Serving the People of the
World God's Way!
By Joseph Ametepe
• God's heart is a missionary heart. It is a heart
that cares for all the people of the of the world. His is a loving heart,
which wants the very best for all those He created. He wants His love, life,
saving grace and care to be experienced by all who will receive and embrace
them. Indeed, our God is not self-centered. He is not self-seeking. He wants
to share His life and love with others. His desire to share His life and
love with the people He created led Him to send to
earth, His One and Only Son, Jesus
Christ, to die for our sins. That same desire led Him to send His Holy Spirit
to dwell in and be with all, irregardless of color, country or culture, who
believe in His Son Jesus Christ.
• God wants His believing children to minister to He Himself. He also
wants them to serve one another in the family of God. Since it is also God's
desire for the people of the world to experience His loving care, concern
and compassion, He gives His people the privilege and honor of serving them.
His people have the awesome privilege of not only ministering to Him and to
each other, but also to those who are outside of His believing community.
• In the New Testament times believers gathered
together to minister to God in worship and praise of Him, as well as to
minister to each other in instruction and fellowship. The believers then
went out to serve unbelievers by sharing the life giving message of the good
news of Jesus Christ. In their worship and praise the early believers
focused on the Person of God Himself. In instruction and fellowship they
focused upon themselves and fellow Christians who were in the Body of
Christ. But they didn't stop at focus upon themselves. They also turned
their focus on unbelievers, reaching them with the loving message of the
gospel. They maintained proper balance between all these three areas of
ministry. As a result, the New Testament church was spiritually
• It seems that the Church of today has missed the
mark in this area of maintaining proper balance between ministering to God
Himself, ministering to each other in the Body of Christ and ministering to the people of the
world. There are churches who focus on worship and edification of their
members whilst neglecting ministry to unbelievers. Others focus exclusively
at reaching the lost and as such design their services for non-Christians
who happen to be there. Still others gather primarily for interaction among
Christians while neglecting the other areas of ministry-namely ministering
to God Himself and ministry to the lost. This was not the pattern of the
early church in the Book of Acts. The early believers gathered together to
worship and praise God and be edified; then they went forth to reach the
lost in the world without. They ministered to God. They ministered to one
another's need. And they ministered to those who were outside the household of faith.
This balance must be rediscovered and followed not only for the spiritual
health and well-being of the Church today, but also for her effectiveness in
serving God's purpose in the world.
The Definition of
• Ministry is a privileged-partnership with God through the Holy Spirit and with
Spirit-filled born again believers in serving the Person of God Himself, the
people of God and the people of the world in love, in order to advance the
redemptive purpose of Jesus Christ to the glory of God.
• Please notice that in this definition, ministry is both a privilege
and a partnership. Furthermore, it is a personal act of service to God, His
people, that is, the Body of Christ, and to the people of the world. It is
carried out in the power of the Holy Spirit for the purpose of glorifying God.
• It is a privilege because God
chooses in His grace to bestow on redeemed sinners the blessed honor of
service in His kingdom. There is nothing we could do to deserve or earn this
honor. It is purely due to His marvelous and matchless grace. It's all about
His grace. It's all about His favor. It's because of His doing, that we, who are savingly related to Him
through the blood of Christ could approach the holy and righteous God to serve
Him and His purpose in this world. This is an incredible privilege and honor bestowed on
• It is a partnership because God
invites believers in Him to be His fellow-workers. This is awesome. God, who
is altogether holy, all-wise, all-knowing, all-truthful, all-powerful,
all-sufficient, needing no one to assist Him, chooses to call us into His
service to be His partners in advancing His redemptive purpose. This is
amazing. The Holy Spirit deeply impressed this truth on Apostle Paul's heart.
Twice, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he brought it to the
attention of the believers in the church of Corinth.
• "We are God's
fellow-workers" (1 Corinthians 3:9).
• "Working together
with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain"
(2 Corinthians 6:1).
• In Mark 16:20, we read:
• "And they went out and
preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word
by the signs that followed."
• Also, in 1 Thessalonians 3:2, the Bible says:
• "We sent Timothy, our brother and God's fellow-worker in the
gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith."
• Clearly, these Scriptures reveal that
ministry is indeed a partnership with God, a working together with God
Almighty Himself. He did not leave us here to do our
best without His partnership and presence.
Ministry is not only partnership with
God, but also partnership with other believers who love God and desire to
honor Him. Paul was blessed with both partnership with God and other
like-minded believers who served God's purpose out of love for Him. He had
partnership with Epaphroditus, whom he described as "my brother and
fellow worker and fellow soldier" (Philippians 2:25). He also had
partnership with Euodia and Synteche, whom he described as "my fellow
workers, whose names are in the book of life" (Philippians 4:3).
Philemon, Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke were among Paul's fellow workers
(Philemon 1, 24). Prisca and Aquila were also his fellow workers in Christ
Jesus (Romans 16:3). Clearly then, ministry is partnership with God and other
like-minded believers who are brought together by God to serve His purpose.
• It is a personal act of service.
Each and every single believer has been gifted and equipped to serve in the kingdom of
the Great King. Serving God, His people, and the people of the world is a
personal responsibility for each believer. No one can excuse himself or
herself from it.
• Please, also note that the power
for service is provided through the Person of the Holy Spirit. Reminding the
suffering first century believers (who were scattered in what is now modern
Turkey), inspired Apostle Peter, clearly presented to them that God is the One who
provides strength for our service.
• "Whoever speaks, is to do so as one
who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who
is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may
be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion
forever and ever. Amen" (1 Peter 4:11).
• Finally, notice that the purpose
of ministry in our definition is the glory of God. Ministry is not about our
glory. It's not about our fame. It's not about our honor. It's not for our
praise. It's all about the glory and honor and
praise and fame of the all-sufficient God.
• Ministering to the people of the world is dear to the heart of God. It is
one of His passions. It is also His delight. In the demonstration of His
passion and delight, God sent His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for
the sins of the whole world. He also sent His Holy Spirit to empower His
believing people for this service. God has given His people the awesome privilege of
serving Him in the world. He has chosen them to partner with Him. He wants
them to be His hands and feet for reaching the lost with His grace, love and
truth. He wants them to be His instruments, those through whom He works to
bring His love, grace, truth, care and compassion to the people of the world.
• One of the things I appreciate about God is that He clearly spells
out to His people how He wants His work done. He doesn't give them a task
without specific instructions about how that task or service is to be done. He
doesn't just leave His people to do their best hoping that somehow they will be
able to figure out how to accomplish the task He's given them the way He wants
it done. He doesn't leave us to our own imaginations when it comes to doing His
work. He knows that we do not have the wisdom in ourselves to do what He calls
us to do without His clear instructions. We need Him and we need His
guidelines to follow in order to do what He wants us to do His way.
• To serve the people of the world God's way demands that we must examine the Scriptures afresh to discover the patterns and principles God
established and preserved in them for us to follow. For God's people to be
fruitful in their service to the lost, they must not just serve,
but serve God's way. This is the underlying key principle for ministry. We
must learn to serve God's way and His way alone. This is what counts for
eternity. Serving God's way alone makes an eternal difference in people's
• To serve the people of the world God's way, we will look at how the
Lord Jesus Himself carried out His service to them, what He commanded His
disciples regarding serving the people of the world, and how His first century
disciples continued what He started. The patterns and principles discovered
from these examinations will help us formulate ways of serving the people of the world
today that are consistent with the Scriptures.
Ministering to the People of the World
as Carried Out by Christ
Commitment to Preaching and Teaching the Gospel of God
• At the beginning of our Lord's ministry He
specifically announced that He had been anointed to preach the gospel.
We read of this in the Gospel of Luke. Reading from the book of the prophet
Isaiah which was handed to Him in the synagogue in Nazareth, His hometown,
our Lord found the place where it was written:
"The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He
anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim
release to the captives, and recovery to the blind, to set free those
who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the LORD"
• The Lord Jesus rightly applied this prophetic
word to Himself. He is good at explaining to us the things concerning
Himself in all the Scriptures. He knows all the things which are written
about Him in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms.
• The Lord Jesus was specifically anointed to
preach the gospel to the people of the world. Preaching the gospel was
therefore the primary way in which the Lord Jesus served the people of the
• It is significant that, in the Gospels of
Matthew, Mark and Luke, the first recorded activity of the Lord Jesus Christ
after His baptism and temptation is His preaching and teaching of the gospel
"Now when Jesus heard that John had been taken
into custody, He withdrew into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth, He came and
settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and
Napthali... From that time Jesus began to preach and say, 'Repent, for the
kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 4:12-13, 17).
"Now after John had been taken into custody,
Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God" (Mark 1:14).
"And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of
the Spirit, and the news about Him spread through all the surrounding
district. And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by
all" (Luke 4:14-15).
• From the very beginning of His ministry, our Lord,
established a pattern for His disciples to follow in serving the people of
the world. This pattern is simply this: Ministering to the people of this
world demands commitment to the preaching and teaching of the gospel of God.
The gospel message centers upon the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ and what
God has done through Him for the salvation of lost sinners. Its essential
elements include the status of Jesus Christ as the Son of God, His genuine
humanity, His death on the cross for our sins, His burial, resurrection,
subsequent appearances to His disciples, and His future coming in judgment. For the definition of the gospel, please click
• Later in his writing, the inspired writer of the Gospel
of Matthew characterizes the ministry of our Lord Jesus as follows:
"Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching
in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing
every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people"
(Matthew 4:23; cf. 9:35).
• The inspired writer of the Gospel of Mark captures an
interesting event in the life of our Lord, early in His ministry. After a day
of ministering healing to demoniacs and healing many who were ill with
various diseases, our Lord woke up early in the morning to spend time alone in
prayer. Simon Peter and his friends searched for Him and found Him.
Their message for Him when they found Him was that: "Everyone is looking for You"
(Mark 1:37). Our Lord's response to His disciples' statement
revealed what His primary service to the people of the world was.
"He said to them, 'Let us go somewhere
else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is
what I came for.' And He went into their synagogues throughout all
Galilee, preaching and casting out demons" (Mark 1:38-39).
• Dr. Luke was also inspired to report on this
unique event in our Lord's life, stressing again that Christ's purpose in
coming was to preach the gospel to the lost.
"When day came, Jesus left and went to a
secluded place; and the crowds were searching for Him, and came to Him and
tried to keep Him from going away from them. But He said to them, 'I must
preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for
this purpose.' So He kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea"
• The crowds urged the Lord Jesus not to leave
them. But He reminded them that He had work to do in the other cities in
Judea or in the country of the Jews including Galilee. So from synagogue to
synagogue He went preaching the good news about the kingdom of God, of which
Jesus Himself was the King.
• While he was in prison, John the Baptist, sent his
disciples to ask Jesus Christ whether He was really the One who had been
prophesied. Our Lord's response to John the Baptist included as evidence the
fact that "the poor have the gospel preached to them"
(Matthew 11:5; cf. Luke 7:22).
• These Scriptures and others, such as Matthew
11:1;13:1-54; Luke 4: 31-32; 5:3; 6:6; 8:1; 13:10, 22; 19:45-48, all reveal
that our Lord's main service to the lost while ministering here on earth was preaching
and teaching the good news.
• Even in the last week of His earthly ministry, our
Lord taught daily in the temple (Luke 19:45-47). He was committed to the
preaching of the gospel even to the end of His life. The inspired writer of
the Gospel of Luke, Dr. Luke, gives us a vivid picture of our Lord's steadfast commitment to the
preaching and teaching of the gospel to the very end in these words:
"On one of the days while He was teaching the
people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the
scribes with the elders confronted Him, and they spoke, saying to Him,
'Tell us by what authority You are doing these things, or who is the one
who gave You this authority'" (Luke 20:1-2).
• Our Lord knew that His most important service to the
people of the world was the preaching and teaching of the gospel. He did this to
the end even in the midst of fierce opposition. He did not abandon His
service to the lost because of opposition from His enemies. He pressed on to the end. He
finished His task. Nothing was left undone.
• Clearly, the life of our Lord Jesus reveals that the preaching and teaching of the gospel of God is God's way of ministering to
the people of the world.
B. Constant Devotion
to Prayer (Mark 1:35; Luke
3:21-23; 5:15-17; 6:12-19; 9:18, 28-29; Matthew 14:22-23; John 17:1ff.)
• Prayer was paramount in our Lord's
life and ministry. The Sinless Son of God devoted Himself to prayer. Our
Savior was a Man of prayer. His prayer life was rich and rewarding. Prayer
was not an option for our Lord. He understood the preeminent role prayer
plays in the life of a minister of God or in the life of a believer. Our
Lord rose early to pray. He often withdrew from the crowds to pray. He spent
whole nights in prayer. Our Lord really labored in prayer. Prayer was a
priority in His service.
It is very interesting to note that each of the four Gospels has something
to say about our Lord's prayer life. However, the Gospel of Luke, which
presents Jesus as Son of Man, fittingly has more to say about His prayer
life than any other.
"In the early morning, while it was still dark,
Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was
praying there" (Mark 1:35)
"Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus
was also baptized, and while He was praying, heaven opened, and the Holy
Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out
of heaven, 'You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased'"
"But news about Him was spreading even farther,
and large crowds were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their
sickness. But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and
pray. One day He was teaching; and there were some Pharisees and teachers
of the law sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and
Judea and from Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was present for Him to
perform healing" (Luke 5:15-17).
"It was at this time that He went off to the
mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. And when
day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them... Jesus
came down with them and stood on a level place; and there was a large
crowd of His disciples, and a great throng of people from all Judea and
Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear
Him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with
unclean spirits were being cured. And all the people were trying to touch
Him, for power was coming from Him and healing them all" (Luke
"And it happened that while He was praying
alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, 'who
do people say that I am?'" (Luke 9:18).
"Some eight days after these sayings, He took
along Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And
while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His
clothing became white and gleaming" (Luke 9:28-29; cf. Matthew
17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8).
"Immediately He made the disciples get into the
boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away.
After He had sent crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to
pray, and when it was evening, He was there alone" (Matthew
"Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His
eyes to heaven, He said, 'Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son,
that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all
flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. This
is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus
Christ whom You have sent..." (John 17:1ff).
• These references and others such as Luke
22:32, 41-46 (cf. Matthew 26:39-46), and Hebrews 5:7, clearly and
convincingly indicate that our Lord was a praying Savior.
Showing from the Scriptures that our Lord was indeed a praying Savior is
indeed good and sound, but that's not enough. We must go a step further and
did He devote Himself to prayer?' Well, one of the primary reasons for our
Lord's constant devotion to prayer is power to minister not only to His
followers but also to the lost. Power for service was readily available to the Lord Jesus because of His devotion to prayer. This is clearly
seen in the correlation established between prayer and power in two of Luke's
passages, namely Luke 5:15-17 and Luke 6:12-17 (please, review them
again.) These passages clearly teach this biblical principle: Divine power for service is
released through a devoted life of prayer.
• It is a fact that our Lord served the unsaved
effectively and efficiently because He was in touch with God the Father. Our
Lord's life presents a powerful message to all of God's people: To serve the
people of the world God's way, God's people must devote themselves to prayer
for power for service. We cannot serve God's way without God's power.
Care and Concern for the Lost
(Matthew 9:35-38; 14:13-21; 15:32-38; Mark
1:40-42; Luke 7:11-16;
• The Lord Jesus demonstrated that He was
indeed a compassionate Savior. Our Lord's compassionate care and concern for the unsaved was
shown in many ways. Seeing their helpless and harassed condition, He commanded His disciples to ask God to send laborers to
work among them. He fed the hungry. He healed the sick.
