Calvary Road Baptist Church

“HE BROUGHT HIM TO JESUS”

John 1.41-42

 

My text for this morning is John 1.41-42. When you find that place in God’s Word, I invite you to stand and read along silently while I read aloud:

 

41    He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.

42    And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.

 

This is the account of Andrew, who brought his brother Simon Peter to the Lord Jesus Christ early on in the Savior’s public ministry after He was baptized by John the Baptist. Notice, particularly, where it says in verse 42, “and he brought him to Jesus.”

Though this verse obviously records the incident of Andrew bringing his brother into the Lord Jesus Christ’s physical presence, I want to speak to you about bringing someone to Jesus Christ, as in bringing someone to faith in Christ, under three headings:

 

First, HOW THIS PASSAGE IS USUALLY USED

 

Over the course of my more than forty years long Christian life, I have heard this passage preached by any number of pastors, preachers, missionaries, and evangelists. It is one of the most useful portions of God’s Word for persuading, for encouraging, and for exhorting Christians to involve themselves in evangelistic efforts to bring the lost to Christ. The implicit understanding is that whereas this verse records the incident of a man physically bringing another man to Christ’s physical presence, evangelism involves bringing a sinner to a faith encounter with the risen, ascended, and enthroned Savior.[1] However, the way this passage is usually preached, one soon gets the idea that only three ingredients are ever necessary for truly spiritual and effective evangelism:

First, you have to have a good intention. After all, on the surface of it all what else does Andrew have? His only qualification for doing this tremendous evangelistic work of bringing his brother to Christ, who we all know will be one of the two most important and prominent of all apostles in the Christian era, is the desire to do so. Thus, the implication is always left with the listener that all you need to be truly effective at reaching people for Christ, by which they mean opening your Bible and leading a sinner to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, is the desire to do so.

That good intention must then be coupled with immediate action. After all, Andrew heard the Lord Jesus speak, verse 37, and then he went to fetch his brother to bring him to Christ. The implication is that you, too, must immediately take action to ensure success. If you do not take immediate action you are disobedient. After all, the woman at the well in John chapter 4 took immediate action. She ran into town and told the men,

 

“Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?”

 

Is the New Testament plan for soul winners to be motivated by good intentions to take immediate action? That is what is suggested in so much preaching. After all, that is what Andrew did. That is also what the woman at the well did.

The good intention followed by immediate action results in instantaneous results. At least, that is what we are led to believe. That is what is so frequently taught in soul winning seminars. That is what is taught by the experts. That is what personal evangelism classes stress so much in Bible colleges. After all, if you want to win people to Christ you only need to tell them to come with you and they will certainly come with you wherever you want. Is that not so? Has that not been your experience? Excuse me, but that was not my experience over the course of knocking on multiplied thousands of doors, after talking to every member of my family, and after seeking to evangelize every single one of my coworkers. Do not be fooled. I am not suggesting that Andrew is not a wonderful example of evangelistic fervor. Neither am I suggesting that the woman at the well did not respond in a marvelous way to the grace of God as it was revealed in the Person of my Lord Jesus Christ. I am just telling you that a good intention that motivates a person to take immediate action is not what produces results in evangelism. A good intention that motivates a person to take immediate action is not at all what we see in this passage producing results. As well, the results seen here, and in the lives of the Samaritan men the woman at the well spoke to, could hardly be called instantaneous. The whole idea that a good intention, prompting immediate action, which then leads to immediate results, is completely bogus. I can categorically state that such an approach to bringing the lost to Jesus Christ simply does not work unless you come into contact with someone God has already begun to deal with who happens to be ready to do business with God on the occasion of your contact with him.

 

Next, THE CONTEXT WHICH IS USUALLY IGNORED

 

Let me review some factors that play very significantly in this snapshot of Andrew’s fetching of his brother Simon Peter, which is so typically passed off as a perfect representation of what is usually called soul winning:

First, consider that Jewish people of that day were steeped in the Bible. Assume, for a moment, that Simon Peter was thirty years old when his brother Andrew fetched him with the good news. Do you realize that meant Simon Peter had been taught the Hebrew Scriptures by highly qualified rabbis for almost thirty years? Let’s round it off to thirty years. Thirty years of Bible training. Thirty years of scripture memorization. Thirty years of Law observance. Thirty years of God consciousness. Thirty years of awareness of personal sin. Thirty years of guilt. Thirty years of blood sacrifices at the Temple in Jerusalem. Is that the case with the guy who sits next to you at the office? Is that the case with a member of your family? Is that the case with the stranger you have just met at a birthday party? Is that the case with the first time visitor at Church? My friend, how do you propose to deal with the fact that the person you are trying to bring to Christ is only thirty years behind Simon Peter in Bible knowledge and training? Does a good intention and immediate action overcome that kind of deficit to guarantee good results?

