Matt 3:1-12 What Makes the Gospel Attractive? What makes the gospel attractive? \\#5\\ The Bible says Jerusalem, and all Judea, and the region round about that area went out to hear John preach? What drew them? Was it the appeal of preacher? His refinement, his eloquence, his charisma, his charm? Since the preacher was John the Baptist, I would have to say no. Was it the appeal of the message? The fact that it was a positive message? A message that built one’s self esteem? One that made one feel good? One that promoted harmony, peace, and love? Again, since it was John the Baptist’s message (and since it is recorded for us to read), I would have to say no. What was it then? Today, in many areas, the gospel is a marketed item. Every week, mail comes across my desk which promises to double church attendance, church offerings, church participation? The idea is follow these steps and numbers will go up, guaranteed or your money back. That smacks of a sales pitch, a gimmick, a marketing tool. I know those types of tools can be helpful. I know God can use them to a certain extent, but I determined early in my ministry that if anything were accomplished, I wanted it to be God, and God alone. A preacher friend (Matt Hollis) of mine was at a meeting where an offering was being taken and the man in charge had a particular preacher conduct the offering. He told my friend that that preacher was a "professional offering taker." I heard of one church out West which was started a few years ago but almost instantly ran in the thousands. Before The church was chartered, agents were hired to canvass the community and research the type of church that the people wanted. The church was then build with those results in mind. Such techniques are not the New Testament ways of building a church. Instead of conforming the church to the people, the Bible way is to conform the people to the church! If done so, it is not the church which attracts the people but the gospel the church preaches. This takes me back to my original question. What makes the gospel attractive? I. The need of the people makes the gospel attractive. A. For some reason, the gospel appeals to some and not to others. Why? Because some recognize a need and others don’t. B. Everyone has the same needs. 1. Everyone is separated from God by sin. \\#Rom 3:10-18, 23\\ a. Notice \\# Romans 3:10-12\\ words like "none," "not one", and "all." b. Then notice that the problem is sin. Rom 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 2. Because of sin, everyone owes God a debt. Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. 3. We do not like talking about it, but God has told us how He will collect that debt. a. It will not be just death of the body. b. It will be the separation of the eternal soul from God. Ezekiel 18:20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die…. Romans 2:9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. Matthew 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: c. This is indeed a heavy debt to pay. d. Of all life’s debts and dues, this one should be planned for above all else. C. Yet many substitute earthy possessions for their lack of spiritual possessions thus making them blind to their need for Christ. Rev 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: D. Understand, you can't pay this spiritual debt with earthy possessions, but that isn't keeping people from trying! E. On of the reasons the gospel historically has appealed more to the LESS EDUCATED, LESS AFFLUENT, and LESS RELIGIOUS, is because they don't have any earthly possession to confuse them. Luke 18:25 For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. 1. It is not that rich, educated, or affluent people cannot be saved. 2. But in many cases, they are using those things to hide from their true need. 3. They are sinners who stand before God with an eternal debt, and God doesn’t take MasterCard, Visa, or American Express! F. However, when people understand their need, they hunger for the gospel. 1. Like bread to the hungry or water to the thirsty, the gospel becomes beautiful to the soul who understand his condition! 2. The gospel is so powerfully beautiful that it transform the messenger into a beautiful person. 3. People should forget Botox and plastic surgery. The way to beautify yourself is to carry the beautiful gospel! Romans 10:15 …How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! II. The model of the messenger makes the gospel attractive. A. I speak now not of the beauty of the messenger but of his character. 1. I do not think any would have considered John the Baptist to be either eloquent or affluent. 2. He was, however, righteous! 3. The people came to John not because he had charisma but character. 4. They respected him. Matthew 11:7 And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? 8 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. 9 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. B. The Apostle Paul, who was both eloquent and affluent, discounted those attributes in his life in favor of a righteous testimony. Phil 3:7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: C. It is not up to the church to conform the message. 1. The gospel doesn’t need any renovations or sprucing up. 2. And it doesn’t need to re-packaged. D. It is up to the church to conform the messengers; that is to demand the highest standards of those who preach the message. 1. Since the 1960's, the public has sought out people who were pleasant to the eye to put before us. 2. We need to look deeper than the flesh. a. Human skin is only 7/100’s of inch thick. b. Character runs through and through. 3. Set men in pulpit that know God. a. Look for character not charisma. b. Seek the righteousness not the refinement. c. Go with the bold and the Biblical not professional and the polished. III. The power of the message makes the gospel attractive. A. There is the power of the gospel’s conviction. 1. Today, many gut the message of the gospel by refusing to preach on sun! a. If there is no preaching on sin, there can be no conviction. b. If there is no conviction, there can be no repentance. c. If there is no repentance, there can be no salvation. d. If there is no salvation, all else is in vain. 2. There is something about plain preaching on sin that frees the Holy Ghost to use His power. Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? a. The word PRICK means to PEARCE. b. It is a metaphor meaning to pain the mind and the emotions sharply, to agitate them vehemently. c. A message with the preaching of sin is a PRICKLESS, PEARCELESS, PAINLESS sermon. d. It leaves the Holy Ghost nothing to use to make the gospel attractive to the sinner. (1) Until Adam and Eve understood their sin, they were content to wear fig leaves. (2) Our clothing may be of fabric and cost more, but it doesn’t hid our sin any better. B. There is the power of the gospel’s change. 2Cor 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 1. I still marvel at the change the gospel brings. 2. Lee Stroble, renowned Christian apologist, was an atheist. He was trained in journalism and law. His wife was an agnostic. They were content to rear their children in the belief that if there was a God, He was unknowable. Then, his wife came to Christ. He thought that was the end of his marriage, but as he watched what Christ did in her life, he was amazed. He found himself going to church with her and hearing the gospel. It tore at his soul. He spent the next 21 months researching religion in general but specifically Christianity. On November 8, 1981, he realized that it would now take him more faith to stay an atheist than it would to become a Christian. He was won to Christ by the changing power of the gospel. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AT_bMuFBfs IV. The Love of the Divine makes the gospel attractive. A. The text for the entire week of VBS was John 3:16. John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 1. That verse is so popular for many reasons. a. It concisely encapsulates the entire story of gospel. b. It tells you what is necessary to accept the gospel. c. It tells you what happens if you accept the gospel. d. It tells you what will happen if you reject the gospel. 2. But I think the reason the verse is so popular is that it describes what motivated God to give the gospel - LOVE. B. What love God gives to us! 1. God loves us enough to create us, to grant us a free-will, to allow us opportunity to use that will, and then to give His Son as the sacrifice for sin when we used that will against Him. 2. The Son loves us enough to set aside His divine attributes and place, to walk among us, and to die the cruelest of deaths for us. 3. The Holy Spirit loves us enough to convict us of sin, to plead with us to accept Christ, and to indwell and empower those who will do so. C. Surely the thought of being so loved makes the gospel attractive to you! V. The simplicity of the plan makes the gospel attractive. A. The gospel could be no simpler. B. It is spoken of different terms with different emphasizes given, but it is always the same simple message, Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38 Then Peter said unto them, REPENT, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Acts 16:31 BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. Rom 10:13 For whosoever shall CALL upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. C. The gospel is.... 1. Simple enough for a child. 2. Simple enough for the unlearned. 3. Simple enough for the poor. 4. Simple enough for the non-religious. D. Repent of your sins and trust Jesus Christ. If you have never trusted Christ, would you do so today?
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