He raised the dead. He wept over
• Let's look at the Scriptural records to see our Lord's
expression of compassionate care and concern for the lost.
• Acting like Yahweh in the Old Testament (see
Ezekiel 34), the Lord Jesus felt compassion for the shepherdless crowds and
specifically commanded His disciples to pray for workers to be sent out to
serve among them.
"Jesus was going through all the cities and
villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the
kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.
Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were
distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to
His disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.
Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His
harvest'" (Matthew 9:35-38).
• The word translated "distressed" also
means "harassed, bewildered, bullied, or oppressed." Also, the
word translated "dispirited" is also rendered "helpless or
dejected." Being God in human flesh, Jesus saw the
true condition of lost humanity. They may put on great smiles and happy
faces, yet they are under spiritual oppression. They are burdened and
bewildered with the
load of guilt and sin. In the face of such problems, they are dispirited,
helpless and unable to rescue themselves or escape their oppressors. The
amazing thing for me is that, the Lord Jesus didn't just pass them by. He
could have done that and still be justified in His action. After all, they
chose to walk in a way they thought was best for their lives. Isn't that the
basic human problem? Yes, it is! For the Bible says so: "All of us
like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the
LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him [Jesus]"
(Isaiah 53:6). The Lord Jesus could have left the harassed and
helpless crowds in that condition. But He didn't. He is the Good Shepherd.
The Good Shepherd cares for His sheep. His compassionate care and concern
for the lost masses was shown in His instruction to His disciples to pray
for workers to be sent out into God's harvest among the lost. By instructing
His disciples about the need for more workers to be sent out in His harvest,
our Lord sought to awaken a similar compassion in them. They would have just
gone on. But they were with One whose heart is full of compassion for
sinners. Oh that we would also be like our Lord in demonstrating
compassionate care and concern to the lost!
• For our Lord, compassion is an action word.
Whenever He is moved by compassion, He takes an action. Feeling compassion
for the masses of people who had followed Him on foot from various cities
and were now far from home, our Lord healed their sick and also fed them to
"Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew
from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself; and when the people
heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities. When He went
ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them and healed
their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to Him and said, 'This
place is desolate and the hour is already late; so send the crowds away,
that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.' But Jesus
said to them, 'They do not need to go away, you give them something to
eat!' They said to Him, 'We have here only five loaves and two fish.' And
He said to them, 'Bring them here to Me.' Ordering the people to sit down
on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up
toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them
to His disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, and they all
ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken
pieces, twelve full baskets. There were about five thousand men who ate,
besides women and children" (Matthew 14:13-21; cf. Luke 9:12-17;
• After our Lord's healing of the sick, His
disciples were quick tell Him what He should do. He should send the crowds
away, since they were in a remote place and it was already getting late. How
little they understood the heart of Christ or discerned His great and
awesome power! How quick we are in giving God an advice! The disciples
should have asked the Lord Jesus to meet the need, not send the people away.
They had watched Him turned water into wine in Cana (John 2:1-11). They had
seen Him performed miracles on other occasions. They didn't even think of
praying for the need to be met.
• The Lord Jesus showed that He was truly a
compassionate Savior and Shepherd. He went to work, taking a series of
actions. He alone multiplied the
loaves and fishes. He gave the orders to the people. He blessed the food. He
broke the loaves. The disciples, however, were given the privilege of
distributing the food and gathering the left over food.
• Our Lord showed in the demonstration of His
compassionate care and concern to the lost that, as long as there was a
genuine need, He would take action to meet that need. And so, the Bible
gives us another report of Jesus' feeding of the multitudes.
"And Jesus called His disciples to Him, and
said, I feel compassion for the people, because they have remained with Me
now three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them
away hungry, for they might faint on the way. The disciples said to Him,
'Where would we get so many loaves in this desolate place to satisfy such
a large crowd?' And Jesus said to them, 'How many loaves do you have?' And
they said, 'Seven, and a few small fish.' And He directed the people to
sit down on the ground; and He took the seven loaves and the fish; and
giving thanks, He broke them and started giving them to the disciples, and
the disciples gave them to the people. And they all ate and were
satisfied, and they picked up what was left over of the broken pieces,
seven large baskets. And those who ate were four thousand men, besides
women and children" (Matthew 15:32-38).
• The unique feature of this story is our Lord's
own declaration that He felt compassion for the people; "I feel
compassion for the people." After three days of being with Him,
they had run out of food. The Lord would not let them go away hungry; they
might collapse on the way. How thoughtful the Savior is of our needs! Even
before the crowds would face the daunting challenge of going away hungry,
Jesus thought about their plight and was about to take action to provide
for their need.
• The expression "I feel compassion for the
people," literally means "I am filled with tenderness for the
crowd." The Greek word for "compassion" is "splangnizomai."
It means "be moved with pity, or compassion, have pity or compassion,
feel sympathy with or for someone. The deepest feeling was aroused in our
Lord about the situation of the crowd. His heart was moved and stirred
within Him. And as we saw earlier, His compassion led to a series of
actions. He multiplied the loaves and fishes. He gave the orders to the
multitudes. He gave thanks. He broke the bread. Again, the disciples
were given the honor of distributing and gathering the leftover food.
• Our Lord's compassion care and concern was not
limited to meeting the needs of the multitudes. It was also expressed on a
one-on-one basis. For example, it was expressed to a leper seeking
cleansing from Him, as well as to a woman who had lost her only son.
"And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and
falling on his knees before Him, and saying, 'If You are willing, You can
make me clean.' Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and
touched him, and said to him, 'I am willing; be cleansed.' Immediately the
leprosy left him and he was cleansed" (Mark 1:40-42).
"Soon afterwards He went to a city called Nain;
and His disciples were going along with Him, accompanied by a large crowd.
Now as He approached the gate of the city, a dead man was being carried
out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a sizeable crowd
from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for
her and said to her, 'Do not weep.' And He came up and touched the coffin;
and the bearers came to a halt. And He said, 'Young man, I say to you,
arise!' The dead man sat up and began to speak. And Jesus gave Him back to
his mother. Fear gripped them all, and they began glorifying God..."
• In both of these stories, compassion was
followed by concrete actions. In earnestness, a leper, an unclean person, an
outcast of society, reverently and humbly approached Jesus and specifically
asked Him to make him clean. In response to this humble believing prayer,
the hand of the Holy and Only Son of God was stretched forth to touch the
leper. Under the law, a person became ceremonially unclean when he touched a
leper. But Jesus touched him and was not made unclean. Instead of being made
unclean, Jesus made the unclean clean. Christ's word alone might have healed
the leper; but He applied, at the same time the touch of His hand, to
express the feeling of compassion.
• In the case of the widow of Nain, our
Lord acted to bring help and hope to the hurting and heart-broken widow
without even being asked or approached for help. Jesus, our Lord, saw her
deep hurt and pain. That was enough to move our Lord to stop the procession
and raise the dead man. We may not be able to speak in our pain, but Jesus
who knows our heart, hears the cries of our heart and reaches out to express
His care and concern for us. Isn't He a wonderful Savior? Yes, indeed!
• Jesus' compassionate care and concern for the
lost was also demonstrated in His weeping over the rebellion of the lost, whom
He came to seek and save.
"When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city
and wept over it, saying, 'If you had known in this day, even you, the
things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your
eyes" (Luke 19:41-42).
• Standing outside Jerusalem, the Lord Jesus
uttered this lament to show His deep concern for the lost sheep of Israel.
The children of Israel had missed a golden opportunity. If they had only
received Jesus as the Messiah, it would have meant peace for them. But they
didn't recognize that He was the source of peace, being Himself the Prince
of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). He came to His own people but His own rejected Him. Our
Lord wept. What a wonder! Oh that we would reflect on the wonder of the
Savior's tears until our hearts are moved with compassion to weep over the
sins of the lost! Is our heart crushed over the staggering sin of the people
of the world?
• The expression of compassionate care and concern for
the lost was one way our Lord effectively served them. Feeling compassion
for the lost and hurting always moved Him to action.
Call to Repentance (Matthew 4:17; 11:20-24; 12:41; Mark 1:14-15; Luke 13:1-5;
• Our Lord's service to the people of the
world include calling them to repentance. Like Yahweh, our Lord Jesus'
desire is that sinners will turn from their sins and turn to Him. This
desire of Yahweh and for that matter that of the Lord Jesus is clearly and
convincingly set forth in the prophecy of Ezekiel. Ezekiel was a priest and
prophet. While in exile in Babylon, God used Ezekiel to deliver a series of
prophetic messages, pleading with the Jews in Judah and Jerusalem to turn
from their wicked rebellion against Yahweh. In two of these messages, it was
made clear to the stubborn and rebellious Jews that God does not delight in the death of the wicked. His
longing is that the sinner will turn from his sins and live.
"Do I have any pleasure in the death of the
wicked, declares the Lord GOD, rather than that he should turn from his ways
and live?... Repent and turn away from all your transgressions, so that
iniquity may not become a stumbling block to you. Cast away from you all
your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart
and a new spirit! For why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no
pleasure in the death of anyone who dies, declares the Lord GOD. Therefore,
repent and live" (Ezekiel 18:23, 30-32).
"Say to them, 'As I live!' declares the Lord GOD,
'I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked
turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why
then will you die, O house of Israel?'" (Ezekiel 33:11).
• This is a message of hope and life. There is
hope for the worst sinner, but the only hope is in turning from sin, and not
in condoning it. God gives the sinner the opportunity to turn away from his
sins. He pleads with the sinner to turn from his sinful ways. He calls to the
wicked to turn from his wicked ways and live. His heart's delight is in
seeking the best for the lost sinner, and that is, that he may turn back
from his sinful ways and live. His desire for the sinner is "repent and
• This was the message the Lord Jesus
preached to the lost sheep of Israel. From the very beginning of His
ministry to the end, He never failed to call the lost to repentance. Both
Matthew and Mark recorded that at the beginning of our Lord's ministry in
Galilee, He called sinners to repentance.
"From that time Jesus began to preach and say,
'Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand" (Matthew 4:17).
"Now after John had been taken into custody,
Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, 'The time
is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the
gospel" (Mark 1:14-15).
• Our Lord called on men to repent and believe
in the gospel. The King of the kingdom had appeared on the scene and was
calling sinners to turn from their sins. In order for sinners to be
eligible to enter the kingdom of the King, they had to do an about-face
regarding sin in their lives, and believe the good news concerning the
Lord Jesus. Repentance is simply therefore a one hundred and eighty degree
turn from sins and sinful way of living to the Savior of sinners.
• In the days of our Lord, Chorazin, Bethsaida
and Capernaum were prominent cities in Galilee. These cities were greatly
privileged to have the incarnate Son of God walk their dusty lanes. These
cities saw His works of power within their walls. However, in the face of this
overwhelming evidence, they stubbornly refused to repent. Their refusal to
repent led to our Lord's pronouncement of the most solemn woe upon
"Then He began to denounce the cities in which
most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent. 'Woe to you,
Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre
and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in
sackcloth and ashes. Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable
for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. And you,
Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to
Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in you, it would have remained to
this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the
land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you" (Matthew
11:20-24; cf. Luke 10:13-15).
• The whole point of our Lord's denunciation is
that God's revelatory works are intended to lead people to repentance, not
rebellion. These cities had been given a great privilege which brought a
great responsibility. Hundreds of years before the coming of Christ,
Sodom, Tyre and Sidon had fallen under the judgment of God because of
their sins. Sodom was judged for their homosexuality while Tyre and Sidon
were judged because of their idolatry and wickedness. Recalling these
judgments of God, our Lord stated that if Tyre and Sidon had been
privileged to see His mighty works which Chorazin and Bethsaida had seen,
they would have humbled themselves in deepest repentance. Had vile Sodom,
the capital of homosexuality, been so privileged as Carpernaum, it would
have repented and been spared. Its people should have repented and gladly
acknowledged the Lord. In the day of judgment, Tyre and Sidon would
fare better than Chorazin and Bethsaida. Similary, Sodom will not be
punished as severely as Capernaum in the day of judgment.
• Responding to the scribes' and Pharisees'
demand for a sign, the Lord Jesus once again brought up the all-important
issue of repentance of sinners. These leaders, as well as the rest of the people,
needed to turn away from their sins and turn to the Savior.
"The men of Nineveh will stand up with this
generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because they repented at
the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is
here" (Matthew 12:41).
• The Gentiles of Nineveh were far less privileged
than the present generation of Israel. Yet when the men of Nineveh heard the
preaching of the prophet Jonah, they humbled themselves in sackcloth and
ashes and turned away from their sins. But unfortunately the people of
Lord's day failed to repent of their sins, even though they had Someone
greater than Jonah calling them to repentance.
• Using two separate national disasters as the
basis of His interaction with His audience, the Lord Jesus taught about the
importance of personal repentance.
"Now on the same occasion there were some present
who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with
their sacrifices. And Jesus said to them, 'Do you suppose that these
Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they
suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will likewise
perish. Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower of Siloam
fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in
Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise
perish" (Luke 13:1-5).
• Some Galileans had traveled from the north of Israel
to Jerusalem to worship. Unfortunately, they did not return home to share
their worship experience with their families, friends and relatives. Pilate,
the wicked governor of Judea, had ordered them to be slain while they were
offering their sacrifices. The fact that the people told Jesus about this
disastrous event implies that He was not at Jerusalem when it occurred. The
Jews often attribute tragedy directly to one's sin (see John 9:1-3). Our
Lord refused to say that that was the case in this calamity. However, our
Lord affirmed the sinfulness of all people (vv. 3, 5). The second tragedy
which our Lord used to teach the need for repentance was a collapse of a
tower in Siloam which caused the death of eighteen persons. The point our
Lord emphasized by this event was that this catastrophe should not be
interpreted as a special judgment for gross wickedness. Rather, it should be
seen as a warning to all Israel that unless they repented, a similar fate
would come upon them. In other words, anyone who disregards God cannot count
on immunity from sudden adversity. The Galileans and the eighteen on whom
the tower fell, perished physically, but all who do not repent face
spiritual death, that is, eternal separation from a loving God.
• Repentance was our Lord's message in the parables of the
lost sheep and the lost silver coin. He taught that there was joy in heaven over
the repentance of a single lost sinner.
"I tell you in the same way, there will be more
joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous
persons who need no repentance... In the same way, I tell you, there is joy
in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents"
Our Lord's message is clear and loud. The sinner who humbles himself before
God and confesses his lost condition to God brings joy to the heart of God
and to the heart of the heavenly hosts. However, God and His heavenly hosts,
obtain no such delight of heart from those who never feel their need for
• In His service to the people of the world, our
Lord, not only called them to repentance but He also instructed His followers
to do so in their service to them. Just before His ascension, He
directed His disciples to proclaim repentance in His name.
"And He said to them, 'Thus it is written,
that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and
that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to
all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem'" (Luke 24:46-47).
• Calling sinners to repentance was one of Jesus'
main services to the world. He regarded it as an important ministry to
sinners. This was God's way of ministering to unbelievers. As such,
from the very beginning of His ministry to its end, He faithfully urged the
lost to turn from their sins to Him that they may live. He does not
take pleasure in the death of the wicked.
Call to Prayer
(Matthew 9:35-38; Luke 10:1-2)
• Another important service our Lord rendered to
the people of the world was commanding His followers to pray specifically
for workers to be sent out to serve among the lost. Our Lord was a praying
Savior and Shepherd. He understands that God is willing to release His power
through His praying people. He is also well aware of the work which can be
accomplished through God's praying people. As such, our Lord diligently
instructed His followers about prayer. He did this by personal example as well by
• Some of our Lord's teachings on prayer are found
in Matthew 6:1-17; 7:7-11; Mark 11:22-26; and Luke
18:1-17. In these passages He taught about the elements of prayer such as
God the Father's desire to see His kingdom advance, forgiveness, faith,
fasting, perseverance and reward.
