Andrew: Jesus’ First Soulwinner
April 5th, 1981 @ 7:30 PM
ANDREW: JESUS’ FIRST SOULWINNER
Dr. W. A. Criswell
4-5-81 7:30 p.m.
And it is a gladness for us in the First Baptist Church of Dallas to share this hour with the multitudes of you who are listening on the two radio stations that carry it. This is the pastor of the First Baptist Church, delivering the message entitled Andrew, Jesus’ First Soulwinner.
And in our text, we turn to the Gospel of John—we are going to read it out loud together: the Gospel of John, chapter 1. We read from verse 35 through verse 42—John, chapter 1, verses 35 to 42. And if you are listening on the radio, open your Bible and read it out loud with us; John 1, starting at verse 35, concluding at verse 42. Now, let’s read it out loud together:
Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples;
And looking upon Jesus as He walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!
And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.
Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto Him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest Thou?
He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where He dwelt, and abode with Him that day; for it was about the tenth hour.
One of the two which heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.
He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.
And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, He said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona; thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A Stone.
You could readily see, in reading the passage, that John is writing a long time after the Gospel has been taken out of Judea and out of the Holy Land and is now in the expansive reaches of the Roman Empire. He has to translate “Rabbi” [John 1:38]. Any Jew would know what Rabbi is, but he has to translate it, for he is writing for a Gentile world. And anyone would know what Cephas is, but he’s writing for a Gentile world. That is translated petros, Peter, which, in our language is “a rock” [John 1:42].
In presenting the gospel message of Christ, this sainted apostle John begins it with a personal, soul-winning, dedicated disciple of the Lord. When it says in the passage that were two who heard John the Baptist point out Jesus as the Lamb of God, the Messiah, he has to translate that “Messiah” [John 1:41]. Any Jew would know what Messiah is, but, to the Gentile world, it has to be translated; in Greek, Christos, “the anointed One,” in our language, “Christ.”
Those two men who listened to John, one he names, Andrew, and the other is unnamed—almost certainly, it is John himself [John 1:35-40]. This man Andrew is presented in a remarkable light in the Gospel story. Wherever he is, he is bringing somebody to the Lord. He is introducing someone to Christ Jesus—always.
He has a Greek name: Andreas, in Greek. There are only two of those disciples, those apostles, who had Greek names. Philip is a Greek name. Andreas is a Greek name. Philip means “a lover of horses.” Andreas means “manly.” And of those two men, John says that the first thing Andrew did was to find his own brother Simon . . . and he brought him to Jesus [John 1:41-42]. The characterization of Andrew is beautiful and encouraging to behold.
He was born up there in Bethsaida, which is a town right where the Jordan River flows into Galilee. And then, as time went on, his brother Simon, who was married, moved to Capernaum; and Capernaum, which is west, right at the head of the Lake of Galilee, and Andreas, his brother, moved over there with Simon, son of Jona, later called Peter, a rock [Matthew 16:18]. And the two brothers were in a partnership with the sons of Zebedee, James and John [Matthew 4:18-22]. And those four fishermen were in a company there, providing food for all who bought from their fishing luck and experience. They were fishermen.
As the days passed, Jesus called them to be fishers of men [Matthew 4:19]. And Peter, James, and John were of a close-knit circle around the Lord Jesus. But, in the naming of the apostles, Andrew is always the fourth one [Mark 3:18]. He was not as near to the Lord as Peter and John, but he was next. He must have been a wonderful man. He was called to be an apostle. And as a follower and disciple of the Lord Jesus, Andrew is the one that brought to the Savior the little boy who had a lunch. And Jesus took the little biscuit—called “the loaves” in the Bible, and multiplied them and the little fish that the lad had in his lunch—and multiplied it and fed the five thousand [John 6:8-13]. That was Andrew’s work.
When the Greeks came to see Jesus at the feast in Jerusalem [John 12:20-21], it precipitated quite a confrontation in their own hearts. What should they do with these Gentiles who are asking to see the Lord? And it is Andrew, along with Philip, who bring the question to the Lord Jesus: “What shall be done with these Gentiles, these Greeks, these pagans, who want to listen to the Word of God?” [John 12:22]. That’s when the Lord replied: “And I, if I be lifted up. . .will draw all men unto Me” [John 12:32], signifying how He would die—lifted up—and that the gospel would be for the whole world: the Greek as well as the Jew [John 12:32-33].
