09 Feb 2020
Acts 1:8 is the key verse of the book of Acts. In it, we see 1. The Purpose - The reason the church was left on earth was so that they all may witness of Jesus and His work. Even when they were persecuted, they went everywhere preaching the gospel. In fact, many were martyred for their preaching. But they were faithful to God's purpose in Acts 1:8- they lived their lives around witnessing for Jesus. 2. The Power - The church had great boldness in preaching. There were great conviction and convincement amongst the people who heard the gospel. The church, therefore, grew in numbers under the power of the Holy Spirit. 3. The Plan - The gospel is for the whole world- not just the Jews. The gospel is powerful to save both Jews & Gentiles. And it is to move outwards centrifugally from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. The light that shines the furthest shines brightest at home. May God help us all to be effective in soul-winning. Check out this link for the complete message and some practical tips for evangelism.
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Today, we are continuing - I'm not going to preach a sermon about how to deal with the Wuhan virus, alright, or what should Christians do. We are continuing our study in this series on “Vision 2020”.
This is really a looking forward as to the goal and the objective of why we are here. We are looking at our future, our hoped future, and we want to be a church like the people in the book of Acts, how we want to be an Acts Church for Today.
There are seven values or characteristics that I hope as a church we would pray towards and emulate.
1. Centred On Our Saviour
Number one, they were a people centred on the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ was their passion!
And I hope that in Gospel Light more and more, we do what we do because we love Jesus. And we love Jesus because we realize how much God loves us by giving us His Son, to save us from our sins.
2. Filled With The Spirit
Number two, we see that this church was a church filled with the Spirit. They were a people who lived and served not in their own powers, but in the power the Spirit provides.
So they were yielded to the Spirit, they were prayerful towards God. And we see the mighty power of the Spirit in the early church.
3. Rooted In The Scriptures
Thirdly, we saw that this was a church rooted in the Scriptures. They were a people who declared the Word of God. They made decisions based on the Word of God. And also, they had a hunger and thirst for the Word of God.
I think as a church, we can do a lot better, also in the way we pursue the Scriptures and live out the Scriptures.
4. Faithful In Supplication
Number four, we looked at how this church was faithful in supplication. It is a church that was committed to the ministry of prayer. It was a church that had confidence in prayer.
And it was a church that received the consequences of prayer, however, it may turn out! Whether it was according to what they wanted or not, they continued to be a people faithful in supplication.
5. Genuine In Sacrifice
Last week, we looked at how they were a people genuine in sacrifice. They were sharing all that they had, to meet the needs of the needy.
And I suggested to you that the reason why they could do so is because they looked back at the forgiveness they received in Jesus Christ, they looked around at the family of God, realizing that they were not just strangers, but one body, and they look forward to the future with Christ - how Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive.
6. Effective in Soul-Winning
Today, we go to value, number six.
And about a year ago, I read about this story on social media. It became a viral story, I think. It was about this businessman who spent thousands of dollars to print thousands of flyers, to be distributed to thousands of households, including the condo estate he lived in. He lived in “Reflections” at Keppel Bay. That’s somewhere near Vivocity.
So there were some 1,200 units in that condo estate. And he lived there, he also decided that the distribution should cover his estate. So he waited anxiously for the flyer to arrive at his mailbox. But after the deadline, after the day it was supposed to be sent, after several days, he still had not received any of the flyers.
He was curious, so he went around the mailboxes in his estate. He went around the basement to see what's happened. Now, to his horror, he found stacks of his flyers in the dust bins of all the various blocks in his condo estate. He saw them neatly stacked up. It's not as if people read the flyer and threw it into the basket, because they were all just one stack after another in the dustbins.
So he decided to confront the postman, the next day. And he showed him the, the stacks of flyers all over. I did not choose to show the face of the postman. Quite embarrassing. Just show the stacks of flyers all around.
So he confronted the postman and the postman initially denied that he had done this. But with all these photos, with all these pictures, with all this information, the postman eventually admitted, that he threw these stacks of flyers into the dustbin without distributing them.
The businessman, of course, was livid, he was upset. He said, “Do you know what this means? This might, this might be a worthless piece of paper to you, but it has cost me so much effort and time and money. This is really important to me! Why did you do it?” To which the postman said, “Sorry, but I'm just tired.”
Now this story became viral, because imagine that happening to you. You had entrusted someone to deliver the flyer, to deliver the message to the crowds, but instead of doing it, they, they dumped your message one side.
And I thought about myself. I thought about how I am entrusted with an important message, but so often in my life, I dump it into the trash can, because I say, “I am tired”, because I say, “I am busy”, because I say, “I am shy.” And we fail to deliver the message that God has entrusted to you and to me.
The early church was faithful to that message. The early church was a church effective in soul-winning. They were effective in spreading the Good News, the good message, the message of Jesus dying and rising to save men from their sins. They were committed to it, they were faithful to it, and they were very effective in it.
Today, I just want to have a very simple look at what it means to be effective in soul-winning. And we're just going to look at one verse. In effect, we're just looking at Acts 1 and verse 8.
