A Healthy Church Member is A Biblical Evangelist
June 15, 2014 | Speaker: Bro Jurem Ramos
In our last study about conversion, I mentioned that this involves regeneration or the total transformation of life which begins in the heart of a person and manifests in his thinking, speaking, and behaving. Part of the transformed life is the desire for the salvation of others. This then leads a person to evangelism.
Why do we evangelize?
- Wanting to share the good news to others is but a natural response of a person who has experienced salvation.
An illustration of this principle can be seen in the case of story of four needy lepers who found great blessing to meet their need. Their story is found in 2Ki 7:3-9:
Now there were four men who were lepers in Israel at a time when there was great famine in the land and the nation of Israel was under the threat of Syrian invasion. And these lepers said to one another, “Why are we sitting here until we die? let us go over to the camp of the Syrians. If they spare our lives we shall live, and if they kill us we shall but die.” 5 So they arose at twilight to go to the camp of the Syrians. But when they came to edge the camp of the Syrians, there was no one there for the Lord had made the army of the Syrians hear the sound of a great army, so that they said to one another, “Behold, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Egypt to come against us.” 7 So they fled away and abandoned their tents, their horses, and their donkeys, leaving the camp as it was, and fled for their lives. 8 And when these lepers came to the Syrian camp, they went into a tent and ate and drank, and they carried off silver and gold and clothing and went and hid them. Then they came back and entered another tent and carried off things from it and went and hid them.9 Then they said to one another, “We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news. If we are silent and wait until the morning light, punishment will overtake us. Now therefore come; let us go and tell the king's household.”
Those lepers knew in their conscience that it was wrong to enjoy all of those abundant blessings without sharing them with others.
In the book of Acts we read about what happened immediately after the conversion of Saul. In Ac 9:19-21 we read,For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.”
Any one who has never shares the gospel could mean nothing less than being ashamed of Christ. And to be ashamed of Him only proves that one is not saved and will one day be rejected by Christ.
Luke 9:26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
- The second reason why we share the gospel is that it is a great privilege.
God could have appointed his angels to share the gospel. Yes, God will have an angel proclaim the gospel during the Tribulation period according to Rev 14:6, “Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people.”
However before that time, God appoints His children to do share the gospel to all creation.
God could just cause people have dreams and visions of the gospel being revealed to them. God could even use animals to speak the gospel to them if he wanted to. This is not impossible for Him to do. You will remember how God used a donkey to rebuke false prophet in the Old Testament. If God did that in the past, He could do that again today, if He wanted to. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. But God did not choose those methods. God sovereignly appointed His children to have this great privilege of sharing the good news of salvation.
Acts 26:16-18 the apostle Paul declared in his testimony that the Lord Jesus appeared to him and said, “… I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, 17 delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles— to whom I am sending you 18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”
- The third reason why we share the gospel is because it is an awesome responsibility. It is a command that comes from the highest authority in the universe.
In Mt 28:18-19 we read,
And Jesus came and said to them, “ All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…”
Making disciples entails going into all the world and proclaiming the gospel to the whole creation (Mk 16:15).
- The fourth reason why we share the gospel is because the existence of the church in this world depends on this.
We see in the book of Acts that it is by the sharing of the gospel and people’s positive response to it that God added to the church (Acts 2:41). If God’s people stop sharing gospel, then it won’t take long and the church will cease to exist.
Mt 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
- The fifth reason why we share the gospel is because Christ waits for the gospel to be proclaimed to all nations before His second coming.
Eph 3:8-10 8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, 10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11
- The sixth reason why we share the gospel is because that is one the most important ways that God’s excellencies may be proclaimed.
- The final reason why we share the gospel is because if we don’t we incur God’s chastisement.
In Ezekiel 3:16-19, we read about the serious responsibility of the prophet.
16 And at the end of seven days, the word of the Lord came to me: 17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 18 If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. 19 But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.
MacArthur: “Though each sinner is responsible for his own sin, the prophet who is negligent in his duty to proclaim the warning message becomes, in God’s sight, a manslayer when God takes that person’s life.”
The apostle Paul perhaps had this and other similar passages in view when he said, “Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel (1Co 9:16). Preachers today also face such a warning. The consequence for such unfaithfulness on the preacher’s part includes divine chastening and loss of eternal reward (cf. 1 Cor. 4:1–5).
