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Evangelism

 Leadership Empowerment School of Ministry

 

Empowering Those who Empower Others with a Knowledge of God and His Ways

 

 

Part 1: The Foundations of Evangelism

 

Introduction

This course will focus on personal evangelism, though there will also be a section on other types of evangelistic outreaches.  It is very important for every church to actively train its members in how to reach out to the lost with the love of Jesus.  Of course, there are other forms of evangelism also, such as crusades, films, etc.  However, we cannot rely on these methods only.  God calls on each of His people to be active in spreading the Good News, and it is the responsibility of church leaders to equip them for this job.

 

 

1. What is Evangelism?

 

Evangelism is the sharing of the good news of salvation by faith in Jesus with the goal of persuading others to accept this free gift.

 

2. The Importance of Evangelism

A. Evangelism is an expression of the heart and purpose of God -- God loves sinners!

1. The Father's deep love for sinners (Isaiah 65:1-2, Jeremiah 31:3, Matt 23:37, Rom 5:7-8)

 

2. Jesus came to save sinners (Luke 19:10)

 

3. God wants everyone to be saved (2 Pet 3:9, 1 Tim 2:4)

 

B. Evangelism is a response to human need

"And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" - Acts 4:12

 

C. Evangelism is the primary task God has assigned to the church - Matt 28:18-20;   Mk 16:16;  Acts 1:8

 

Chapter One 

Biblical Basis For Evangelism

 

1. Significant Terms for Evangelism in the Bible

A. euangelion -- "to tell good news"

 

B. kerusso -- "to announce" or "herald"

-- Matthew 3:1; 4:17, 23; 10:7, 27

 

C. dialegomai.  -- " to talk through" something or "reason."

This term is used in Acts 17:2 to describe Paul's reasoning with the Jews in the synagogue, showing them logically from the Old Testament passages which proved Jesus to be the Messiah.

 

D. martureo – "bearing witness," "giving testimony" (Acts 8:25)

The picture is of someone sharing on a personal basis what Christ has done for them.  The ultimate act of "bearing witness" happens when someone dies for their faith -- becoming a martyr (taken from the word martureo).

 

2. Motives of Evangelism

 

Assignment:

Read the following Scriptures, and write down what you learn about why we should all be involved with preaching the Gospel:

Mk 16:15;  Eze 3:16-21;  2 Cor 5:10-11; 2 Cor 5:14-15;  Rev 20:11-15;  2 Pet 3:9

 

A. Out of obedience to God

--  Acts 1:8, Mark 16:15

God has given His people the responsibility of evangelism, just as He gave the Old Testament prophets the responsibility of warning His people Israel.  Paul tells us in Eph 4:11 that some Christians are given a special gift of evangelism.  But just because you or I may not have this particular gift, we are not exempt from evangelizing.  Although some may move more easily in evangelism, we are all called to evangelize. We should use whatever gifts we have to help bring people to Christ.  For example, if your particular gifting is serving (Rom 12:7), use your serving to open up possibilities for evangelism.

 

B. Out of Love for People -- People need Jesus.  He is the answer to their every need. If we truly love them, we will want them to come to Him.

1. Saving Some from Hell 

Hell is described in terms of a place of unrest, a fiery furnace, a place of eternal suffering with weeping and gnashing of teeth (Mat 13:49-50; 18:8-9; Mar 9:43-48).    Jesus taught in Mat 25:41, 46 that hell is a place of cursing and eternal fire "prepared for the devil and his angels."  It was not created for man.  Unfortunately however, many people are headed to this fiery eternity.

 

2. Return to Our "Natural" State  -- Relationship with God

The fallen world in which we live is not the exact same world which God created.  Genesis teaches us that the original state of man was one of complete and open relationship with God.  The Lord himself would walk through the garden in the cool of the evening and fellowship with Adam & Eve.

 

3. Abundant Life 

Jesus said in John 10:10"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."  Salvation does not only concern the future (escape from hell and entrance into heaven).  Salvation begins in the present.

 

3. The Great Commission – Matt 28:18-20

A. Evangelism is a command of the Lord (He said "Go.").

 

B. It requires effort on our part.  We are not simply to go about our daily lives and occasionally share the gospel with someone (although we certainly should do this as well).  Instead, we are to "go. . . to all the peoples" and confront them with the message of Christ.

 

C. We are not alone in this work, as Christ himself is with us and aids us through his Spirit.

 

D. Our task does not end with evangelism.  We are also to teach and disciple our converts in their own Christian walks.

 

Whether evangelism is spoken of in terms of "heralding" or "announcing" an important message, "persuading" someone that Jesus is the Son of God, or "bearing witness" to what God has done in our own lives, it is always the sharing of good news.  Evangelism is a bridge building process.  It is the process by which bridges are built that span the two thousand years between Christ's death and resurrection and now.  These bridges span the distance between the lost world and the redeemed of the Lord.  But most importantly, evangelism builds a bridge which closes the gap between creature and Creator.  Therefore, evangelism is the process of bridge building in order to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with a lost and dying world.

 

Chapter Two 

Biblical Examples of Evangelism

 

1. The Seventy-two -- Lk 10:1-19

A. We are needed in God's harvest, and we are to pray for others to join us

 

B. Evangelism often requires sacrifice.  These men were sent on a difficult journey, leaving their homes behind.

 

C. Not everyone we preach to will respond as we would like.  Some will reject the message, and some will even attack the messengers.

 

D. God gives us the power needed -- to proclaim the message and to work miracles

 

Discussion Groups

Read the following evangelistic sermons, and discuss what you learn about how to share the Gospel with unbelievers.  Understand that these sermons were preached under different circumstances, and to different types of people.  Your preaching will also be in still different circumstances from these, but can you discern some principles that the Lord is showing us about fruitful evangelism? Acts 2:14-40;  Acts 3:11-26;   Acts 14:14-17;  Acts 17:22-31

·      What can you learn from what the evangelist actually said (and did not say)?  What can you learn about his method?

·      Compare this with how you usually preach.  Do you emphasize the same things?  Why or why not?

 

2. The Apostle Peter

Perhaps no other apostle was as great an evangelist as Peter.  His sermon on the day of Pentecost was used by God for the salvation of three thousand people.  This sermon was boldly preached by the same man who had denied even knowing Jesus some fifty days earlier.  (See Peter's sermons in Acts 2:14-47 and 3:11-26, and the conversion of Cornelius in Acts 10:34-48).