The verse says, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." [Acts 1:8]
Now we can't have a simpler sermon than just looking at Acts 1:8. This is so important, because Acts 1:8 is like the key verse to the book.
You say, “What's Acts all about?” Twenty eight chapters, a lot of words to read. But actually it's very straightforward! Acts 1:8 tells you what this whole book is about, it unlocks this book.
There are three things I'd like you to notice in Acts 1:8. Three things that really characterize the whole book of Acts.
Number one, this is a book, and this is a verse, that speaks about the purpose. The purpose of God's people is found in this word, ‘witnesses’. What's your purpose in life? What's my purpose in life? What's the purpose of the disciples who follow Jesus, and disciples today? Well, it's very simple - “You will be my witnesses.” [Acts 1:8]
We are to be witnesses. We are to tell people about Jesus. “Witnesses of Me; My witnesses. Tell them who I really am. Tell them what happened. Tell them how I died and how I rose again. And how through My Name, forgiveness is offered to those who would repent and believe. Go and be My witnesses.” That's our purpose!
The word ‘witnesses’ occurs some twenty nine times in the book of Acts. It's a key concept, in the book of Acts. You see the movement of God's people going everywhere, doing what? Doing business? Running away from Wuhan virus? No, they were going everywhere, being witnesses. That's what they do, because that's why Jesus left them on Earth.
I mean, have you imagined that? When you were there, if you were there when Jesus rose into the heavens - don't you wish you’d say, “Lord, I want to come with You!” If I was there, I probably would grab hold of the ankle of Jesus and, “Hey, I'm going up! Bye, bye, guys.” I would love to do that!
But Jesus didn't allow any one of them to follow Him. Why? Because “You will be My witnesses.” [Acts 1:8] This is so important! This is a matter of eternal life and death, that they would remain. And they must be faithful to this purpose God has given.
Do you realize that witnessing the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not given to angels. It's not given to clouds, It’s not given via Wi-Fi. It takes followers! It takes flesh and blood! People who are sinners, and people who now find forgiveness. These - you and I, we are to be witnesses of this reality. And it's something you can't do after you die.
It's something that we will never do in Heaven. You realize that? Because everybody there knows the Good News. Everybody is a recipient of the Good News in Heaven. You don't have to be a witness in Heaven, about the Good News of Jesus Christ anymore. And you will not be needing to do it also in Hell. The only time you and I can be witnesses in a meaningful way, is right here, on this planet Earth.
Sometimes we think that life - when we don't remember this, when we don't look at verses of Scripture and be reminded of God's Word - so easy for us, in the success of life, to believe that the purpose of my life is so that I can earn enough, leave enough money for my children. My goal is to leave a healthy inheritance to my children. “I want to leave for my boys, my girls, each one a house, a HDB. I want to leave them some money. That's my goal!”
Is that God's goal for you? I'm not saying you don't have to leave anything. Neither am I saying that you need to leave everything. That's not quite what is explicit in the Scriptures.
But I think this is very explicit in the Bible. My goal in life is not so that my business prospers, so that my child will get into a good secondary school or university. My goal is not so that I have a certain number of zeros in my bank account. My goal, my purpose must be that God left me here on earth to be witnesses of Jesus.
I want you to realize that witnessing is not such a complicated thing. Some, sometimes we reject this, we say, “Ah, I'm sorry. I, I can't witness because I'm very poor in my speech. I'm very lousy at helping people understand the Gospel. I'm not as eloquent as preachers and pastors.”
Do you realize that witnessing is not salesmanship? It's not about pressuring people, coercing people, twisting their arm and making say, making them say, “I need to believe in Je-“. No, you just need to tell people what you know. You just need to tell people what you have heard. You just need to tell people what has happened in your life. If you are really born again, you have a message to tell! That's all!
God is not going to blame you, to say, “Oh, how come you have saved no one?” You don't fail when people do not get saved. You only fail when you do not tell people how they can be saved.
There’s a difference. My job here is not to save any one of you. I can't do any saving! Salvation is of the Lord. But my job is to tell you about Jesus who saves.
And your job today is not to convert people. Your job today is to witness to people. And all of us can do that; it's not something just for your pastor.
There was a lady who was talking to another gentleman, saying, “You know, all this evangelism thing, telling the people about the Gospel, I don't think it's our job. I don't think it's my job It's my Pastor's job! We pay him to do it.” Then the other brother says, “No, I'm sorry, Sis. But I think this is something we all have to do.” “No, I don't believe so”, she said.
And so, he turned her to Acts 8 verse 4 saying, “Now those who were scattered went about preaching the Word.” She is metal teeth, she's “tee ki” [colloquial expression for someone who is stubborn]. She's very stubborn. She says, “No lah! Those who were scattered preaching the Word, were the disciples, the apostles of Jesus - the gifted ones.”
To which, the brother then turns her to Acts 8:1 that says, “And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.”
Who were the ones scattered? Apostles? Everyone else. And when they were scattered, what did they do? Hide? They went everywhere, preaching the Gospel.
