Acts 20 Lesson

Evangelism

THE GREAT COMMISSION

In the Great Commission, Jesus said:

  • “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizingthem 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.” – Mathew 28:19-20.

Jesus commanded us to make disciples of all nations. Did He mean that literally? Clearly taking the gospel to ALL nations is a task too large for any individual. Yet, that is what Jesus asked us to do. So where should we start?

FISHING WHERE THE FISH ARE

One of the most important takeaways we can learn from the book of Acts is to, “Fish where the fish are.” In other words, we are to evangelize where people are most receptive to the message. Sadly, many people are not going to be receptive to hearing the Gospel. Jesus talked about this in the following two scriptures:

  1. 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.  Others fell on 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.  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 hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.  He who has ears, let him hear.” – Mathew 13:3-9,
  2. “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.  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 wealth 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 hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” – Mathew 13:19-23.

In this parable, Jesus compares evangelism to planting seeds.He tells us this parable to prepare us for the fact that when we share the gospel, some will be receptive but many more will not be. He does not want us to become discouraged.

  • “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” – Galatians 6:9.

HANDLING REJECTION

When people are not receptive to our efforts to share the gospel with them, we have two choices:

  1. Try to force the issue to an unreceptive audience,
  2. Move on to another audience in the hopes they will be more receptive.

Paul’s example, and Jesus’ own words, teach us that option #2 is the right decision to make. When Paul and the other disciples were met with unreceptive audiences, they moved on to search for “more fertile soil.” Luke put it this way:

  • “But they shook off the dust of their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium.” – Acts 13:51.

Similarly, Jesus said:

  • Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet.” – Mathew 10:14.

We are not meant to repeatedly try to share the gospel with those that do not wish to receive it. Instead, we are to pick ourselves up, dust off our feet, and seek out a more receptive audience.

In Acts 20, we see Paul preaching to a receptive audience. Here we see how he invested more time with those willing to listen and learn about Jesus. Notice how Paul prolonged his message for the receptive audience:

  • “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight.” – Acts 20:7

It is interesting to see the flexibility that Paul had depending on the situation.  He “Fished where the fish are,” and moved on from places where the message was not received. So should we.

CONCLUSION:

Sometimes, we can spend too much time pursuing something that is not part of God’s plan for us. Reading Acts gives us pause to stop and reevaluate whether our time may be better spent elsewhere.

As we take the message of Jesus to the world, we need to pay attention and make sure that we are, “Fishing where the fish are.” When we do that, God will supply us with opportunities to evangelize.

We will conclude today’s lesson with the following message from Jesus that encourages us to keep sharing the Gospel:

  • Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore, plead with the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” - Mathew 9:37-38.

Comments

Penelope Bourne

Continuing to try to evangelise someone who has closed their ears is playing into the hands of the devil. He loves to see us wasting our time when we should have moved on to seek someone more receptive . It is not our job to save people but to preach the Gospel and the more people we share it with the more chance there is for the Holy Spirit to come along and convict people of their sin and save their souls. That is His work.

Reply
John

I think the best way to let our light shine and glorify God is through our actions. People notice what we do, what we don't do, as well as what we say and what we don't say. As the old saying goes, "I'd rather see a sermon than here one anyday."

Reply