God the Evangelist
Sunday 27th January 9 a.m.
Reading – Acts 9:1-22
“Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ 5 He asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ The reply came, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6 But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.’ 7 The men who were travelling with him stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one. 8 Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9 For three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
10 Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, ‘Ananias.’ He answered, ‘Here I am, Lord.’ 11 The Lord said to him, ‘Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, 12 and he has seen in a vision[a] a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.’ 13 But Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; 14 and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.’ 15 But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; 16 I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.’ 17 So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul[b] and said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ 18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength”.
Saul Preaches in Damascus
For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, 20 and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.’ 21 All who heard him were amazed and said, ‘Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem among those who invoked this name? And has he not come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?’ 22 Saul became increasingly more powerful and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Messiah.
This side of heaven, in the church what is the one thing that must happen?
Not-yet-Christian people discover the grace of God in Jesus Christ.
In new congregations – new church plants – today in Australia the conversion rate is about 32% amongst mainline denominations like ours.
How do we progress from 3% to 32% conversion rate?
I have good news today. I have discovered the perfect evangelist. One that is never embarrassing, always passionate, always wise, highly credible and always fruitful.
Ezekiel 34:11 says,
For thus says the Lord God, “I myself will search for my sheep and seek them out. As shepherds seek out their flocks when they are among the scattered sheep, so I will seek out my sheep.”
The mission statement of Jesus Christ, in my opinion, the text that wraps up the whole meaning of the Scriptures, is Luke 19:10: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
In first Corinthians 3:5 and following Paul deals with a situation where believers are saying Paul brought them to Christ or Apollos brought them to Christ, and he’s trying to get away from that because he knows God is the true evangelist.
In verse 5 he says, “What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants”—and here come the words—”through whom you came to believe as the Lord assigned to each”
As the Lord assigned to each.
You mean I didn’t lead somebody to Christ?
God has set them up for us.
They were set up for Paul; they were set up for Apollos; they are set up for me. They are set up for you.
God has our Diary.
It is no mistake you work where you work.
It is no mistake you live where you live.
It is no mistake you run into the people you run into.
Paul says, “Brothers, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is that they will be saved.” (Romans 10:1)
Reading: John 6:44-45 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: `They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.”
Before you even thought about bringing a friend to Christ, before you thought of praying for your neighbour or relative, God is already witnessing to that person.
You know how he does that?
Through the glorious things he has made.
Turn to Romans 1. Let’s see the role God has in the process.
Romans 1:18 and following: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth.”
I have circled “suppress the truth.”
There’s a truth emanating from the Father heart of God to the whole world, and the only thing people can do is try to suppress it.
Here it is: For what can be known about God is plain to people because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world, his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things that he has made. So people are without excuse.God the evangelist is already there, displaying himself to the world.He does it in several ways.
First of all, he does it through creation, through beauty.
In the creation God’s speech, God’s power, God’s majesty is already there—poured out on a world desperately in need of hope. Beauty, awe—they come from God. He’s already there. But the creation is a limited testimony in that it reflects God in certain aspects only–namely, “his eternal power and divine nature.”
One has to look elsewhere for the disclosure of his love and grace–i.e., to Scripture and especially to God’s revelation in his Son (Jn 1:14).
“Reason has only a left-handed and partial knowledge of God based on the law of nature and of Moses. But the depth of divine wisdom, and of the divine purpose, the profundity of God’s grace and mercy, and what eternal life is like — of these matters reason is totally ignorant.” (Luther’s commentary on the Gospel of John)
Natural revelation is sufficient to make human beings responsible (they are left “without excuse”), but is not by itself sufficient to accomplish their salvation. That took the Cross which is the ultimate revelation of God in his love and mercy.
The reason God displays himself to the world, the reason God goes ahead is because God is a seeking God, constantly seeking the lost. A 24/7 God seeking lost people. God is a seeking God. The lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost son—Luke 15 is all about this nature of God to drop everything to seek the one, not the masses. I’m glad for that. The angels in heaven rejoice every time God finds one, because he’s the evangelist.
As much as you believe you were seeking God, it turns out he was seeking you before you ever sought him.The nature of God is as initiator in all things.
- S. Lewis writes, “I never had the experience of looking for God. It was the other way around. He was the hunter; I was the pursued. He stalked me, took unerring aim, and fired.”
God is a seeking God and in the moment of salvation of one lost person God experiences His greatest joy. For in that moment the Father finds the lost child.
The Kingdom of God is built one person at a time.
Because God is the great evangelist.