There are many traditions about Andrew. Tradition says that he went to Scythia and there was martyred. And because of that, Scythia, being the southern part—the ancient name of the southern part of Russia, Andrew became the patron saint of the Russians.
Tradition said that he went to Achaia—Athens is the capital of the Roman province of Achaia, and that he was martyred there. In any event, Andrew became the patron saint of the Greeks: St. Andrew. Tradition says that a part of his body was taken to Scotland. Therefore, Scotland looks upon the apostle Andrew as its patron saint: St. Andrew. When Andrew was crucified, he was crucified on a cross in the form of an X, and that X shape of a cross, through all of these Christian centuries, is known as a St. Andrew’s cross.
He had a beautiful life; had a marvelous testimony. And as I say, above everything else, he is presented in the gospel as always presenting, introducing, winning, somebody to the Lord Jesus, as he did his brother and he brought him to Jesus [John 1:40-42].
There’s an apocryphal Acts of Andrew, written by someone a long time ago, in the first century. We don’t know who. We don’t know anything of its truth, but it represents the profound impression that this wonderful man made upon those who knew and loved him.
That gives me an opportunity to speak of the Christian faith, both in its beginning and in its course and in its power today. Always, and without exception, the Christian faith advances in our personal witnessing, our personal testimony, our winning others to the Lord Jesus. I wish that the Christian faith could be presented to the world monetarily. It would be easy to buy converts. We’d just bring money and if we had enough money, we’d win everybody to Jesus.
I wish it were possible that the world could be won by mass evangelism. Then, we’d just get a great preacher and in a stadium, gather all of the city together, and we’d win them all to Jesus. I even wish that preaching would win the world to Christ. All we’d need to do is to find a gifted speaker and let him stand up before the congregations, and everybody would be won to the Lord Jesus. But it never works that way. Always, people are won to Christ personally, individually, by somebody’s loving witness, prayerful concern.
So it was in the beginning of the Christian faith. It started like that. John the Baptist points out, witnesses to the Lord Jesus [John 1:29]. And two of John’s disciples, John the apostle and Andrew, the follower of John, both of them are won to Jesus personally [John 1:35-37]. The Lord spoke to them, beginning at ten o’clock in the morning and when the day was finished He had His first two disciples. They were won personally by the Lord Jesus [John 1:38-41]. Then, as the story continues here in the Gospel, always moving in a personal relationship, John almost certainly won his brother James; Andrew, having won his brother, Simon. Philip is called, and Philip brings Nathanael to the Lord Jesus [John 1:42-49]. And thus, the kingdom begins.
It is a remarkable thing to me, when we study and read and follow the ministry of our Savior, how it moves in a personal relationship with Jesus and a one somebody. It will be Jesus and Nicodemus [John 3:1-21]. It will be Jesus and the woman at the well, the Samaritan woman from Sychar [John 4:7-29]. It will be Jesus going to the exact town where that sinner lives and looking up the tree where that sinner is perched in order to see the Savior walk by. And He says to Zaccheus, “Come down. Today I’m going to spend in your house” [Luke 19:2-5].
Did you ever think that the greatest sermon that was ever preached on the new birth was preached by the Lord Jesus to an audience of one? [John 3:1-21]. Did you ever consider that the greatest sermon ever preached on spiritual worship was preached by the Lord Jesus to a congregation of one—and she a despised, outcast Samaritan woman? [John 4:7-29]. Isn’t that a remarkable thing? Anybody anywhere is a wonderful congregation to preach to, to tell about the Lord, to invite to Jesus.
Did you know, one time I read an announcement, and the preacher said, “We are no longer going to have any evening services, because it is not worth my while to prepare a sermon for a congregation of less than a hundred.” So he called off his evening services. Why, my brother, if one is there, that’s a good congregation to preach to. If two are there, that’s double one. If ten are there, that’s ten times as good. If a hundred are there, that’s a hundred times as good. If a thousand are there, think of what a marvelous congregation to preach to! Turn on the lights. Open the doors. Start the music. Sing a song. Read a Scripture. Tell the good news of the Lord Jesus, personally, one by one.
