A renewed vision of the lost: 09/15/19

Text: Various

Introduction: PP: There were two Marines who boarded a train together, one a young man who had recently graduated from boot camp at Parris Island. The other, his commanding officer. They sat across the aisle from a pretty young woman and her grandmother. It was clear that the young Marine and the girl had an interest in each other.

Shortly after the train left the station, they entered the mountains and passed through a long, dark tunnel. It was pitch black. No one could see anything. There in the darkness, came the sound of the smack of a kiss, followed by a slap across a face. When the train emerged from the tunnel, the four people sat there without looking at each other and without saying a word.

  • The grandmother was thinking to herself, “It was very rude for that young man to kiss my granddaughter, but I’m glad she slapped him.”
  • The commanding officer was thinking, “I didn’t think the young Marine was brave enough to kiss that girl, but I sure wish she hadn’t missed him and slapped me instead.”
  • The young woman was thinking, “I’m glad he kissed me, but I wish my grandmother had not slapped him.”
  • The young Marine was sitting there with a smile on his face, thinking, “Life is good. It isn’t often that a Marine gets to kiss a pretty woman and slap his commanding officer all at the same time!”

All sorts of strange things happen when we can’t see. (Scott Carmer) PP: Next Slide

There was a time, for perhaps most of us here this morning, that we were in the dark, as it were, we couldn’t see the truth of who God was and what Jesus had to do with the whole ‘how you live your life’ thing.

  • When we’re spiritually ‘in the dark’ and can’t see, things are not only strange, but can get dangerous.
  • We don’t have God’s presence, God’s Spirit, God’s love, to providentially navigate us successfully through life.
  • The result being, we’re open to many very difficult hardships, most often caused by the sinful choices we make.

But there’s a further complication to the blindness of the lost… it’s the followers of Jesus being ‘in the dark’ when it comes to how they see the lost around them.

  • OK, perhaps ‘in the dark’ is not actually a correct description We know… we know about the lost because we were lost at one time.
  • But, over the years our vision of the lost has become blurred, out of focus, making our connection to them, tenuous at best.
  • And the reason our vision is blurred, is most often because, we’ve spent so much time looking too closely at our own lives that we’ve become nearsighted.

Now, nearsighted means unable to see things clearly unless they’re relatively close to the eyes. Here’s the problem.

  • The further we keep the lost away from our personal lives,
  • the less clearly we see them and the less likely we are to reach out to them.

Transition: So, that leads to what I want to focus on today… Renewing our vision of the lost. And we start by remembering what it means to be lost.

 What does it mean to be lost?

ILL: There was a TV show that I, was hooked on. It was called LOST. PP: In case you missed it here’s the general premise.

  • Oceanic flight 815 crashed 1000 miles off course and no one knows where they are.
  • There are 42 survivors on the island maybe more. Some believe they’ll be rescued, some don’t.
  • The strange thing, is to watch the actions of the characters.

-Some do not believe they are lost.

-Some believe it but refuse to do any

thing but wait to be rescued.

-And some are willing to do whatever it takes to be found, even risking their lives for it. (Bob Soulliere)

But here’s the kicker… the last episode showed them dead… everything you saw for over 6 seasons… not real, never actually happened. Because they all were dead. They were going through the motions of life on the island, but they were already dead and they didn’t know it.

  • That’s a great beginning for understanding what it means to be lost… spiritually. People are going through the motions of life, but they’re already dead, spiritually.

Let’s see what that looks like.

It means to be w/o Christ. (Ephesians 2:11-12)

PP: Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands, remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. (Ephesians 2:11–12)

Remember, Paul says it twice… remember. By remembering we help renew our vision of the lost. But what does the Apostle Paul want us to remember?

Remember that the lost are separated from Christ.

  • W/o Jesus’ blood shed for them, w/o Jesus’ forgiveness for their sin, w/o Jesus’ intercession before the Father, they are destined for an eternity in Hell.
  • The lost are separated from Christ.

Remember that the lost are not part of God’s people.

  • By choice, the lost are not part of God’s forever family, they don’t share in the blessing it is to be a child of God.
  • The lost are not part of God’s people.

Remember that the lost have no part in the covenant promises of God.

  • The lost are not under the covenant promise of forgiveness, the covenant promise of grace, the covenant promise of God’s presence, the covenant promise of a deep and permanent love from God, the covenant promise of a home in heaven.
  • The lost have no part in the covenant promises of God.

Remember that the lost have no hope that any of that will change.

  • The lost have no hope… there’s nothing they can do to change their eternal trajectory. They go through life w/o any hope that the promises of God will be fulfilled in their lives.
  • Can you imagine how sad it is with no hope of heaven, no hope of forgiveness, no hope of God’s love, no hope to carry us through the brokenness of life.
  • That’s why one of the most needful things in the world is a sense of hope… and the saddest thing is, the lost have none.

Remember that the lost do not have a relationship with God.

PP: And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:23)

Later Jesus will describe what happens to those who do not have a relationship with God.

