The Best Thing a Christian can do for America

Bible Book: 1 Corinthians  9 : 22
Subject: Soul Winning; Evangelism; Witnessing; Faithfulness
Introduction

What is the best thing we can do for our country right now? The hope of America is Christ. No politician can solve our problems or straighten out the corruption that plagues our country. The hope for America is Christ, and as Christians we can make a difference. Look with me today at 1 Corinthians 9: 22: “I have become all things to all men that by all means I might save some.”

This may seem like a strange verse to preach regarding Indepedence Day, but what independence is greater than being freed from salvary to sin? What better thing can happen to American than for the citizens of our land to turn to Christ? As believers, we must realize that we have a message and we are to share it - it is the good news of salvation found only in Christ.

Many Christians have what they call a life-verse. That means that they choose a Bible verse that they consider to be a theme upon which they can base their Christian commitment and life. Many years ago, when I entered the ministry, I decided to choose a ministry verse. The verse I chose is our text for today and it has helped me keep a focus on sharing Jesus with people across these years. As I began to pastor back in 1968, this verse was on my desk and I looked at it every day. I sought in every way to convey its meaning to the members of the churches i pastored.

A witnessing Christian and church must have a basis for their commitment to win people to Jesus. We don't witness in order to create a name for ourselves - if we do, we are to be pitied. We are not to evangelize in order to merely grow our churches and brag regarding our attendance. The basis of our wintess is to be obedient to the mandate of Christ found in Matthew 28:18-20. We are to remember what Jesus told the disciples before He ascended back into heaven - those words found in Acts 1:8. Paul states his own commitment to doing all things possible to win some to Christ, as found in 1 Corinthians 9:22. I want us to see four things that Paul wrote in this passage and I believe you will agree that part of the reason for Paul’s incredible success was the devotion he had to the principles in this text.

I. To Win People to Jesus we must be Flexible

Paul said, “I have become all things…”

Paul allowed God to bend him and mold him into whatever it took in order to make him an effective witness. Paul had zeal for Christ from the moment he was saved on the Damascus road but it is apparent that, like all of us, Paul needed to have God shape him into a soul-winner. He had to be malleable in order to be useable in God's great evangelistic enterprise.

Paul said he had “become” all things, which meant something changed in his life as a Christian in order for him to love lost people and desire to see them saved. By saying that he had become “all things,” Paul was not asserting that he accepted everything people were doing or that he joined in them evil behavior in order to be friends with those who were lost; on the contrary, he was saying that he learned to watch people and discover their interests and to use that as a way to share Jesus with them. He had "become" capable of using any and every occasion as a witnessing opportunity.

I was talking with an atheist on one occasion who had a great interest in financial investments. I learned that he had worked in the financial sector for many years and I came to know this by asking questions and listening to his conversations. One day we were talking about investments and I told him I had an investment that never lost, never declined always grew better each year. He immediately wanted to know what it was. His eyes opened widely and his demeanor changed with the thought of something into which he could invest without the possibility of loss. I told him that I had invested my life in Jesus and it had proven to be the most successful decision I ever made, because I was forgiven, had peace, was promised a home in heaven and that my Lord would never leave me. I was simply using what interested that man in order to converse with him about Christ and His salvation. I believe that is what Paul was speaking of when he mentions that he had "become" all things to all men in order that he might save some.

Sometimes we are so rigid that we judge people before we listen to them. Jesus wisely asked questions when talking with people. With His divine knowledge He knew exactly what to say in any situation, but you can read the New Testament and see His interest in people and his willingness to engage with them in conversation. In order to reach the lost and grow our churches, we must be flexible so that we can find an avenue into the heart and soul of the people with whom we are talking.

The same principle applies in our church life. Though we must never compromise the scriptures and the truth found in them, we must be willing to adjust our methods for sharing Christ. Different ways of setting up Bible studies, changes in worship style and other non-essential methods must be considered worthy of replacing or altering if it means that lost people can repent and come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior. The stiffest wall Jesus faced when He ministered was the one set up by a religious crowd that was adamant regarding their traditions. They intended to protect those traditions even if it meant everyone else on earth went to hell. Sadly, that same attitude has affected many churches today.

If you attempt to change some programs in churches, into which many people have invested years of labor, you may run into a brick wall. It doesn't matter to them that no one has come to Christ in that church months or years, they only concerned with maintaining things as they are. One wise layman, with tears in his eyes, once said, "I've become convicted that I've been much too concerned with dust gathering on the organ and not burdened enought about the fact that the baptismal pool hasn't been used here in a long time." The danger for many Christians is a rigid formulation of how things are to be done rather than a broken heart for lost people who are dying without Jesus. Be flexible in all things that are not scripturally commanded and you can say, “I have become all things that some may be saved.”