The Acts church was a phenomenal church. Because they stayed so true to their purpose, to God's call for them, regardless of whether they are at home in Jerusalem, or they are sent out to Judea and Samaria by persecution.
They did not blame God, by the way. They did not complain, “Aiyoh, so ‘cham’ [colloquial expression used to describe someone who is in dire straits]. I believe Jesus got to ‘zhao’ [colloquial expression used to describe someone who is running away or escaping] now.” They were glad and they were faithful to the mission God has given them.
So, this is God's purpose for us - that we will be witnesses. [Acts 1:8] But I will say upfront - there's nothing deceptive about this. To be a witness for Jesus is not difficult in a sense, you just tell people about what you know, you learned, you heard and have experienced. But what's difficult is that to be a witness, sometimes, it means you might lose your life.
“Wah! Pastor, you so drama.” But no, no, it's not drama. It's, it's what happened in the book of Acts. They witnessed to the extent that many of them lost their lives. They did not lose their life for believing in Jesus. They lost their life because they were preaching Jesus.
If you want to save your life, don't tell people about Jesus Christ. Don't tell people you're Christian, you are not going to get persecuted. You know that?
But if you want to live godly in Christ Jesus, if you want to fulfil God's purpose for you, you might have to die. In fact, the word “witness” in the Greek, “martyr” (pronounced mä'r-tüs), is a word that we use today to refer to those who die for their faith. There are so many Christians witnessing then, and so many dying, that they now attribute the word, “martyr” (pronounced mä'r-tüs) to be one who dies for the faith. That's what it means.
So if you are a follower of Jesus Christ today, the stakes are high. We're not talking about a CCA [acronym used in local schools for co-curricular activities] that you add on to your life. Christianity is not a peripheral thing. It's a central thing. How central? To the extent that you're willing to die for it.
I think about the Wuhan virus, and how people are fearful. They're fearful of losing their life. They're fearful of dying. I think the real tragedy is not whether you die or not; you sure die one. I mean, that's a ridiculous statement, but we all will die, right?
The tragedy of life is not whether you die or not, but whether you lived a purposeful and meaningful life before you die.
I'm not, I've said many times in this church, I'm not fearful that I will die. I'm fearful of dying lah. I'm fearful of the process of pain and suffering. Of course, I'm scared of that.
But what I am more fearful of is that I will live my life wasted. And I did not fulfil my purpose, and I stand before God and - “I left you on Earth.” “Oh, I thought God, it's for me to build a house.” “Oh, I thought God, it’s for me to provide for my family.” “I, I thought God it's so that my children will have an inheritance.” “No, that's not what I call you to do! Have you been faithful as a witness of My Son, Jesus Christ?”
And that's what we all have to do, in every corner where God has placed you.
You know, the apostles, the disciples in the early church, they knew that they would suffer, but they rejoiced. They rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer for His Name. Because they knew the forgiveness that flows from the cross, they knew the love of God.
We'll talk more about that next week, about joyful in suffering. But today - they were faithful in witness. They knew their purpose. That's what Acts is about. That's what Acts 1:8 is about.
But secondly, not only do we see their purpose, we see the power. And it's so obvious! This book is about the power of the Holy Spirit, and Acts 1 verse 8 tells you, it is all about the power of the Holy Spirit.
There was a blizzard storm in some western country. It was so bad that the electric cables are torn down. And so on the radio there was an announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, the following churches are closed because of the lack of power.”
And I thought about it, it is so appropriate for us in a day, in our modern day. You know, if we do not live in the power of the Holy Spirit, we should be closed.
We desperately need the power of the Holy Spirit. Power for boldness. Power for conviction of hearts. Power for convincement of lives. Power of the Holy Spirit to lead us to the people He want us to reach. We need power!
And that's what we see in the early church. They were a people so bold, not because they were naturally bold people. They were actually scaredy cats. Right? All the twelve disciples of Jesus, they ran away when Jesus was caught. But when you see the book of Acts, they were boldly preaching the Gospel, because power has come upon them, because the Holy Spirit has come upon them. Boldness comes from God.
I, again I, I'm not supposed to talk about Wuhan, but then again, I read about Wuhan. And I read about in the city of Wuhan today, there are many Christians. There are many Christians who are taking this time to go all around the city to share the Gospel. You say, “Why only this time?” Because in China, the sharing of the faith by unregistered churches is something frowned upon; you may be arrested.
But now in Wuhan, because of the viral situation, everyone is wearing a mask. So they go around telling you about Jesus. And I, I thought that‘s so missional! I mean, people are scared, hiding in their homes. But these people are living it out! Going out to share the Gospel.
And I'm not asking you today to go around the community and share the Gospel in that way. But I just thought it's a way that have been lived out by the people of faith in that city. They were bold. And we need that boldness to share the Gospel too, isn't it?