And so those are some of the reasons why the work of evangelism should be done.
- Sharing the good news is but a natural response of a person who has experienced salvation.
- Evangelism is a great privilege that is not given to God’s other creatures.
- Evangelism is an awesome responsibility since it is a command that comes from the highest authority in the universe.
- We share the gospel because Christ’s second coming depends on its being shared to all nations.
- The existence of the church in this world depends on the continual addition of believers into the church because of evangelism.
- We share the gospel because that is one the supreme ways that God’s excellencies may be proclaimed.
- In light of the above reasons for evangelism, if we don’t evangelize incur God’s chastisement.
In view of the above reasons why we should evangelize, it is obvious that if the church is to be healthy, its members and leaders must know what it means to share the gospel faithfully.
So today, I want to talk to you about the fifth mark of a healthy church member which is being a biblical evangelist.
I want to focus on a Biblical understanding of evangelism, what evangelism is not, what it is, and what is the message we proclaim.
I. What evangelism is not
- It’s not inviting people to go to church.
Having our non-Christian friends come to church with us is a wonderful thing. In fact, a church’s corporate life, when it is loving and united, is a great testimony to the truth and power of the gospel. So we want to invite people we hope to become Christians to church; but we need to understand that inviting someone to church is not evangelism.
- It’s not sharing your testimony.
Personal testimonies are wonderful and an important witness of our lives in this world that God is good and that Jesus saves sinners. However, when we do not share with them the content of the gospel, we are not evangelizing. .
- It’s not having a “spiritual conversation.”
You may be having a spiritual conversation with a Muslim or Jew and talk about certain spiritual aspects we agree on (existence of God, reality of sin, the reliability and inerrancy of the Bible, etc.), but if you do not tell them about the gospel and how they can be saved, it is not yet evangelism.
- It is not the eloquent telling of sentimental stories orsinging of emotionally stirring songs.
Thabiti Anyabwile writes, “…evangelism does not depend on eloquence, using the correct mood lighting, emotionally sappy stores and songs, or high-pressure sales pitches.”
The late Martyn Lloyd-Jones would have said, “Amen,” to that. In his book, KNOWING THE TIMES,
Lloyd-Jones warns evangelists of relying too much on their ability to tell stories which could move people but produce no salvation. He said,
I have heard repeatedly of a certain popular evangelist, who has an amazing gift for telling stories
; he is quite a genius in this respect. His word-pictures are such that you can see exactly what he is describing. This man tells his stories and he seems almost to mesmerize his congregation. At the close of the meeting he invites people to go to the decision room, and they go there in flocks. But those who work in the decision room are agreed in saying that when they ask them why they have come, their reply is that they do not know, but that the speaker told them to come. It is not that the truth has convinced or convicted them. They are influenced by the stories to which they have listened, and then they seem to act in an automatic manner. Music
can produce the same effect. You can so sing a chorus that eventually you become intoxicated. The power of music is such that that is the effect it has upon some people; and, in reality, they do not know what they are doing; they just respond mechanically to any command or invitation given them.
II. What Biblical evangelism is
- Biblical evangelism is the intelligent and persuasive presentation of the gospel with a definite purpose of producing converts.
The apostles presented the gospel as clearly as possible by exerting great effort to explain what the gospel meant to the point that their hearers could make a moral choice to reject or to believe it.
Paul made efforts to explain and prove by scriptures that his claims were true. He anticipated objections and so he carefully presented proofs to persuade them to receive his message.
Acts 17:2-4 And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned
with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining
that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “ This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” 4 And some of them were persuaded
and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women.
J.I. Packer - “Wherever, and by whatever means, the gospel is communicated with a view to conversion, there you have evangelism. ”
Evangelization refers to the initial phase of Christian ministry. It is the authoritative proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Bible in relevant and intelligible terms, in a persuasive manner with the definite purpose of making Christian converts. It is a presentation—penetration—permeation—confrontation that not only elicits but demands a decision. It is preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ for a verdict.
According to the New Testament, evangelism is just preaching the gospel, the evangel. It is a work of communication in which Christians make themselves mouthpieces for God’s message of mercy to sinners. Anyone who faithfully delivers that message, under whatever circumstances…is evangelizing. Since the divine message finds its climax in a plea from the Creator to a rebel world to turn and put faith in Christ, the delivering of it involves the summoning of one’s hearers to conversion. If you are not, in this sense, seeking to bring about conversions, you are not evangelizing... But the way to tell whether in fact you are evangelizing is not to ask whether conversions are known to have resulted from your witness. It is to ask whether you are faithfully making known the gospel message.