 

A. Peter made use of events and circumstances to preach the Gospel (ex. the gathering of people on the day of Pentecost, and the healing of the beggar).

 

B. Peter displayed a good knowledge of Scripture in his evangelism.

 

C. Obedience to God's leading is necessary, no matter what the circumstances are -- as in Peter's going to preach to Cornelius

 

3. Philip -- Acts 8

A. Miracles can be a significant help in evangelism

 

B. It is good to pray with people to be baptized in the Holy Spirit when they get saved

 

C. We are part of God's plan.

You cannot always know the significance of your witness for Christ.  For example, Philip preached to the Ethiopian, who was an important official.  It is possible that this helped in the spread of the Gospel in Africa, even though Philip himself might never have traveled there.

 

4. The Apostle Paul

A. A great example of Paul's style was when he traveled to Athens, Greece (Acts 17:22-34).

As he climbed Mars Hill to the Areopagus (a center for the worship of the Greek gods), he saw an altar dedicated "To an Unknown God."  The sermon he preached is an excellent example of using surrounding circumstances as a beginning point for preaching the gospel.  Paul taught the people that the "Unknown God" whom they sought was in reality the God of the Bible who had revealed himself in the man Jesus Christ  Paul created a further connection with these people by quoting one of their own poets (17:28).  Luke tells us that several people who heard this evangelism believed what Paul had told them.

 

B. Paul was particularly bold in his witness, refusing to compromise his beliefs.

After his arrest in the Temple, Paul was moved to Caesarea where he was imprisoned.  While he was there, Luke tells us that Paul spoke the gospel boldly to the governor Felix (Acts 23:23-24:27).  When Felix was succeeded by Festus, Paul continued in his bold proclamation (Acts 25:1-22).  He was just as bold in his witness to the visiting dignitaries Agrippa and Bernice (Acts 25:13-26:32).  Acts ends with Paul in house arrest in Rome.  But he refused to stop his evangelism though it is likely that he was eventually martyred there.

 

C. What can we learn from the evangelism of the apostle Paul?

1. Paul witnessed to whomever he came into contact.

Although his calling was to the Gentiles, Paul regularly evangelized the Jews.  Like Paul, we may be called to minister to certain people.  This does not allow us to neglect preaching to others, though.

 

2. As seen in Paul's evangelism in Athens, God will often provide us with a tool through which we can bear witness to Christ.

In the case of Paul, this tool was the altar to the unknown god.  Paul was able to use the religious curiosity of the people (Acts 17:22) in order to teach them in their ignorance.  It is therefore helpful (but not necessary) for us to be somewhat familiar with the people with whom we share the gospel.  Paul was so familiar with the Greeks that he could even quote their own poets.  This made him seem to be less of an outsider and helped him to gain an audience with the religious minded Athenians.  In your witnessing, God will provide you doors through which you can enter and share the good news .

 

3. We see that evangelism requires boldness.

It did not matter to Paul who it was to whom he shared the gospel: to people on the street, in the synagogue, or to state officials.  He was bold enough to preach his gospel to everyone.

 

Chapter Three 

Jesus and Personal Evangelism

Jesus was the greatest evangelist that has ever lived.  It is interesting to note that Jesus was both the messenger and the message.  He is God, but for the thirty-three years he lived on the earth, he was fully man.  We can follow Jesus' leadership in evangelism because he was human.  Before we look at three specific examples of Jesus' evangelism, let us make several general statements.  Note: each of these statements does not fit every evangelistic encounter Jesus had.

 

1. Overview of Jesus the Evangelist

A. Jesus never approached any 2 people the same way, even though many of them had similar spiritual needs.

 

B. Jesus always welcomed honest seekers.  He did not discourage people from asking questions.

 

C. Jesus always controlled the conversation.  That is, he did not dominate the conversation but kept it moving toward his desired objective or goal.

 

D. Jesus appealed to the element of curiosity in people (such as woman at well, Nicodemus, etc).

 

E. Jesus spoke to the physical or "felt" needs of people.  He often healed along with his evangelism.

 

F. Jesus never ceased to warn people of the consequences of their rejection of him and his message.  He spoke more often of hell than all of the other preachers in the Bible combined.

 

G. Jesus took plenty of time with people who were interested in His message.  He never rushed an evangelistic encounter when dealing with the souls of people.

 

H. Jesus did not seek arguments and debates, but he never hesitated to tell the truth.

 

J. Jesus never lacked confidence when suggesting an answer to people.

 

K. Jesus created expectancy with those who followed him.  They always knew that something great could happen at any time with Jesus.

 

L. Jesus encouraged the fearful and undecided.

 

M. Jesus responded to opportunities when they arose.

 

N. Jesus was not 100% successful in his evangelistic efforts.

 

2. Jesus and Nicodemus (John 3:1-21)

John tells us that as Jesus was in Jerusalem for the Passover soon after he began his ministry, he was approached at night by a man named Nicodemus.  Nicodemus appears three times in the New Testament: in this passage, in John 7:50, and again in John 19:39.  John 3:1 claims that Nicodemus "was a man of the Pharisees. . .a ruler of the Jews."  As a Pharisee, Nicodemus was a teacher of the law to the common people. By calling this man "a ruler of the Jews," John is letting his readers know that Nicodemus was also a member of the Sanhedrin.  These elements show that Nicodemus was a man of great importance in Jewish society.

 

A. It was a difficult thing for Nicodemus to come to Jesus.

There was no physical danger in approaching Jesus as there would be later in his life, but Nicodemus' social status was at stake.  It is for this reason that Nicodemus approached Jesus at night: he was cautious.  Here also we see Nicodemus' humility.  He addressed Jesus, a peasant and a layman, with the term "Rabbi." This literally means "teacher" but can also mean "master."  A seeker of the truth, Nicodemus bravely threw aside his formalism, superiority, and prejudice to approach Jesus.

 

B. Nicodemus thought that he had seen part of the kingdom of God in Jesus' miracles.  But Jesus claimed that it was impossible for him to see the kingdom of God without being born again (3:3).

 

C. Jesus changed the conversation from the physical realm to the spiritual by this strange statement.

While this statement caught Nicodemus off guard, it also peaked his interest.  Certainly he did not think Jesus' statement was to be taken literally, yet he was still confused: "How can one be born when he is old (3:4)?"  This line of questioning gave Jesus the perfect opportunity to teach Nicodemus about spiritual regeneration.  He answered that a person must be born of water and then of the Spirit before he can enter the kingdom of God (3:5).

