The Whole New Testament is about Evangelism

The Whole New Testament is About the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20 and a survey of the New Testament)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, February 23, 2020

Over the past six weeks I talked about knowing Jesus. Once you realize that you know Jesus I hope you want others to know Him too. You want others to have the same relationship with Jesus that you have.

Today, I begin a series titled be contagious in 2020.

I once heard that no one in hell is upset that someone shared the Gospel with them. What do you think? Why are we so afraid to talk about Jesus with other people? Are we afraid to talk about our children with someone else? Are we afraid to talk about our job with someone else? Are we afraid to talk about our spouse with someone else? Are we afraid to talk about our hobbies? Why are we afraid to share the Gospel? I think it is spiritual warfare. The devil does not want us to talk about the Gospel.

The Gospel is about abundant life now and eternal life later (John 10:10).

Today’s sermon is a survey through the New Testament. I want to show you that the whole New Testament has an evangelism undercurrent. Sometimes the New Testament is quite blunt about evangelism, other times it is an undercurrent. The whole New Testament is about the Gospel.

Sometimes I do a workout called high intensity interval training in which a leader is leading me through intense cardio. It is called Insanity. It is intimidating when we are stretching and the leader says, “Are you as nervous as I am about this workout?” Let me tell you this message will be like insanity, meaning, a lot of intensity really fast in a short amount of time. There is a lot of Bible in this message and a lot of content so fasten your seatbelt and let’s get going.

My theme is: The whole New Testament is about the Gospel.

My application: be an evangelist

A number of years ago on a Friday night I received a text from another pastor and it said, “Are you in season?” I instantly knew what it meant. 2 Timothy 4:1-5 says to preach the Word in season and out of season. The next day was their turn to find a speaker for the Men’s Breakfast and he was asking me to preach. Usually, when it is last minute, I recycle a message, but this time I was convicted to write something new. I am not a last minute guy, but I believe the Holy Spirit was working in that message. Recently, I was going through some files and found that message. This message is edited from that message theme.

Thom Rainer shares “When the preferences of the church members are greater than their passion for the Gospel, the church is dying.”

Are we passionate about the Gospel? Would we give up certain things we like in church if it meant more people will be saved?

