Reaching Out to the Lost

28 10 2007

By Pastor Norman S. Lao

Text: Luke 15:1-7

Introduction

As I said three Sundays ago that there are many kinds of reaching out: (1) God reaching out to us in the INCARNATION; (2) We reaching out to each other in MINISTRY; (3) We reaching out to the lost in EVANGELISM. This morning I want to share with you the third level of reaching out, from our text, Reaching Out to the Lost.

You must understand that we do not use the term “lost” in a condemning manner or that we are better than they are just simply because we have already been “found.” We use the term to designate someone who is not “in Christ” or someone who has not found Jesus Christ as his Savior yet. People who have the prospect of God’s judgment hanging over them because they do not have a Savior. God’s judgment, according to Jesus himself, is eternal fire.

Now, some modernists will protest saying that preaching on hell fire today is just out of style or out of date. “Do you still believe in hell?” But let me ask, if the house of some of their friends burns with fire, will they just stand by and say, “oh that’s old fashioned…” or “do you still believe in fire?” and do nothing about it? Of course not! They will try their best to put the fire out! I want them to know that there is something far more valuable than a house that is at stake here – eternal human souls!

There is nothing old-fashioned about fire or hellfire! Just because something is old does not necessarily follow that it is not true. Hell is as real today as it was when Jesus first preached on it 2000 years ago.

The Universalists may say, “don’t worry, everyone will be saved eventually…including the devil….” This is in direct contradiction to what Jesus and the Apostles taught in the Scriptures. “Only a few will enter life…” (Matthew 7)  “Only those who obey can enter in…” “The immoral…cannot inherit the kingdom of God…” (Galatians 5) and many others.  If I believe in what the universalists are saying, I have to tear out a lot of pages from the Bible!  But I would rather believe the Word of God than the words of men. (Acts 5:29)

Ecumenists may say “after all, all roads lead to heaven….” Jesus claimed exclusivity: “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) Unless we are convinced of this then we will not have the motivation to reach out to the lost.

Reaching Out gives us a mental picture of a hand reaching out. If you notice, you have TWO hands. Reaching out with one hand is good, but you know, reaching out with BOTH hands is better.

Many times the church reaches out only with one hand, either the right hand or the left hand. What am I saying here? I’m saying that sometimes we reach out only with the Gospel. We preach and preach only, nothing more, nothing less. Sometimes the church reaches out with, what we call, “temporary works of mercy.” That is, we give clothes, food, and we visit the sick. For our outreach to be effective we must use both hands: Gospel and Temporary Works of Mercy.

You have heard me say many times, “We were saved to bring others to salvation.” There are three very important things we need in order to reach out to the lost effectively.

I. COMPASSION

The first thing we need is COMPASSION.

This compassion comes from our understanding that hell is real and that without Christ people will go into that place of eternal torment. I don’t care about what the “wise of the world” has to say about hell — what I care about is to help as many people as we can to avoid ending up there in the Judgment!

There are so many questions about hell I cannot answer. But you know what, when I warn my children about a particular danger I do not usually tell them everything about it. I just warn them. I want them to trust me as their father and that all I desire is their safety and well-being. We believe that God loves us so much and that all he wants is our safety and well-being.  It is well for us and our loved one to heed the warning about hell.

Compassion is the desire to alleviate or reduce the suffering of another.

Vehicular accidents are very common in our city.  Some of us here have even been in one.  You may have noticed, there are almost always three kinds of people in any accident.

1. The bystanders and onlookers – people who are watching what happens. They don’t get involved. They are just spectators.  They may feel some pity in their hearts for the victims, but they’re just there watching.  They don’t do anything.

2. The policemen– those whose job is to determine whose fault it is and who will get punished for it.

3. The medical people – those who help and take care of those who are wounded.  They don’t care whose fault the accident is, they just want to save the injured.