The power of the Holy Spirit was so evident in the church in the book of Acts. It is not something man can achieve. Because on day one, there were about a hundred and twenty people gathered in the upper room. [Acts 1:15] But after Peter preached, when the Holy Spirit came upon him, we read that the church now ballooned to three thousand souls. [Acts 2:41]
And then in verse 47, as if this is not - I mean, how cool is that if that happens in Punggol, right? I mean, can you imagine if after one preaching somewhere, three thousand people - I mean, this church is like too small, way too small!
But right after three thousand got saved, on day one, God continued to add to their numbers, day by day. [Acts 2:47] Every day got people come.
When people come to faith day by day, I tell you, it's not because the pastor is preaching on Sunday. I think it's because God's people are preaching every day. They're taking the Gospel house to house, office to office, school to school, in a market place, in a playground. God's people are faithful to witnessing.
And that's why I think the Lord added to the numbers, day by day. And then in Acts 4, we read that: “the men came to about five thousand.” [Acts 4:4] This is just men, not counting women and children. It's a cool time to live in, in the book of Acts.
Acts 6 and verse 7 - now we see not arithmetic progression, but geometric progression. No more addition, but multiplication. Wow! “And the number of the disciples multiplied” - not just multiplied - “multiplied greatly”. [Acts 6:7] To the extent that even the priests who believed in Judaism have been obedient to the faith. Not just one or two, not just one or two Nicodemus, but a great many priests came to faith.
And then we read in Acts 9: Not only did the church prosper in Jerusalem, now it is fanned out to Judea, Galilee, Samaria. [Acts 9:31] And again, it's not addition, it's multiplication. It multiplied!
And Luke, the author, continues to tell us that the church just went on and on, because “the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.” [Acts 11:21] Today, power is from the Holy Spirit.
I read about this pastor, a British pastor. His name is Alexander Maclaren. Some of you may have read his commentaries. There was an unsaved man who came to his church for four weeks. And after that, that man said, “I am now a believer of the Lord Jesus Christ.” So Alexander Maclaren asked him, “So which of the four sermons spoke to you the most?” He was expecting - must be one great sermon Alexander Maclaren preached, and so he was trying to fish out something.
To which the man says, “No, it’s none of your sermons. But it's an old lady who I helped walking down the slope. She asked me, ‘Sir, do you know this Jesus who saved my soul? And she was the one who led me to Christ.”
You know, when it is about the eloquence of your preacher, then – yeah, praise him. But if it's the power of the Holy Spirit, God can use any one of us. It's the power!
How we, as a church, need to pray for the preaching of God's Word, because it's really not about the preacher, it's really not about the gifting, it's really about power. And how we can be excited today, each and every one of us, if we look to the power of God. God can use you, to bring someone like that old lady to Christ. So that's the power!
Now I've said Acts 1, or the book of Acts, is about “Purpose”. That's to be witnesses.
It's about “Power” - the Holy Spirit.
Can you give me the third “P”? Wah, all so smart people! Okay, the third one is so obvious - it is the “Plan” or, if you would like, the “Progression”, whatever that is.
But, yes, Jesus told the disciples the plan. What's the plan? The plan is: “be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” [Acts 1:8] That's a simple plan - start right here.
There was a seminary professor who was teaching in a Russian seminary and he asked all the pastors gathered there to introduce themselves first. So everyone introduce themselves, until this pastor, who said, “I am pastor so and so and I'm the most faithful pastor ever.” “Why would you say that?”, they asked him. “Oh, because I pastor a village in the north of the Arctic, and the village has a nickname, ‘The End of The Earth’.”
Now that's God's call. God's call is for His church to be faithful in witnessing the Gospel, to the end of the earth. [Acts 1:8]
Now, this plan tells us something. This, this plan tells us that God's plan has a grand vision. There's a grandeur to this verse! There's a bigness to this verse! That God's Gospel is for all peoples, of all nations, for all times.
There are many religions in the world today. And a lot of religions are geographically bound, isn't it? A lot of religions are racially bound. So this particular race will worship this particular god. This particular deity is to be at this particular part of the house, this part of the kitchen, this part of the toilet, whatever that may be.
But the God of the Bible? Oh, the message He gives us to witness to is for all peoples.
That's why Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations”. [Matthew 28:19] The word “nations” here is not country actually. It's the word “ethnos”, which means peoples.
So the Gospel is for all kinds of people, in all corners of the world. Doesn't matter your race. Doesn't matter your language. Doesn't matter your colour. It is for all people!
It doesn't even matter - your culture. The Gospel is trans-cultural. The Gospel is universal! Men everywhere need to hear this message to be saved. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me.” [John 14:6]
So, when we get to Heaven, and God gives us a glimpse of what Heaven looks like, it will be a super diverse people. People of “every tribe and language and people and nation”. [Revelation 5:9]
You know something about yourself? You can't choose and you did not choose your gender, correct? You did not tell, “Mom, I want to be a man.” Or, “I want to be a girl.” You do not choose that. And the second thing you can't choose is your race. You know that? These things, that's why they say, are sacred. God has determined that you will be a man or a lady, or you will be a Chinese or Malay or Indian, whatever.
