Reach Out To Everyone!
Some years ago I read an illustration about a small boy who drew a Valentine-shaped heart on the wall
of the New York Public Library.
Inside the heart, he inscribed in this message: "Billy Meyer loves everybody!"
This is a variation of the message that we preach.
Our message was written by God.
But the message is essentially the same: "God loves everybody."
This is the universal theme of the gospel.
It permeates the Scripture.
Announcing the birth of Jesus, the angel declared,
"Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people
And when we read Matthew's account of the Great Commission which the Lord commanded to every Christian.
"Go ye therefore and teach all nations
" (Matthew 28:19)
in Mark 16:15 we are commanded to "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."
To all people everyone.
To all nations.
To all the world.
However many of our churches are not sharing that great universal love.
They have become narrow and exclusive.
D. L. Moody told the church in Chicago that had a neon sign that said: "JESUS ONLY!"
One night, a bad thunderstorm smashed out the first three letters leaving the sign to read:
There are many churches who think only of themselves, their needs, their convenience, and their comfort.
As a result, they become keepers of the aquarium rather than fishers of men.
As Christians, our mission is to reach every person with the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
And that is precisely what the apostle Paul taught when he wrote of Jesus:
Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom;
that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus."
This is how Paul explained his great mission and calling in life.
It was to proclaim God's message of salvation through Jesus Christ, to warn every person,
to teach every person, and to present every person perfect before God.
In the preceding verses as well, Paul twice declared that he was "made a minister" of the gospel.
Paul did not found the church at Colosse, and he never visited it.
But he had a right to address the Christians there, and he wanted to make that clear.
He told them that his ministry was not an honor he bestowed upon himself,
nor was it thrust upon him by other men.
Instead, the Lord "made" him a minister.
So it was on the basis of his divine appointment that he spoke to them.
Paul declares that this gospel centers on Jesus Christ, who died for all humanity.
The good news is that God's saving purpose does not encompass only an elected few.
The gospel is intended for Gentiles and Jews alike. (Colossians 1:27)
Gentiles are admitted to salvation on equal terms with the Jews.
The Messiah was not sent for Israel alone, but for all people, everywhere.
Paul sums up the gospel in Colossians 1: 27: "
which is Christ in you the hope of glory."
So it is not only the Christ of history or the biblical Christ who is our hope.
Instead, hope comes through the "Christ in you!"
The wonder of the gospel is that the Christ of history and the Christ of Scripture who lived, died,
then rose again really dwells in us.
Through faith and commitment He enters our lives in personal and dynamic ways.
This indwelling Christ forgives our sins, makes people right with God, and eventually ushers us into heaven.
Most important, He is available to all people everywhere.
Paul laid out his great mission and ours which is to fully proclaim Christ to every human being.
According to Paul, it is this indwelling Christ "Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man;
in all wisdom that we may present every person perfect in Christ Jesus
" (Colossians 1:28)
Earlier in the same chapter, Paul presented Christ as preeminent in the universe: above all and for all.
In teaching "every man," Paul ultimately presents Christ as for all.
Paul's most significant contribution to Christianity was the introduction of Christ to the Gentiles,
destroying forever the idea that God's love and mercy were reserved for only one people or for only one nation.
Paul confronted man with the conviction that Christ was for Gentile and Jew alike.
Sharing Christ with others in evangelistic witness is the heart of the task of the church today.
A church which fulfills God's purpose can testify with Paul: "Him we proclaim."
Note that Paul identifies "every man" three times in the passage, emphasizing the universality of the gospel.
Exclusivity characterized false teachers.
The truth is that Christ is the only person in this world who is for "everybody."
There are some people who will never possess the privileges that comes only from God,
and will never have the joy and the highlights of today and in eternity will never be theirs.
But for every person there is the good news of the gospel the love of God in Christ,
and the transforming power when they are in Christ.
Not every person can be a great thinker.
Not every person can be a great writer.
Not every person can be a great student.
Not every person can be a great preacher.
Not every person can be a great singer.
Not every person can be a great speaker.
For those who are color blind, the wonder and loveliness of art means very little to them.
And for those who are tone deaf, the glory of music is nothing to them.
One thing is sure, -- every human being can know Jesus Christ.
