“Rescue the perishing, Care for the dying, Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave; Weep o’er the erring one, Lift up the fallen, Tell them of Jesus the Mighty to save.” These are the first lines of a hymn which I shared with you the last time we met. Rescue the perishing is the name of that hymn. And as we talked about it we began to take a look at just what we are doing for the sake of Jesus. We looked at what he called us to do and how we are commanded by the Great Commission to be witnesses to all the people in all the world. We used Psalm 126:6 as a jumping point to define how we are to go and evangelize others. We talked about sowing and reaping and the respective responses and rewards of doing such. As I look back I think, we are to share the Gospel truth. Let’s break that down. Gospel. Go spell---the truth. That’s what we’ve got to do. We have to go and spell the truth to people! That’s evangelism.
Evangelism is the missing word in many churches today. That statement has a twofold meaning. So much so I’ll say it again. Evangelism is the missing Word in many churches today. Think about it. I just said something clever. Did you catch it? First of all, many churches just aren’t talking about evangelism at all. When they hear the word evangelism they cringe and think that’s what those crazy people do. We should never talk about that. Or they believe that evangelism is solely for the person who went to school for it, and is out in “the field” (we’ll talk about that later). It’s someone else’s problem. Second, Evangelism is the missing Word with a capital “W”. Churches are just not following a Biblical approach to growth. As a result all the seminars and campaigns these churches go through do not create a Great Commission growth. They have gotten bogged down into routines and habits. They have profiled the ministry of evangelism as something that someone else does outside of their local church. As a result, how do churches grow? They grow through the exchange of church members. Churches today are quickly becoming an exchange of popularity. People are looking for a church where they feel they can fit in. A place where a church is everything they think a church should be. The problem with all this shuffling is that somewhere is a church that is actually losing a member. The problem with all this shuffling is that people don’t always look for the church that God wants them in. It has become a matter of personal choice rather than a matter of God’s direction. As a result people don’t stay long enough to do what God has gifted them to do. As a result there is little or no evangelism working out of our local churches.
Let’s look at the Master, the Master soul-winner- Jesus. Jesus won the hearts of hundreds of people while he walked this earth. We can learn from the Master. Now some of you may be thinking, “that’s Jesus-God incarnate. I could never do all that he did. I mean- he was God! Be realistic!” You don’t have to be capable of doing everything that he did, but you are capable of spreading the truth, of sowing the seed, and bringing in a harvest of souls. If we look at some of the ways Jesus witnessed, we can in turn use his example to affect change in someone else’s life and possibly in others as well. Let’s consider the woman at the well.
We begin by looking in John 4 starting in verse one “Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples), He left Judea and departed again to Galilee. But He needed to go through Samaria. So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.”
Here we see how Jesus overcomes physical conditions to win a soul. We find Jesus somewhere in Judea having need to head to Galilee. That’s about a 70 mile hike if you were to go through Samaria. It’s twice as long if you were to follow the long detour most Jews would follow to go to Galilee, so great was the Jews prejudice of the Samaritans. So Jesus takes a short-cut. He goes to the place that no proper Jew of the time would want to go. Jesus knows where there is a need to witness and that’s where he goes. To win souls we must also be willing to go to that place of need. We must be willing to go out of our way. But most importantly we must go. Notice, Jesus went to where the woman would be. He did not wait at home for the woman to call on him. That means that we need to be willing and ready to change our plans. We might have to miss that TV show, or we might have to put down that book. We might have need to let that call go to voicemail. We might have need to stop texting. We might have need to get up out of our comfy chairs. We might have need to put away our toys and roll up our sleeves and get to work. Can we do the things that make us available to answer that call when it comes? Or will we be so busy with “stuff” that we won’t even perceive the need?
Next, lets notice that Jesus was weary and sat by the well. After about 50 miles on a three day journey Jesus is physically exhausted. I think I would be too after doing all that walking. But notice, despite where he is, and what he has endured the past couple of days, Jesus is not too weary to witness to the woman. He is not so tired that he doesn’t care. Do we find ourselves asking a similar question? Do we think that we work too hard, or are just too busy to take the time to speak to someone about Christ? If we are, then are we putting the demands of this world over the demands of the Christ. We are letting our jobs, our finances, our hobbies run our life, and not the call to witness.
