Evangelism.  It is not just a good idea; it is a matter of survival. 

Without evangelism, there would be no Christianity, because without evangelism there would be no Christians.

If we read the various accounts of Jesus’ last words to the apostles, we discover that he left no doubt at all that Christianity was something to be shared, not horded.   He talked about how the church would need to be witnesses to those who were close by and to those who were at the very ends of the earth.  He commanded them to teach what he taught, to make disciples, to baptize those disciples and to help the disciples make disciples.  What he didn’t do was tell them that what they had was good enough.

Evangelism is one of those words that tends to scare people and intimidate them, but it is really a simple word.  It just means being a bearer of good news.   Most of us like to tell people good news.  How often do we tell people about the great new restaurant we just discovered, or about the great deal Ikea is having? 

When we are talking to recent graduates, we have no problem extolling the virtues of our Alma mater.  When someone tells us they are looking at buying a new car we are quick to tell people what we like about the car we drive.  That is evangelism.  Sharing the good news.

Our theme this Spring has been:  After the But comes the truth and we’ve been working from the definition given in the Collins English Dictionary. But: conjunction (coordinating)

1. contrary to expectation

I.e. he cut his knee but didn’t cry

And while “but” is a small word it can turn the entire meaning of a statement or sentence.  You think you know where it’s going and then comes the but.

It was Alice Morse Earle who wrote, “Every day may not be good… but there’s something good in every day.”  After the but, comes the truth.  And over the past two months we’ve been looking at how but has changed how we looked at a scripture.

This morning the but comes after these words, Romans 10:13 For “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.”

What a promise.  “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  And it would be great if we could just finish with that statement.  However, the corollary is this “Everyone who does not call on the name of the Lord will not be saved.”  And that isn’t nearly as inspiring. 

What does it mean to call on the name of the Lord?  Maybe we could better ask what it doesn’t mean to call on the name of the Lord?

We discover this warning from Jesus in Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.  On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’  But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

It would appear that simply calling yourself a Christian doesn’t necessarily make you a Christian. 

I could tell people I was a gifted singer or a gifted athlete but me verbalizing either of those statements wouldn’t make them so.

So being a follower of Jesus entails more than a simple verbal acknowledgement. It is living out the commands and teachings of Jesus.    

Which leads us to the next verse and the “but”.  Romans 10:14 But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?

Now if you are one of those folks who writes in the margin of your bible who preached on a particular passage and when, then you have already clued in to the fact that I preached from this passage on November 5 of last year.  This is not that message.

So, we have the promise, that anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, and then we have the principle that in order for someone to call on the name of the Lord they need someone to tell them about the name of the Lord.

And it’s easy to think this scripture just applies to preachers and missionaries.  But that isn’t the reality.  The book of Romans wasn’t written to be read aloud at a pastor’s conference, it was a letter written to the church.  And 2000 years later it is an admonition for those of us who call Cornerstone our church home, but what does that mean on a practical level?

Romans 1:7  I am writing to all of you in Rome who are loved by God and are called to be his own holy people. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

William Barclay “hen Paul wrote his letter to the Romans he was writing to a church which . . . was situated in the greatest city in the greatest empire in the world.”

This Was for the Church in Rome: Remember this message was written before email and before copiers.  So, after Paul had written the letter it would have been carried by hand to Rome and then it would have been read in individual house churches.  So, it was first instructions for the local church. 

With that in mind, we need to understand that the message is for us, here at Cornerstone.

And maybe you are thinking, well that’s a no brainer Denn, that’s why we pay you the big bucks.  The reality is that it’s not a one-person job or even a four-person job. 

It is the responsibility of every Christ Follower to introduce other people to the Christ they follow.   I remember when I was in College there was a course on Soul Winning.  The text book was “You Can be A Soul Winner, Here’s How” by Nate Krupp, I must have passed the course, I graduated, but I don’t remember winning a soul. 

What I’ve discovered since is that we haven’t all been called to be Soul Winners, but we’ve all been called to be witnesses.  And that happens by the way we live and the way we love. 

Every day, you will send a message about Cornerstone and about Jesus and it will be a positive message or a negative message.  But trust me, you will be a witness.

I was reminded of this the other day, I met a lady for the first time and she said, “But I know who you are, I’m married to ___________,” and she mentioned someone I haven’t seen for a while. 

