By Pastor Glenn Pease
It is hard to believe, but one man determined how we as Americans pronounce and spell words. When we began as a new and independent nation, Noah Webster thought is was only right that we stop be a copy of the English, and develop our own original ways of spelling words. Andrew Jackson said, "It is a mighty poor mind that can't think of more than one way to spell a word." This was no joke, but was taken seriously by our forefathers, and this nation began with an unbelievable variety of words spellings. It was a sort of creative phonetics in which each writer sounded out the word, and used the letters that best suited his pronunciation. One could find general spelled jinerll, and February as febrewarie.
Webster said that we need some rules for unity, and to inspire pride in our own national language. In 1803 he gave up journalism and teaching, and he shut himself away from the world for 3 years. He then published a dictionary that had 5 thousand words that had never been in any dictionary. Then he spent the next 20 years laboring on his larger work An American Dictionary Of The English Language. He published it in 1828, and it is the grandfather of all American dictionaries.
If you wonder why you write theater rather than theatre, it is because of Webster. He threw out most of our old endings, and he made words like honor just end in or rather in our. The point is, one man determined to make the American language unique, and distinct from old English, accomplished that goal, and now for over 150 years millions of people speak and write in conformity to this one man's choice. Words are now called right or wrong because of this one man's decision as to how they should be spelled.
True stories of one man crusaders to change the lives of millions are a fascinating part of history. If you read the history of Alaska, you will discover that one Presbyterian missionary by the name of Sheldon Jackson made Alaska what it is. He built schools and churches all over Alaska. He single handedly hounded the U. S. Congress until they passed bills to fund education for the natives. Congress appointed him U. S. Commissioner of Education for Alaska. He became a one man army to save Alaskans from the suffering due to ignorance. There were fleets of exploiters who recklessly slaughtered their game, and many Eskimos were dying. Jackson took it upon himself to raise money from the churches in the United States.
Jackson brought 16 reindeer from Liberia, and by this move he made the Eskimos self-supporting, and sure of food. It was so successful that congress gave him money to get more, and the whole history of the Eskimos was changed and made secure. We can't list the many other things this one man did for a people he dearly loved, but he proves again that one man is enough to make a world changing difference.
One woman is also enough, as we see in the case of our text. It is amazing that in a male dominated world, like the New Testament times, that a woman should be revealed to be the most successful witness Jesus ever had in His lifetime. We have no record of anyone, not even any of the 12, or even of all of them put together, ever becoming such fruitful witnesses for Christ, as we see in this woman at the well. Not only is she a woman, which was two strikes against her already, but she was something less than honorable. She was the kind of woman who would be read about more in a Hollywood gossip column than in the society page of the temple news letter. She had been with 5 husbands, and was then living with a man she was not married to.
This woman was no quitter, that is for sure, but none the less she was not the kind of woman you would like to be the chairperson of your evangelism committee. Jesus did not, of course, make her anything. He just convinced her that He was the Messiah, and she went back to town and became a powerful witness. So much so that we read in verse 39, "Many Samaritans from that city believed in Him because of the woman's testimony." We do not know how many this many was, but Jesus in verse 35 said to His disciples, as the crowd came out of the city to see for themselves, "I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see how the fields are already white for harvest." You get a picture of a vast crowd of people coming with their white robes flowing like grain in the wind, and Jesus says that they are ripe for harvest.
Verse 41 says that many more believed in Him because of His word. The woman's testimony got them there, but their personal contact with Jesus convinced them He was the Savior of the world. Do you know of any other witness for Christ in His earthly ministry that had such an impact on people. One woman changed the history of her people, and she brought them into the kingdom of God. They were outcasts in Israel, but in the kingdom of God they were in on the ground floor because of one woman. It was not because of the 12 who were more concerned about lunch that lost Samaritans, but because of one very lost Samaritan woman who was found by Christ, and who was a motivator of others. She was only one, but one was enough.
Jesus never left the one for a crowd. He did not say to Nicodemus, who came alone at night, "Join the crowd in the morning, and I'll answer your questions with the group." He never said to Zaccheus, "Come down and join the crowd." Jesus, instead, said, "Come down, for I am going to your house to deal with you one on one." Jesus left the crowd for the one, but never the one for the crowd. By His life and teaching Jesus made it clear that one is enough. He said the good shepherd will leave the 99, and go out after the one. One is of enough value to take risks for, and to put forth great effort to save.
Sometimes our biggest problem is that we think too big. We want to save the world, and this is very noble, but it is an ineffective goal. We need to narrow our scope, and devote our lives and resources to reaching just the one. If you have two tennis balls coming at you, and you try to get both, you usually miss both. You need to concentrate on the one. If several ducks or pheasants fly up in front of you, and you try to shoot them all, you will likely get none of them. You need to focus on just one. This is true in the world of evangelism as well.
