Chapter 6

CHAPTER SIX

RECIPIENTS OF THE MESSAGE

OBJECTIVES:

Upon completion of this chapter you will be able to:

  • Write the Key Verse from memory.
    • Explain God’s process for multiplying believers.
    • Name two New Testament men used as examples of this process.
    • Identify the priorities for evangelizing.
    • Identify four types of sinners described in the Bible.
    • Begin to evangelize.

KEY VERSE:

And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

(2 Timothy 2:2)

INTRODUCTION

You are studying God’s plan for reaching the world with the Gospel:

-Jesus Christ is the content of the message.

-Disciples are the messengers of the Gospel empowered by the Holy Spirit.

-The whole world is to be the recipient of the message.

Today we live in a growing world. Thousands of new human beings are born each day. The population of the world is increasing rapidly. There are millions of people who have not heard the Gospel message.

The challenge of Jesus to believers is to reach the entire world with the Gospel. In the previous two lessons you studied about the message and messengers of evangelism. But with such a great multitude waiting for the message, where is the messenger to begin?  What is the priority and where do you start? Who is to be the recipient of the message?

THE MULTIPLICATION PROCESS

In the Bible, God reveals a special process to enable believers to fulfill the mission of evangelizing the world. It is based on the principle of spiritual multiplication. Multiplication is a basic principle of all growth in the natural world. Growth does not take place by adding one unit to another. Living cells multiply. This means each new cell produced has the ability to reproduce.

God’s plan of evangelism is based on multiplication similar to that of living cells in the natural world. Paul summarized it when he wrote these words to Timothy:

And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

(2 Timothy 2:2)

Paul told Timothy to select faithful men and commit to them the things he had been taught. These faithful men were to have the ability to teach others. Through this organized plan of reproduction, the Gospel would spread throughout the world.

To see how this process works, study the chart on the following page. This chart uses the period of a year as the average time necessary to convert someone to the Gospel and train him to be a reproductive Christian. In reality, it could take more or less time, depending on the person involved, so it is not possible to set a firm time limit. But if a believer would reach just one person and disciple them each year and have them pledge to disciple one person each year, the world could easily be reached with the Gospel message.

Observe on the chart that during the first year the believer is discipling one person. At the end of that year, there are now two faithful men, the believer and the new convert he has discipled in basic principles of the Christian faith.

During the next year, each of them reach one person with the Gospel and disciple them. At the end of the second year, there is a total of four people, each of whom will disciple one person the following year.

DISCIPLER(S)         DISCIPLE(S)                                TOTAL

YEAR1765,53665,536=131,072
YEAR1632,76832,768=65,536
YEAR1516,38416,384=32,768
YEAR148,1928,192=16,384
YEAR134,0964,096=8,192
YEAR122,0482,048=4,096
YEAR111,0241,024=2,048
YEAR10512512=1,024
YEAR9256256=512
YEAR8128128=256
YEAR76464=128
YEAR63232=64
YEAR51616=32
YEAR488=16
YEAR344=8
YEAR222=4
YEAR111=2

EVANGELIZING BY MULTIPLYING

Now, take an average church membership of approximately 100 people. Increase this chart to 100 people each reaching one person with the Gospel and training them to be reproductive and you can see how we could easily reach the entire world with the Gospel. When you train each one to reach one to teach one, disciples are multiplied rapidly and multiplication is faster than addition.

THE PROCESS IN THE EARLY CHURCH

The following diagram shows the first stages of evangelism by multiplication resulting from Andrew, one of the first disciples of Jesus:

  1. Andrew shared the Gospel with his brother, Peter.
  2. Peter shared the Gospel on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem.
  3. Peter continues to share the Gospel with others who also become reproductive.
  4. Thousands of believers scattered from Jerusalem continue to spread the Gospel.
  5. Each person they reach becomes reproductive and the process continues. This diagram shows the first stages of evangelism done by the Apostle Paul:
  1. Ananias is used of God to raise up Paul.
  2. Paul disciples Timothy.
  3. Paul continues on to disciple others.
  4. Timothy disciples faithful men who can teach others.
  5. Faithful men reach others.
  6. These “others” continue the multiplication process.
  7. Each person in the network continues to multiply.

PRIORITIES IN EVANGELIZING

The Word of God identifies several priorities in evangelizing. These priorities are:

EXISTING SOCIAL NETWORKS:

The New Testament reveals that the Gospel spreads the most rapidly along existing social networks. By this we mean that you can spread the Gospel easiest to your own social group of friends, relatives, and coworkers.

For example, Jesus called one fisherman named Andrew. Andrew shared the Gospel with a relative named Peter. They shared with other fishermen with whom they worked. Soon a whole group of fishermen were following Jesus.

Your relatives, friends, and co-workers, the world of work, school, family, and community is your arena of ministry. Use the diagram on the following page to help you begin to evangelize. Write your name in the circle at the bottom of the diagram. Now think about those with whom you work and socialize, your neighbors, and family members. Think about those who attend your church who still may be unsaved. In the circles located around you write the names of at least three relatives or friends with whom you are in close contact and who are unbelievers.

Now look at the diagram. Notice the arrows that point from your friends and relatives to YOU. You are the ambassador of the Lord to these people. They may never enter a church. They may not ever come in contact with the pastor of your church. But YOU know them well. It is through these existing networks of social relationships that you can begin to evangelize.