 

D. Jesus turned the topic from the theological to the personal when he told Nicodemus "You must be born again (3:7)."

Nicodemus must have been puzzled.  Was he not a devout follower of the Law?  Did he not have pure Jewish ancestry?  If he was not a member of God's people, who was?  However, Jesus was searching for faith, for repentant hearts, and for those who would open themselves to the work of the Holy Spirit.  Being a good Jew was not enough.

 

E. Jesus shows Nicodemus that the working of the Spirit is like the wind (v8).

Like the wind, the Spirit moves mysteriously.  We cannot see Him, but we can be aware of the effect that He has.  He is not ruled by the laws of man, but is beyond our comprehension.  Man can neither control nor understand the Spirit of God.  What was needed from Nicodemus was a step of faith.

 

F. Jesus explains that it is he who offered eternal life.

Even those supposedly speaking for God, like the Pharisees, were far from the truth (3:10).  The only one to remove this condemnation was Jesus, and the only way that this could happen was by being born again.

 

G. Was Nicodemus converted, and 'born again?'

One might question whether or not Nicodemus followed Christ after this encounter, as John does not say.  In Jn 7:50-51, Nicodemus is shown rebuking other Pharisees for condemning Jesus without hearing him.  He is also shown as the one who, along with Joseph of Arimathea, took Jesus' lifeless body from the cross to the tomb -- something that would have been very dangerous to do.  Although Nicodemus did not make an immediate decision for the Lord after his first encounter, it appears that he did eventually become a follower of Jesus.  This Pharisee who had hesitantly come to Jesus by night became the disciple of the Messiah who boldly took a stand for him by day.

 

H. What can we learn from Jesus' evangelism of Nicodemus?

1. Jesus always brought the conversation back to himself.

In the same way, our evangelism should always have Jesus as the focal point.  Nicodemus was never rebuked for his lack of understanding (although it was pointed out), but had each one of his questions answered in a gentle, pastoral manner.

 

2. Like Jesus, we should not be afraid to witness to prominent people.

 

3. For those who falsely believe that they are already saved, we should carefully show that their present object of faith is not enough.

 

4. It is not necessary to understand all of what happens or how it happens when one becomes a Christian.

 

5. John does not record an immediate conversion of Nicodemus, yet it seems that a decision was eventually made.

It must have been a difficult decision for Nicodemus to make, especially considering his social standing.  People today must make that same decision, and as in the case of this Pharisee, it is not always easy.  It includes laying a person's wealth, status, and will on the line and allowing the Holy Spirit to take over.  It means allowing yourself to be so totally transformed that there is no other way to describe it other than being "born again."  But if a person, like Nicodemus, is honestly seeking spiritual truth and we proclaim that truth to them, we can have faith in Jesus' promise when he states, "I will draw all men unto myself (John 12:32)."

 

3. Jesus and the Samaritan Woman -- John 4:7-30

Another evangelistic encounter of the Lord is found in the Gospel of John as Jesus traveled through Samaria.  Samaria lay just to the north of Judea in Palestine.  During the Assyrian captivity of Judea, many Jews were deported.  Many Assyrians moved in to northern Palestine to settle and develop the land.  When they did this, they married the remaining Jews.  The Jews of the southern part of Palestine, Judah, refused to intermarry and viewed the Samaritans as traitors and half-breeds.  There was much hatred and prejudice between these two nations.  This is why Jesus' parable of the "Good Samaritan" was so startling to his hearers.

 

A. Breaking Barriers

1. Physical

Jesus was tired from his long journey and sat on the edge of Jacob's well (4:6).  As it was noon and he had traveled for a long time, he was also hungry and thirsty (4:6-8).

 

2. Racial.

As described above, there was a great hatred of Samaritans by the Jews.  In fact, Jews would normally walk thirty kilometers out of the way in order to avoid Samaria, turning the one hundred kilometer trip which Jesus was making from Jerusalem to Galilee into a one hundred and thirty kilometer trip.

 

3. Gender

In the first century, no respectable Rabbi would speak to a woman in public.  Even the disciples were amazed that Jesus was found in conversation with a woman (4:27).  Yet Jesus did not hesitate to share God's love to her because of her gender.

 

4. Moral and social

This woman was one of low and immoral character: she had five husbands in the past and was living with a man at the time who was not her husband (4:18).  Because of this, she was most likely an outcast in her own town of Sychar.  It was the custom of that day for women to travel together in large groups to the wells outside of town in the early mornings and evenings.  They would fellowship, laugh, and gossip together.  But this woman went to the well at midday, alone.  Most 'men of God' would not associate with such a known sinner.

 

Discussion Question:

What barriers are there that need to be broken in evangelism today?  What kinds of people do believers find it difficult to witness to or associate with?  How can those people be reached with the Gospel?

 

B. The Approach of Jesus

How did Jesus share with this woman?  He approached her very naturally with a shared interest, "Give me a drink (4:7)."  But Jesus used this common interest of theirs by appealing to her curiosity.  By telling her that he could give her "living water" so that she would never again be thirsty (4:10, 14), he turned the conversation from the natural to the spiritual realm.  Jesus refused to let the woman's negative responses bother him.  Her three negative statements (4:11, 12, 17) could have put an end to their conversation, but Jesus moved naturally from these physical responses to spiritual ones.

 

C. The Instruction of Jesus

We should note that this evangelistic encounter of the Lord was one of instruction.  He did not have to prove to her that there was a God.  She knew that there was a God, but that was all she knew.  Jesus instructed her in three ways.

 

1. By comparing the natural world to the spiritual.

He compared the life giving water of the desert to the gift of God through the Spirit. 

 

2. Concerning the needs that she knew she had.

This woman was seeking fulfillment in life (as seen by her many relationships with men).  Jesus shows her that it is he who can fulfill her inmost desires and needs.  Whatever the person's needs are, show them that Jesus is the one who can meet those needs.

 

3. Concerning her moral and spiritual need.

Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come here (4:16)."  He very easily could have accused her of her sin, quoting many Old Testament verses such as the sixth commandment.  Instead, Jesus first created a spiritual hunger in her heart.  Only then did he deal with her sin.  When Jesus brought up her sin, she attempted to change the subject (like many people do), but Jesus was persistent.

