Tag: personal evangelism

The Roman Road

Matthew 4:17-19, “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.  And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.  And he saith unto them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’”

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1 Corinthians 2:2, “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”

In a web article written by R. C. Sproul published in 2014 for Ligonier Ministries, the Reform Theologist declared,

“One of the most important subdivisions of theology is Christology, which is the study of the person and work of Christ.  Within that field of study, when we want to get at the aspect that is most crucial, the aspect that we may call the “crux” of the matter of Jesus’ person and work, we go immediately to the cross.  The words crucial and crux both have their root in the Latin word for “cross”, crux, and they have come into the English language with their current meanings because the concept of the cross is at the very center and core of biblical Christianity.  In a very real sense, the cross crystallizes the essence of the ministry of Jesus.”  (Sproul, R.C. “What Does It Mean to Know Nothing except Christ and Him Crucified?” Ligonier Ministries, 11 Apr. 2004, http://www.ligonier.org/blog/what-does-it-mean-christ-and-him-crucified/.)

Every Christian should be in the business of witnessing for Christ and the power of the Cross in our lives. We should be sharing what Christ can and will do for those of whom we are speaking to, or communicating with.  When Jesus told Peter that he was going to be a “fisher of men”, he meant that his purpose in life was to make disciples.  This is the mission of every Christian who is on the face of the earth.  The first part of discipleship is the process of personal evangelism.  As we see by the example of Paul, the cross is the center or our message.

This is our objective then, to share Jesus Christ, and his work of salvation that was completed at the Cross, Jesus declared on the cross, “it is finished” (John 19:30).  These are probably the most important words ever said in the history of man on earth, maybe even in all creation.

What are we trying to tell the individual about this work of the cross?

Personal Evangelism is about relaying this information:

  • The individual is lost
  • Christ made sufficient provisions for them
  • Salvation is only obtained by faith in Jesus and the work of the cross
  • A choice must be made

As we begin our personal evangelism efforts; we must consider how important our relationship with to whom we are speaking.  It is actually very rare to find someone, especially in the United States, that has not already heard something about Jesus.  They have been informed from a wide variety of sources.

Most of these sources are unfortunately untrustworthy.  There have been a lot of false teachings, frauds, and legalist that have convoluted the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to gain authority or financial supremacy over others.  Many have been enslaved by false doctrines and blinded by Church Dogma. Their perception of Christ has been understandably distorted.

For this reason, evangelism is an ever changing process, but one thing will always remain true.  The best way to evangelize is always through a personal relationship with the prospect.  Gaining the trust of the lost soul, in order to show them Jesus Christ. In this manner we can show what a personal relationship with Jesus looks like.

A genuine relationship disproves lies, and breaks down fears, stereotypes, pain, and anger.  It gives you an opportunity to speak to the heart of the individual and address their spiritual need on an ongoing basis, developing trust, and opening doors through the intervention of prayer and the Holy Spirit.  The importance of this was relayed by God himself.

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,” (John 1:14a).  God, through Jesus Christ, became accessible to man on an intimate level. To dwell among us means to reside, or live with.  God came and shared his time with us.  This is what the church needs to do.  This is what you need to do as a Christian. Get into the neighborhood, embrace a neighbor, learn their stories, develop relationships for the sake of spreading the gospel, showing them Jesus.  Jesus ate with sinners, ministered to the sick, confronted false doctrine.  If we are the salt of the earth, then this is how we must live to be effective for the cause of Christ.

The most common route of scripture that is used for leading someone to Christ is referred to as “The Roman Road”.  This is a selection of scriptures from the book of Romans.  These verses lay out the plan of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.  There are some small variations, however they following verses are commonly used.