Lets continue in verse 9-10, and verse 18. “Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”…for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.” I have selected these verses to show you how Jesus is breaking down barriers to win a soul. The woman was a Samaritan. That’s a racial barrier. The Jews did not associate with the Samaritans whatsoever. They were considered “not pure” Jews because they were racially mixed. The Samaritans hated the Jews because of that and their impeding the Samaritans from partaking in allowable worship. So strict was this division, that a Jew wouldn’t even consider using a Samaritans cup. Another barrier that Jesus broke down was the fact that this woman was an immoral woman. She had gone through 5 husbands and was now living with a man whom she was not married to. Imagine the things that her neighbors were probably saying about her! That lifestyle creates a social barrier. Barriers. We’ve all seen them, we all experience them. But most importantly, we all have to deal with them. How do you deal with barriers? Do you shun some. Do you know someone who is just so bad, that they don’t deserve to be saved? Or do you avoid other people so that they won’t want to come to your church? Do you not try, because you know that deep down that person will never change? Do you judge them to be unfit or unworthy of the message that you were given to give them? Do you put you and your God down, by saying that person is well beyond my reach to even look at, let alone witness too? These are some of the types of barriers that we create. They impede our witness, and limit church growth. You need to remember, that this message that Jesus saves, is not just a message for the elite. It is a message for all. Don’t look upon someone and judge them for what they have done in their lives, rather look at what they don’t have…Jesus. There may be some high and mighty people. There may be some that are down and out. Remember, the Great Commission says that we are to go to all people everywhere. In Romans 3:22-23 it says “ For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” You know what that means? It means that at one time we were in the same boat as everyone else-just a filthy sinner, in God’s eyes. But just like you, they have that same need. They need salvation. Who better to help them out of the boat than you, the person who has already gotten out of that boat. You know how to do it. Just lead them as you were lead. You may be the one that God has chosen, the one God has called to lead them to Jesus. But think about that person’s life if you never go. If you never Go spell it out for them.
When Jesus talks to the woman at the well he speaks simply. He doesn’t use complicated imagery or big words. He keeps it simple. Let’s look at verses 13 and 14. It says “Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” Jesus started with a simple request earlier. “Give me a drink”. Through that simple request flows a whole conversation which directs the woman thoughts in a particular way. Thirst. Everyone understands thirst. Everyone understands that need to quench that emptiness. Our thirst lets us know that we are missing something vital inside ourselves. Jesus uses living water to express the answer to her thirst, her spiritual thirst. Jesus used what was in front of him and the woman to explain her need to her. He used the water and his own thirst to explain what would end her search. What would completely and forever quench her thirst. There’s nothing complicated about that. We need to use what’s in front of us. The things we know about, how about the things we’ve experienced? How about using a well known verse like John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” That’s simple and drives the point home. It talks about our relationship with God and what God wants our relationship to be. It talks about what God has done to repair that rift between us. It talks about our condition without Jesus and what we must do to restore our relationship with God. It even suggests about something happening in the future-a consequence, a judgement. We can talk about that. We can build a conversation around that verse. A conversation that points to the need, the spiritual thirst, that someone else has. Point them to Jesus.
Notice verses 19-26 “The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.” When the woman perceives that Jesus is no ordinary man she then tries to start a religious argument. You see, at this point in time, the woman was still focused on religion rather than the relationship. She was concerned about where the proper place to worship was. Notice what Jesus did though. He never allowed a religious argument to ensue. Instead, he used her own argument to point out her spiritual thirst one more. She asked about where to worship, and Jesus talked about who to worship. Never let a religious argument be any focal point in your discussion. Our message is never to be one of religion, but rather about a relationship. Don’t drag out your witness with excess fluff. Get to the point and lead them to Jesus.
Look at the result of this conversation with the woman at the well. In John 4:28-30 and 39-42 we read “The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” Then they went out of the city and came to Him…And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His own word. Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.” So what’s happened here? The woman who was probably shunned for her lifestyle all of a sudden has become an evangelist. You see it doesn’t take much to go and tell. You understand who Jesus is. Share with others, that which you have learned from Jesus. Look at this woman! She was so excited to tell other people about Jesus that she left her waterpots behind. When she got into town, she didn’t perform some elaborate sermon. She kept it simple. Come and see a man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ? Come and see. An invitation to partake of the witness of Jesus Christ. Come and see. So simple and yet so profound. And look what happened, they came.
So what are you doing to be obedient to Christ’s call? Will you follow the examples of Jesus the Master soul-winner? Will you allow the things of this world to get you down and discouraged? Will someone find you unwilling to share? Will you allow personal barriers to be set up preventing your witness? Or like Jesus will you navigate through them to see the person standing there waiting for you to rescue them from a life without the fellowship of God? Will you be the one to rescue the perishing? Will you be the one to care for the dying? Will you be the one to snatch them in pity form sin and the grave? The lost are dying. They have no eternal life. Will you prevent them from going to heaven? What does your heart say about them? Do you weep over the erring one? Will you lift them up? Will you tell them of Jesus the mighty to save? Listen and remember the last verse in this song-Rescue the perishing, duty demands it. Jesus has commanded us to go out and do this rescuing-that’s the commission he left us. Don’t worry about not having the right words to say, or having the energy and the heart to do it. Strength for thy labor the Lord will provide. It is written “greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.” Back to the narrow way patiently win them, tell the poor wanderer a Savior has died. Yes church, that is what we must do. We must rescue the perishing. We must let go of the inhibitions of this world, and let God show his work through us. Then with God we can go and do, we can go and tell, we can go spell the Gospel for them. Let go and let God, Get God and get going. Rescue the perishing.