And in Heaven, we are going to retain that. We're going to see which tribe we come from. So if you want to look like “ang moh” [colloquial expression for a person of Caucasian descent] and you're not, sorry, you'll never be “ang moh”. Not here, not in Heaven. And if you are “ang moh” and you want to be a Chinese - sorry, you'll never be a Chinese, because what's there will be what you are here today.
And in Heaven, we will know where we come from. And yet we are all united, because of the blood of Jesus Christ. The Gospel is so powerful that it breaks down age-old barriers. It takes away enmity between the Jew and the Gentile. The Samaritans hate the Jews, the Jews hate the Samaritans, but they are one church, because of one Gospel, because of one Lord Jesus Christ.
That's what I long to see in Gospel Light. We don't want to be a church that is focused, and specialized in one demography. Oh, this church is a church for old people. Oh, this church is a church for university people. Oh, this church is a church for Chinese people. Oh, this church is for the intellectuals. We - I don't think that's great!
But we labour in such a way that we reach all people. And it's in that diversity, that the world will sit up and look - “Wow! Right here in Punggol is a group of people who are as different as they come from Adam, but they all love each other, one another. And they are one united people. That's amazing!”
And that's what brings glory to God. And that's what this plan is all about. This is not just a Jewish church. This will be a truly international church. The people you hated, they will be part of the family. “Go and tell them who I am and what I have done for them.”
I think this plan also reveals to us the right way to do ministry. What I mean is this - so often, we think that to be a church that impacts the world, we just send our people out. Now, it does involve that. I absolutely believe that the way to impact the world is that we will have people - godly, spiritual, called men and women - who would go out and give the Gospel, plant churches. I believe that has to be the way. It has not changed after two millennia.
After two thousand years, I think the formula is still the same. God will send out His people to plant healthy churches. It's not going to be just via Wi-Fi, and so on. That can help. But people need to see lives. People need to be pastored. People need to be discipled. And that cannot be done with Wi-Fi. We need healthy churches there.
But to send healthy churches, we need to start at home. You see this? The principle here, I believe, is that missional lives, missiology starts with home - in our Jerusalem.
There's a man who wanted to be a church planter. He wanted to serve God in mission. So he spoke to this missions board. And the missions board just asked him this question: “So Sir, what are you doing for Christ here?” The man says, “Pretty much nothing.” The missions board said to him, “Then don't export that overseas.”
If you don't have a good product to export, don't export it. If you're not faithfully serving God here in Jerusalem, don't go out there. It starts here!
So if we want to give our lives to Jesus, then begin here in Singapore. And not imagine that somehow, you'll be faithful in Africa, or Indonesia, or somewhere else. Starts right here.
Oswald Chambers, he says, “The light that shines, the furthest shines brightest at home.” And that's what this should look like. That you'll be faithful in your church. You'll be faithful in your ministry. You'll be faithful in your care group. You'll be faithful in your discipleship group. You'll be faithfully witnessing for God in your office, in your school, in the playground. I think that's the plan.
But let us also realize, God did not raise Gospel Light just to be here. I hope that in time to come, the Lord would truly use us, as God's people are growing, and are serving, that maybe God will call some of you, many of you to plant Gospel-centred churches, all around. Not just here in Singapore, but to the uttermost parts of the world, to the ends of the world. Maybe go find that Russian pastor in the north village of the Arctic.
What a beautiful day it will be! And that's what Acts is all about. We are continuing the days of the book of Acts, and may we be faithful to that call.
So - I hope this is a very simple look through at what it means to be effective in soul-winning. That's our purpose. Your purpose is not to be a lawyer, a businessman. All that is secondary to the purpose God has given, that we will be witnesses.
Number two, let us rely on God's power. Before you speak to men, be sure you speak to God first. “Lord, grant me courage, wisdom, grant that man conviction and convincement.”
And then number three - let us remember His plan. His plan is for all peoples. His plan is that we will begin at home.
Now, I just want to end with a few tips. These are not from the book of Acts. Just a few practical pointers, if you may.
Tip #1: Be Prepared
Number one - if we are to be effective in soul winning, besides the 3”P”s we have looked at - today it's all “P”s ah, and if you join us in the CEP [acronym for Christian Education Programme] even more “P”s later - but just some tips I want to give you.
Number one - if you want to be effective, be prepared.
What do you mean be prepared? Be prepared to be able to witness to someone the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Don't take that for granted! Because someone may walk up to you and say, “Hey John, you're Christian. Can you tell me what that means?” You say, “Errr, errr, errr.” That's not very good.
So be prepared! Be prepared to give an answer to those who ask you of the reason of hope. So be prepared to tell them the fundamentals of the Gospel. Be prepared to give a simple but clear message of the Gospel.
You say, “How can I be prepared?” A few things I recommend to you.
Please do read up. In today's day and age, there is no excuse for not reading up, really! I mean if you live one thousand, two thousand years ago, very hard to read up lah! No internet, no access to books. Very hard! So you got to find your master, your “shi fu” [colloquial expression for a teacher or master], your, your discipler.