- Biblical evangelism has as its objective reconciliation with God.
- 1Pe 3:18 - For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,
- 2Co5:18-20 - All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
The gospel is not about meeting our needs, fulfilling our desire for meaning, transforming society, teaching us to live better lives, or making us rich and healthy. The Bible clearly teaches that humanity’s fundamental problem is our sin and God’s wrath against us because of our sin. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (Rom. 1:18).
God’s wrath against our sin is the fundamental problem the gospel addresses. Jesus died on the cross as a propitiation, a sacrifice that turns away God’s wrath (Rom. 3:25; 1 Jn. 2:2, 4:10) in order that we would be saved through faith in him.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, KNOWING THE TIMES
As we engage in evangelistic work, it is of vital importance that we ask ourselves before we being: What am I out to do? What am I going to attempt? What do I want to achieve? What is my real objective? I suggest that there is only one true answer to these questions, and it is this: I am anxious that souls should be reconciled to God, because, being what they are, they are dishonoring God, and because, being in a state in which they dishonor God, they are in danger of perdition. That is the purpose of all evangelistic work––to bring those souls into a state of reconciliation with God. That is the object. It is not merely to get boys to make a decision; it is not simply to get them to live another way of live; it is no simply to get them to join a class or a church. Your objective in presenting the gospel to them is to put them right with God.
- Biblical evangelism has specific content.
- The gospel which we share when we evangelize is not some ambiguous statement like “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” without any further explanation. The gospel has specific content which is transferable and can be understood and learned. Referring to the gospel Paul wrote in Col 1:6-7, “you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant.”
- We know that gospel has specific content because it was something that could be used as a pattern for sound teaching Paul instructs Timothy with these words in 2Ti 1:13-14: Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.
Gal 1:8-9 - But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again :If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
- We know that the gospel has specific content because Paul could use it as a standard for orthodoxy.
III. The content of the message when we evangelize
A good way to summarize this good news is to biblically unpack the words God, Man, Christ, Response, Consequence.
- God is the creator of all things (Gen. 1:1). He is perfectly holy, worthy of all worship, and will punish sin (1 John 1:5, Rev. 4:11, Rom. 2:5-8).
- All people, though created good, have become sinful by nature (Gen. 1:26-28, Ps. 51:5, Rom. 3:23). From birth, all people are alienated from God, hostile to God, and subject to the wrath of God (Eph. 2:1-3).
- Jesus Christ, who is fully God and fully man, lived a sinless life, died on the cross to bear God’s wrath in the place of all who would believe in him, and rose from the grave in order to give his people eternal life (John 1:1, 1 Tim. 2:5, Heb. 7:26, Rom. 3:21-26, 2 Cor. 5:21, 1 Cor. 15:20-22).
- God calls everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and trust in Christ in order to be saved (Mark 1:15, Acts 20:21, Rom. 10:9-10).
- Salvation to those who respond positively. Judgment to those who don’t.
If we want to articulate the gospel as precisely as possible, what are the points we need to make clear? (Some portions are taken from John MacArthur’s book, Faith Works, The Gospel According to the Apostles.
From Walter Chantry,
TODAY’S GOSPEL, AUTHENTIC OR SYNTHETIC
- Teach them about God’s holiness and wrath against sin.
Evangelists today are making the dreadful miscalculation that sinners know who God is. The sad truth is that our age knows less than the Jews of our Lord's day. Nevertheless, evangelicals plunge right in with 'five things God wants you to know.' They all center upon the man's eternal fortunes and utterly ignore the question, 'Who is God?' The sinners thus treated never realize the gravity of their plight. They don't know whom they have offended.
Today we are told that witnessing is to begin with, 'God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.’ Love is set before sinners as the foremost characteristic of God. But Jesus didn't begin that way. And the Bible as a whole speaks more often of God holiness than of His love. This is probably because men readily remember all attributes that might favor themselves and totally forget those which threaten or alarm them.
