PREVIEWReaching Out Without Dumbing Down
Reaching Out Without Dumbing Down:  A Theology of Worship for the Turn-of-the-Century Culture

“How to Win Friends and Influence People” - For Jesus!

A Program for Personal Evangelism
based on the Faith-Sharing Concept

 
 

Part Two of Six: Gambler for Love[1]

 

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Codex Sinaiticus

New Testament:

from the famed discovery

 

The earliest, oldest New Testament text has finally been released to the public.  You may read the Codex Sinaiticus online - but only if you know Greek!  To read it inCodex Sinaiticus New Testament H T Anderson English English, you need the only English translation we know.  The H. T. Anderson English Translation of the Codex Sinaiticus, with the three extra early New Testament books and the Sonnini Manuscript of Acts 29 included, and the original absences of certain verses (put in there later by the 'church') is now available only at here.  

THIS IS NOT A CHEAP, SCANNED-IN FACSIMILE. This is a first edition of the text published in easy-to-read Georgia font with plenty of room between verses for your notes.2 points between verses, hard or soft cover.

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The Nazarene Acts
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Also known as
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Ever wonder why PAUL and not PETER received the mission to the lost tribes?  Wasn't Peter the stone upon which the "church" was to be built?  In this new translation of the Nazarene Acts, we follow Kefa (Peter) as he itinerates from Jerusalem and up the Mediterranean coast up to Tripoli, as recorded in the journals of his successor, Clement of Rome (Phi 4:3).  Every message Kefa preached, the company he kept, and the great works of faith the the Almighty accomplished through him are herein recorded.  This 300 page volume has been 'hidden' in the back of an obscure volume of the "Church Fathers" all this time.  Could it be that, in establishing the Gentile 'church' by pushing away from Judaism, this history was purposely hidden?


Faith-sharing Evangelism Library

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Faith-Sharing:
How to Win Friends and Influence People for Jesus
: Six Messages teach others how to witness. Based on Faith-sharing, by Eddie Fox and George Morris

Messages in this series:
1: The Incredible Seeking God
2: Gambler for Love
3: Share; Do; Name!
4: Getting on the Same Frequency
5: Up On the Handlebar!
6: $50K in 90 Days or Less!

Beyond Faith-sharing:
Digests of lectures and texts that demonstrate
quick ways to improve and increase your ministry's outreach.

Lessons in this Series:
1:   The Outward-focused Church
2:   Discerning the Needs of People
3:   The Incarnational Ministry
4:   Engaging Secular People
5:   Living Debt-free Biblically
6:   Youth Ministry Leadership
7:   Growing a New Church 1:
      The Price Tag, the Target
8:   Growing a New Church 2:
      The Pastor, People, Program
9:   Spiritual and Motivational Gifts
10: Envisioning, Friendliness and Authority
11: Making the Case
12: How Do We Get Them to Come?

 

 

KEY WORDS:

Win souls soles soul-winning, how to get saved, born again anew from above salvation,

How to evangelism, evangelization, evangelisation evangelize program,

Do one-on-one ministry, personal witness witnessing witnesses,

How to make making winning win disciples souls, soul-winning, be a soul-winner, sole-winner,

How to get people saved, born again justified justification sanctified sanctification.

 

 

 

 

Matthew 9:35. And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. 36. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. 37. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; 38. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest. 10:1. And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.

1 Corinthians 13: 1. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. 4. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5. Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6. Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7. Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

8. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
 

PRAYER: Renew your church, O Father Yahweh; renew your people in this land. Save us from cheap words and self-deception in your service. In the power of your Spirit, transform us, and shape us by the cross of your dear son. Amen.


   The first two installments of this series are meant to build the foundation for personal faith sharing.  Last time we learned that our Heavenly Father is in business to seeking out people because he loves.  Out of love, he sent his Son to seek and save the lost from alienation and destruction.  The next installment, we’ll get into the nuts and bolts of what it means to share faith with others and learn just how easy it is to accomplish ourselves.  We know that there are all kinds of people and that they have all kinds of motives for promoting Jesus, but today we want to learn the correct motives for sharing our faith and doing evangelism.

