Persistent Work in Evangelism Matt. 7:21-27 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
I’m taking a lot of liberty with this text this morning. However, there is much truth contained in these scriptures that fits the subject of persistent work in evangelism. You see, a lost man is a man who has heard the gospel and has not done what the Lord commanded him to do. He “heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not.” He has not gotten saved. Thus, his house is built on a faulty foundation. It’s built on the sand and it is going to fall.
Now our objective should be to beat on his house by persistently presenting the gospel to him until his house falls down. “The rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell.” We want to knock it down before he dies and his soul winds up in hell. That way he can get saved, build his house on the rock of the Lord Jesus Christ, and stand forever in the presence of the Lord.
You may think I’m doctrinally out of bounds by using this verse, but look at this:
The rain descended – that’s the word of God. We are to preach it. Is 55:10-11 says, “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” Rain typifies the word of God. The word keeps raining on him until he quits trusting his own words and he starts doing what Jesus told him to do. His house on the sand falls and a new house is built on a rock.
The floods came – those are the tears in prayer over lost souls. Ps 126:5-6 says, “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”
Jeremiah said, “Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people, [Jer 9:1]! Jesus wept over Jerusalem.
The winds blew – that’s the Spirit of God. John 3:8 says, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”
Beat upon that house – that’s bold, persistent preaching. Jer 1:9-10 says, “Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.” You have to pull down, destroy and throw down before you can build. James Stewart tells of meeting an old preacher named W.P. Nicholson. He said of him that he had a rugged, outspoken personality. He was not a preacher for ladies. His preaching reminded Stewart of a heavy weight boxer landing heavy punches on the body of his opponent. Nicholson was a modern John the Baptist in his uncompromising denunciation of sin
And it fell – that’s repentance. Acts 20:21 says, “Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” The sinner finally admits to the Lord, “My house can’t stand in this storm on this sandy foundation; let’s build it over on the solid rock.” 1 Cor 3:11 says, “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
Watch how this worked in the days of the apostles. You know that, when they first started preaching, the chief priests commanded them “not to speak at all nor to teach in the name of Jesus,” [Acts 4:18]. But they replied, “We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard,” Acts 4:20]. Later, the priests went after them again and said “Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us, [Acts 5:28]. To that command the disciples replied, “We ought to obey God rather than men,” [Acts 5:29]. And you know what happened. Acts 6:7 says, “the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.”
They disciples just stayed on it. They persistently preached, they persistently prayed, they were persistently filled with the Spirit. Consider Stephen. Acts 6:10 says, “they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.” Those disciples knocked the house down for a lot of those priests and many of them got saved!!
That’s what we need. Persistent preaching, persistent praying, persistent filling with the Spirit. We must keep going no matter how many times we might feel like quitting. We need:
The persistent work of the Scriptures; The persistent work of the Saints; The persistent work of the Spirit.
The persistent work of the Scriptures – you are never going to make any head way with a sinner arguing with him about the way he lives or about going to church or about your religion versus his. You are going to have to give him the gospel. You are going to have to preach the word of God. That’s what he needs. That’s your battering ram.
George Davis was a religious reporter during the time of R. A. Torrey. He covered Torrey’s revival campaigns. He was so stirred by the preaching that he became much more of a soul winner than a reporter. Back in those days they had the Pocket Testament League and so he began to carry Gospels and New Testaments for his personal work. He said, “The beauty and glory of the plan was this, that while my talk with the individual might amount to absolutely nothing, yet he had the word of God with which to read himself into the Kingdom if he were not a Christian; or to build him up in the faith if he had already found the Lord.”
Here’s an example of what happened. One day in Birmingham, England, Davis felt compelled to speak with a policeman about his soul. He didn’t have the courage to bring up Jesus at first so he talked weather and politics. But finally he turned the conversation to the Lord. The big policeman became responsive and so Davis pulled out one of his New Testaments and offered it to the policeman if he would agree to carry it with him and read 1 or 2 chapters daily. The policeman agreed and signified his commitment by signing his name in the book. A month later an evangelist was holding a meeting in a mission hall near there. This policeman was sitting in the back dressed in plain clothes. At the invitation he came forward with mostly young boys and girls. That took some courage. The evangelist asked him what it was that led him to Christ. The policeman held up his little New Testament and said “It was this little book that was given to me a month ago.”
