Guidelines for Evangelism

July 15, 2018 Preacher: Luis A. Cardenas Series: Evangelism 2018

Topic: English

Opening Reading: Mark:10:13-31

We are now in week number 3 in a series we’re doing on evangelism. As elders, we chose this topic because we recognized that it’s not an easy task for many of us, and we could all use this kind of encouragement and reminder and instruction.

The first message was basically an introduction to the topic, and we covered the question: WHAT is evangelism? What does it mean to evangelize? A healthy church will be marked by biblical evangelism, and we want to understand exactly what that means. Evangelism, we said, using Stiles' definition, is “teaching the gospel with an aim to persuade.” It doesn’t matter what context that’s done in, or if it’s done over the course of several meetings, if you proclaim the full gospel, then you are evangelizing, and that’s what we’re called to do.

And remember, a helpful summary of the gospel is: God, Man, Christ, Response. People need to know about God’s holiness and glory. He is the Creator, and He will, in righteousness, judge the world.

The word “man” is a reminder that people need to have their sinfulness exposed to them. Left to themselves, no matter how hard they try, they will not escape God’s judgment. That is the foundation that needs to be laid before we get to the solution of Christ.

Once a person has a recognition of their own unworthiness before God, then they will be able to have a fuller understanding of what God has done in Jesus Christ. Jesus will come as the Judge of all the earth, but He has already come as the Lamb—the sacrifice who paid the price of sin. He died on the cross as a substitute for His people, and through His resurrection, all Christians are united in victory over sin and death. That’s the work of Jesus the Lord.

The final component of the gospel is a call to a response. And in the Bible, the call to salvation is a call to repentance and faith. You turn from your sin, you turn from your way of thinking and living. Instead of hiding sin, you confess it, and you surrender to Jesus in faith—faith in who He is, as Creator and Lord, and faith in what He has done by dying and resurrecting.

So that’s a summary of the essential message of the gospel: God, Man, Christ, Response. Evangelism is when we teach or proclaim that gospel, hoping to see someone come to repentance and faith and salvation. So, week 1 answered the question: WHAT is evangelism?

Our second message dealt with the WHO question: WHO is supposed to evangelize? And we were reminded that it is the job of every single one of us. To the degree that the Lord provides opportunities, we’re all called to evangelize—even though we recognize that some of us are better at it than others.

We’re all ambassadors for Christ. And God would have you be part of a church that equips you to do it better.

So now, having covered some of the more foundational topics like the WHAT and the WHO, I thought it would be better for us today to get a little more practical. We know what our job is, but HOW do we do it? HOW are we supposed to evangelize?

For me, in terms of preaching, that question is easier to answer. Because the Bible is filled with examples of preaching. Jesus and the Apostles preached to crowds in the synagogues and in the places of learning. They preached to Jews and to Gentiles.

But what about the kind of evangelism that’s rooted in a personal relationship? We hear of people in the gospel coming to faith, and then that faith spreading to their household and their community. But we don’t always get an example of what they said or how it happened.

How are you supposed to speak about the gospel to your neighbor, or to your co-worker? That’s not really going to be a sermon. That’s a one-on-one conversation. How do you do that? Can the Bible really teach us how to do that? … Yes, it can.

But before we get to that, I want to say that on of the emphases in the Bible is that evangelism is part of our Christian life. It’s not a separate addition. And what that means is that every other aspect of your Christian life will be connected to it. When you think about evangelism, don’t put it in a corner all by itself. Think about how it connects to the others aspects of your life.

For example, as many of you know, our membership covenant lists seven areas of our Christian life. And you can think about how each of those areas affects and is affected by your evangelism. Because they enhance one another.

For example, take corporate worship. You value joining with the church and learning from the Word of God. The more you seek to evangelize, the more you will look forward to and value our gatherings, because you will want to be equipped. And what you gain from corporate worship will improve your evangelism.

The same is true for holiness. Being a more sanctified and loving Christian will make your evangelism more effective. And if you take evangelism more seriously, you will take holiness seriously, because you know people are watching you.

Just as a final example, there’s prayer. If you pray more and better, will you evangelize more? I think so. Because God will answer your prayers to provide opportunities and boldness. And if you’re evangelizing more, it will enhance your prayer life. Because you want to see fruit. You want to see people come to faith and repentance, and be joined to the family of God.

The point I want you to see is that we shouldn’t separate evangelism from the rest of our Christian life. We should think about it in relationship to everything else. Even though we’re focusing on that one topic in this series, don’t forget that evangelism is connected to the rest of your Christian life. It all needs to be thought through and addressed.

Having said all that, let’s get into some of the HOW of evangelism. And keep in mind, some of this is going to be more general, but you need to think about how this gets applied specifically into your own situation. This list has come from some of what I’ve been reading in the past couple weeks, but also from the various examples we have in the Bible about evangelism and verses that talk about it specifically.

