Below are notes to a sermon preached Sunday morning, Jan. 7, 2001, at Gospel Light Baptist Church, Albany, Georgia.
2001: A SOUL-WINNING ODYSSEY
By Michael D. O’Neal Pastor, Gospel Light Baptist Church Albany, Georgia
Scripture Reading: Acts 9:1-16
Text: Acts 9:15
Acts 9:15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:
Introduction: On this first Sunday morning of 2001, I want to call your attention to our bulletin board, I want to announce our theme for the year, and I want to invite you to go with me this year on what I am calling “a soul-winning odyssey.”
Homer, a Greek poet of around 850 B.C.,S wrote an epic poem, which recounted the journeys of a character named Odysseus, after the fall of Troy, back to Ithaca. The word, “odyssey,” has come to mean 1. an extended adventurous voyage or trip, or 2. an intellectual or spiritual quest: an odyssey of discovery.
Nearly 3,000 years later, in 1968, Stanley Kubrick produced a movie called, “2001: A Space Odyssey.” He co-wrote the screenplay with science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke, based on Clarke’s book, “The Sentinel.”
I have chosen to call our theme for the year, “2001: A Soul-Winning Odyssey.” The term, “soul-winning,” describes the efforts of Christian people to declare the gospel of Jesus Christ to people and to see those people trust Christ as Savior, resulting in what the Bible calls “the new birth” and receiving everlasting life.
In our scripture reading today, we read about a man named Saul. Before he was saved, his main business had been to persecute Christians, thinking that they were enemies of God. On the road to Damascus he had a miraculous manifestation of God, who identified Himself to the misguided religious zealot as Jesus Christ. From that point on, Saul’s life turned completely
around. Whereas he had been on a trip to Damascus for the purpose of throwing Christians into jail, he began a new journey which led him all across the region, preaching the message of the gospel.
In the same chapter we read,
Acts 9:20-22 And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. 21 But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? 22 But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.
As we begin the new year, I want to encourage each of you members of Gospel Light Baptist Church to join me in a spiritual odyssey. If you are a visiting Christian today, I hope that you will be blessed and stirred by the vision of reaching people for Christ that members of our church are catching. Perhaps you might want to join us today. We don’t claim to be a perfect church. We are not a PERFECT people, but we are a PARDONED people.
If you are visiting with us and you have never experienced the new birth, if you don’t know for sure that heaven is your home, may God bless you and speak to your heart to the saving of your soul before you leave this place.
As I invite you all on a soul-winning odyssey this year, let me first of all introduce you to
I. THE CAPTAIN
The captain of our journey is the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice one of the titles that the scriptures give Him:
Hebrews 2:10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
A. Jesus left heaven to win souls
- Jesus is God, and as God, He always existed. 2000 years ago He left heaven, where He was in the form of God, and took upon Himself the form of man.
- Jesus is God, and as God, He always existed. 2000 years ago He left heaven, where He was in the form of God, and took upon Himself the form of man. He did this for the purpose of bringing sinners to God.
- 1 Timothy 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
B. Jesus lived as a man to win souls
- He was miraculously born of the virgin Mary.
- He lived without sin for 33 years.
C. Jesus lay down His life to win souls
- He died on the cross of Calvary as the Lamb of God, paying for the sins of mankind, and purchasing their salvation with His own blood.
- He was buried, and three days later He rose from the dead, in an open victory over death, hell, and the grave!
D. Jesus leads His disciples to win souls
- Matthew 4:19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
The second thing I want you to consider about this soul-winning odyssey is
II. THE CREW
Some people think that the only people who are supposed to be in the business of spreading the gospel are ordained ministers, “reverends.” However, consider the following passage from God’s word:
Acts 8:1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.
Notice that in the persecution all of the disciples at Jerusalem were scattered, except for the apostles. Now look at verse 4:
Acts 8:4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.
Notice that the “ordained ministers” did not scatter. They remained in Jerusalem! Those who were “scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word.”
Who were they?
A. They were common people
- They had ordinary jobs – fishermen, tax collectors.
- They were not famous at the time.
- Three of our soul-winners led people to Christ yesterday. Two of them are truck drivers, and one of them is a 14-year-old boy who is a student in our Christian school.
- Anyone who is saved can learn to win souls!
B. They were converted people
- You can’t reach others with the gospel if you aren’t converted, yourself!
- Do YOU know for certain that YOU would go to heaven if you died today?
C. They were concerned people
- Soul-winning is teaching a person the gospel with a TEAR in your eye.
- Psalms 126:5-6 They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. 6 He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,bringing his sheaves with him.
D. They were committed people
- It takes time to go soul- winning.
- It takes effort.
- It takes desire, prayer, and faith.
- It takes persistence.
- But it CAN be done!
Now consider with me
III. THE CHALLENGE
2 Corinthians 5:18-19 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
A. I challenge you with the WORK in which we should be engaged
- It is called “the ministry of reconciliation.”
- It is the business of bringing men, women, boys, and girls back to God.
- It is the holy work of showing sinners the way of salvation.
B. I challenge you with the WORLD to whom we are sent
- The Bible says in John 3:16 that God so loved the WORLD.
C. I challenge you with the WORD that we preach
- In 2 Cor. 5:19 it is called “the word of reconciliation.”
- It is called “the gospel.”
- It is the message that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures.
Finally, consider with me
IV. THE CAUSE
1 Samuel 17:29 And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a cause?
Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
Here is the cause, as simply as I can put it. Here is why we are more concerned with spending money on a Sunday School bus for picking up children than we are about spending money on chandeliers or stained glass:
A. Death is inevitable
- All people die.
- All people face God, whether or not they believe in Him, and whether or not they are prepared to meet Him!
- We must reach them with the gospel BEFORE they die!
B. Damnation is universal
- All have sinned.
- Unbelievers are already under God’s condemnation. We must reach them!
- John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but the that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
C. Deliverance is available
- All people NEED to be saved, and not everyone WILL be saved, but anyone MAY be saved!
- Salvation is the gift of God. We extend God’s gift by telling people how to be saved, and it is up to them to receive it.
Join me this year for 2001: A Soul-Winning Odyssey!