  1. The church’s marching orders come from: Matthew 28:19-20
    1. 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. So, if you are here and you are a believer in Jesus Christ that means that you are here to reach other people with the Gospel. Do you realize this? Our churches have for far too long been filled with people who are gluttonous with everything but passion for the Gospel. We have been gluttonous about our preferences. We have been gluttonous about our favorite Theology, and theology is great, but it must convict and compel us to the Gospel, otherwise we are stuck in 2 Timothy 3:7: Always learning but never coming to a knowledge of the Truth. For too long we have been coming to great knowledge, but the knowledge doesn’t compel and convict us to set the captive free. So, if you are a believer in Christ, you are now in the Lord’s army. My job is to be a drill sergeant.
    3. Imagine a war scene. You are all in the military and you are on a rescue operation. People have been taken prisoner. People are taken hostage. They are taken hostage by the devil and he holds them hostage in sin. They don’t even know they are hostages. They are caught in Stockholm syndrome. It is your job, it is our job, to get them out. We have to rescue them. Once they are saved, they become disciples in order to rescue others.
    4. Let’s look at another example of the Great Commission:
    5. Mark 16:15: And He said to them,“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
    6. Why did John write his Gospel? John 20:31: but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
  2. The whole New Testament is about the Gospel, but so was the Old Testament. Check this out:
    1. Luke: 24:45: Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, [Old Testament] 46 and said to them,“Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
    2. Do you know that even in the Old Testament God wanted a relationship with people? Go home and read Jonah. Jonah was the reluctant, racist prophet and yet God sent him to Nineveh to lead them to repentance.
  • The Great Commission is in Acts again.
    1. Acts 1:8: but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
    2. The whole New Testament is about the Gospel.
    3. The word Gospel means (Gk. euangelion, ‘good news’). In classical literature the word designated the reward given for good tidings. It also indicated the message itself, originally the announcement of victory, but later applied to other messages bringing joy[1]
    4. The word Gospel is used 97 times.
    5. For the most part, every New Testament letter, or book is about evangelism.
  1. Survey of the New Testament.
    1. Matthew: Matthew seemed to address problems that were primarily where Jewish Christians were a prominent part of the audience and where these Jewish Christians kept a closer relationship with the synagogue and non Christian Jews. There is a tension focused on in Matthew between an exclusive mission to Israel and the mission to non Jewish nations. (Mt. 10:5-6; 23;15:24; 1:5;2:1-12;8:5-13; 12:21; 13:38; 15:21-28; 21:33-43; 22:1-10; 24:14; 27:54; 28:19-20) According to D.A. Hagner we cannot take one side of the other on these. Matthew still has a message on target to gentile Christians. These are to gentile Christians who may fail to value the Jewishness of Jewish Christians pressuring them to minimize all Jewish practices that were a threat to the gentile believer’s sense of equality (DeSilva 237-238).
    2. We already read the Great Commission from Matthew.
    3. Additionally, I believe the whole sermon on the mount is point out that they need a Savior.
    4. Mark: One of the purposes assuming a pre 70 AD date is to help Christians dealing with the persecution under Nero. (or after) Another purpose is that the shape of discipleship must follow the pattern of the rejected Messiah. Mark writes about the purpose of discipleship as well as maybe to comfort Christians or also to encourage Christians who are reserved about sharing their faith in persecution.
    5. Luke: Luke and John are the only Gospels that give their purpose: “an orderly account that he hopes will enable Theophilus to know the truth about the things which you have been instructed.” Not merely a historical work but to confirm the commitment made and instruction received by Theophilus and other Christian readers like him as they joined the movement. Luke clarifies the position of the church with regard to the Roman Empire. Luke focuses on the Gentiles as well as the Jewish people. He does talk about Theodicy which is how God did in fact fulfill the promises of the OT to the house of David. There is a Christocentric reading of the Jewish Scriptures extending this to the early church  (DeSilva 307-310).
    6. Of course we already read about how Jesus opened the disciples eyes at the end of Luke’s Gospel to reveal that the Scriptures taught about Him.
    7. John: Many suggest that this Gospel was written as an evangelical Gospel. We can even make John 20:31 as a purpose statement. “These are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.”
    8. Acts: I already read Acts 1:8. Acts is all about the spread of the church from Jerusalem to Rome. Acts is all about what Mark Driscoll calls Riot evangelism. Paul comes into an area, a riot breaks out, people are saved and he moves on. Maybe that is what we need in our area.
    9. Romans: 1:14-16: 14 I amunder obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 
    10. Romans 15:20-2120 And thus I aspired topreach the gospel, not where Christ was already named, so that I would not build on another man’s foundation…
    11. 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians are written to a church that had been planted and now needed some discipleship.
      1. 1 Corinthians 9:16: 16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, forI am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.
      2. Verses 19-23:
  • 19 For though I amfree from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. 23 I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.
  1. So, we have 1 Corinthians 15:1-15:
  2. NowI make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve… 
  1. The Prison Epistles: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon are all full of evangelical Theology, these are fresh, new churches.
    1. Ephesians chapters 1-3 are all about soteriology, the theology of salvation.
    2. Ephesians 3 is all about this mystery about Jews and Gentiles united.
  • Galatians is all about our salvation by grace.
  1. 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians have a theme of people who have lost loved ones and were worried that they were going to miss the resurrection. So we have:
  2. 1 Thessalonians 4:16: 16 For the LordHimself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
  1. The Pastoral Epistles, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus: Building up the church in proper Theology for the church’s purpose. Proper Theology leads us all to evangelism, convicts us all to evangelism.
  2. 2 Timothy 2:10: For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.
  3. 2 Timothy 4:5: Paul’s dying words: do the work of an evangelist.
  4. Hebrews: New Jewish believers struggling to live the Christian life in persecution. So, they start thinking that the old way, the Jewish way, would be easier. The writer is proving that Jesus is greater than Moses, that Jesus is greater than the Angels.
  5. Hebrews 10:11-12: 11 Every priest stands daily ministering andoffering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins;12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God
  6. James: The Proverbs of the New Testament, making sure the Christian’s works match their belief.
  7. 1 Peter, 2 Peter: How about 1 Peter 3:15: but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;
  8. 1 John, 2 John, 3 John: Just look at 1 John 1:1-4: What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life— and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us— what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.
  9. 2 and 3 John are trying to keep heresy out of the church.
  10. Jude: Jude had turned aside from writing a letter concerning the “salvation they share” to instead write a letter addressing a problem with itinerant teachers bearing a message that Jude considers incompatible with the Apostolic Gospel.
  11. Then Revelation: The transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant, the law that we could not keep to Christ who took care of our sin.


Where would you be without Christ in your life? Go home and think about that. Then, pray for opportunities to create God space in your life this week.

I hope and pray that we all have prayer partners and accountability partners. Here is an idea. Have that person hold you accountable to Gospel conversations. This week tell your prayer partner that you want him or her to ask you every week how many God space conversations you have had the previous week. What is a God space conversation? Here are examples of God space conversations. These are conversations that you would have with someone who is not living the Christian life. It is not saying that they are not saved, maybe they need to come back to the Lord, only He knows that:

How are you with the Lord?