• However, in two of His teachings on
prayer, His focus was on praying for workers to be sent out to work among
the lost. The first of these teachings was recorded by Matthew, while
the second was recorded by Luke, the physician.
"Jesus was going through all the cities and
villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the
kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.
Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed
and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples,
'The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the
Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest'" (Matthew
"Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them
in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going
to come. And He was saying to them, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the
laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out
laborers into His harvest" (Luke 10:1-2).
• Even though the commands to ask the Lord of
the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest are the same in both
Gospel accounts, the occasions on which they were given are different. After the instruction in
Matthew, only the twelve disciples were sent into the northern regions of
Israel to preach and perform healing. On the other hand, in Luke's account,
seventy disciples were sent out to the south of Israel along the route the
Lord Jesus was following to Jerusalem. The repetition of the command to pray
for workers to be sent out into the harvest field indicates that it is very
important to the Lord Jesus. Our Lord considers praying for more laborers to be
purposefully sent out to serve among the lost as an essential part of His
overall plan of ministering to the lost.
to Me (Matthew 11:28-30; John 5:39-40; 6:35, 37, 44-45, 65; 7:37-39; 14:6)
• In His service to the lost, the Lord
Jesus Christ personally invited them over and over again to come to Him that
they might have life, rest and be fed with real food for the soul.
• Seeing with divine eyes, our Lord saw the
lost as weary, harassed, helpless and burdened with the weight of sin and
guilt. He genuinely wanted them to have rest for their weary souls. He desired
for them to be released from their burden of sin and guilt. He wanted them
to experience true refreshment. Knowing they would not naturally come to Him
for rest, refreshment, release and for help, our Lord personally took it
upon Himself to invite them to come to Him.
• Our Lord's willingness to give rest and refresh
was prophesied several hundreds of years before His coming to earth in human
"For I satisfy the weary ones and refresh
everyone who languishes" (Jeremiah 31:25).
• Perhaps the most clearest personal
invitation to Himself which our Lord made to the lost is found in Matthew
11:28-30. There we read these wonderful words:
"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden,
and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I
am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For
My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
• Bible Commentator William MacDonald beautifully
comments on these
"To come means to believe (Acts 16:31); to receive
(John 1:12); to eat (John 6:35); to drink (John 7:37); to look (Isaiah
45:22); to confess (1 John 4:2); to hear (John 5:24, 25); to enter a door
(John 10:9); to open a door (Revelation 3:20); to touch the hem of His
garment (Matthew 9:20, 21); and to accept the gift of eternal life through
Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23). The object of faith is not a church,
a creed, or a clergyman, but the living Christ. Salvation is in a Person.
Those who have Jesus are as saved as God can make them. In order to truly
come to Jesus, a person must admit that he is burdened with the weight of
sin. Only those who acknowledge they are lost can be saved. Faith in the
Lord Jesus is preceded by repentance toward God. Notice that rest here is
a gift; it is unearned and unmerited. This is the rest of salvation that
comes from realizing that Christ finished the work of redemption on
Calvary's cross. It is a rest of conscience that follows the realization
that the penalty of one's sins has been paid once for all and that God
will not demand payment twice. In verses 29 and 30, the invitation changes
from salvation to service."
• Indeed, how kind and loving is Jesus!
He doesn't wait for the lost to call to Him or come to Him. He takes the
initiative to invite them to come to Him for the gift of salvation and
freedom from the burden of sin and guilt. This is indeed a wonderful
service to the lost.
• The inspired writer of the Gospel of
John, Apostle John, specifically tells us that his book is evangelistic.
The purpose of the book is expressed in these words, "that you may
believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you
may have life in His name" (John 20:31). It is therefore no
wonder that this Gospel portrays the Lord Jesus' repeated invitation to all
who are lost to come to Him for life and salvation.
• Speaking to the Jews who were seeking
to kill Him because He was claiming equality with God, our Lord
"You search the Scriptures because you think in
them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you were
unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life" (John 5:39-40).
• The Jews missed the point that the main subject of
the Old Testament was the coming of Christ. In addition, they were not
willing to come to Jesus that they might have life. He was there willing for
them to come to Him to receive the gift of eternal life. But they did not
come to Him. They loved their sins more than they loved the Savior. They did
not want to give up their wicked ways.
• Speaking of Himself as the "Bread of
Life," making a claim to equality with Yahweh, the Lord Jesus assures
His hearers that those who come to Him will find enough in Him to satisfy
their spiritual hunger forever.
"Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life; he
who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never
thirst'" (John 6:35).
• Those who come to Jesus Christ, those who believe on
Him find their thirst forever quenched. No one who comes to the Person of
Jesus Christ ever suffers from spiritual malnutrition. He gives spiritual
food that satisfies the soul.
• The Lord Jesus further makes it clear to those He is personally inviting to come to Him that He will never ever turn
them away. He will always embrace whoever comes to Him.
"All that the Father gives to Me will come to Me,
and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out" (John
• The verse contains two of the most important
teachings of the Bible. The first has to do with the sovereignty of God. He
has given certain ones to Jesus, all of whom will be saved. The second has
to do with human responsibility. Anyone who hears the voice of God calling
him must personally come to the Lord Jesus Christ in order to be saved. No
one who comes to God through Jesus Christ will be expelled. Rather, he will
be embraced. The Bible clearly teaches that God has elected certain persons
to salvation. It also teaches that man is responsible to accept the offer of
life and salvation found only in the Person of Christ Jesus.
• The two great truths of God's sovereignty
and man's responsibility were once again set before the audience our
Lord was teaching as He tried to help them to see that God is the One who
takes the initiative to call people to Him and those who are instructed by
God will respond to what they have heard and learned and come to Him.
"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent
Me draws and I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the
prophets, 'And they shall all be taught of God.' Everyone who has heard and
learned from the Father comes to Me" (John 6:44-45).
• In his natural state, man in himself is utterly
hopeless and helpless. He does not even have the strength or the
desire to come to Jesus by Himself. Knowing the helpless and hopeless
condition of man, God Himself first acts in his life and seeks to win him to
Himself. However, man has the choice of accepting the Lord Jesus by coming
to Him and expressing faith in Him or refusing Him. The point of these
verses is that we never would have had the desire or the want to if God had
not spoken to our hearts. God speaks to our hearts through the clear
teaching of His precious and holy Word. Those who respond to the teaching of
God's Word and learn from the Father are the ones who come to Jesus Christ
for life and salvation.
• Whenever God's sovereignty and man's
responsibility are placed side by side, we must call to mind the inspired
words of the prophet and the man of God, Moses, which are recorded in
"The secret things belong to the LORD our God,
but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may
observe all the words of this law."
• God has His secrets. Let's allow Him to
keep them. But let's also do what He tells us to do. In this case, He says
a sinner who has been taught of Him and hears His voice calling him must
come to Christ.
• Our Lord would not want His audience to
miss the point that God always takes the initiative to draw the sinner to
Himself. Many who had followed Him and professed to be His disciples found
His teaching to be offensive and distasteful for them to receive. Many of
these professed disciples were not real believers after all. They withdrew
from Him and were no longer walking with Him. At such a time, our Lord
spoke these solemn words:
"And He was saying, 'For this reason I have said
to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the
Father'" (John 6:65).
• There is no doubt that these words are an attack on
the pride of man, who thinks that he can earn or merit salvation through his
own good behavior and good deeds. Our Lord wanted all to know that even the
power to come to Him for salvation and eternal life can only be received
from God the Father. This is humbling to self-sufficient man. But it is
healthy and helpful for him. God resists the proud but gives grace to the
• Speaking at the conclusion of the Feast
of Tabernacles, the Lord Jesus invited the religious Jews to come to Him for
"Now on the last day, the great day of the feast,
Jesus stood and cried out, saying, 'If anyone is thirsty, let Him come to Me
and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost
being will flow rivers of living water.' But this He spoke of the Spirit,
whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet
given, because Jesus was not yet glorified" (John 7:37-39).
• Our Lord's invitation was extended to anyone. Anyone
who knew he was thirsty, that is, spiritually needy was invited to come to
the Person of Christ Himself. It is an established spiritual
"Unless a person knows he is a sinner, he will
never want to be saved. Unless he realizes that he is lost without Christ,
he will never desire to be found. Unless one is conscious of a great
spiritual lack in his life, he will never want to go to the Lord to have
that need supplied. The Savior invited the thirsting soul to come to Him -
not to the church, the preacher, the waters of baptism, or the Lord's
Table. Jesus said, 'Let him come to Me.' No one or nothing else will do.
'Let him come to Me and drink.' To "drink" here means to
appropriate Christ for oneself. It means to trust Him as Lord and Savior.
It means to take Him into our lives as we would take a glass of water into
our bodies. To come to Christ and drink is the same as to believe on Him.
All who believe on Him will have their own needs supplied and will receive
rivers of spiritual blessing that would flow out from them to
others." - W. MacDonald
• Perhaps, one of the greatest claims our Lord Jesus
made is the one found in John 14:6. His claims in this verse are exclusive,
and rightly so. Answering Thomas's question, ("Lord, we don't
know where You are going, so how can we know the way?")
in the Upper Room:
"Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth,
and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me'" (John
• The Lord Jesus does not merely show us
the way to the true and living God. He Himself is the Way. Salvation is
found in a Person. The Scripture says, "There is salvation in no
one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given
among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). Believing the Person of Jesus results in salvation.
Lord Jesus is not just one of the many ways to the only true God. He is
the One and Only Way. Many misguided people think that the way to
God is by following the Ten Commandments, or the Golden Rule of treating
people the same way we want them to treat us (Matthew 7:12). Others think
there is a way to God for them through ordinances and church membership.
These will be rudely shocked to find that these paths will not take
them to the only true God, who is revealed in Jesus Christ. Why? Because there
is only one way to the only true God and it is through Jesus and Jesus
• The great deception of our day is that
it doesn't matter what you believe as long as you are sincere in believing
it. All religions, they say, have some good in them and that they all lead
to heaven in the end. Please make no mistake. All roads do not lead to
heaven or to God the Father. The only way to the Father is through Jesus
Christ. He is the truth, not just one who teaches the truth. Truth is in
Jesus (Ephesians 4:21). Therefore those who have Him have the Truth. It is
not found in anyone else. Bhudda, Confucius, Mohammed, Joseph Smith, etc.
did not teach the Truth let alone have the Truth in them. Not only
did Christ claim He is the only way to the Father and the truth, but He
claimed to be the life. In other words, Jesus Christ is the source of
life. Therefore those who receive Him have eternal life because Jesus is
• Being the only way to the only true God
and the truth and the life, the Lord Jesus constantly invited the lost to
come to Him. This was a necessary part of His ministry to sinners whom He
came to seek and save.
of His Disciples (Matthew 10:5-15; Mark 6:7-13; Luke 9:1-6; 10:1-16)
Lord Jesus served the lost and indeed, He served them well. But He also
commissioned His disciples to serve the unsaved people of the world. This
was a great privilege and honor for His disciples. They were invited to
share in the holy service of the Great King. Our Lord knew that He was here
only for a time, and soon He would return to the Heavenly Father. The work
He had started would continue till His second coming in great glory and
power. So the Lord Jesus trained and prepared some of His disciples to
carry on the work He had begun. As part of their preparation, they were sent
out on special preaching tours to those the Lord specifically directed them
Three of the Gospels record our Lord's sending of His disciples on various
short-term evangelistic missions. Mark and Matthew recorded one each while
Luke recorded two. Matthew would later record the Great Commission at the
end of its Gospel record.
• At the close of Matthew 9, the Lord Jesus
commanded His disciples to pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send
out laborers into His harvest. The next thing that happened was that He appointed
twelve to be His apostles and sent them out. It is as if the Lord Jesus is
saying, "Pray for harvesters, but be prepared to become one yourself." In
other words, in praying for the supply of workers, we must be willing to go
• In Matthew's report in chapter 10, we are
told the Lord Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority
over unclean spirits... and sent them into the harvest.
"These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing
them: 'Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of
the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And
as you go, preach, saying the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick,
raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received,
freely give..." (Matthew 10:5ff).
• Matthew's inspired account not only affirms that
only the twelve disciples were sent out, but also where they were sent to.
They were sent to the northern part of Israel. They were not to go east
to the Gentiles or south to the Samaritans.
• Mark's inspired report affirms that only the
twelve were sent out on the first short-term missions outreach.
"And He summoned the twelve and began to send
them out in pairs, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits; and He
instructed them that they should take nothing for their journey, except a
mere staff-no bread, no bag, no money in their belt... And He said to them,
'Wherever you enter a house stay there until you leave town. Any place that
does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake the
dust off the soles of your feet for a testimony against them.' They went out
and preached that men should repent. And they were casting out many demons
and were anointing with oil many sick people and healing them"
• The first of Dr. Luke's two accounts in Luke
9:1-6 is similar in most respects to those of Matthew and Mark. It was the
twelve our Lord called together and sent out after giving them power and
authority over all the demons. They were sent out to proclaim the kingdom of
God and to perform healing. Departing, the twelve went throughout the
villages preaching the gospel and healing.
• There are several lessons preserved in these
passages, but let me mention just four of them. The first is that Jesus
Christ is unique. Other men had performed miracles, but no other man ever
conferred the power on others. Our Lord performed miracles Himself and
delegated His authority and power to His disciples. The second lesson is
also from the life of Jesus Christ: He knows when and where to send His
disciples. The third lesson is from the life of the disciples. They were
obedient to the Lord. They went out proclaiming the gospel to the lost
sheep of the house of Israel and performing healing as they were instructed to do. They
did not follow their own agenda. They did not go out to do their own
thing. They did exactly as they were commanded. The bottom line of
obedience is doing exactly as God has commanded. Fourth and finally, God's
servants must depend on Him to provide for their needs. The disciples
depended on God to provide all they needed for their service on their
short-term missions work.
• Luke's second inspired account of the sending out of
the disciples indicates that a greater number of disciples were involved
in another short-term missions work. The greater number, as well as
the repetition of the sending out of His disciples, clearly show the
importance our Lord attached to His service to lost sinners through His
"Now after this the Lord appointed seventy
others and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where
He Himself was going to come. And He was saying to them, 'The harvest is
plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the
harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go; behold, I send you
out as lambs in the midst of wolves... The seventy returned with joy,
saying, 'Lord, even the demons are subject are subject to us in Your
name'" (Luke 10:1-3, 17).
• This is the only account we have in the Gospels of
the Lord's sending out of the seventy disciples. This particular mission
was to the south along the route Lord was following to Jerusalem. This mission
was seemingly intended to prepare the way for the Lord in His journey from
Caesarea Philippi in the north, through Galilee and Samaria, across the
Jordan, south through the region of Perea, then back across the Jordan to
Jerusalem. Earlier, the twelve were sent to the north.
• Again, we see that in praying for
workers to be sent out, we must be willing to go. This is clearly seen in
the connection between the expressions "therefore beseech
the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers..." and the command,
"go." Our Lord reminded the seventy disciples that
they were being sent into a hostile environment. They cannot expect to be
treated royally by the world, but rather to be persecuted and even killed.