When we follow the story, like the outpouring of the Spirit of God on the earth, like the ripple when a rock is thrown into a pond—when we follow the gospel as it goes out and out, that’s the way it moves. It moves always personally.
In the eighth chapter of the Book of Acts is one of the most remarkable works of the Holy Spirit that I could think for. This man Philip, who is a layman, who is a deacon, and later called an evangelist because of his fervent testimony to Christ, Philip is in a tremendous revival meeting in Samaria. And while he is in the midst of that revival meeting in Samaria—everybody, the whole town, turning to the Lord [Acts 8:5-13]—while he’s in the midst of that tremendous revival, the angel of the Lord speaks to him and sends him down into the desert [Acts 8:26]. And standing there by the side of a highway, wondering why the angel of the Lord sent him into the desert, there drives by the treasurer of the nation of Ethiopia [Acts 8:27-28].
And the Spirit of God says, “Join yourself to the chariot” [Acts 8:29]. And he wins to the faith that one man, the eunuch, the treasurer of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians [Acts 8:35-38]. That’s God, just that one man. That’s the Christian faith.
When I read of the tremendous ministry of the apostle Paul in Ephesus, one of the great Christian emphases and conversions and turnings to be found in all the history of Christendom—when I read of that, I am astonished at how Paul describes his own work of conversion and ministry and soulwinning. He says—in describing his ministry to the Ephesian elders, he says: “Remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears” [Acts 20:31]. “From house to house, testifying to the Jew, to the Greek,” whoever lived in the house, “From house to house, testifying to the Jew, to the Greek, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” [Acts 20:20- 21].
I don’t know how many times, ever since I’ve been listening—I couldn’t count the number of times I have heard a man referred to as “the greatest preacher since the apostle Paul.” I know exactly what they mean by that: “the greatest preacher since the apostle Paul.” It conjures up an image of a majestic presence and a stentorian voice and one marvelous, oratorical, forensic peroration after another. I can just easily see what is in the mind of the one who is introducing this great preacher, the greatest since the apostle Paul.
Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing if people would read the Bible and just see what God’s Book says? If you did, you’d find out what they said about the apostle Paul. In the tenth chapter of the second Corinthian letter, and the tenth verse, Paul quotes what the people said about him. Do you remember what it was? “His bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible” [2 Corinthians 10:10]. That’s what they said about him. When they looked at the apostle Paul, and heard him preach, he was weak in his presence and his speech was contemptible. That’s what they said.
Well then, how did the apostle do the incomparable work, such as is illustrated in the marvelous conversion of the Roman province of Asia, the founding of the seven churches of Asia, to whom the Apocalypse is directed [Revelation 2:1-3:22], and the whole city turning to the Lord? [Acts 19:26]. How did he do it?
He described it. “Remember that for the space of three years, day and night, from house to house, with many tears [Acts 20:31, 20], I witnessed and preached and testified repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” [Acts 20:21]. I can just see the marvelous, wonderful results that came from that man of God, the apostle Paul, from house to house, witnessing to the grace of the Lord Jesus in his life. Well, is that true? Is that the way God blesses?
I remember when I was pastor at Oakland. There came to the church a committee from Jackson’s Grove. And they said to me, “We have closed our church. The door is nailed, but there are many young people in our community. Would you come? When you come to Oakland and preach, would you come on Sunday afternoon and preach for us? We have so many people who need the Lord.”
I said yes. So, when I’d go to my little village church in Oakland, on Sunday afternoon, I’d go down to Jackson’s Grove, and I would preach there. We un-nailed the door. We put in the window panes that were broken out. We swept the dirt out of the church. We cut down the high weeds that went clear up to the eaves of the little white church house.
And I announced a revival meeting. This is the way I did it. I went to a family in the community, and I said, “I want to borrow this tall boy.” He was about 16 or 17 years old, but about six feet, five inches tall.
