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Sermons of Rev Mike Willmouth
"God's Design For Evangelism"
(The Purpose Of The Local Church - Part V)
Acts 1:8

(This Sermon was preached at Trinity Bible Church on August 25, 2002. This is the finial sermon in a series of sermons on the purpose of the local church. All Scripture references used in this sermon are based upon the NASB®, unless otherwise stated)

This work was written and submitted by: Joseph M. Willmouth, Pastor of Trinity Bible Church in Biloxi, Mississippi 39532. This contributed article is copyright protected, and the sole property of the contributing author.  It may be freely copied and used provided the above credits are included. Document expiration: indefinite.

8 but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.

Introduction: We have come to the 5th and final sermon on The Purpose Of The Local Church. As it was stated from the outset, our sole purpose for being a church is to bring glory to God (Eph.3:20-21). Everything else that we do is only the means by which we bring glory to God. We have also learned that there are at least 3 key ways in which individual believers and the local churches do this; Exaltation of God, Edification of the body of Christ, and Evangelism. The sum total of these three can be summed up in one word: Worship. We ascribe worth to God by exalting Him, by building one another up and by reaching out to the lost with the Gospel message. We normally don't think of witnessing or evangelism as worship, but it is a form of worship because we honor God by being obedient to His Word. Therefore, when we witness to the lost or help support missions, we are worshiping God. Here in the book of Acts, God lays out His design for evangelism for us to follow.

    The context of our passage has the disciples asking Jesus a question about the end times and Jesus redirected their attention to a task at hand; evangelism. It is also noteworthy, that Acts 1:8 provides a geographical outline of the development of the preaching of the gospel and the growth of the church, and it also includes an outline of the Book of Acts as well (BSF).

Transition: Now let's look at God's Design For Evangelism by first looking at. . .

I. His Evangelists (v.8a).
1. Those who are His disciples - "you. . .witnesses"

A. Primary application: the Apostles.
1) In Matthew 28:19-20 the Lord directly commissions His disciples to do the work of evangelism, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

2) In our passage of Scripture in Acts 1:8, the Lord gives them His plan to accomplish His commission.

B. Secondary application: you and me.
1) The word "witnesses," ("martus" {mar'-toos}) has the idea of one who testifies to something, or one who tells what they believe regardless of the results.
A) We get our English word martyr comes from the Greek word translated "witness," and many of God's people have sealed their witness by laying down their lives (BEC).

B) These martyrs blood, as the second-century theologian Tertullian stated, became the seed of the church (MacArthur).

(1) Many people were drawn to faith in Christ by observing how calmly and joyously Christians met their deaths.

(2) There is a sense in which believers do not even choose whether or not to be witnesses - but they are witnesses.

2) You and I are to follow the same plan, and fulfill the same commission as the Apostles when it comes to evangelism.
A) Firstly, by direct application; look at Jesus' statement in Matthew 28:20, "teaching them [i.e., you and me] to observe [i.e., to do] ALL [i.e., all means all, everything] that I commanded [i.e., not an option, but a direct command to be obeyed] you"

B) Secondly, by example; from day one the "church" has followed this same pattern set forth by the Lord, and has followed it throughout the book of Acts and all the way up unto today.

C) Thirdly, by the Apostle Paul's direction to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:5, "But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry."

(1) While we are never told that Timothy had the gift of evangelism, we are told that Paul directed him to do the "work of the evangelist" (APMDC).

(2) This would support the idea that all Christians have an obligation to share the gospel of Christ, even though this may not be their area of giftedness (APMDC).

Transition: God has also provided some with the spiritual gift of evangelism to accomplish this work. . .

2. Those who have been gifted by God - "you. . .witnesses."

A. In Ephesians 4:11, the Apostle Paul states, "And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,"
1) As I said last week this gift seems to fit well with those who are called to be missionaries on a full time basis.

2) We also think of those who have this gift are people like Billy Graham who seem to have the ability to draw large numbers of people to hear the gospel.

