grow. You will take up the work of prayer with a whole new energy. You will find that evangelism and prayer are connected, just like evangelism and the Bible. I recommend starting a list of people in your life you want to come to Christ and pray through that list for those people by name on a regular. Start a routine schedule to pray. Pray that God gives you opportunities and open doors to tell them the good news and pray that God would give you the courage and the wisdom in those conversations. Pray to be ready to tell strangers whom God brings your way. Pray for the evangelism we are planning as a church
Sixth, you will grow in righteousness. Your desire to live right with God will grow. Its an accountability in that you don’t want the life that you live to be a counter argument to the message you’re sharing. You want your life to be consistent with the righteousness of the message that you’re telling people. But there is also the desire for other people to know God. The same root that grows the desire for people to know God is the same root that grows a desire to live for God…..if you’re pointing people to God you’ll find that you want to be pointed at God and how you live
Seventh: you will love believers more. When you engage those who don’t believe like you do, you will appreciate and love more those who do. The bond in Christ is powerful, “Who are my mother and my brothers? Everyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my mother and brother and my sister” Jesus said. As you tell unbelievers about Jesus, your love for believers will go up.
Can you see why evangelism is so important? Who wouldn’t want to see in this church more love, more Bible study, more prayer, more righteousness, more exalting of Jesus, more faith and less fear?
Very quickly I want to highlight several evangelism myths. These are myths about evangelism we need to bust.
- The “GIFTING” myth. “I’m not gifted in evangelism” Yes, Ephesians 4 says God gives some to be evangelists.
- The “RELATIONSHIP” myth. Relational evangelism is the only evangelism. I only evangelize people after I’ve built a relationship with them. Too often when I hear this from people it seems that once the relationship is built it never really gets to evangelism. I agree that there are certain people in our lives where we need to have an established relationship with them.
- The “RESULTS” myth. I don’t evangelize because it doesn’t work. People don’t get saved. There aren’t any results. You’re scattering seed, not saving them. God’s word never returns void. A.C. Gaebelein, a brilliant Christian in the 1800’s, worked hard to evangelize the Jews in NY city. He wrote a commentary on Zechariah and sent it to every Rabbi in the area. He never heard back from any of them. Then one day while leading a lecture a young Jewish man came in to listen. Turns out this young Jewish man was the secratary to one of the local rabbis. When the rabbi threw Gaebelein’s book in the trash the secretary picked it out and read it. Through reading that book he put his faith in Christ. Our willingess to tell others is not to be contingent upon their willingness to believe. Tell them and trust God. Tell them and trust God. We may never know until we get to Christ how much our telling worked. Think of it: wouldn’t it be awesome to get to Jesus and have all kinds of reward doled out to us for evangelism we had never seen any results from? If I’m wrong on that I’m wrong. But I’d rather be wrong on that than be wrong for not telling the Gospel at all!
- The “SUPERIOR” myth. This is the person who is motivated to evangelize because they think it makes them better than other Christians. They’re superior to all the other wimpy Christians. If you evangelize because you like how it makes you feel above other Christians just remember pride goes before a fall.
- The “MARTYR” myth. This person is very proud of how much “persecution” they get. They aim for reactions, hatred, hoping people get angry. It’s how they measure if they’re spiritual or not – by how much people hate them. It’s the inverse of the people pleasers who measures how spiritual they are by how much people love them. Instead the Martyr is the People Pusher. It’s an immature attitude that reminds me of teenagers who say things like “I just say it like it is and well, people hate me for it.” They relish when people hate them for evangelizing and see it as a badge of honor.
- Always carry a tract with you. Take a handful from the Info Desk. If you don’t like those find some that you do like. Just always carry tracts with you.
- Never have a tract with you. Give it away. Don ’t use it for a bookmark or a decoration on your end table. Give it away.
- Start praying evangelistically. Pray God would help you witness to people you know, that you don’t know, and, that you would be willing to go out with the Church to do evangelism.
- Get some equipping. Training starts next week at 10am with Don Bump.
- Come out to the Evangelism events we have planned