 

D. The Fruit

It is interesting to note that the woman left her water pot, the very reason she had come to the well in the first place (4:28).  This need of hers was no longer significant after meeting Christ!  As she went back to town, she told the men what Jesus had done: "Come, see a man who told me all the things hat I have done. . . (4:29)."  John tells us that the men left the city to see Jesus (4:30), and that many believed because of her testimony (4:39).  The law of sowing and reaping applies to evangelism.  As a result of his encounter with the woman, Jesus taught the disciples that these approaching Samaritans were the harvest.  Jesus had sowed seed in the life of one unlikely person, but God accomplished a great harvest because of that one seed.

 

E. Lessons Learned

1. We should be natural in our approach.

Begin with natural common interests and move the conversation to spiritual interests.

 

2. We will certainly have to break down barriers in our evangelism.

The easiest way to destroy a barrier is to build a bridge: and sometimes this takes time.

 

3. Evangelism is a type of teaching.

Some people have a good knowledge of God and the Bible, others know very little, and others are misguided.  It is important for an evangelist to know what he or she is talking about in order to better instruct those to whom he witnesses.

 

4. It is easier to lead someone to Christ first and then help them overcome particular sins.

This way you have the benefit of the indwelling Holy Spirit to convict that person of their sin.

 

5. Do not allow yourself to get sidetracked on minor theological debates.

As John showed in this encounter, we should always bring Jesus back to the center point of our evangelistic conversations.

 

4. Jesus and the Children

-- Mk 10:13-16  (see also Matt 19:13-15 and Lk 18:15-17)

This short passage is instructive concerning evangelism.  It should be noted however, that it does not speak directly toward evangelism, only indirectly.  Let us look at the principles it teaches us.

 

A. We should never prevent children coming to Jesus.

We should not try to stop a child's coming to Christ.  Instead. we should offer them entrance to the kingdom of God.  For who can enter the kingdom "like a child" better than a child?  We should make every effort to evangelize children.  As he did 2,000 years ago, Jesus is still opening his arms to the children.  True, some children may not understand this decision.  But do not discourage them.  Rather teach them and pray that they will one day be able to make the decision fully.

 

B. The Kingdom of God belongs to "such as these."

In other words, the kingdom of God is inhabited by those who have the purity and faith of children.

 

C. Jesus took the children into his arms, showing his love for them.

 

 

Part 2: How to Evangelize

 

Chapter Four 

The Power of Personal Testimony

 

1. Biblical Basis

As we said earlier, one significant term used in the Bible to speak of evangelism is martureo.  It means to "bears witness" or "testify."  It refers to someone sharing on a personal basis what Christ has done for him.  The verb martureo is used 76 times in the New Testament.

 

A. Samaritan Woman

One of the places this verb is used is in John 4:39 which we have already examined: "And from that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified (martureo), `He told me all the things that I have done.'"

 

We see that many Samaritans came to faith in Christ because of the "word" of the woman.  What was her word?  Was it some deep theological truth?  Did she systematically prove that Jesus was the Messiah?  No.  In fact, as we read the story, we see that this woman was somewhat confused by Jesus' deep teachings -- she understood them somewhat, but not enough to be able to convince others.  Her "word" was simply her own testimony.  It was the story of what Jesus had done for her: "He told me all the things that I have done."  It was nothing very deep or spiritual, but it was very convincing and many believed in Jesus Christ.

 

B. Paul

Another person who was good at using his personal testimony was Paul.  He did this several times, but one testimony, given to King Agrippa, stands out.  Look at Acts 26:9-18.

 

Paul's personal testimony was quite powerful.  In his story, Paul showed the power of the gospel to turn a persecutor of the church into a member of it.  It was spoken with conviction because it was a true story and because it was something that had happened to the apostle himself:  Paul was describing his most dramatic and life-changing experience.  It was so powerful, in fact, that it almost converted the king himself (Acts 26:28).

 

2. Benefits of Using Your Personal Testimony

A. A personal testimony shows the effect of the Gospel in the life of a person of today.

The gospel message describes the power of Jesus Christ to change a person's life: to turn a person from hell to heaven.  Although the Bible contains many examples of this fact, all of these examples occurred nearly two thousand years ago.  A personal testimony allows the evangelist to give a specific example of this life changing event in the modern context.  Personal testimony moves the evangelistic message from the arena of theory and gives the message a concrete example.

 

 

B. Giving a personal testimony is helpful because you know it.

It is not something that you need to memorize in order to share with someone.  It is your life's story.  Much like the apostle Paul, this adds power to your message because it is a description of your most personal, life-changing event.

 

C. Nobody can argue against your personal testimony.

Some people will argue when you preach the Gospel,  but when you give your personal testimony you prove the Gospel to be true.

 

3. Using Your Testimony

A. Be Sensitive

First, be sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading as you share the gospel.  Second, be sensitive to how the person with whom you share is accepting what you are saying.

 

B. Write It Out

This allows you to spend time thinking about the manner in which you will communicate this incredible story.  We have learned that preparing your evangelistic method beforehand allows you to better communicate your message.  Likewise, knowing how you will communicate your testimony will make it clearer and more to the point.

 

C. Include the Gospel

The major elements of the Gospel are:

 

1. All have sinned;

2. The penalty for sin is death and hell;

3. Jesus died to pay for our sins; and

4. Jesus invites you to be saved today.

 

Your personal testimony should also contain these four major elements.  As you include these four major points, personalize them in your story.  For instance, do not say that everyone is a sinner and deserves hell, rather "I was a sinner and deserved hell, but. . . ."  This is a powerful statement and shows that you are not condemning anyone.

 

Ask yourself this question as you prepare your testimony: "If the person with whom I share only remembers my testimony, will he have enough biblical truth to be saved?"  If you include the four major elements of evangelism, the answer will be yes.

 

D. Keep it Personal

Remember as you share your testimony that you are describing your own personal salvation experience.  When you share your testimony is not the time to quote numerous Scripture passages and teach deep theological truths.  Keep your testimony personal and simple.  Simply tell the story of how God changed your life.

 

E. Show how your Situation was Similar to theirs

Do everything possible to relate to the person.  If you have listened to the person you are sharing with, this will be an easy step.  If you have not listened, it will be impossible.

 

F. Remember the Primary Purpose

The primary purpose of evangelism is to lead the lost to faith in Jesus Christ.  The primary purpose of sharing your testimony is to show how you came to faith in Jesus Christ.

 

Some people focus on the sin part of their life before Christ, giving vivid descriptions of their evil lifestyles.  This is usually not necessary, and can cause more harm than good.  The point of sharing your testimony is not to show how bad you were before you met Jesus.  The point is to give an example of Jesus' salvation.  Jesus is the focal point of evangelism.