Can I pray with you?

How can I pray for you?

We are going to pray for our food can we pray for you?

There are others, but I am talking about things that open the spiritual with people.

I pray that we will all take this seriously.

Thom Rainer

“When the preferences of the church members are greater than their passion for the Gospel, the church is dying.”

What are you most passionate about? Put aside your preferences. The Bible is about the Gospel:

1 Corinthians 9:16: 16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. 



[1] R. H. Mounce, “Gospel,” ed. D. R. W. Wood et al., New Bible Dictionary (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 426.

Abide in Jesus (John 15:4)

Knowing Christ in 2020, Conclusion (John 10:10 and John 15:1-6)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, February 16, 2020

A woman was driving home one night. The weather was really nasty. Rain was coming down in buckets and visibility was very poor. Seeing taillights ahead of her, she followed the car in front. Not being able to see, the car in front seemed to be going in the right direction. So she stuck with it. All of a sudden the car in front of her came to a stop. She began to wonder what had happened; perhaps the car in front had hit a deer or some thing like that. She began to feel uncomfortable; thinking being stopped in the middle of the road can often lead to accidents. Much to her alarm the car in front of her turned off their lights. Her concern was now growing as well as her anger, and she was then startled by a knocking on her window. She looked up and there was a man standing in the pouring rain wanting to speak to her. She cracked the window open and asked the man what the problem was. The man replied by stating that that was the question he was going to ask her. She retorted that she wasn’t the one who had stopped in the middle of the road and then turned off the car lights. The man’s reply was that they were not in the middle of the road, but in his driveway. Obviously, this woman had chosen the wrong leader to follow. She had chosen a leader who would not take her to where she wanted and needed to go. She had chosen the wrong leader and the wrong road.

Are we following Christ? Are we living with Christ? Are we living in a relationship with Christ?

Today, I wrap up the sermon series about Knowing Christ in 2020. Today, I wish to talk about abiding in Christ.

A.W. Tozer wrote:

“If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.”

We need to live with Jesus and we do that through the Holy Spirit.

My theme and application:

We must abide (remain) in Christ and we cannot bear fruit apart from Him.

Let’s read John 15:1-6:

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. 

  • Abide in Christ.
    • Let’s put this passage in context. We are in the upper room discourse. This is John chapters 13-17.
    • One writes, “It is possible that if the text of this discourse was spoken as they walked from the upper room in Jerusalem down into the Kidron Valley and across to the Mount of Olives, they could have seen the great golden vine, the national emblem of Israel, on the front of the temple.”476[1]
    • Verse 1 shares, Jesus is the Vine and the Father is the Vinedresser.
    • We have an Old Testament idea of Israel as the vine, but the idea was that Israel was the rebellious vine. This is clearly showing that Jesus is the perfect vine. These are different metaphors in Scripture.
    • We could look at this as God, the Father, as the Farmer.
    • The NET Bible: There are numerous OT passages which refer to Israel as a vine: Ps 80:8–16, Isa 5:1–7, Jer 2:21, Ezek 15:1–8, 17:5–10, 19:10–14, and Hos 10:1. The vine became symbolic of Israel, and even appeared on some coins issued by the Maccabees. The OT passages which use this symbol appear to regard Israel as faithless to Yahweh (typically rendered as “Lord” in the OT) and/or the object of severe punishment.
    • Jesus is the Vine, this means we must be connected to Him. We will come back to that with verse 4.
    • Verse 2 shows that we’re are connected to Jesus we are to bear fruit. God the Father prunes us so that we do bear fruit. But if we do not bear fruit we are cut off. Literally the branches that do not bear fruit He lifts up. There are two different views on this.
      • Does this mean that branches that do not bear fruit are cut off and thrown into judgment? If this is the case then were they true believers who lost their salvation or were they never believers to begin with? This is difficult because Jesus says that every branch “in Me…” If the unfruitful branch is in Him that seems to mean that they are a believer. But when we get to verse 6 Jesus shares that unfruitful branches are thrown into the fire which seems to be judgment.
      • Some believe that what verse 2 is saying is that branches that do not bear fruit are “lifted up” which would mean they get special treatment like a farmer would do and this would make them bear fruit. This would be like using a trellis or something to help it out.
  • Others could say they are not truly in Jesus, like Judas. This connects it to verse 6. 1 John 2:19 talks about people leaving the church that were never really part of the church. This fits with verse 6 and the idea of judgment.
  • However, in agriculture the pruning of verse 2 would happen in the spring and the removal of disconnected branches of verse 6 would happen in the fall.
  • Either way, I believe what Jesus is saying is that branches that do not bear fruit are not truly connected to Him and so they are cut off. Branches that bear fruit are pruned to bear more fruit. The point is that we must be connected to Jesus.
  • In verse 3 Jesus shares the disciples are clean, but they are clean because of what Jesus spoke to them. Jesus cleansed them. In this sense, they are clean, meaning they are already pruned.
  • In John 17:17 Jesus says that God’s Word is truth and Jesus prays that they will be sanctified by the Truth.
  • Verse 4 is key:
    • Abide in Jesus.
    • This means to “remain” in Him or to “live” in Him.
  • Jesus says why they must remain in Him. A branch cannot bear fruit on its own. We need to be in Jesus to bear fruit.
  • This is our key application.
  • This whole sermon series has been about having a relationship with Jesus. We need to know Jesus. We must abide in Him.
  • Brother Lawrence shares: The most holy practice, the nearest to daily life, and the most essential for the spiritual life, is the practice of the presence of God, that is to find joy in his divine company and to make it a habit of life, speaking humbly and conversing lovingly with him at all times, every moment, without rule or restriction, above all at times of temptation, distress, dryness, and revulsion, and even of faithlessness and sin.[2]
  • Think of this like a power strip. I have here a power strip, but does it have power? No, it needs plugged in. That is how we are without Christ.
  • In verse 5 Jesus adds to verse 4: Jesus clarifies that He is the vine and we are the branches. This adds to the metaphor. A branch must be connected to the vine, so we also must be connected to the Vine. If we are connected to Him, we bear fruit, apart from Him we can do nothing.
    • Think about it: Have any of you cut live tree branches off of a tree?
    • At first, we see them all green with leaves, but within a week they are dead and drying up.
  • The branch must be connected to the tree. We must be connected to the Vine and the Vine is Jesus.
  • Verse 6 tells us what happens if we do not abide in Him. If we do not live in Him we are thrown away like a dead branch. The farmer gathers dead branches and burns them. That is the description of those that do not abide in Him and bear fruit.
  1. Applications:
    1. We must abide (remain) in Jesus (verse 4).
      1. How do we abide in Jesus?
      2. That is what this has been about. I have been preaching and teaching on that for 6 weeks.
        1. Spend time in His Word daily.
        2. Spend time in prayer.
        3. Meditate on His Word.
        4. Go deeper in Bible study.
        5. Spend time with the church family.
      3. We must bear fruit showing that we remain in Jesus (verse 2).
      4. We must worship God that we can live life with Jesus (verse 4).


So, where are you at? Don’t give up.



A man once bought a home with a tree in the backyard. It was winter, and nothing marked this tree as different from any other tree. When spring came, the tree grew leaves and tiny pink buds. “How wonderful,” thought the man. “A flower tree! I will enjoy its beauty all summer.” But before he had time to enjoy the flowers, the wind began to blow and soon all the petals were strewn in the yard. “What a mess,” he thought “This tree isn’t any use after all.”

The summer passed, and one day the man noticed the tree was full of green fruit the size of large nuts. He picked a large one and took a bite, “Bleagh!” he cried and threw it to the ground. “What a horrible taste! This tree is worthless. Its flowers are so fragile the wind blows them away, and its fruit is terrible and bitter. When winter comes, I’m cutting it down.” But the tree took no notice of the man and continued to draw water from the ground and warmth from the sun and in late fall produced crisp red apples.

Some of us see Christians with their early blossoms of happiness and think they should be that way forever. Or we see bitterness in their lives, and we’re sure they will never bear the better fruit of joy. Could it be that we forget some of the best fruit ripens late?[3]


Do you know Him?

Luke 9:23

Confess, believe, trust, commit


Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.




476 476. Tenney, “John,” p. 150.

[1] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Jn 14:30.

[2] Brother Lawrence in The Practice of the Presence of God. Christianity Today, Vol. 31, no. 13.


Knowing Jesus Through the Corporate Church (Acts 2:42-47)

Knowing Jesus Through the Corporate Church (Acts 2:42-47)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, February 9, 2020

We can learn great lessons of unity and its power simply by observing nature. For example, a single snowflake looks beautiful and innocent. If it remains on its own it can easily fly away or quickly melt away. On its’ own it does no harm and poses no threat to anyone, does it? But when it unites with other snowflakes, they gain more strength and power. We know the power of the accumulation of “snowflakes” they have the power to work havoc and bring a whole administration to halt.

If that is the power of united snowflakes can you imagine the power generated when people are united?[1]

Let me ask you, what does the communal aspect of the church mean to you? How have your Christian friends supported you in the past?

My brother used to come home from work and say, “Pastor Steve…” Just kidding, he never would address me as pastor. He would say, “Steve, I met this great Christian man at work. He knows the Bible so very well. The way he lives matches what he says. He is a good man. He saw Moses part the red sea (Exodus 14:13-31) and he was the small boy (John 6:9) who gave Jesus his lunch to feed 5000, he is a good Christian man. BUT, he says he never goes to church, there are too many hypocrites at church.”

It used to be that I didn’t have the best answer to something like that. Sure, I could cite passages where the author of Hebrews says not to give up meeting together (Heb. 10:25), but what else? Then, something hit me a few years ago. It was like, like lightning just struck my head, but it didn’t hurt. So that makes it the best kind of lightning. The thought came to mind, or God gave me the thought: “Who was the New Testament written to?” You see the whole New Testament is about the setup of the church. Many of the books of the New Testament are written to a church specifically. 1 Corinthians 1:2 is addressed to the Church of God in Corinth. 2 Corinthians 1:1 is written to the Church of God in Corinth. 1 and 2 Thessalonians are written to the church in Thessalonica. Revelation chapters 2 and 3 have statements directed to many churches, seven actually. In 1 Timothy chapter 3 we have instructions for the setup of elders and deacons in the church. In Titus chapter 1 we also have instructions for elders in the church. In fact, the term translated as “church” is used 79 times in our New Testament. So, the church is important.

I now know from New Testament studies that the apostle would write a letter, for example 1 Corinthians, and then the people would come together to eagerly listen as it was read. They would come together as a church. Coming together as a church, is the idea of fellowship. Let’s talk about fellowship today.

I hope that today’s message will challenge you to a deeper commitment to fellowship with God and with the church. I hope today’s message will help you understand what fellowship entails. This is important for each follower of Christ and for the church corporately.

As you know I have been preaching about “knowing Jesus in 2020.” Today, I want to focus on the church. One way we know Jesus is through His church.

My theme today is:

Knowing Jesus Through the Corporate Church

  1. First, I would like to talk about fellowship with God.
    1. First, our problem is that because of sin, our fellowship with God is broken. True fellowship begins with God. In Genesis chapter 3 we see that God and humans had fellowship with one another. This fellowship happened in the Garden of Eden which God created for them. But when Adam and Eve sinned that sin placed a barrier in their fellowship with God. All throughout the Old Testament God was showing the people that that barrier cannot be healed on our own. But God longs for a relationship with His people. He created us to glorify Him and He does love us. But we don’t have true fellowship with each other until we have true fellowship with God.
    2. The first part of fellowship is with God and this is restored in Jesus Christ who died to heal your relationship with Him, but that only happens by trusting in Him.
  2. True fellowship with believers:
    1. Now, let’s look at true fellowship with believers. The ideal model is found in Acts 2:42-47.

They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

  1. Notice that all of these verses have to do with a group of people, the New Testament church. None of the verses have to do with an individual.
  2. Let me update you as to what has been going on in Acts chapter 2. Chapter 2 is the Pentecost chapter. The Holy Spirit comes upon the church. Peter preaches a sermon and verse 41 tells us that about 3000 people are saved. Then, starting in verse 42, we see this example of the early church.
  3. Verse 42 says “they” were continually devoting themselves to the apostles teaching.
  4. This is discipleship practiced in fellowship.
  5. Fellowship means to come together with a common purpose. This verse gives an example of teaching and practicing the teachings of the apostles as a community. The text uses the pronoun “they” to refer to who was doing what. This is more than one person. This is a community.
  6. Verse 42 also says they are about fellowship and prayer. They are breaking bread together. This probably means eating meals together and may also include communion.
  7. Notice how the text says: “they were ‘continually’ devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching…” They were studying together. They were being devoted to the teaching of what became the New Testament and they were doing this together.
  8. Notice how it says they were devoted to “fellowship.”
  9. We must also teach and live the Scriptures as a community. We must also eat meals together and take communion together. And we definitely must pray together.
  10. I know that there are many people in this church who would love to pray with other Christians, this is critical. The most Spirit empowered times of prayer that I have had have been with other Christians.
  11. Notice verse 43:
  12. 43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and manywonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.
  13. You see, they were devoted in fellowship and the Holy Spirit was very active.
  14. Verses 44-45 are a summary describing what this community was like. They were together and they had all things in common. They shared with one another.
  15. Do we do this? Do we share with those who have need? Would I do this? Would I sell things to help someone in need? We must. I must. I must be willing to do what needs to be done to bring God’s comfort to God’s people.
  16. Verse 46 continues talking about what they were doing and their attitude. They were doing this daily. They were united in the temple. Why does it say the temple? That is because at this point the Christians still met in the temple. They were eating together at different houses.
    1. Recent excavations in Jerusalem on the Western Hill (part of the Upper City) have resulted in the discovery of a residential district in the ancient city. There were many houses in this area that would have belonged to the wealthier inhabitants of the city.[2]So there were homes in this area where groups could meet.
    2. But notice the text says they had a good attitude about how they did things. My translation says, “Gladness and sincerity of heart.”
  • How are we with our attitude? How are we with doing things as a community? Are we happy to be with Christians?
  1. They were also praising God. They were worshipping together.
  1. Acts 2:42-47 is a model example.
  • In my study I came across the Tyndale Bible Dictionary’s article on Fellowship. This article gave 7 things that should be a part of our fellowship. I want to share these with you.
    1. (1) Love one another with the same compassion that Christ displayed to his own (Jn 13:34–35; 15:12). The law of fellowship should be the rule of love (Heb 13:1
    2. (2) Cultivate that spirit of humility that seeks the other person’s honor (Phil 2:3–5).
    3. (3) Lighten fellow believers’ loads by bearing one another’s burdens (Gal 6:2).
    4. (4) Share material blessings with brothers and sisters in need (2 Cor 9:13).
    5. (5) Tenderly correct a sinner while helping to find solutions to the problems (Gal 6:1).
    6. (6) Succor [reinforcement of troops] a fellow believer in times of suffering (1 Cor 12:26).
    7. (7) Pray for one another in the Spirit without ceasing (Eph 6:18).