Mr. Vincent was a wealthy retired planter in Dublin, Ireland. He went to hear the great D. L. Moody, and he received Jesus Christ as his Savior. He had a friend by the name of Edward Studd, and he invited him to come to hear Moody. That is all we know about Mr. Vincent. He was a new Christian who invited one friend to hear Moody. That is not much of biography is it? Wrong! His concern for this one man changed the history of millions. Edward Studd came to Christ because of his friends persuasion, and though he only lived 2 years after his conversion he touched the life of his son Charles Studd. Charles became one of the great cricket players of all time in England.
Charles had all the glory and fame of a celebrity. He was not an active Christian, but he lived for the pleasures of the world. But when his brother nearly died he was made to realize the vanity of worldly pleasure. He was revived in his faith, and in his desire to bring others to Christ. He had great opportunity, for he was popular with everyone because of his skill in cricket. His friends were willing to listen to his testimony and respond. He wrote, "I cannot tell you what joy it gave me to bring the first soul to the Lord Jesus Christ. I have tasted almost all the pleasures that this world can give...but I can tell you that those pleasures were as nothing compared to the joy that the saving of that one soul gave me."
He decided to give up his fame and devote his life to preaching the Gospel. As the leading cricket player in England, his fame opened up doors, and he got good press. Thousands of students flocked to hear him. One of them was F. B. Meyer who was so turned on for Christ that he became one of the great preachers of English history. I have read many of his books that have touched millions. He was just one who was touched by C. T. Studd, and we could follow that road to see where his influence went, but we need to press on, for there is no end to the possible detours.
Studd inherited a fortune from his father, but he gave it all away. He gave the money that enables D. L. Moody to start the Moody Bible Institute. He gave to help George Muller in his famous orphanage work, and to General Booth to strengthen his Salvation Army. His gifts alone changed the history of millions. He went off to China where he again reached thousands, bad health brought him back to England where he was still popular, and revival broke out in the universities where he spoke. The Student Volunteer Movement was started, which has had world wide impact ever since. Great movements were everywhere around him, but he still focused on the need for one on one, and the idea of each one reach one. He said, "I'd sooner save one soul than be Queen Victoria." Nobody else can be the Queen, but everybody else can be one who reaches one for Christ.
C. T. Studd went on to become one of the most famous and successful missionaries in China, in India, and in Africa. There will be a multitude out of many nations singing the praise of Christ for all eternity because of this one man. And remember where it all began. Mr. Vincent had one friend he wanted to see saved, and by his efforts to touch this one man he changed time and eternity for multiplied millions.
Does it make any difference if we reach only one person? Satan deceives us, and he makes us think it is no big deal. The world will not be changed by one person. What difference does it make if you and I help one person to come to Christ? It seems so insignificant, and so we neglect the most important goal of our lives. We hope that some day we will be able to do something big for God, but we see nothing big in trying to touch one person. The fact is, there is probably nothing we can do more important than reaching that one person for Christ.
One of the greatest evangelists in the history of England and America was Gypsy Smith. He may never have been a part of Christian history had a working man neighbor not helped his father become a Christian. We do not even know this man's name, but had he not sought to win this one neighbor, tens of thousands of names now in the Lamb's book of life may never have been touched for Christ. One is enough to motivate us if we see the importance of one. But since one is the smallest number we are psychologically brain washed into to thinking that one is not enough, and it is not a worthy goal.
A young boy asked his father, "What is a millionaire?" The father said, "Well, its somebody who has a million dollars." The little guy thought for a moment, and then said proudly, "Well, I'm a oneaire." He may have been proud of his one dollar, but being a oneaire does not impress us. In some circles even one million is a basis for pity. In our materialistic culture it is almost an embarrassment to admit that you only have one car, or one house, or one of anything. One is just not an impressive number in a world where abundance of possessions is the measure of success. But Christians so easily take their eyes off Jesus and His love for the individual. They let the culture be their value guide, and the result is that even the best of Christians fail to feel the real value of one.
When Robert Moffat, the Scottish missionary to South Africa, came back to England to recruit helpers he was greeted by a cold British winter. Only a small group braved the elements to come to church, and he was disturbed that most of them were old ladies. All the young people were safely sheltered in their homes while the old ladies were risking their lives to go hear a missionary. Dr. Moffat was discouraged, and who wouldn't be? There was no one there to go to the mission field, and so it was a total flop. That is except for the fact that there was a small boy there who was pumping the bellows for the organ. He was so touched by the call to missions that he went on to school, and he got a degree in medicine.