Their mission was not a mission of personal comfort. While there is much
to commend modern short-term missions for, it is sad to see that there is
so much emphasis on personal comfort on these missions. Our Lord did not
lay such emphasis for His disciples; considerations of personal comfort
were not to dominate their thinking. May it be so in our short-term missions
• Jesus Christ served the lost not only by His
commitment to preaching and teaching the gospel, by His constant devotion to prayer for power to minister to them, by
His consistent calling of them to
repentance, by His compassionate care and concern for them in feeding
them, healing them, weeping over their rebellion, by commanding His
followers to pray for more workers to be sent out to work among the lost,
by personally inviting them to come to Him, but also by commissioning His
disciples to go out and serve them.
• In one of His resurrection appearances to His
disciples, the Risen Lord commissioned them. On the evening of that first day
of the week on which He rose, the inspired writer of the Gospel of John
recorded that our Lord came and stood among the disciples calming their fears
and more importantly commissioning them.
"As the Father has sent Me, I also send you"
• Commissioning His followers to be sent out to
serve lost sinners was so important to our Lord that He not only did it on
at least two occasions before the cross but also at least twice before His ascension into
heaven. The inspired writer of the Gospel of Matthew recorded our Lord's
"Great Commissioning" of His disciples.
"All authority has been given to
Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all
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" (Matthew 28:18-20).
Ministering to the People of the World
as Commanded by Christ
Authorization for Service to World
• Our Lord did not only personally ministered to
the world, He also commanded His followers to do so. To accept Jesus Christ
as Lord and Savior means to bring oneself under His rule and
authority. It means also doing whatever He commands - obedience. Obedience
to Christ's must always be out of love for Him. Love for His Person must be
the motivation for doing what Christ commands. Teaching His disciples in the
Upper Room before going to the cross, our Lord stressed to them that love
for Him must be their motivating factor in carrying out what He commanded
"If you love Me, you will keep My
commandments... He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who
loves Me... If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word... You are My friends
if you do what I command you" (John 14:15, 21, 23; 15:14).
• If the disciples truly loved their Lord,
they would carry out His call to reach the people of the world with His love
and message of life. Ministering to the lost was not an optional matter for
• The Lord Jesus did not send out His
disciples in their own strength. Christ's followers had no authority in
themselves to carry out the call to reach the people of the world with the
good news. They needed His backing for what He was calling them to - a world
wide work. Therefore our Lord wisely gave them that much needed backing. His
commission to His disciples was prefaced by His statement of authorization.
"All authority has been given to
Me in heaven and on earth" (Matthew
• The Lord Jesus assured His disciples of His universal authority in heaven and
on earth. On the basis of this universal authority, the Risen Lord gives His
disciples the mandate of working purposefully toward the advance of His gospel
in all the nations. They were authorized by the King of the universe. They
were sent out as the agents of Christ, the Lord of all. They had the right
to go and minister to the world. They had the backing of the Sovereign Lord
of the universe.
• Earlier our Lord's authority for His ministry was challenged by the religious leaders of Israel (Luke 20:1-8).
He knew very well, that after His ascension to the Father, His disciples
would similarly be challenged. Actually, not long after His ascension, the
same religious leaders who once challenged His authority, challenged that of
the apostles. Peter and John were questioned by the religious leaders of
Israel after being used by God to heal a crippled beggar at the gate called
Beautiful. Peter and John spent the night in prison before being
interrogated. "By what power or name, have you done this?"
(Acts 4:7). Filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter, knowing very well that they
had been authorized by the Lord of the universe, confidently answered the
"Let it be known to all of you and to all the
people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you
crucified, whom God raised from the dead-by this name this man stands
here before you in good health" (Acts 4:10).
• Christ not only commanded and commissioned His
disciples, He also authorized them for service. Just as the early believers
stood on the authority of Christ in their service to the world, so also
Christians of today must firmly and faithfully stand on the authority of Christ
to serve the lost. If our authority is challenged, we must not point to
ourselves. We must point to Christ, the Lord, who has been given all
authority in heaven and on earth. We go in the confidence that our Lord
Jesus is in sovereign control of everything in heaven and on
Service to the World (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8)
• It was not enough for the disciples to be
authorized for service, they also needed to be empowered for service to the
lost. They had no authority in themselves for the call to evangelize all
nations. Similarly, they could not carry out this world wide witness in
their own power or might. The work they were about to be invest their lives
in is a supernatural work requiring a supernatural power. It was not to be
carried out in the strength, power or might of man. It was to be done in the
supernatural strength and power of the Person of the Holy Spirit.
• Therefore, the Lord Jesus promised His disciples that
the Holy Spirit would come upon them and that they would consequently receive
power for service. Dr. Luke was inspired to record two important statements made
by our Lord in connection with power for service, just before His ascension.
"And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My
Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city [that is, Jerusalem] until you are clothed with
power from on high" (Luke 24:49).
"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" (Acts 1:8).
The disciples of Christ had been prepared by Him for three years. They had
seen Jesus Christ at work, preaching, teaching and healing the sick in the
power of the Holy Spirit. They heard His divine utterances. They saw His
sufferings at His trials and on the cross. They knew of His death and burial.
But they also knew that He was raised from the dead. The Risen Lord revealed
Himself to them on several occasions. In short, they were His witnesses. They
must go forth as heralds of the glorious message of the gospel of God. But
first, they must wait for the promise of the Father, that is, for the coming of
the Divine Person of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Then they would be endued
with divine power to bear witness to the Risen Lord and Christ.
"This power is the grand indispensable of Christian
witness. 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
endued with the power of the Holy Spirit and the world will turn out to see
him burn for God. The fearful disciples needed power for witnessing, holy
boldness for preaching the gospel. They would receive this power when the
Holy Spirit came upon them." - W. MacDonald
• Just as the early disciples could not be
effective in their witness without the power of the Holy Spirit, so also we
cannot minister faithfully and fruitfully to the lost without the presence and
power of the Person of the Holy Spirit. We need Him . We need His power for
fruitful service to the unsaved. The early Christians waited ten days for the
coming of the Holy Spirit in power upon their lives. While we do not need to
go to Jerusalem and wait there, we can wait on the Lord for our strength to be
renewed. The Bible says, "Though youths grow weary and tired, and
vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the LORD will gain
new strength" (Isaiah 40:31).
• Personally, by the grace of God, I have been praying
everyday for the fresh power of the Holy Spirit to be released into my life,
to win the lost, to woo them to God, to witness to them and to warn them. The
fact that the Holy Spirit is dwelling in us and also with us, does not mean we
should not constantly and earnestly pray for fresh filling, fresh anointing,
fresh power, and fresh fullness of the Holy Spirit. No day should pass in our
lives without earnestly asking God for fresh anointing and power of the Holy
Spirit upon our lives to empower us to minister to the lost effectively.
• The power of the Holy Spirit is indispensable, not only
in our worship of, walk and work with God, but also in our witness to the people of the
world. God, in His grace has made this power available to us. There is no
excuse to give to God for our failure to be His effective witnesses. Why? He
has provided all we need for our service to the lost.
Extent of Service (Matthew
24:14; 26:13; 28:19; Mark 14:9; 16:15; Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8)
• The Lord Jesus not only authorized and
empowered His disciples, He also revealed to them the extent of their
commission. His good news was not to be kept to themselves. It was to be
preached in all nations. It was to be carried to the remotest parts of the
earth. Yes, Christ declared that He is the exclusive Savior. But the extent
of His commission is all-inclusive.
• Before the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20,
Christ had repeatedly revealed to His disciples that His gospel was to be preached in
the whole world.
"And this gospel of the
kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations,
and then the end will come" (Matthew 24:14)
"Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is
the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken in memory of
her" (Matthew 26:13; cf. Mark 14:9).
The God who called believers to Himself is a God who loved the whole world
and gave His One and Only Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not
perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16). His gospel is for the whole
world. His good news is for all nations. He wants all He created in His own
image to hear His message of life and redemption.
• In the Great Commission and other
post-resurrection pronouncements of Christ, the Head of the Church, the
Risen Lord, reiterated to His disciples that the whole world was their
"Go therefore and make disciples of all
nations" (Matthew 28:19).
"And He said to them, 'Go into all the world
and preach the gospel to all creation'" (Mark 16:15).
"Repentance for forgiveness of sins would be
proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem"
"You shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem,
and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the
earth" (Acts 1:8).
• In Luke's inspired accounts of the extent of the commission,
our Lord gives a specific enumeration. Jerusalem, where Christ was
crucified for the sins of the world, where also He rose triumphantly from
the grave, was to be their starting point. Jerusalem was not the home city
of the inner circle of our Lord's disciples. They were Galileans. But
Jerusalem was where they were told to wait. Moreover, it was soon to be the
site of Pentecost, on which thousands of new converts would be won to
Christ. Jerusalem, was however, the most difficult place to bear witness for
Jesus Christ. It was there that Christ faced the stiffest opposition of His
life and ministry. It was there that He was rejected by the people of Israel
and subjected to a humiliating death by crucifixion. But Jerusalem was where
the Head of the Church, the Lord Jesus, chose for His disciples to bear
witness of Him. Their testimony was to be of Jesus and Jesus alone. They
were not sent out to promote their culture, but to promote Christ.
• Beyond Jerusalem, the disciples were to be witnesses
in "all Judea." Actually, in this context, the
expression "all Judea," means the country of the Jews including
Galilee. This region was inhabited by the Jews having the same customs as
the disciples. They were familiar with this . This was the most comfortable
area of outreach for the disciples.
• If Judea was a comfortable place for the
disciples, Samaria was certainly an uncomfortable, unseemly, unbecoming,
untoward and an un-called-for place for the disciples to take the good news.
Samaria was the most distasteful area to serve. They were being called to
serve not only people they were comfortable with and like, but also to
people whom they [Jews] found most difficult to love.
• The Jews and the Samaritan had been engaged in a
conflict for a very long time, dating back to the time of Ezra and Nehemiah (see
Ezra 4 and Nehemiah 4). When the northern ten tribes were taken into captivity in 722
B.C., the King of Assyria repopulated Israel with Assyrians. The Israelites
who were left behind intermarried with the Assyrians. The product of this
intermarriage was half-breed Jews called the Samaritans. These were living
in the land before the southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin were taken into
captivity to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar, who also destroyed the temple
of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.
• When the Jews returned from Babylon and began
the rebuilding of the temple, the Samaritans offered to assist, but their
offer was turned down (see Ezra 4). Later, in the building of the wall of
Jerusalem, the Samaritans ridiculed and opposed the Jews and did everything
to discourage them from the work (see Nehemiah 4). Since those days, there was
friction between the Jews and the Samaritans. Because of being half-breeds,
the Jews had a deep dislike and disdain for the Samaritans.
• The Lord Jesus Himself experienced this
friction. When our Lord asked a Samaritan woman for a drink of water, she
was quick to respond to Him with a "racial profiling" question. "How
is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan
woman?" (John 4:9a). The inspired comment of Apostle John reveals
the age old animosity between the Jews and the Samaritans. "For Jews
had no dealings with Samaritans" (John 4:9b). In their animosity
toward Jesus Christ, some of the Jews slandered Him by calling Him a
Samaritan. "Do we not say rightly that you are a Samaritan and have
a demon?" (John 8:48). In His attempt to destroy the root of the
Jews' deep dislike for the Samaritans, our told a parable about loving one's
neighbor, in which He made the Samaritan the hero (Luke 10:29-37).
• When our Lord was refused passage through
Samaria while He was on His way to Jerusalem, the sons of thunder, James and
John, two true Jews, fueled by their deep dislike for the Samaritans wanted
them consumed by fire.
"When the days of were approaching for His
ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem; and He sent messengers on
ahead of Him, and they went and entered a village of the Samaritans to
make arrangements for Him. But they did not receive Him, because He was
traveling toward Jerusalem. When His disciples James and John saw this,
they said, 'Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven
and consume them?' But He rebuked them, [and said, 'You do not know what
kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy
men's lives but to save them.' And they went on to another village"
• It is so clear from the "fire
commanding apostles" that the Jews deeply disliked the Samaritans.
Surely, they were the people the Jews would have least desired to see become
a part of Christ's church. Yet the Lord Jesus commanded them, "You
shall be My witnesses in... Samaria" (Acts 1:8).
• The disciples were also instructed to be
Christ's witnesses, "even to the remotest part of the earth"
(Acts 1:8). They were to take the life-giving message of the good news to
every tribe and tongue and people and nation. They were called for a world
wide witness. Jesus Christ has called believers to a world wide witness.
All continents, all countries, all cultures, all counties, all
cities, and all communities, were and are to be reached and
impacted with the saving message of Jesus Christ and the service of Christ's
followers. The first century believers relied on the Holy Spirit to work
through them to fulfill Christ's call upon their lives to be His witnesses
from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. Their witness impacted their world.
Scripture testifies to this. "These men who have turned the world
upside down have come here also" (Acts 17:6 -RSV). The world took
notice of the world wide witness of the early Christians.
• Millard J. Erickson, a godly Christian
theologian writes to challenge the church to continue the task of spreading
the message and love of Christ:
• "If the church is to be faithful
to its Lord and bring joy to his heart, it must be engaged in bringing the
gospel to all people. This involves going to people whom we like and
people whom we may by nature tend to dislike. It extends to those who are
unlike us. And it goes beyond our immediate sphere of contact and
influence. In a very real sense, local evangelism, church extension or
church planting, and world missions are all the same thing. The only
difference lies in the length of the radius. The church must work in all
these areas. If it does not, it will become spiritually ill, for it will
be attempting to function in a way its Lord never intended."
• The extent of our service is all the
world, beginning with our families, friends, and neighbors around us.
The Presence of
Christ is with His Servants in their Service to the World (Matthew 28:20)
• Not only were Christ's disciples authorized and
empowered, they were also assured that He was not sending them off on their
own. Although He was soon to be taken from them physically, He would
nonetheless be with them spiritually to the very end of the age.
"And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of
the age" (Matthew 28:20).
• The Gospel of Matthew ends, not with
command, but with the promise of our Lord's personal guiding and comforting
presence with His disciples as they carry out His commission of reaching the
nations. Christ's presence is with us in our service to the people of the
• The Lord Jesus was introduced in the beginning of the Gospel as
Emmanuel, meaning "God with us" (1:23). He is still God
with us, "to the very end of the age" (28:20). Not just the
future is in view, but the whole of each and every day as we live it - to
the end of history as we know it, when His kingdom will be consummated.
• The Lord Jesus did not send us out into the world to
strive on our own without His guiding, comforting, assuring and assisting
presence. Thanks be to God! As Christ's disciples, sent out by Him, it is
assuring to know that we are not going forth alone or unaided. In all our
service and travel, we will know the friendship, fellowship, and fullness of
the presence of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of sinners, the
Good Shepherd and the Sovereign Lord of the
Ministering to the People of the World
as Continued by Christ's Early Disciples
Constant Devotion to Prayer (Acts 1:14; 2:42; 6:4)
• The book of Acts shows that the early church was
a praying church. When they were instructed by the Head of the Church to
wait in Jerusalem they devoted themselves continually to prayer (1:14). They
sought guidance in prayer for the replacement of Judas Iscariot (1:24-26).
Those who were saved on the day of Pentecost continued steadfastly in prayer
(2:42). Peter and John were on their way to the temple at the hour of prayer
(3:1). After Peter and John were released from prison, the believers
gathered to pray (4:24-31).
• When a complaint arose on the part of the
Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being
overlooked in the daily serving of food, the apostles made their priorities
known to the church body. They would devote themselves to prayer and the
ministry of the word (6:4). The seven men who were chosen to serve tables
were presented to the apostles. After praying for them, the apostles laid
hands on them (6:6). Stephen prayed when he was about to be martyred
• Peter and John, partners in prayer and in the
gospel, prayed for the Samaritans who believed in Christ, through the
preaching of Philip (8:15-17). When Saul (later Paul) was saved, the first
thing he did was to pray (9:11). Peter prayed at Joppa, and Dorcas was
raised to life (9:40). The Gentile centurion, Cornelius, prayed and his
prayers went up as a memorial before God before he became a believer
(10:1-4). Peter prayed on the rooftop in the house of Simon the tanner in
Joppa (10:9). Peter's prayer was answered by a heavenly vision that prepared
him to minister to the Gentiles at Caesarea (10:10-48).
