Clip from the movie the Patriot when he is recruiting for the Militia
I want to begin this sermon with a clip from a movie. In this movie, Mel Gibson’s character is trying to recruit men for the militia during the Revolutionary War. Now, if you are recruiting for the Militia, where would you go? Would you go to a place that was loyal to Great Britain? Would you go to a place that was for the Colonies? One must think about their audience, correct? Watch this.
We can see that Mel Gibson’s character knew that walking into that Pub he would find people he could recruit. He knew that stating, “God save the King.” would test his audience. He knew what he was doing.
In the ministry, we must also test our audience. You may be thinking, “I am not in the ministry.” Let me back up. If you are a Christian, you are. Every follower of Jesus Christ is a minister, which means “servant” for Jesus Christ.
Please, do not take my word for it. Look at what Jesus says.
He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
God gives all His followers Spiritual gifts so that we can be witnesses and servants for Him.
God calls you to be a witness of what He has done in your life.
So, the challenge today is to target your audience. The challenge is to get rid of barriers. Just like Mel Gibson recognized that if he wanted to recruit militia to fight against the British he should go to the Pub, so we must recognize where and how we are to minister.
The Great Idea today is that as we look at Acts 16:1-5 we notice that Paul chooses Timothy and gets rid of barriers to the gospel.
Let’s turn to Acts 16:1-5 and read it:
Paul came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was Jewish and a believer but whose father was a Greek. 2 The believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. 3 Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.
Let’s talk about Timothy first.
Paul chooses Timothy. We see this in verse 3. Something stood out to Paul to make him want to take Timothy along. Now, we know that Paul was on his second missionary journey and he is traveling backwards through the cities.
Timothy is likely 18 years old. It is possible and likely that Paul met Timothy on his first missionary journey and he would have been saved at that point.
Do you know what I think stood out to Paul about Timothy? Do you know what ought to stand out to us? This will stand out to our community as well?
Verse 2 says that the believers in Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. Do you realize that corresponds with 1 Timothy 3:7 which is a requirement for a church elder. A requirement for a church elder is that they have a good reputation in the community.
I was reading an article that talked about signed of churches that are struggling and one sign is that you do not have enough transformation(s). You see, at some point Timothy had a transformation. But one sign of an unhealthy church is you do not have enough testimonies of people passing from death to life. When we see these testimonies, when people see these testimonies people want something of that.
I was talking with another pastor, a pastor who planted a church, and I asked him how the church grew. He said that at one point they led a man to Christ they would deal drugs to many people in the area and when everyone in the community saw the transformation in him they one by one became Christians as well. It really was not the amazing faith of him, it was just the amazing transformation.
By the way, 2 Timothy 3:14 says that from childhood Timothy had known the sacred writings. Timothy was raised according to the Jewish ways. But not Christian ways.
Timothy had a transformation and MORE THAN THAT— now, verse 2 says that the believers in Lystra and Iconium speak well of him. Praise God!
Listen, this is critical for church leadership. Paul saw this in Timothy, others saw this in Timothy. This is written about here and this is written about in 1 Timothy 3:7 that an elder must have a good reputation in the community. I was at the “Turn Around Pastor” program and Dr. Penfold, one of the two leaders, talked about a time when he was on the nominating committee of a church. They were to nominate someone for a spot. A name came up. Dr. Penfold thought that this man would not be good because his reputation in the community was not good. The committee agreed. Later on, at a church business meeting a church bully spoke up and said, publicly, before the whole church, the nominating committee is not doing their duty because they have not nominated this man. After that, Dr. Penfold talked to the man who they refused to nominate and told him, “I do not think we should nominate you because of your reputation in the community.” Later, the nominating committee met and it turns out every one of them had told that same man, individually, that they had a problem nominating him because of his reputation in the community. Point is, God calls church leaders, church elders to be men of good character, recognized in the community.
That was true in Timothy. Paul noticed that. When we notice that, it is good.
Now what about Paul and Timothy: Paul considered him a “son” (cf. 1 Cor 4:17; 1 Tim 1:2). Not only did he address two letters to him, but he also listed him as cosender in six others (2 Cor 1:1; Phil 1:1; Col 1:1; 1 Thess 1:1; 2 Thess 1:1; Phlm 1). He considered him his “fellow worker” (Rom 16:21; cf. 1 Cor 16:10) and, indeed, as much more—“as a son with his father” in the work of the gospel (Phil 2:22).
Now, let’s get back to audience analysis. Let’s get back to the movie clip. Remember that clip from the movie the Patriot. If you are going to go fight the British, where are you going to recruit your Militia? Likewise, is it important to analyze your audience in evangelism?
So, remember my great idea. Paul chooses Timothy for the Ministry and gets rid of barriers to the Gospel.
What Barriers did Paul get rid of?
In verse 3 it says that he circumcised Timothy, why? We just got done talking about a chapter and this big church council stating that it was not necessary. This was necessary for the non Christians, not for the Christians. Also, Timothy’s mother was Jewish and his grandmother. This made him, in certain customary ways, Jewish. So, to the Jews, he was Jewish. So, for Paul, he wanted to get rid of barriers, he wanted to be able to take Timothy into the synagogue and have him preach there with non Christian Jews. This was necessary.
After this we have Paul going from city to city spreading the news about the Jerusalem Council. Paul was obedient to the Council: As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. Then in verse 5 we see one of Luke’s common summary statements: So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.
I wonder, could our churches be strengthened when we think about our audience more. What about you? Who do you want to communicate the Gospel with this week? Tell me that there is someone that you would like to share Jesus with?
Okay, maybe 1 week is too soon:
This year: who would you like to share Jesus with this year? This is someone you know. Pick more than one person. Write there names down in your bulletin. Do this right now. Go home and pray about this. Do you know that in business planning people overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can do in 10 years? I wonder if it is they same in how many people we can share Jesus with. As I was writing this, I thought I need to do this to, and I will. We must hold each other accountable.
Okay, what barriers have to be removed so that you can share Jesus? What is in the way? Think. Timothy had to be circumcised, I do not think that is the case.
Let me help you, let’s talk if I can.
First do you know Jesus.
God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)
Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)
Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)
Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)