 

Small Groups:

Break into groups of 3-4 people.  Pretend to be doing personal evangelism.  One or two people can be the unbelievers, and one or two the evangelists.  This time, the evangelists should share the Gospel using their testimony as mentioned above.  The unbelievers should respond in a realistic way.  After doing this for some time, switch roles and let the 'unbelievers' become the evangelists.

When you finish, discuss as a class the experience and what you learned.  What could the evangelists have done better?  What did they do well?

 

Chapter Five 

Models of Personal Evangelism

 

1. A Planned Approach to Evangelism

A planned approach to evangelism can be very useful in personal witnessing, and in training believers to evangelize.  It simply means that the person going out to preach plans ahead of time what he will say.  However, there are some possible weaknesses with this approach, and you will want to be aware of those.  The opposite of a planned approach is to simply begin talking with people, and then try to bring the topic to the Gospel and spiritual matters.

 

A. Some Benefits of a Planned Approach

1. It will assure that you can give plenty of thought to what you will say.

God has given us a clear plan of salvation, but it is not always easy to communicate this.  Spending time planning your approach will allow you to concentrate on communicating your message.

 

2. It will help you to be prepared as much as possible through memorizing key Scripture verses.

 

3. It allows you to think about different ways people may respond or object to your message.

Planned approaches to evangelism will allow you to prepare your own responses to these objections so that you can have an answer to them ready at hand.

 

4. It can help make you more believable.

If you know ahead of time what it is you are going to say,  you will sound like you know what you are doing.

 

5. Becoming familiar and comfortable with your planned approach to evangelism will help evangelism become natural to you.

As you develop your own style of witnessing, it will become a major part of your life.  As it becomes a major part of your life,  you will become more comfortable with evangelism and will seek more and more opportunities to share God's love.

 

B. Some Possible Weaknesses of a Planned Approach

1. It could possibly leave no room for the working of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit will often work through his gifts to empower you to be a better evangelist.  Jesus, for example, received a word of knowledge concerning the Samaritan woman's many husbands.  This word opened the woman's ears to the rest of Jesus' message.  The same may happen to in your evangelism.  However, if you are legalistically following a planned approach, you may leave out the Spirit's power: it may not fit your logical presentation.  Of course, a planned approach does not have to keep you from using the power of the Spirit.  Evangelism is a learning process.  You must learn to mix your planned approach with the Holy Spirit's empowering.  As the Holy Spirit leads you in an area, follow him.

 

2. It can possibly be impersonal, making people feel you are not truly concerned about them.

Every person is unique, and therefore there are different ways to reach each one.  Remember that Jesus never approached two people in the same way.  You can learn to adapt your planned approach to each person to whom you witness.

 

3. It may lead the evangelist to talk without listening.

People need to be listened to, and if you listen to them first, they will be more likely to listen to you later.  It can be helpful to sometimes repeat what someone tells me (with different wording) so that person knows that I have been listening to them.  This shows that I care for them and that I find what they are telling me to be important.  As you show consideration to a person as they tell you of their life or their problems, they will show you consideration as you offer them the answer.  Learn to listen in your evangelism!

 

C. Tracts and Booklets

Related to a planned approach to evangelism is evangelism with the help of tracts or booklets published for this purpose.  These are very helpful because they often include significant Bible verses and pictures or diagrams which aid in communication.  Many people, as we have seen, will not make immediate decisions for Christ when first confronted with the gospel.  That is why it is always a good idea to leave something behind.  Some people do not get saved until after the evangelist leaves their home and a tract left behind is read.

 

  2. Some Helpful Evangelistic Models

This section will give several planned approaches that have been used with success.  These can be especially helpful in training the believers in our churches to become involved in evangelism.

 

A. Asking Questions 

One easy way of beginning to witness to someone is to ask "diagnostic questions," or questions which help to "diagnose" a person's eternal destiny.  As we have already discussed, evangelism is the process of building bridges in order to communicate the gospel message.  Diagnostic questions can serve as these bridges.  If used properly, they can lead to fruitful discussion without offending your hearers.   Here are some possible questions:

 

1. "Do you know for sure that you have eternal life & that you will go to heaven when you die?" 

 

2. "If Jesus were to ask you `Why should I let you into my heaven?', what would you tell him?"

Many people will call themselves "saved" or "Christians," but these same people cannot answer this question.  They often answer that they will get into heaven because they are "good," because they go to church, or because their parents were Christians.  These answers, of course, will not work, for it is only the grace of God through the blood of Jesus Christ through which we gain entrance into heaven.  To these types of answers, you now have the opportunity of opening the Scriptures showing them the only way of salvation.

 

3. "Would you like to be certain of your eternal future?"

 

4. "Is there anything that you would like Jesus to do for you today?"

Listen carefully to the answer to this question, and then be sure to pray for that need.  Expect the Lord to work miracles and confirm His word.

 

B. The Romans Road 

1. Romans 3:23

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

 

2. Romans 6:23

"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

 

3. Romans 5:8

"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

 

4. Romans 10:9-10

"That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation."

 

5. Romans 10:13

"For whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved."

 

6. In these verses, we see the basic elements of salvation

a. Every person has sinned, falling short of God's best (Rom 3:23).

b. The payment for sin is death which is eternal separation from God in hell (Rom 6:23).

c. Every person, good, bad, churchgoer, etc. deserves this punishment.

d. But God desires that we not die, but have eternal life with him (Rom 6:23).

e. He has made a way to save us from death by letting his Son die in our place (Rom 5:8).

f. All that is needed to have this eternal life is to openly confess Jesus as Lord (master) of our life and believe that he is the Son of God who died for our sins (Rom 10:9-10).

g. If we make this confession of faith, we will be saved (Rom 10:13).

 

Although these Scriptures show the major message of salvation, they need to be explained.  For example, you probably noticed that the element of "repentance of sin" is missing from this outline.  But it should be included in your explanation of what it means to make Jesus Lord -- making Jesus Lord of your life includes making him in charge of you and turning from your sin.

 

C. The Four Spiritual Laws

1. God LOVES you and offers a wonderful PLAN for your life.

God's Love

"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" (John 3:16).

 

God's Plan
Jesus said,  "I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly" (John 10:10).

 

Why is it that most people are not experiencing the abundant life?  Because…

 

2. Man is SINFUL and SEPARATED from God. Therefore, he cannot know and experience God's love and plan for his life..

Man Is Sinful

"All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).

