Personal Evangelism: The Need
What's the highest number you've ever counted to in one sitting? 500 perhaps? 1000? I can remember counting to about 3000 on one occasion as a child. I was fascinated with numbers (and still am today). I've got a number I want us to think about all week. It's a very large number: 6.7 billion. How much is 6.7 billion? Admittedly, it's hard to understand a number that big, but let's see if we can relate to it with some illustrations.

Let's pretend that I have 6.7 billion dollars. How much money is that? Well, if we had 67 people, we could divide the money evenly and everyone would receive 100 million dollars! Or, we could divide the money among a larger group of people, if we wished. For example, the city in which I live (Clinton, Illinois) has a population of around 7000. Split 6.7 billion dollars evenly 7000 ways and each person would end up with over $957,000. That is a lot of money! Personally, I only know a small fraction of the 7000 residents in Clinton, but I can easily understand that it takes a very large sum of money to be able to give each person nearly 1 million dollars! How about we divide the money among an even larger group? America's current population is around 305 million. If we split 6.7 billion dollars evenly among everyone who lives in America, each person would pocket nearly $22.

Well Stephen, that's all very interesting, but who cares? What does 6.7 billion have to do with us? I'll tell you--that's an estimation of how many people there are who live on planet Earth right now: 6.7 billion people. In other words, for every one person who lives in Clinton, Illinois, there are approximately 1 million people who live elsewhere in the world! For every one American, there are nearly 22 other people living elsewhere in the world! Consider one more illustration: If everyone in the world lined up at your front door to meet you, it would take over 212 years for you to meet them all (and that's only if you spent one second with each person and you never stopped to eat, sleep, or do anything else). Over 200 years to meet everyone in the world! Hopefully these numbers convey the overwhelming size that 6.7 billion is. To think that there are over 6 billion people alive right now in 2009 and they all have a spirit that needs to be saved is, quite frankly, mind-boggling! Someday every single one of these 6.7 billion people will stand before God in judgment (in addition to all those who have already died or who are yet to be born). And here's the tragic part--the vast majority of them will be lost! Jesus taught in Matthew 7:13 - "Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it."

He went on to say that few find the way to everlasting life. Does that bother you? Does it grieve you to think about 6.7 billion people, most of whom are on their way to hell? If that doesn't move you, I don't know what would! Is there anything you can do about the problem? Indeed there is, and that's what we'll be reflecting upon in our daily lessons this week--evangelism. Evangelism is taking the saving gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost. However, we're not just going to be talking about evangelism in a general way (i.e., what the church should be doing). No, we're going to be talking about what you can and should be doing as an individual, personally. In other words, we're going to be talking about personal evangelism.

I hope the need for personal evangelism is self-evident. Everyone in the world needs the gospel, but very few of them have obeyed it. There are people dying in this world every day who have never even heard the gospel message; some who've never even heard the name Jesus! There is a great need for personal evangelism because each and every soul is precious in God's eyes; each and every soul is valuable. How do we know? Because the Scriptures teach that Jesus died for the "whole world" (I John 2:2). Jesus died for me, and He died for you. He even died for the 6.7 billion people who are alive today. Friends, there is a great need for personal evangelism today!