SPRINGFIELD – Pastor Eddie Bumpers of Crossway Baptist Church challenged Missouri Baptists at the “Sowing in Tears” conference to do “whatever it takes” to reach the lost.
Preaching from Matt. 9:1-8, Bumpers recounted how four faithful friends dug a hole in someone’s roof to get their lame friend to Jesus for the restoration he needed. Bumpers shared four characteristics that believers should imitate as they reach the lost.
First, like these four friends, believers should love the lost.
“The only way to bring people to Jesus is through love,” Bumpers said. “Churches … buildings … and programs will not bring people to Jesus. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Second, they should have faith in the power of Jesus.
“Jesus saw the faith of the friends,” Bumpers said. “We do not bring people to Christ if we don’t have a heart to bring people and (if we don’t) believe Jesus has the power to save them and change them.
“Jesus can save anyone – (take, for example,) Cornelius the Gentile. Jesus can save in any place. An Ethiopian eunuch found Jesus in a desert. Jesus can save any time, like a Philippian jailer at midnight.”
Third, they should persevere in the face of opposition. To bring their lame friend to Jesus, the four men in Matthew’s Gospel overcame the crowd that blocked their way. They also overcame the critics, the Pharisees and scribes who opposed Jesus. It is often “snobby, backslidden Christians,” Bumpers added, who keep people from finding Jesus, more so than agnostics and atheists.
The whole body of Christ, and not just the preacher, should engage in the work of evangelism, Bumpers said. And if the regular means for bringing people to Jesus don’t work, they may need to be creative.
Additionally, sacrifice is often necessary to get God’s work done. In Scripture, the friends must have been willing to pay for roof repair in order to bring the lame man to Christ.
“Their friend was worth more than a roof, a house, a community,” he said. And their sacrifice for their friend was not in vain.
“The man couldn’t get in the house, but he got out,” Bumpers said. “He had new legs and a new heart. The man was forgiven and changed.”