Sure Foundations pt 1:
Loving the Lost
I was thinking about what makes for really effective evangelism. I recalled a time in August this year when Renato went back to the Philippines because his mother was very ill. He had every intention of sharing his faith but was afraid because his family were not at all open to hearing anything different from what they had believed all their lives. However, because of his great love for his family, he could no longer hold back and on the fifth day, when all his family members were gathered around his sick mom, with many tears he began to share the Gospel. The result: All twelve of them received Jesus that day.
After thinking about this and other such events, I realised that the first key element of evangelism is Loving the Lost. This was therefore the title of the message on Sunday morning. The first point was that God loves the lost. The most popular verse that illustrates this is John 3:16. The Message puts it this way:
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life...”
Also, the story of Jonah illustrates God’s love for the lost perfectly through Jonah’s confession: “And he prayed to the LORD and said, "O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.” (Jonah 4:2 ESV).
Secondly, If God loves the Lost, Jesus loves them equally. Nothing illustrates this better than his willingness to die on the cross for us while we were still lost. Hebrews 12:2 says “for the joy set before him, he endured the cross.” This joy is none other than the joy of providing a way of salvation for a lost humanity. A.R Fausset says that this joy was “to give repentance and remission of sin.”
Third, if we love God we will love the Lost. Pure deduction but also biblical: “If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”(1John 4:20 ESV). Fourth, Love brings Breakthrough. Going back to the beginning, this is what makes evangelism most effective. There are too many biblical examples to mention but just to name a few; before Jesus fed the 5000, he was “moved with compassion”. Before he raised Lazarus from the dead, he wept and was “deeply moved”. The example of Jonah shows how the love of God brought breakthrough to a whole city (the largest and most powerful in the world at that time) as well as to a ship full of sailors.