• The leaders of the church at Antioch prayed and
fasted (13:1-4). The result of this prayer and fasting was staggering, the
gospel message advanced to the ends of the earth. Barnabas and Paul were
released for a great missionary work.
• Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for the
churches God enabled them to plant, having prayed with fasting
• When Paul and his team came to Philippi, they
went outside the city gate to a riverside, where they were expecting
to find a place of prayer (16:13). Once when they were going to the place of
prayer, they encountered a slave girl, who had a
spirit of divination (16:16). Paul and
Silas held a prayer and praise service in prison at Philippi (16:25). God
responded to their prayer with a great earthquake and the salvation of the entire
family of the jailer (16:26-34).
• When Paul was on his way to Jerusalem, he met
with the elders of Ephesus at Miletus for a time instruction and a farewell
message (20:17-35). After that, Paul prayed with them (20:36).
• Before Paul and his team left the believers at
Tyre, they knelt down on the beach and prayed (21:5).
• Before the shipwreck on the Adriatic Sea, Paul
prayed in the presence of all on board the storm-tossed ship, giving thanks
to God for the food and encouraged them to eat some food (27:35-36).
• On the island of Malta, where Paul and two
hundred and seventy-five others landed after the storm, Paul prayed and laid
hands on the father of Publius, the leading man of the island (28:8). The
man was miraculously healed.
• Clearly then, the atmosphere in which the early
believers lived and served, was saturated with prayer. Their praying
resulted in earth shaking events.
• The early church made prayer the foundation of
their ministry to the lost. From the very beginning of the church, constant,
fervent, believing prayer was given a prominent place in the lives of the
small band of believers our Lord left behind to continue the work He had
started. Obeying their Lord's direct command to wait in
Jerusalem, the apostles and the other believers, mainly from Galilee, returned to Jerusalem where
they gave themselves to unceasing prayer in the upper room.
"These all with one mind were continually devoting
themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus,
and with His mothers" (Acts 1:14).
• Two things characterized the prayer life of the
early believers. First, they were united in purpose. This is clearly
expressed in the phrase, "these all with one mind." They prayed
with "one accord." The Greek word (homothymados) for this
expression means with one mind or purpose, by common consent, together,
unanimously. They were on the same page when it came to prayer. They had
the same heartbeat in prayer. Actually, the expression "with one
mind or accord" occurred eleven times in Acts. Unity in prayer is
one of the essential keys that unlocks the secrets of God's blessing into
the life of His church. Psalm 133:1 says, "Behold, how good and
pleasant it is for brothers to dwell in unity!" The early believers
not only dwelt together in unity, but they devoted themselves to united
prayer. Their united prayer would prepare the way for God to command His
blessing into their lives, that is, the coming of the Person of Holy Spirit in
• The second characteristic of the prayer of the
small band of believers is this: They were unceasing in prayer. They "were
continually devoting themselves to prayer." The Greek verb
translated "were continually devoting" is proskatereo.
It means a steadfast and single-minded fidelity to a certain course of
action. The believers waiting in Jerusalem faithfully devoted themselves to
prayer. Their waiting on God was characterized by loyalty to prayer. Now, as
then, God works when His people pray. Having observed the prayer life of
Christ, these believers had this convincing understanding: It is only when
God's people wait before Him in faithful, desperate, believing, fervent,
unhurried, united and unceasing prayer that the reviving, renewing,
refreshing, and re-energizing power of the Spirit of God is poured out into their
lives. Therefore they gave themselves to prayer, communing with God and drawing closer to
Him rather than sit and waste
precious time like most believers do today.
• When three thousand new converts were added to
the church at Jerusalem, they joined with the apostles in committing
themselves to united and unceasing prayer.
"They were continually devoting themselves to the
apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to
prayer" (Acts 2:42).
• The new believers proved the reality of their new
found faith in Christ and relationship with Christ by continuing and
committing themselves to the inspired teachings of the apostles, by their
desire to be with God's people and share things in common with them, by
their obedience in sharing in the Table of the Lord, and by their devotion
to prayer. In prayer, they expressed their complete dependence on God. They
would certainly be praying for power for service to the lost.
• As the early church grew, problems arose. But the
apostles did not allow these problems to distract them or drain their
spiritual energy. The problems only helped them to focus on what they were
really called to do in order to serve God's purpose effectively. Thus, when
there was a complaint about the daily distribution of food, the apostles
gathered all the believers and set before them the priorities of their life
and ministry. They would not neglect prayer and the ministry of the word of
"But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to
the ministry of the word" (Acts 6:4).
• The verb translated "devote" is the
same as in Acts 1:14; 2:42. Theirs was a steadfast and single-minded
fidelity to the discipline and delight of prayer and the ministry of
the word of God. Please, notice very carefully the order established in the
passage. It is very significant - first prayer, then the ministry of the
word of God. The twelve made it a point to speak to God about men before
speaking to men about God. In their speaking to God about men, I believe the
apostles asked God repeatedly for power to serve as Christ served. God
answered their prayers powerfully. They were renewed and refreshed in the
power of the Holy Spirit and ministered to the lost, bearing much fruit that
lasted, to the praise and honor of God.
Commitment to the Proclamation of the Gospel (Acts)
• The early Christians did not engage in the
politics of this world. Rather, they engaged themselves in the proclamation
of the Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ. They were a people of one purpose
- to preach the Gospel of God. They gave themselves to this task without
distraction. Certainly, they must have believed that the Gospel of
Christ is the answer to man's problems. This conviction was so strong that
they carried the message of the Good News to all people in their generation. The
heart of the ministry of the early church was the Gospel of God, which
centers upon the Son of God, Jesus Christ and what God has done through Him
by the Spirit of God, for the salvation of sinners.
• The book of Acts clearly shows the commitment of
the early believers to the proclamation of the Good News to the lost. They
knew that in Jesus Christ alone was life, salvation, peace, joy and hope for
this life and for the life to come. Therefore, in ministering to the people
of the world God's way, they consistently preached Jesus Christ and Him
• On the day of Pentecost, Apostle Peter, in the
fullness of the Spirit, preached Jesus Christ as crucified, resurrected,
ascended, exalted and as Lord and Christ. Concluding his preaching on
Pentecost, Peter declared in the Holy Spirit:
"This Jesus God raised up again, to which we
are all witnesses. Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God,
and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has
poured forth this which you both see and hear. For it was not David who
ascended into heaven, but he himself says: "The LORD said to my Lord,
sit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your
feet." Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that
God has made Him both Lord and Christ---this Jesus whom you
crucified" (Acts 2:32-36).
• After the healing of the crippled beggar at the
temple gate called Beautiful, Peter did not preach or promote himself.
Rather, he preached and promoted Jesus Christ. Full of the Holy Spirit,
Peter presented Jesus as God's Glorified Servant, Holy and Righteous One and as the Prince of life.
"The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God
of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the One whom you
delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to
release Him. But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a
murderer to be granted to you, but put to the death the Prince of life,
the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses.
And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has
strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes
through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you
all" (Acts 3:13-16).
• When Peter and John were brought out of prison
to face the religious leaders of Israel in connection with the healing of
the crippled beggar, Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, preached the Lord
Jesus to them as crucified, resurrected, as the chief cornerstone, and as One
in whose name alone salvation is found.
"Let it be known to all of you and to all the
people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you
crucified, whom God raised from the dead---by this name this man stands
here before you in good health. He is the stone which was rejected by you,
the builders, but which became the chief cornerstone. And there is
salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has
been given among men by which we must saved" (Acts 4:9-12).
• The inspired writer of Acts, Dr. Luke,
summarized the ministry of the Jerusalem church as one of testifying to the
resurrection of the Lord Jesus in great power.
"And with great power the apostles were
giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace
was upon them all" (Acts 4:33).
• The disciples were brought again before the
Sanhedrin after spending a night in jail for preaching to the lost. The high
priest accused them of disobeying the strict orders they gave them not to
teach in Jesus' name and determining to make them guilty of Christ's blood.
To these charges, Peter and the other apostles replied by preaching Jesus
Christ as crucified, resurrected, exalted, and as Prince and Savior.
"We must obey God rather than men. The God
of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on
a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as Prince and
Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. We are
witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to
those who obey Him" (Acts 5:29-32).
• The Sanhedrin was determined to stop the spread
of the good news. So they flogged the apostles and ordered them with a
further threat not to speak in the name of Jesus. But the apostles went
their way rejoicing and were ever more relentless in their passion to preach
Jesus to the lost.
"And every day, in the temple and from house to
house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ" (Acts
• When a great persecution broke out against the
Jerusalem church, all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea
and Samaria. The scattering didn't stop them from spreading the good news to
lost sinners. Philip was one of the scattered believers who came to the city
of Samaria with the good news of Jesus Christ.
"Therefore, those who had been scattered went
about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began
proclaiming Christ to them" (Acts 8:4-5).
• When Philip's work in Samaria was done, God
moved him out of Samaria. God had been working in the heart of an Ethiopian
eunuch who had come to Jerusalem to worship and was now on his way back to
Ethiopia. He was seeking God through His prophetic word in the book of
eunuch needed spiritual instruction in order to gain spiritual insight and
be saved. Philip was sent for this purpose.
"Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning
from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him" (Acts 8:35).
• The Ethiopian responded to Philip's preaching of
Jesus. He was saved and baptized.
• Soon after Saul was saved, he was preaching
Jesus to the lost in Damascus.
"Immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the
synagogues, saying, 'He is the Son of God.'...Saul kept increasing in
strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that
this Jesus is the Christ" (Acts 9:20, 22).
• After a life-changing lesson on the rooftop at
Joppa, a transformed Peter went to Caesarea and preached to Gentiles who
needed to hear the Good News of Jesus to be saved. In the Holy Spirit, Peter
preached Jesus Christ as Lord of all, anointed by God, crucified,
resurrected and as Judge of the living and the dead.
"You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God
anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about
doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was
with Him. We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of
the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a
cross. God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He became
visible, not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen
beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He
arose from the dead. And He ordered us to preach to the people, and
solemnly testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as
Judge of the living and the dead. Of Him all the prophets bear witness
that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of
sins" (Acts 10:38-43).
• The result of Peter's preaching at Caesarea was
"Pentecost at Caesarea." The Holy Spirit fell upon the Gentiles
who came to hear the word of life. After personally experiencing the gift of
the Holy Spirit, the new Gentile believers were baptized in the name of Jesus
• The believers who had been scattered by the
persecution in connection with Stephen made their way to Phoenicia and
Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the good news to both Jews alone. However,
believers from Cyprus and Cyrene reached Gentiles in Antioch with the
"But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and
Greeks also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with
them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord" (Acts
• Preaching on his first missionary journey in a
synagogue filled with Jews and God-fearing Gentiles, the Spirit led Paul to
recount the history of God's works with Israel. Then he brought his audience
up to the events connected with the life and ministry of Jesus Christ,
emphasizing His resurrection and announcing forgiveness of sins through His
name, and warning them of the danger of rejecting Christ.
"When they had carried out all that was written
concerning Him, they took Him down from the cross and laid Him in a tomb.
But God raised Him from the dead; and for many days He appeared to those
who came up with Galilee to Jerusalem, the very ones who are now His
witnesses to the people. And we preach to you the good news of the promise
made to the fathers, that God has fulfilled this promise to our children
in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm,
'You are My Son; today I have begotten You.' As for the fact that He
raised Him up from the dead, no longer to return to decay, He has spoken
in this way: 'I will give You the holy and sure blessings of David.'
Therefore He also says in another Psalm, 'You will not allow Your Holy One
to undergo decay.' For David, after he had served the purpose of God in
his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers and
underwent decay; but He whom God raised did not undergo decay. Therefore
let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is
proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all
things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.
Therefore take heed, so that the thing spoken of in the prophet may not
come upon you..." (Acts 13:29-40).
• Every city where Paul and his fellow-workers
went, they preached the good news for they were convinced that it is the
power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.
"[They] fled to the cities of Lycaonia, Lystra
and Derbe, and the surrounding region; and there they continued to preach
the gospel...The next day he [Paul] went away with Barnabas to Derbe.
After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many
disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch"
(Acts 14:6-7, 20-21).
• On his second missionary journey, Paul remained
committed to the proclamation of the gospel. Paul did not think that the
gospel message was no longer relevant with the passage of time. Paul was a
firm believer in the relevancy of the gospel for all people and for all
times. So, at Thessalonica, in the Spirit, he preached gospel by preaching Christ.
"They came to Thessalonica, where there was a
synagogue of the Jews. And according to Paul's custom, he went to them,
and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining
and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise and again from
the dead, and saying, "This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the
Christ"" (Acts 17:1-3).
• Also when Paul encountered the Epicurean and
Stoic philosophers in the city of Athens, which was full of idols, on his
second missionary, he did not think that the sophisticated and superstitious
Athenians did not need the gospel. They too, like all others, needed to hear
the message of life, and salvation in Jesus Christ. And so, in spite of
being ridiculed, Paul preached the good news to them. Using the inscription,
"TO AN UNKNOWN GOD," as a point of contact for his message, Paul,
led by the Holy Spirit, introduced the true God to the unbelievers at
Athens, as the Creator and as the Source of life and all things. Since the
only true God has revealed Himself in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ,
Paul was guided by the Holy Spirit to point to Jesus Christ and His
resurrection from the dead at the conclusion of his message.
"Therefore having overlooked the times of
ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should
repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in
righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof
to all men by raising Him from the dead" (Acts 17:30-31).
• The early church's commitment to the
proclamation of the gospel, which centers upon the Person of Jesus Christ,
to a lost world as God's way of serving them, is summarized in the inspired
words of Apostle Paul to the church at Colossae.
"We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and
teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man
complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to
His power, which mightily works within me" (Colossians 1:28-29).
• Apostle Paul's personal commitment to the
proclamation of the good news to the unbelieving people of the world is
revealed in these solemn testimony to the church of Corinth.
"For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to
boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the
gospel" (1 Corinthians 9:16).
• Preaching the good news was not a vocation Paul
chose for himself. God called him to this divine work. He would have been a
most miserable man if he had not obeyed the divine obligation laid on him.
The decision to preach the gospel to the lost did not come from Paul, it
came directly from God. Therefore, in the Holy Spirit, Paul committed
himself to the divine commission of proclaiming the good news to a lost
world, doing so without charge and becoming all things to all people that
God might work through him to bring them to the saving knowledge of Jesus
• The early believers knew and were deeply
convinced that the gospel is the power of God for salvation for everyone who
believes. As such, they carried its message from Jerusalem to the ends of
the earth, because this was God's way of ministering to the unsaved world.
• With the help of God, I have presented an
overwhelming evidence from the Word of God to show that one of the primary
ways God wants His people to follow in serving the lost is being committed
to proclaiming the good news to them.
