Scripture uses four word pictures to describe our mission:
A. WE ARE AMBASSADORS
1. The passage - 2 Cor. 5:17-21 - “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
2. The principles
a. People are alienated from God because of sin. Therefore they must be reconciled to Him.
b. Reconciliation means “the bringing together of two parties that are in dispute; particularly, Christ’s bringing God and man together, the result of which is salvation” (Concise Dictionary of Christian Theology, Millard Erickson, p. 140).
c. Reconciliation comes through Christ alone, who came to take upon Himself our sin, and grant us His righteousness.
d. We are ambassadors of that message.
1) An ambassador is a special representative from one government, appointed to represent its interests to another.
2) To represent Christ is a high honor and a significant investment of our lives.
e. Key principle: Effective evangelism begins with the conviction that the greatest favor you can do for others is to introduce them to Jesus Christ so they can be reconciled to God.
B. WE ARE SOWERS
1. The passage
Matt. 13:1-8; 19-23 - “On that day Jesus went out of the house, and was sitting by the sea. And great multitudes gathered to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole multitude was standing on the beach. “And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, ‘Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. And others fell upon the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. And others fell on the good soil, and yielded a crop, some a hundred fold, some sixty, and some thirty. . . .
“‘When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. And the one on whom seed was
sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word, and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word,
immediately he falls away.
“‘And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit, and brings forth, some a hundred fold, some sixty, and some thirty.’”
2. The principles
a. The emphasis in this parable is on soils more than sowers, but the application to evangelism should be clear.
b. The seed represents the kingdom message (gospel).
c. The soils represent various hearers of the kingdom message.
d. The sower is the evangelist who spreads the word.
e. Note that the burden of response falls to the soil, not the sower.
f. It isn’t the sower’s fault if seed falls on unproductive
C. WE ARE FARMERS
1. The passages
a. 1 Cor. 1:10-13 - “Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree, and there be no divisions among you, but you be made
complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.
“For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, ‘I am of Paul,’ and ‘I of Apollos,’ and ‘I of Cephas,’ and ‘I of Christ.’ Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
b. 1 Cor. 3:1-9 - “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to babes in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid
food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly.
For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? For when one says, ‘I am of Paul,’ and another,
‘I am of Apollos,’ are you not mere men?
“What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.
“Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.”
2. The principles
a. Too many Christians feel a sense of guilt or failure when someone they’ve witnessed to doesn’t receive Christ.
b. But our job is to sow the seed. God alone causes the increase. We aren’t responsible for salvation, only for faithful labor.
c. I suspect that few people come to Christ upon hearing the gospel for the first time.
d. Key principle: Evangelism is a process involving many elements (planting, watering, etc.).
1) Consider what it takes to produce fruit:
• Is the seed less important than the new sprout?
• Is the new sprout less important than the fresh leaves?
• Are the fresh leaves less important than the buds?
• Are the buds less important than the young fruit?
• Is the young fruit less important than the ripe fruit?
2) Each step in the process is equally as important to the final product.
3) You can’t tell the farmer who has just planted seed that he has failed to produce a crop. The harvest will come in due time, but it begins with planting.
4) Similarly, when you plant the seed of the gospel into the soil of one’s mind, you have taken a major step toward the final harvest. Likewise when you water that seed, you contribute to the final harvest.
D. WE ARE DISCIPLERS
1. The passage
Matt. 28:18-20 - “Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy
Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’”
2. The principles
a. Making disciples begins with leading people to Christ, but it doesn’t end there.
b. A discipler teaches new believers the things that Christ teaches in His Word, and what His Spirit revealed through the biblical writers (Peter, Paul, etc.).
c. A discipler may not have led the disciple to Christ, but he or she contributes to the important task of leading that young believer into spiritual maturity.