I said, “I want to borrow this boy, and I want him to go with me. And we’re going to start at the church, and we’re going down every one of these roads, and we’re going to stop at every house. And when we come to each house, I want this boy to introduce me and tell them that I’m preaching down there in a revival at the church.”
I wanted that boy to go with me and introduce me because I didn’t know what those Knob country Kentuckians might do—shoot me if they had a still in the backyard or somewhere. So, I was just preserving my life, which the Lord doesn’t mind. So I took the boy with me, and I said, “Now, son, all I want you to do is, when I kneel, I want you to kneel by my side.” And I said, “I’m going to each house, and we’re going to knock at the door, and I want you to introduce me. And then, I’m going to say, ‘Are you Christian people here?’
And if they say yes, I’m going to say to them, ‘May I come in and read God’s Word to you and pray?’
“But, if they say, ‘We’re not Christians here,’ then I’m going to say, ‘May I come in and show you how to be saved and pray for your souls?’”
So he said, “I’ll be glad to do it.”
So we started at the church and went down the first country road. After our first knocking at the door, why—why, he introduced me, “This is the preacher. And he’s holding a meeting down there at the church, and he wanted to come see you.”
So I said to them, “I’m so glad to see you. Are you Christians here?”
And then, my little word, if they said yes, “May I read to you the Bible and may I pray with you?”
So I’d go into each one of those homes. I remember the first one. When I knelt to pray, that tall boy didn’t kneel and, so, I yanked him down. He was like a jackknife, folding up. He just folded up down there by my side.
I don’t need to tell you what happened. You couldn’t get in the church. You couldn’t get in the yard. They were there from the whole reaches of that Knob community. They were listening to the gospel. And when I got through with my meeting, that boy was saved. His father and mother were saved. His aged aunts were saved. It seemed to me the whole community was saved. And we had the biggest baptism in Barren River that goes by Bowling Green, that goes through Warren County. We had the biggest revival meeting and the biggest baptism service that country ever saw. Anybody can do that: from house to house, testifying repentance toward God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ [Acts 20:21]. It is remarkable to me how people will respond to a personal, loving invitation: “We care about you.” The kingdom of God progresses on that personal witness.
I could not help but be interested—one time I went out there to the Cowboy Camp Meeting in West Texas, where Dr. Truett preached all the years of his ministry here. Every summer, he’d go out. Well, I went out there one time and I preached at the Paisano Baptist Encampment. And as I was walking around on the grounds, I saw a big rock and embedded in that rock was a large bronze plaque. I went over. I stood in front of it, and I read it. And these are the words on that bronze plaque: “Under a great oak tree in this place, George W. Truett won to Christ the cattleman who gave these grounds for this encampment.”
I thought, “That’s beautiful. That’s great. That’s the kingdom of God.” And that’s all of us in our loving service for our Lord.
I have one observation to make, and I’m through. In my humble opinion, in my judgment and in my experience, there is no personal witness that God ever allows to fall to the ground—never. When a man testifies to the grace of God, the Lord does something. You may not see it. You may not know it. It may not bear fruit until, maybe, you’re in heaven. But anytime, anywhere, anyplace, anybody testifies to the grace of God, the Holy Spirit blesses it and bears it upon wings of love to the heart of those to whom the testimony is made.
It’s like this. Do you remember when we went out to the Moody Coliseum for a big revival meeting out there? Most of you—it was a long time ago—most of you, I’m sure, were not here then. But we did that. We went out to the Moody Coliseum and held a revival meeting.
One night, we had another preacher. Buckner Fanning was our preacher. So I stood down at the front when the invitation was made. One night—as I stood down at the front in that coliseum with those people gathered, filling those bleachers all around, banks of people all around, and the floor with chairs and the people seated in them—one night, as I stood down there during the invitation time, there came a young man. He looked to be about, oh, 25 or 26 or 27 years old. There came a young man down the aisle to me. And he had with him a girl. The child, the sweet girl, looked to be about 12 or 13 years of age. So, I just took it for granted that the boy and the girl were brother and sister.
So, when they came to me, down there at the front, why, I spoke first to the young man. And I said to him, I said, “This must be your sister.”