 

Man was created to have fellowship with God; but, because of his stubborn self-will, he chose to go his own independent way, and fellowship with God was broken. This self-will is an evidence of what the Bible calls sin.

 

Man Is Separated

"The wages of sin is death" [spiritual separation from God] (Romans 6:23).

 

3. Jesus Christ is God's ONLY provision for man's sin. Through Him you can know and experience God's love and plan for your life..

 

He Died in Our Place

"God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).

 

He Rose From the Dead

"Christ died for our sins...He was buried...He was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures...He appeared to Peter, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred..." (1 Corinthians 15:3-6).

 

He Is the Only Way to God

"Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me'" (John 14:6).

 

4. We must individually RECEIVE Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God's love and plan for our lives..

We Must Receive Christ

"As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name" (John 1:12).

 

We Receive Christ Through Faith

"By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast" (Eph 2:8,9).

 

When We Receive Christ, We Experience New Birth

Read John 3:1-8

 

We Receive Christ by Personal Invitation

Jesus said, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him." (Revelation 3:20).

 

 

Receiving Christ involves turning to God from self (repentance) and trusting Christ to come into our lives to forgive our sins and to make us what He wants us to be. Just to agree with our minds that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He died on the cross for our sins is not enough. Nor is it enough to have an emotional experience. We receive Jesus Christ by faith, as an act of the will.

 

D. Other Topics

Other topics may also provide you an opportunity for witnessing.  Some of the most significant are the Christian holidays which are celebrated by many people.  Holidays such as Christmas and Easter can provide great opportunities for sharing the real significance of these special times of year.  Other topics which people find in the news or are important topics in the secular world can also be used to share the gospel.

 

E. Other Key Texts 

1. John 1:12"But as many as received him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name."

2. John 3:16-17"For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.  For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him."

3. John 3:36, "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not by the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."

4. John 10:10, "I (Jesus) came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly."

5. John 14:3, "I (Jesus) go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."

6. Ephesians 2:8-9. "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast."

7. John 14:6, "I (Jesus) am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me."

8. 1 John 1:8, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."

9. 2 Corinthians 5:21, "He (God) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."  Righteousness is "rightness" or goodness.  It is being what we were meant to be.

10. 1 Peter 3:18, "For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.  He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit."

11. Romans 4:25, "He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification."  Justification means we are declared innocent.  We are legally without sin.

12. Acts 3:19, "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out."

13. Acts 26:20, "They should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds."

14. James 2:19, "You believe that there is one God.  Good!  Even the demons believe that -- and shudder" -- this shows that faith is more than just agreeing with something.

15. Matthew 7:21, "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."

16. Acts 2:41, "Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day" -- shows the need to be baptized after getting saved.

 

E. Further Suggestions

1. It is a good idea to avoid religious language.

Use terms which everyone will be familiar with.  There may be some terms, like "faith" or "repentance" which are hard to find substitutes for.  In that case be sure to clearly explain what they mean.  For example: "Repentance" does not mean simply feeling sorry for your sin. It is turning to God through Jesus and away from sin.  It is going the opposite direction from sin.  Similarly, "faith" is not just believing the facts about Jesus; it is putting your trust in Him.

 

2. Leading a person to Christ is not the end of evangelism, rather, it is the beginning.

A new believer is like a new born child.  Who would give birth to a newborn and then leave that baby to fend for itself?  The end of evangelism is the beginning of discipleship.  After leading someone to Christ, you are responsible to help this new Christian grow.  Teach them the necessity for baptism, studying the Bible, walking in the Spirit, and attending Church regularly.  Always remember that the goal of evangelism is not only to save a person from hell, but to make them useful instruments in the kingdom of God also.

 

Small Groups:

Break into groups of 3-4 people.  Pretend to be doing personal evangelism.  One or two people can be the unbelievers, and one or two the evangelists.  The evangelists should share the Gospel using one of the planned approaches mentioned above (try not to read from the notes if possible).  The unbelievers should respond in a realistic way.  After doing this for some time, switch roles and let the 'unbelievers' become the evangelists.

When you finish, discuss as a class the experience and what you learned. 

 

Chapter Six

Spiritual Warfare and Evangelism: Praying for the Lost

 

1. Introduction

A. The physical world in which we live is surrounded by a very real spiritual realm.

God, Satan, angels, and demons are all active around us.  God is working through his Holy Spirit to bring the lost to a restored relationship with himself, while the devil and his demons are attempting to stop this effort.

 

B. God and the devil are not equal.

In fact, the war has already been won by God!  The Bible teaches that sin, death, and Satan were defeated by Christ upon the cross: Colossians 2:13-14.

 

C. The enemy has been allowed to have some power until his final destruction  (Rev 20:10).

Although the war is won, there are still some battles to be fought.  The enemy can still cause problems, and still fights to keep as many people as possible out of God's Kingdom.

 

D. Our prayer is necessary in battling Satan for lost souls.

Our prayers are offered to bind, or put a stop to, the devil's work here on earth.  We are simply asking God to dramatically intervene in the lives of the lost, to put a halt to the devil's work in their lives, and to open their hearts to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

2. Spiritual Warfare and Evangelism

A. Eph 6:10-20

The enemy's strategy involves getting believers to walk as the world does.  In order for us to be effective witnesses for Jesus, our life must reflect our message.  We have to live what we preach.  Part of our witness is our daily life, and it is here that the devil will attack us.

 

B. 2 Cor 10:3-6

We do not fight this fight as the world does.  We do not depend on our own power, but on God.  In Christ we have the power to 'demolish strongholds.'  In order to win souls for the Kingdom of God, we have to confront the strongholds in the lives of people.  These strongholds represent the influence of the enemy in the lives of people.

 

C. 2 Cor 4:1-4

The enemy works to keep unbelievers from seeing the truth.  We have to overcome him and get the message through.  Before it is possible to see people respond to the Gospel, the battle must be won in prayer. The goal of spiritual warfare is to help people and glorify God.

 

D. Lk 11:14-22

The 'strong man' must be bound, or overcome.  How is he bound?  By the 'finger of God' -- the Holy Spirit

 

E. Matt 6:10

God's will is always done in heaven, but it not always on earth.  The earth is enemy territory.  Satan is the ruler of this world.  He is in rebellion against God, and tries to hinder God's work.  Although God is sovereign, for now the devil can resist God's work through his agents -- the "principalities and powers."

