Monday, March 6, 2017

Being Intentional about Evangelism

Some years ago, theologian Norman Geisler wrote a candid article in which he wrote the following:

“I have a confession to make. I was a director for a Christian youth organization for three years, a minister for nine years, a Bible college teacher for six years, and in all that time I did not witness for Jesus Christ. I scarcely ever shared my faith one-to-one with other people.” Geisler offered several reasons for this: He didn’t think he had the gift of evangelism. He felt instead his gift was that of teaching the Word to those already Christians. He had read a book that had turned away his zeal for personal evangelism. He had known someone who had practiced impersonal, cold-turkey evangelism, and Geisler had determined that “lifestyle” evangelism was more desirable. But as a result, he lived a Christian life but seldom vocalized his witness to an unsaved person.

Eventually, Geisler became convicted by the words of a little song that said: “Lead me to some soul today, / O teach me, Lord, just what to say.” Those words became a sincere prayer for him, and his life began to change.

One day, having prayed that prayer, he was approached by a girl from the college where he taught. She had spiritual needs in her life, and he was able to lead her to Christ. (She later went to South America as a missionary).

Shortly afterward, Geisler volunteered to participate in a Monday night visitation program at his church. On his first outing, he found himself knocking on the door of a man who turned out to be an atheist. “Do you mind if we ask you a very serious spiritual question?” asked Geisler, when the man came to the door. After a long conversation and a couple of visits, the man prayed to receive Christ and then was baptized. (He is now a deacon in a church with his family committed to Christ as well.)

Of evangelism, Geisler says: The most rewarding experiences I’ve had in my Christian life, have not come from teaching, shepherding, or ministering around the world. They have come from meeting with non-Christians and seeing one after another come to know Christ.

Perhaps it was for the joy of sharing Christ that Peter once wrote the following…

“Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”1 Peter 3:15

O to be an evangelist! O for the chance to give an answer for the hope that you have! In this post I want to think about evangelism and how we do it.

D.T. Niles once said that “Evangelism is one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread.” The great Puritan writer and preacher John Bunyan once said that an evangelist is “a man who has his eyes up to heaven, the best of books in his hand, has the law of truth written upon his lips, and he stands as if he is pleading with men.”

And we must be intentional as we plead with the lost of this world. But of course, it is God who is most intentional as we share the gospel. In fact, success in evangelism is simply taking the initiative to share Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, then leaving the results to God.

So, how do we share the gospel? Well, I want to give you three things you must do to be more intentional in sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with your family, your friends, and your neighbors. I believe that if you will take hold of these three things, you will be more intentional as an evangelist of the Lord Jesus Christ.


Now when I say, “Share Your Story” that is exactly what I mean. Whether you know it or not, you already possess the most powerful witnessing tool that God ever invented. It is not an extravagant evangelistic program, and it is not something that takes a lot of training. What you have, that no one else has, is the story of how you became a Christian and how God is presently working in your life – That’s it!

Once Jesus healed a demon-possessed man & the man begged to go with Jesus on His travels – "No, go home to your friends, and tell them what wonderful things the Lord has done for you and how merciful he has been."Mark 5:19 (NLT)

What did Jesus tell the man he had healed? Jesus said, “Go home & share your story.” Now how do you tell your story? My friends, you simply tell your friends and loved ones what Christ has done for you, how you have repented of your sinful life, and how God is working in your life today. You don’t have to be a walking theological encyclopedia to tell others your story. I’ve had people ask me how long they need to be a Christian before they begin telling others about Christ – my answer: About two seconds! Once you’ve experienced salvation yourself, you are ready to tell others about it.


One of the most important questions we can ask as a church is this: Do we want our church to be a New Testament church? Now, most of us will unequivocally say yes. Now, when we say we want to be a New Testament church, I believe we mean this: we desire for our church to be characterized by a vibrant, evangelistic spirit that witnesses the power of God transforming lives.

So, what would it look like if it we patterned our ministry after churches in the New Testament? Would we expect God to transform those who are enslaved to immorality, those addicted to drugs, or those enmeshed in difficult relationships? Of course we would! God doesn’t just work in the lives of good people who just need a little "tweaking"?

God is ready to transform lives! But unfortunately many churches are not reaching the unchurched because they do not have a church culture that encourages intentional efforts to bring the lost to Christ. They do not have a church that loves…the unchurched. And yet God has called to unequivocally love the lost.

