Evangelism is a natural overflow of the Christian life, but it is also a Discipline. Although all Christians are not expected to use the same methods of evangelism, all Christians are expected to evangelize. Godliness requires that we discipline ourselves in the practice of evangelism. The reason many of us don’t witness in effective ways is our lack of discipline.
Other than being lost in the joy of worshiping God, nothing is as exhilarating as telling someone about Jesus Christ. Yet, nothing raises anxiety more quickly among a group of Christians than talking about our responsibility to evangelize. Most of us could say we don’t know a single Christian who could boldly say, “I am as evangelist as I should be.” The main idea we must understand is that godliness requires that we discipline ourselves in the practice of evangelism. The reason many of us don’t witness for Christ in ways that would be effective and relatively fear-free is simply because we don’t discipline ourselves to do it.
Evangelism is Expected:
What is evangelism? If we want to define it thoroughly, we could say that evangelismis presenting Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit to sinful people, in order that they may come to put their trust in God through Him, to receive Him as their Savior, and serve Him as their King in the fellowship of His Church.1 A more concise New Testament definition is communicating the gospel.
Why is evangelism expected? The Lord Jesus Christ Himself has commanded us to witness. Consider His authority in the following:“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age”(Matthew 28:19-20). “Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you”(John 20:21). For the Great Commission to be fulfilled, for Christ to have a witness in our homes, our neighborhoods or the place where we work, Christians like us must discipline ourselves to do it. Some must discipline themselves to “go to the nations.”
Evangelism is Empowered:
If it is obvious to most Christians that we are to evangelize, how come most Christians seem to disobey this command? Some believe they need months of specialized training to witness effectively. They fear speaking with someone about Christ until they feel confident in the amount of their Bible knowledge and their ability to deal with potential questions and objections. That confident day never comes. Sometimes we fail to speak of Christ because we are afraid that people will think of us as strange and reject us. In some cases, we can trace our “evangelophobia” to the method of witnessing we’re asked to use. If it requires approaching someone we’ve never met and starting a conversation about Christ, most people will be terrified, and it is shown by their absence. The seriousness of evangelism is the main reason it frightens us. We realize that in talking with someone about Jesus Christ, heaven and hell are at stake. The eternal destiny of the person looms before us. Many Christians feel too unprepared for such a challenge.
What is success in evangelism? When the person you witness to comes to Christ? Certainly that’s what we want to happen. But if we measure evangelistic success only by conversions, are we failures whenever we share the gospel and people refuse to believe? Was Jesus an “evangelistic failure” when people like the rich young ruler turned away from Him and His message (Mark 10:21-22). Obviously not. We need to learn that sharing the gospel is successful evangelism. We ought to have a desire for souls and plead with God to see more people converted, but only God can produce the fruit of evangelism called conversion.
The power of evangelism is the Holy Spirit. From the instant that He indwells us, He gives us the power to witness. Jesus stressed this in Acts 1:8. All believers have been given power to be witnesses of Jesus Christ. And the evidence that you’ve been given the power to witness is a changed life. The same Holy Spirit power that changed your life for Christ is the power to witness for Christ. We can be confident that some will believe if we will faithfully share the gospel. The gospel is the power of God for salvation. God has His elect whom He will call and whom He has chosen to call through the gospel (See Romans 8:29-30; 10:17). The most powerful ongoing Christian witness has always been the speaking of God’s Word by the one who is living God’s Word.
Evangelism is a Discipline:
Evangelism is a natural overflow of the Christian life. Every Christian should be able to talk about what the Lord has done for them and what He means to them. But evangelism is also a Disciplinein that we must discipline ourselves to get into situations where evangelism can occur; that is, we must not just wait for witnessing opportunities to happen. Jesus said in Matthew 5:16, “...let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”Any Christian who has heard biblical preaching, participated in Bible studies, and read the Scriptures for any time at all should have at least enough understanding of the basic message of Christianity to share with someone else.
Even so, many Christians don’t actively witness. Unless we discipline ourselves for evangelism, we can easily excuse ourselves from ever sharing the gospel with anyone.
Regardless of how shy or unskilled we may feel about evangelism, we must not convince ourselves that we cannot or will not verbally share the gospel. Often it is the message of the Cross lived and demonstrated that God uses to open a heart to the gospel, but it is the message of the Cross verballyproclaimed through which the power of God saves those who believe. No matter how well we live the gospel, sooner or later we must communicatethe gospel before a person can become a disciple of Jesus.
Why does God command us to evangelize?
Why do you think many Christians are afraid to evangelize? What are your fears about evangelism?
Evangelism is Expected:
According to Acts 1:8, in whose power are we to witness, as opposed to doing it in our own power?
What do the following verses reveal about evangelism?
Why do you think God commands all His people to evangelize and not just those who find it easy to present themselves and their beliefs to other people?
What does 1 Peter 2:9 say about God’s people?
Evangelism is Empowered:
Have you ever been afraid to share Christ? If so, when? Why were you afraid? Are you confident that God has given you Acts 1:8 power? Why or why not?
What does 2 Corinthians 2:14-17 say about God’s power through us? About our impact on non-Christians?
What does Colossians 4:5-6 say about how to approach evangelism? Why is such preparation so important?
Evangelism is a Discipline:
What is your estimate of the number of times you have heard the gospel in your life?
In the space below, write the gospel message a person must hear to be saved (a paragraph or so). Discuss in your GG what is necessary for a presentation of the gospel to be clear and complete.
It is said that every Christian is at every moment a testimony - good or bad - to the power of Jesus Christ. What implications does this truth have in evangelism?
Consider ways you might begin to make evangelism a Spiritual Discipline.
Write down the names of two people with whom you want to share Christ soon... maybe this week.
What loving steps are you willing to take in order to seek ways of intentionally sharing Christ with them? (Ex: a lunch meeting, a home meeting, other...)
Focus on what God has done for you and on the importance of sharing Him with others.
Ask the Lord to nurture the Discipline of evangelism this week.
Ask Him to guide you to least one person who is open to hear the gospel.