He spent the rest of his life ministering to the unreached tribes of Africa. His name was David Livingston. Only one little boy, and that was all the fruit there was for Moffat, but that one little boy he touched made an impact on Africa beyond anything he could ever dream. Never say only one with a tone of pessimism, for so often in history one is enough. In the light of what God has done in history through one person time and time again, it should be considered swearing for a Christian to ever say in an negative way-only one.
Billy Graham preached a sermon titled All It Takes Is One back in 1976. In it he traces God's plan through the ages, and he demonstrates that for God one is always enough. One righteous man by the name of Noah was all he needed to save the human race. One righteous man by the name of Abraham was all he needed to start a new nation, and a special people. All he needed was one righteous man by the name of Moses to lead His people out of Egypt. On and on the record goes through the terrible time of the Judges. One Gideon, or one Deborah was all God needed to save His people. Right down to that single seed of Abraham-that One of all ones; that single son of David by which God saved the world, the Lord Jesus Christ-one has been enough.
G. K. Chesterton, that one in million authors, wrote a poem in which he expressed the mind of the many single heroes of history.
Though giant reign put out the sun,
Here stand I for a sign.
Though Earth be filled with waters dark,
My cup is filled with wine.
Tell to the trembling priests
Under the deluge rod, that here
One Nameless, tattered, broken man
Stood up and drank to God.
This poem fits Martin Luther perfectly, for he stood alone against the majority for the cause of Christ, and he changed all of history by doing so. Somebody years ago wrote, "I asked why doesn't somebody do something? Then I realized I was somebody." Everybody is somebody because they are one, and one is enough to make a world of difference.
God, of course, is One. The essence of Jewish theology is Deut. 6:4, "Here, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord." The essence of Christian theology is that there is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus. There is only one way to God, and He is that one way. One way is enough, for it is a way that is open to all. One is enough is a very accurate theological statement. One is enough to hurt the whole of mankind, or one is enough to heal the whole of mankind. Paul in Rom. 5:19 sums up his whole argument, "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man's obedience many will be made righteous." All it takes is one to lose or save a world. One is enough to open the door of heaven or hell.
It is true that John Quincy Adams and Rutherford B. Hayes both became president of the United States by one vote. But it is also true that one vote gave Adolf Hitler leadership of the Nazi party in 1923. One is enough for great good or great evil. One traitor by the name of Judas blots the family of the Apostles. One log can create a massive log jam, and one uncooperative spirit can hold up the flow of the Spirit in the life of a church. One is a powerful number for both the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light.
The king of France sent 6 coffee plants to Brazil, but only one of them survived the violent storm. But from that one single plant came the vast coffee plantations that fill half the coffee cups of the world. Cups of blessings overflow in this world as well because one is enough. Channing Pollock in his book One Man Power develops the theme that everything of importance in the world was begun by one man, or by one woman. Trace every victory over evil in this life back to its beginning, and you will discover one man or one woman who was the key to that victory.
In Acts 8 Philip is having a revival in Samaria, but God calls him to leave the crowds and go to the desert to share the Gospel with one Ethiopian Eunuch. Only one foreigner, and yet God calls him away from the crowds for that one guy. He responds to the Gospel, and he goes back to Ethiopia, and the church there to this day traces its origin back to this one man. God did not save a group of Ethiopians, but only one, for one was enough to change the history of that land.
I trust you get the point, for there is not two or three points, for this is a one point message, for one is enough. The call of God to you and to me is not to change the world, or to change our country, or state, or city. The call of God is to reach one. Not only is this a worthy goal, and one you are more likely to achieve, it is by means of reaching one that you are most likely to change the world.
One can blow it;
One can bless it.
One can make or
One can mess it.
One has power-one has might;
One can turn the dark to light.
One is more than a part.
One is a whole.
One can heal your aching heart;
One can even save your soul.
One is all we are for sure,
And being one can seem so tough,
But in this truth we have a cure-
One is enough.
"O for a thousand tongues to sing my great redeemer's praise," we sing, but the fact is, God only gave us one tongue because one is enough. The sins of men are so varied and multiplied, but we have only one Savior, and one mediator between God and man, because one is enough. There were 12 Apostles, but God chose Paul to be the Apostle to the Gentiles. The Gentile world was far more vast and varied than the Jewish world, but God chose only one, because one was enough. Paul recognized this in his own life when he said, "This one thing I do." We would all be better Christians, and we would all accomplish more for the glory of Christ if we would learn to focus on one thing, and recognize this basic truth that one is enough.