Spiritual Search and Rescue

How many of us have been in a tight jam and needed someone else to help us out? How many times have we had a problem that we couldn’t solve ourselves? How many times in our lives have we needed rescuing? I can tell you from my personal experience, the count is pretty high. In the physical realm, in the world, I’ve needed rescuing a number of times. But let’s talk about the important realm, the important part of our lives, the spiritual realm. How many of us have floundered spiritually and needed someone to step in and rescue us … usually from our own silliness, our own mistakes, our own stubbornness.

Last week Barry preached that “America has been lost to the enemy one family, one heart, one soul at a time, and it can be rescued only in the same way, one family one heart, one soul at a time.”

Fill our hearts with the excitement of knowing you…so that we will continue to spread the Gospel of the good news Jesus Christ changing one family, one heart one soul at a time. All across the land, going to every city and village … every city and village in the whole nation. Forgive us that we haven’t done this yet. Barry prayed that God would show us what we all are to do. And give us the courage to do it.

The answer: Evangelism.

So how do we do that? How do we evangelize?

First let me say that I’ve actually been taking a class on evangelism for the last 4 weeks. Great class, fantastic teacher, hasn’t said a word that I didn’t already know but put it together in a way that I would never have figured out without him. I love God. I love that He puts people in our lives that we need at the right time and the right place. He wants to do the same thing with us, He wants us to be in the right place at the right time to help someone else. The person teaching the class is Rick Stem, some of you might know him. He made a statement the first week I was there that changed my attitude toward evangelism considerably. He said: “Evangelism is the top priority of God! It is also the top priority of Satan.” Wow, what a statement. Absolutely true, absolutely scary. The thing is, Satan’s evangelists never stop, never get tired, never back down. They lie, they backstab, they pervert God’s word. And they are everywhere.

So what can we do? God answers that in scripture, we’ve all heard it many times.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18-20

I know this passage, we all know this passage, and this is probably going to offend some of us, we’re going to get defensive and say to ourselves that “I do what I can … I talk about Christ.” That may be the case, it is for me. But ask yourselves this: “How many people have I rescued this week?” How many people have I asked ” Do you know Jesus Christ?” How many people have you rescued this week? This month? This year?

Matthew 28 doesn’t say to we have to save anybody, it doesn’t even say to bring them in to the church. It just says to go and make disciples.

God is clear in scripture that we are to go forth and evangelize the world and preach the good news. Nowhere in scripture does God say: “Sit in your church, praying and hoping that people will come in and give their lives to me.” I know we all try to live Godly lives and influence people that we come in contact with, but how many hours do we spend actively seeking to bring people to Christ? How many hours do we spend on spiritual search and rescue? How many? 1 hour, 2 hours? 20 minutes? Worldly enjoyments yield little time to evangelism.

Barry asked last week that we have the courage to do what God asks of us.

After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves. Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road. But whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’

Luke 10:1-5

Think maybe these guys were apprehensive? I do. Don’t take any money, don’t take any food … just go. Pretty scary orders.

Here’s the thing, every person in here has expressed a desire to go on a “missions” trip. Some even have. Gone to other countries and helped people in need, and all the while there are people in our own neighborhoods who are perishing, dying a slow and painful death leading to eternity in hell. And we sit by and watch them dying because we are too scared to talk to them about Christ.

Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”

Luke 24:46-47

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

Mark 16:15-18

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

John 20:21-23

This is a change we have to make inside of ourselves. We must change our attitude about how we live if we are to be obedient to God’s word. Can we ever “do enough?” Can we ever say that we are doing everything we can? How hard would it be to give up a Saturday morning sleeping in to knock on the neighborhood doors, asking everyone if they know the saving power of Jesus Christ? How much sacrifice would be involved to give up a Sunday afternoon nap or a trip to the movies, or a volleyball game to bring one person to the kingdom of God? To rescue one person from the spiritual death that they are blindly walking toward. How much sacrifice is it really? We have to stop lying to ourselves, lying to each other, lying to the world and especially trying to lie to God. We have to stop putting ourselves and our wants first and start obeying the word of God.

There’s a song we have sung a few times that says this.

We’ve got our
Marching orders
We’ve got our
Marching orders
Now is the time
To carry them forth

Go forth,
Jesus loves them
Go forth,
Take the gospel
Go forth,
The time is now
The harvest is ripening
Go forth!

Randy Rottwell – Go Forth