Many Christians are like the first group – the bystanders – they just look at the lost and do nothing. They don’t care what happens as long as they themselves are okay.

Some Christians are like the second group – the police officers – they condemn the lost, they tell sinners how bad they are and that they are going to hell. Many people do not want to go to our churches because many times all we do is condemn people. We must change our attitudes if we want to see more people get saved!

Only a few of us are like the third group – the medical personnel – their compassion toward the lost is what drives them to help the people get saved. They don’t care how sinful a person may be – they just share Jesus with them.  Thank God for people like these!  That’s one reason why you are here today — someone had the compassion to share Jesus with you!  Won’t you do the same?

WHICH OF THE THREE GROUPS DO YOU BELONG IN?

The first thing we need to reach out to the lost is COMPASSION

II. ACTION

The second thing we need to reach out to the lost (people who are not saved) is ACTION.

The Shepherd in our Parable had compassion for the lost sheep. That is, he has love and mercy in his heart for the missing animal. But feelings alone are not enough – the shepherd put action in front of his feelings! He went out and searched for the missing sheep!

John 3:16 tells us that “God so loved the world,” yes, but it does not end there. The verse continues to say that “He gave His one and only Son….” In other words, God’s love compelled Him to act – He gave His one and only Son.

Love without action is dead.

Many times the church speaks beautiful words, but is severely short in actions. Words mean nothing without the accompanying action.  If the shepherd in the parable only told other shepherds, “I love my lost sheep…I’m worried about what has happened…I pity it so much…I am praying for it every day…” but does nothing to find it, the sheep will remain lost.

Many times the church only talks about the lost, how miserable they are without Christ, that they are going to hell, that they are without hope, but unless the church goes out and finds them, they will remain lost.

If we are to reach out to the lost, we must make some effort to do so. We must go out from our regular schedules and try to win the lost to Christ! Give out gospel tracts, share your testimony, bring others to church where they can heart the Gospel, lead a Bible study, etc., etc.

The first thing we need in reaching out the lost is COMPASSION.

The second thing we need in reaching out the lost is ACTION.

III. DETERMINATION

The third thing we need in order to reach out to the lost more effectively is DETERMINIATION. Determination is that quality that does not easily give up.  It means that you have determined your goal and you won’t quit until you reach or accomplish it.

The shepherd did not stop until he found the lost sheep and brought it back to safety.

Many Christians give up easily when it comes to helping the lost. Because of the lost condition of the lost it is sometimes difficult to reach out to them. They argue against us. They ridicule (or make fun) of us. They persecute us. But we must not give up! Jesus did not give up! He did not give up even when they crucified Him.

Our persistence and determination will give us success.

So what if the person you invited did not come to church? INVITE HIM/HER AGAIN! And again and again until he/she does!

So what if they will not listen to your preaching? Preach again! And again and again until they listen!

Don’t give up easily!

Expect difficulties when reaching out to the lost. But understand that difficulties can be overcome! (Philippians 4:13)

There was a man who dreamed that he was given by God a job to do.  It was to pick on a large granite boulder. In his dream, the man picked and picked on the stone with a pickaxe without apparent effect. He wanted to give up. He complained to the Lord that his work is useless since the stone was still intact. The Lord spoke to him, “I gave you work to do – to pick on the granite boulder – Just do your job and leave the results to me.” With new determination the man struck the granite stone and it exploded into a million pieces.

Just do what God called you to do (reach out to the lost) and leave the results to God!

Conclusion

The lost sheep will remain lost unless the church goes out and reaches out to them. The church needs three things to do this: The church needs COMPASSION, ACTION, and DETERMINATION.

Prayer

Our Father in heaven,

Please give us compassion in our hearts for those who are lost. Open our eyes and hearts to their suffering and lost condition. Enable us to do our best in reaching them out and help us not to give up easily when we are faced with difficulties. Give us and our church success in bringing more people into your Kingdom.

In Jesus’ name, amen.

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