A Life Changing Message

March 20, 2013

Mark 16:15-20

A friend at work told me that if every Christian in the world would witness to one person a day for seven days Christ would return on the seventh day. The premise being, that by doing this the Gospel would be preached in all the world and that would fulfill what the author of this saying thinks is the last prophecy needing to be fulfilled before the Rapture. I am not sure that is how it would work, but it is an intriguing thought that if all who named the name proclaimed the same how much more we could accomplish.
I heard Greg Laurie speaking on this topic the other day and he was looking at it from the perspective of getting the last person saved that is going to be saved, saved. He commented on what f you knew who that person was and he or she was sitting on the second row of your church on Sunday morning. Would you not be looking at them during the invitation and think, “C’mon get on with it. You’re holding up the show!”
We sing “Bringing In The Sheaves,” while we’re out swinging in our Lees©! On the other hand, maybe it is “Bring Them In!” but we never go out to win. There is no one in the church house to encourage with “Why Not Tonight?” because we never got around to “Send The Light!” “Redeemed” how we love to proclaim it on Sunday, but we’d rather not talk about it on Monday. Hmm, we speak with forked tongue, my friends.

Mark 16:15-20
15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen. (KJV)

We normally go to Matthew 28 for a Great Commission challenge, but Mark repeats it and gives us some other thoughts about that commission. Whatever passage you use, it is clear that we must evangelize! We call it the Great Commission but sadly, it is often our Great Omission. Sometimes we fail to do so because we are afraid or because we just do not know how to go about it. Some people think all you have to do is ring the church bells and the sinners will just flock to the church house and then the preacher and the elders will win them as they fall on their knees weeping in repentance. Folks that believe sure ain’t teetotalin’ Baptists because they are drinkin’ something mighty strong to have that kind of a delusion!!!
Evangelism is so easy it’s hard, I reckon. Maybe that is because we have given the job over to Evangelists and figure if we don’t have that gift we just can’t do it. There is a gift or office of evangelist and we need more of them. Men like my good friend, Johnny Campbell, are rare and the Church and the Country are feeling the effects of that lack. However, we must remember that like Timothy, we must all do the work of an evangelist if there is none available. The work must be done and we must all be ready to give a reason of the hope that lies within us. (2 Tim 4:5; 1 Peter 3; 15)
I do not possess the gift of evangelism and I am not in that office although at times I have wished that I could be one. I consider my calling to be more in the pastor/teacher arena. One who can proclaim the faith in clarity to unbelievers and answer all of their vain arguments is called an apologist. That does not mean he is apologizing like we think of today. He is not sorry for anything. When you were called to make an apology in the NT times, it meant to give a defense of your beliefs or actions in a sense of proving your thesis or justifying your conduct. We have left off the proof part and changed justification for the action into sorrow for the action.
I am a polemicist rather than an apologist. A polemicist is one who questions or challenges the theology of his particular group whereas the apologist challenges the theology of everyone else. An apologist seeks to correct the erroneous thinking outside his faith whereas the polemicist seeks doctrinal stability and purity within his faith. The Apostle John was an apologist. The Prophets were polemicists. Paul was both.
And y’all are saying I ain’t neither of those fifty-cent words. Sure you are. When you witness or explain a part of your faith to an unbeliever, you are an apologist. When you challenge the preacher or a teacher about something they said, you are being a polemicist although depending on your motive you might be something else. Just like we are at times an apologist or a polemicist, we are all to be evangelists even if is not our primary gift.