B. The noun evangelist is used only three times in the N.T.
1) In Ephesians 4:11, from which I just quoted from.

2) It is also used in Acts 21:8, of Philip the evangelist.

3) And it 2 Timothy 4:5, where it isn't speaking of a spiritual gift but of doing the work of an evangelist.

Application: In God's plan for evangelism, God uses those He has gifted to reach the large masses of unsaved, but He also uses regular Christians to reach those people who are sprinkled about our communities too. It takes both the "gifted" and the "ungifted" to reach all those that God wants to reach, each is important and vital to God's plan. We must remember that there are no unimportant Christians when it comes to evangelism. Evangelism is a privilege, an honor, and a responsibility of every Christian.

Transition: Not only has God called us to be His witnesses, but He has also equipped us to do the job. . .

II. His Equipping (v.8b).
1. By the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in us - "power. . .Holy Spirit."

A. God has given us the ability to witness to the lost.
1) The number one reason why most Christians do not witness is FEAR.
A) A fear of rejection.

B) A fear of reaction (either verbally or physically).

C) A fear of not knowing enough to witness.

2) Oswald Chambers said, "The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else."
- There is something wrong with a Christian's walk when they fear the world more than they fear their Lord.
B. God knew that we would be afraid, so one of the benefits of having the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the ability to overcome our fear of witnessing.
1) The word "power," ("dunamis" {doo'-nam-is}) carries the idea of strength, power, ability, or having the capability to accomplish the task at hand.

2) We are also given a promise of overcoming our fears and this world in 1 John 4:4b, ". . .greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world."

3) Alexander Maclaren stated it this way, "Only he who can say, 'The Lord is the strength of my life,' can say, 'Of whom shall I be afraid?'"

Transition: Not only did God give us the Holy Spirit to strengthen and enable us to witness to the lost, but God has also sent Him before us to work on the hearts of the unbeliever. . .

2. By the conviction of the Holy Spirit in the unsaved - "power. . .Holy Spirit."

A. It is God's work to convict people that they need a Savior, not us.
1) John 16:8, "And He [i.e., Holy Spirit], when He [i.e., Holy Spirit] comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment;"

2) The Holy Spirit will plead the case in the heart of the lost person and call for a verdict in that persons heart (JISP).

B. Man must be born again by the Spirit of God, we are only the proclaimers of the good news.
1) John 3:5-6, "Jesus answered, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.'"

2) Only when a person responds to God's Spirit can they be born of God's Spirit.

- If we can do it in our own fleshly efforts, then all we will produce is more fleshly religous people who are still lost in their sins.
Application:  It has been said that, "The Holy Spirit is not given for our enjoyment but for our employment." When we do our part by witnessing, the Holy Spirit will do His part by convicting that person of their need for a Savior (JISP). Because God empowers us to be His witnesses, He has been able to use ordinary people to do extraordinary things, because the Holy Spirit is at work in their lives. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is not a luxury in the believer's life, but rather He is an absolute necessity (BEC). A man may be highly talented, intensively trained, and widely experienced, but without spiritual power he is ineffective. On the other hand, a man may be uneducated, unattractive, and unrefined, yet let him be endowed with the power of the Holy Spirit and he will make an impact upon his world (BBC).

    Years ago, when we lived in England, we had a seminary professor visit our church while he was studying at Oxford. He told us of some men who were supposed to go out to visit some families who had attended their church that previous Sunday. There were three of them and they were going to visit three homes that night together. Two of these men were well educated and the third man couldn't read or write. So the two men had decided beforehand to "use up" all of their visitation time so that they wouldn't have time to make the third visit, thus "sparing" their illiterate friend from any embarrassed. They went to the first home and no one was home, so they went to the second home and it turned out that no one was home there either. The two men were almost in a panic and weren't sure what they were to do, and they were hoping that this last family wouldn't be home either. But when they arrived at the third home the family was home. Their poor, illiterate friend, told the husband of this family that he could not read and asked the man if he would read out loud a little tract that he had brought. The husband did so, and before the visit had ended the husband had accepted Christ as his Savior. You see, the Holy Spirit does what we cannot do for ourselves or for others. He can use the smallest or biggest, the brightest or the dullest person; in other words He can use each and everyone of us if we will just let Him.

