What Have I Done?

Bible Book: Jeremiah  8 : 4-7
Subject: Evangelism; Lordship; Witnessing; Soul Winning
Introduction

My message this evening is a topical one. That is, I want to use our text to prompt us to think of a duty which all too often we avoid. Jeremiah records the words, “What have I done?” One might add the question, “What have I not done?”

Many television watchers a few years ago will remember Erkle, who often created chaos then humorously asked, “Did I do that?”

Sadly, God declares that many of His children do that which is against His will or fail to do that which fulfills His will, but few ever ask, “What have I done?”

I want us to ask this question today as it relates to a sin of omission. We sin by omission when we fail to do what we know we should do and fail to do what God has instructed us to do. An eight-year-old boy asked his father, "Dad, would you punish me for something I didn't do?" "Of course not," said his father. "Good," said the kid.  "I didn't do my homework." Be assured that God considers sins of omission just a critical as sins of commission. But what are some sins of omission?

It is a sin of omission when we are not faithful in our attendance. It is a sin of omission when we do not give His tithes and our offerings. Anything God tells us we are to do and we fail or refuse to do, is a sin of omission. Today I want us to concentrate on one particular sin of omission - it is the sin of failing to be a witness for our Lord.

We note these words in Luke 24:46-48: "Then He said to them, 'Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise[a] from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And you are witnesses of these things.'"

In Mark 16:15 we read: And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." It is commanded of us that we proclaim the message of salvation available through our Lord.

Those of us who have trusted Jesus as Savior are witnesses to His saving work on the cross, His justifying work found in the resurrection and we are compelled to make known these truths that others may come to know Him as Lord and Savior.

I. A Matter of Lordship

Jesus is Lord and every one of us who knows Him as Savior agrees to that title and position. However, we need to be reminded of exactly what it means for us to view Him and serve Him as Lord.

A. The Possession of Authority

Jesus said, “All authority is given unto me, in heaven and on earth...” (Matthew 28:-18-20). He then gave the commission for all of us who know Him to go into the world and make disciples – that means leading people to know and follow Jesus. Dear friends, we have no right to create an omission where God has given a commission. If we are not sharing the gospel message, we are failing to accept fully His authority in heaven and on earth.

B. The Persuasion of Authority

We read in Matthew 28:12-20: And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore[a] and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

The  "Go therefore" in the Great Commission stands as a testimony to the persuasive authority of Jesus in sending us out. He has all the authority to set the agenda. We are not to change His plan, we are to obey His command.

Jesus took this matter very seriously. Note in Matthew 23:13 that He said, "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.”

In the Book of Acts, following His resurrection, Jesus spoke to His disciples and told them to “tarry” in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit had come. Then, in chapter 1 and verse 8, He told them that they would be His witnesses in Jerusalem, all of Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth. In essence he commanded them to “Tarry and to Tell.” The dual duties of worshipping and witnessing cannot be denied by any Bible-believing Christian. The Lord has spoken, all we can do is obey or disobey!

You might ask, “Preacher, is an act of omission as significant as an act of commission?” Please note that each act is a sin. To be quite honest with you, a sin of omission is just as condemning as any sin of commission. Think about it, when you fail to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, you are lost! That is a sin of omission.

In Jeremiah 48:10 we read a startling passage, "A curse on him who is lax in doing the LORD's work… !” A curse was pronounced against those who are lax, which means careless or negligent in their duties as a servant of the Lord. That sounds very serious to me. An omission caused by a slow response to His will can bring a curse upon us. Now, that is serious!

If we do not understand the Lordship of Christ, we will get our priorities mixed up. I remember a man coming to see me several years ago who was disturbed about something in the church and wanted me, his pastor, to do something about it. He was so agitated by this matter that he was shaking. I saw immediately that this man had a much greater problem. His priorities were out of order.

I asked this man a question, “Sir, how many people have you personally tried to win to Jesus in the last month? How about the last year?” He stared at me for a moment, since my question had nothing to do with his reason for being in my office. He finally replied that he had not won anyone to Christ and implied he had not even witnessed to a single individual. Then I asked, “You are all upset about this church matter, don’t you think that the eternal souls of your neighbors, family and friends are more important than this situation you have come to talk to me about?” He answered in the affirmative. We went on to discuss the matter he had come to discuss, but he was different. He calmed down and spoke more intelligently and kindly. Finally as he was leaving, he turned to thank me for reminding him about what was most important in his Christian life.

When we get Lordship straightened out, a lot of things will change for the better in our lives and in the lives of those around us.

II. A Matter of Stewardship

A steward must be found faithful. Just what does stewardship have to do with our witness?

A. To Whom Much Is Given

We are given a sacred trust when we receive Christ and we will be held accountable for our actions. One such trust we have been given is our testimony for Christ and His glorious grace. Just think what you possess in Christ:

(1) The forgiveness of sin
(2) The promise of heaven
(3) The indwelling of the Spirit
(4) The Word of God
(5) The fellowship of the saints
(6) The peace that passes understanding, and so much more.