II. To Win People to Jesus we must be Focused

Paul said he became all things to “all people.”

Paul was soul-conscious and was always on the lookout for opportunities to share Jesus with others. Have you noticed how focused we are on ourselves? That is a weakness for me and I know it is for most of us. We go into a store to purchase something and the clerk or wait-person doesn’t know how to help us or appears to be unconcerned with helping us. Our tendency is to become frustrated and to speak to the clerk in a hateful. We are so focused on what we want, when we want it, and how we want to be treated, that we fail to remember that the person we are dealing with is someone Christ died to save. Because of this, we fail to think of the clerk’s situation and soul that resides inside that person. With all people, we must push back our self-interests and focus on the person with whom we are dealing as someone whom God loves. For one thing, you never know what that wait-person or clerk is going through in life.

I often share with a waitress that I am going to pray for my meal and ask if he or she has a prayer request. One day I did that with a waitress and tears welled up in her eyes as she told me about her sick daughter at home. She wasn’t the best waitress in the world, in fact she seemed confused at times. No wonder she wasn’t doing her best – she had an ailing child that meant much more to her than my food and convenience. I must admit that I am not always so thoughtful, but I want to be. I pray that God will help me to get my mind off myself on fix my mind on Christ and others. I expect Paul was the best at being focused on people than any Christian in the history of the Church. One might say that only Jesus was more concerned for souls than Paul. It is no wonder God used him so greatly.

Jesus spent a lot of time with individuals. Whether it was a blind man, a rich young ruler, a child, a thief, a prostitute, or a woman at a well, Jesus was never too busy to care about an individual. For example, the story of the woman at the well, especially the conversational portion of that event found in John 4, reveals an interesting fact. The direct encounter with the woman and Jesus takes up about thirty verses in the text; however, the revival that followed in Sychar takes up only three verses. It is astounding to me that the recounting of the salvation of one sinful woman, who had been married five times and was living with a man to whom she was not married, took up thirty verses in the Bible while a revival that touched the entire city took up only three verses. Why so much emphasis placed on the one individual rather than on the great revival that touched dozens or hundreds of people? I believe it is presented this way because Christ is interested in us one-by-one. He cares about you as a person, not just you as a part of a group. As Christians we may take this as a cue from Christ that we are to love people and focus on them as individuals. This kind of witness, one which cares for each person, is an avenue to reviving an entire city, and perhaps reviving an entire nation! I don't know everyone in this service today, but Jesus knows you. He cares about you. He knows the number of hairs on your head right now. He knows what troubles you and He is touched with your sorrow. He knows your dreams, and He is the only one who can direct you toward the very best in your life. It is that same God who calls on us to care about others and especially about their salvation.

III. To Win People to Jesus we must be Faithful

Paul said that he meant to reach people with the gospel by “all means.” Paul was committed to being faithful in this issue of sharing Jesus with others even if it meant he had to change the “means” of his approach in sharing Christ with them. Whatever it took, he was going to tell the story of salvation – the cross – the resurrection – his own experience of redemption.

Think about Paul in the prison at Philippi. He and Silas had been illegally beaten for a false crime and thrown into the deepest part of the prison. Instead of whining and complaining, Paul used the opportunity to pray and sing praises to the Lord. An earthquake brought a chance for immediate freedom from the prison, but Paul stopped in order to keep a Roman guard from committing suicide. He shared Jesus with the guard and soon the guard’s entire family was saved. Instead of focusing on his terrible circumstances in the prison, Paul focused his attention on the Lord in prayer and praise. This led to an opportunity to witness to one man - a Roman jailer. That led to the jailer's entire family being saved and that led to Paul's wounds being treated. Furthermore, the salvation of the guard eventually led to Paul and Silas being freed from prison. Listen carefully, when we focus on our Lord, His will and the souls of men and women, God will take care of us regarding the other areas of our lives. When we focus on taking care of ourselves, to the exclusion of our Lord and His work, we will simply become more frustrated!

Paul was faithful to share everywhere and use whatever means he had at his disposal to do so. We see him doing this before Agrippa, where he might have pleaded for his life. Rather, he gave his testimony and sought to bring believing faith to Agrippa. In other words, Paul did not see sharing Christ as a plan but rather he saw witnessing as the act of taking every opportunity placed before him as a part God’s will.

