Sam Storms: I assume that you, like Paul, pray fervently for the salvation of close family members or colleagues at work. In Paul’s case, they were the many Jewish men and women of his day who had openly and persistently denied that Jesus was the Messiah. He expressed his profound and persistent sorrow and grief over their lost condition back in Romans 9:1-3. In Romans 10:1 he declares unashamedly that his “heart’s desire and prayer to God” is “that they may be saved.” Paul doesn’t say anything about the nature of this prayer. He doesn’t give any details about the wording that he might use. We don’t know beyond his general affirmation precisely in what way he would ask God to save them, but my suspicion is that he prayed that God might ravish their hearts with his beauty and that he might unshackle their enslaved wills and cause them to come alive! When you pray for lost souls, what specifically are you
Do the Work of an Evangelist
Steven Lawson: In his final letter, Paul charges Timothy, his son in the faith, to “do the work of an evangelist” (2 Tim. 4:5). By these words, the aged Apostle establishes the timeless standard for pastoral ministry, not only for young Timothy but for all pastors in every generation and in every place. With Apostolic authority, this imperative command comes with binding force. All pastors must do the work of an evangelist. They must earnestly proclaim the gospel message, urging people to trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. So, where should this pastoral evangelism begin? First, every pastor must preach the gospel to himself. Before any pastor can call others to repent, he must believe in Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul exhorts Timothy, saying, “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you” (1 Tim. 4:16). That is, every
Perhaps the most important reason we struggle with personal evangelism
Sam Storms: The 13th reason why we stink at evangelism is simply that people don’t actually know what the gospel is, or if they do know it, they struggle to articulate it in face-to-face conversations with unbelievers. Feeling ill-equipped to explain the gospel, they look for ways to avoid interaction with non-Christians. So what is the gospel? I was greatly helped by Tim Keller in answering this question, as he identified one of the major mistakes people make in thinking of the gospel. He explained how most Christians live in an “if / then” relationship with God. If I do what is right, then God will love me. If I give extra money to missions, then God will provide me with a raise at work. If I avoid sinful habits, then I will be spared suffering and humiliation, etc. It’s a conditional relationship that is based on the principle of merit. The gospel calls us to live in a “because /
read more Perhaps the most important reason we struggle with personal evangelism
12 reasons we often fail in personal evangelism
Sam Storms: I was motivated to write this brief article because of something I saw in the text that I recently preached at Bridgeway. In John 1:35-51 we read about several individuals who followed Jesus. One of the first to do so was Andrew. We read in John 1:42 that “he [Andrew] brought him [Peter] to Jesus.” What a wonderful way to be remembered, as a man who brought another to Jesus! So why don’t we do likewise? Here are the a dozen reasons why. There may be more, but I’ll settle for these. (1) We are reluctant to share the gospel with others because of a loss of belief in the reality of hell. If there is no eternal conscious punishment for those who reject Jesus, why bother with taking the time and making the effort of telling them about him? If divine wrath is little more than a figure of speech, there is no urgency in taking the gospel to the lost.
The Burden for Missions Begins at Home
Mark Dever: A mark of a healthy church is a biblical understanding of, and practice of, missions. Missions isn’t a biblical word, but it’s a biblical idea. Missions is taking the gospel across boundaries, especially across the boundary of language. And, according to the Bible, this mission is to transform the nature of humanity, and nothing less—to bring us into a reconciled relationship with God, our good Creator and Judge. Missions Begins at Home Self-sacrifice and love of God and others is the seed of missions in the church. You could say that missions begins at home with a concern for the conversion of your family. So teach, befriend, evangelize and disciple your children. Brothers and sisters, have a concern for your friends. Friends share the gospel with friends. “Don’t underestimate how you handicap missions in a church by making evangelism seem optional in the Christian life.” But what does it mean for you to be prepared to share the gospel
How Do We Work for Justice and Not Undermine Evangelism?
D.A. Carson: (1) By doing evangelism. I know numerous groups that claim to be engaging in “holistic” ministry because they are helping the poor in Chicago or because they are digging wells in the Sahel, even though few if any of the workers have taken the time to explain to anyone who Jesus is and what he has done to reconcile us to God. Their ministry isn’t holistic; it’s halfistic, or quarteristic. (2) By being careful not to malign believers of an earlier generation. The popular buzz is that evangelicals before this generation focused all their energies on proclamation and little or nothing on deeds of mercy. Doubtless one can find sad examples of such reductionism, but the sweeping condescension toward our evangelical forbears is neither true nor kind. To take but one example: The mission SIM has emphasized evangelism, church planting, and building indigenous churches for a century—yet without talking volubly of holistic ministry it built, and still operates,
read more How Do We Work for Justice and Not Undermine Evangelism?