The Greek word here translated as Gospel is where we get the word evangelism (euaggelion (yoo-ang-ghel’-ee-on). It means a good message or news and we are to preach it. How do we do that? The first way is by going into all the world. (15a) Does that mean I have to become a missionary? No, you do not necessarily need to become a missionary as we currently think of one. You may not have to quit your job and go to another country, but you are to go into all of your world with the Gospel.
We all are called to priests. We all do not do it as our occupation, but it is to be our preoccupation. Your job just helps you pay your bills and feeds you so that you can do your real occupation as a priest. There is no secular or sacred. We err when we make those distinctions. We are to be 100% fully sanctified to do the Lord’s work 24-7 whether are paycheck says Country Church or Wal-Mart on it.
We look at the “Go” as a command but actually, it is conveying the thought “as you are going.” In other words as you are going about in the world preach the Gospel! You are going to be running about the world as a natural course of your life and while you are out there preach and evangelize. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, you are to be ready in season and out of season to give that reason of the hope that lies within you.
Why do it that way? Because they will not come to you, my friend. In the old days, there was not much to do and unbelievers would go to the church house or to a revival for entertainment or to torment the preacher. Fortunately, some that went for the wrong motives heard the Gospel and were saved. Times have changed and there are plenty of ways to amuse yourself today and some of those things are so exciting that even tormenting a preacher is tame and boring.
Very few unbelievers are going to wake up on Sunday morning and say, “You know, I think I’ll mosey over to the church house and see what them Christians are up to.” It is hard enough to get the dead in Christ to rise consistently to attend service let alone unbelievers. Most unbelievers will sleep in, like a lot of Christians, and then head for the golf course, beach or wherever and they will run into a lot of Christians. They just won’t know they are Christians. They expect the Christians to be in church. If we could get more Christians to live up to the expectations of unbelievers we might see more of them become believers. Then if those new Christians lived up to the standards they held for Christians while being unbelievers, we might see a revival unparalleled in history!
Yes, we must go to them because they have far more to do than to come to us. Apart from that, a hot heart has to go. Some of you shy folks may not have had this experience, but many of us when we were first saved could not wait to tell someone about it. I was saved on a Sunday morning because I went to church to get a guy off my back. Monday morning, I was telling the guys that I had been telling dirty jokes with on Friday all about it. Every opportunity I had, I was telling people about Jesus and how He saved me. I could not help myself. I confess to you that I am praying for that first love to return. When the heart is hot, it will have to go and tell. May our hearts burn within us again as we hear Him so that other hearts will burn within them as they hear Him through our witness. (Luke 24:32)
Secondly, we evangelize by giving the Gospel to ALL. (15b) Theology does not replace command. Some folks have a theology that brings many to a point to where evangelism to them is unnecessary. The elect will be saved and none will be lost so why evangelize? Extreme Calvinism is bad theology and it will kill a church. I do know of some strong Calvinists that have a bus ministry. I can respect them because they do not let their theology override a clear commandment.
I am to preach the gospel to every creature. I have a responsibility.