 

3. How to Fight

A. Pray (and Fast) -- Eph 6:18-20, 1 Tim 2:1-4;  Col 4:12;  Mk 9:14-29, Mk 3:22-27

 

B. Live a Godly Life -- Eph 5:8-16; 6:14-17

 

C. Speak the truth and point to Jesus -- 2 Cor 4:2-5

 

D. Cast out Demons -- Acts 10:38; 1 Jn 3:8, Matt 8:16; Acts 5:16; 16:16-18

 

E. Love -- 1 Cor 13:8; 1 Jn 4:18;

 

Prayer Time

Spend time as a class praying for the lost.

 

Chapter Seven

Handling Objections to the Faith

 

One thing you will most certainly find as you evangelize the lost are people who will have questions or objections to the Christian message.  Some will have honest questions which they would like you to answer for them.  Perhaps they have heard the gospel before, but one or two questions remain in their minds which cause them to reject Christianity.  Others will not be so honest.  Some people of other faiths or beliefs will often ask difficult questions as a means of "winning an argument."  Before beginning with the questions, there are a few points to cover:

 

1. Be honest at all times in your evangelism.

It is not a sin to not know an answer to a question.  If someone asks a question you cannot answer, tell them you do not know but you will try to find that answer.  If you tell a person you will find an answer for them, make an honest attempt to do so.

 

2. Your success in evangelism does not depend upon your ability to win an argument.

You are interested in winning people, not arguments.  Sometimes you can win the argument, but lose the person.

 

3. Be humble in your presentation.

Do not act as though you have all the answers to every deep  issue.

 

1. Is Christ the Only Way to God?

The answer, of course, is yes: Jesus is the only way to God.  But we must be careful in answering this question.  It is sometimes asked because the person has loved ones of another faith.  We must always show compassion and not an "I am right, you are wrong" attitude.

 

A. Scripture teaches that Jesus alone is the only way to God (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).

Many other verses teach this as well (1 Timothy 2:5; 1 Corinthians 3:11; John 3:36).  The Bible teaches that Jesus was the Son of God who died on a cross for the sins of mankind, was buried, rose from the dead, and ascended to the Father.

 

B. Two opposing religions cannot be true at the same time. 

 

C. Jesus taught that he is the only way for man to reach God.

He did not teach that He is merely the best way.  Either Jesus was a liar, or he was telling the truth.  If he was telling the truth, then all of these other religions are incorrect.  If Christianity is true, we must accept the teaching of Jesus and devote our total allegiance to him.

 

2. Why Do the Innocent Suffer?

"If God is all powerful and as good as you say he is, why do bad things happen to good people?  Why are children born blind?  Why are there wars?  Why does God not  intervene and put a stop to this evil?"  We have to confess that the Bible does not give a full answer to this subject, but we do have some information.

 

A. Genesis teaches that God's creation was good and not evil.

Through the free choice of Adam, mankind chose to turn from God towards sin.  Since that original sin, every person who has followed the first man has made that same choice.  This first sin not only left a negative example for Adam's offspring to follow, but also drastically changed the nature of the created world.  Paul describes this same idea in these terms: "We know that the whole creation has been groaning together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves. . . (Rom 8:22-23)."

 

B. God did not create sin or evil.

Sin and evil on earth were created and are continually created by mankind through his free choice.  Therefore, bad things that happen are a part of the fallen world.

 

C. "Why does God not rid the world of evil?"

Although it is true that God is just and hates evil, we must realize that if God simply destroyed all evil, no human being would survive.  There is some evil in every person.  The Bible says that one day he will destroy evil, but He is waiting because He first wants to save many people from that destruction (2 Pet 3:9).

 

3. Will a Good Moral Life Get Me into Heaven?

"I will make it to heaven -- I'm not that bad."  However, let me give you an illustration which will show the faults with this type of thinking.  Suppose every person on earth is lined up on the southern tip of the continent of Africa.  We are all told that we must swim to America.

 

There are three particular men on the beach that day.  The first is a very moral university professor.  He has always been kind and considerate to others.  He has been faithful to his wife.  He works hard at his job.  This man has swam 100 kilometers.

 

The second man is a student.  He occasionally does some things that he knows are wrong.  He will sometimes cheat on an exam.  He will occasionally get drunk with his friends.  He gets into some trouble, but he is not that bad -- he is not headed to prison.  This man has swam 50 kilometers.

 

The third man is a wicked man.  He has done everything imaginable in life that is immoral and unjust.  This man is practically drowning 50 meters off of the shore.

 

Among these three men are people from every walk of life.  Some, like the professor, can swim amazingly far.  Others barely get off of the beach.  The difference between them is great, but the end result for them all is the same.  No one will make it all the way to America.  Everyone will drown.

 

What is needed is not a lesson on swimming, but someone to carry them to America in a boat!  This is what Jesus has done through the shedding of his blood on the cross.  He is the only way that we can make it.  Apart from Christ, every human is headed for destruction.

 

Chapter Eight

Principles of Evangelism

 

The Process of Evangelism

 

Not everyone you talk to is ready to receive Jesus. Most people do not receive Jesus the first time they hear about Him. Over a period of time, they move closer. We must learn to recognize where they are in relation to Jesus and help them to come closer.

 

The evangelist's goal should not be to try to force a person to receive Jesus, but to see where they are, and to help them move closer to Jesus until they are able to receive him.

 

1. What Draws People to Jesus?

A. A demonstration of love (If the world sees your love, they will believe your message)

 

B. A demonstration of God's power (Romans 15:17-19)

 

C. A personal need or problem (Mark 9:24)

 

2. Principles for Effective Evangelism

A. Develop an intimate, experiential relationship with Jesus

 

B. Be genuine -- let your motivation be compassion (Matt 9:35-36)

1. Your goal is to help people and glorify God, not 'win converts'

 

2. Demonstrate that you care for the person, however they respond (Matt 5:43-48)

*. love has nothing to do with the one loved -- we love them even if they do not deserve to be loved  (Rom 5:5-8)

 

3. Find out about them -- Listen!

 

4. Honor people -- they are created by God!  They are worth Jesus to God!

 

C. Learn to operate in God's supernatural power

1. Evangelism is a supernatural activity

2. God's power is available through His gifts

3. Pray for people in any setting -- even if they do not believe

4. Pray for deliverance, and set them free from oppression

 

D. Be willing to sacrifice to reach people (2 Tim 2:10, Col 1:24)

 

E. Operate through relationships -- get to know unbelievers, and encourage your congregation to do the same.

 

F. Be led by the Holy Spirit  (what to say, when to stop, who to talk to,...)

 

G. Share the Person of Jesus, not only a Plan

*. We have the opportunity to introduce people to the person of Jesus!  It is Jesus who saves, not following certain steps or doing certain things.