                        

Natural Evangelism

   Evangelism, or for a more modern term, evangelization, simply means “witnessing to the move of the Holy Spirit in one’s life.”  Prof. DeWolf says this about evangelization:

The New Testament Church engaged in evangelism as naturally and normally as a robin sings or a happy child plays. 

The surprising conclusion we make from hearing it is that winning friends and influencing people for Jesus is not a special ministry, done by special people, with special titles or special degrees, at special times or in special ways; but winning friends for Jesus should be the natural and normal ministry of any congregation or individual member.  But winning friends for Jesus can't be a normal response to Grace if our motives for sharing are unclear.  If we really don't know why we're to share then confusion, embarrassment and guilt will impede our efforts.  We learned last session that it’s the Father’s nature to seek out the lost, and Jesus’ mission was to die that we might be found and rescued.  Understanding that, we look to our own motives and intentions with an eye to making them right for sharing our faith!

 

Wrong Motives

   I may have mentioned before that I’d been approached with the question, "If you died tonight, do you think you’d go to Heaven or Hell?"  Maybe you’ve been asked that question or been taught to ask it.  There’s really nothing wrong with the question itself.  Sometimes it’s appropriate.  My reply was, “It’s none of your business.”  I could tell the man who asked wanted to trap me.  His attitude in asking betrayed his wrong motive for asking.  Shall we win friends for Jesus with veiled threats?  With argumentative booby traps?  No, that’s not our style.  When someone feels fear, she begins to hate the cause of it, not love it.  Martin Luther observed this over 450 years ago:

"He who is converted through threats and terror is never truly converted as long as he retains that form.  Fear makes him hate his conversion."

The big question isn't "Is there life after death?" but "Is there life after birth?"  So many people who claim they're “going to heaven” in the next life are already dead when it comes to mission in this life.

   Also, trying to win friends for Jesus based on rewards, such as “going to heaven,” or financial prosperity, or an end to one’s problems, appeals only to the selfish, "What's in it for me?" kind of attitude.  Befriending Jesus only for what you can get is what Jesus’ brother James called “double-mindedness.”  And the double-minded person, in James’ opinion, is unstable, and, in the end, “must not expect to receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:8).  Jesus never promised to yank us out of our suffering; he did promise he’d be with us through all phases of life, including suffering.

   Some have an ungodly ulterior motive for promoting Jesus.  (Is that really so hard to believe?)  Once a very wealthy lady gave me a long list of people to visit.  I didn’t know anyone on the list: none were inactive members or people in the neighborhood.  I asked her, “Why all these?”  She said, “Because these people are all wealthy and they could help us meet the budget.”   Then she laid five one hundred dollar bills neatly on the table before me.  She wanted to pay me to seduce rich people, which proved an ungodly motive for evangelization.

   Another seduction is using Jesus as a rallying point for politics.  The idea that Christianity is the last bastion for preserving western culture against communists, humanists, cults, false religions, or liberal or conservative politics, is a strong seduction.  When propaganda takes the place of compassion, when the message takes precedence over the person, then the motive for faith sharing is sinful.  So there’s a progression of wrong motives for sharing Jesus: inciting fear, promising rewards, advancing an unscriptural agenda -- even bribery. 

 

AGAPE (agaph): The True Motive for Winning Friends for Jesus

   There’s really just one true motive for sharing Jesus that’s biblical and sensible.  That motive is agape (ah-GAH-pay), a word often translated as “love.”  Love is behind the Father’s seeking, for YAHWEH IS LOVE.  Jesus came into this world on account of his love, and, as St. Paul has instructs us, it is “the agape of Messiah that urges us on” to make friends for him (2 Cor 5:14).

