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Ask God to Break Your Heart For the Lost

Motive of Compassion

I haven’t reached this state of spiritual maturity we find in the Apostle Paul when he writes: “I speak the truth in Christ. I am not lying. My conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit.” Paul writes, “I have great sorrow and,” Another translation reads, “I have unceasing anguish in my heart.” Paul goes on: “For I could wish that I myself were cursed.” He’s saying he could wish that he was cut off from Christ, that he would receive the wrath of God. “For the sake of my brothers, those of my own people or my own race, who are outside of Christ.”

Paul is not a sterile, theological academic. Look at his words: great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. Paul evangelized because he had a deep compassion for those who are outside of Christ.

Mere obligation or duty is often not enough. You can easily forget about people and give up on them. And when we give up on people, we are actually forgetting the lostness of the lost, and our heart’s brokenness grows very cold and very hard.

One of the goals of this course is to have the scales fall from our eyes, believe again in the lostness of the lost, to believe again in the power of the gospel to save anyone.

We are going to be asking God to give us a new broken heart for those who are outside of Christ in all our networks of relationships. We’re asking God to give us, not just an intellectual understanding, but something close to great sorrow and unceasing anguish, in terms of our renewed heart affections.

Jesus, in Luke chapter 15, confronts the reality of the hypocrisy in his day in the religious leaders, and their cold, sterile nature of their religion. He responds by telling them stories. Oftentimes, we just narrow in on one particular parable, and forget the context of these religious people condemning Jesus because he hangs out with tax-gatherers and sinners.
Jesus responds to them by telling them three stories about a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son.

Hybels writes, “One of my favorite scriptures that shows Jesus’ emphasis on the ultimate importance of people is Luke 15. According to this passage, the religious leaders were upset because Jesus, who claimed to be the holy Son of God, was hanging around with sinners. He shared meals with cheating tax collectors, arrogant merchants, filthy-mouthed tent makers, even prostitutes. When Jesus heard the scribes and the Pharisees grumbling about all his unacceptable associations, he decided to let them know once and for all just how much he loved, and how much he had compassion for, the very sinners that they despised.”

“And so he told them three moving stories: a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son. In each of the stories, something,” hear this, “something of great value is lost, and it matters so much that it warrants either an all-out search, or an anguished vigil. When at last the sheep and the coin are found and the son returns home, the respective households burst into songs of rejoicing. Jesus says, ‘In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.'”

In the whole context of Luke 15, what is the overarching message? It’s basically that lost people matter to God. Hybels writes,

“Lost, wayward, rebellious, cursing people matter to God so much that He wants us to actively pursue them. He wants us to search them out and bring them to Him. Authentic evangelism flows from a mindset that acknowledges the ultimate value of people, forgotten people, lost people, wandering people, up-and-outers, down-and-outers, all people. The highest value is to love them, to serve them, to reach out to them. Everything else goes up in smoke.”

My first church-planting context was in an inner city, a high crime zone. I came to Christ at a secular university through aggressive evangelism ministries. So the only thing I knew about evangelism was how to witness to nice, dressed-up, educated young people on a college campus.

And here I was in one of a city’s high crime zones, trying to plant a church, and trying to figure out how to do evangelism here?

To make a long story short, a man had been sent in to evaluate the church from Francis Schaeffer’s denomination at the time. He met with me and we only had a few days that we could spend together and then he was going to leave. I remember meeting with him. He had been a former church planter, at a university, planted a church and had significant ministries of evangelism and discipleship.

Because I knew that his knowledge of evangelism was rich and deep, as was his experience, I asked him, “Bob, please help me understand the kind of methodology, the evangelistic method you think I should be using here.” He kind of smiled that smile that could be interpreted as smug, but it really wasn’t. He wasn’t mocking my question. But he knew how totally off-base my question was in a way that I hadn’t learned yet.

So I’ll never forget him saying to me, “Steve, evangelistic methodologies are going to come and they’re going to go, and they’re going to fit different contexts. My concern is not about you finding the right evangelistic methodology, curriculum, or approach to reach this inner city. May I tell you what my greatest concern is for you regarding evangelism here?” I said, “Yes. What’s that?” He said, “My greatest concern is whether or not God will give you a broken heart for the lost people in this neighborhood.” And then he said, “Steve, listen to me. If God gives you a truly broken heart for all the lost and broken people in this community, almost any method will do.”