Care and Concern for the Lost (Acts)
• Like the Lord Jesus, the early disciples demonstrated
compassionate care and concern
for the lost. Their care and concern for the unsaved was expressed in
several ways. They went to where the unbelievers were in order to share the
love and life-giving message of Jesus with them. In the authority of Jesus
Christ, the early believers healed those God had directed them to heal. In
the power of the Spirit, they performed miracles and wonders and signs among
the lost. Also, operating in the power of the Holy Spirit, they delivered
some who were held in spiritual bondage. Their concern and care for the
unsaved was also expressed in pleading with those who were steeped in
idolatry not to offer sacrifice to them as gods. In their care for
unbelievers, they cried out with all that was within them to stop a jailer
who was about to commit suicide. They also expressed compassionate care for
the lost by reasoning with sophisticated, yet superstitious devout
idolaters, seeking to point them to the one true God who has revealed
Himself in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. In demonstrating their
concern for the lost, they also gave the unsaved godly counsel and warned
them of danger, as well as gave them encouragement and hope in a dark and
• Having stated the several ways in which the
early believers expressed their concern and care for the unbelievers of
their day, let's now look at the Scriptural evidences.
• In demonstrating their concern for the lost, the
early church went to where the unsaved were to bring them the message of the
gospel and the love of Christ. They were constantly on the move taking the
good news to unbelievers. The missionary journeys of Paul clearly illustrate
"So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they
went down to Seleucia and from there they sailed to Cyprus. When they
reached Salamis, they began to proclaim the word of God in the synagogues
of the Jews" (Acts 13:4-5).
"In Iconium they entered the synagogue of the
Jews together, and spoke in such a manner that a large number of people
believed, both of Jews and Greeks... And when an attempt was made by both
the Gentiles and the Jews with their rulers, to mistreat and stone them,
they became aware of it and fled to the cities of Lycaonia, Lystra and
Derbe, and the surrounding region; and there they continued to preach the
gospel" (Acts 14:1, 5-6).
"A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man
of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, "Come
over to Macedonia and help us." When he seen the vision, immediately
we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God has called us to
preach the gospel to them" (Acts 16:9-10).
"Now when they had traveled through Amphipolis
and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of
the Jews. And according to Paul's custom, he went to them, and for three
Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures" (Acts 17:1-2).
"After these things he left Athens and went to
Corinth... And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying
to persuade Jews and Greeks" (Acts 18:1, 4).
• Paul and his fellow-workers really cared for the
lost. They demonstrated that care by going to where the unsaved were.
• To show their concern and care for unbelievers,
the early believers, healed the sick among the lost and performed miracles
and wonders and signs. They did these under the direction of the Holy Spirit
and in His power. Peter, Philip, Stephen, and Paul were empowered to perform
healings, miracles, signs and wonders among the lost.
"But Peter said, "I do not possess silver
and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ
Nazarene-walk!" And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up;
and immediately his feet and ankles were strengthened. With a leap he
stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them,
walking and leaping and praising God" (Acts 3:6-8).
"And all the more believers in the Lord,
multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number, to
such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets and
laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his
shadow might fall on any one of them. Also the people from the cities in
the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together, bringing people who were
sick or afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all being
healed" (Acts 5:14-16).
"And Stephen, full of grace and power, was
performing great wonders and signs among the people" (Acts 6:8).
"The crowds with one accord were giving
attention to what was said by Philip, as they heard and saw the signs
which he was performing. For in the case of many who had unclean spirits,
they were coming out of them shouting with a loud voice; and many who had
been paralyzed and lame were healed" (Acts 8:6-7).
"Peter said to him, "Aeneas [he was
paralyzed, and was bed-ridden for eight years], Jesus Christ heals you;
get up and make your bed." Immediately he got up. And all who lived
at Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord" (Acts
"At Lystra a man was sitting who had no
strength in his feet, lame from his mother's womb, who had never walked.
This man was listening to Paul as he spoke, who, when he had fixed his
gaze on him and had seen that he had faith to be made well, said with a
loud voice, "Stand upright on your feet." And he leaped up and
began to walk" (Acts 14:8-10).
"[At Ephesus] God was performing extraordinary
miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even
carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil
spirits went out" (Acts 19:11-12).
"Now in the neighborhood of that place [i.e.
the island of Malta] were lands belonging to the leading man of the
island, named Publius, who welcomed and entertained us courteously three
days. And it happened that the father of Publius was lying in bed
afflicted with recurrent fever and dysentery; and Paul went in to see him
and after he had prayed, he laid his hands on him and healed him. After
this had happened, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases
were coming to him and getting cured" (Acts 28:7-9).
• The early church's concern for the unsaved was
also expressed in delivering some of them who were held in the grip of
satanic forces, as well as some who were being hindered from receiving the
light and life of Jesus Christ. On his first and missionary journey, God
used Paul to free the proconsul Sergius Paulus, from the satanic influence
exerted on him through a Jewish false prophet and magician named Bar-Jesus.
Also, on his second missionary journey, God worked through Paul to rescue a
slave girl who had a demonic spirit of divination.
"This man [Sergius Paulus] summoned Barnabas
and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the magician (for
so his name is translated) was opposing them, seeking to turn the
proconsul away from the faith. But Saul, who was also known as Paul,
filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his gaze on him, and said, "You
who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of
all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of
the Lord? Now, behold, and the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will
be blind and not see the sun for a time." And immediately a mist and
a darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking those who would lead
them by the hand. Then the proconsul believed when he saw what had
happened, being amazed at the teaching of the Lord" (Acts
"It happened that as we were going to the place
of prayer, a slave-girl having a spirit of divination met us, who was
bringing her masters much profit by fortune-telling. Following after Paul
and us, she kept crying out, saying, "These men are bond-servant of
the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation."
She continued doing this for many days. But was greatly annoyed, and
turned and said to the spirit, "I command you in the name of Jesus
Christ to come out of her! And it came out at that very moment" (Acts
• In the Holy Spirit, Paul expressed righteous
indignation against the magician who was using demonic powers to prevent the
proconsul from receiving Jesus Christ. Similarly, Paul was deeply grieved
about the wretched condition of the enslaved girl. So, in the all powerful
name of Jesus Christ, he commanded the demon to come out of her. Immediately
she was freed from this dreadful bondage, and became a sane, rational
• After the miraculous healing of a lame man, the
people of Lystra concluded that Paul and Barnabas were gods who had become
like men. Calling Barnabas, Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, the men of Lystra
decided to make a sacrifice for them. In displaying their care for the
unbelievers at Lystra, Barnabas and Paul earnestly pleaded with these
superstitious idolaters and did everything to restrain them from offering a
sacrifice to them. The men of Lystra actually believed that their gods had
paid them a visit in the person of Barnabas and Paul. They would not want
the people to think erroneously. So they sought in the Spirit's power to
point them to the truth of the gospel.
"But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard
of it, they tore their robes and rushed out into the crowd, crying out and
saying, "Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the
same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you that you should turn from
these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and
the sea and all that is in them..." (Acts 14:14-15).
• Although the Holy Spirit clearly led Paul and
his team to Philippi, they faced stiff opposition there. They were not only
beaten, but also imprisoned. In prison, Paul and Silas had a praise and
worship service. God responded with a great earthquake that shook the
foundations of the prison. The doors of the prison rooms were all opened.
Chains fell off from the prisoners. They were free to flee. But that was a
major problem for the jailer. Should any of the prisoners under his care
flee, his head would be immediately chopped off. The moment of awareness
came for the jailer. He awoke and saw that the prison doors were opened and
thought that the prisoners had escaped. Rather than have his head chopped
off, he decided to commit suicide. Paul demonstrated his compassionate care
for the lost and desperate jailer by stopping him from taking his own life.
"But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying,
"Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!" And he called for
lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and
Silas, and after brought them out, he said, "Sirs, what must I do to
be saved?" They said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will
be saved, you and your household." And they spoke the word of the
Lord to him together with all who were in his house. And he took that very
hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was
baptized, he and all his household. And he brought them into his house and
set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with
his whole household" (Acts 16:28-34).
• In this story, we see that compassionate care
for the jailer opened the door for the presentation of the good news which
led to the salvation of the jailer and his entire family. The jailer was
fearful of losing his prisoners. Believing a lie, he nearly killed himself.
Most often, those who commit suicide do so because they believe a lie. In
case of the jailer, God placed Paul in his life to show him compassionate
care and concern. God has placed us also in the lives of the lost and
desperate to show them compassionate care, especially during those times
they are bound by the lies of Satan.
• While in Athens alone on his second missionary
journey, Paul saw that the city of Athens was full of idols. Knowing that
God, revealed in Jesus Christ is the true God to worship, Paul's spirit was
greatly distressed. Instead of leaving the unbelieving and ignorant
Athenians in their spiritual blindness and ignorance, Paul expressed his
concern for them by reasoning with them in the synagogue as well as in the
market place. This led to an opportunity of presenting the gospel at the
Areopagus. Beginning with God as the Creator and the Giver of life and
everything, Paul, in the Holy Spirit, called on the Athenians to turn to God
because He has set a day on which He would judge the world through Jesus
"Therefore having overlooked the times of
ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should
repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in
righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof
to all men by raising Him from the dead" (Acts 17:30-31).
• While traveling to Rome on a ship, Paul
expressed concern and care for the lost by giving them godly counsel. They
ignored his counsel though. But he
also warned them of danger on their voyage. And when all hope was lost on
the stormed-tossed ship on which Paul and over two hundred and seventy
others were traveling, most of them being unbelievers, Paul spoke to
encourage them and exhorted them to eat.
"Men, I perceive that the voyage will certainly
be with damage and great loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but
also for our lives. But the the centurion was more persuaded by the pilot
and the captain of the ship than by what was being said by Paul... Men,
you ought to have followed my advice and not have set sail from Crete and
incurred this damage and loss. Yet now I urge you to keep up your courage,
for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship...Paul
said to the centurion, "Unless these men remain in the ship,
you yourselves cannot be saved."...Paul was encouraging them all to
take some food, saying, "Today is the fourteenth day that you have
been constantly watching and going without eating, having taken nothing.
Therefore I encourage you to take some food, for this is your
preservation, for not a hair from the head of any of you will perish.
Having said this, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of
all, and he broke it and began to eat. All of them were encouraged and
they themselves also took food" (Acts 27:10-11, 21-22, 31,
• Clearly, Paul was concerned for both the
physical and spiritual welfare of the many unbelievers who were traveling
• The early church expressed compassionate care
and concern for the lost. They knew from the life of Christ that this was
God's way of ministering to unbelievers.
Call to Repentance (Mark 6:12; Acts 2:38; 3:19-21; 11:18, 21; 14:15;
15:19-20; 17:30-31; 20:20-21; 26:16-20; 2 Tim. 2:24-25; 2 Peter 3:9)
• In their service to unbelievers of their day, the early
believers did what their Lord and Savior did, that is, call sinners to
repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. They were convinced that
serving the lost God's way demanded that they call sinners to turn to God
from their sinful ways to receive forgiveness for their sins and new life in
Jesus Christ. Therefore without fail, and in the power of the Holy Spirit,
they lovingly called unbelievers to repentance.
• Actually, they began calling the unsaved to
repentance when they were under tutelage of the Lord Jesus Himself. On
their first short-term missions outreach to the lost sheep of the house
of Israel, the twelve disciples preached repentance.
"They went out and preached that men should
repent" (Mark 6:12).
• The disciples had watched the Lord Jesus Himself
preached repentance. They learned that it was a necessary part of serving
the lost God's way.
• The early Christians confronted the lost with
the seriousness of sin and its consequences. They did not ask people to
accept Jesus Christ as Savior until they had been told that believing in
Jesus Christ involved repenting from sin, and that salvation was primarily
from sin. Calling people to repentance was therefore a standard element of their
service to the unsaved. The book of Acts clearly shows that this was so.
• On the day of Pentecost, Apostle Peter earnestly
and lovingly called the unbelieving Jews to repentance. Having made known to them
their sin of rejecting their Messiah and Savior, Peter, full of the
Holy Spirit, called upon each person in his audience to repent and receive
forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Person of the Holy Spirit.
"Peter said to them, 'Repent, and each of you
be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for forgiveness of your sins; and
you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you
and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God
will call to Himself'" (Acts 2:38-39).
• Through the Holy Spirit, Peter, gave two commands,
namely repent and be baptized. These commands were followed by promises of
two blessings, namely forgiveness of sins and personal experience of the
Holy Spirit. The above verse is not teaching that salvation is by
baptism. Salvation is always by faith and faith alone, plus nothing
else. Whereas baptism is an outward sign of the inward reality of faith in the
Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
• Repentance is an about-face by which the sinner
acknowledges his lost condition before a holy God who hates sin. It is a
God-given change of mind that turns away from sin and turns to God for help.
This is a gift of God to a convicted sinner. This fact is affirmed by the
Scriptures. When Peter came back to Jerusalem from his life-changing
evangelistic missions at Caesarea, where he presented the good news to many
who were gathered in Cornelius's house, the Holy Spirit reported on the
conclusion of the discussion between Peter and the rest of the apostles and
brethren at Jerusalem. The conclusion reveals that repentance is gift
"When they heard this, they were quieted and
glorified God, saying, 'Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the
repentance that leads to life'" (Acts 11:18).
• The Greek verb translated "has
granted" (didomi) also means, "give in the sense grant,
bestow, impart." The preacher of the good news does not
grant repentance, God does. It is His gift that He generously and lovingly
bestows on a convicted sinner.
• Earlier, when Peter and the rest of the apostles
were brought before the high priest and all his associates, the Sanhedrin or
the Council gave them strict orders not to teach in the name of Jesus. But
the calm and confident response of the apostles was that they would obey God
who raised Christ from the dead and exalted Him as Savior for the purpose of
bestowing repentance and remission of sins to Israel.
"We must obey God rather than men. The God of
our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a
cross. He is the One whom God had exalted to His right hand as a Prince
and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins"
• 2 Timothy 2:24-25 also indicates that God is the
One who imparts repentance to those who are opposed to God's messengers
"The Lord's bond-servant must not be
quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with
gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may
grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth."
• At first glance, this passage might seem to
suggest that there is a question mark as to God's desire and willingness to
grant repentance. That, however, is not the case at all. God is always
waiting to bestow repentance on the sinner who comes to Him in humble
confession. God never withholds repentance from anyone who comes to Him in
humility, admitting that he is wrong.
• The teachings of Acts 11:18 and 2
Timothy 2:24-25 show that God gives repentance that leads not only to
spiritual life, but also to the knowledge of the truth. Thanks be to God for
this gracious work of His!
• When Apostle Peter was given another opportunity
to preach Jesus Christ to the unsaved Jews of Israel after the miraculous healing of the
crippled beggar, he again, in the Holy Spirit, called them to repentance.
"Therefore repent and return, so that your sins
may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the
presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for
you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all
things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from
ancient times" (Acts 3:19-21).
• In the power of the Spirit, Peter, again gave his
Jewish audience two commands, namely "repent and return." The
second command, "return," (epistrepho) means a change of
mind or of a course of action, for the better or the worse. It speaks
especially of a change in the sinner's relation with God. Obviously, Peter
was calling the men of Israel to turn to the God of Israel, who revealed
Himself fully in Messiah Jesus. They were called to make an about-face.
• Their turning to God would not be in vain. They
were promised that their sins would wiped away or blotted out. They would
subsequently experience times of refreshing, which simply refers to
the blessing of Christ's future kingdom on earth.
• When persecution occurred in connection
with Stephen, many believers were scattered. But they didn't go into hiding.
They went about preaching the Lord Jesus. Their labor in the Lord was not in
vain. We are told by the Holy Spirit: "And the hand of the Lord was
upon them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord"
(11:21). Although the details of their preaching were not disclosed, we can
safely surmise that they called their hearers repentance, that is, to turn from their sins to
Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins and new life in Jesus Christ.
• Calling sinners to repentance featured
prominently in the ministry of Apostle Paul. On all his missionary journeys,
the Holy Spirit directed him to call the lost to turn from their wicked ways
to the One and Only true God, who revealed Himself in the Lord Jesus Christ.