Ezek 3:16-19
16 And it came to pass at the end of seven days, that the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
17 Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.
18 When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.
19 Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. (KJV)

Just as that watchman was to perform his duty and warn everyone, we also are to give the Gospel to everyone along with the warning of the cost of rejecting that good news. It is not my job to worry about the elect or the tares. It is my job to preach the gospel and it is yours. This command does not teach a limited atonement, but it does expect an unlimited obedience.
Extreme Calvinism is not the only thing we must overcome in our evangelism. We must give the Gospel to ALL because prejudice should be dead in a believer. It saddens me when I hear Christians try to tell me that their prejudice is sanctioned by Scripture. I have heard some mighty crazy things said by folks who think they are mature Christians. It’s pitiful, jist pitiful! Worse than that, it is downright heresy.
I remember a Chick tract sometime back called, “Why No Revival?” In it was a frame that showed a white man and a black man. They said a list of doctrinal things like, “I’m saved,” and the other would say, “Well, I’m redeemed.” They each ended their point-counterpoint assertions of their salvation and righteousness with a racial slur. May God convict us and put an end to such insanity! We are all going to live in Heaven together, if we are truly saved. How about us trying to get along down here? Why spend thousands of dollars to win folks in Africa, if you will not go down the street and win your Black neighbor!?!?
I was very fortunate that all my experiences with blacks in my childhood were positive until I was sixteen. Then the black guy that I hung out with met some lads from another town who turned him against me. After all, this was the sixties and I was the enemy. I did not understand it and I was heartbroken. I did not understand racial tension until I joined the military and a black friend of mine was beat up and shot at by another black man because he was hanging out with me and another white guy.
The whole thing was driving me nuts! I could not understand the obsession with pigment. SMSGT Melvin Harper was a supervisor of mine in the USAF. He asked me one time why white folks got excited over the color of his skin and then spent all summer trying to look like him. That was a good point and I sure had no answer for him except that some people are just stupid. I was not saved at that time or I might have said something a bit more spiritual.
I was at a conference in San Antonio and a Hispanic missionary was addressing racial reconciliation and the deceit of prejudice. He related a story that when he was a very young boy, he and his brother were walking home and a little bit older black boy threw a bottle at them. The bottle broke and a piece of glass went into his brother’s eye and nearly blinded him. He said that he had been a pastor and missionary for sometime before God convicted him that he had carried bitterness and prejudice because of that event for all those years. He wept, confessed, and was freed from it. Praise God!
Bad incidents can cause prejudice. Some folks are still fighting WWII, Korea and Viet Nam and take it out on all Asians. One person’s mistake can make a person hate a whole race, ethnic group, or religion. My experiences could have been with Hispanics or the Hispanic missionary could have had a bad experience with an Asian. The point is that if we let wrong actions affect us instead of looking at who (satan) is really behind the problem we will miss out on the opportunities to love people and be blessed by them. My friend, Lawman, did not mean to hurt me. He was caught up in an emotional time. The man who attacked my friend, Abby, did not really hate the other white guy or me. He did not know us. The bottle incident was just a childish error, but it marred the life of another child for years.
I will share one more story only because I want to blow away another misconception. I was on my way home and I saw an elderly black man looking under the hood of his pick up truck. I pulled over to see if I could help him. I stood waiting to be acknowledged. He was my elder and Momma raised me right. After a few minutes, he asked, “Are you helping me?” I replied that I would if I could. I looked in the hood of his truck and saw baling wire holding stuff together. I remembered the days when my own vehicles had some of that going on. Somehow I sensed he was out of gas and too proud to admit it. As I get older, I understand how folks feel like that. I suggested that maybe his gas gauge was broken. That had happened to me a time or two. I was happy the Lord gave the insight to bring up the problem and a solution and yet preserve his dignity. There have been times I wish someone would have done that for me.
There was a gas station not too far from us and he told me where his home was and it was near so he did not need a full tank to get there. I had a couple of dollars in cash on me and he had a gas can. I drove him there and got the gas. On the way back, he was sitting there just shaking his head and I asked him what was wrong. He said, “You’re white and you’re helping me.” I reached over, took his hand in mine, and told him that this was the way God meant it to be. Blacks and whites should be walking hand in hand. He seemed a bit astounded. He may have thought I was crazy. He was not the first and certainly will not be the last one who has that thought that about me.