My encouragement to you is to fully recognize the lack of Pauline anguish in your heart over the lost and ask God to give you something that you can’t conjure up yourself, to give you a broken heart for those outside of Christ.

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Read The Transcript

When the Apostle Paul thought of those he loved who were outside of Christ, he wrote, “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart” (Rom 9:2). If you really believed that all those you know and love who are without Christ are under God’s wrath, your heart would also have great sorrow and unceasing anguish.

“But we easily forget the “lostness of the lost.”

Jesus wept over the lost and told stories to the religious people of his day about a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son to teach them how much compassion he had for the sinners they despised.
Authentic evangelism starts with a broken heart that truly loves, serves, and reaches out to people. We can’t conjure this up on our own. But we can dare to ask God to give us a broken heart for all those we know who are without Christ.

In this 6-part series you’ll be equipped to:

      • Understand the biblical goals of evangelism
      • Explain three Scriptural motivations for evangelism
      • Articulate what the bible teaches about God and Sin
      • Proclaim the good news of Christ and salvation
      • Understand true repentance and faith in Christ
      • Explain essential methods of evangelism

This brief video (9:39) will help you rekindle your heart for the lost and believe again in the power of the gospel to save anyone.

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Pathway Learning

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Who Says You’re Saved?

The Goal of Union With Christ’s Body in Baptism

From a biblical perspective, when someone makes a commitment to Christ, that commitment should normally be accompanied by a commitment to Christ’s visible body, the Church, displayed in their baptism.

The goal of evangelism should be someone making a credible profession of faith in Christ. But who says the profession of faith in Christ is credible? Is it the person themselves? Is it enough for them just to say they made a commitment, a decision or to say, “I prayed a prayer?”

Many people remember praying a prayer “to receive Christ.” And then the question usually surfaces, “I wonder if I prayed it well enough?” Then they say, “I’m going to pray it again.” And when the next worship service or event comes up and somebody offers an invitation, they say, “Why not? I’ll ask Jesus again, to come into my life, be my Savior, be my Lord.” And this pattern often repeats and you begin to wonder, “Is my profession real, is it credible?”

Who determines the credibility of someone’s profession of faith? The biblical answer is the Church.

This raises a very important question in evangelism: Who determines the credibility of someone’s profession of faith? The biblical answer is the Church.

This focus on the authority of a local church community is often counterintuitive and offensive to much of rugged western privatized individualism in the evangelical church in North America today. Edith Schaeffer used to say, “Christianity is Jewish.” Our God is a communal God. The Christian religion, so to speak, is a communal religion.

You should never see the process of evangelism culminating in a mere profession of faith, sinner’s prayer kind of profession.

You should never see the process of evangelism culminating in a mere profession of faith, sinner’s prayer kind of profession. Instead you should be one of those rare individuals who holds out for that new believer to make a profession of faith before the ordained leaders of the Church who deemed it credible and through which they incorporate the new believer into the body through what? Baptism.

Evangelism is meant to reach its culmination not in a commitment to Christ that is an existential profession. Evangelism is meant to reach its culmination in a profession of Christ before elders, or pastors, or whatever you’re going to call them in your form of government. They meet the criteria in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 and in Hebrews 13. They are those who you are called to obey because they will give an account for your soul.

You’re to be under their spiritual care, you are to be under spiritual authority in a local church, everyone is, whatever denomination you’re in. And they are the ones who hold what the Reformers often called the Keys of the Kingdom (Matt 18), and they are the ones who determine those to be admitted to the sacrament of baptism and the Lord’s Table.

A credible profession does not require a convert’s knowledge of when they believed in the past. It’s a very present profession now, saying, “I look now to Christ and I look to him alone.” And the culmination of this is baptism.

And it’s those who make a credible profession of faith, not those who can tell a story of when they believe. A credible profession does not require a convert’s knowledge of when they believed in the past. It’s a very present profession now, saying, I look now to Christ and I look to him alone.” And the culmination of this is baptism.

Please don’t misunderstand me regarding baptism. I am not saying that someone is not saved when at the very moment they first make a true profession of faith in Christ and possibly pray “a sinner’s prayer.” I’m not saying that. I’m also not saying that Christian water baptism saves you.

What I’m saying is the culmination of evangelism is meant to be incorporation into the body manifested through making a credible profession of faith before church leaders, followed by baptism.

Learn More About The New Evangelism Course!

Registration closes March 15

Help under-served church leaders
develop churches that transform lives and communities.