Rome1

The “Roman Road” Plan

  • Gain the attention

o   Romans 3.23

o   Romans 3.10

o   Romans 5:12

  • Establish the Need

o   Romans 6:23

  • Supply the Answer

o   Romans 5:8

  • Close the Deal

o   Romans 10:9-10

o   Romans 10:13

o   Reassure

o   Romans 10:17

Deeper Look

We must never assume that whoever we are speaking to has a proper understanding of God.  We must also never assume that they are ignorant of scripture.  When I share scripture with someone I generally either tell them the scripture in a form of conversation or either locate the scripture and pass my bible to them and have them read it aloud for themselves, then I begin a dialog with basically asks them to tell me what they have read and what they think it means.  This is where knowing other scriptures than the Roman Road comes into play.  The other scriptures can be used to explain the text and give it context.  Your personal witness gives you the ability to make it real to them.

Romans 3.23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Romans 3.10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

With these opening verses we establish some facts concerning God.  We show that God is a holy God. “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5).  He has established a set of laws, we commonly refer to as the 10 Commandments.  These were established to show us the holiness of God, and how impossible it is to be righteous and holy like God is.

It does not matter how “good” we are in compression to someone else.  If we point the finger at our neighbor who cheated on his wife, and yet we look at his daughter with lust, we are still just as guilty of adultery as our neighbor is (Matthew 5:28). So when the Lord said thou shalt not commit adultery, you violated that commandment. But the list goes on, how many “white” lies have you told? How many times have you passed on gossip about someone else?  If so then when the Lord said thou shalt not bear false witness of they neighbor, you violated the law in both external application and internal intent.

The Ten Commandments are only an outline of the Law, if you could not even keep them, then how could you ever hope to keep the whole law?  But even if it were possible to keep the entire law with every jot and every tittle you would still have the inherited sin of rebellion that has been passed down from the original sin of Adam.  Some sins follow generations.

Ever here of “Sins of the father?”  This is an illustration that shows a spiritual principle, “Sin has a consequence for the sinner and his whole family, even to the children and grandchildren.”  This is also why some sins take what is called a Break in the Cycle to alleviate.  An example is child or spousal abuse, or even alcoholism, or drug abuse.  Lee Strobel cites that almost down to the last, every predominant atheist in history has had issues with their Father, either abuse, neglect, or abandonment.  Prisons are filled with men and women who had the same issues.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The argument then comes to “I didn’t know”.  There are some terms that are thrown around in the legal system.

  • Malum in se (latin) – meaning wrong or evil in itself. In other words, “the act is inherently wrong by nature, independent of regulations governing conduct.
  • Malum in prohibitum (latin) – meaning wrong because prohibited.
  • Ignorantia juris non excusat or inorantia legis neminem excusat (latin) – basically both terms mean that ignorance of the law excuses no one.

So if we as mankind expect adherence to our laws, customs, and norms of society, and do not excuse ignorance of the law as a defense to defer adjudication, then why do we expect God too?

Now knowing that we are all guilty of violating the law of God and thus fore failing to live up to God’s standard of Holiness what does that mean?  Just like when you violate a law in society there is a consequence.  The consequence is death.

“Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (James 1:15).

Death brings an end to the hope of redemption.  “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” (Hebrews 9:27).

Death brings a time for judgement.  You can kind of explain it like this.  When you break the law, the police come and arrest you.  You are put in jail and then you are brought before the judge.  But unlike here in the United States, you only have a prosecutor, “Satan” and no lawyer for your own defense.  You are brought before the court, God is the Judge, the Word of God is the Law you are judged from.  Satan is the prosecutor and the witness against you.  It doesn’t matter what kind of “cool dude” you thought Satan was while you were living, he is revealed as your enemy and takes pleasure in insuring you fate,  a sentence of Death.  There is no appeal process.  Because God is just and holy, and  there is no higher authority, His judgement is final. Ignorance, willful or not, is no excuse.

The death penalty is so fierce it is described as “weeping and gnashing of teeth” and described as fiery torment.

  • Matthew 13:42 – And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
  • Matthew 13:50 – And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
  • Matthew 22:13 – Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
  • Matthew 24:51 – And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
  • Matthew 25:30 – And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

I know there are allot of preachers out there that say we should not speak of hell, but I don’t see how we can love someone and not warn them of the truth of their fate without Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Ignorance is no excuse, and judgement is final, the consequence is death.  But there is hope!  “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:17). Jesus Christ himself, who is God, provided the payment for the penalty.  Jesus died in your place.  This was the whole purpose for Jesus coming to the earth. He voluntarily took your place and received your death sentence.