HOUSEHOLDS:

The family is a divinely created social unit and is a universal social institution. There are more instructions about the family in the Bible than any other institution. For this reason, household evangelism deserves close attention as a Biblical priority.

Moses was faithful with all his household, while Joshua exclaimed “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). Rahab, a harlot of Jericho, turned to the Lord and saved herself and her entire family from destruction (Joshua 2). When Jesus visited the home of Zaccheaus, he declared, “This day is salvation come to this house” (Luke 19:9). When     Jesus healed the nobleman’s son, he believed along with his entire household (John 4:46-54).

The entire family of Cornelius came to the Lord (Acts 10), as did the household of Lydia (Acts

16) and that of the Philippian jailer (Acts 16), Crispus (Acts 18:80), and Stephanas (1 Corinthians 1:16). Similar references are made to Onesiphorus and his house (2 Timothy 1:16) and Philemon (Philemon 2).

While Jesus said there would be division in families because of the Gospel, sometimes this occurs because of the methods of evangelism rather than the Gospel itself. When evangelism

occurs within the family unit, the healing and restoring power of the Gospel can work within the home.

When individual members of the family are contacted with the Gospel outside of the home, they are drawn out of family relationships and separated from the divinely ordained social unit to which they belong. The family fears the intrusion, may become the enemy of the convert, and resists the Gospel. Evangelism of an entire family honors the social unit God has created. The family itself becomes a strength to the new believer rather than opposition.

UNREACHED PEOPLE:

People yet unreached by the Gospel are also an important priority. There are millions of villages of the world that have never been reached with the Gospel. There are many people who have never had the opportunity to read God’s message to them in His written Word because it has not been translated into their language.

If we view the world in terms of nations, then we could say all the world has been reached because there presently exists within every nation some sort of Gospel witness. There are now believers and organized churches in every country on earth. But this is by no means the same as “every tribe, language, and people and nation” as referred to in Revelation 5:9.

When Jesus spoke of going into all the world He was not referring to nations alone. The term Jesus used when He spoke of the world was the Greek word “ethne.” This word means “ethnic” or “people groups.” Jesus viewed the world in terms of “all people” or “people groups.”

A people group is defined as:

“A significantly large group of individuals who have a common bond to one another. Such a bond may include like language, culture, customs, and geographic location.”

A people group is the largest possible group within which the Gospel can spread without encountering problems in understanding and acceptance. Because a people group speaks a common language and has a common culture, the language and cultural differences which hinder the presentation of the Gospel are eliminated.

There are over 19,000 different people groups in the world which have been identified to date. Some have as few as 3,000 members, while others are as large as 30 million. Each continent of the world is made up not only of different nations, but of different people groups. For example, on the continent of Africa there are 1,000 languages and hundreds of people groups.

A reached people group is one with an adequate number of believers and resources to evangelize their own people without outside assistance.

An unreached people group is a people group among which there is no native community of believers with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize their people without outside assistance.  There are some 17,000 ethnic or people groups without a vital, witnessing Gospel church. Within these ethnic groups are millions of people. These unreached people groups can be grouped together in five major categories, including tribal people, Muslims, Chinese, Hindus, and Buddhists.

Paul indicated that priority should be given to unreached people:

Yea, so have I strived to preach the Gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation;

But as it is written, To whom He was not spoken of, they shall see; and they that have not heard shall understand. (Romans 15:20-21)

RECEPTIVE AREAS:

Jesus taught His disciples that they were not to minister to unreceptive people. If the Gospel was rejected, they were to move on and concentrate their energy on areas of greatest receptivity. The Apostle Paul also followed this strategy.

CITIES:

You will learn later how Paul established churches in great centers of civilization. Change usually starts in cities and then spreads to rural areas. Cities are centers of trade and tourism and as people who visit are reached with the Gospel they take the message with them when they return home.

FOUR TYPES OF SINNERS

Although people differ greatly from culture to culture, the Bible reveals certain characteristics of all people everywhere. All men apart from God are sinners. The following are four types of sinners described in the Bible:

THE RATIONAL SINNER:

Romans 1:18-32 describes the rational sinner. The rational sinner may believe there is a God, but this fact alone does not save. The rational sinner is very intelligent, and when you try to present the Gospel he will often bring up an intellectual problem. This is why you must know the Word of God. The Bible says:

. . . be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. (I Peter 3:15)

THE REFORMED SINNER:

Romans 2:1-16 describes the reformed sinner. The reformed sinner believes God exists because we learn from Romans 2:3 that he thinks he is capable of judging the sinner described in Romans 1:18-32. He also believes he is going to escape the judgment of God. The reformed sinner  thinks he is as good as anyone else and that there are only hypocrites in the church. He is the type of person who tries to reform, start over, and improve himself.

THE RELIGIOUS SINNER:

Romans 2:17-23 describes the religious sinner. The religious sinner is one who trusts in his religion or denomination for salvation. He trusts in ceremonies and rituals, but does not know the true God. Nicodemus was a Pharisee (John 3:1). He was religious, but he did not understand the true meaning of salvation and being born again.

THE REJECTED SINNER:

The woman at the well in John 4 is an example of the rejected sinner. She was a social outcast. She was divorced, and obviously not accepted by the other women of her village because normally women came to draw water together and it was a time of great socialization. This woman came alone.

The rejected sinner is more concerned about his own personal problems than with spiritual issues. The best way to deal with him is as Jesus did with the woman at the well. You must begin by dealing with their personal needs.