Davis thought if one little book can take down a policeman, then he ought to give one to every policeman in the station. He said. “I began to run after the policemen. It’s a lot more fun to run after them than it is for them to run after you.” In 5 months, 8 out of 17 policemen had come to Christ. One of them cursed Davis when he was offered a New Testament. However, because of the change in the life of the first policeman, he later asked for his own copy, and not long after, he got saved. 3 years later, that same policeman went with Davis to London to give his testimony to policemen from all over Britain about the saving power of the Lord Jesus Christ!!
Folks, they need the word of God. They need the persistent work of the Scriptures to bring them down so that God can build them up. Like Paul said, “I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up…” [Acts 20:32].
The persistent work of the Saints – E. M. Bounds was perhaps one of the greatest men in prayer and certainly the greatest at writing about prayer. He said, “Nothing is more important to God than prayer in dealing with mankind. God’s greatest movements in this world have been conditioned on, continued and fashioned by prayer. God has put himself in these great movements just as men have prayed. Praying saints are God’s agents for carrying on his saving work on earth. If his agents fail him by neglecting to pray then his work fails. Whatever affects the intensity of our praying affects the value of our work. Prayer puts God’s work in his hands and keeps it there. Prayer looks to God constantly and depends upon him implicitly to further his own cause. All ability to talk to men is measured by the ability with which we can talk to God for men. He who plows not in his closet will never reap in his field.”
The problem is that we are too worldly, too sinful, too proud, and too busy for a prayer life like that. We need to repent. An lost man said, “Were I a Christian, did I truly believe as millions say they do, that the knowledge of Christ in this life influences destiny in another, then Christianity should be to me everything. I would cast aside earthly pleasures as dross, earthly cares as follies, and earthly thoughts as less than vanity. Christ would be my first waking thought and my last image when sleep sank me in unconsciousness. I would labor in his cause alone. I would not labor for the meat that perisheth, nor for treasures on earth, but only for a crown of glory in heavenly regions where treasures and happiness are alike beyond the reach of time and chance. I would take for the morrow of eternity alone. I would esteem one soul gained for Heaven worth a life of suffering.”
Years ago, Charles Peace, a burglar and double murderer was condemned to die. On his way to the scaffold the chaplain was offering him salvation through Jesus Christ. Peace replied to the chaplain, “Do you believe that? Do you? If I believed that, I would willingly crawl across England on broken glass to tell men that it was true.”
The persistent work of the Spirit – We don’t control the Spirit, he controls us. Yet we can quench him by watering down the fire and love of the gospel. And we can grieve him by our disobedience. And, thus, we can restrict his liberty. When the Holy Spirit is working, he looks like what George Davis described: “Multitudes were praying and God’s Spirit was present in great power. The very atmosphere was surcharged with spiritual exaltation. There was a joy in the meetings that was indescribable. Hundreds were being saved. The people sang like angels. Singing, ‘How marvelous, how wonderful, and my song shall ever be, How marvelous, how wonderful, is my Savior’s love to me,’ was unforgettable. We need this work of the Spirit persistently.
When it comes to witnessing, there is a fine balance between the leading and power of the Holy Spirit and the willingness of a saint. This has never been clearer to me than when we are aboard a ship ready to tell any interested lost sailor about Jesus Christ. The work of the Spirit of God in these instances is as clear as the sunrise. Men show up, stick around and talk about the Lord. God’s doing this! But, and you need to get this, there would be no work of the Spirit on those days and at those times with those men if our men weren’t on board those ships for the Holy Spirit to use.
Do you understand? The Holy Spirit will work, but we need to go. He leads but we need to make ourselves available to be led. We need to be in the place where the Holy Spirit can use us. Look, if the disciples had spent the entire time praying in the upper room, how and when would they have filled Jerusalem with their doctrine? How and when would the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly? The Spirit definitely had to work powerfully through them but they had to be where he was to be used.
Conclusion: Folks we need to confess that we are not overflowing with the scriptures. We are not crying out in prayer. We are not persistently filled with the Spirit. We need to straighten out these crooked lives. Then we might see more souls saved. We need to never quit doing this work of praying and preaching persistently.