   Actually, that word agape has no English equivalent.  Paul borrowed the word from classical Greek to mean something like “a form of compassion that doesn’t desire to possess others, but to help them.”  Author Dwight Small explains agape as a love that:

doesn't exist to get what it wants but empties itself to give what the other needs. Agape lives in order to die to self for the blessedness of caring for another, spending for another, spending itself for the sake of the beloved.

Obviously, agape isn’t that “silly little thing” the world calls “love.”  Agape is far beyond that.  The King James Version translates it as “charity;” and charity is fully described in the “Charity Chapter” (1 Corinthians 13), read earlier. 

   Charity is certainly the motive behind Jesus’ good works, as we can see plainly from Matthew 9:35 & 36.  Let's look again at that passage now: 

35. Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness.   36. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

This word translated “had compassion” literally means “was gut wrenched.”  Jesus was internally terrorized on account of the plight of the harassed, the helpless, the bewildered  (esplagcnisqh: verse 36, from which we get the word “spleen,” an internal organ).  Maybe you’ve felt that kind of deep compassion in connection with some of the horrendous violent acts that recently occurred in the Middle East.

   But Jesus didn’t just commiserate; he made plans of action. 

37. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38. therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." 10:1. Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness.

(1) He prayed for favor,

(2) he summoned his friends,

(3) he empowered them, and

(4) he sent them out to take care of things, especially demonic infiltrations and physical afflictions.

   We learn that agape affects both the emotions and the will of the believer.  We feel compassion and we do compassion.  Agape is an active word – it’s a missionary word.  The agape of Yahweh motivated him not only to be a seeker but a sender.

For the sake of agape, Yahweh sent Abraham from Ur to Judea;
For the sake of agape, Yahweh sent Joseph to Egypt;
For the sake of agape, Yahweh sent Moses to the Israelites;
For the sake of agape, Yahweh sent prophets to the people;

For the sake of agape, Yahweh sent his Son to the world;
And for the sake of agape,
   the Son sent out his apostles,
   who sent out other apostles,   
   who sent out other apostles,   
   until some apostle found you!

You see, in order for love to be agape, love for destruction-bound folks need to be activated -- acts of compassion are required.  Biblical love always acts just as the compassion of Jesus always passes on a blessing.  Why?  It’s like one of the new hymns says,

That's how it is with God's love, Once you've experienced it,
It's fresh like spring, you want to sing, you want to pass it on.[2]

The kind of charity that fosters acts of compassion isn’t a natural endowment; 1 Corinthians 13 tells us it’s a spiritual gift.  You may receive agape by diligently and seriously seeking it in prayer.[3]  We all need more love and he’ll give us more if we’ll ask.  Receiving the gift of love as an answer to prayer is like being sweetened up (as somebody said).

A man laid a piece of chocolate on the table near an ant.  He was surprised to see the ant take a single taste of chocolate then hurry off to share the news with his friends.  Soon the ant returned followed by a long train of others who quickly devoured the whole piece with him. 

If you diligently seek agape until you find it, it’ll be sweet in your mouth, it’ll make you sweeter all around, and you'll want to pass it on.

 

The Downside and Upside of Agape

   Obviously, practicing love entails risks.  We risk rejection, ‘no response’ and certain persecution from the devil.  It’s risky to love and riskier to perform acts of charity.  In our world, some acts of kindness are illegal.  However, if love is risky, then we must become gamblers for love. 

   (Jack Lewis) Prolific author and one-time agnostic C. S. Lewis called Father “an inveterate gambler.”  “Inveterate” means “habitual.”  Yahweh habitually risks himself in gambling for the human heart, and his risks only pay off with the diligent effort of his people.  The greatest payoff that Yahweh ever had was gambling on Jesus’ horrible death.  Yahweh won, but his winning exacted a terrifying cost. 