We got back to the truck and I waited as he put the gas in and made sure the truck started. I was going to pull away when he started back towards my truck. I rolled down the window and asked if something else was wrong. He stood at attention and said, “Now, I know why they painted Jesus white.” I told him, “He ain’t white. He’s a Hebrew.” He replied, “But the pictures?” I said, “Aw, they can’t even get that right.” He grinned and he waved goodbye. I have never seen him again, but somewhere there is an elderly black man that knows that Jesus can even use a white guy to bless him. I believe that if we took all the pigment in the races and mixed them in a clear base paint, we would have the pigment of Jesus. He is the Saviour of all men, not just one group. We all must leave the past behind and look to the future. We must receive the healing and grace of Christ and walk hand in hand to the Promised Land. We must give the Gospel to every creature.
There is an aspect of evangelism that many do not understand as being part of it. They see evangelism only as the part where you witness to them and they pray for salvation. At that point, evangelism is over. I disagree. We continue to evangelize by discipling the saved. (16)
True, for the person that was saved, evangelism is over and discipleship begins, but the world will be watching that discipleship process. Their discipleship is a tool for evangelism because their consecration will stand out. I am convinced one of the biggest mistakes the Church has made over the years is to move baptism indoors. Yes, it is convenient and you don’t have to wait for the spring thaw, but we have also removed its effectiveness as a witnessing tool. We have also robbed its richness of meaning and its symbol of consecration some. It was a link to our ancestors as we marched down to the river as they did and the entire town saw the new converts.
With all those witnesses hearing the preacher and you recount your conversion experience they would be hearing a Gospel message, and the Holy Spirit would have opportunity to bring them under conviction and by grace to a salvation experience. Knowing everyone in town would know and see you being baptized made you search your heart and be sure you wanted to make the commitment. It helped you seal your consecration and you could not be too shy about it. Everyone already knew.
I will not go into deep explanation of the meaning of “he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” I did that in my message on baptism. Suffice it to say if he meant the water was part of the salvation there should be another warning of he that believes and is not baptized will be damned as well as the unbeliever.
Too many people today want to make a profession in their home or even in the church, but they do not want to let it get out. No sense in getting fanatical, you know. I believe that Mark is speaking to that crowd. Since it was public, baptism in that day meant you could lose your job, your family, and maybe your life. We are told in many passages that we are to declare our faith publicly.
In those days, you had to have real faith in Christ to walk to that river. Now, we get a lot of sinners wet in the horse trough because it really costs them nothing. If we are going to do it that way then maybe we need to find a way to list the names of the baptized in the paper. I wonder if our baptisms would go down if we took out a full- page ad and listed names. Maybe we could buy some air- time and put it on the local secular station and not just the Christian ones. How many consecrated ones would we have? If we returned to that practice, how many believers would be willing to be baptized again as a testimony or would they say, “Phew, glad I already did that?”
Not only would that kind of discipleship strengthen the believers and separate the men from the boys, so to speak, but it will condemn the unbelievers. They would be convicted at the baptism and hopefully, be saved. However, if they were not, they would be condemned by their rejection. In addition, once they start seeing Christians doing and not talking they would shut up. We can fuss all we want to about the loud mouth atheists, but Brethren, I tell you the sad truth is that they have a right to curse us because we talk the walk, but we do not walk the talk. They are saying, “Show me the power of a changed life in Christ and then I will listen.” They are not asking the unreasonable.
When all the Christians start doing even the simple things consistently, there will be enough of a change in us that our consecration will stand out and condemn the unbelievers. Jesus told His disciples that if they could not even understand the basic or earthly things He could not take them deeper and teach them heavenly things. The basic discipleship things of Bible study, prayer, church attendance and the like seem to be so difficult for most Christians. That stuff is simple. How can you understand sacrifice, death to self and maybe martyrdom if you can’t get your carcass out of bed on Sunday? A full vibrant church condemns the unbelievers. An empty and lifeless one condemns us! Lord; wake us out of our sleep and stupidity starting with me!
Finally, we evangelize by trusting God for confirmation. (17-20) We get so hung up worrying about our lack of this or our lack of that like everything depends on us. Well, get ready for a shock. It does not depend on us. We have no power or strength in ourselves to accomplish the mission of evangelism. Obedience will bring power. (17,19) Jesus did not send His disciples out when He ascended. He gave them the Great Commission, but they were to wait. They were obedient and they received power.

Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (KJV)