Add on top of that the harsh circumstances of Roman occupation. The Jewish people were religious people who had a covenant relationship with the Creator of all things. Their oppressors, on the other hand, were debauched idolaters, who treated them with cruelty and brutality. As the Jews considered God’s book in light of Roman oppression, they longed for their predicted Messiah. They had a palpable hunger for relief from the harassment and heavy tax burden and daily humiliations that weighed so heavily on them. Does the person who lives next door to you long for the coming of the Messiah? Does he pray for God to send the Messiah to overthrow the Romans and free him from oppression and heavy taxation? Is he humiliated on a daily basis by occupation troops? If you do not know anyone like that, then you do not know anyone like Andrew’s brother, Peter. How can someone who had not spent his whole life longing for the Messiah be expected to be as eager as Simon Peter was when Andrew told him, “We have found the Messias”?

Additionally, add the preparatory ministry of John the Baptist. We know John the Baptist conducted his brief ministry at the Southern end of the Jordan River, not far from where it empties into what we now call the Dead Sea, almost due East of Jerusalem. However, that is at the other end of the country from where Andrew and Simon Peter fished in the Sea of Galilee, which is at the North end of the Jordan River. Beginning with John 1.19, we see unfolding before us the Gospel narrative that introduces us to John the Baptist, Andrew, and his brother Simon Peter. Notice when you read it again that the entire narrative is set in that region where John the Baptist conducted his ministry. So, what are Andrew and Simon Peter who live at the North end of the Jordan River doing at the South end of the Jordan River? They, and others were there to listen to the Baptist preach. They were disciples of John the Baptist before Andrew saw Jesus Christ or heard Him speak. It was John the Baptist who pointed Jesus Christ out to Andrew, in John 1.29-36. So, it is safe to say that Simon Peter had plenty of opportunities to hear John the Baptist preach and teach about the Lord Jesus Christ since he was our Lord’s predicted forerunner. That is why the guy in front of you in Starbucks does not react with excitement and enthusiasm when you eagerly say to him, “Hey buddy, I have found the Messiah. Want me to tell you how you can know Him?” All that Bible instruction, all that oppression, and hardship, and all that preparation by the anointed prophet of God is completely missing from the person you are trying to reach. It is also absent from that man or woman whose door is knocked on by the aggressive so-called soul winner. Yet that soul winner expects me to believe that in ten or fifteen minutes he can compensate for the experiences Simon Peter had accumulated over a thirty year period that prepared him for what his brother had to say to him? Keep in mind that Simon Peter was not approached by a stranger in the Whole Foods Market but by his brother. Thirty years of accumulated Bible knowledge, and terrible and stressful life experiences that would produce a longing for a Savior, and finally an anointed forerunner preaching for six months, are not things you or anyone else can overcome by a good intention and immediate actions over the course of ten minutes at someone’s front door to produce good results. Excuse me, but two hours will still not get the job done.

 

Finally, THE REALITIES OF REAL EVANGELISM

 

Real evangelism is not the result of a good intention, followed by immediate action, which produces a good result. It is obvious that much more was taking place when Andrew brought his brother to Christ. We tend to ignore that portion of the history which does not make for rousing preaching. The reality that I have just brought to your attention is considerably more complex. For just a few minutes, let me mention just a few of the realities of real evangelism, not in any particular order of importance:

First, evangelism requires addressing the way people think. I have already brought to your attention some of the factors that greatly affected Simon Peter. But even after his brother Andrew told him that he had found the Messiah, John 1.41, humanly speaking it still took Simon Peter the better part of three years to grasp what Andrew had said to him. After all, it was not until Matthew 16.16 that Peter was able to respond to our Lord’s question concerning His identity and say, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” To which the Savior responded by saying,

 

“Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”

 

The reality is that no one comes to Jesus Christ who does not think. Therefore, if you are to be involved in bringing people to Christ at any level of this activity we call evangelism, you must consider the way people think. A good intention and immediate action are not enough. Then, of course, certain things only happen when God decides they will happen.

Next, evangelism requires informing people of foundational truths. I would never suggest that a sinner needs the background of a Simon Peter to come to Christ. But we should be agreed that there must be some factual basis for saving faith. If faith is the evidence of things hoped for, we should have some idea of what is hoped for. If faith is the evidence of things not seen, we should have some idea of what it is that is not seen. Those facts must at some point be related to the person you seek to reach with the Gospel because apart from those facts there can be no faith. I do not think a great deal must be known to be saved through faith in Christ, but some basic knowledge of God, of sin, of judgment, and of Jesus Christ, is required. If you are dealing with someone who has no foundational truth, you must realize that it has to be provided. If you are dealing with someone who has distorted understanding of foundational truth, you must realize that it has to be corrected. This, I believe, is why it is so important to understand that though real evangelism may begin at the front door of someone’s house, or over the back fence, or near the water fountain at work, it frequently must end up in the auditorium under the preaching of God’s Word. That is where foundational truths can most typically be presented to one and all in a systematic way.

