Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Thoughts on Evangelism

1. Our evangelism needs to be biblical. Here we begin with the obvious.

a. Methods: How is evangelism done in the Bible?  What does the Bible say we are to preach?  In Scripture the means matter. We can’t just say we want to save souls and how we get there is irrelevant. Means do matter, though God is free to work outside those means.
b. Aim: The aim of evangelism must be biblical as well. The aim should be faithfulness to God, glorifying God, and making disciples.

2. Christ’s authority is the objective motivation for evangelism. This authority comes from his life, death upon the cross, but especially from his resurrection from the dead. Here is where a good understanding of biblical eschatology is necessary. I am not referring to pre-mil, or a-mil, or post-mil. I am talking about the belief that Jesus reigns right now.  His authority is absolute. Matthew 28:18. What hope do we have that our evangelism will be effective? Why can you and I pray with confidence? Christ’s rule drives out fear.  Men who shrunk back in fear before the crucifixion went willingly to the gallows after the resurrection.

3. Our own salvation forms the subjective motivation for evangelism.  We have been saved and redeemed. We have been bought by the blood of Jesus Christ. We have brought out the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of light. We are sitting at the Table.  We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  Yet we do not have a heart to see others brought into the same Kingdom. Why?
a. Examples: Gadarene Demoniac (Mark 5:18-20)
b. We must be motivated by a love of Christ and love of our neighbor, not by guilt.
c. Our failure to love our community is a failure to love Christ.
d. Pride is one of the greatest deterrents to evangelism.

4. The lifeblood of evangelism is prayer in faith. (Ephesians 6:19) Here is where your Calvinism meets the real world.  Do you believe that only God can convert men? Then do you pray?  Do you think that if we get the right program, the right man, the right attitude then men will be converted? Do you believe that if we just do this or do that we will save the lost? Oh, what fools we are if we think this way. Prayer must not be the end of our evangelism. But it must be the beginning.

5. We should be training full-time evangelists.  (Ephesians 4:11)

a. By evangelist, I mean a man specifically trained to preach the Gospel to the lost.  I see him as an extension of a local church who evangelizes locally.
b. This is not an abdication of the local church’s job.  It is the local church doing its job. None of say when we send a missionary off to Africa that the members of the sending church have abdicated their role in world missions. We say exactly the opposite. They have fulfilled their role. So it is with a local evangelist.
c. Practical reason 1: Time. Most of us can only witness occasionally. An evangelist can witness daily.
d. Practical Reason 2: Training. An evangelist can be trained in apologetics and in how to preach the word. His skills will be refined by the constant interaction with pagans.
e. That means your money is a key to evangelism. Does this sound materialistic? (See Philippians 4:10-19)

6. Evangelism is about bringing someone into the Church, not just bringing them to Christ.  Evangelism is not about just about conversion. It is about discipleship. Discipleship requires the fellowship of the saints, the preached word, and worship.

7. Good discipleship is essential for good evangelism.  So many churches sacrifice one in the name of the other.

a. Doctrine: The better someone knows what Christ has done for them the more motivation they should have to evangelize.
b. Life: If we are not growing in holiness then we will not evangelize with power.  A failure to grow in holiness cuts our power source.  It is not the world sees our lack of holiness and does not turn to Christ. It is more that the Spirit sees our lack of holiness and withdraws his power. (See Acts 19:13-16)

8. We make disciples so that God might be worshipped through Christ in the power of the Spirit.  The end of evangelism is every tongue and tribe and nation conformed to the image of Christ, gathered around the throne offering Spirit filled praise to God.

9. Everyday Evangelism for Everyday Believers

a. Holy living is a one of the primary ways the average Christian preaches Christ. As we are formed into Christ’s character we become a light to a lost world. This does not mean we never speak of Christ. In fact, it means we should be speaking of Christ all the time.  We should talk of him we walk, sit down or rise up.  Not only is this the primary way we evangelize, it is foundational to everything else we do.  We do not lead holy lives when people are watching. We try to lead holy lives all the time and if people happen see great. And if they do not great.
i. Illustration: If we do not pray regularly over our meals at home, but we do out in public to “be a witness” we are hypocrites. But if we pray at home and then also pray out in public we are merely doing what we always do. We are being consistent. If you are consistent then

b. We need to be ready to point to Christ with our words. Colossians 4:5-6, I Peter 3:13-17. Too often we become pragmatic Christians when we are questioned on why we do things the way we do. Why do you men not go to strip clubs? We say, “Because it is a waste of money.”  Why do you work so hard? We say, “I want to get that promotion.”  Why do you submit to your husband? We say, “Oh, he treats me so good, why wouldn’t I listen.”  These are not wrong answers, but they are weak and leave Christ out of the picture. You are a Christian. What if instead of saying those things we said that we want to honor Christ? We do not do this enough. So our words are empty and do not strike men to the heart.  We play it safe.  When an unbeliever asks us why, we need to make sure Christ makes his way into the conversation.

c. Have children and raise them in the ways of Christ. I guarantee you the greatest chance most of us have of making disciples is raising godly children. So have a lot and teach them well. Tell them about Jesus and his work. Teach them to worship the living God. Teach them to repent of their sins and turn to this merciful God.  Teach them to love their neighbor as themselves. Bring them before the Lord in prayer and pray with them. The world is filled with Christians who are more concerned with witnessing to their neighbors than they are about raising godly children.

d. Finally, look at who God regularly brings into your life. Who do you work with? Who do you see at the park or at the gym? Who are the family members you see on a regular basis? For most of us these regular contacts will form the core of your evangelistic efforts.  Pray for them. Invite them into your home. Look for opportunities to tell that about Christ. If you do not have a family look for opportunities to witness at the mall or at colleges in the area.

e. Col. 4:5-6, I Thess. 1:6-10, 14, I Peter 3:13-17, 2:11-12, 3:1ff, Matt. 5:13-16

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Let the saints be joyful in glory, let them sing aloud on their beds, let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two edged sword in their hand, to execute vengeance on the nations, and punishments on the peoples; to bind the kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron. Psalm 149:5-8