The “all means” in this text entails exactly what it says! We have to pray and ask God to make us sensitive to what might appear to be coincidental encounters. We must look at these occasions as fortuitous openings provided by the Lord. A lot of "chance" meetings that Jesus had with people happened as He was moving along in life. Of course I know that there were no "chance" meetings in the life of Christ, but my point is that they appeared to be chance meetings to everyone else. While He was walking down the road, or sitting in a home, or eating a meal, or even hanging on the cross, we note that Jesus saw them in God’s timing as evangelistic opportunities.

Sharing our faith in Jesus with others is not a program like Sunday School, but rather it is a life-style to be lived. If we close our eyes to this truth, we will never use “all means” to win people to Christ.

IV. To Win People to Jesus we must be Fruitful

Paul said his desire was to “save some.” We are not to think that Paul thought he, himself, had the power to save anyone. The idea present in Paul's expression is his desire to see people saved and for him to be the instrument God used to see those people saved. Jesus does the saving, but Paul desired to be God's tool in the process. Jesus does the saving, but we are to do the sharing.

Paul knew that he had no chance of seeing everyone converted to Christ. In fact, he had been rebuffed again and again by those who despised him and his message. In order to be fruitful, one must sow a lot of seed. Not every seed will bring forth results, but if we sow enough seed, some of it will blossom into full fruit.

If you are easily discouraged in the task of witnessing, you will not be a fruitful witness. If you are fearful of rejection, you will not be a fruitful witness. If you object to hard work, you will never be a fruitful witness.

Think of a farmer. Sowing seed is hard work. The ground must be broken, the seed must be sown, the field must be watered, the weeds must be kept at bay, and the work still depends on God for results. That is exactly the way it is when sowing the seed of the gospel. You must go from place to place with the idea that many hearts are firmer than the hardest ground on earth, but you are still to use all means possible to plant the seed of the gospel in those hard hearts. We are to take the seed with us, and when we find someone even slightly willing to talk about salvation, we must seek to keep weed thoughts from taking over the conversation. You get the idea I’m sure. In the end, we are depending on God to move on the souls of men and women to bring them to the full fruit of salvation.

We can say with assurance that one can “save some” if that one does not witness to any! Paul longed to be fruitful in the work of bringing people to saving faith.

Conclusion

We are living in a time when the Bible-believing churches in America are in retreat. We are baptizing less people and it is estimated that more than 70% of our churches are declining or are plateaued. Of the churches that are growing, only 1% is said to be growing through reaching lost people. The other churches that are growing are basically taking members from the 70% that are declining.

We must make a new commitment to be the people that Jesus said we are to be. As the Father sent Him into this world so that the lost might be saved, He has also sent us. The Great Commission has not changed. We must tell the story of Jesus and that begins with a new commitment in our lives.

Sadly, most Christians see sin almost exclusively as bad things that people do. Actually, some of the greatest sins we commit involve not doing the things we should do! Witnessing is one of those forsaken duties among God’s people. Oh, that we might commit ourselves to caring about people the way Jesus cared for them! We must step out as Paul did and say, “I have become all things to all men that by all means I might save (or be the instrument that God uses to save) some!

I was called by a family and asked to visit a man who was in the family of one of my church members. He was said to be in serious condition. I drove the hospital, took the elevator to the third floor, found the room and pushed open the door. I found an older man lying in the hospital bed with a tube running from beneath the sheets into a jar. The tube was attached to one of his lungs. A nurse stood behind his bed. I explained why I was there and asked if I could talk to the man. She looked at him and then turned to me and said, “Sir, he is bad shape, so I think you better come back tomorrow.” I nodded and was about to leave when I saw his lips moving. I said, “I think he is trying to say something.” The nurse leaned down with her ear close to his lips and when she stood back up and looked at me she had a tear falling from one of her eyes and tracking down her cheek. She said, “He said you better talk to him today, tomorrow may be too late.” I led that man to Jesus in that hospital bed that day. That was about 45 years ago and I’ve never forgotten it. I can see it today as if it were yesterday. There are many such memories in my mind and heart of people who came to Christ during a personal witnessing encounter. I’m saying this, you will never regret taking the time, the chance of rejection, or placing yourself in a situation that is uncomfortable to share your faith with others. Whether the person comes to faith in Christ or not, you faithfulness to Jesus and your love for others will bless you the rest of your life – and, yes, witnessing for Christ will be a blessing even in eternity when you meet your Savior.

Are we sharing Christ with others? Do you care about the souls of men and women without Christ? The Psalmist said in Psalm 142:4, "I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; NO MAN CARED FOR MY SOUL [emphasis mine]."

Let no one ever be able to say that about us! Now is the time to commit anew our lives and our testimonies for the sake of Christ and for souls! You have to admit, when great numbers of people in America were to turn to Jesus, our nation will have a great future!