But today - wow! Just go to the master teacher - Mr. Google. Now of course, there will be a lot of distortions and false teachings, I think you need someone to guide you sometimes. But the point is, if you really want to find out about something, you can. And you can get good books, read up about what it means to share the Gospel.
You can even check out, if I may say, our own website, sermons about the Gospel. We have sermon titles about witnessing, about the Gospel. Go read up, go, go listen in.
And each and every Sunday, if I may say, don't just come to church and [Pastor makes snoring sound]. I know the seats are very comfortable, aircon very good, and when I talk, it's a time, it's a cue for you – [Pastor makes action showing someone nodding off to sleep]. Do you know, there are people like that? Once the Pastor starts, after his prayer - “Amen. Please be seated.” “Oh! ‘Swee’ [colloquial expression used to convey delight] ah! This is the time, man.” And you just fall asleep.
Now, I hope you don't come to church just to attend service. There's no point! Come to church because you want to praise God. Come to church because you want to hear and say, “Lord, I want to worship You with my obedience.” I think that should be the fundamental attitude.
But more than that, would you come to church and learn? Learn! One of the responsibilities, I understand, is not only to teach you the Bible, but to disciple you in the way you should approach the Bible. And to disciple in the way that we should have Biblical perspectives in how we should share the Gospel.
So if I may humbly plead - I’m not trying to sell my own “koyok” [colloquial expression for something that is held out as being of high quality] ah, but whoever preaches, it's wise for us to listen - How did they share God's Word? How did they deliver the Gospel?
And if you listen attentively, after a while it prepares you to be able to share it someday. Prepares you to answer some of the objections, intellectual objections, people may have towards the Gospel.
Be prepared in the sense of following someone. If you know of another brother or sister who is very active and effective in soul-winning, why don't just ask him or her, “Hey, I want to be a witness. Can you help me? Can you give me some tips? Can you show me? Can you invite me along? Tell me that I can tag along when you're sharing with someone?” Or - “I have a friend I want to reach, can you come and share with him?” I think that's about being prepared!
So many of you are so prepared for your jobs. So many of you are so prepared for your occupation. But are you prepared for the main mission - witnessing? It's not that difficult! But it takes intentionality to say, “Lord, prepare me.”
Tip #2: Be Prayerful
Number two, can I also suggest that we be prayerful?
You say, “Wah! Pastor, I, I don't have many Christian ah, non-Christian friends. Everyone I know is a Christian. I don't know who to reach out to?” Then pray lah! You have not because you ask not!
So one of the great delights is - now don't take it like a vending machine hor, that you put in a prayer, immediately the can comes out. And if the can don't comes out, you kick the vending machine. No, no, no.
When we say, “Lord, lead me to someone”, God takes His time. He doesn't follow your time schedule. But you pray, and if you genuinely want to be a witness, He will lead you.
Sometimes it's as dramatic as God leading you to - leading Philip to the Ethiopian eunuch. How beautiful that is! Sometimes it may be in a course of life.
But pray, ask God - “I want to be a witness. I want to be used. God would you work in my dad's heart? Would you work in my family's heart that I may have that boldness and opportunity to be prayerful?”
Tip #3: Be Proactive
Number three, okay, can you all remember the “P”s? In Acts 1:8, what are the “P”s? Purpose, Power, Plan. Okay, if we are to do that, then let's be prepared, be prayerful - the third one? Be proactive. Be proactive about it.
What do you mean by proactive? You know, spiritual conversation is not something you expect someone to broach. It's something that we have to be proactive about. We have to talk about Christ. The unbeliever rarely would come to talk to you about Christ. Sometimes they do, but let's not use that as the main way we share the Gospel. You have to be proactive.
What do you mean by proactive? It means that when you sit in a taxi or in a Grab, you say to the uncle, “Uncle, do you know you're going to hell?” “Okay, okay, okay, Pastor you are proactive, but you're not very wise.” Okay, yes, that's right!
So be proactive, but don't start that way, okay? Don't say, “Do you know that if you “kena” [colloquial expression used when someone is struck with something unpleasant] Wuhan, you're going to hell?” No, no, no, don't say that!
But there's a simple way to be proactive without being unkind or without being offensive. You can be winsome in being proactive. How do you do it? “Jesus loves you.” The guy may, “Ugh, this, this, this religious fanatic.” But that's a good way. It’s certainly better than, “Do you know you are going to hell?”
But I hope you remember what Randy Pope, Pastor Randy Pope shared with us - three simple steps to being proactive.
Number one - greet. Wow! That's so difficult. Greet! Okay, can you, can you repeat after me. If you want to be proactive, you just need to greet. Just say, “Hi uncle, how are you?”
Hey, come lah! Let's practice! Let's be missional, alright? Let's be proactive. Number one – “Hi Uncle, how are you?” Wah, so easy! Even a little kid can do it, right? But that's what it means to be proactive - just be greeting.