PP: Then He will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. (Matthew 25:41)

Somewhere, in the deep recesses of their hearts, the lost are afraid that’ll happen to them. And that means they also have no peace.

PP: There is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked.”” (Isaiah 48:22)

PP: The lost spend great amount of time and money to lose weight, to eat a healthier diet, PP: to have whiter teeth, and to increase their exercise routine.

  • All with the hope of adding a few extra years to their life expectancy.. or to at least look younger when they do finally die.

They do all of that, and more, to cover over the fear of their own mortality.

  • They don’t experience the peace that we experience because they don’t know about it…

PP: And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)

One of the greatest blessings of being in Christ, of having Jesus in your life, is that when you go to bed at night you can sleep well, knowing that your life is in the hands of Jesus… even if it means you don’t wake up. Because you’re assured you will wake up in Heaven with Jesus.

  • The lost have no real and lasting peace because their biggest fear, the one that will often keep them up at night and make them anxious during the day, is the fear of death.
  • The lost have no peace.

Behind all that people do to improve their ‘image’,

  • they’re still lost,
  • they’re still are w/o hope,
  • they’re still w/o Christ.

PP: Next Slide

Transition: If all that’s true, and I certainly believe it is, why don’t the saved make reaching the lost a priority?

  • Perhaps we just don’t care enough for the lost.
  1. Why care for the lost?

King David knew what it meant to have no one  care for you. We read his words in Psalm 142:4 PP: Look to the right and see: there is none who takes notice of me; no refuge remains to me; no one cares for my soul.” (Psalm 142:4)

There are millions around the world, many even in your own sphere of influence, about whom no one cares.

  • There’s no one to pray for them.
  • No one to encourage them.
  • No one to give them hope.
  • No one to tell them about Jesus.

Sadly, there are many Christians who are saved, who are heaven bound… yet… do not care for the souls of the lost.

  • I think they’ve gotten too comfortable; they’ve forgotten that the dangers of being lost… are real.

So, to make it more real for us, let me ask ‘How lost… is lost?’

  • PP: Lost enough to be judged by God for their sin. Jesus said: The one who rejects Me and does not receive My words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. (John 12:48)
  • PP: Lost enough to bear God’s wrath. Jesus Himself warns: Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. (John 3:36)
  • PP: Lost enough to spend eternity in Hell. Again Jesus said: Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. (Matthew 25:41)

BUT… and this is not only a huge BUT, it’s also one of the greatest motivations for the Christian to renew their vision of the lost.

  • PP: The lost are lost enough for God the Father to send God the Son, Jesus, into the world to seek and to save the lost. Jesus said: For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. (Luke 19:10)
  • Lost enough for God the Father to send God the Son, Jesus, into the world to stay on the cross, to die in their place. The writer of the Book of Hebrews put it this way: looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)

The Apostle Paul writing to the Philippian Christians summarizes both texts: PP: Who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:6–8)

You see, God, Himself, cares for the lost.

God, Himself… cares for the lost.

Christian, do you truly believe that the lost, are lost enough, to garner your concern, your resources, your effort… your heart?

  • If not, perhaps you need to pray what Bob Pierce, the founder of Worship Vision, prayer: PP: Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.

Conclusion: Don’t raise your hands but…

  • How many of you have discovered that people, in general, not here of course, but in general, can cause you a lot of headaches?
  • How many of you, at times, have wanted to say, “I’m not going to have anything else to do with that person or those people?”
  • How many of you have ever thought to yourself ‘Life at times would go easier if I could just get rid of some people?’

There’s just one problem… as Christians we’re never given the option to quit caring about people.

  • Because God cares about people,
  • we too must care about people… lost people in particular. (Adapted from Rick Gillespie- Mobley)

Here it is…To renew our vision of the lost and to be effective in helping to build God’s Kingdom, we must choose to break out of our narrow, self-oriented, worlds and get involved in the lives of the lost people around us.

We need to stop seeing the lost

  • as those who aren’t like us,
  • as those who are a burden to us,
  • as those who are hopeless,
  • as those who deserve what they get.

Instead, we need to start seeing the lost

  • as those who are separated from God,
  • as those who are burdened,
  • as those needing hope,
  • as those who are just as undeserving of God’s grace as we were.

A strange thing has happened to many Christians.

  • It’s not that we’re blind to the plight, to the condition, to the future of the lost.
  • It’s not, really, that we don’t care about the lost.

It’s that we’ve stopped showing that we care by what we do.

  • Yes, we give money to missionaries to share the Gospel.
  • Yes, we pay the preacher and elect Elders to reach out to the lost.
  • Yes, we put money in the Offering Plate to fund outreach events that other people participate in.

Yes, perhaps we care about the lost… But not enough to invest

  • our lives;
  • our personal time,
  • our personal effort,
  • our personal sacrifices needed to reach them.

Christian, look hard, look deep. And if that’s true of you, then you need to renew your vision of the lost… by aligning it with God’s vision of the lost.

  • Because God cares for the lost,
  • it’s not enough for us to just care,
  • we must act.

PP: Next Slide