Mark 3:13-15 (NIV)
13 Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. 14 He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach 15 and to have authority to drive out demons.
I want to talk to you today about living an evangelistic lifestyle, and I want to explain what that means by breaking down the three verses that we’ve read. I hope you will see today that Jesus calls us because he wants us, challenges us with a task, and enables us to get the job done. Let’s begin by considering this first point:
The Call Produces a Challenge
Jesus called those he wanted. It is fundamental that you understand that you would not have come to Jesus unless he first came to you. In other words, he wanted you before you wanted him. Many scriptures support this truth, but here is a strong sampling:
Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV)
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”
1 John 4:19 (NKJV) “We love Him, because He first loved us.”
When are hearts are warmed by the revelation that God is crazy about us, and wants to befriend us, the only rational response is to come to him. Once you have spent any amount of with the Lover of your soul, you will feel rightly challenged to tell others about the most magnificent being you have ever met. Which takes us to my second point:
The Commission is the Challenge
Mark tells us, that one day, Jesus called together his twelve disciples, and tasked them with the massive challenge of representing him and ministering in his name.
He appointed twelve. That’s right, an even dozen. Now at first glance it would appear that Jesus’ expectation was cruel, that a handful of ordinary people would be asked to transform an entire planet?
But this is where you and I, and everyone who has ever been drawn by Jesus to follow him, come into the story. Jesus knew it would require more than twelve ordinary people, which actually by attrition with the loss of Judas, soon became eleven. When Jesus appointed the initial twelve, it was only to get things rolling.
Fast forward to Matthew 28, where the disciples who had done their best to meet the expectations of Jesus, now stand again on a mountainside, but this time it is to say goodbye.
Matthew 28:16-20 (NIV)
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The commission that was given to the disciples on that day, has all these generations later, resulted in the fact that you and I know Jesus. The message of God’s drawing and saving love has been passed down to us through a remarkable legacy of Christian faith.
Which takes us back to this thought from our key text: Jesus wanted us and we have responded by coming to him. But we are never to receive this extraordinary act of amazing grace without accepting the challenge to live an evangelistic lifestyle.
The Challenge of the Commission is 3-fold:
- To Be with Jesus - "Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31 (NIV)
We will never successfully live an evangelistic lifestyle without spending many hours alone with Jesus. Christ never intends that we be insulated from the pressures of the world around us, and it is time in his presence that strengthens and prepares us to be sent into the world.
Statistics tell us that approximately 1 percent of Christians have ever led someone to faith in Jesus Christ. What ever would have happened to the cause of Christ if the first-century church operated in those percentages? I believe what separated them from us was the time they spent with Jesus to learn first about his heart, and then about his ways.
We can argue that Jesus was right there with them and that they were at a distinct advantage, but the reality is the Holy Spirit lives within us now, which by proximity is closer than Jesus was able to get to those first disciples.
Jesus is determined, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to push us present day disciples to a greater level of commitment to lifestyle evangelism. We just need to take the time to let him talk to us about it.
- To Preach- " For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!" 1 Corinthians 9:16 (ESV)
The thought that you could become mature in Christ without having a broken heart for the lost is inconceivable; woe be to us if we neglect the state of our spiritually fallen world. To be blunt, Christian maturity simply does not exist without an evangelistic lifestyle.
And while an evangelistic lifestyle begins by living a life that honours the character of Lord we represent, it cannot end there. At some point our faith must be expressed in words. Look at this quote by missiologist, Ed Stetzer.
A godly life should serve as a witness for the message we proclaim. But without words, what can our actions point to but ourselves? A godly life cannot communicate the incarnation, Jesus' substitution for sinners, or the hope of redemption by grace alone through faith alone. We can't be good news, but we can herald it, sing it, speak it, and preach it to all who listen.
We were designed by God with different levels of gifting in expressing our faith—some people are comfortable among the masses and can easily stand in front of a large crowd and some social butterflies have no problem talking to a stranger on a plane or in a restaurant—but it seems to me that most followers of Christ share their faith by establishing one friendship at a time.
They build relationships deep into the lives of those who don’t know Christ. They are as faithful to an unbelieving world as those whose gifts are more obvious.
But no matter your unique gifting, by preaching the gospel both in word and deed, we fulfill the great commandment to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbour as ourselves. God looks on as we share the words of life with others, care for others, and serve others, as the genuine measure of our love for him.
- To Drive Out Demons- "I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” Luke 10:19
Driving out demons can sound like a lot of spooky, Hollywood hocum, but in fact it is a regular result of the normal Christian life. In fact we were created to be involved in the ultimate conflict—the battle between good and evil.
Jesus explained that demons comprise the kingdom of darkness, and that Satan leads them. The name Satan literally means adversary. The word adversary means “one who stands in opposition”.
And what are Satan and his demons in opposition to? They are in opposition to the gospel of salvation. When Jesus died on the cross and rose again, he defeated Satan. Now his kingdom of darkness has turned its attention to those who Jesus died for—and that is all humankind.
Jesus understands that we have been targeted, and that is why he has given us authority over all the power of the enemy.
Do you realize that if Jesus lives inside of you, every time you enter a room with an evil presence the demons tremble? Do you realize that if you are having a conversation with someone who is controlled by the power of darkness, even if you are unaware of the issues, you are speaking with authority over that situation?
There have been times when I’ve walked into restaurants, or been stopped at an intersection, and the glare I’ve received from a total stranger can only be explained by the enemy in them recognizing the Jesus in me.
We are called by Jesus to drive away demonic darkness, and one sure way to get rid of darkness is to turn on the light. That’s why preaching the Good News and driving out demons are closely associated, in fact listen again to how Jesus explained it in Mark 3: “… that he might send them out to preach, and to have authority to drive out demons”. It was intended as a single instruction. When we share the Gospel we turn on the light.
I was in Cape Town, South Africa preaching, when suddenly a man sitting in the crowd became loudly disruptive. As I continued to preach over the noise he was creating, he stood up and began to unintelligibly shout at me.
It became clear that he was demonized and so from the pulpit I took authority over the spirit and he slouched to his seat. Ushers then came and escorted him to the foyer of the church and as he left I prayed for him and that the Holy Spirit would restore order in the church service. All was calm and I finished preaching.
Jesus has drawn you into relationship, he has commissioned you to share his story of eternal life, and he has empowered you with authority to get it done.
Evangelism is not reserved for the spiritually elite, kingdom relationships are everyone’s responsibility. Paul said to Philemon, “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ”. Philemon 1: 6 (NIV)
When only a few are involved in the work of evangelism, we rob the rest of God’s people from Christ’s fullness in their lives.
Only when we are living an evangelistic lifestyle, can we fully grasp and experience every good thing we have in Christ.
--Pastor Craig Eagle