I don’t think any of this will sound revolutionary or clever [ingenioso], but I hope it serves as a reminder to us. And there are probably one or two in this list that will stand out to you, and you can choose to focus on them more specifically. Maybe even share them with someone.

We’re going to move pretty quickly here so, don’t get bogged down trying to flip to all the Scripture references, but you can just make a note of it and study it later one if you’d like. I have got a total of 12 reminders today, so it’s a lot to cover. These are twelve reminders for effective evangelism. And thwy’re much more than tips. They are commands from our Lord.

1. Be prayerful.

    • Acts 4:29-31 [the churches prayer in response to the threat of the Jews]— And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
    • This was a unique time in the history of redemption, but what hasn’t changed in our reliance on God.
    • Ephesians 6:19-20 — [pray] for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
    • Paul needed prayer and so do we. We depend on the Holy Spirit for opportunities and for boldness.
    • With man, this is impossible. With God, all things are possible.
    • You want to enhance your evangelism? Be prayerful—before, during, and after.
    • Only God can turn a sinner’s heart.

2. Be prepared.

      • How many times have you practiced what you were going to say? That’s not wrong or inauthentic. What will you say?
      • COLOSSIANS 4:2-6 (prayer and preparation)
      • Preparation makes a better use of your time with someone, and it brings clarity. If the message isn’t clear, then it can’t have the proper effect.
      • Being clear with someone doesn’t just mean defining your terms. It also means making sure they understand what you’re NOT saying.
      • There’s an old saying: “Don’t speak so that it’s possible for people to understand you. But speak so that it’s impossible for them to misunderstand you.
      • The Gospel is not simply: Jesus loves you, or He wants to be Your friend. It’s not a self-help therapy. It’s not just a call to be more moral. And it’s not some kind of political movement you’re joining.
      • Actually, if you want to get technical, it is a political message. A new king is coming to rule over the nations forever in perfect justice. And He will judge you for your sin. But if you repent and surrender to Him now in faith, He’ll save you (on the basis of what He’s already done) and bring you into that perfect, eternal kingdom.
      • Being biblical also means making sure people know that this isn’t ultimately a message about them. It concerns them, but it isn’t about them. It’s about God. It’s about His glory. And it’s about how we can live for that.
      • Let’s work to be prepared, and to be as clear as we can.

3. Be biblical.

      • People need to know that the authority is God, not you. Ultimately, our words will not save anyone. It’s not just the church’s message; it’s God’s. And God’s word comes with power. It will accomplish His purpose (Isa 55:10-11)
      • What verses or truths have you committed to memory? If you don’t know any, learn some.
      • If you read through Acts, one of the things you notice about the sermons delivered by the leaders is how rooted and saturated they are with the Old Testament Scriptures. It was just flowing out of them. Moses, the prophets, the Psalms.
      • Stephen knew Israel’s history. Philip spoke to the eunuch starting in Isaiah 53. And even Jesus, after His resurrection, on the road to Emmaus, He speak and points them to the Scriptures.
      • The agents of salvation include the Spirit and the Scripture.
      • Romans 10:17 – faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
      • Maybe you could even consider asking someone if they’d be willing to read the Bible with you. I think the results would amaze you. Some people might respond positively.
      • And even if someone doesn’t want to read the Bible with you, the message you give them must be biblical. Give them a biblical message in a biblical method.

4. Be bold.

      • We saw this in the prayer for Paul and the Apostles. They prayed for boldness.
      • But just because they prayed for it, doesn’t mean they don’t need to exert themselves.
      • We’re all called to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, even though we know that it’s God who is at work in us (Php 2:12-13).
      • Speaking up with the truth of Jesus takes boldness. Let’s just admit that upfront. Let’s be prepared for it.
      • The Apostles were beaten. Stephen was stoned. Paul was almost killed. This is not an easy thing.
      • Paul told Timothy (2 Tim 3:12) all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
      • Why is that? Because there are some hard truths that need to be said.
      • We’re telling people that they deserve God’s wrath. We’re telling them that they are condemned by God. And we’re telling them that there is no other way they can be saved. That takes boldness.
      • On top of that, we’re telling them the difficult truths of Jesus. This is a costly decision. Jesus told us to count the cost. It requires you to lay down your life. It requires you to abandon all self-confidence and self-worth. You’re entrusting yourself to a new Master, and like we saw with the rich, young ruler, if you refuse to obey Christ, if you’re unwilling to serve Him, you can’t come. That message takes boldness.