And I was reminded again of the power of our witness.  I didn’t know who she was, but she knew who I was, she knew what I do for a living and she knew that I was a Christ follower.

The reason that we allow so many community groups access to Cornerstone.  The reason we host blood donor clinics, and community meetings, and the reason hundreds of baseball uniforms got picked up last weekend. The reason that we said no problem when some folks from the community wanted to use our parking lot for yesterday’s yard sale was because people are making judgments about the church and Christianity all the time, so in those areas we want them to be positive perceptions.

But more than that, and we’ve talked about this before, when people attend Cornerstone, I’m not the only one preaching to them.  How they are greeted and how they are treated speaks volumes.  Where they have to park, where they have to sit, whether they are greeted by smiles or scowls.  All of those things are sending messages.

So, when we are asking you to be ministry partners in greeting or helping with the coffee, we aren’t just looking for warm bodies to fill spots on the roster, we are looking for people who are representing Cornerstone but more importantly people who are representing Jesus. 

And when you serve on the platform, either on one of the worship teams or reading scripture you are telling people about Jesus.

And when Pastor Marilyn or Pastor Deborah approach you about teaching and assisting in Cornerstone Kids, understand they are asking you to have an impact on our children’s eternity. 

When a new born is brought to Cornerstone, it will be eleven or twelve years before they get to hear me preach.  And I’m the preacher.  But every time those children come to Cornerstone, they will hear the message of Jesus through the nursery workers, and the teachers and the assistants. 

And we are asking you to do an incredibly important job, because as Paul reminded the Junior Church workers in the church in Rome 2000 years ago.  Romans 10:13-14  For “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.”  But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And if you don’t or can’t do it, who will?

But we don’t just have a responsibility in what happens on the corner of Hammonds Plains Road and Gatehouse Run.

Romans 1:7  I am writing to all of you in Rome who are loved by God and are called to be his own holy people. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

This Was for the Church in Rome:  So, while the letter was first read in the local church, the church in Rome wasn’t just a church, it was a network of churches throughout the city. 

And so the letter would have been taken from church to church, some were bigger than others but the DNA of the organization was that it would continue to expand.  Paul was convinced that these small gatherings would have an impact on the city of Rome. 

As many of you know, a door has opened for us in Sackville Beaver Bank this year and we’ve taken possession of an 8,000 sq. foot church on Windgate Drive. 

And since we’ve announced the plans to eventually launch a satellite of Cornerstone there in the fall of 2020 we’ve had people ask the question: why?

And what they are asking is why do we need to have a satellite location in Sackville/Beaver Bank when we really aren’t’ that far away?  And realistically we aren’t that far away.  But there are people there who will never drive to Hammonds Plains to experience Cornerstone or meet Jesus. 

And Paul would remind us, Romans 10:13-14  For “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.”  But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?

And we aren’t in any way saying that the Vineyard or Faith Baptist, or the Rock, or Stoneridge or Gateway aren’t doing the job.  But there are people that will be reached by Cornerstone that wouldn’t be reached if we don’t go there.  Just as over the past twenty-five years there have been people who have come to faith because Cornerstone was here, and there have been marriages saved because Cornerstone was here, and children who have been kept on the right track because Cornerstone was here.

And I believe that Cornerstone can make a difference in the eternity of people who live in Sackville Beaver Bank the same way I believed that we could make a difference in the eternity of people who live in Bedford Hammonds Plains when we started a new church here 25 years ago.

And it won’t be easy, and it won’t be cheap, but then again Jesus never told us that going into all the world would be cheap or easy, but he did say that it would be required.

John Wesley started his ministry preaching inside of Anglican churches and finished preaching in fields, not because it was easy but because that’s where the people were.  

Wesley would go on to write, “It is no marvel that the devil does not love field preaching! Neither do I; I love a commodious room, a soft cushion, a handsome pulpit. But where is my zeal if I do not trample all these underfoot in order to save one more soul?”

And it was William Booth the founder of the Salvation Army who said, “If I thought I could win one more soul to the Lord by walking on my head and playing the tambourine with my toes, I’d learn how!”

Others have asked: Why there, why not, _________?” And you can fill in the blank.  We can’t go everywhere, but we can go somewhere, and Sackville/ Beaver Bank seems to be where God is leading right now with open doors and leadership.  Maybe someday we’ll have a satellite in Tantallion or Chester or Bridgewater.