All newness of life is from God, who brought us back to Himself through what Christ did. And God has given us the task of reconciling people to Him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, no longer counting people's sins against them. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others. – 2 Cor. 5:18-19 (NLT)

Don’t you want to tell that message to others? Don’t you want to love the lost of this world enough to tell them the Gospel and share your story? The great English evangelist Charles Spurgeon, once said, “Our great object of glorifying God is to be mainly achieved by the winning of souls…” 

Be like the anonymous elevator operator at a hospital in Nashville who once said, “I’m just a nobody telling everybody about somebody who can save anybody.” If you’re going to be intentional about being an evangelist, you’re going to love the lost; you’re going to love the unchurched. Pray to God to have a heart for the lost. Commit also to developing relationships with the lost.


Let me give you an example of explaining the gospel in greater detail. This is but one way, and there are many variations. Here we go...

God created us for his glory

God made us to magnify his greatness - the way telescopes magnify stars. He created us to put his goodness and truth and beauty and wisdom and justice on display. The greatest display of God's glory comes from deep delight in all that he is. This means that God gets the praise and we get the pleasure. God created us so that he is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.

"Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth,... whom I created for my glory." (Isaiah 43:6-7)

Every human should live for God's glory

If God made us for his glory, it is clear that we should live for his glory. Our duty comes from his design. So our first obligation is to show God's value by being satisfied with all that he is for us. This is the essence of loving God (Matthew 22:37) and trusting him (1 John 5:3-4) and being thankful to him (Psalm 100:2-4) It is the root of all true obedience, especially loving others (Colossians 1:4-5).

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31)

All of us have failed to glorify God as we should

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

What does it mean to "fall short of the glory of God?" It means that none of us has trusted and treasured God the way we should. We have not been satisfied with his greatness and walked in his ways. We have sought our satisfaction in other things, and treated them as more valuable than God, which is the essence of idolatry (Romans 1:21-23). Since sin came into the world we have all been deeply resistant to having God as our all-satisfying treasure (Ephesians 2:3). This is an appalling offense to the greatness of God (Jeremiah 2:12-13).

All of us are subject to God's just condemnation

"The wages of sin is death..." (Romans 6:23)

We have all belittled the glory of God. How? By preferring other things above him. By our ingratitude, distrust and disobedience. So God is just in shutting us out from the enjoyment of his glory forever. "They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might" (2 Thessalonians 1:9).

The word "hell" is used in the New Testament fourteen times—twelve times by Jesus himself. It is not a myth created by dismal and angry preachers. It is a solemn warning from the Son of God who died to deliver sinners from its curse. We ignore it at great risk.

If the Bible stopped here in its analysis of the human condition, we would be doomed to a hopeless future. However, this is not where it stops...

God sent his only son Jesus to provide eternal life and joy

"Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners..." (1 Timothy 1:15)

The good news is that Christ died for sinners like us. And he rose physically from the dead to validate the saving power of his death and to open the gates of eternal life and joy (1 Corinthians 15:20). This means God can acquit guilty sinners and still be just (Romans 3:25-26).

"For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God" (1 Peter 3:18).

Coming home to God is where all deep and lasting satisfaction is found.

The benefits purchased by the death of Christ belong to those who repent and trust him and are baptized into His triune name

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

"Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31).

“Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)

Forgiveness of sins.
The Gift of the Holy Spirit.

"He who believes in me," Jesus says, "shall never thirst(John 6:35). We do not earn our salvation. We cannot merit it (Romans 4:4-5). It is by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). It is a free gift (Romans 3:24). We will have it if we cherish it above all things (Matthew 13:44). When we do that, God's aim in creation is accomplished: He is glorified in us and we are satisfied in him - forever.

My prayer for you is that you will be more intentional as an evangelist. I pray that you will share your story. I pray that you will love the unchurched. Finally, I pray you will come to understand the Gospel in a deeper way.

The great Puritan preacher Richard Baxter once cried out:

“O, if you have the hearts of Christians in you, let them yearn towards your poor, ungodly neighbor. Alas, there is but a step between them and death and hell. Many hundreds of diseases are waiting, to seize on them, and if they die unregenerate, they are lost forever. Have you hearts of rock that cannot pity men in such a case as this?

Let us have hearts that would serve the Master.