• At Lystra, while on their first missionary journey, Barnabas and Paul called
the Gentiles of Lystra to repentance after their miraculous healing a lame man from birth.
Upon observing the miracle, the Gentiles of Lystra thought their gods had become like men and had come
down to them in human flesh. Barnabas, they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes.
The priest of Zeus whose temple was outside the city gate was ready to offer
sacrifice with the crowds. Just at that time Barnabas and Paul rushed out into the crowds
"Men, why are you doing these things? We are
also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you that you
should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven
and the earth and the sea and all that is in them" (Acts 14:15).
• In the power of the Holy Spirit, the missioners,
called the Gentiles to repentance. They were called to make a change of mind
for the better, that is, turning from lifeless, deceitful, worthless, and
false idols and gods to a living God. Since these were Gentiles and not
Jews, the missioners pointed to the evidence of the true and living God in
creation and in providence. It was not an easy day of ministry for Barnabas
and Paul. They had much difficulty in restraining the crowds from offering a
sacrifice to them.
• At the Jerusalem Council, where the apostles and
elders gathered to hammer out the relation of the Law to believing Gentiles,
repentance to God was upheld. In the Holy Spirit, Apostle James, concluded
his counsel to the Council with these words:
"Therefore it is my judgment that we do not
trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles, but that we
write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from
fornication and from what is strangled and from blood" (Acts
• Calling sinners to repentance was a standard
element of the ministry of the first century believers that they spoke about
it so often. I am also convinced that they prayed often for God to grant the
lost the repentance that leads to life.
• On his second missionary journey, Paul was
frequently chased out of town. He was chased out of Thessalonica and later
Berea. From Berea Paul came to Athens. While there, Paul didn't hold a pity
party for himself. He knew that the God to whom he belonged and served is a
God who turns the evil that is meant against His servants into good. With
that attitude, Paul set about to minister the love of Jesus Christ to the
people of Athens. His spirit was deeply provoked within him when he saw the
city full idols. He went to the synagogue and the market place every day to
reason with those God led to him. This led to a great open door. Paul was
invited to speak at the Areopagus. Knowing that his audience was largely a Gentile
audience and therefore were people without a biblical worldview, he pointed
to God as the Creator and Lord and the Giver of life and all things. At the
conclusion of his message, Paul was inspired to make one of the most
powerful calls to repentance.
"Therefore having overlooked the times of
ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should
repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in
righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed having furnished proof
to all men by raising Him from the dead" (Acts 17:30-31).
• The passage makes it clear that God is
commanding all men everywhere to repent, that is, to do an about-face, a one
hundred-and-eighty degree turn from their sins to the Savior Jesus Christ.
This is an urgent message, because God has appointed a day on which He will
judge the world in righteousness by the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible says, "It
is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment" (Hebrews
9:27). The only way to avoid the judgment to come is to turn to God from
one's sins now.
• Meeting with the elders of the church of Ephesus
at Miletus, Apostle Paul described his ministry as preaching what was helpful and
proclaiming repentance to all.
"I did not shrink from declaring to you
anything that was profitable, and teaching publicly and from house to
house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward
God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts: 20:20-21).
• Preaching repentance, that is, a turning to God
from sins, featured prominently in Paul's ministry to both Jews and Greeks.
Without discrimination as to nationality or religious background, Apostle
Paul proclaimed the necessity of a turning to God from sins and faith toward
Jesus Christ, the Savior of sinners. These are two fundamental elements of
the good news. In every genuine case of salvation, there are both repentance
and faith. These are the two sides of the gospel coin.
• Paul was committed to preaching repentance to
all people because it was part of the special mandate he received from the
glorified and risen Lord. Making his defense before King Agrippa and
governor Festus at Caesarea, Paul stated the primary objectives of his
calling as given to him by the Lord Jesus.
"But get up and stand on your feet; for this
purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness
not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in
which I will appear to you; rescuing you from the Jewish people and from
the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they
may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God,
that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those
who have been sanctified by faith in Me. So King Agrippa, I did not prove
disobedient to the heavenly vision, but kept declaring both to those of
Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region
of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to
God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance" (Acts 26:16-20).
• It was on the way to Damascus that Paul was
saved. It was there he began his ministry. Without fail, Paul fulfilled his
calling by preaching repentance to all, starting from Damascus, calling Jews
and Gentiles alike to turn to God and to prove the reality of their
repentance. From the above passage, we learn that a turning to God has so
many blessings. It rescues the sinner from darkness. It releases the sinner
from the power and control of Satan. It leads to the reception of
forgiveness of one's sins. It restores the sinner to an inheritance among the
• In his second letter to the scattered and
suffering believers in what is now modern Turkey, inspired Apostle Peter
reminded the believers that God does not want anyone to perish, but for
everyone to come to repentance.
"The Lord is not slow about His promise as some
count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish
but for all to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).
• Some of the enemies of the gospel in Peter's day
were mocking the teaching of Christ's Second Personal Return. For them, as
far as they were concerned, that was a joke. After all, things have remained
the same. Therefore, there would be no supernatural intervention in the
course of history. Filled with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, Peter
responded to the scoffers, stating that if there seems to be a delay, it is
not because God is unfaithful to His promise. It is because He is very
patient. In His incredible patience, God has chosen to extend the time of
grace so that sinners might have the opportunity to repent and be saved.
• Certainly, calling sinners to repentance was a
standard element of the preaching of the good news to the lost by the early
Christians. Calling the people of the world to repentance is an essential
way of ministering to the lost. The apostles and the early believers
faithfully did that and saw much fruit to the glory and praise of God.
Call on the
Name of the Lord (Acts 2:21; Rom. 10:12-15)
in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus, the early believers exhorted sinners to
call on the name of the Lord to be saved. Their Lord and Master personally
invited sinners to come to Him to find rest for their weary souls and life
• On the day of
Pentecost, Apostle Peter, "the pentecostal preacher," declared to
the crowds that all they had to do to be saved was to call on the name of the Lord
shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved"
• Quoting an
Old Testament prophecy of Joel, in the Spirit, Peter, invited his audience,
most of whom were of Jewish origin, to each personally call on the name of
Jesus in order to be saved from their sins. This is good news indeed.
Salvation is offered to all people on the principle of personal trust in the
Lord Jesus Christ. The expression "the name of the LORD," is an
expression that includes all that the LORD or Yahweh is. Thus, to call on His
name is to call on Yahweh Himself as the true object of faith and as the only
way of salvation. The Bible makes it clear that the Lord Jesus is the radiance
of God's glory and the exact representation of His nature (Hebrews 1:3). So to
call on the LORD is to call on Jesus Christ. Filled with the Holy Spirit,
Peter, therefore pointed the crowds to Jesus Christ as the Lord and Christ
(Acts 2:36), the One to call upon for salvation.
• Apostle Paul knew
what it meant to call on His name. Making his defense before an angry Jewish
mob that had attempted to kill him in the temple grounds in Jerusalem, Paul,
filled with the Spirit, related to them among other things how he was
instructed by Ananias to call on Jesus' name for salvation and forgiveness
of his sins. Ananias's inspired words to Paul were: "Now why do you
delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His
name" (Acts 22:16). This verse is not teaching baptismal
regeneration. What it is teaching is that calling on the name of the Lord in
faith results in the cleansing of one's sins. Baptism is simply an outward
expression of the inward reality of calling on His name in faith for
• From his own
experience of calling on the name of the Lord for salvation and the teaching
of the Scriptures, Paul was inspired to write to the church at Rome that
salvation is available for all who call on the name of the Lord, whether Jew
there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of
all, abounding in riches to all who call on Him; for whoever will call on the
name of the LORD will be saved. How then will they call on Him in whom they
have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And
how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are
sent? Just as it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring
good news of good things" (Romans 10:12-15).
• Just as there is
no difference between Jew and Gentile as far as the need for salvation is
concerned, so also there is no distinction as far as the availability of
salvation is concerned. But the question is: What are the steps that lead to
the salvation of Jews and Gentiles? This is what the above passage deals
• Bible Commentator
W. MacDonald states that the passage will be clearer if the order is
reversed as follows:
sends out His servants. They preach the good news of salvation. Sinners
hear God's offer of life in Christ. Some of those who hear believe the
message. Those who believe call on the Lord. Those who call on Him are
• Clearly then, an
essential part of preaching the gospel is exhorting sinners to call on
Jesus' name in faith for salvation. The apostles and the early Christians
did exactly just that in their service to the lost.
Ministering to the People of the World
by Christians Today
Constant Devotion to Prayer for the Progress of the Gospel
• To minister to unbelievers God's way, God's people
must devote themselves to prayer for power for service and for the progress
of the good news among the lost. We have seen that the Son of God Himself,
Jesus Christ, diligently devoted Himself to prayer for power to serve among
the lost of His day. Also, the apostles and the early believers steadfastly
and single-mindedly gave themselves to prayer for fresh power to serve the
• If we are to minister to the people of
world according to the pattern God has established and preserved in His
word, we will need to give ourselves individually and collectively
continually to prayer asking God specifically to freshly and daily empower
us for service among the lost. Personally, I have been specifically asking
God daily to anoint me with the Holy Spirit and with power so as to
win souls, to witness to the unsaved, to woo the lost to Him and to warn
• We do a great disservice to the people of the world
if we, as believers in Jesus Christ, fail to engage ourselves in a steadfast and
single-minded devotion to prayer for power for service among the unsaved and
for the advance of the gospel of God.
Commitment to the Proclamation of the Good News
• While serving the lost in His ministry here on
earth, the Lord Jesus committed Himself to the preaching and teaching of the
gospel. He went from village to village, town to town, and from city to city
preaching the good news of the kingdom. He demonstrated great passion
in preaching and teaching the good news because He knew that this was God's
way of ministering to the lost.
• The early believers followed in the footsteps of
their Lord and Savior. They also demonstrated the same passion in
proclaiming the good news to sinners. They believed that the gospel is
relevant for all people and for all times. They knew that commitment to the
proclamation was God's way of ministering to unbelievers. The Bible
summarized their commitment and passion to the preaching of the gospel of
Christ in these words:
"And with great power the apostles were giving
testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was
upon them all" (Acts 4:33).
• Their testimony was not about themselves but about
the Person of the Lord Jesus, who He is and what God has done through Him in
the Holy Spirit in order to bring salvation for sinners. This was the way
they ministered to the many unbelievers they encountered. They told them the
story of Jesus. They shared with them the message of life and salvation in
Jesus Christ. They presented Jesus Christ as the only way of salvation for
sinners. They simply pointed the lost to Jesus Christ. They were not ashamed
to speak of the Son of God who died a disgraceful death on a cross in order
to save sinners. They spoke with great confidence and conviction about Him
being raised from the dead and exalted to the right hand of God. They did
all this because they knew that serving unbelievers God's way demanded that
they tell, speak, share, preach, proclaim and present Jesus Christ as the
Savior of the world.
• For believers to minister to unbelievers God's
way, they must each commit to the presentation of the good news. They must
be convinced that the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone
who believes. They must be committed to preaching Jesus as the Savior of
• What the people of this world needs most is salvation
from their sins, not more shopping malls, sales, shows, sport complexes,
superstar models, self-esteem improvement seminars. Their greatest need is not the so-called
"success, satisfaction, or
security." They greatest need is salvation. This salvation is found in the gospel message. The gospel is
all-important. It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who
believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile (Romans 1:16).
• The gospel is the only route to salvation in Jesus
Christ. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ can bring salvation to lost sinners
with all its attendant blessings. The gospel is the means by which life is obtained (2
Timothy 1:10). The gospel also brings peace and hope to those who
believe its life-giving and life-changing message. As such, the gospel is described as "the gospel of peace"
(Ephesians 6:15) and the "hope of the gospel" (Colossians 1:23).
For each and every believer to serve our unbelieving family, friends or
foes, God's way, we must proclaim to them the good news of life, peace, hope
and salvation in Jesus Christ. We cannot fail in this. We cannot excuse ourselves from this
privileged responsibility. God has given us the answer to the world's
greatest need - salvation from sin. Jesus Christ is indeed the answer for
the world today. Whether the unbelievers listen to us or not, we must be
committed to the service of preaching the good news of Jesus Christ to them.
It is God's way of ministering to the lost.
• Christian theologian, Millard J. Erickson,
"The gospel not only cuts across all racial, social,
economic, and educational barriers (Rom. 1:16; Gal. 3:28), but also spans
the centuries of time. A message which does not become obsolete (Jude 3), it
is the church's sacred trust today. In an age in which most ideas and
systems of thought, as well as techniques and commodities, are of a
throwaway variety, the church has an infallible and enduring resource-a
message which is the only means of salvation. The church can display the
same confidence in the gospel that Paul had, for it is still the same
gospel; time has not eroded its effectiveness. The church has the good news
to offer to the world, news which brings hope. In this respect the message
and ministry of the church are unique. For in our world today there is
little hope...The gospel offers its blessings of peace, joy, and
satisfaction in a way contrary than we expect... Because the gospel has
been, is, and will always be the way of salvation, the church must preserve
the gospel at all costs. When the gospel is modified, the validity of the
church is lost. The church dies."
• The gospel is still relevant as it was in the
first century. It is what God has given us to offer to the people of the
world to bring them back to Him. It is what gives hope to a lost world of
little or no hope. It is what brings life and salvation for those who are dead in
• Without doubt, the Bible convincingly shows that, ministering
to the lost God's way, calls for a resolute commitment to the proclamation of
the good news of our Lord Jesus. May God help us not to fail Him in this
Call to Repentance
• Both Christ and His early believers called the
lost to repentance. Calling sinners to repentance was a standard element in their service to unbelievers. It must
therefore be a standard element in our service
to the lost today. In the strength and power of the Spirit, we must lovingly
and earnestly plead with the unsaved to turn from their sins to a holy,
gracious, merciful, loving, faithful, patient and righteous God, who does
not delight in the death of sinners. We must make it clear to lost sinners
that God is not wanting anyone to perish or be lost, but for everyone to
come to repentance.
• As we have seen earlier from the scriptural
record, the early believers, not only called the lost to repentance, but
they also clearly and consistently spelt out the benefits of repentance to
those they were calling to repentance. Similarly, in our ministering to the
unbelieving people of the world, we must also set the blessings of repentance before sinners with all
clarity and conviction. We must let them know that, if they genuinely turn
to God from their sins, God will wipe away all their sins. God will forgive
them of all their sins, no matter how horrible and terrible their sins are! We
must tell them that if they make an about-face from their sins to the Savior
Jesus Christ, God will free them from all the things they can't free
themselves from. God will save them from their sins. God will give them the
gift of the Holy Spirit. God will give them a new start in life, which leads
to the best of all His gifts - eternity with Him.
• Calling sinners to repentance is so much needed
today. The Bible has made it clear that all have sinned and fall short of
the glory of God (Romans 3:23). It also says in plain and simple
terms that, "we all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned
to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all"
(Isaiah 53:6). Therefore, calling sinners to repentance is desperately
needed. Only the repentant, not the religious, is accepted by God. I
am afraid that in most of our churches, the religious has been mistaken for
the repentant. This is sad indeed. It is because of our failure in making a
clear call for sinners to repent.
• The Scripture has clearly established this fact:
Ministering to the unsaved God's way demands that we lovingly and faithfully
call them to turn from their sins to the Savior of sinners, Jesus Christ.
