There are lost people everywhere. Every lost person is at a different place in life. Yet, they all have the same need, to be saved. As we follow and observe Jesus on his mission to seek and save the lost, we discover five different styles or approaches he used to save people based upon where they were in their lives. In the same way, Jesus used different evangelistic approaches for different people, we, too, can use different approaches for different people...the same approaches Jesus used! Here are five styles of Jesus in seeking the lost.
Five Styles of Jesus In Seeking The Lost
Style #1: Jesus used a legal style in seeking the lost.
(Jesus said) “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard it said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment…in danger of the fire of hell…You have heard it said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”
Righteousness is being innocent of having broken God’s law.
Jesus used the Ten Commandments as a way to show people their unrighteousness.
Now a man came to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”…Jesus replied, “…If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.” Matthew 19:16-17
Salvation is not achieved by being good, but is received by grace.
Jesus used the law to expose the man’s sin and show him his need for grace.
One style of seeking the lost is to use the law to lead people to Jesus.
So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified (declared righteous or innocent in God's sight) by faith. Galatians 3:24
Style #2: Jesus used a confrontational style in seeking the lost (the Pharisees).
Jesus replied… “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’ ” Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean’, but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean’. Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples… “Woe to the teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self indulgence…You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones…on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness…You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?” Matthew 23:1-33
…A Pharisee invited him to eat with him…But the Pharisee noticing that Jesus did not wash before the meal, was surprised. Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness…you are like unmarked graves which men walk over without knowing it.” One of the experts in the law answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also.”
Religion is man’s attempt to find acceptance with God by following external rules.
One style of seeking the lost is to help religious people see that
conforming to religious standards does not clean the human heart.
Style #3: Jesus used an damnation style in seeking the lost.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it…Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord’, ‘Lord’, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord’, Lord’,…Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evil doers!’ Matthew 7:13-14; 21-23
Then Jesus went through the towns and villages teaching…He said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because I tell you that many will try to enter but will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you…Away from me.’ There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth…”
They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth…be thrown into eternal fire…be thrown into the fires of hell…darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth…They will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life…Fear him who, after killing the body, has power to throw you into hell….But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you…”…unless you repent, you too will all perish…The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment… ‘send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire…I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
Matthew 14:32; 18:8-9; 25:30; 46; Luke 12:5, 20; 13:5; 16:22-28
"No one knows about that day or hour…As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. This is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man… Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come." Matthew 24:36-39
Judgment to come was one of the styles Jesus used to show people their need for salvation.
Explaining to people the reality of hell will help people realize their need for Jesus.
Explaining to people the return of Jesus will help people realize their need for Jesus.
Style #4: Jesus used a relational style in seeking the lost.
While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and ‘sinners’ came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” Matthew 9:10-11
Now the tax collectors and ‘sinners’ were all gathered around to hear him. But the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes ‘sinners’ and eats with them.” Luke 15:1-2
Jesus…said to him, “Zacchaeus…I must stay at your house today.” Luke 19:5
One of the ways we can reach people with the good news of God’s grace is to build relationships with people who are not in a relationship with Jesus.
As we build relationships with people, we can tell them how they can begin a relationship with Jesus.
Style #5: Jesus used a graceful style in seeking the lost.
When one of the Pharisees had invited Jesus to have dinner with him…a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house…Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven…go in peace.” Luke 7:36-50
The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery… “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:3-11
Some people already feel the guilt and shame of their sin
and are ready to hear about the good news of God’s grace.
These are five different evangelistic styles Jesus used to communicate to people their need for salvation and receiving salvation. In our lives, we will encounter many different people in need of salvation. As Jesus did, let's seek to understand the people we are speaking with and then choose the evangelistic approach that best relates to each of them.
Feel free to use this outline with your church family, small group, and one-on-on discipleship as together we seek to reach more and more people with the good news of God's grace.
The audio version of this message called Five Styles of Jesus In Seeking The Lost is available on the Audio Messages tab of this website. The entire message series called Joining Jesus On His Mission is also available
All this is for your benefit, so the grace that is reaching more and more people
may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
2 Corinthians 4:15