   (D. James Kennedy) When we decide to act compassionately for Jesus, we also risk.  Perhaps that's why, as Dr. James Kennedy often complains, “One of the saddest statistics of our day is that 95% of all church members have never led anyone to Christ.”  I might add that probably 95% of church members have never even led anyone to church!  We have a nice church service and friendly people here.  The risk of inviting people to our services is quite low.  Why won’t you invite anyone to come?  Why won’t you offer to pick them up Sunday morning?  We start with small risks like that before we go on to the kind of risking Mother Teresa demanded from her novitiates:  "Love,” she said, “to be real, must cost.  It must hurt.  It must empty us of self." 

   (Paul Scherer) This kind of love is always on the move.  Paul Scherer tells us, “Love is a spendthrift, leaves its arithmetic at home, is always in the red.”  I’ve heard that the greatest way to unite a church is not getting out of debt, but getting in, and getting in deep.  This is exactly opposite from the world’s understanding of thrift.  However, in Yahweh’s economy, if we’re not in the red then we’re not in the black, either.  Get it?  We’re to spend far more than we take in.

   (Herb Russo) Most of the time our only risk in asking or trying to do is hearing the word “no.”  Big deal, huh?   What Herb Russo teaches about raising money is also applicable to winning friends for Jesus.  Russo says, “People ought to at least be given the chance to say ‘no,’ and I give them three chances."  This is good advice if we’re to risk ourselves for the gospel.  We can bear three “nos” in chancing for a “yes.”  But we’re always to expect a “yes.”  When witnessing pays off, it pays off BIG.  And hearing a “no” isn’t a high a price to pay.  When we ask singers for the choir, we hear ‘no’ a lot.  But we keep trying until we get the “yeses” we need!  Even one “yes” out of a hundred is cause for rejoicing.  It took 99 “nos” to get to that “yes.”  Didn't Jesus say, “There is joy in the presence of the angels over one sinner who repents”? 

   So what is the final payoff?  Is it worth the effort, the risk?  Is it worth the love, the charity, the compassion, the work?  Yes it is.  The payoff may be the redemption, re-creation, reclamation and the ultimate salvation of someone who is otherwise doomed to destruction.  You must agree with me that there can be no greater payoff than the salvage of a life, and, as a disciple, you are responsible.  Yes, when you risk to win that friend for Jesus; when your motive is godly; passion is pure; then you gain your own soul.  Congratulations!  Good and faithful servant!

   The alternative may is found in the following letter, written by your neighbor or friend, that stands as a reminder of what may be at stake: 

You lived next door to me for years
We shared our dreams, our joys, our tears,
A friend I counted you indeed -
A friend who’d help me when in need.

My faith in you was strong and sure
We had such trust as should endure,
No spats between us ever rose
Our friends the same, as were our foes.

What sadness, then, my friend, to find
That after all, you weren't so kind.
That day my life with you would end;
I found you weren't a faithful friend.

For all those years we spent on earth,
You never taught the Second Birth,
You never spoke of my lost soul
And of the Christ who'd make me whole.

{I plead today from hell's cruel fire  
And tell you now my last desire,}
      (I would leave this out!)

Now you can do naught for me,
No words today will set me free.
But do not err, my friend, again,
Do all you can for souls of men,
Plead with them now quite earnestly
Lest they be cast outside with me.

   You might say we contradict ourselves by using a threat as an incentive for you to make a friend.  But I'm telling you that our job as witnesses requires speaking the truth in love, even if that truth is as difficult to articulate as it is to receive.  Friends, pray to Yahweh that you, like him, may be a gambler for love, risking all for the salvation of that neighbor, friend, family member or pew partner.  Amen.


[1] Adapted from Faith-sharing by George Morris / Eddie Fox and first preached July 24, 1994, updated November 3, 1997.

[2] The United Methodist Hymnal, p. 572.

[3] It is the tenth of the pneumatikoi of 1 Corinthians 12 & 13.

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