There are many different kinds of bridges in this world. Some are wooden, some are stone, and others are fabricated of steel. Some are small some are massive, but they all function basically the same way. They span a chasm. They make it possible for someone to pass from point 'A' on one side of the chasm to point 'B' on the other side.
In my travels around our great country, I have come to appreciate and at times have been absolutely amazed with some of the bridges I have found. The planning, expense, and great effort that went into the construction of these bridges boggles my mind. And yet they were constructed…they were built…why? The builders were motivated by the need! Let me apply this to our ministry here at Grace Baptist Temple. In our community there are people all around us who are on the other side of the chasm. They need a bridge to cross over.
I. Who Needs a Bridge
A. The lost need a bridge.
1. This is perhaps the easiest for us to understand.
2. We know that the Bible declares that we all have fallen short of the glory of God. Ro. 3:23
3. We also understand the Scripture teaches that the lost have been blinded to the truth of God's Word.
2Co 4:3-4 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
B. The disconnected believer needs a bridge.
Joh 15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
1. There are many reasons why a believer might be disconnected for a local church.
2. Perhaps they have made a geographical move and have been slow about finding a new church.
3. Perhaps there are those who have come to a knowledge of Christ, but have never been taught the importance of the local church in their lives.
4. Regardless of the reason, they are disconnected and need a bridge to cross over.
2Co 5:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
C. The hurting church member needs a bridge.
Heb 10:24-25 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
1. We live in the real world, not a fantasyland.
2. In the real world, people get hurt (whether intentional or not)
3. Sometimes that hurt keeps them from moving forward…
4. That hurt becomes a chasm that must be crossed.
5. They need a bridge to help them get over it and get on with their life of service to Christ.
Ro 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
II. The Call to be Bridge Builders.
A. Our motivation = recognition of the need.
Pr 29:18a "Where there is no vision, the people perish:"
1. If we don't see the need, we will never build bridges!
2. We may wind up building barriers instead.
3. If the gospel is real, then the gulf is real!
4. There is a great gulf between darkness and light…between eternal life and eternal death.
5. There is a great gulf between fulfilling our God-given purpose as believers, and just existing.
6. Between having life and having it more abundantly!
B. Consider Paul's motivation. Cf. 1 Co. 9:16-23
1. "…Woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel."
2. Paul saw the need…and was moved to action.
3. That is the definition of compassion.
4. Compassion didn't begin with the Apostle Paul, it was demonstrated to us by God in giving His Son Jesus.
5. It was demonstrated in the life of Jesus in His giving of Himself as a sacrifice for our sin.
6. Compassion will move us to be bridge builders; and the lack thereof will result in our doing nothing!
C. Our ability is our availability.
1. We are reminded that we can do ALL things…through Christ.
2. Do we believe it?
3. Do we live like we believe it?
4. Do we tap into that power source within us to begin to build bridges across the chasms that we might reach those in need?
5. In order to build a bridge, there must be solid contact made.
a. I am afraid that we have forgotten what it is to be lost…
b. What it means to be disconnected or hurting…
c. We cannot expect them to build a bridge to us!
d. We must go to them! Gospel
e. One of my favorite hillbilly jokes is about the fellows fishing on opposite sides of the river…the one suggested that he would shine his flashlight across to the other side so the other could walk across the beam…the other fellow said, 'No way, I will get half way over and you will turn off the light!'
f. Will we turn on the LIGHT that others might find the WAY across the chasm?
III. Bridge Builders Must Change Themselves Before They Can Build Any Bridges.
A. What must not change to be a Bridge Builder?
1. Some have suggested that we must change our doctrine!
Ex. "You Baptists…are always so right that you leave no room for others"
2. But if we water down the gospel message in hopes of reaching more people we may successfully see a greater response, but to what benefit?
3. It is the gospel…the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ…that is the power of God unto salvation.
4. Methods may change, but the Message must never change!
B. Look at our text tonight. v19-22
1. Paul said he was willing to be all things to all men…why?
2. That he might be used of God to see some saved.
3. He was willing to make whatever changes were necessary.
C. What must change…we must change!
1. We must develop a servant spirit.
2. We must be totally real - no Pharisees allowed!
3. We must put aside our personal preferences that we might reach folks.
4. We must be willing to make a sacrifice to build a bridge.
5. A popular word around Christian circles is the word 'Outreach'.
6. For us to have a ministry that reaches out, we must be willing to do the reaching!
7. Oh preacher, that is not my cup of tea…tell it to the One who called you.
8. Paul made it clear that this wasn't optional!
1Co 9:16b "… For necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!
1Co 9:17b "…A dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me."