In a previous blog post here, emphasis was placed on our call to the Great Commission and how the work need not only take place in those times we travel abroad. In this post, we look at some of the specifics of evangelism but first let’s consider that evangelism is a theological issue. That is, do you believe the Bible can be trusted? Christian theology should provide zeal for doing evangelism and asking ourselves, do we love lost people enough? Is it enough that we would be willing to risk feeling uncomfortable? Our personal evangelism requires we know Jesus, know lost people, and love lost people.
Both our theology (evangelism) and our activity (evangelizing) derive their meaning and their importance from the good news (the evangel). – John Stott
Many Christians do not grasp the ramifications of our theological ties to evangelism. Theology and evangelism are never separated in Scripture. J.I. Packer says the fundamentals of evangelical theology defined by the Gospel are the supremacy of Holy Scripture, the majesty of Jesus Christ, the lordship of the Holy Spirit, the necessity of conversion, the priority of evangelism, and the importance of fellowship. It is true that some are uniquely gifted, but all are called to share. As Christ’s church, we are witnesses with a specific task, telling the story as His ambassadors (see Acts 1:8; Mark 1:17; 2 Cor. 5:17-21). In our evangelism efforts, the Bible instructs us (as believers) to go about our days being, doing, and telling. Let’s break this apart:
Being – the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matt. 5:13-16); the aroma of Christ (2 Cor. 14-16); Ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20)
Doing – fishers for men (Mark 1:17); Bearing fruit (John 15:8); Serving as ministers of reconciliation (2 Cor. 17-21); Making disciples (Matt 28:18-20); Interceding for others (Rom. 10:1)
Telling – Proclaiming the gospel (Mark 1:14-15); Bearing witness to Christ (Acts 1:8); Declaring His praise (1 Peter 2:9-10); Teaching and preaching (Acts 5:42); Exalting His name (Acts 2:38, 47, 4:12)
Dr. Chuck Lawless explains in Great Commission Studies: Evangelism is telling the good news of Jesus Christ, depending upon the triune God to draw His own unto Himself and His church. A proper attitude of sufficiency renders us helpless. In the work of evangelism, we are fully dependent on the Father, the Son, and on the Holy Spirit (see John 6:44; 1 Cor. 3:5-8; 1 Cor. 1:17-18; Acts 1:8; John 14:26, 16:7-11).
Theology is to evangelism what the skeleton is to the body. Remove the skeleton and the body becomes a helpless quivering mass of jelly-like substance. – C.E. Autrey
Our theology of evangelism must be rooted in the God of creation with an understanding that God is gracious in promising a Savior (Gen. 3:15). It is important to note that it is God himself coming to seek the fallen, even as Adam and Eve hid in their own sin. Right theology admits that sin separates us from the one who created us, by sins of omission and commission. Theologians Millard Erickson, Wayne Grudem, and C.E. Autrey put it like this:
Any lack of conformity, active or passive, to the moral law of God. This may be a matter of act, of thought or of inner disposition or state. Any failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude or nature. A fundamental wrongness within man that causes habitual rebellion against God.
Right theology recognizes that we deserve to die as the penalty for sin, to bear God’s wrath. We are separated from God in bondage to sin and to Satan. The redemptive plan of God is atonement for sin. God provided a sacrifice, provided a propitiation for our sins, and has provided reconciliation in Jesus Christ (see Rom. 3:25; 1 Cor. 5:7; Heb. 9:15; 1 John 4:10; 2 Cor. 5:18-19; Gal. 3:13).
Any theory of the atonement which does not have as its central element that Jesus Christ bore our punishment in our place is inadequate. – Dr. Danny Akin
A rightful response to the gospel is repentance and belief. In repentance, the sinner turns in an opposite direction while recognizing moral separation, necessitating the forsaking of sin and turning to God. When a person is truly repentant, she begins to think differently and have change of mind by way of God’s Holy Spirit. Along with repentance, absolute belief is necessary. In belief, the sinner leans upon and confides while trusting Jesus as savior. True belief gives personal trust rather than mere credence or belief.
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison – that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. – Col. 4:2-4
Perhaps you are unsure how to share the gospel message because you lack examples, training, or theological drive. Pray for passion and develop a harvest theology (Matt. 9:38). Read good books, listen to expositional sermons, and most importantly pray for clarity as you communicate the message of the cross. You don’t need a seminary degree to participate in evangelism; your Bible is sufficient. I ask that you pray also for me, that I might be bold when speaking truth in love – Pray that I might speak of Jesus as I should. Together, may we watch for opportunities to speak about Christ for the glory of God, and then may we celebrate one changed life at a time.
Our great object of glorifying God is, however, to be mainly achieved by the winning of souls. We must see souls born unto God…The ambassadors of peace should not cease to weep bitterly until sinners weep for their sins. – Charles Spurgeon
For further thought and study:
Radical by David Platt
Counter Culture by David Platt
Evangelism Handbook – Biblical, Spiritual, Intentional, Missional by Alvin Reid