He died so that you would not have too. In doing this, he stepped in as your lawyer in the throne room of God. Every sin you have ever  inherited from Adam, or committed in your life or will be has been removed from your account by the death of Jesus.  You have been set free from the penalty of death because he died.

That is what is so different of Jesus from any other religion on earth.  God loved you so much the God died for you.  NO other religion, no other philosophy, no other science can, nor will make that claim.  Not Buddha, Not Mohammad, not the Pope, no one can say that they restored you to God, but God himself in the form of Jesus who is the Christ, the living Son of God.

On top of that, you did nothing to earn it.  Look again at Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  It is a gift! A gift is a contribution, bequest (inheritance), bestowment, payment on behalf of someone else.  In it’s truest form requires no cost to the receiver.  This is more than just a “get out of hell free card”. More than just getting into “heaven”. This gift is eternal life in communion with God.  This gift restores you whole being to what it was meant to be before Adam ever sinned.

Romans 10:9-10 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

If you confess faith in Jesus, and Lord and Saviour of your soul and really believe in your heart that Jesus provides justification through his death, and believe that Jesus rose from the grave then you shall be saved according to your acceptance and profession of faith.  It takes an internal belief, acceptance in faith that results in a public profession in Jesus.

Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Whosoever means “anyone who will” believer and choose to act on their belief will be saved.  The bible says that even the demons believe in Jesus.  So believing in God, or even believing that Jesus existed and was a “good man” or a “prophet” won’t save you.  You have to understand that Jesus is the only way to salvation and call out to him.  You have to depend on him for your salvation.  If you were hanging out the window of a burning building, and a fireman on a ladder told you to take his hand and to trust him not to let you go, you can say all you want to, but until you take his hand you wont be saved.  It’s the same with the kingdom of God.

Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Now is your time to choose.  Do you believe what I have told you?  Do you understand what the scriptures say about life and death?  Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God that was sent to die for you?  Do you believe that he wants you to live in freedom, right by his side?  Will you accept his give of life, or will you choose to die?

 

What Are We Doing With the Great Commission?

The spreading of the gospel is what created the church (Col. 1.5-6), and the primary message of the church is the gospel (1 Cor. 15.1-3).  By saying that, the spreading of the gospel is the primary message of the church, it is meant that we begin with the process of telling others the truth of Christ and salvation.  Salvation in Christ is not only believing, but accepting.  Accepting the Salvation offered through Jesus Christ means you HAVE BECOME A DISCIPLE.  Disciples MAKE disciples. This is what evangelism is, the start of that process.

Probably the most powerful verse in evangelism is what we call the great commission.  In this Jesus meets with his 12 disciples on a mountain and gives them one last bit of encouragement and a command.

“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”  (Matthew 28.19-20).

A successful business has a business plan, and in that plan covers the vision and the goal for the business.  The Great Commission is that for the church.  It gives us our mission: What we are called to do; Our Vision: Where we hope to go; Our Plan: How we will get there: and Our Response:  What we need to do. We are told to “go”.  We should be a reaching church, ever expanding our message.  If you study things in nature, they are always growing, or they are dying.  If a tree stops growing then it rots from the inside-out.  This is the condition we see allot of local churches in today.

Jesus said, “As the Father sent Me, so I send you (John 20.21). This was God’s plan from the very beginning.  From the Old Testament on into the New Testament God demonstrated his plan of repentance and salvation through the word of mouth shared by men to men (mankind to mankind).  This spreading of the Word of God came through prophets, teachers, scribes, kings, Apostles and, finally, disciples.  In Acts 1.8 scripture tells us that we are to be witnesses of Jesus, starting in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.  We read in the gospel of Mark that we are to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16.15).