Transition: Not only does God empower us to be His witnesses, He even gives us. . .

III. His Evangelistic Message (v.8c).
1. The person of Jesus Christ alone - "My witness."

A. A witness for Jesus Christ is simply someone who tells the truth about Him (MacArthur).

B. Jesus Christ is the heart of the gospel message, and no one else.

1) Acts 4:12, "And there is salvation in NO ONE ELSE  [translation: it means exactly what it says!]; for there is NO OTHER NAME [the only name is Jesus Christ] under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved."

2) John 11:25-26, "Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life; he who BELIEVES IN ME [not believes in others] shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and BELIEVES IN ME shall never die. Do you believe this?'"

3) John 10:9, "I am THE DOOR [there are not many doors, but only one door to salvation]; if anyone ENTERS THROUGH ME, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture."

C. Mark uses the term "gospel" uniformly through out his gospel to emphasize the person of Jesus Christ.
- Our Lord is the central theme of the good news message.
Application: Regardless of what the world claims, there is only ONE SON of God, and only ONE GOSPEL message by which man can be saved. There is only ONE WAY of salvation because there can be no greater sacrifice given than God's sacrifice of His own Son. If you try to remove Jesus Christ from the cental message of the Gospel, then you no longer have the Good News. You'll only have the bad news that men are still lost in their sins. God holds the exclusive patient rights on the gift of Salvation, everything else is just a cheap imitation that falls short of God's standards and in the end will leave men still lost in their sins.

Transition: God not only gave us His Son, but He also provided us with. . .

2. The salvation message - "My witness."

A. Throughout the history of man, salvation has always involved 3 basic elements according to the Bible (Salvation, by Dr. Earl Radmacher).
1) The basis of salvation = our need for salvation.

2) The channel of salvation = faith alone, apart from any works.

3) The object of salvation = Jesus Christ.

B. The gospel message is simply this.
1) We all have fallen short of God's holy standards, which is called sin, and this has resulted in our fellowship with God being broken (Rom.3:10, 23; Gal.3:22a; 1 John 1:8).
A) As a result of that broken fellowship, we can never be in God's presence because He is Holy and we are not (Ex.15:11; Lev.11:44; Isa.59:2; Hab.1:13; Rev.4:8).

B) Therefore, that condemns us to an eternal separation from God and all of His goodness (John 3:18, 36; Heb.9:27; Rom.5:12; 6:23a; 14:12; Jam.1:15; Rev.20:11-15).

C) The only way for that relationship to be restored is for the penalty of our sins to be paid for - the problem is none of us sinful humans are able to do anything that is worthy of forgiveness on our own (Eph.2:8-9; Titus 3:5; Gal.2:16; Rom.3:10-12, 20).

2) The good news is God did everything that was required for us to be forgiven through His Son, Jesus Christ (Rom.6:23).
A) His sinless (Heb.4:15; 2 Cor.5:21; 1 Pet.2:22), perfect Son, Jesus died for our sins (Rom.5:8; 1 Cor.15:3-5; Heb.9:28).

B) Not only did Jesus die for our sins, He took our place and bore plenties that we deserved (Rom.3:24-25; 5:1; 8:3-4; 2 Cor.5:21; Gal.3:13; 1 John 3:5).

C) He broke death's grip on mankind with His resurrection from the dead and proved before mankind who He really was (1 Cor.15:20-23).

