Each week, I text with various men in our church and ask for ways that I can pray for them. A common response is to pray for boldness in sharing their faith, or what we call evangelism. Hearing that word may intimidate you, thinking, “evangelism isn’t my thing!” However, the call to share the Gospel with the lost and skeptical is a calling on all Christians. I would venture to guess that most, if not all of us, feel ill equipped to carry out this call. Perhaps you struggle with the burden that you may say the wrong thing, or you may not have all the answers to questions, or you fear being mocked for your faith. Since this is an area that most of us struggle with, and it is a biblical calling in our Christian life, I aim to address evangelism in hopes of spurring you to share the Gospel.
What is evangelism?
A definition may help to round out your understanding of evangelism. A good working definition is, “Evangelism is teaching the Gospel with the aim to persuade.”1 We have two key components, the first of which is to teach, and the second is to be persuasive. We aim to share the Gospel in a persuasive manner with the goal of stirring the skeptic to turn to Jesus as their only source of hope. Jesus has called all of us to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 1:8). Paul instructs in Romans 10:17, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (ESV). In a nutshell, we are called to proclaim the Gospel, that is, to evangelize to the lost among us.
Many books have been written on this topic, but it is best to begin with God. We are only called to proclaim the Gospel. “For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’” (Romans 10:13-15, ESV). We are merely the feet that God uses to preach the good news. God does the work of regeneration, because salvation is a gracious gift from God!
With this in mind we can be confident of the message that we proclaim. The content that we share is important. We can speak of a Gospel that is either too small or filled with extras.2 A small Gospel only aims to persuade a person to profess Christ, but not be transformed in their everyday living. We call this “fire insurance,” or just trying to get a person saved. On the other hand, we can also have a tendency to add more to the Gospel than is necessary. The Gospel is not that we are saved through faith and good deeds, or faith and giving to the poor.3 Both of which are good things, but we are saved only through faith in the work of Christ, nothing more.
Keep it simple and true to the Word of God. Remember four points: creation, fall, redemption, and restoration.
Creation: God has created all things, and created humanity in His own image. He declared that His creation was “Very good!” It was perfect, and humanity was in right relationship with God (Genesis 1:1, 27-28, 31a).
Fall: God commanded Adam and Eve to work the garden, be fruitful and multiply, and not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve willfully disobeyed God and ate the fruit. Their perfect relationship with God was destroyed and sin entered the world. Each and every subsequent human is born into sin.
Redemption: God made a promise to Eve. He promised redemption! He tells of One who would come through Eve that would crush the head of the deceptive serpent, Satan (Genesis 3:15). This Redeemer has come in Jesus Christ. Jesus is fully God and fully man, and He has lived the perfect life, He died on the cross for our sins, and He raised to victory over sin and death by His resurrection. He redeems those who repent and believe in His life, death and resurrection.
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45, ESV).
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2, ESV).
Restoration: Finally, this fallen and sin-infected world will be restored. Jesus Christ will come back at the end of time to restore His broken creation. He will come as judge, for those not found in Christ, they will be condemned for eternity. BUT, for those found in Christ, they will receive a glorious resurrected body to live in eternity with Jesus in the new heaven and new earth.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true” (Revelation 21:1-5, ESV).
- J. Mack Stiles, Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus, (Wheaton: Crossway, 2014) 26.
- Ibid, 32