Friday, November 02, 2007

If Faith Comes From Hearing, Then Who Have You Told (Part 4 of 4)

The Gospel Must Be Spoken Lovingly

Finally, the gospel must be spoken lovingly. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). One of the most loving sermons ever preached was Stephen’s sermon, right before he was murdered by those to whom he preached. Let’s take a look at the end of Stephen’s sermon.

“You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become; you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it."

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him. But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."

But they cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears and rushed at him with one impulse. When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!"

Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them!" Having said this, he fell asleep” (Acts 7:51-60).

By today’s man-pleasing standards, there are many within the American Church that would consider Stephen, the first Christian martyr, as intolerant, unloving, narrow-minded, and even mean-spirited. Why? It is because Stephen dared to call the people to account for their sin and call them to repentance. So much did Stephen love the people that with his dying breath he asked God to forgiven them for murdering him.

Are you willing to lay down your life to tell lost sinners the truth about their present, spiritual condition and their only hope for surviving God’s impending holy wrath and judgment? No? Then, my friend, you don’t really love lost people. Yeah, I know that stings. But what other conclusion can be drawn?

So many pastors, so many Christians have set aside love for the lost for a desire to entertain, please, and coddle the lost. Or their desire is to be loved by the lost, no matter what it may cost the unsaved in the end.

And the false converts among the American Church who either stands on this side of the pulpit or sitting in pews and chairs of American churches do the same thing but, sadly, their motives are less innocuous than that of the true believers who think they are helping unbelievers by shielding them from the truth. The false converts within the American Church do such things because they are inherently evil, which is evidenced by the way they knowingly and wantonly, for their own personal, financial and worldly gain, mislead people into the gates of hell.

Friends, the most loving thing you can ever do for a lost soul is willingly sacrifice your own comforts, safety, and reputation before a secular world—or even before the church—in order to tell lost souls the truth about the Law and the Gospel. The most loving thing you can do is set aside your fear of man because you care so much about the eternal destination of the souls of men. The most loving thing you can do is set aside your love of self and lay down your life, if need be, to see to it that lost people hear the Law and the Gospel.

Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Notice there is no caveat in Jesus’ words. There is no exception given for obedience. There is not a category of commands from which a believer can choose their favorite exemption. If we truly love Jesus, then we will keep His commandments—all of them—including evangelism.

Yes, we can love lost people in ways other than through evangelism. And we should. Some of you love in other ways that makes it clear to any discerning eye that you are gifted in the way you show love to others.

Maybe it’s through your prayers for others. Maybe it’s the way you selflessly serve others. I think of Zach McIntosh and the way that young man truly cared for the elder statesmen and women in our church, through his service and friendship to them. Maybe you do the same for your lost neighbors.

Maybe you love lost people through random, spontaneous giving—such as food for a homeless person you come across on the street. Maybe you’re the kind of person people turn to for a brotherly or sisterly, or motherly or fatherly hug. Maybe you’re the person who can be counted on for a word of encouragement.

Yes, we can love lost people in ways other than through evangelism. But if we truly love Jesus, then we will obey all of His commands—including the command to reach lost people with the Law and the Gospel—to go and make disciples of every nation. If we truly love lost, hell-bound people, we will go above and beyond performing acts of kindness toward them and speak the truth in love to them.


The proclamation of the gospel, the sharing of the gospel, must be a spoken message. “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” Lost people bound for hell must hear the gospel to believe the gospel. The gospel must be spoken truthfully, boldly, and lovingly.

So, if faith comes from hearing, then who have you told?

Think about the birth of your child or your grandchild. How many people did you tell? How quickly were you on the phone after you received word regarding the birth of the child? How concerned were you about whether or not the person on the other end of the phone wanted to hear the news? Think back. Nothing stopped you from sharing the good news regarding the birth of your child or grandchild. You made phone calls, you now can send pictures to the world via the Internet (and you know you do). You sent out birth announcements. You spared no expense to get the word out about your child or grandchild.

Do you remember your first car? Mine was a 1968 AMC Javelin. It was pearl white, with a black vinyl top. It was a V8 with only 7 V’s that worked. But it could fly! Remember how excited you were when you got your first car? Did you tell people about it? Did you show your car to your friends? Did it matter at all if your friends thought their car was better than yours? Come on. Be honest. Somewhere in a box maybe tucked away under a bed or a in closet, you have a picture of you standing next to your first car.

How about when you became engaged to be married? Did you tell anyone? Did you show off your ring? Did you call friends and family members? How about your neighbors and co-workers?

Maybe for some of you your wedding was a covert operation. But I would hazard a guess that most of you who are married told as many people as you could about your wedding. Did you worry about whether or not divorced people might get upset if you told them about your wedding? Were you at all concerned about what others thought about the institution of marriage? Be honest. You told whoever would listen that you were getting married.

Think about it. You would not hold your baby up in front of someone and say nothing. You would tell the person your baby’s name, age, birth weight and length, and everything else of importance about your baby. You wouldn’t drive up to a friend’s house in your new car and say nothing about your car. Even though the car is new, you know everything there is to know about your car and you are eager to tell people about it. You wouldn’t walk into a party with your new fiancé on your arm and not tell anyone that the person who was your boyfriend or girlfriend yesterday is now your future spouse.

So, “if faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ,” then who have you told? If you are a genuine follower of Jesus Christ, is there anything more precious to you then the free gift of eternal life you have received by the grace of God alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone? If you are a genuine follower of Jesus Christ, then are there any of His holy commands you will not obey?

If you didn’t hesitate to tell people about the birth of a child or the purchase of a new car, or your engagement to be married, then why would you not tell people about the name that is above every name, including the name of your child or grandchild? Why would you not tell people about the eternal treasure that no moth or rust will ever destroy? Why would you not tell people about how you have been chosen by God to be part of the Bride of Christ? Could it be that you do not love Him as much as these? Could it be that you do not love Christ as much as you love the world, the things and people in the world, or your own life? If this is true about you, then you must examine yourselves! Test yourselves to see if you are even in the faith!

If you are here this morning and you entered this place of worship knowing in your heart that you are not right with God, let me assure you that faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. And you have heard the word of Christ throughout this morning’s sermon.

Unless you repent of your sins against God, unless, by faith, you turn from your sins and receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you will remain not a child of God, but a child of wrath, until the day He sentences you to eternity in hell as the just punishment for your sins against Him.

The good news (and I’m glad to tell you the good news) is that Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, came to earth 2,000 years ago. He was born of a virgin and He lived a perfect sinless life. He died a horrible, undeserved, bloody death on the cross. There, He suffered. He was literally crushed under the weight of His Father’s wrath—the wrath you rightly deserve for your sins against God. Jesus Christ took upon Himself the death sentence you deserve for every time you have broken God’s Law. Three days later, He rose from the dead, forever defeating death. He is alive today. And He is returning soon!

“Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” And so I’m telling you, I’m begging you, please, turn away from your sins, ask God to forgive you, and received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. This is the most loving thing I will ever say to you. This is the most loving thing anyone will ever say to you.

And Christian, I ask you the question one more time. If faith comes from hearing, then who have you told?

No comments: