With baptism numbers in the Southern Baptist Convention at the lowest level since the 1940’s I would submit that we need to take more seriously exactly what God’s mission for the church is. The following is a Bible Study lesson originally prepared for the Christian Index.
We meet the earliest followers of Jesus in John 1. They set an example that we should take seriously. The first thing we should note is that “they followed Jesus.” The followers are John and Andrew. John the Baptist has pointed out to them that Jesus is “the Lamb of God.”
The Preached Message of a Servant of God (vv. 35-39)
John the Baptist did what all preachers and teachers of God’s Word should do – he pointed men to Jesus. The preaching of the cross is God’s plan for saving men (cf. 1 Cor. 1:18-25). That must be the priority in all of our teaching and preaching in the church.
When these men followed Jesus they were asked, “what do you seek?” or “what are you looking for?” It was clear that they wanted to know Jesus more intimately, to have a relationship with Him.
The message we preach is Jesus. When people truly follow Him the power of His presence in their lives changes them radically, so much so they have a great desire to spend time with Him. We note in verse 39, “they came and saw … and remained with Him.”
The Personal Ministry of a Servant of God (vv. 40-42)
The ministry of every believer is to bring others to Jesus! Someone once said to me, regarding their reluctance to participate in our church’s outreach ministry, “I don’t have the gift of evangelism.” I responded, “Neither do I, evangelism is not a gift, it’s a command!”
The reality is, if you truly love the Lord and have been saved from your sin, it will be natural to tell others about Jesus. In fact, the first evidence that one is a follower of Jesus is that they share their faith with others.
Notice in verses 41-42, “He (Andrew) first found his own brother… and he brought Him to Jesus.” Every time we meet Andrew in the Bible he is bringing someone to Jesus.
For too long the church has taken a “y’all come” attitude toward the lost. But Andrew’s actions show us that God’s command is that we bring people in touch with the transforming power of Jesus. Andrew gives us God’s plan for outreach:
- Visitation, “he first found his own brother.” In other words, he got out of his comfort zone to go and share his faith.
- Witnessing, “he said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah.’” Too often, even when we do go, we simply invite people to church. There is nothing wrong with that, but we also need to invite them to Christ! We must press the claims of Christ, tell of the fact that He, and He alone, is mighty to save. We must remind men that they are sinners, headed for an eternity separate from God. In short, we must ourselves be converted, we must know the plan of salvation, so that we can share it with others.
- Soul-winning, “he brought him to Jesus.” It is sad to me that the term soul-winning has fallen into much neglect in the modern church. The Bible tells us that the winning of souls is wise. This is the idea of “making disciples” which the Great Commission commands us to do.
Perhaps the reason that so many fail to take the actions of Andrew is that they do not have the attributes of Andrew. As you study this text, verses 37-42, note that Andrew had a heart for the Savior, a heart for sinners, and a heart for service. One might properly ask how they may obtain such a heart for the things of God. Here are three things that marked Andrew.
First, he was involved in the things of God. He wasn’t pursuing the world, he was listening to John the Baptist, then he followed Jesus. Second, his involvement with Jesus led to a growing interest in Jesus’ words and ways. If your involvement is focused outside the church, disconnected from your walk with Jesus, you will lose interest in the things of God. Third, Andrew’s involvement and interest in Jesus led to his inclusion by Jesus. He said, “Come and see.” Andrew did, and he was gloriously included in the things of God!
The Powerful Magnetism of the Son of God (vv. 43-44)
Sometimes people come to faith simply because of the sovereign intervention of God! This was the case with Philip. Of course, now that we are the ambassadors of our Lord on earth, the most normal way that happens is that God puts one of His servants directly in the path of those He is calling to salvation.
But what is critical is to note the effect this had on Philip. He cannot remain idle, he goes to find another, Nathanael. The Savior’s personal interest in Philip was real, “He found [him],” and his purposeful intent for his life was revealed, “follow Me.”
The evidence of his following was that he went to find another. In other words, the call of heaven in salvation leads to a change of heart that includes soul-winning.
The Persistent Motivation of a Servant of God (vv. 45-49)
Philip encourages Nathanael to seek Jesus for himself. We must expect objections in our witnessing. We must not argue religion but press the claims of Christ. The very same call that Jesus had given to John and Andrew, Philip now presses on Nathanael, “Come and see.”
The change of heart brought about by Salvation is one of lifestyle and intent. There are new convictions and new commitments when you get saved. There is a persistent motivation to love, follow, and serve God with all of one’s heart.