When Pastor Rob, who is going to be our site pastor at Windgate, spoke at the vision night in May he said that some would need to step out and some would need to step up.  There will be those of you who feel to be a part of that satellite, and you will step out in faith, and that’s going to leave ministry gaps here at Gatehouse and we will need others to step up to fill those gaps.

But whether it is Gatehouse or Windgate, the mission will be the same, to provide a home for the spiritually homeless.

But the words of Jesus were very clear, he didn’t just want the church to be his witness in the nearby places and the easy places. 

In Jesus’ last conversation with the Apostles, 40 days after the resurrection he gave them direction for the future, we pick up the story in , Matthew 28:18-20  Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.  Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

And as Hudson Taylor wrote, “The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed.”

This Was for the Church in Rome:  It wasn’t just the city of Rome that Paul was convinced that these small gatherings would have an impact on.

Clarence Bence writes in Wesleyan Bible Commentary   “Paul is equally confident that the presence of these Christians in Rome can have a powerful impact for good upon the Empire (and history records that they did!).”

Listen to what Paul will writes later in the letter, Romans 15:20-24  My ambition has always been to preach the Good News where the name of Christ has never been heard, rather than where a church has already been started by someone else.  I have been following the plan spoken of in the Scriptures, where it says, “Those who have never been told about him will see, and those who have never heard of him will understand.”  In fact, my visit to you has been delayed so long because I have been preaching in these places.  But now I have finished my work in these regions, and after all these long years of waiting, I am eager to visit you.  I am planning to go to Spain, and when I do, I will stop off in Rome. And after I have enjoyed your fellowship for a little while, you can provide for my journey.

Paul was casting his vision for the uttermost parts of the world and inviting the church in Rome to share with him by assisting him financially.

From day one Cornerstone has been committed to spreading the gospel to those far away.  For twenty-five years we have partnered with Wesleyan Missionaries around the world and with World Hope as they worked with homeless kids in Odessa, Ukraine.

For more than a dozen years you have supported me while I’ve taught national pastors in West Africa.  We’ve partnered with World Hope to drill wells in villages in Sierra Leone, Ghana and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.   And each of those has been part of our desire to see the Kingdom preached in the uttermost parts of the world.

And now we are looking at moving into a village partnership with a village in Sierra Leone, and that three-year partnership with the people in Kenenday will help to make disciples in all the world.  And as important as it will be to provide a well for the village, and as important as it will be to provide better hygiene facilities for the village, the most important thing will be to show Jesus to the village.  And that happens when we demonstrate his love by providing a well and providing better hygiene facilities and doing all we can do to help their children stay in school.

Today at the end of the service we will be receiving a special offering to support Amplified Leaders, which is an initiative through Global Partners to help to train national pastors. 

This explains it better than I can. (Amplified Leaders Video)

And so, while you may not be able to go to Cambodia, or Sierra Leone, or Mongolia or any one of the other fields, you can make sure that pastors receive training to take the message to those faraway places. 

Charles Spurgeon was answering the question, ‘Will the heathen who have not heard the Gospel be saved?’ His response,  “It is more a question with me whether we, who have the Gospel and fail to give it to those who have not, can be saved.”

Our scripture reading this morning ended with vs. 15, but let me take you into the next verse.  Romans 10:16  But not everyone welcomes the Good News,. . .  I wish that everyone who every heard me speak about becoming a Christian, either one on one or from the platform made that decision, but they haven’t.    It was Billy Graham who said “Nowhere do the Scriptures tell us to seek results, nor do the Scriptures rebuke evangelists if the results are meager.”

Our responsibility is to be a witness, results are not our responsibility.  And that is heart breaking at time, because there will be people we care about, people we love, people who share our communities and people who share our homes and people who share our beds who will never respond to the claims of Christ. 

And the solution isn’t to found in advertising and social media,  In his book, “unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity… and Why It Matters”, David Kinnaman writes,  “In an era of mass media, it is easy to believe that the more eyeballs, the more impact. But radio, television, and tracts accounted for a combined total of less than one-half of 1% of the Busters who are born again.”         

What accounts for the other 99.5 %?  In most cases it wasn’t a something it was a someone.  Someone who took seriously the but in Romans 10:14 and was willing to tell someone about Jesus.

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