We must be committed, like Paul, to take the gospel to "every man."
And like Paul, our central purpose and aim, should be to warn, teach, and present each one complete in Christ.
This is the supreme plan of God, and it must be ours also!
Our first duty is to warn every person that they are in eternal danger.
They are lost.
Jesus emphasized that there are two roads of life.
Only a few will find the straight and narrow one, which leads to life.
The fact that the "road is broad" means that people can walk on it loaded with baggage, and without sacrifice.
Although this road leads to hell, it is not marked "hell," for Satan never admits where a road ends.
Although, the road is mismarked "heaven," it really leads to hell.
Most people travel the road to hell, but they are so busy enjoying the ride that they give no thought
to what lies at the end of the road.
Someone needs to stand as a flagman on the road to destruction to shout, "Danger ahead!"
Being a Christian is not just a matter of right or wrong, good or bad, sweet or sour.
Being a Christian is a matter of life and death, of heaven and hell.
Because we know of the awesome, impending judgment of God, we cannot be content
merely to be saved ourselves.
We must devote ourselves, as Paul did, to the "divine imperative", of warning every person on earth.
Warning has always been part of the mission of God's people.
As a watchman over the house of Israel, Ezekiel was empowered to warn the people to reject their wicked ways.
If he did not, they would die as sinners, but their blood would be on his hands. (Ezekiel 33:8)
The apostle Paul summarized his ministry in Ephesus by saying,
By the space of three years, I ceased not to warn everyone night and day with tears." (Acts 20:31)
Even the rich man in hell begged Lazarus to go to his father's home and warn his five brothers,
for fear they should come to that awful place of torment.
This is our main work, but many churches have forsaken it more pleasant pursuits.
I believe that many pastors are not preaching this message because they are not going to the lost.
This is not acceptable!
What if every pastor was required to give an account of how many of the lost that they have
visited and witness of Jesus to them?
What if every deacon was required to give an account oh how many of the lost that they have
witnessed to even in an entire year?
What if every Christian were required to give that same report for an entire year?
How many pastors, deacons, church leaders, church members would have to say: "None!"
No wonder many churches are dying!
Harry Golden, stung the modern church when he, "If I were faced today with the decision my ancestors faced
become a Christian or die I would pick a church fast.
There is nothing to offend me in many modern churches.
The minister gives a sermon on juvenile delinquency once a week, then reviews a movie next week,
then everyone goes downstairs and plays bingo.
The first part of the church they build is the kitchen.
Five hundred years from now people will dig up these churches, find the steam tables,
and wonder what kind of sacrifices we performed."
Our main work has never changed -- it is still the same.
It is to warn everyone!
The fact is, every Christian this side of heaven should be concerned about every lost person on this side of hell.
Richard Baxter once declared that "I preach as never to preach again as a dying man to dying men."
And we must do the same.
Some people shy away from this kind of preaching which they call a "scare religion."
But, as R. G. Lee said, "If I had not been afraid of hell I do not think I would have started for heaven."
We must teach every person.
Like Paul, we must teach everyone.
"Warning" is evangelism.
"Teaching" is discipleship.
The loss need to be saved, and the saved need to be taught.
Every Christian's spiritual pilgrimage undergo three phases: condemnation, salvation, and stagnation.
Hence, the newly-saved me quickly settle into a pew where they sit and sour until the second coming.
Salvation is an instant event, but growth and maturity are gradual and continual.
It takes a series of trials, frequent testing, dedication to learning, to help a believer realize the ultimate conclusion
which is Christlikeness.
It may take many years.
"Everything that is great in life is the product of slow growth; the newer, the greater, and the higher,
and nobler the work, the slower is its growth, and the surer its lasting success." (A quote of N. G. Jones)
Toadstools grow over night.
Squash grows in a few weeks.
The mighty redwoods develop over centuries.
The difference in lasting value is indisputable.
J. B. Gambrell once said, "Conversion is the end of the Christian life but it is the front end."
We must never be content merely to lead people to salvation.
Instead, through disciplining, we must nurture saved souls, transforming them into saints, servants, and soldiers.
There are some Christian circles that disdain education and glorify ignorance.
This is part of a larger anti-establishment, anti-institutional, anti-intellectual mood based on the idea
that the less you know, the more spiritual you are and the more faith you have.
