"Like a mighty army moves the Church of God" - What a great challenge there is in these words from the well-known hymn, "Onward Christian soldiers."
How are we, in the Church, to move forward into the future? How are we to march forward - with God and for God?
Let's look together at three men - John the Baptist, Andrew and Peter (especially Andrew).
As we look at these three men, we'll also look beyond them to Jesus.
Each of these men say to us, "Keep your eyes on Jesus. We are only servants. Jesus is the Saviour."
John and Peter are two towering giants in the New Testament story.
What do we learn from John the Baptist and the Apostle Peter? We learn about the preaching of God's Word, and we learn about the power of God's Spirit.
John and Peter were great preachers. their preaching brought many people to the saviour. When John and Peter preached, the Spirit of God was doing a mighty work in the hearts of many people.
we need the preaching of God's Word, and we need the power of God's Spirit. there is, however, something else that we need. It is something that must never be overlooked. It is something that we learn from Andrew. We need the participation of God's people.
Andrew is rarely mentioned in the New Testament. he wasn't so well-known as his brother, Peter. Andrew could, very easily, be overlooked. He could, so easily, become the forgotten man.We must not forget Andrew. He was the link in the chain. John had told Andrew about Jesus - "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). Andrew told Peter about Jesus - "We have found the Christ" (John 1:41).
When you think of Peter's preaching, bringing 3,000 souls to Christ on the Day of Pentecost, don't forget Andrew. It was Andrew who brought Peter to Jesus.
In today's world, we need people like Andrew. He wasn't like John the Baptist. He wasn't like his brother, Peter. Thousands of people were talking about John's preaching. Thousands of people were talking about Peter's preaching. What about Andrew? Andrew didn't preach to thousands of people, but he did lead his brother, Peter, to Jesus.
- Andrew heard what John had said.
- Andrew followed Jesus.
- The first thing that Andrew did was to find his brother, Peter, and tell him, "We have found the Messiah (Christ)."
We need the participation of God's people.
You may never preach to great crowds of people, but you can share the love of God with the people you meet. You can tell them that you love Jesus. You can invite them to come to Church. you can invite them to come to the Saviour. You can bring them to Church. You can bring them to Jesus. You can give them a friendly welcome. You can introduce them to the greatest Friend of all - our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.
How do we get from the preaching of God's Word to the participation of God's people? - We need the power of God's Spirit. When the Spirit of God is at work among God's people, things start to happen.There is change, real change - people get changed: changed by God. When God is changing us, we become more like Jesus. we want to live for Him. we want to serve Him. We don't hang back. we get involved - worshipping God, doing His will, working for Him, bringing His Word to others.
In the work of the Lord, there is something for every one of us. This is the great lesson that comes to us from Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.
We began with a memorable phrase from an old hymn: "Like a mighty army moves the Church of God." There's a modern hymn that tells us something else about this mighty army. It's something we must never forget - This mighty army is "an army of ordinary people." What an encouraging phrase this is! We must never say, "We're just ordinary people." We may be ordinary people, but we have an extraordinary God.
How does "an army of ordinary people" become "a mighty army"? - The extraordinary God is working in us. He is changing us. The extraordinary God is working through us. He's giving us something to do for Him. You may wonder, "What can I do for God?" The best answer I can give you is this:
"There's a work for Jesus, ready at your hand.
'Tis a task the Master just for you has planned.
Haste to do His bidding. Yield Him service true.
There's a work for Jesus, none but you can do." (WEC Youth Crusade Songbook, 61).
We may be intimidated by people like John the Baptist and the Apostle Peter. thousands of people were brought to Christ through their powerful preaching (Matthew 3:5-6; Acts 2:41).
When we look at Andrew, we see someone who is very ordinary, and we begin to think, "I could do what Andrew did."
What did Andrew do? Is it within the reach of ordinary people? When we look at Andrew, we say, "This is for all of us." Bringing his brother, Peter, to Jesus - Was this the only time Andrew brought people to Jesus? No! It wasn't. It was the first time that he brought someone to Jesus, but it wasn't the last time. On two other occasions, he brought people to Jesus.
* Do you remember the wee bit who had 5 loaves and 2 fishes? - It was Andrew who brought him to Jesus (John 6:8-9).
* Do you remember the Greeks who said, "We want to see Jesus"? - It was Andrew who brought them to Jesus (John 12:20-22).
Andrew may not have been preaching to great crowds of people - but he was doing the work that God had given him to do. He was bringing his family, friends and neighbours to Jesus. He was bringing children to Jesus. He was being a friend to strangers. He was introducing them to the greatest Friend of all - Jesus, our Saviour. Bringing people to Jesus - This is something all of us can do.
Leading people to Jesus is not only our great responsibility. It is also our great privilege.
May God help each of us to be more like Andrew. Andrew was filled with the joy of the Lord. It was an overflowing joy. Let this joy fill your heart and ask God to give you opportunities to share His joy with others. Say to God, "Lead me to some soul. Teach me, Lord, just what to say" (WEC Youth Crusade Songbook, 140).