If the uncle says, “Boh tai ji lah!” [Colloquial expression used to indicate that nothing is the matter] Or – “Mai cha lah!” [Colloquial expression used to convey irritation and ask someone to stop bothering you] Then you keep quiet lah, after that you just - but very rare will people do that, isn't it? If people are really very busy, very stressed, okay then, then it's alright, you've done your part to be proactive.
But - “Hi Uncle, how are you?” is such a simple greeting. Any one of us can do that.
What's step number two? Okay, why, why do I have to make that point? Because I think a lot of us when we get into the taxi or into the Grab, what do we do? Do we say, “Hi Uncle, how are you?” You get down, you straight away [Pastor mimics action of using the handphone] - like you're some important businessman, a lot of “tai ji” to “cho” [colloquial expression for having a lot of matters to handle]. Look very important. That's what you want him to know.
Now just go in before you whip, whip out the phone, just say, “Hi Uncle, how are you? Are you scared about Wuhan?” Ha, ha, you can talk about these things. Maybe there's a good time. “You know, people very scared of dying, hor?” “Yah, yah, yah.” “But I'm not.” Ha, ha, ha, well, that's a great conversation converter.
But okay, anyway - greet. Number two - befriend. What do you mean by befriend? Befriend the uncle. What do you mean by befriend? Befriend, according to Randy Pope, just means be friendly.
Wah! How tough? “Hi, uncle, how are you? How's your day? How long have you been working for this, in this Grab? How's business nowadays? What do you think about this viral situation?” Just ask him questions.
I would suggest you be friendly is not, “Uncle, do you know, I, ah, I … I … I … I … I … I …” People don't like to hear about you one lah. Just be interested in the other person and be friendly, asking him questions, that's all. Get to know him, get to understand him, and even if later you don't get to share the Gospel, you are glad you, you learn something about someone.
I've had interesting conversations where the where the driver is, “You know who I am anot? I used to work for Special Forces.” Wah, that kind! I mean, he's real hunk lah! 50-year-old man. But wah, he used to work for special forces. The SQ plane hijack, he was involved. Wow! This kind of story you won't get to hear until you say, “Hi uncle, how are you? How long have you been in this job?”
So greet, befriend. What's the last one? Invite. And it can be as simple. So how do you convert befriend to invite? Very simple. I ask them what's his job or how long he has been working, he will always, almost always ask me, “What do you do?” Ha, ha, and of course he's now in my trap lah! “What do I do ah, you want to hear ah? Let me tell you!”
Ha, okay, you may have different strategies, different tactics, but find a way, a convenient, a nice, non-intrusive way. “Oh I'm on a Grab to Punggol.” “Wow! You stay here, why you go Punggol?” “Because I'm, I'm a believer of Jesus. Uncle, have you heard about Jesus? Would you like to find out more about Jesus? Would you want to find out more about this? This is my number, this is my card, this is a little tract I have. Let me know. You have my number on the Grab app, right? Just call me anytime.”
And really, that's what it means to be proactive. If God shuts the door, if the person says, “I don't want to hear”, then, it's okay! That's not the person God wants you to reach that time. But if you never ask, if you're not proactive, you'll never get to share.
I love this when people are proactive, not just in the taxi, but also in our church gatherings. You know, just last week, I, I met with a man, he, he came up to me and said, “Hey, I'm, I'm new to this church. This is my second week here.” I had a little conversation with him and I realized, he's here to seek out the Gospel. He's here to find out what is Christianity, he is not a Christian.
So I was hoping to say, “Hey, would you find, would you want to find out more about Christianity?” I want to invite him to do some Bible studies with me. To which he held up a book, and said, “Oh! I already have this book.” It's a life issue booklet that we have. It's a tool that our members can use to share the Gospel. And he pointed, “Oh, that, that gentleman has already been meeting with me since last week to explore the Gospel.”
I say - How cool is that! How wonderful when visitors come to this - by the way people come to church, it takes a lot of courage, you know that? It's scary to go to church, you know! It's real, it really is. Because it's, it's a foreign environment, and you do not know whether these cuckoos will, will, will pressure you to do - “Wah! Aiyoh, yoh, yoh! Wah! If I go there I’m like a lamb in the midst of wolves!”
To be honest, for me to go - I'm a Pastor, to go to another church I also a bit “kao gway” [colloquial expression used to signify uneasiness or awkwardness]. Wah, don't know what they sing, what they do. Are they going to make me - I'm scared!
So for any newcomer to come to church, something is happening in their life. And I would, I think it's beautiful when God's people are proactive. Don't be intrusive. Don't be pressurizing. You don't have to pressure people. Just proactively ask, “Would you like to find out more about the Gospel, find out more about Christianity, find out more about the Bible?” And that's what we need to do. Alright, enough of that.
Tip #4: Be Patient
The last “P”. Okay, number four is - Be Patient. Now, in our zeal to witness for Jesus, we tend to lack this. We tend to want to have one shot, one kill. Remember? Because if you one shot, one kill, it shows you are very good marksman. “Wah! Pastor or John, he's a very good evangelist. Anyone he's speak to one shot, one kill one!”