That power will confirm our message. (20) The Holy Ghost came upon them at Pentecost and we know the results of that!! We receive the Holy Spirit at salvation, but unless we allow Him to control us, we will have no power. There are mess of Christians in whom the Holy Spirit is resident, but not president. We keep Him locked up in some little cubbyhole of our heart and thank Jesus for the deal and the seal, but won’t let Him make it real. Brethren, we need to make it real!!!
Many folks are seeking the exact same signs listed here. I believe these were given as examples, but not necessarily as a template. In other words, God’s power in my evangelism can show itself in things other than these signs and He does not have to use these at all. It is His work after all and whatever tools He chooses to use or not to use is His business.
Paul did take up a serpent and was not hurt. (Acts 23:3-6) The fact that he did not die certainly impressed the heathen and gave him an audience for the message. However, please note he did not say let me pick up this snake, wave it around, and let it bite me so I can show the power of God. He was picking up firewood and he picked up more than he expected. He did not fear it, but he was not tempting God. The incident happened and God preserved him.
There was at least one assassination plot against Paul that we are told about. (Acts 23:12) There may have been others. Did someone try to poison Paul one of the other Apostles and it did not take? It is well within the realm of possibility. Why do you think the kings and such had cup bearers? They just did not hold or pass the cup. They took the first sip to see if there was any poison in the cup. Remember Nehemiah? He had that job.
Do I stand before my congregation and drink cyanide before or after the message so that they know it was of God and not my own ramblings? No, that would be tempting God. However, if someone slipped me a Mickey and God was not finished with me here, I believe that I would just say, “Umm, umm good” and press on with my message. I believe that I am indestructible until God is through with me, but I ain’t carrying around arsenic to check on my departure schedule.
I did a sermon on healing and I believe that God heals. Every time a soul is lead to Christ, devils are cast out. I believe in a biblical tongues experience. I believe that an example of it was clearly shown on the day of Pentecost.  I do not believe that we need these exact signs to confirm our message today. The Gospel or the message of the Church was “confirmed unto us by them that heard Him.” (Hebrews 2:1-4) The Apostles used these in a primarily Jewish context to establish the Church. Once established, you need not lay a foundation repeatedly or the building will never be finished.

1 Cor 1:22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: (KJV)

We are in the age of the Gentiles and they seek after wisdom. We have seminary after seminary because we desire wisdom. Most lost people want solid, scientific answers. They scoff at the supernatural or miraculous. God still does miracles and I believe that during the Tribulation when the Church is gone and God is dealing with His Jewish people directly again, there will be a lot of miracles happening and they will respond to them. Indeed, they crave after them as the word, require means in Greek.
God will always confirm His word. The manner in which He does it may change, but He will confirm it. The word sign can also mean token. You could say like a jet plane the Gospel will leave a vapor trail or better yet an audit trail. It will be visible and traceable. The kind of trail He leaves is again up to Him.
Many great evangelists and preachers of he past had none of the audit trails mentioned in this passage, but God confirmed His message. D. L. Moody, Charles Spurgeon, and Billy Graham left none of these trails. However, they did leave a trail of restored homes, broken addictions, and many other signs that followed the Gospel message and confirmed it in the hearts of the hearers.

Brethren, let us be less concerned with the signs and be more concerned with message. We need to evangelize and God will empower our obedience and confirm His message. May we have hot hearts that will go to the ones who will not come to us. May we be obedient to his command and put our theology on the back burner. May the love of God drive prejudice out of our hearts and reach out to all men and women. Then as the consecration of the new disciples stands out the unbelievers will be convicted and converted or condemned by their refusal of the light. The gospel is a life changing message. It changed ours! Now let us go and give others the chance to have their lives changed. Let us evangelize and then gather at the river! Bring them in! Bring them in!!

April 2, 1993 GO!

Unto the slaves of sin and woe
Our Lord God has commanded us to go.
The Lord said go and you haven’t left yet?
You say that it is raining and you might get wet?

You say that the wind is raging and cold.
Just leave it to the young, as you are too old.
I can’t believe what meets my ears.
It’s enough to bring angels to tears.

Did Jesus say, it’s warm in my bed
Or wait until by belly is fed?
He could have said, maybe some other day or time.
You know I work hard and have to play some time.

It’s not the Father’s will that any be lost.
He paid the price, but we will not bear the cost
Of saying no to our flesh and say it, our sin
To find that lost and dying soul to win.

We have our pride. They might say no.
The commandment just tells us to go.
Not all will believe, call out, and repent.
Most often people killed the prophets God sent.

Someone told you, a friend or some kin,
Or into this family you would have never gotten in.
You take for the granted the gift from above.
You’ve forgotten the purpose of Calvary’s love.

If this old world is looking rather bleak and drear,
It’s because you’ve forgotten who you are and why you are here.
Renew your commitment to the One who saved your soul,
Then heed the commandment, don’t stand there, GO!

@1993 Ron Shultz


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