I have a passage I wish to use as I close this message:

Rev. 21:3: And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them... [3]

Our fellowship must first be right with God and then with each other. In the end our relationship with God will be right, and out of that relationship with God we can grow with each other.

When I was a child, I received a Mr. Potato Head for Christmas. I didn’t like Mr. Potato Head, but he does make a good example of fellowship. You see, in 1 Corinthians 12 Paul gives a model for the New Testament community. You see, people have different gifts, just like a body. In a body, we cannot all be the arm. No, the arm has a gift and so does the hand and the foot, etc. But in Mr. Potato head you can put the arm where the foot should go, but that isn’t right, is it? Every part has its’ place. In a church, all the gifts and the gifted people have their place.

The Bible teaches a cord of three strands is not easily broken (Ecc. 4:12). This means that we can support each other and strengthen each other. The Bible also teaches iron sharpens iron and a man sharpens his brother (Proverbs 27:17). This means we can sharpen each other. The Christian life is not meant to be lived individualistically. We are meant to be a community. Sometimes we need to sharpen one another by saying, “Hey, what you said to so and so the other day was kind of rough!” Sometimes we need to encourage one another. Sometimes we need to support one another.

Do you know Him?

Luke 9:23

Confess, believe, trust, commit

I wonder, do you know Christ?

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)


Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.





[2] Clinton E. Arnold..  Acts.  Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary.  (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan) 2007.  ISBN 0310278252. P. 23.

[3] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. 1995 (Re 21:3). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

Knowing Jesus Through the Scriptures (2 Timothy 2:15)

Knowing Jesus through the Scriptures (2 Timothy 2:15)
This will be a sermon on the importance of in depth Bible study.
Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, February 2, 2020

The Bible is a very large book isn’t it? Sometimes I think this is what keeps us from reading and studying the Bible. We are intimidated by its size. Well imagine the Bible without divisions.

The first division of the Bible into chapters and verses is attributed to Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury in the late 12th century.

Cardinal Hugo, in the middle of the 13th century, divided the Old Testament into chapters as they stand in our translation.

In 1661, Athias, a Jew of Amsterdam, divided the section of Hugo into verses. And in 1561, a French painter divided the New Testament into verses as they are now. [1]

I recently read about a Bible scholar who was on a mission trip overseas. He realized that the church over there was quite immoral. Lying and stealing were okay even for Christians. But then he realized why they were so immoral, most of them did not own Bibles. Even the pastor did not have access to a Bible. Now think of our situation. We have lots of Bibles. In fact, Some wag remarked that the worst dust storm in history would happen if all church members who were neglecting their Bibles dusted them off simultaneously.[2] We have open access to the Bible.

I am in a sermon series about knowing Jesus. I want to submit to you that we know Jesus through His Word.

Today, my theme is:

Knowing Jesus through the Scriptures.

Today my application is:

Make time for devotional reading and Bible study.

Let’s read 2 Timothy 2:15:

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

  1. Look with me at this verse.
    1. Paul says “be diligent.” The KJV translated this as “study.” However, it really means to “be diligent.”
    2. This includes studying but not only that. This is about our whole life.
    3. So, we are to “be diligent,” “work hard” in order to present ourselves to God. We are presenting ourselves to God. We are presenting ourselves as one who doesn’t need to be ashamed.
    4. “Ashamed.” This means that we are to live our lives as men of God, women of God.
    5. We would be ashamed of our sin. Our shame comes by standing in front of a holy God, but also by being seen by the world as hypocrites.
    6. But that is not the end. Paul says, correctly handles the “Word of Truth.”
    7. So, Paul is telling young Timothy (and us) to work hard, be diligent to live a holy life and also to know the Scriptures. Paul is about to die and these are his final words. He died soon after writing this.
      1. This is where we fail, big time.
      2. Today we have more availability to know the Scriptures than ever before, but we don’t know them.
  • Most of the time we don’t even care about the Scriptures.
  1. Even in most churches, the pastor might rather quote a psychologist than the Bible. I have listened to youth messages with hardly any Bible. I have listened to Sunday morning sermons with hardly any Bible. How sad.
  1. When solving problems, how often do you consider the Bible’s words?
  2. Now, I agree, as an engineer the Bible may not speak to your equation.
  3. But the Bible will speak to many of life’s problems. Just read Proverbs, there is so much financial management instruction in Proverbs. There is also so much family wisdom in Proverbs.
  4. Even if you are a non-Christian the Bible will help you out in life.
  5. As a church, in our leadership meetings, we must consult and think about Biblical wisdom? Intentionally. There may be times when our church will face heavy decisions and the best thing to do will be to pray and fast for a week and then come together to decide. We must pray, we must also consult God’s Word.
    1. We as Christians must get into the Scriptures more and more.
    2. We must not compromise the Bible. We must believe it in faith.
  • We must live it. It is not enough to believe the Bible, we must live the Bible.
  1. We must study the Scriptures so that we “correctly handle the Word of Truth” as Paul said.
  1. Listen, read and study the Scriptures.
    1. Listen to the Scriptures.
    2. Through most of human history they listened to the Bible as many could not read or did not have access.
      1. You can listen to the Bible through a Bible app or CD or other method.
      2. You can also listen to parts of the Bible by listening to sermons. Sermons should be filled with Scripture. Sermons should be based on 2 Timothy 4:1-5.
    3. If you are not a reader or have trouble reading the Bible I encourage you to listen to the Scriptures. I post chapters that I read through on podcasts, Facebook and the website. There are many many ways to have free access to audio Bibles.
    4. Also, there are many ways to access Bible studies and sermons from good resources on youtube, podcasts or Christian radio. Talk to me, I want to help you.
    5. Check out Moody Radio: 103.3 or 90.1.
    6. Check out for other good messages.
    7. If you are on the web or Facebook or Youtube check out: Francis Chan, David Platt, Chuck Swindoll, Chip Ingram, John Piper among other resources.
    8. Now, there are two ways to read or listen to the Scriptures:
      1. Devotionally: this means you just read or just listen to the text. You may meditate or think deeply about it, but not in-depth study.
        1. Start and end with prayer.
        2. Make sure you reflect on what you read or listened to and make an application.
      2. In-depth Bible study.
        1. Again, if you struggle with reading try just listening to deep sermons or Bible study.
        2. You can also get this through Sunday School. But I encourage you as much as possible to try your own Bible study.
      3. Donald Whitney shares in his book “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life.”

How often should we read it? British preacher John Blanchard, in his book How to Enjoy Your Bible, writes,

Surely we only have to be realistic and honest with ourselves to know how regularly we need to turn to the Bible. How often do we face problems, temptation and pressure? Every day! Then how often do we need instruction, guidance and greater encouragement? Every day! To catch all these felt needs up into an even greater issue, how often do we need to see God’s face, hear his voice, feel his touch, know his power? The answer to all these questions is the same: every day! As the American evangelist D. L. Moody put it, “A man can no more take in a supply of grace for the future than he can eat enough for the next six months, or take sufficient air into his lungs at one time to sustain life for a week. We must draw upon God’s boundless store of grace from day to day as we need it.”5[3]

Whitney continues:

Jesus often asked questions about people’s understanding of the Scriptures, beginning with the words, “Have you not read …?” He assumed that those claiming to be the people of God would have read the Word of God. When He said, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4), surely He intended at the very least for us to read “every word.”

Here are the three most practical suggestions for consistent success in Bible reading.

First, find the time. Discipline yourself to find the time. Try to make it the same time every day.

Second, find a Bible-reading plan. It’s no wonder that those who simply open the Bible at random each day soon drop the discipline. Inexpensive Bible reading plans are available in all Christian bookstores and in the back of some Bibles. Or you may obtain a reading plan from your church.