Commissioning of Workers to Go into the Harvest
• The Lord Jesus specifically and
purposefully commissioned His disciples to go into His harvest. The Bible
records five commissioning services of the early believers by our Lord
Jesus. First, He sent out the twelve disciples to the lost sheep of the house
of Israel (Matthew 10:5-15). They were to serve among the lost sheep of the
house of Israel in the northern part of Israel. Second, our Lord appointed
seventy (some manuscripts read seventy-two) others, and sent them two by two
ahead of Him to every town and place where He was about to go. These went to
the southern part of Israel, having been commanded to preach the gospel of
the kingdom and to perform healing (Luke 10:1-11). Third, on the evening of
that first day of the week on which He rose, He commissioned His disciples
(John 20:21). Fourth, before our Lord
departed to the Father in heaven, He again commissioned His followers to go
into the world and make disciple of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). This
commissioning service was performed on a mountain in Galilee. It involved
the eleven disciples and possibly others (Matthew 28:16-17). Fifth, was the
commissioning service just moments before our Lord's ascension on the Mount
of Olives, which is near Jerusalem (Acts 1:4-8). These commissioning
services show the great importance our Lord attached to serving the
• In the first two commissioning services, our
Lord specifically commanded His disciples to ask the Lord of the harvest to
send out workers into His harvest to work among the lost. They were
commanded to pray but our Lord also sent them out. This leaves a pattern for
the church to follow today. Churches must pray to the Lord of the harvest to
send out laborers into His harvest. But they must also, under the leading of
the Holy Spirit, send out workers whom God has set apart for missions and
evangelistic work both at home and abroad. The leadership of every local
assembly must be in tune with the Holy Spirit to show them those
He has set apart for a special missions work, either locally or globally or
• I believe that one of the reasons why churches are
not commissioning workers into the harvest to serve among the lost is that
the leadership is busily lost in its programs and plans. The leaders of the
early church learned to minister to the Person of God Himself. As they did
so, and were in tune with the Holy Spirit, He revealed to them those He had
specifically chosen to be sent out to labor among unbelievers.
The pattern that has been established in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ and the early
church teaches that believers must deliberately and purposefully not only
pray to God to send workers into His harvest, but also cooperate with the
Holy Spirit in the commissioning of those He is calling for special local and global
missions. For us to serve the people of the world God's way, we must each pray to the Lord
of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest and at the same time be ready and willing
to be sent out to work among them.
Compassionate Care and Concern for the World's Needy and Suffering
• The Scriptures clearly reveal that our Lord
Jesus cared about the problems of the needy and the suffering. His feeling of compassion for the lost always led Him to concrete actions. Moved with
compassion, our Lord healed the
sick, cleansed the unclean, fed the hungry and raised the dead. He delivered
those who were oppressed by the devil, the one who has come only to steal and
kill and destroy. He wept over the rebellion of the lost. He cared for the
total man - spirit, soul and body. It is clear from the biblical record
preserved for us about our Lord's life that this was definitely God's way of
• The early believers also expressed compassionate
care and concern for the lost. In the authority and power of the Holy
Spirit, they healed the sick, delivered those who were in spiritual
oppression, went to where the unbelievers were to share with them the love,
grace and truth of Jesus Christ, pleaded and reasoned with them to turn from
their idolatrous and sinful ways, cried out in a loud voice to stop a
fearful man who was about to take his own life for an unfounded reason, gave
them godly counsel, warned them of danger, encouraged and exhorted them in
their hopelessness and despair. They did these because they knew that God's
way of ministering to the unsaved is showing them compassionate care and
• That compassionate care and concern to the lost is
to be expressed in concrete actions was taught by our Lord Jesus in the story
of the good Samaritan. The Lord Jesus told this story to the lawyer (i.e. an
expert in the Mosaic Law) who, asked Him what one should do to inherit eternal
life. Our Lord's response to the lawyer's first question was that one can
inherit eternal life by loving God with one's whole being and one's neighbor
as oneself (Luke 10:25-28). The lawyer remarked that the Lord Jesus had
answered correctly. But wishing to justify himself, the lawyer asked another
question, and that was "who is my neighbor?" (Luke 10:29). Our Lord
responded to this question with a parable.
"A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho,
and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away
leaving him half dead. And by chance a priest was going down that road, and
when he saw him, passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite also, when
he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a
Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt
compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring out
oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an
inn and took care of him. On the next day he took out two denarii and
gave them to the innkeeper and said, 'Take care of him; and whatever you
spend, when I return I will repay you.' Which of these three do you think
proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers' hands? And he
said, "The one who showed mercy toward him." Then Jesus said to
him, 'Go and do the same'" (Luke 10:30-35).
is clear from the story that the good Samaritan, although he had nothing to do
with the attack on the man going down to Jericho, took it upon himself to care
for the victim's needs even at personal cost, inconvenience, and possible danger
to himself, because of his compassion for him. Notice carefully again that compassion led to
a series of concrete actions.
• Compassionate care and concern for the hurting, needy, stranger and the
suffering among the lost is appropriate for those who worship a God who Himself
expresses such concern. If we are going to serve the people of the world
God's way in our day, it follows that we must also, in the power and leading
of the Holy Spirit, express compassionate care and concern for the lost in
tangible ways. Demonstrating compassionate care and concern to the lost is
not mere talk. It is Christ's love in action. It is service in the strength
of the Spirit to the lost to show them that God really loves and cares for them.
• The way in which we express compassionate care and concern to unbelievers is
largely dependent on the leading of the Holy Spirit. He knows what is to be done in
each and every situation. He may lead you to cook a meal for an unbelieving
family in your neighborhood who is having difficult times. He may direct you
to give a godly counsel to an unbelieving friend. He may also guide you to provide
lodging for an unsaved friend for a few days or weeks. He may lead you to call on
an unbelieving teenager who is contemplating suicide, to share with him that there is hope in
Christ for him. He may ask you to warn unsaved teenagers of the dangers of doing
drugs. He may use you to heal an unsaved person through prayer to open the
door for you to share Jesus with him. The Holy
Spirit knows exactly how we are to express compassionate care and concern to the
lost. He will lead us to do so, if we learn to listen to Him.
• The destructions caused by the December 2004
tsunami, Hurricane Katrina and Rita have opened a wide door for Christians
to express Christ's compassionate care and concern to the lost. Many
Christians have given financially to the relief efforts. Others have given
their time and talents to help in the disaster areas. Others have opened
their homes as temporary shelters for the unsaved. Compassionate care and
concern to the lost is concrete action under the leading of the Holy Spirit.
It is God's way of serving the people of the world.
• B. B. Warfield, a teacher at Princeton Seminary who
died in 1921 wrote these insightful words about ministry to the poor and needy
by comparing it to our Lord's ministry to us.
"Now dear Christians, some of you pray day and night to be
branches of the true Vine; you pray to be made all over in the image of
Christ. If so, you must be like Him in giving... "though He was rich,
yet for our sakes He became poor"... Objection 1. "My money is my
own." Answer: Christ might have said, "My blood is My own, My life
is My own"... then where should we have been? Objection 2. "The
poor are undeserving." Answer: Christ might have said, "They
are wicked rebels... shall I lay My life for these? I will give to the
good angels." But no, He left the ninety-nine, and came after the lost.
He gave His blood for the undeserving. Objection 3. "The poor may abuse
it." Answer: Christ might have said the same; yea, with far greater
truth. Christ knew that thousands would trample His blood under their feet;
that most would despise it; that many would make it an excuse for sinning
more; yet He gave His own blood. Oh, my dear Christians! If you would be
like Christ, give much, give often, give freely, to the vile and poor, the
thankless and the undeserving. Christ is glorious and happy and so will you
be. It is not your money I want, but your happiness. Remember His own word,
"It is more blessed to give than to receive."
• The Student Volunteer Movement (SVM) of
America that led to the sending of the first overseas American
missionaries in 1812, impacted not only students but the laymen of the
churches. One of these was J. Campbell White, the first secretary of the
Layman's Missionary Movement, which was formed on November 15, 1906, in New
York. Articulating the vision of the movement Campbell wrote:
"This movement makes the largest demands upon men.
It strives simply to voice to them God's call for a life whose dominant
purpose is to establish the reign of Christ in human relationships...It
reminds them...that selfishness is suicidal while service of others bring
to the soul the supremest possible satisfaction."
• Self-centeredness can prevent us from expressing
compassionate care and concern to the lost. We must not allow it to rob us from
ministering to the unsaved. Christ and His disciples demonstrated compassionate
care to the unbelievers of their times. So, in reliance of the Holy Spirit, must
we. It is God's way of serving the people of this world.
Come to Jesus, Call on Jesus
• Throughout His earthly ministry, the Lord Jesus personally invited sinners
to come to Him to find rest, life and salvation in Him. He didn't wait
for the lost to come to Him. He took the initiative to invite them to
come to Him for the gift of salvation and freedom from the burden of sin and
guilt. This was God's way of serving unbelievers: "Come to Me."
• Empowered by the Holy Spirit, the early Christians also exhorted the
unsaved to call on the name of Jesus for salvation. They were convinced that
salvation is only found in the name of the Lord. They were therefore very careful not to
present themselves or any other thing as the source of salvation of sinners.
They would not confuse the issue of who saves sinners from their sins. They
knew that God's way of ministering to the unsaved is to encourage them to call
on Him who saves, that is, Jesus Christ, the Savior of sinners.
• Similarly, if we are going to minister to the lost God's way, then, we
must again and again exhort, urge and strongly advise them to come to the
Lord Jesus and call on His name, which is an expression that includes all that
the Lord Jesus is.
• We are to make it clear to them that they are coming to a Person for
salvation, not to a program. We must tell them plainly that they are coming to
Christ for forgiveness of their sins, not to a church. We must make them understand
that they are calling on a Divine Being for the gift of eternal life, not on a
denomination. We must clearly tell them that they are calling on or
coming to God for freedom from the burden of guilt, not to
a group. They must know that they are calling on the Savior for redemption,
not merely following a set of rules.
• Ministering to sinners God's way demands that we
exhort them to call on the name of the Lord for salvation. It requires that
we invite them to come to Jesus Christ for salvation, not to a church.
• Sinners must come to Jesus Christ, they must call on His name alone, for
He alone is able to save. The church is filled with unsaved people who have
been invited to come to church, but not to Christ. It is overflowing with
unbelievers who were invited to join a program, but not to join themselves
to the Person of
Jesus. It is full of lost persons who have come to a group, but not to God.
• How important then it is for us to rediscover
this simple yet significant way of ministering to the people of the world.
Enabled by the Holy Spirit, we must without fail and clearly tell them to
come to Jesus and call on His name. If we commit to this way of serving the
lost, those who are saved would be talking more about a Person than a
program. They would share more about their relationship with God's Son, more
than the group they are in. May God help us to go back to the basics of serving
the people of the world God's way! He promises to bless those who serve His
purpose His way. The apostles and the early believers didn't invent any new way
of serving the lost. They simply followed their Lord's footsteps. They were
not disappointed. Rather, they were fruitful to the point that the world
took notice of their service to the lost, saying, "These people who have turned the world
upside down have come here also" (Acts 17:6).
• Ministering to the people of the world is an
important part of God's plan. It is dear to His heart. He sent His One and
Only Son, the Lord Jesus to serve them. He came to seek and save the lost. He
ministered to them God's way and thereby left an example for us to follow. In
serving unbelievers, the Lord Jesus committed Himself to preaching and
teaching the gospel of God. The good news is all-important. It is the power
of God for salvation for everyone who believes. Salvation is the greatest need
of the people of this world. Christ did not fail to serve them in this
all-important area. In the Holy Spirit, the early disciples of our Lord also committed themselves
to the preaching of the good news. They knew this was God's way of
serving the unsaved. If we are going to minister to the lost God's way, then
we must also in the Spirit, be committed to the proclamation of the good
news to unbelievers.
• In ministering God's way to the unsaved, the Lord
Jesus Himself practiced constant devotion to prayer for power to serve. His
disciples also gave themselves to steadfast and single-minded loyalty to
prayer for power to serve the lost effectively. They had come to understand
that divine power for service is released through a devoted life of prayer.
Similarly, for us to minister to unbelievers God's way, our lives must be
characterized by constant devotion to prayer for power to serve them.
• In His service to the people of the world, our
Lord demonstrated compassionate care and concern for them. His compassion
always led to concrete actions. He fed the hungry. He healed the sick. He
delivered the spiritually oppressed. He wept over the rebellion of the lost.
He even raised the dead out of His compassion. The early church also expressed
compassionate care and concern for unbelievers. In the power of the Holy
Spirit, they healed the sick, delivered those who were under satanic
influence, gave godly counsel, warned of danger, reasoned and pleaded
with unbelievers. Thus a permanent pattern has been established for us. If the church
is going to serve unbelievers God's way, then, she must, in the power and
leading of the Holy Spirit, express compassionate care and concern to the lost
in concrete actions. We cannot neglect this important way of serving the suffering and needy
among the unsaved.
• Knowing very well that, we all, like sheep, have
gone astray, and each of us has turned to his own way, the Lord Jesus
consistently called the lost sheep of the house of Israel to repentance. The
apostles and early believers also made this a standard element of their
ministry to the unsaved. Without fear or favor, they called sinners to
repentance. They had no doubt that this was God's way of ministering to the
lost. Similarly, with great conviction of heart, believers of this present
generation and others to come, must call sinners to repentance, that is, to
turn from their sins to the Savior, Jesus Christ, who is waiting to receive the
repentant sinner. He is patient, not wanting anyone to perish, but for
everyone to come to repentance.
• The Lord Jesus commissioned His disciples to serve
among the unbelieving Jews of His day. The early believers knew they were sent
out to serve among the lost. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, they also
released some among them who were set apart for special service among the unsaved.
Similarly, under the direction of the Spirit of God, churches must send out
those God is calling to a special service among unbelievers locally and
globally. This can only happen if churches are seriously praying to the Lord
of the harvest to send laborers into His harvest. When we pray to the Lord of
the harvest to send workers into His harvest, we must also be prepared to be
sent ourselves. The disciples not only prayed to the Lord of the harvest, they
were also sent out to serve among the lost.
• In serving sinners here on earth, our Lord Jesus personally invited them to come to Him for life, salvation and rest from the
burden and guilt of sins. His repeated personal invitation to them was
expressed in these simple yet significant words: "Come to Me."
Jesus is the source of life and salvation. He is the way and the truth and the
life. No one comes to the Father except through Him. He is the One who reveals
the Father to repentant sinners. He is the One through whose blood forgiveness
of sins is obtained. It was therefore wonderful of Him to invite sinners to
come to Him for these blessings and more. In the strength of the Holy Spirit,
the apostles and early believers also exhorted sinners to call upon the name
of the Lord. They were deeply convinced that salvation is found in no one
else. They were fully certain that there is no other name under heaven given
to men by which we must be save except the name of Jesus Christ. In
ministering to unbelievers in our day, we must also, in the power of the
Spirit, call sinners to come to Christ, not to a church. We must in the
Spirit, direct their attention to the Person of Jesus Christ, not to a
program. We must in the might of the Holy Spirit, exhort them to call on the
Divine name of the Lord Jesus, not on a denominational name. This is so
important. If we want to serve the lost as God wants them to be served, we
must go back to the basics of making it a clear to them that it is to Jesus
they must come for life and rest from the burden of sin. It is on the Lord
Jesus' name they must call for salvation.
• Ministering to the lost is part of God's plan for
our lives as believers. Like ministering to the people of God, it flows out of
our personal and intimate ministering to the Person of God Himself. My prayer for you as a believer in Jesus Christ is that
you will seek to deepen your relationship with God through your personal
ministry to Him. And as you do so in the strength of the Holy Spirit, God will
equip and enable you to minister more effectively to the people of the world
His way and for His glory.
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