Because we have been given so much, we surely qualify as being included in the statement that speaks of those who have received much, and thus are included in the fact that we have a special responsibility to God.

B. Much Is Required

If we fail to fulfill this trust, there can be grave consequences. Look at Ezekiel 3:17-19, "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to a wicked man, `You will surely die,' and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself.”

We may not entirely know what it means to have someone’s blood on our hands, but it cannot be a good thing. We must be careful to honor the Lord and execute the trust given to us. Think how serious it is to be guilty of manslaughter, and that because you failed to do something to save a life. How grave is the issue of being responsible for the separation of a soul from God.

III. A Matter of Companionship

The closer we are to Christ, the greater will be our witness. We know this for three reasons.

A. We know this from what He Said

Look at Matthew 4:19, which reads, "‘Come, follow me’, Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’" To follow Jesus, is to be a fisher for the souls of people.

In I Peter 2:21 we read, " For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps..." Now, exactly what did Jesus come to this earth to accomplish? Read Luke 19:10 to discover the answer. It reads, "...for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” He came to seek and save the lost and left us with that task.

Jesus said, in John 12:26, “If any man serve me, let him follow me.” To serve Him, we must follow. We are told to follow, and we are told that to follow will make us fishers of men. Ladies and gentlemen, the only conclusion a person can come to in the light of these passages is this: if I am not sharing a witness with the lost, it is because I am not fully following Jesus. My original statement is true. The closer we are to Christ, the greater will be our witness.

B. We know this from what He Did

Again, we read in Luke 19:10 states, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." Jesus came to seek the lost. This was His heartbeat. This was His purpose. The Bible does not say He came to create a moral society, to right all wrongs, to make us religious; no, He came to seek and to save!!! It is true that when He saves He forgives, and when He saves, He works in our lives to make us moral, to cause us to live spiritual lives, and so forth, but His first and primary purpose is to SEEK and then to SAVE!

When I walk with Jesus, I will naturally find myself seeking those who are lost and pointing them to Jesus who will save them.

In John 4 we see this displayed dramatically. Here we find Jesus and the woman at the well, where He brings her to the Water of Life – faith and salvation through Himself. She races to the town, tells everyone and brings them out to meet Jesus. The disciples had been in the same town, but they did not speak to anyone about the Savior. Jesus told them to lift up their eyes and look on the fields white unto harvest. Jesus was less interested in personal comfort and much more interested in the conversion of souls.

Friends, we must SEE the lost, LOVE the lost, TELL the lost and BRING the lost to Christ! If we are not seeing, loving and telling, we are not walking near enough to our wonderful Lord to actually bring anyone to Him!

C. We know this from what He Taught

Jesus taught His disciples about witnessing. He sent them out two-by-two to share their faith. The three years they spent with Him were years of training to be ready to go into all the world after He had departed from them after the resurrection.

Let me tell you a story about the transforming power of Jesus through a simple, personal witness. I went one day to visit with a couple in my very first pastorate. They were almost obnoxious toward me and they laughed at the talk of salvation and hell. One Sunday, about two after my visit in their home, I was driving into my driveway after the Sunday morning services, when a young man drove up behind my car on a motorcycle. He pulled off his helmet and I saw that it was the young husband I had visited a few days before. He asked me to come quickly to his house because his wife was disturbed and wanted to talk to me. I went to the home and found her very nervous and anxious. She told me that she and her husband had been doing many things they knew were not morally right. She was ashamed and wanted the Lord to help her. Her husband admitted that the night I had visited they had simply put up a front and that both of them were under conviction. That couple came to faith in Christ that Sunday afternoon as I talked and prayed with them.

Dear friend, understand something - it is not your power of persuasion that will bring the lost to faith in Christ. In fact, I felt like something of a failure when I first visited that couple. But, God was in the witness, just as He promised He would be - 'and, low, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." The only thing that will work in our attempt to witness for the Lord is the power of God and He has the power to accomplish His purpose through any willing vessel!

Conclusion

An elderly man, Luigi Tarisio, was found dead one morning in his home.  He had scarcely a comfort or a luxury, but stored in his attic were 246 valuable violins!  The very best of the collection, fashioned by a master craftsman, was hidden in the bottom drawer of a rickety old chest.  It was an exquisite 147-year-old Stradivarius!  Obviously Tarisio cherished the instruments greatly, but his love for them withheld from the world the beautiful music they might have produced.

Are you and I hiding the beautiful music of God’s grace available only in Christ? Are we witnessing to others as we should? Surely we do not wish to come to our death bed and think of all those we might have talked to about our Lord, and say with our last breath, “What have I done?”

D.T. Niles once said, “Evangelism is just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.” Don’t you think it is time to share with others how they can find the Bread of Life – Jesus Christ our Lord!