 

Evangelistic Campaigns

 

Discussion Groups

Tell about one or more evangelistic campaigns you have been part of.  What methods were used.  What were the results?  Did the church grow?  What worked very well?  How could the campaign have been more fruitful?  What have you learned about evangelism outreaches through your experiences?

 

Many times we conduct evangelistic campaigns without seeing results, and yet we continue to do things the same way as always.  Here are a few points in helping to have more success in our evangelism.  Each one is very important, and ignoring it can cause the entire effort to fail.

 

A. Intercession and spiritual warfare

There are spiritual forces in your area that do not want you to succeed.  These must be dealt with in prayer.  Begin praying for the outreach far in advance, and ask the Lord to show you strongholds and how to bring them down.  Also, have people designated to continually pray during the time of the actual evangelism.

 

B. Unity

A lack of unity among believers will often quench the Spirit.  Jesus said they will know we are His because of our love (Jn 13:35).  This unity must be on two levels:

 

1. Within your congregation

If there is strife within your own congregation, you should take the time to first resolve the conflict before beginning the evangelistic outreach.  This does not mean things must be perfect in your church before you can preach the Gospel, but you need to make an effort to have unity.

 

2. Between churches

It is very important for the Christian leaders in the area to be together in the work of evangelism.  Do not conduct outreaches only to benefit your church, but make it clear that you want all churches to grow as a result of your preaching the Gospel.

 

 

C. Believers living the Gospel

1. "Be my witnesses" (Acts 1:8).  The Holy Spirit is given to believers so that they will be witnesses for Jesus.  This means living lives so filled with the power of the Holy Spirit that unbelievers are attracted to you and to Jesus who is in you.

 

2. The Bible commands us to "Live lives worthy of the Gospel"  (see Col 1:10, Phil 1:27, Eph 5:8).  One reason for this is because in some part the success of our evangelism is based on what the unbelievers know about how Christians live.  Paul commended the Thessalonians because the Gospel "rang out from them" to all places (1 Thess 1:8).  This was not because they were great preachers, but because they were known as people who lived the Gospel – people who lived lives of power.  See also 1 Thess 4:11.  Paul wanted them to live good lives, knowing that preaching would bear more fruit if they did.

 

D. Use more than one method.

We are very familiar with crusades, but they are not always effective by themselves.  What are some other methods you can use also?

 

E. Get many people involved

Do not do all the work yourself, but encourage the believers to give some time to this ministry.

 

F. Love the lost – see Rom 9:1-4; 1 Cor 9:19-23

Do not evangelize just because you love to preach or you want more people in your church.  Ask the Lord to give you a deep love and compassion for the lost, so that you would be willing to do anything to see them saved.

 

Chapter Nine:  Conclusion

Making It Hard for People to go to Hell

 

A pastor friend of mine told me once that his goal in ministry was to make it hard for people to go to hell from the city in which he ministered.  He continued that some people would go to hell because they were determined to do so, but he would not make it easy for them.  The entire ministry of his growing church comes from this basic philosophy.  The church is actively involved in spiritual warfare and evangelism.  Every Monday morning, this senior pastor gives a copy of the obituary page of the local Sunday newspaper to every church minister.  This page lists all of the deaths that occurred in the city throughout the week.

 

I asked him once why he did this.  He answered that on this page were people who had died without knowing Jesus Christ and were now in an eternal hell.  How many people going to hell in this city depended in part on how well each person in that church did their job.  In other words, this pastor took seriously his duty of praying for and evangelizing the lost world.

 

Evangelism is the primary purpose of the church.  God could find some other way of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ, but he has chosen to use us.  We should therefore be very serious in our evangelistic efforts.  We cannot rely only on those who are the gifted evangelists.  Rather, God has mandated that we all partake in this great undertaking.

 

A. The Cross

The cross of Jesus stands at the center of the gospel message.  To the world it is a symbol of foolishness (1 Cor 1:23), weakness (2 Cor 13:4), and cursedness (Gal 3:13).  The world despises it.  In the first century, Christians were laughed at because they worshipped a God who had died on a cross.

 

In Gal 6:12-17, Paul gives us two clues as to why the cross is often despised [read this passage].

 

(1) the cross wounds our pride.  The cross shows us that there are things that are out of our control.  God has done the work necessary for our salvation.  There is nothing for us to do but to accept this fact.  We often attempt to control God by means of religion.  The Galatians did this by promoting the necessity of circumcision (6:12-13).  We do the same thing when we try to "do things" for God.  This is a way of attempting to control our own destinies.  But we cannot.  In the end, God is the one in control.

 

(2) the cross is offensive because the cross changes our values.  Most of us have been taught to respect strength and power while despising weakness.  Yet when we embrace the cross, we turn our thoughts away from the world.  Through the cross, the world becomes crucified to us (6:14), we become new creations open to the spiritual rather than the physical realm (6:15), we begin to walk in peace and mercy (6:17), and we, like Paul, bear the marks of Jesus (6:17).

 

B. Priesthood of all Believers -- 1 Pet 2:9-12

The Bible is clear that all believers are responsible to be witnesses for Jesus.  As leaders, we have the responsibility to motivate, train, and encourage our people to proclaim the Gospel.    Mt 9:37-38, Acts 1:8, Eph 4:11-12

 

C. "Preach the Gospel at all times, if necessary use words."

Of course, it is necessary to use words to share the Gospel, but our words are worthless if our lives do not agree.  If we can develop congregations full of loving, Christ-like saints, walking in the fruit of the Spirit, then our evangelism will be much more effective (1 Pet 3:1-2).

 

D. Love and Accept

Jesus was known as a friend of sinners.  If we were not so afraid of that title, we would be more effective.  Jesus calls us to love the sinner, but hate the sin.  By His power, we can do just that.  However, if we are more concerned with our reputation than with the souls of the lost, we will not reach as many as we should (see Lk 7:36-39)

 

E. Be Bold in the Holy Spirit

-- Acts 1:8, 4:29-30; Rom 1:16; 2 Tim 1:7

God has given us the Holy Spirit in order to help us to be bold and powerful in our witness for Jesus.  We need to not be afraid, but to take advantage of the opportunities the Lord provides.