We are not to be idle and wait for people to come to us.  We are to actively take the gospel to all nations, all peoples, all tongues.  This means we should reach out not only to foreign missions, but in our very neighborhoods.  We reach them by preaching, and teaching.  We have to teach them about the love of God and the salvation in Jesus Christ.  We have to proclaim what is acceptable to the Lord God.  We have to teach them how to apply these lessons in their life.  We are to baptize them in accordance to the profession of their belief in Christ.  Immediately we get them in an outward expression of faith, showing others that they are disciples of Christ Jesus.  Evangelism is never an end of means.  Evangelism is a starting point for the new convert.

Evangelism is part of a continuing cycle of growth in the Christian and in the local Church.  Evangelism is a beginning in once sense and the process is a continuing of growth in the other. Like a tree that grows from a single seed, it puts out roots, stretches for the sky, bathes in the Sun and grows up and puts out more seeds that are carried by the winds to new locations. Christians should focus everything in their lives to keeping the gospel message at the center of our mental, spiritual, and emotional life.  This is achieved through deliberate, prayer rooted in Christ, Spirit led, lovingly felt, fervent Personal Evangelism.

One of the deacons shared a story in my Sunday school class on Personal Evangelism.  He told of how a woman had come in to the church just before the service and asked for money for food.  One of the members went out and talked with the couple and believed that their situation was sincere.  The member gave them some money and told them that after they had eaten to come back to the church and join the service.  While that was a good and noble thing to do, it was a wasted opportunity.  What would have been so wrong with two or more members missing service and going with that couple, buying their meal or even some groceries and then sitting with them right then and sharing Christ? That would be keeping the gospel the center in the situation.  If we look at the examples of Jesus and the Apostles in the New Testament we see that they met the immediate need, but they also went further to identify the real spiritual need and offer a solution.  Yes we are to care for the widows, and orphans, and the poor and needy, but we need to care for their spiritual needs as well as the physical, medical, and financial needs.  We do this by sharing everything we know about Christ.

Evangelism is probably the best way to keep the message of the saving grace of Jesus Christ a reality in our lives.  If we are actively evangelizing and concentrating on spreading the gospel it is less likely we will be distracted by the world.  Having gospel conversations with unbelievers builds up our knowledge and confidence in the scriptures.  Being intellectually challenged drives us to seek a deeper understanding of Christ in the scriptures, in history, and in science.  We get to learn more about God’s character, his holiness and judgments, we gain a deeper understanding of how God works in man.  We have to think through how to explain all these concepts to different types of audiences.  This gives us better tools to study and trace God’s truths in scripture and see the evidence in life itself.

Soldiers are taught tasks and skills then immediately are made to go and teach other soldiers these newly learned skills.  This makes them learn the tasks and skill development on a deeper level than they would have ever know in just listening to lectures.  Philemon 1.6 says “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.”  Knowing and explaining the gospel to someone who does not understand it or believe in it is different than having an academic understanding.  This process of personal evangelism enlightens the one teaching as well as the one receiving.   Brian Parks in his 9Marks Journal gives 6 Benefits of Evangelism fir Disciples:

  1. Evangelism helps keep the gospel central in our lives and churches
  2. Evangelism deepens our understanding of the most fundamental truths of Scripture
  3. Properly motivated evangelism grows our love for God and neighbor
  4. Evangelism prompts unexpected questions and objections from non-Christians, which can deepen our faith
  5. Evangelism protects us from mistakenly assuming that those around us are saved.
  6. Evangelism increases the likelihood of being persecuted for the gospel which leads to our growth

(“Six Benefits of Evangelism for Discipleship.” 9Marks, www.9marks.org/article/journalsix-benefits-evangelism-discipleship/.)

Evangelism by individual members has a direct effect on church growth.  If we look in the book of Acts there are several examples of how the local churches grew after a short period of active evangelism by its members.  Acts 11:19-26 tells us of how, that after persecution in Jerusalem, some believers went to Antioch and began telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus and how the hand of the Lord was with them and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.  It goes further to say that believers in Christ were first call Christians at Antioch.  The strength of the evangelism effort has a direct relation to the growth of the church.  The local church and its membership should be a vibrant and dynamic reality in the local community.

The early churches demonstrated a recognition of needs in the local area, and even in other distant churches.  Each member of the community was concerned about the welfare of the whole and the individual above themselves.  Resources were shared and this created a social-economic system the benefitted all those around the church area.  The effects of evangelism made it possible for these churches to grow and have a positive effect on their neighbors, their civil governments, and eventually the whole country and even the world.  The church is responsible for the widespread use of the tablet form of writing, what we call a book today.  The church is responsible for the advent of schools, hospitals, and vocational centers, for rehabilitation centers and even the Constitution of the United States, the freedom from slavery instituted in Britain and the U.S. came from church movements.  The “Ivy League” schools were originally schools of Biblical Study.  Personal Evangelism has had a great effect on the world.

Christian organizations supply food and clothing to poor, war torn communities all over the world.  Christian legal teams fight slavery, sexual trafficking, Christian and Jewish persecution, and abortion not only in the United States, but in places like Africa, Iraq, Israel and all across Europe.  Without evangelism efforts these Christian churches would not have the resources to send missionaries to local neighborhoods, much less to the foreign mission field.  God provides for these missionaries from the harvest of the evangelism effort.  The building up of the local churches and the resources that they share are affected by the evangelist efforts put forward in their own communities.  With all the good that we do in our neighborhood and in the world around us we must not forget that these are by-products of the spread of the gospel.  Evangelism is for making changes in people’s lives.

Remember back to Matthew 28:20, Jesus commanded that we are to teach the nations “all that I have commanded”, and to “observe all that I have commanded.”  The command is not just to have them confess Christ, but to teach them to be obedient to what Jesus has commanded.  Remember the Lord prefers obedience over sacrifice.  He must be worshiped in Spirit and in Truth.  Those who obey His commandments demonstrate the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  Faith that saves has the sign of obedience.  Scripture tells us that we should not be conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of the mind.  The renewing of the mind is accomplished by the Spirit of God by the study of scripture and fellowship with Christ.  Is this what we are doing?

“How do we usually read this scripture, which is familiarly called The Great Commission? Ordinarily we read it like this, “Go ye therefore, but if you don’t want to go, you can sing in the choir as a substitute and let someone else go for you, teaching all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Other people read it like this, “Go ye therefore, but if you don’t want to go, you can teach a Sunday School class on Sunday morning as a substitute for going and let someone else go for you teaching all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Or, sometimes folks read it like this, “Go ye therefore, but if you are afraid to go or don’t want to go, you can paint on the church building as a substitute and let someone else go for you teaching all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” There’s just one thing wrong with all these various renditions of the scripture as the church members ordinarily read it; it’s not in the Bible. No matter what you say when you get out your Bible, you m7ill still read Jesus saying to you, “go YE therefore and teach all nations.” It does not say anything about if you do not want to go or are afraid to go. It simply says, “GO!” I’m afraid that we in the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ of America have not been going like Jesus Christ told us to go.” (“God’s Plan for World Evangelism.” Sermon 15a)

The sad thing is that most modern Christians have never won a soul to Christ.  In fact most church going Christians do not even try to share their faith, or even invite friends or family to their church for fear of rejection of ridicule.  The danger in this is that Jesus said that whoever is ashamed of me in from of men, him I will be ashamed of in front of my Father.  Many churches don’t even get out in their local cities and perform a corporate level of evangelism.  There is virtually no effort to train or hold church members accountable to participate in Sunday school recruitment or youth development or recruitment programs.  The lack of identifiable leadership in evangelism is often used as an excuse by the members of the congregation to avoid their obligation to share the gospel. The result is that local churches are closing their doors all over the United States.  Members are disenfranchised and quit.  They lack the vision and without a vision they eventually give up and die. The following statistics were released in 1993 from Michael Parrott of Spokane, WA.

EVANGELISTIC STATISTICS

Ninety-five percent of all Christians have never won a soul to Christ.
Eighty percent of all Christians do not consistently witness for Christ.
Less than two percent are involved in the ministry of evangelism.
Seventy-one percent do not give toward the financing of the great Commission.

One particular denomination did a survey on its leadership ministries. The results are as follows:

  • 63% of the leadership in this denomination, including deacons and elders, have not led one stranger to Jesus in the last two years through the method of “Go Ye” evangelism.
  • 49% of the leadership ministries spend zero time in an average week ministering outside of the church.
  • 89% of the leadership ministries have zero time reserved on their list of weekly priorities for going out to evangelize.
  • 99% of the leadership ministries believe that every Christian, including leadership, has been commanded to preach the gospel to a lost world.
  • 97% believe that if the leadership had a greater conviction and involvement in evangelism, that it would be an example for the church to follow.
  • 96% of the leadership believe their churches would have grown faster if they would have been more involved in evangelism.

Because of this, our results in evangelism have been mediocre, at best.

(“Street Level Evangelism, Where is the Space for the Local Evangelist,” by Michael Parrott, Acts Evangelism, Spokane, WA, 1993, pp. 9-11.)

We should constantly analyze ourselves with regards to the “Great Commission”.  Are we effectively reaching our neighbors? Are we teaching those we reach?  Are we seeing lives changed because of the gospel message we proclaim?  What are we that we should not be doing?  What are we NOT doing that we should be doing to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ? The uppermost desire for every Christian should be to bring someone to Christ.  You can do the personal work that you are called to do as an individual Christian.  You can work and win a soul to Christ.  All it took was one man crying in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord!”  Jesus started by getting one disciple.  Then one disciple got another. All it takes is one person in your neighborhood to proclaim the gospel of Christ.

 

References

“Southern Baptist Convention.” Southern Baptist Convention The Baptist Faith and Message. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 July 2017.

Foundations: An Overview of Systematic Theolog. Perf. R. C. Sproul. Series 11: Three In Persons. Right Now Media, n.d. Web. 28 July 2017.

Coleman, Robert Emerson, and Billy Graham. The Master Plan of Evangelism. Revell, 2008.

“God’s Plan of Salvation.” Bible.org, bible.org/article/gods-plan-salvation.

  1. C. Ryle, Practical Religion (Darlington: Evangelical, 2001), 73

Lindsey, Art, PhD. “The Priesthood of All Believers.” Institute for Faith, Works and Economics (2013): Print.PDF

The Biblical Evangelist, biblicalevangelist.org/index.php?id. 4 August 2017

Steele, David N., et al. The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, Documented. P & R Publications, 2004.

Zagzebski, Linda. “Foreknowledge and Free Will.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University, 13 Apr. 2017, plato.stanford.edu/entries/free-will-foreknowledge/.

“Ezekiel 3:19 Commentary – John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible.” Bible Study Tools,

“Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry.” Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry, II, no. 2, 2014. FALL, doi:The Gospel and Evangelism. www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/ezekiel-3-19.html.

“Six Benefits of Evangelism for Discipleship.” 9Marks, www.9marks.org/article/journalsix-benefits-evangelism-discipleship/.

Unknown. “God’s Plan for World Evangelism.” Sermon 15a, www.white-fields.org/uploads/1/5/7/7/15776806/my_favorite_missionary_sermons_sermon_15a.pdf.

“Street Level Evangelism, Where is the Space for the Local Evangelist,” by Michael Parrott, Acts Evangelism, Spokane, WA, 1993, pp. 9-11.

It Shall Prosper

 

“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” – Isaiah 55:11

I heard a story about a minister by the name of Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892).  For those who do not know who this man was, he was and still is a world renowned Baptist preacher whose sermons and quotes are still used as a reference or verbatim in many pulpits even today.  He was a Methodist that converted to Baptist and still held to his Calvinist theology.  He once remarked, “I do not hesitate to take the name of Baptist, but if I am asked what is my creed, I reply, ‘It is Jesus Christ.’”

So as the story goes, Spurgeon was to speak at the Crystal Palace in London and the venue had an expectation of over 20,000.  Days before the event Spurgeon and some of the staff went to check the acoustics in the Crystal Palace, so that they could place the pulpit in the optimal position to carry his voice with the best reception throughout the room.

Spurgeon got behind the pulpit and bellowed out one verse, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the son of the world!” (John 1:29).  This is the statement John the Baptist exclaimed when he saw the Spirit of God descend on Jesus and remained on Jesus.  Spurgeon’s sound test carried all though the structure and reached ears of one of the workers in an adjacent gallery.

The worker was immediately overtaken with conviction, and not know what to do, left and went home.  After a while the conviction grew so intense that the worker repented of his lifestyle and accepted Jesus as his savior.  With just those simple words of Scripture, the Holy Spirit went to work in this man’s conscience.  Spurgeon, unknowingly had planted a seed in the man’s heart.  The Spirit of God moved on the man’s heart and grew that seed into a spiritual harvest.

We tend to think that we have to have all the right words to say, or the right way to say it, that we have to be clever in our delivery.  We sometimes feel that we don’t even know what we should say.  Well, sometimes we should just get out of the way and do what the Lord told us to do, Preach the Word, and let Him do the rest.  The responsibility of saving someone’s soul is not ours.  Jesus already saved their soul.  Our responsibility it to just bear witness to the Truth. Peter said that “he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.” (Acts 10:42).

When Peter proclaimed Jesus Christ to Cornelius in Acts 10.36-48, Peter did not even get to finish his sermon before the Holy Spirit fell on ALL that was there.  The Scripture that Peter shared and the testimony he gave concerning Jesus was used by the Spirit to convict Cornelius and his guests, all at the same time.  We should therefore concentrate on sharing of the scripture, and communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our own lives and in scripture.  We should focus on Jesus Christ and Him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2.2)

Philip and Personal Evangelism

Personal evangelism is expected of every believer of Jesus. It is not just the Pastors, responsibility to seek that which is lost, but everyone who is called by Christ is commissioned to this rewarding task. Jesus commanded us in Mark 16:15, “Go you into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”

Still even with this great calling, many Christians are afraid to share their faith. They lack confidence in their ability to share the gospel effectively. So we are going to go to the bible to see how one of the early disciples shared his faith. The book of Acts has many examples on how the Apostles and early Christians shared the truth of Jesus. We will concentrate on one example portrayed in a short story about Philip.

”(26)And the angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south to the way that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza, which is desert.

(27) And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,

(28)Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Isaiah the prophet.

(29)Then the Spirit said to Philip, Go near, and join yourself to this chariot.

(30) And Philip ran there to him, and heard him read the prophet Isaiah, and said, Understand you what you read?

(31) And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.

(32)The place in the scripture which he read was this, He was led like a lamb dumb before his shearer’ so opened He not His mouth:

(33)In His humiliation His judgement was taken away: and who shall declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.

(34)And the eunuch answered Phillip, and said, I pray you , of whom speaks the prophet of this? Of himself, or of some other man?

(35)Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached to him Jesus.” (Acts 8:26-35)

 

The easiest way to address this would be to break it down into at least 2 major themes to take from Philip in this story. The first would be that Philip had the proper attitude, and the second would be his approach or technique.

Philip had an attitude of obedience. When the angel of the Lord commanded Philip to go, he went. I mean the angel said “arise and go”, then Philip, “arose and went”. He didn’t make excuses, or check his planner. He immediately responded to the will of God. He obeyed without question.

If we are going to be effective servants of the Lord, we must be submissive servants. We must be willing to obey His Spirit. We must at all times and at all cost, be willing to do what God wants us to do. The will of God must take precedence over all other issues in our lives.

In northern Lebanon there is a Christian by the name of Fadi Sabba, who routinely goes from home church to home church sharing his faith and his story. He had been shot by Syrian Islamic extremists on more than one occasion. He has been run off the road, and been left for dead. He has been run out of the country, and yet still goes back risking his life to bring food, bibles and to encourage the brothers in Syria and Lebanon that cannot escape the brutal Islamic state if ISIS. He was shot seven different times by Syrians, yet God uses his story to bring other Islamic followers to Jesus. He goes out of love and obedience. (Voice of the Martyrs, June 2016)

He like Philip in this story is concerned with spreading the truth of Jesus Christ whether it is to one person at a time, or a whole house hold. Philip was willing to travel the distance, go beyond his comfort zone and ignore his personal safety to achieve God’s mission. This kind of dedication takes real love.

We must understand that one soul is a large enough crowd to be concerned about. Jesus explains is Luke 15, that if a man has a hundred sheep and loses one, would he not leave the 99 to find the one? Luke 15:10 says, “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over ONE sinner that repents.” We need to get excited! Have compassion over those who are lost! We need to love those who need our love the most!

Now something else to consider is that the Ethiopian, although he was devout in his way, was still considered a Gentile to the Jews. Most Jews would not have cared about his soul. Philip, however; went to him without a second thought. Not only that, he joined him in his chariot. We must be colorblind in doing personal evangelism.

I know that people here in America are scared and worried about the influx of Syrian and Middle Eastern refugees coming into the country. We have good reason, because there are allot who would seek us harm. But let us consider this, how many of us would be willing to go to their countries to convert them to Christianity? You see, where we would not obey God and go to them, God has brought them to us. Now you have an opportunity to witness to those who really need to hear of the love of Jesus. Jesus does not show partiality, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved: but he that believes not shall be damned.” (Mark 16:16)

Philip also had a sense of urgency. When he was commanded to join the Eunuch, the scripture says that Philip “ran to him”.(Acts 8:29) He new the man had an urgent need to know Jesus. Philip did not waste time. He had an enthusiasm that quite frankly, is missing in Christians in America. The early church was zealous in winning souls, if it would not have been, we wouldn’t know of Christ today. Unfortunately, there are many today in America who don’t know Jesus, even though they know of Him. That is our fault! It is mine and it is yours!

Ok I think we see the proper attitude. So once we pray and seek God, and get the proper attitude flowing again, what do we do with all that new found excitement for soul winning? Lets look again at Philip in this situation in Acts. Philip came upon the Ethiopian and saw him reading, and seeking God. Then he asked a question. Sometimes it is best to be quiet and listen to what the need is. Identify what the person is really seeking. A question is a great icebreaker to starting deep conversation.

If we were to ask a question and listen to the “need” hidden in the answer, we would go a long way in winning others to Christ, and repairing a few relationships along the way! Amen? The other thing that Philip had in his favor, is something you hear me say over and over again. Know your scripture! Know what you believe and why you believe it. You are an ambassador to the Kingdom of God. Take that responsibility seriously!

In Hebrew 5:11-14, the church is admonished because they have not studied and grown in the scriptures, that they should be teachers in the Word and works of God, but instead are fallen down and week. Don’t be caught off guard when someone asks you about a scripture or a doctrine of your faith. Hello! It’s your beliefs they are asking about! Grow Up! Study!

Then the scripture says, Phillip opened his mouth. When asked, speak! Tell your story of Jesus. Preach Jesus! If you haven’t taken the time to write out and rehearse your own story of salvation, then do it. If you have not taken the time to practice talking to yourself or another believer on how to share Jesus, then do it. I warn you. There is a reason you are either hearing or reading this… You will be called to testify.

Then Phillip went the extra mile. He closed on the situation. He made the Ethiopian make a decision. Hey, this is the whole point of personal evangelism. Win the soul! You can’t be a good fisherman if you don’t sink the hook and real that bad boy in! Bring the conversation to the point. Ask them, do you believe? Are you willing to make a change? Are you willing to be baptized? Seal the deal.

Then go on preaching to others, don’t stop. Don’t pat yourself on the back. Remember who sent Philip? The Lord did. The Lord knew the heart of the Ethiopian. The Lord knew that the eunuch needed a guide. Someone to tell him the truth about Jesus. That is your job, tell someone the TRUTH, the GOSPEL TRUTH! –AMEN!