Third, evangelism requires wisdom and discernment. I would never suggest that the pastor is the only person with wisdom and discernment in any Church. But I would suggest that the congregation is the pillar and ground of the truth and that the congregation is the repository of collective wisdom and discernment for dealing with the lost. Thus, evangelism should not be seen as some Lone Ranger activity one person does by himself. Rather, it is the combined and collective efforts of the entire congregation. That is why it is so important that as many of our Church people turn out on Saturday nights as possible, so long as they are physically capable. That is how we corporately reach out into the community around us, in the hopes our efforts will lead to personal contacts and meeting new friends. At some point, one might think, “Let pastor deal with her. He will know how to get her saved.” While I am willing to do my part, I am convinced the Great Commission is our commission, not just my commission, and that your reluctance to engage in real evangelism is a serious impediment that hinders all our efforts at bringing our families and friends to Christ.

Fourth, real evangelism presumes hard work and frequent disappointment. We live in the real world, right? And Paul did inform the Ephesians that we are created in Christ Jesus unto good works, Ephesians 2.10. Beloved, those good works are hard works. As well, there is plenty of disappointment. I do not invest ten or fifteen years of my life into a boy or girl so they will move away once they feel family and friends are no longer useful to them. But it happens. Most will not come to Christ, but will seek to fulfill their own selfish desires. Does that mean we stop trying? Does that mean we stop loving? Does that mean we give up on trying to reach people? Not at all. It only means we need to gird up the loins of our minds, toughen up as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, and stay in the fight until we are dead or until King Jesus comes.

Fifth, real evangelism necessitates fervent and effectual prayer. Decisionism presumes the Spirit of God will convict the sinner while the soul winner is talking to him.[2] Decisionism presumes the Spirit of God will conclude His convincing work when the soul winner is finished with his canned presentation of the Gospel. As well, decisionism presumes anyone you can persuade to repeat the words of a prayer is automatically saved, and that the Holy Spirit must work the miracle of the new birth at a time of your appointing. Really? Real evangelism presumes no such things. In reality, fervent and effectual prayers are required in all evangelistic efforts. Friends, we desperately need the Holy Spirit to use us, and if we do not pray for His involvement in our efforts, we are not likely to have His involvement in our efforts. As to the when and where and how He will work in a person’s life, the Savior said this about the Holy Spirit of God and His regenerating work in John 3.8:

 

“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.”

 

Sixth, real evangelism does not require the use of the Law of Moses before presenting the Gospel. This is a significant departure from the approach I was once taught and once practiced for years in my ministry. Why must the Law be presented to the sinner? Here is what I was taught back in the day: Jesus Christ saves sinners from their sins, Matthew 1.21. But most people these days have little consciousness of sins. However, the Law of Moses is useful to make sinners conscious of their sins. After all, Romans 3.20 does declare, “for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Then, once the Law work is done in a sinner’s heart, or so I thought, the Gospel was to be then presented. My understanding was that it is important that the Law come first because the Gospel is the good news, which is ineffective and not received gladly until the sinner first knows the bad news of his own sorry state according to the Law of Moses, the Ten Commandments, and such as that. My feeling as a result of what I was taught was that this is most effectively done with preaching, which is why our goal is to get the lost person to Church as the best means of getting the lost person to Christ. If that sinner will not come to Church, it is highly unlikely that sinner will come to Christ. But if you can get the sinner to Church, where he sits under the preaching of God’s Word (Law and then Gospel, I once thought), and is exposed to the collective wisdom and discernment of God’s people, along with God’s people praying and participating, then some will be saved. The problem, of course, is that the Law of Moses was given only to the Jewish people.[3] Not only does the Apostle Paul never make use of or even refer to the Law when addressing unsaved Gentiles, but Romans 3.19 specifically shows that the Law is not applicable with respect to Gentiles:[4]

 

“Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.”

 

If the Law was given only to the Jewish people up until Christ’s death on the cross, how then are we to witness to unsaved Gentiles?[5] How do the lost today come to recognize their sinfulness before God and their need of Christ? I have an idea. Why don’t we consider how the Apostle Paul dealt with the unsaved Gentiles who lived in the city of Athens, known everywhere for their gross idolatry? Though we haven’t the time to carefully consider Acts 17.16-34, when you read that passage at home you will immediately recognize that Paul makes no mention of the Law of Moses to his Gentile audience, strongly declares to them that they are ignorant of the true God Who is the Creator, and warns them that God has commanded them to repent to stave off the judgment that will certainly come on Judgment Day by the One He raised from the dead, who is, of course, Jesus Christ. As well, consider that the Savior Himself told His apostles that the Holy Spirit would

 

“reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.”