Actually, not realistic lah, one shot, one kill. Because in Singapore, a lot of people do not have the basic fundamentals necessary to believe the Gospel. It's easy to get someone to say, “I believe Jesus.” But to really believe in Jesus, you know this person needs to understand sin, God, substitution, the Messiah - Jesus Christ, repentance and faith.
Now, is that all easily understood in one, half hour session? I don't think so! If you speak to a Filipino in Philippines might be easier, because they have a lot of understanding about these things. Some things may be off. For example, they do not, they may have a works-based mentality that needs to be corrected. But apart from that, they may, they know a lot more than a typical Singaporean today.
That means when we share the Gospel, we must be patient. We don't have to rush anyone to be saved. We don't have to coerce or pressurize anyone to be saved. Because salvation is of the Lord. All I'm doing is to witness, to tell you, to explain, to share with you what God is saying. So be patient!
There are many, there are different timelines in my own experience. I've shared with someone, within that one week, he got saved. In fact, even before I say anything, he said, “I think I'm saved.” Really! I mean, I had an encounter with him, met with him shared a few things. Very short. And I thought I'll follow up but at that follow up, he told me he’s saved. We met up on Skype, some more. Couldn't meet face to face, but he said he got saved. And ever since then, he's been faithful.
Yeah, sometimes where it's two weeks, sometimes it's a few weeks. Some, I've met for a year, those “tee kee” [colloquial expression for someone who is stubborn] ones – okay, ha, ha. And then there are those who are two years? Over two years! But it's okay. My job is not to save you. My job is to point you to Jesus, who will save you.
So we're not here for statistics. We're not here to make ourselves look good. We just want to be faithful as witnesses. Paul was reasoning and persuading with the people in the synagogues and in the marketplace for months, every day. The Gospel needs that massage, that working into the minds and hearts of people. So be patient!
Alright, so with those thoughts, I hope - now the greatest fear I have for this sermon is that we will hear this message and say, “Alright, good. We want to be a church effective in soul-winning. Good job!” But you know, that's the most damning thing that can happen? Because you heard, you know, that's the purpose God has given you, and you do nothing about it.
And that's our prayer, and I hope that's your intention, that as we pray soon, and as you go back and think about this message, as you talk it out, would you ask God to make you more missional? I'm not saying share the Gospel with a hundred people this year. But just ask God, “Lord, help me be faithful in witness. Help me be prepared, be prayerful, be proactive and be patient, when someone comes along.” Because that's your purpose.
And that's why the Spirit is in our lives and to shine the light of the Gospel far, it begins at home. Would you do that?
Let's bow for a word of prayer.
If you're here today and you do not know Jesus Christ, there is no greater message in this world, than that God has sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to be that sacrificial lamb to take your place of His righteous judgment. God made Christ who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. He is truly that substitute, that sacrifice, that Saviour, who alone can save you from your sins.
The Bible declares we are all sinners because our hearts are wretched. There is no one who has never lied. There is no one who has never cheated. There's no one who has never been bitter. There's no one who has never sinned. And when you break one law, you commit one sin, the Bible says you break the whole law, you are a sinner. God is so pure, that no sinner will be accepted before His sight.
But God is also a God of great love, in that while we were hopeless and helpless, He sent His Son to die. And Jesus did not only die, He rose again the third day, thereby proving He is that Saviour, thereby proving He has victory over sin, over death over Hell. And now He commands men everywhere to repent and believe.
Today, I urge you to turn from your sin, to repent of your sin, or to even repent of your self-righteousness, because you think that you can earn your way to God. Repent of that, turn from that, and look to Jesus Christ alone. Believe that He is the Saviour sent from Heaven.
And the Bible tells us, “Whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” [John 3:16] I pray today God would use this message to be a witness to your soul, and that you might turn and be saved.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, dear church, we are far from what Acts church was like. Isn't it? As each week goes by, we are plunged deeper and deeper into acknowledging how far we really are.
But my hope is not in this sermon, really, my hope is in the Living God. My hope is praying that God will work His will into our lives.
And today, let's pray specifically, that we will be a missional church. That we will be a faithful church, to fulfil the purpose He has given to us - not to just your pastor, but to each and every one of you. We will be witnesses of Jesus Christ, His Person and His work.
May God use you to shine the light of the Gospel in your class, in your office, in your workplace, in a playground, in your homes. And together, this dark world will see and hear the Good News of Jesus Christ.
One day, we're going to meet with the Lord. I read about the postman and how he said, “It doesn't matter what you do to me. I'm flying back to China and I'm not coming back.” But you know something we will not have, we will not get to escape from God.
We're going to meet with Him one day, and we have to give an account of the way we lived our lives. The great tragedy is not that we will die. The great tragedy is that we will live a wasted life. Don't waste your life! Go, rescue the perishing!
Father, thank You for Your Word, bless each one gathered this morning. And may we be faithful to Your purpose for us. Bless each one, bless those who need to be saved. Thank You we can look to Jesus today. Thank You for His love. May it melt our hearts to joyful obedience, we ask this in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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