Peninsula Community Church
May 26, 2019
John 3:16-21 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
This weekend has been established as a national holiday to celebrate Memorial Day. It is the day we honor those who have given their lives so we can live free as a nation and as individuals. It is noteworthy that Memorial Day began shortly after the Civil War in 1856. The families and survivors of the Union Army were passionate about honoring those who gave their life during the Civil War. They would visit and place flowers on the graves of those who died. After World War I and all wars after that, those who died were honored. Memorial Day serves as a reminder of the price paid for our freedom.
For so many, this weekend is associated with the beginning of summer, but the reality is it is less about the start of summer and much more about the lives who were sacrificed for our freedom. It is a time to remember why they died. Today, we are reminded these men died so we could be free. They died so we could worship and speak freely, even if we do not agree with the worship or speech of another person. They paid that price with their lives. On a side note, it is so sad that those freedoms are being encroached upon and being eroded in big ways.
Last week we noted that to understand discipleship we needed to know the why more than the how of evangelism and discipleship. The how and mechanics of what we do is important, but the why of what we do is even more critical. Without the why, we can become mechanical and programmatic in our approach to discipleship. For a few minutes this morning I would like to consider the why of discipleship and evangelism. In other words, we will look at why we do what we do.
Last we week we were reminded that while salvation is important, growth in Christ in terms of discipleship was the focus of the “Great Commission.” So, why do we disciple others? Why does it matter? Why should we share Jesus with those we encounter and within our sphere of influence? The answer lies in this passage before us today. We are called to be disciples and we are to disciple others because of John 3:16. We do so because God so loved the world.
This sin filled, depraved, godless world has been and still is loved by God. He loved it so much that He sent His son to die on the cross not for one sin but for all sin. This is the most incredible part of this passage. He did not die for some people, He died for all people. He died for the world, the whole world. He died for all mankind regardless of social standing, financial standing, or even one’s looks. Thank God for that. There is not one person who was not on the mind of Christ when He hung on the cross. We are all covered by the sacrifice He gave.
Why did He do this? He did so in order that every person who would believe in Him might have eternal life, and not just eternal life but abundant life. You see Jesus did not come to help us just escape hell. He did not die so that we could join a Christian social club. He died so we could live and live freely in a world that seeks to shackle us with fear, anxiety, and deceit. He died so that anyone who would believe in Him and accept Him would be received as His child. Through acceptance of Christ his or her name is written into the Book of Life.
We must understand that salvation is not automatic. You must choose to accept Christ as your Savior. The sad part is that not all will be saved because they will refuse to choose Him. Instead they will reject Christ and His provision for abundant life. The truth is that not every person will be saved but the opportunity for salvation is available for all people. This includes the worst of all mankind and it includes the best of all mankind. We must all accept Christ on our own and for ourselves. We cannot depend on our friends or our family. We must accept Him personally.
Because of God’s love there is great misunderstanding of some doctrine that is being propagated by some in the church today. There is so much that is based in human ideology and not God’s theology. I have stated this before. We must be assured that our presuppositions are formed by Scripture and not the other way around. We must not allow our presuppositions to determine our beliefs, but we must allow God’s word to form our beliefs. When we start from the basis of our own beliefs, and we are looking for Scripture to give us answers to support our beliefs, we have failed to allow the Word of God to be the roadmap of our life. In a world that is encouraging us to jettison all absolutes and live by our own moral compass, we as believers need to heed the call of God to live by the word and not our own beliefs.
With that said, I would suggest to you that there are four motivating factors for our work in discipleship and evangelism. It is these motivating factors that define for us the why of discipleship. First of all, the love of Christ compels us. As we look at this passage let me let you in on a secret. God did not create the world, sling it into existence and then forget about it. He loved the world before its foundation. He loved the world when mankind failed in the Garden and sin came rushing into their minds and hearts. He loves the world just as much today as He did then. It is that love that compels us to share Christ with others. It is that love that constrains us to accomplish His will. Listen to Paul’s words. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died (2 Corinthians 5:14 NIV). In the ESV the word is Christ’s love controls us.
So, why do we do this? We do so because the love of Christ overwhelms us. We do so because the love of Christ motivates us to speak truth in love to those we encounter and to those to whom we have been given influence. When we embrace the love He has for us and that love overwhelms us and motivates us to share our faith with others.
Second, we are commanded by Christ to disciple. The love of God experienced through the work Christ done on our behalf motivates us to obey God’s call to be discipled and to disciple. If you remember, last week we found that Jesus commands His disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). Peter says to all Christians, “Be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15, NIV).
We disciple because it is a part of the plan executed by God. Think about this, God could have used any means possible to share His love. He could have just spoken directly to those around us. But for some strange reason, He chose us. He chose this imperfect, sinful creature created by God to be the vessel He would work through to touch people and to give them the word of hope.
Third, a love for the lost compels us. A love for the lost should compel us to have compassion for those in need, and everyone’s greatest need is eternal salvation. We saw before that it is love that should compel us as a motivation for discipleship. To effectively accomplish this we must have a love for those to whom we are being sent.
To understand that love we must consider how richly God has loved us. See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him (1 John 3:1). Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (1 John 4:7-11).
And finally, we disciple because we have a love for God. Our ultimate motivation in evangelism must be to see God glorified, and God is glorified when the truth about Him is known and made known. Thus our desire should be to glorify God by proclaiming the truth about Him as often as we can. This motivation will sustain us when our love for others may run dry. If we are to faithfully evangelize despite rejection, opposition, and even persecution, our deepest motivation must be to glorify God. You see perfect love casts at all fear. When our love for God overwhelms us, we are motivated by faith and not the individual we are sharing hope with.
So why do we disciple others? We do so because of the love of God who sent His son and the love that is manifested in our hearts.
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/messages.
Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom