Posts Tagged ‘Evangelism’
I have met Christians who tell me that they have been saved for years but have never shared their faith. I once read a report that said that less than 2% of people ever share their faith. That is a sad percentage if true.
The duty of the disciple of Jesus is to preach the gospel to all. All four Gospels reveal this truth:
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
47 And that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”
These Scriptures are clear that we all are called to evangelize. As we worship God, we begin to have His heart for the lost (2 Peter 3:9). We begin to know that God does not delight in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:32). In fact, the LORD even says in Ezekiel 18:32 that He would have the sinner turn and live. This comes through the preaching of the gospel (Romans 10:17). As Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20), we are called to preach the message of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).
Now many of us are fearful of man. I have been there. I will be there. Sometimes I get nervous when witnessing. I am no Ray Comfort. I am no great preacher who was a great soul winner. I simply do have a heart for the lost. I want to see them saved. It breaks my heart to know that hell awaits the sinner. I believe that Jesus gave His life for the souls of men and He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). I believe John 3:16 is true and that God wants to save the sinner (1 Timothy 2:3-4). I admit that I have even passed up clear opportunities to preach the gospel to the lost (God forgive me).
Yet gospel tracts are good for us all. You may never been an open air preacher. You may never be a soul winner who steps up on the soap box to share the gospel. But you can pass out gospel tracts. Gospel tracts are fast, effective ways to spread the gospel. God can (and does) use gospel tracts. Gospel tracts plant seeds for the gospel to come forth. Gospel tracts can be an effective way to spread the message of Christ quickly and to many people in crowds. Gospel tracts can be placed in many places from restaurants, gas stations, Wal-Mart, groceries stores, banks, etc. You can leave gospel tracts all over the place. I do believe that the best place to leave a gospel tract is in the hands of a person. While God certainly may use a gospel tract found at a site, when you place them in a person’s hand, you can know that the person will at least read the tracts.
What should you look for in a good gospel tract?
1. One that is attractive to the eye. You want people to want to read the tract.
2. Durable. One that will not tear easily or is hard to read after being in a pocket for a while.
3. Small. I prefer tracts that are about the size of a business card. This allows the tracts to placed in a person’s hand and they in turn put it in their pocket and often are read later.
4. Inexpensive. Don’t be fooled into purchasing expensive gospel tracts. Most gospel tracts are well under $10.
5. Purchase gospel tracts that deal with the person’s sin through the law of God (Romans 7:7; Galatians 3:23-26) and exalt Jesus as the Savior from our sins (Matthew 1:21). I avoid tracts that have the sinner’s prayer as the response. I look for gospel tracts that preach salvation through Christ alone and call the sinner to repent (Acts 2:38).
6. Avoid tracts that focus on non-essentials. I avoid tracts that deal with doctrinal issues or the KJV only issue. Some KJV only tracts will say things at the end about find a good church that uses the KJV. This is not helpful in evangelism at all. None are saved by a Bible translation but through Christ alone (Galatians 2:15-16).
Gospel tracts are great for new and old Christians. They help us break out of our comfort zones to preach the gospel to the lost. Below are several good tract providers.
You are called to evangelism. Never forget these words. The idea that only evangelists should do evangelism is not found in the New Testament. I don’t doubt that God has called people to be evangelists (Ephesians 4:11). Acts 21:8 calls Philip “the evangelist.” The term “evangelical” comes from the same Greek word. The word evangelism means “to preach (or bring) the good news.” This what evangelicals were to be known for, for bringing the good news of Christ Jesus to the world.
In this sense of the word, every disciple of Jesus is called to preach the good news to all (Mark 16:15). The Spirit of God equips us to be witnesses for Christ to all nations (Acts 1:8). Paul said that we are Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). We are all called, every single member of the Church, to share the good news of Christ.
So how do we do this? What is an effective way to communicate the gospel to the lost? I would admit that not everyone is called to be an open air preacher. Not all of us have speaking gifts to be able to communicate to a crowd. I myself don’t have a loud voice to preach with in the open air. I still would open air preach but I fear that I would sound like I am yelling rather than lifting up my voice to speak loud to the crowds. I don’t want to sound angry or trying to just yell at folks. Further, in open air preaching you don’t have long to communicate to your crowds. Most will hear you for about 2 minutes before moving on. You must be quick to preach the gospel to those passing by. This requires you to be a good communicator of the gospel. Some are and some are not.
Gospel tracts provide all of us with the opportunity to preach the gospel to the lost. A tract given to a person will sometimes go along ways in planting a seed for the gospel. Always bear in mind that God is sovereign in salvation and He will use our weak tools to draw sinners to Himself. Gospel tracts may or may not lead someone to repentance but they plant a seed for the gospel (1 Corinthians 3:6-8). Gospel tracts can even open the door for more in-depth conversations with the person about the gospel.
I recommend that good gospel tracts be: eye-catching, use the Law to convict of sin (Romans 7:7), and point sinners to Christ alone for salvation (Acts 13:38-39). I avoid tracts that have “the sinner’s prayer” in them. I even purchased some Gospel of John’s in the ESV but they contained the sinner’s prayer in the back so I had my little boy tear all of them out. The best gospel tracts come from Living Waters Ministries or One Million Tracts. I also encourage you to join the Bezeugen Gospel Tract Club. Each month you’ll receive 30 tracts to pass out. These tracts are solid tracts with the gospel message. I make it my goal to pass out all 30 tracts well before the next ones arrive the next month.
I have met a few people who despise gospel tracts. I once had breakfast with such a man and I asked him why he despised gospel tracts. He talked about them being offensive, a waste of paper, a waste of time, and about how they were not as effective as “friendship evangelism.” I asked him how many people had he seen repent from this method (not to compare methods with methods) in his life. He became quiet. I told him something along the lines of, “It is not about the method I am focused on. It is the gospel. I fear that you are not sharing your faith at all and you are seeking to tear up passing out tracts because you don’t share your own faith and this bothers you to know that others do share their faith.” He said, “Well, I admit that I think faith should be between you and God and you shouldn’t push it on others.” I told him, “What do you think of Charles Spurgeon’s words that you are either a missionary or a mission field?” He again grew quiet. Each Christian is called to preach the good news. Jesus didn’t give us a suggestion in Matthew 28:19 but a command. I believe tracts allow the gospel to go forth. Only God knows the number of souls that will be saved from them. Why worry about that anyway since Christ alone is the Savior?
I urge you to order good gospel tracts and begin to share your faith with the lost. I pray that Jesus is exalted as you go.
I have been reading the excellent book, Killing Calvinism, in which the author states from John Piper that the Calvinist should make George Whitefield and Charles Spurgeon your examples for Calvinistic ministries and not John Calvin. Piper said that the reason for this is that Whitefield and Spurgeon were known for soul winning but Calvin was not. A great point. I will have a review coming of this book soon.
I do agree. I love the ministries of Whitefield and Spurgeon. While I don’t agree fully with their Calvinism and I believe they were not consistent with their Calvinistic theology in regard to preaching the gospel to the lost, I do admire them greatly. In fact, I named my second born son after Charles Spurgeon. I named him Haddon Spurgeon. I would love for my Haddon to be a man of God who also preaches with fire to the lost. Oh that he would be a great man of prayer! Oh that my little boy would grow to be a godly disciple of the Lord Jesus!
In my own life, it is men of God such as Whitefield, Spurgeon, Wesley, or Leonard Ravenhill who capture my heart more than any theologian. I appreciate great theologians and their labors for the kingdom. I have no doubt that the Church needs great theologians but I love when theology and fire mix together. Wesley was such a man. He would ride on his horse and would read from theology books. Wesley could read in both Greek and Latin. He would often spend hours reading from various Latin works. His journals reflect a deep thinker yet they show his heart for the lost. John Wesley was a deep man of faith, a man of intense prayer. He and George Whitefield would pray for hours. They would converse together about their ministries and yes they did debate theology but they loved Christ and loved His kingdom. Later John Wesley would preach the funeral of his great friend, Whitefield, and if you read his sermon, it is a heart-moving praise of the great saint of God.
Sadly, theologians often are not know for soul winning. Soul winners are often men of fire but sometimes they are not known for their theology. I would love to see God raise up both in one. We need to be soul winners who love the Word of God, who long to see the lost saved but who also love the precious doctrines of Scripture. We need to do both, set apart Christ as Lord but also to be able to answer all those who question our faith (1 Peter 3:15). We need to watch both our life and doctrine (1 Timothy 4:16). Doctrine and life go hand in hand. We need both the mind of a theologian and a heart of an evangelist. We need the Holy Spirit to empower us to be witnesses for Christ both in our lives and in our words (Acts 1:8).
John Piper is absolutely correct: make great soul winners your model. Make Spurgeon, Whitefield, Wesley, and even great saints such as J. Edwin Orr as models of men of God who loved the Word of God and loved souls. We need to learn, as they did, that we should glorify God with our hearts and with our passions. God can greatly use this for His glory and I pray that He does.
In my previous post I talked about the blog, Rethinking Hell. There are some, myself included in this, who have preached hell to the lost thinking that this was the best way to evangelize. Sort of “scare them” into the kingdom. My thinking was that hell is such a terrible place that if we preach what hell is like then people will repent and be saved.
I now believe this type of evangelism is not effective. Why?
First, “hell fire and brimstone” preaching doesn’t produce people who love God. They just fear hell. They don’t love Jesus for His work on the cross other than having a fire insurance policy that allows them to escape from eternal torment. If anything, they still fear Satan more than they fear God. Remember Jesus’ words in Luke 12:4-5 (NKJV):
4 “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!
Notice Who it is who casts into hell. It is God. Not Satan. In fact, Revelation 20:10 says that the devil will be himself cast into hell.
While we are called to fear God (Proverbs 1:7), fear doesn’t lead us to love God but only to tremble before Him. We should fear God (Romans 11:20-22) but we should also love God (Mark 12:29-31). Jesus said that if we love Him, we will obey His commandments (John 14:15) and John the Apostle says that His commandments are not burdensome (1 John 5:3).
Secondly, we find none of the Apostles preaching on hell in the book of Acts to the lost. Even in Acts 17, Paul the Apostle does not preach on hell. He does preach on the judgment to come (Acts 17:30-31) but he never preaches on hell. Strange that the Apostles would not preach on hell if in fact hell fire preaching produces true disciples of Christ. Even in Acts 2, the very first sermon preached after the resurrection focuses entirely upon Jesus and His work rather than hell. In fact, Peter never mentions hell at all. Hell is never talked about as a motivation for evangelism (“consider those about to go to hell as you go out sharing your faith”) nor for evangelistic preaching (“come and be saved from that awful place”).
Thirdly, such thinking undermines the sovereignty of God in preaching the gospel to the lost. Remember that God is the One who saves sinners (John 6:44). Through the preaching of the gospel He draws the lost to Himself (John 12:32; Romans 10:14-17). Jonah 2:9 is clear that salvation is of the LORD. The Lord God saves the lost by His sovereign power. He is the One who regenerates the unbeliever by His grace (Titus 3:5-7). Salvation is by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:1-9) and not by the will of mankind (John 1:12-13). We don’t need to go out in our evangelism thinking that we need to get people saved by our abilities to reason or to scare them into the kingdom. God will draw the lost as the Church is faithful to go out and make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). Our duty is to go and preach the gospel (Mark 16:15-16) and not to try to argue people into the kingdom or to persuade them to repent by telling them scary tales about hell.
In closing, I do believe in hell. I believe that Matthew 25:46 is clear that the righteous will go to eternal life while the wicked will go to eternal punishment. However, our motivation for evangelism and salvation must not be hell. It must be the cross. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:11 (NKJV):
Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.
Notice that Paul feared God above hell or above Satan. His fear of God motivated Him to want to preach the gospel to the lost. Yet he turns around in 2 Corinthians 5:14 (NKJV) and writes:
For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died.
Paul feared God and he loved God. This led to his desire to preach to the lost.
I pray that I would have the balance of fearing God and yet loving God. It is not hell that should push us to preach to the lost. It should be fearing and loving God. Further, as we preach to the lost, let us preach the cross. Let us show sinners their sins (1 Timothy 1:8-11) but let us preach the truth of the cross, that Jesus died for the ungodly (Romans 5:8-9). Jesus shed His blood for the souls of men (Isaiah 53:12). May the cross be our focus (1 Corinthians 1:23)!
Several weeks ago I posted a post on Tony Miano and him preaching outside of an abortion clinic in Portland, Oregon in which he had an atheist come and yell in his face while Tony sought to preach to those visiting the clinic. The atheist shouted over and over again, “Old white men should not be allowed to tell women what to do with their bodies.” In the course of the video, the man asks Tony why he is doing what he is doing, why doesn’t he go out and adopt children if he wants to help, and he tells Tony that he is judgmental for preaching at the women in the clinic.
I read another blog post where a lady wrote about the same video in which she makes the point that she agreed with the atheist and she finds Tony’s approach to “evangelism” as offensive. She thinks that his tact of preaching outside of an abortion clinic does nothing for the kingdom of God, brings shame to the women in the clinic rather than hope, and presents Christians as we are often seen, “critical and self-righteous.” She never offers any advice for how to evangelize and I have a feeling from her blog that she likely doesn’t share her faith, doesn’t see the necessity of sharing the gospel with the lost, and basis her entire view of Jesus on pure love and not holiness.
I have been asked about open air preaching and confrontational evangelism in the past but let me state again that I feel that the New Testament examples are clearly in favor of this type of ministry. Friendship evangelism, lifestyle evangelism, etc. often never lead to the gospel. Doing good works (as the lady advocates on her blog as the best form of presenting Christ to a skeptical world) are fine if they are accompanied with the gospel. To merely feed a person or to clothe the person without the gospel just makes them comfortable as they go to hell and nothing more. Jesus said that only those who have been born again (John 3:3-7) will see the kingdom of God.
I do agree with Paul Washer, however, that street preaching and evangelism should be done out of brokenness and out of a burden for the lost and not out of anger. I have seen angry street preachers. The wreathe and pronounce judgement after judgment upon the lost without any hint of compassion and fear for their souls. When I was in Washington DC back in November I saw the folks from Westboro Baptist Church preaching outside of Arlington National Cemetery and they were full of rage, hatred, and lack of love at all for the lost around them. Westboro folks are hyper-Calvinists and so they had no problem saying that all these people they were looking at (including myself) were non-elect and were going to hell for the glory of God.
Preaching to the lost must be done in brokenness. We should weep over the lost before ever whipping the lost (see Jesus’ example in Luke 19:41-46). Jesus had no problem denouncing the world (Matthew 11:20) and we should not fear from preaching the truth of God. Truth is offensive by nature (1 Corinthian 1:18). Truth separates. Truth divides at times. Truth shows people that they are in error and people hate to be told they are wrong about God, about eternity, about heaven and hell. In our postmodern age, people want to believe that we are all equal, we are all right, we all have truth. To be told otherwise always leads to anger and resentment.
In conclusion, do we really think that people today would treat Jesus any different if He preached to us in the flesh? If Jesus said what He said such as in Matthew 5-7 or in John 14:6, would the world accept His teachings? If Jesus defined marriage as He does in Matthew 19:1-9 then would the world accept Him? If Jesus taught what He taught in Luke 14:25-35, would the world (or even many so-called Christians) accept Him? I believe the results would still be the same: let us kill this man called Jesus. Face it, we don’t love God, we hate Him (Romans 1:18-32).