Today we are going to start a 3 -Week series called “Pursuing People God’s Way”. It’s very rare I feel the need to address particular themes, but I came across a passage of Scripture that I had read many times… I even referenced a few weeks back when I preached on the story of the prodigal son and his older brother… but when I read it (Acts2:36) I felt as if my heart was being cut.
Have we forgotten just how precious souls are to Jesus? will serve as the backdrop for this series.
15 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
3 So he told them this parable: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?
5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’
7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
Jesus finding himself surrounded by people who weren’t believing this message of God’s coming Kingdom, speaks words of life that aims to open eyes of the hearers.
There’s two main truths the Lord is communicating about this one particular wandering sheep--
- The Sheep is Lost- He’s referencing the condition of those who are listening. It’s the same word as perish in implying ruin or destruction. This is reality for those who are without Christ.
- The Sheep is Loved- The wandering away did not cancel the affection the Shepherd has for the sheep. And this affection was so great and love was so authentic that the other 99 were left in the open field so that this one could be pursued. And when it’s found??!! There’s celebration! Throws it one the shoulders and brings it back to the community and people rejoice!
There’s no escaping this… You cannot exempt yourself from this work and be faithful to what Christ has called you to do!
- Only for the leaders
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
- It’s only for the gifted
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
You cannot deny the command to be witnesses for Christ unless you deny that the Holy Spirit comes to indwell every believer.
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
Many believe that evangelism is a particular spiritual gift. And because of that, only those people should be the ones who share the Gospel. The problem with that reasoning is that means only those who have the gift of giving should give. Those who only have the service should serve… you see the problem.
It doesn’t matter if you are particularly gifted in communication or not. God has a story that needs to be told. If you are willing to freely use your words for all sorts of other things, why not use them for the most gloriously thing?!
- My actions are good enough
You may be a great person! But people need to know why you are!
Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! 2 Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!
This whole idea that it’s not your position or gifting or that you can just do it with your preferred method… that doesn’t fly biblically.
So, the question still sits before us—
Why are we not telling more people about Jesus?
Is this a message worth sharing? Obviously, it is, if we believe the Bible. We are lost and yet loved. We are heading towards destruction yet a Rescuer is near.
I think about a dandelion. The white fuzzy weed that as a child we all loved to pick up, blow, and watch in amazement as the breeze scattered and carried it away. Are we that breeze that sees the Gospel go forth? If not, why?
I know we don’t like talking about this, but we cannot get past the truth that there are people who are holding on to a faith that does not save. James calls this a dead faith. There was an empty profession that was merely lip service where the heart wasn’t changed. That leaves us with a massive question that MUST be answered—How do I know?
Knowing the difference between a few things is key--
People can be moral, honest, trustworthy and seemingly good people without ever knowing Jesus Christ. They can be grateful, kind, and tender towards others. They’re righteous in their dealings with people, but God. They would never rob anyone, but God. They’re thankful and loyal to everyone, but God. They echo the rich young ruler--- I’ve done all these things from the day I was born… But they have never been born again.
Loving God is different than visible morality.
Ask yourself- Do I love God? His nature, His Glory, His Name, His Kingdom, His Holiness, His Will?
People can know all types of truths about God…
6 And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him.
7 And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.”
8 For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.”
10 And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country.
Do you see this recognition of who Jesus is and His authority? What’s James say? Even the demons believe and they tremble.
Feeling bad for sin… guilt alone is not what it means to be saved.
***The rich young ruler*** Walked away sorrowful
Genuine repentance is different than guilt.
Anyone can discipline themselves to not do bad stuff anymore, but if you heart is resentful towards God because you think He is withholding good things or enjoyment from you… you haven’t experienced repentance.
John MacArthur uses the illustration of a man saying to his wife, “I love you, but I could not care less about what happens to you.” That’s ridiculous! If you love someone, you’ll care about the object of your love’s well-being. Sin offends, it blasphemes, it curses, demeans God. Sin wants to destroy His Kingdom. Repentance is you saying, “I don’t want this in my life… I don’t want to be close to it… I don’t want to walk on that line because I love God and His glory!”