Thousands of sinners think of God as having only one attribute - 'love'. Though that is part of the truth, when it is taken for the whole truth it becomes a lie. When you tell a stranger, 'God loves you,' his mind registers something like this: 'Yes, He loves me and would never harm me. He loves with forgiving and merciful kindness; so, all is well with my soul' In the concept of the average American [and the Filipino too], there is no idea that God is holy; only a perverted concept that he has a gushy, all embracing kindness. Modern evangelism is helping to foster this misconception of God by its silence and vagueness.
To say to a rebel, 'God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life,' is terribly misinforming. The truth is that God is holy. Thus He is angry with the sinner at this moment. His sword of wrath already hangs over the head of the guilty and will forever torment him unless he repents and trusts Christ. This plan is not so wonderful. God's redeeming love for sinners is found only in Christ, and the sinner is out of Christ.
- Show them their sin.
To offer salvation so someone who doesn’t even understand the gravity of sin is to fulfill Jeremiah 6;14: “They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.” We do this by sharing with them the law.
This was the way of the Master. The Lord Jesus in Mk 10:17-27:
17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “ Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “ Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother. ’” 20 And he said to him, “ Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “ You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “ How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “ Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “ With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”
This was the way of the apostles.
This was Peter’s method:
Acts 2:36-37, 40: Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." … 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" … 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation."
This was Paul’s approach in preaching to the people of Athens.
Ac 17:29-31,34: Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone--an image made by man's design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead." … 34 A few men became followers of Paul and believed.
Will Metzger, Tell the Truth
Francis Schaeffer was once asked the question, “What would you do if you met a really modern man on a train and you had just an hour to talk to him about the gospel?” He replied, “I’ve said over and over, I would spend 45-50 minutes on the negative, to really show him his dilemma—that he is morally dead—then I’d take 10-15 minutes to preach the Gospel. I believe that much of our evangelistic and personal work today is not clear simply because we are too anxious to get to the answer without having a man realize the real cause of his sickness, which is true moral guilt (and not just psychological guilt feelings) in the presence of God.
- Instruct them about Christ and what He has done.
The gospel is good news about who Christ is and what He has done for sinners. Some tend to emphasize His work and de-emphasize His Person,
particularly the aspect of His divine authority. But Scripture never presents Jesus as something less than Lord in salvation. The notion that His Lordship is an addendum to the gospel is utterly foreign to Scripture. He is eternally God (John 1:1-3,14). In Him all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Col 2:9). He is Lord of all (Phil 2:9-11). He became man (Phil 2:6-7). He is utterly pure and sinless (Heb 4:15; 1 Pet 2:22,23; 1 John 3:5). He became the sacrifice for our sins (2 Cor 5:21). He shed His own blood as an atonement for sin (Eph 1:7,8). He died on the cross to provide a way of salvation for sinners (1 Pet 2:24). He rose triumphantly from the dead (Rom 1:4; 4:25; 1 Cor 15:3,4)
- Tell them what God demands of them.
Repentant faith is the requirement. It is not merely a coming forward, making “decision” and praying a “sinner’s” prayer to receive Christ. It is rather a wholesale forsaking of everything else we trust, and a turning to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Repent. Turn your heart for all that you know dishonors God (1 Thes 1:9). Follow Jesus (Lk 9:23). Trust Him as Lord and Savior. (Acts 16:31).
- Assure them of God’s promise of forgiveness, eternal life, reconciliation and acceptance with God.
- Jn 1:12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
- Jn 3:16 “ For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
- Acts 26:18 — [I am sending you] to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.
- Warn them that the rejection of God’s message involves serious danger.
Christ did this. John 3:36, Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
The apostles followed their Christ’s method.
The apostles demanded a moral response from their hearers. They did not just give them a cute lesson or an entertaining story about a person who died and rose again from the dead. They needed to receive this message of else pay very dearly the consequences of their rejection.
Paul did this. He said to the people of Athens:
29 Being then God 's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.
The author of Hebrews did this. In Heb 3:7-11 we read:
7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,
“ Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
on the day of testing in the wilderness,
9 where your fathers put me to the test
and saw my works for forty years.
10 Therefore I was provoked with that generation,
and said, ‘ They always go astray in their heart;
they have not known my ways. ’
11 As I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall not enter my rest.
In 4:11, the author of Hebrews exhorts: Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.
- Do we see the importance of evangelism?
- When we evangelize, do we have as our objective, the conversion of our hearers?
- Does the way we evangelize include all of the essential ideas of the gospel?