Evangelism Starts With God
David Qaoud: One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in evangelism is telling people the good news without telling them the bad news. No wonder I’m met with blank stares or “That’s nice for you, but not for me.” When we don’t tell unbelievers about sin and wrath, they often think grace is irrelevant. They don’t see their need for a Savior. I know I’m not alone. Myself, I suspect I don’t like sharing the bad news because of fear of man. I don’t want to offend people or bring up words like hell and wrath and sin because then the conversation may get weird. I don’t like awkward moments. I want to seem cool. I want to win people to Christ simply by telling people only about Christ and avoiding all the difficult parts. DEFINING EVANGELISM But true evangelism requires more. As it’s been said, evangelism is sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with an unbeliever with the aim
How to engage the culture without losing the gospel
Interview with Michael Horton: Q1. What are the biggest challenges facing the church today? The greatest challenge always facing the church is whether it will preach the gospel. Not whether the world will let us preach it—although religious liberty is always a question, and there’s a lot of hostility out there in post-Christian as well as Islamic societies—but whether we think the gospel is still the power of God unto salvation. I’m not talking merely about what the liberals do to the gospel: essentially reinventing it as the affirmation of basically decent people. It happens in evangelical circles—including churches linked to the Reformation. We get bored. And let’s face it, a lot of preaching and teaching today is boring and that’s a shame. But then we begin to take it for granted. It becomes an “of course”—the ABC’s of the faith that we needed to become Christians, but now we need to focus on life. As if the gospel got
read more How to engage the culture without losing the gospel
What’s the Purpose of the Church?
Tim Challies: Whatever else we may know about Christians, we know this: Christians are supposed to go to church. Every Sunday, Christians gather together to worship God and spend time in fellowship. But do we actually know why we do this? Do we pause to consider the purpose of the local church? In this series of articles we are considering the purpose of many things we may take for granted, and so far we have looked at marriage, sex, and children. Today we are broadening our perspective from family to the church. It is important to note that our concern here is not the universal church, which is comprised of all Christians of all times and places. Rather, we are answering the question: What is the purpose of the local church? In other words, why do we as Christians gather together in local congregations? Common Views of The Church As we consider why we gather week by week, we can
Call yourself a Christian? Start talking about Jesus Christ
Ed Stetzer: “Preach the gospel at all times; if necessary, use words,” Saint Francis of Assisi is supposed to have said. The aphorism, often quoted, expresses a well-meaning viewpoint of many Christians today. They are concerned that we’ve been too loud, demanding and angry. Now, they say, we need to show the gospel by our lives. It’s a good sentiment, and I certainly agree that we need to demonstrate the gospel change in our lives by caring for others. But there are two problems with the Assisi quote. First, he never said it. Second, it’s really bad theology. You see, using that statement is a bit like saying, “Feed the hungry at all times; if necessary, use food.” For Christians, the gospel is good news — it’s what the word literally means. For evangelicals, our name speaks of the commitment to evangelism that defines us. The good news needs to be told. Yet, Christians, evangelicals included, seem to love evangelism, as
read more Call yourself a Christian? Start talking about Jesus Christ
Faithful Evangelism Begins with Clear Sight
Erik Raymond: It is one of the most staggering and gripping narratives in the Bible. The prophet Isaiah is allowed to see a vision of God’s holiness that leads him to pronounce judgement upon himself and then concludes with him going to tell other people about this unfathomably holy God and their substantial lack of holiness. What is particularly instructive is the connection between his cleansing and his commissioning. When he realized what he had been cleansed from then he was more apt to embrace who he was cleansed for. Let’s be honest, one of the reasons why we sputter in evangelism is a truncated view of God’s holiness. Isaiah saw this and he was focused on his mission. Cleansing The need for cleansing comes from the awareness of sin. In other words, seeing a lack of holiness next to God’s ineffable holiness leads one to a gratitude for being cleansed. Isaiah tells us that this vision came in the year
A Calvinist Evangelist?
By Keith Mathison: If I have heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times: “A Calvinist evangelist? Isn’t that an oxymoron? Calvinism undermines evangelism.” This accusation has been repeated so many times that few make the effort to argue it. Instead, it is simply assumed. Never mind that some of the church’s greatest evangelists have been Calvinists. One need only be reminded of men such as George Whitefield, David Brainerd, or “the father of modern missions,” William Carey. “Yes,” we are told, “these men were great evangelists and Calvinists, but that is because they were inconsistent.” But is this true? The fact of the matter is that Calvinism is not inconsistent with evangelism; it is only inconsistent with certain evangelistic methods. It is inconsistent, for example, with the emotionally manipulative methods created by revivalists such as Charles Finney. But these manipulative methods are themselves inconsistent with Scripture, so it is no fault to reject them. In order for evangelism to
10 Things You Should Know About Evangelism
Mack Stiles: 1. Our evangelistic efforts must stem from a biblical understanding of evangelism. There are so many ways to go wrong in evangelism—impulses of fear on the one side, vain ambition on the other—that if we do not nail down a truly biblical understanding, we will quickly veer off course. So we start by understanding that biblical evangelism is teaching the gospel with the aim to persuade. 2. Evangelism is often the label given to things that are not evangelism. Is sharing your testimony evangelism? Is defending the Christian faith evangelism? How about doing good deeds for the oppressed? Certainly those are good things that serve and support evangelism. But they are not evangelism itself. We must not confuse the gospel with the fruit of the gospel. 3. Evangelism entails teaching the gospel first and foremost. God teaches us the gospel through his Word; we can’t just “figure it out” on our own. So it stands to reason that we
Election and the Gospel
Let no one say that the doctrine of election by the sovereign will and mercy of God, mysterious as it is, makes either evangelism or faith unnecessary. The opposite is the case. It is only because of God’s gracious will to save that evangelism has any hope of success and faith becomes possible. The preaching of the gospel is the very means that God has appointed by which he delivers from blindness and bondage those whom he chose in Christ before the foundation of the world, sets them free to believe in Jesus, and so causes his will to be done. — John Stott The Message of Ephesians (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1979), 48 (HT: Of First Importance)