This month we’ve been reviewing some basic definitions.
A CHURCH IS A BODY OF PEOPLE CALLED BY GOD AND EMPOWERED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT TO BUILD EACH OTHER UP AND TESTIFY ABOUT JESUS IN THE WORLD.
Church is not an event to be attended or a product to be consumed. It is a family on mission together.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
EVERY CHRISTIAN IS A SAINT, A WORK IN PROGRESS AND A MINISTER
Every individual Christian has a part in the great work of bringing the gospel to the world and building the church.
Sometimes that work seems too big.
Sometimes we feel too small.
This morning I want to talk to you about the Power of One. We’re going to talk about the infinite love of God for one, the innate potential of one and the exponential power of one.
First, the infinite love of God for 1.
The incredible message of the Bible is that God is infinite in His essence and particular in His affections.
God stands above space and time, with a word he spoke the cosmos into being. Hundreds of millions of galaxies.
It’s not hard to see an intelligent design in the ordered complexity of the world.
What is incredible however, is the fact that the intelligence who designed it all is a personal intelligence who is intimately involved in His work.
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.
“Even the smallest bird on our small planet is known and cared for by the Creator. How much more, Jesus said, does God know and care for you?”
Turn with me to Luke 15.
“In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Think of it! Rejoicing in heaven over one individual.
We’re all familiar with John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Yes, God loved the world.
What does that mean? Luke 15 teaches us that God loves the world because God loves each individual in the world.
God so loved Jason . . .
God so loved Sarah . . .
God so loved Gabe . . .
God’s love is particular, it’s individual.
Not only is God’s affection individual, it is indiscriminate.
Jesus surprised everyone by identifying himself with the lowest and most insignificant people.
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”
Turn with me to Romans chapter 16. This is wonderful. This is one of my favorite passages in the Bible.
“I, Tertius, who wrote down this letter, greet you in the Lord.”
It’s incredible. Do you see it?
In Latin, tertius is an ordinal number. The English translation is third. Why would someone have the name third? In the ancient Roman world slaves were given ordinal numbers for names. Their names signified either the order of their birth as a slave, or the status they held among the slaves in a household.
The scribe of the great masterpiece of Romans was a slave named Third. But that’s not all!
“Erastus, who is the city’s director of public works, and our brother Quartus send you their greetings.”
Another slave is there with Paul and Third. Fourth!
Right there next to the important and powerful director of public works is a slave named Fourth.
God honored Third and Fourth by writing their names into the eternal Scriptures. Why? Because God is infinite in His essence and particular in His affection! God loves each one!
What does that mean for me?
It means that I am loved. It means that investing my life in just one individual is a divinely inspired act of eternal significance. You don’t have to be involved in thousands of lives to make a difference for the kingdom of God. Just one is eternally significance.
Now, let’s look at the innate potential of one.
Turn with me to Acts chapter 9. Here we are introduced to a man named Ananias. We don’t know much about him. We don’t know if he held any important positions. We don’t know what his social status was or what he did for a living. What we do know is he spent a few minutes with a man named Saul. God had been dealing with Saul. Ananias spoke a few sentences about Jesus and Saul was ready to be baptized. He went on to become the apostle Paul, one of the most influential men in the history of the world.
One moment, one individual and the world was changed.
Anne Sullivan was the daughter of Irish immigrants who were forced to leave home during a famine. Anne contracted trachoma and lost most of her eyesight when she was 5. She lost her mother to tuberculosis at 8. She was abandoned by her father at 10 and sent to an almshouse. When an inspector visited the home to investigate reports of abuse Anne begged him to take her away and put her in school. She was taken to Perkins school for the blind where she fought her way through school to graduate as Valedictorian of her class.
At the time of her graduation a man named Arthur Keller contacted the school looking for someone to help his deaf blind daughter who was beyond the help of her family.
Anne moved into the Keller home and began to work with little Helen. She began to experiment with different techniques and through years of investment was able to help Helen learn to read, write and speak.
Helen Keller went on to graduate from college and become a global advocate for people with disabilities. She wrote many books ands traveled to over 30 countries, changing the world along the way. She received honorary degrees from universities around the world. Today there are streets all over the world named after Helen Keller.
Anne Sullivan was a nobody in the eyes of the world who invested her life in one other nobody. And she changed everything for people with disabilities.
Here’s another example:
A man named Edward Kimball was a Sunday school teacher in Boston. The nephew of a friend had recently moved to the city and visited church. Kimball wanted to help the young man and went to pay a visit at the shoe store where he worked. Here’s the story in his own words:
“I was determined,” to use his own words, “to speak to him about Christ and about his soul, and started down to Holton’s boot store. When I was nearly there I began to wonder whether I ought to go in just then during business hours. I thought my call might embarrass the boy, and that when I went away the other clerks would ask who I was, and taunt him with my efforts in trying to make him a good boy. In the meantime I had passed the store, and, discovering this, I determined to make a dash for it, and have it over at once. I found him in the back part of the building wrapping up shoes. I went up to him at once, and putting my hand on his shoulder, I made what I felt afterwards was a very weak plea for Christ. I don’t know just what words I used, nor could Mr. Moody tell. I simply told him of Christ’s love for him, and the love Christ wanted in return. That was all there was. It seemed the young man was just ready for the light that then broke upon him, and there in the back of that store in Boston, D. L. Moody gave himself and his life to Christ.”
Kimball spent six months with Moody, teaching him the basics of the Bible and investing in his life.
Moody went on to become an extraordinary evangelist and leader who would found an influential church and Bible college in Chicago and preach the gospel to more than 100 million people.
Kimball was a very ordinary man with ordinary fears. Yet, by investing himself in one individual he impacted countless lives.
Finally, let’s consider the exponential power of one.
“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”
2 Timothy 2:2
In Jesus’ ministry, he touched many lives, but he invested his life in a small circle of people. The apostle Paul also invested himself in a small circle of people.
This approach tapped into the power of geometric progression.
Paul mentored men like Timothy and Titus. Then he challenged them to go and do the same. As those men invested in one individual at a time, the power of multiplication set in and the Christian church spread around the globe.
Look at this piece of paper. If I were able to fold this piece of paper in half 42 times it’s height would grow exponentially until it reached the moon.
That’s the power of multiplication.
If I led one person to Jesus and then spent a year teaching that person to follow Jesus it would be eternally significant. What if after that year both of us went on to teach one other person about Christ? If we carried that on for 34 years, every person on earth would know about Jesus.
Let’s look again at Edward Kimball. He led one man to Christ. DL Moody once traveled to England to preach the gospel. A young man named F.B. Meyer was awakened to God while listening to Moody. Meyer became a great Bible teacher and traveled to the US to speak on college campuses. At one of those meetings a student named Wilbur Chapman was led to Christ. Chapman went on to become a worker with DL Moody. He hired retired baseball player named Billy Sunday to be his assistant. Sunday became an evangelist who preached the gospel to millions. He started an evangelistic organization which brought in a speaker named Mordecai Ham to Charlotte, North Carolina. Sitting in one of the meetings was a young man named Billy Graham who came to Christ while listening to Ham. Graham became one of the most famous people in the world who preached the gospel to hundreds of millions of people.
It’s really incredible. What one ordinary man named Edward Kimball was able to bring about in the world through the power of one.
So here’s the question for you –
Who’s your one?
Tom Brown is the planting pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Wichita. Tom and his wife, Mandy, have worked together in ministry for 18 years and have four children. More about Pastor Tom Brown