3) The way in which we receive God's gift of salvation is by faith.
A) We must simply believe in what God has done for us.
- i.e., simply believe that Jesus Christ was who He said He was, and that He did what He said He did (John 3:16; 5:24; Rom.10-9-10; 1 John 1:9; Acts 16:31).
B) And this includes trusting God to fulfill His promises to forgive us (John 10:27-30; Rom.5:9-10; 1 Cor.1:9; 1 Peter 1:3-5; 1 John 5:11-12).
C. John 3:16-18 really is the gospel in a nutshell, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
Application: The basic truths of God's plan of salvation have never changed, nor should we ever attempt to change them. While our culture has changed, God's eternal plan of salvation has not; it is still based upon the person and work of Jesus Christ. Our only challenge is to always do our best to communicate God's message clearly so as not to hamper it, and then we need to allow the Holy Spirit to go to work in the heart of that person. Our success isn't based upon whether they accept our message, but rather it is based upon whether we shared God's gospel or not. Remember our job isn't to save anyone - because we can't! God does the saving, our job is just to pray for the lost and share God's message with them; Isaiah 52:7, "How lovely on the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who announces peace And brings good news of happiness, Who announces salvation, And says to Zion, 'Your God reigns!'" (also see Rom.10:15).

Transition: Not only has God equipped us and given us His message, He has also provided us with a place to witness. . .

IV. His Field Of Evangelism (v.8d).
1. In our own community ". . .Jerusalem. . ."

A. The disciples were to start right where they were.

B. This is a very personal command to each believer (McGee).

1) Dr. Oswald J. Smith used to say, "The light that shines the farthest will shine the brightest at home" (BEC).

2) We are all called to be missionaries in our own communities.

Application: This is the life blood of every local church. Sheep produce sheep, and that is what keeps the flock growing and strong. Too often Christians are quick to send their money to support someone else to do the work of missions, and they forget that they also have their mission field to minister in. If we are going to bring glory to God, then we must bring His glory to the people - that is, Jesus Christ.

Transition: Not only are we to let our light shine in our own community, but we need to let it shine. . .

2. In our own country - ". . .and in all Judea and Samaria. . ."

A. "Judea" = people who live in our own land who are like us.

B. "Samaria" = people who live in our land who are not like us.

1) Samaria was located in the center of the land of Israel.

2) The people were a half-breed population (of Jewish and Gentile mix) with whom the Jews hated and had no dealings (BBC).

3) The love of Christ knows of no hate for a person who is different from us in ethnicity.

A) We must remember that Jesus was a Jew, and yet His love reached out to us Gentiles.

B) There is only one race as far as God's concerned, and that is the human race of which all of them need the Savior of the world.

Application: This area of evangelism is what we call "Home Missions." Often times this is the forgotten ministry of many churches. We hear sermons about witnessing and giving to support to foreign missionaries, but we very seldom hear about the need of home missions. George Barna, of Barna Research, reported on September 25, 2000 - that the United States has so many unchurched people that our nation has become one of the primary missions targets of Christians who live in other countries around the world. It is to the disgrace of American churches that we are now in a situation where foreign countries have to send missionaries to our land - if we were truly a "Christian Nation" then this would not be the case. God's plan of evangelism isn't complete until we also reach out to the lost in our own land too.

Transition: Now lets look at the third area of God's plan for evangelism. . .

3. In the rest of the world - ". . .and even to the remotest part of the earth."

A. When we hear the word "missions" this is what the majority of Christians think of.

B. It is our business, personally and privately, to get the Word of God out to the world (McGee).

1) We can't say that it is up to the church to send missionaries to share the Gospel, and then sit back and let others do it.

2) While God may not call us to be foreign missionaries, we can support world missions through our giving and through our prayers - actively!.

Application: It's important to note the word "both" in verse 8, in the Greek it translates "not only. . .but also" which means "at one and the same time." If we are going to be mission minded, then we must seek to do so in all three areas that God has given us. Each area of missions are equally important and dependant upon each other.