And he said, “No. No, pastor,” he said, “I have no idea who she is. She just asked me to come down to the front with her, and so I’ve come with her.”
And then he went away. He walked away and left me with that child, that girl about 12 or 13 years old. And so I said to the girl—I said, “Do you know that boy?”
She said, “No. I have no idea who he is.”
Well, I said, “Is that true that you asked him to come down this aisle to me with you—you asked him to come with you?”
She said, “Yes.”
“Well,” I said, “that’s the strangest thing. Why did you ask that boy that you don’t know to come down the aisle with you?”
And the girl said, “I was up there in that balcony, in one of those bleachers. I was there listening to the service, and I happened to be seated by that boy, whoever he is. And he was there with a friend. And when the invitation was extended, and we stood up to sing the appeal, he turned to his friend and pled with his friend to come to Jesus, explaining to him the way of salvation and begging him to come to the Lord.”
And the girl said to me, “The friend turned him down. He wouldn’t respond. But in the speaking of that young man of the way of salvation and the appeal that he made, it fell upon my heart, and I accepted the Lord as my Savior, listening to him testify to his friend.”
She said, “I then asked him, ‘I am afraid, and I’m timid, but I want to go down to the front to accept Jesus as my Savior. Would you go with me?’”
To this day, I would think that young man thinks that his personal testimony fell on deaf ears. His friend wouldn’t respond. But the Holy Spirit took it and it brought fruit and life and salvation in the heart of a little girl who overheard his appeal.
God never lets fall to the ground any personal word we ever speak for Him. He blesses it. So, we’re
Sowing in the morning, sowing in the noontime,
Sowing in the evening, and in the dewy eve,
By and by, the harvest, and
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.
[“Bringing in the Sheaves,” Knowles Shaw]
That’s God. That’s the kingdom of Christ. And that’s the Spirit of our Lord Jesus. We care about you. We love you. And for Jesus’ sake, the door is open into the kingdom of our Lord. Come. Come. Come and see. “And he brought him to Jesus” [John 1:42]. Now, may we stand together?
Our wonderful, wonderful Savior, we confess to Thee our dereliction. We pass by so many opportunities to say a good word for Jesus. There are people who pass us, who come into our lives. Help us, Lord, to be sensitive to them and their need of Thee. We all need our Savior, all of us, and what a wonderful, wonderful Savior He is. Ah, that we might share Him and His infinite grace [Ephesians 2:8], His forgiving love [Ephesians 5:2], His dying atonement [Romans 5:11], His promise for heaven [John 14:2-3; Revelation 21:1-3]—that we might share it with everyone that we ever see; these with whom we work, these with whom we live in communities. O Lord, make us personal soulwinners.
And in this service tonight, there are some of you to whom personal appeal has been made. Come to the Lord [Romans 10:9-13]. Come to our dear church, and may God bless that invitation to your heart. A family you, a couple you, a one somebody you, “Tonight, I make that decision for Christ,” do it [Romans 10:9-10]. And in a moment, when we sing our appeal, take that first step. And may angels attend you in the way as you come. I’ll be standing right here by that communion table. Come.
And our Lord, thank Thee for the sweet gift and the precious harvest tonight, in Thy saving name, amen.
Now while our congregation sings the hymn, and while we pray for you, down that stairway or down that aisle, “Here I am, pastor. Here I come.” Welcome, a thousand times. Amen.
JESUS’ FIRST SOUL-WINNER
A. John is writing for
a Gentile world
B. Begins his gospel
with soul-winning dedicated disciple
1. Andrew always
presented as bringing somebody to the Lord
C. Traditions about
II. People are won to Christ personally
A. Jesus’ beginning
1. John the
Baptist points to Jesus
2. John the
apostle and Andrew won personally by the Lord Jesus
3. John won
James, Andrew won Simon
4. Philip called;
B. Jesus’ ministry
1. Jesus and
2. Jesus and the
Samaritan woman at the well
3. Jesus and
C. The apostles
1. Philip and the
Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8)
2. Paul in
Ephesus (Acts 20:20-21, 31, 2 Corinthians 10:10)
a. From house to house
III. Our personal testimony
A. Jackson’s Grove
B. Cowboy Camp