5-1 The Main Thing
I have a sermon that I have titled “The Main Thing Is To Keep The Main Thing the Main Thing. I picked the title up from someone else, it is not original with me. I heard a gospel preacher once say that evangelism will keep away the problems many churches have. That may not be entirely true, but evangelism can keep us from becoming bogged down in the dozens of inconsistencies that creep into the lives of even faithful Christians.
Run with me through the Bible and see how evangelism always comes to the forefront of everything in the church. Jesus defined the process of evangelism for us in Matthew 28:19. We are to make disciples (the KJV uses the word “teach”). Two processes are involved in this making of disciples. The first is to make them Christians by baptizing them (obviously they must believe and repent). Then we are to teach them the precepts of Christian living (teach them to observe all that Jesus says). This is evangelism. Paul uses these same two concepts when talking about the miraculous gifts and the offices God placed in the early church (Ephesians 4:11-12). All of God’s effort was for the work of ministry and the perfecting and edifying of the saints.
Jesus summed up all the work he did when he said, “The son of man is come to seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). That was the main thing in His life. The virgin birth was to save souls (Galatians 4:4-5). The name Jesus brings evangelism to the front, “for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). The sermon on the mount kept evangelism in the forefront. We are to let our light shine so that men will come to “glorify your father…” (Matthew 5:16). We are to lay up treasures in heaven (6:20), seek first the kingdom (6:33), seek the truth to find salvation (7:7-8), enter the strait gate (7:13) and do to others as we would have them do to us (lead us to salvation) (7:12). Before He ascended into heaven, the only commission he left behind was the great commission to save the souls of men—the main thing.
Consider that the apostles always kept the main thing the main thing in the book of Acts. When they had received the miraculous gifts on Pentecost, they did marvel in them. They immediately went to the business of preaching. When they healed the lame man, they used it for a chance to preach (3:12). When they were arrested and threatened for preaching, they preached to the council (4:8). When Ananias and Sapphira were struck down by God, they used the event to add more believers to the Lord (5:14). When murmuring began, they appointed servers and gave themselves to ministry and prayer. When Stephen died for preaching and persecution arose the church went everywhere evangelizing (8:4). Saul, the persecutor, straightway became Saul, the preacher (9:20). So it continues throughout the record of Acts.
In the epistles, there can be no question that evangelism stayed in the mind of the writers no matter what else was happening in the church. The gospel is God’s power to save (Romans 1:16). Even when disputation arose in the church, the solutions were evangelistically oriented (Romans 14:13, 23; 15:1). Even church discipline was for evangelistic purposes (1 Corinthians 5:5, 7). Paul’s sober-mindedness and his obvious zeal was evangelistic (2 Corinthians 5:13-14). Paul fought against Judaizing teachers to save souls (Galatians 5:1-9). The testing of our faith is to save our souls (James 1:2-4). Our new conduct apart from sin may influence former friends to obey the gospel (1 Peter 2:11-12).
Over and over again, everything in the Bible turns to the purpose of saving souls—evangelizing. Let’s follow the example and keep the main thing the main thing.