That attitude has no place among us.
We must continue to learn as long as we live.
Dr. E. Y. Mullins preached on the importance of education.
Afterward, a man remarked to him: "The way you talk, it sounds like God can't use an ignorant preacher."
Dr. Mullins replied, "My brother, sure he can.
That's the only kind he has.
We are all ignorant, just in varying degrees.
But he can't use our ignorance.
He uses what we know, and the more you know the the more he can use you."
Minutes later, this man was asked to pray.
His prayer when something like this: "Lord, I thank you for my ignorance.
Make me ignorant-er than a mule. Amen."
When Dr. Mullins returned to the seminary, he addressed the faculty:
"Brethren, that is one prayer I believed God answered before it was ever prayed."
I read about a preacher who became carried away and confused during his sermon.
He prayed, "Lord, eliminate my mind so I can deliver this sermon."
To preach effectively, what we need is illumination not elimination of our minds.
Our brains were God's idea, and He expects us to use them.
That is why He said, "Study [be diligent] to shew yourself approved unto God
John Wesley was right when he said, "God can use a sharp instrument better than a dull one."
Teaching sharpens us for our greatest usefulness which is winning the lost and teaching the saved.
If we win the battle for evangelism, but lose the battle for discipleship;
then we have lost the church for the next generation.
Present every person
As Paul, we are to present every person perfect (complete) in Jesus Christ.
A reporter asked Pepper Martin the baseball player, "What is your chief ambition in life?"
Martin answered, "My chief ambition is to go to heaven."
When the newspaper reporter laughed, Martin responded by saying,
"That's not a funny matter. It is a final matter."
In Colossians, Paul observes the finality of all things and refers to the time when we shall all be accountable to God.
Paul's consuming passion is to "present every man perfect in Christ" on that great day.
In the passage, "present" literally means to stand beside, to recommend to substantiate.
Further, the word "perfect ending Greek is teleios, meaning to be mature, complete, fully grown.
In the end, Paul wanted to stand alongside ever person the for Christ, to put his arm around each one and say,
"Father, this is Bill (or Mary, or Jack or Jane).
I led him to faith in you.
I told him all the things you commanded.
He has achieve full potential spiritually, and today, I present him to you complete."
When you and I stand before the Lord, we should not want to stand there alone and empty-handed.
We should want to bring someone with us who is fully grown and mature in Christ.
In other words, we should want to be a workman who needs not to be ashamed.
D.L. Moody said "that the goal of every believer should be
to go to heaven
and to take as many people as possible with me."
Paul concludes but testifying, "Whereunto, I also labour, striving according to his working,
which worketh in me mightily." (Colossians 1:29)
The word "labour" means to toil, to grow weary, to exhaust oneself.
"Strive," an athletic term which describes an athlete who exerts himself, pushes himself,
and drives himself in training.
In essence, Paul pushed and drove himself so that he might warn and teach every person,
and ultimately present every person perfect in Jesus Christ.
Paul did this "according to his working, which worketh in me mightily."
Translated from the Greek, "working" means energy or power, and here refers
to the divine power of God.
The ideal is that, through faith in Christ, a person links his life with a source of energy that enables him
to rise above his natural limitations.
Two elements existing Christian service the human and the divine.
Paul coupled himself with divine, the indwelling Christ, who energized him and kept him going.
Paul stated emphatically that his mission was to present to every person the fact
that the indwelling Christ is the only hope of the world.
And to that end, he drove himself.
We should also labor and exert ourselves for this eternal cause as Paul did,
so that spiritual laziness does not bring about our demise.
I read that on President Lyndon Johnson's ranch house doormat were these words:
"All the world is welcome here."
Surely, if there are doormats outside the pearly gates, they will have the same inscription.
But "the world" will never know they are welcome unless we convince them to come in.
This should be the consuming passion of our lives.
Paul set the precedent; and like him, we must spread the gospel, throughout our lifetime, to every person.
Remember that Jesus said, "
be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." (Revelation 2:10)
He did not say, "Be faithful until you are tired or retired" but be faithful until you are expired.
That is our challenge!
Let us as Christians go forward!
This sermon has been adapted from several sources by Dr. Harold L. White