    If we ignore our own backyards, then our flock slowly becomes small and will eventually died out - sheep produce sheep. The desire of every shepherd is for their flock to reproduce. Can you name anyone who has a business who desires that their business decreases to the point that they can close their doors? No of course not! And that shouldn't be the attitude of the church either. When Christians fail to reach out in their local areas with the gospel it effects the health and life of their church, and their church's ability to actively support home and foreign missions.

    If we neglect our own Country then we will reap a culture that is not only hostile to Christians, but we will subject our children and grandchildren to their pagan teachings and worldly philosophies. Home missions has a direct impact upon our Country, our families and our local church.

    If we neglect foreign missions, then this would also impact everyone in our own Country. We are seeing this today in many Countries, where they are hostile to America and to Christianity. Man tries to change the world through politics, and constantly fails. Christ changes the heart of man, which changes his behavior. This is why missions are so important and can have such a great impact upon the lives of millions of people around the world.

    We must remind ourselves the reason why we have missions isn't to bring us "good luck" but to bring glory to God. If a church wants to glorify God, then a church must be obedient to His plans locally, nationally, and internationally. Failure to do so only robs God of the glory that He so richly deserves; 1 Corinthians 10:31, "Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."

Truths To Ponder:
1. Often, we are like the apostles, we get to looking so far into the future that we forget the task at hand.

A. Collectively, the church is commissioned to evangelize the lost world with the truth of the Gospel.

B. Individually, each believer is also mandated to tell those whom they come into contact with about the saving grace of Christ.

2. We are reminded that God doesn't send any of us out to witness by ourselves, but He goes BEFORE US to
     prepare the way and He goes IN US to enable us to be His witnesses.
A. This should bring comfort to every believer.

B. This should make it an honor for us to witness for Christ, knowing that God has invited us to come along with Him to share His gospel message.

3. God's design for evangelism is only in balance when we witness to our community, to our country and to those
     who live around the world.

4. The Apostles turned the world upside down by being obedient to God's command to witness and in doing so
    they worshiped Him and brought glory to His name.

- Are we glorifying God?


Greek Word Studies

Verse 8.
- "but," ("alla" {al-lah': conj, superord}); but, nevertheless, however.
- "you shall receive power," ("lambano" {lam-ban'-o: v, ind, fut, mid, dep, 2per, pl}); to take hold of, grasp,
    receive (used here of being the recipient of). (KJV = ye shall receive)
- "power," ("dunamis" {doo'-nam-is: n, acc, f, sg}); strength, power, ability, capability, as able to produce a
    strong effect.
- "when the Holy," ("o hagios" {oh hag'-ee-os: adj, gen, neut, sg}); as things set apart for God's purpose,
    dedicated, sacred, holy. (KJV = after the Holy)
- "Spirit," ("pneuma" {pnyoo'-mah: n, gen, neut, sg}); a blowing, wind, breath, used here of God Himself, Spirit.
    (KJV = Ghost)
- "has come," ("eperchomai" {ep-er'-khom-ahee: v, part, aor, act, gen, neut, sg}); to come, to arrive, appear, used
    here of what comes from heaven. (KJV = is come)
- "upon," ("epi" {ep-ee': prep, acc}); upon, on.
- "you," ("humas" {hoo-mas': n, pron, acc, 2per, pl}); you, ye.
- "and," ("kai" {kahee: conj, superord}); and, also, even, indeed.
- "you shall be," ("esomai" {es'-om-ahee: v, indic, fut, mid, dep, 2per, pl}): "to be"; shall be, will be, shall come to pass.
    (KJV = ye shall be)
- "my," ("mou" {moo: n, pron, gen, 1per, sg}); I, me, mine own, my. (KJV = unto me)
- "witnesses," ("martus" {mar'-toos: n, nom, m, pl}); a witness, one who testifies to something, one who tells what
    they believe regardless of the results.
- "both," ("te" {teh: conj, coord}); not only...but also, both...and.
- "in," ("en" {en: prep, dat}); in, by, with.
- "Jerusalem," ("Hieousalem" {hee-er-oo-sal-ame': n, dat, f, sg}); Jerusalem = "set ye double peace," denotes
    either the city itself or the inhabitants.
- "and," ("kai" {kahee: conj, coord}); and, also, even, indeed.
- "in," ("en" {en: prep, dat}); in, by, with.
- "all," ("pas" {pas: adj, dat, f, sg}); each, every, all, the whole.
- "Judea," ("o Ioudaia" {oh ee-oo-dah'-yah: n, dat, f, sg}); Judea = "he shall be praised," the southern portion of
    Palestine lying on west side of the Dead Sea. (KJV = Judaea)
- "and," ("kai" {kahee: conj, coord}); and, also, even, indeed.
- "in Samaria," ("Samareia" {sam-ar'-i-ah: n, dat, f, sg}); Samaria = "guardianship," the territory in Israel which
    had Samaria as its capital.
- "and," ("kai" {kahee: conj, coord}); and, also, even, indeed.
- "even to," ("heos" {heh'-oce: prep, gen}): till, as far as, to. (KJV = unto)
- "the remotest part," ("eschatos" {es'-khat-os: adj, pron, gen, neut, sg}); farthest, the uttermost part, to the end
    of the earth. (KJV = the uttermost part)
- "the earth," ("o ge" {oh ghay: n, gen, f, sg}); earth, world.