Third, find at least one word, phrase, or verse to meditate on each time you read. Take at least one thing you’ve read and think deeply about it for a few moments. Your insight into Scripture will deepen and you’ll better understand how it applies to your life.

  • How do you study the Bible?

Donald Whitney again shares:

If reading the Bible can be compared to cruising the width of a clear, sparkling lake in a motorboat, studying the Bible is like slowly crossing that same lake in a glass-bottomed boat. The motorboat crossing provides an overview of the lake and a swift, passing view of its depths. The glass-bottomed boat of study, however, takes you beneath the surface of Scripture for an unhurried look of clarity and detail that’s normally missed by those who simply read the text.

Why do so many Christians neglect the study of God’s Word? R. C. Sproul said it painfully well:

Here then, is the real problem of our negligence. We fail in our duty to study God’s Word not so much because it is difficult to understand, not so much because it is dull and boring, but because it is work. Our problem is not a lack of intelligence or a lack of passion. Our problem is that we are lazy.3

  1. First you read the Scriptures.
  2. You can’t study the Scriptures when your Bible stays on the shelf.
  3. Get the Bible off the shelf and read it. We think it is a difficult thing to do but we never try. Read the Scriptures.
  4. If you read about 90 verses a day you will complete the Bible in one year. Read 45 verses a day and you will complete the Bible in two years.
  5. If you don’t have a good Bible with a modern translation let me know and I will give one to you. By modern translation I mean New International Version or New American Standard Version and there are several other good translations. [4]
  6. There are other Bible translations known as paraphrases like the Message and the New Living Translation, they have their place but not as your main Bible.
  7. By the way, Eugene Peterson is the author of the He did a good job in what he set out to do which was render the Bible in a very contemporary format. He didn’t intend for it to take the place of our main translation.
  8. You should also have a good study Bible. In a study Bible there is a section at the bottom of each page that has commentary on the text. This will help you apply it and understand it.
  9. I can help you with this if you contact me during the week.
  10. I encourage you to set aside an hour or so each week for in depth study of the Bible.
  11. During this time you open your Bible and spend time studying one chapter or one small section.
  12. So, read the section to study and then divide it in smaller units.
  13. For example, read Mark chapter 1.
    1. Read through the chapter a couple times.
    2. Then divide the chapter into paragraphs.
  • Give each paragraph a title.
  1. Then take each paragraph and write it in your own words.
  2. Also, think about any cross references to those verses. A cross reference is another Bible passage that is stating something similar. Most Bibles list cross references in the inside column or along the right or the left. Scripture interprets Scripture, so those cross references are important.
  3. Meditate and pray for God’s wisdom in applying the passage and understanding the passage.
  • If you have questions about this contact me. In this format it is hard to teach this, but it is still important and that is why I am explaining this.
  1. The Bible is important. We need to learn the Bible.


I like what one person shares:

This is from a helpful booklet, Reading the Bible, by a Welsh pastor named Geoffrey Thomas. Whenever he writes of reading the Bible, also think of hearing and studying it as well.

Do not expect to master the Bible in a day, or a month, or a year. Rather expect often to be puzzled by its contents. It is not all equally clear. Great men of God often feel like absolute novices when they read the Word. The apostle Peter said that there were some things hard to understand in the epistles of Paul (2 Peter 3:16). I am glad he wrote those words because I have felt that often. So do not expect always to get an emotional charge or a feeling of quiet peace when you read the Bible. By the grace of God you may expect that to be a frequent experience, but often you will get no emotional response at all. Let the Word break over your heart and mind again and again as the years go by, and imperceptibly there will come great changes in your attitude and outlook and conduct. You will probably be the last to recognize these. Often you will feel very, very small, because increasingly the God of the Bible will become to you wonderfully great. So go on reading it until you can read no longer, and then you will not need the Bible any more, because when your eyes close for the last time in death, and never again read the Word of God in Scripture you will open them to the Word of God in the flesh, that same Jesus of the Bible whom you have known for so long, standing before you to take you for ever to His eternal home.9[5]

Do you know Him?

Luke 9:23

Confess, believe, trust, commit


Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.

[1]Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations : A Treasury of Illustrations, Anecdotes, Facts and Quotations for Pastors, Teachers and Christian Workers (Garland TX: Bible Communications, 1996, c1979).

[2] Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1991), 28.

5 John Blanchard, How to Enjoy Your Bible (Colchester, England: Evangelical Press, 1984), page 104.

[3] Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1991), 33.

3 R. C. Sproul, Knowing Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1977), page 17.

[4] The NRSV, the ESV, the HCSB, etc

9 Geoffrey Thomas, Reading the Bible (Edinburgh, Scotland: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1980), page 22.

[5] Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1991), 38–39.