 

Yet throughout the 16th chapter of the Gospel of John the Savior makes no reference or allusion to the Law of Moses as being integral to the Spirit’s work in the lives of the lost. The chief sin issue mentioned by the Savior in John 16.8-9? Consider carefully what our Lord said, observing that reference to the Law of Moses was not made by Him in connection with the Spirit’s convincing work:

 

8      And when he [the Holy Spirit] is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

9      Of sin, because they believe not on me.

 

The serious issue that every lost person must come to grips with? Far more serious than the particular sins you have committed in your life, is your terrible sin of not believing on Jesus Christ. The fact is you do not know Jesus Christ, and you do not know God. Whatever else you may or may not be guilty of, that terrible sin of unbelief is enough to damn your soul to Hellfire. As I reflect on my own thoughts, realizations, and concerns when I was lost and under conviction so many years ago, it was the realization that I was suddenly aware that I did not know the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world. That meant I was in serious trouble with God. Specific sins I was guilty of committing were not on my mind so much as my desperate situation because I had not believed in Jesus Christ, the One who gives life and forgives sins. What does this mean to the witnessing Christian? It means your task in seeking to bring the lost to Jesus Christ is to address the issue of knowing Jesus Christ versus not knowing Jesus Christ, Whom to know is life eternal and the forgiveness of sins. Are sins still sins? To be sure. But the issue is whether or not that person knows Jesus Christ.

 

A good intention and immediate action are all the new Christian has to try to bring his loved one to Christ, according to so many these days. Sometimes that new Christian is respected enough by his family and friends that they will listen to him and seek to satisfy their spiritual curiosity by accepting his invitation or listening to his testimony. But what is to be done about the complete absence of Bible truth that is required for real faith to exist? As well, what is to be done about one’s need to know he is a sinner in need of the Savior, knowledge that is not so effectively brought about by the Law of Moses after all, even in the lives of the Jewish people it was given to.

My friends, the way it needs to be done, the way evangelism needs to be undertaken, so that both young and the old can participate, so the unschooled efforts of the new Christian can be blended with the seasoned and practiced efforts of the prayerful and discerning Christian, is for us all to work together. Recognize that bringing a soul to Christ is not always a simple thing. It is not usually a quick thing. It typically takes a great deal of time. I could say I was saved less than 48 hours after I started reading the Bible, but the truth is that I first heard the Gospel some 17 years earlier.

There is much about evangelism we do not understand. It is a very deep well. But what I do understand is that we must be a praying people, we must be a hard working people who work together in concert, and we must be a thoughtful people if we want God to use us to bring people to Christ. The new Christians among us can jump in with only good intentions and immediate activity and tell folks of their newfound Savior. But that is because the rest of us provide the coordinated activity and fervent praying until the new Christians in our midst learn to follow our example in the many other things that are so important to getting people to Jesus Christ. Therefore, we need to set the example that should be followed, being careful not to exhibit a lifestyle that suggests a lack of concern for the unbelieving, while we always and everywhere lift up Christ and exalt Him.

Let me close with a few remarks to you here today who do not know the Savior. Boy, are you in trouble. You may not realize it. You may not believe it. You may not feel it. Still, I say, your greatest need is Jesus Christ, and your profound danger is not knowing Him, Whom to know is life eternal. May we discuss the matter? I await your response.

__________

[1] Psalm 16.11; 110.1; Matthew 26.64; Mark 12.36; 14.62; 16.19; Luke 20.42; 22.69; John 3.13; 13.1; 14.2-4; Acts 2.33, 34-35; 7.56; Romans 8.34; Ephesians 1.20; 6.9; Colossians 3.1; Second Thessalonians 1.7; Hebrews 1.3, 13; 8.1; 9.24; 10.12-13; 12.2; 1 Peter 3.22; Revelation 19.11

[2] Decisionism is the belief that a person is saved by coming forward, raising the hand, saying a prayer, believing a doctrine, making a Lordship commitment, or some other external, human act, which is taken as the equivalent to, and proof of, the miracle of inward conversion; it is the belief that a person is saved through the agency of a merely external decision; the belief that performing one of these human actions shows that a person is saved. Conversion is the result of that work of the Holy Spirit which draws a lost sinner to Jesus Christ for justification and regeneration, and changes the sinner’s standing before God from lost to saved, imparting divine life to the depraved soul, thus producing a new direction in the life of the convert. The objective side of salvation is justification. The subjective side of salvation is regeneration. The result is conversion.

[3] David H. J. Gay, Christ Is All, (Bedford, UK: Brachus, 2013), pages 27-37.

[4] Ibid., pages 32-33.

[5] For a treatment of the misuse of the Law of Moses see David H. J. Gay, Christ Is All, (Bedford, UK: Brachus, 2013), pages 51-74.

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org