I’m introducing a new section to my blog entitled “Adventures in Evangelism.” In the tradition of great men of God such as Ichabod Spencer, I plan to chronicle my interactions with unbelievers (and ‘professing’ believers) as I share the gospel message with them. I sincerely hope that this is an area that I can journal on with consistent frequency over the years. Evangelism of the lost should be an essential staple in the believer’s diet of daily living. Admittedly, if I had kept a journal of all my evangelical efforts over the past 11 years, it would amount to little more than a puny pamphlet of pathetic pronouncements.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’ve witnessed to many people since I’ve been redeemed, with mixed results, but it has never been consistent and ongoing. I would often times feel frustrated and discouraged in my efforts. This would lead to long droughts of ‘mime evangelism’. That is, letting my actions do the witnessing for me. I wrongly believed that this in itself was just as effective as public proclamation of the gospel.
I have now come to understand the source of my frustrations. For 10 years I don’t believe I had a firm, well-rounded understanding of the gospel message. This made it difficult for me to convincingly convey the weightiness of man’s condenmation through the law. In fact I was taught to avoid making people feel bad about themselves and their fallen state!
I did not present Christ as a Savior from sins and God’s wrath but rather as a soothing therapeutic solution for the lack of personal fulfillment in everyday life. I marketed Jesus as the great adventure, the thrill ride of a lifetime.
‘Get onboard with Jesus and you’ll never have a dull moment! Oh yeah, you need to ask for forgiveness and trust him and stuff, but once you get past the initial rituals, Well, just hold on pardner!’
One of the myriad of problems with this approach is that it falls on deaf ears for those people who are quite content with their lives. Some people just don’t need any more excitement and fulfillment than they already have on their plate.
The bigger problem is that it is not the biblical approach to salvation. God commands all people everywhere to repent of their sins and run to Christ for salvation from the fierce wrath of God almighty. If a person’s sins aren’t covered by the blood of Jesus then he must receive the wages of those sins in hell.
God has since enlightened my understanding of the true gospel message. It is a poetic balance between law and grace. The law is a schoolmaster that drives a sinner to his knees in humiliy because of his total inability to keep it. Grace is the gift of God’s mercy and compassion on undeserving sinners, setting them free from the guilt and burden of their sins freely through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
Careful discernment is required to gauge a sinner’s disposition about his corrupted condition. Someone who thinks he is a good person who God will accept apart from the blood of the lamb needs a healthy dose of the ten commandments to humble him. Then, once contrite, preach to him the grace of God through Jesus Christ.
However, if a person comes to you brokenly, already under heavy conviction of sin, asking “What must I do to be saved?” Introduce him to the grace of Christ. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Do not present the law! It is not necessary. The Holy Spirit is already doing a mighty work in him. Point to God’s promise of salvation through repentance and faith in God’s only begotten Son.
it sounds easy enough, right! Like I heard a preacher say once. “ministry would be great if it wasn’t for the people!”
The human heart is hard, cold and unyielding. People erect walls of rationale, barriers of logic and barbed wire of unbelief to keep the gospel message from shining into their hearts, exposing the wickedness within. It’s understandable. I was that way for 23 years. It’s not excusable, though. Nobody gets a free pass at the judgment seat because of the condition of their heart.
Only the Holy Spirit can transform cold stone into a heart of flesh.
This knowledge evaporated my greatest fear in evangelism; the fear of failure. I used to be afraid that I wasn’t smart enough, persuasive enough or anointed enough to bring souls into the kingdom. I now know, “...it is not of the one willing, nor of the one running, but of God, the One showing mercy.”(Rom 9:16)
The Lord predestines certain souls to eternal life. Those He predestines, He calls. Those He calls, He justifies. Those He justifies, He glorifies. (See Rom 8:29-30).
My ministry to the lost is the means God uses to achieve His ends. If I am faithful to the scriptures and plant a pure gospel seed in the soil of men’s hearts, I cannot fail to be a soul winner. God is the worker of miracles in man’s heart. This is all the encouragement any of us should need to witness to our neighbors, co-workers, family members or friends.
All for the Glory of God!
Now, on to the adventure!