Study References

APMDC - A Pastor's Manual on Doing Church, Mal Couch Editor.
BBC - William MacDonald, Believer's Bible Commentary.
BEC - Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary.
BSF - Bible Studies Foundation (http://www.bible.org/).
JISP - Tommy Higle, Journey Into Spiritual Power.
MacArthur - John MacArthur's New Testament Commentary: Galatians.
McGee - J. Vernon McGee, Commentary on Acts.

Greek References

. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, by Walter Bauer, augmented by William F. Arndt & F. Wilbur
   Gingrich, 2nd Ed., University of Chicago Press, Chicago IL, 1979
. The Analytical Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, by Wigram, Associated Publishers & Authors Inc (APGA),
   Lafayette IN, 1980.
. Bible Works 4.0 for Windows, Hermeneutika Bible Research Software, Big Fork MO., 2nd edition.
. The Complete Word Study Bible & Reference CD, by Dr. Spiros Zodhiates, AMG Publishers, 1997.
. Do It Yourself Hebrew And Greek, by Edward W. Goodrick, Multnomah Press, Portland OR., 1980.
. Essentials Of New Testament Greek, by Ray Summers, Broadman Press, Nashville TN., 1950.
. Greek Enchiridion, A Concise Handbook of Grammar for Translation and Exegesis, by William G. MacDonald,
   Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody MA., 1998.
. The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament (The Nestle Greek Text), by Rev. Alfred Marshall, D.Litt, Zondervan
   Publishing House, Grand Rapids MI, 1958.
. The New Analytical Greek Lexicon, Wesley J. Perschbacher, Editor, Hendrickson Publishers, 1996.
. New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, by Colin Brown, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand
   Rapids MI, 2001.
. The New Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon, by J. H. Thayer, APGA Lafayette IN, 1981.
. Quick Verse 7.0 for Windows, Parsons Technology Inc, 2000.
. Syntax Of The Moods And Tenses In New Testament Greek, by Ernest De Witt Burton, Kregel Publications, Grand
   Rapids MI., 1978.
. Theological Dictionary of The New Testament (Abridged), by Geoffrey W. Bromiley, Gerhard Kittel & Gerhard
   Friedrich Editors, Willaim B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids MI, 1992.
. Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, by W. E Vine, M.A., Mac Donald Publishing Company,
   McLean Virginia.
. Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament, vol. 1 the Epistles of James, Peter, and Jude, by Marvin Vincent,
  AGE'S Software, Albany OR., ver.2.0, 1997.
. Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, by Kenneth S. Wuest, Willaim B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand
   Rapids MI, 1988.
. Word Pictures in the New Testament, by Archibald Thomas Robertson, Broadman Press, Nashville TN, 1930.