5. Be loving. Be compassionate. Be humble. Be gentle.

      • Ultimately, we are not the source of anything. We’re not the Judge. We’re just the messengers. And apart from God’s grace in our lives, we would also stand condemned.
      • Do you remember the passage we read to start the sermon [Mark 10:13-31]? Jesus knew the man’s heart. He knew He wouldn’t follow Him. He knew he just wanted to justify himself. But, it says, Jesus loved him. Jesus loved him.
      • Unbelievers are not our enemies. They are enemies of God, but they are also the mission of God. He came to seek and save the lost.
      • Be aware that when we’re dealing with truth and error, it is a war. It’s a battle for truth. We oppose Satan an d his lies. But in terms of the unbelieving world, we are not soldiers. We are ambassadors, hoping to see them come to salvation.
      • Do you grieve over the lost? Do you feel sorry for them? God does!
      • Ezekiel 18:31-32— Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.”
      • Romans 10:21— All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.
      • Our heart should reflect Christ’s and God’s.
      • Last week’s passage (1 Peter 3:15)—honor the Lord, be prepared to make a defense, yet do it with gentleness and respect
      • I remember a pastor once saying: There’s already enough offense in the gospel, there’s no need to add to it with our approach.
      • 2 TIMOTHY 2:24-26 (not quarrelsome)
      • Sometimes, rather than forcing a discussion they’re not ready to have, you might consider asking them: “Do you mind if we have a spiritual conversation? Would that offend you?” And if they’re not ready to hear, they can tell you.
      • In the book of Acts, the sermons are mainly given in synagogues and in recognized places of teaching, which means that people who came were already willing to listen to something. I think that’s important.
      • We can’t force a conversion, and we can’t force someone to listen to us. So be loving, be gentle. Be a good friend. Earn their ear.
      • Connected to that…

6. Be righteous. Be a person of integrity.

      • Your life should back up the message. If you’re a lazy employee or a lazy student or a lazy athlete, what message will that send to those around you?
      • 1 Peter 3:16 – have a good conscience, so that no slander is legitimate.
      • Matthew 5:13-16—We are salt and light. Let them see our good deeds.
      • Our good deeds give credibility to and open opportunities for evangelism.
      • Galatians 6:9-10— Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone.
      • I think we all know this, but we need the reminder. Don’t undo the message by your behavior. Be righteous.

7. Be urgent.

      • This is emphasizing the final aspect of the gospel—the response. We are calling people to a response. Don’t be indifferent to that.
      • Hebrews 3 & 4—Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.
      • 2 Cor 6:2—Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
      • Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed for them. It isn’t guaranteed for any of us.
      • James 4:14—You don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Your life is a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
      • Mark Dever—“It’s not manipulative or insensitive to bring up the urgent nature of salvation. It’s simply the truth. The time of opportunity will end.”
      • We need to redeem the time and make the most of every opportunity (Ephesians 5). This world is passing away. (1 Corinthians 7).
      • This urgency should remind us that, contrary to how a lot of people talk about evangelism, it isn’t just an offer we’re making. It’s isn’t just an invitation. It’s an urgent call.
      • 2 Corinthians 5—God makes His appeal through us.
      • There needs to be an urgency in your evangelistic approach.

8. Be adaptive.

      • What I mean by this is that you have to be able to adapt to the person you’re speaking with. I don’t mean that we’re supposed to adapt the message. But the way we present it, and even how we explain it should be tailored to the person you’re speaking with. It should be personalized.
      • When I see or hear about an open air evangelist, I have mixed feelings. I don’t think it’s sinful or bad. I believe God can use it.
      • But sometimes, you have a person who is really gifted in that kind of style, and other times you have folks who are trying to imitate it, but they miss the heart and the intent. They focus more on a strategy or a script, rather than on interacting with the person in front of them.
      • Evangelism shouldn’t be some kind of script that goes the exact same way with every single person. Learn to consider who you’re talking to. Be personal with them.
      • If it’s a neighbor, opening a door for an evangelistic conversation could start with inviting them into your house. That’s huge. That’s important. That makes it personal.
      • Again, we don’t adapt the message, but we can customize our approach.
      • For example, none of Jesus’ conversations looked the same. The rich, young ruler. The Samaritan woman at the well. Nicodemus. The blind beggar. All of them were different, even though there were some common elements.
      • You can see that in Acts too. None of the sermons are exactly the same. The core element is the truth that they must repent and follow Jesus, but the expression of that looked different each time. Sometimes they preached to Jews, sometimes to Gentiles. But it was intentional for their audience.
      • As you talk to people, keep in mind that you are talking to a person. Talk to the person you’re with, NOT to imaginary people whom you have got completely figured out.
      • Sometimes, for example, if someone asks a question, it’s because they have a legitimate desire to learn. Other times, it’s just a way of sidestepping the issues. How do you know which it is? I think you can know if you listen to them and ask good questions.
      • If you are trying to evangelize your neighbor, for example, that shouldn’t be a one-sided conversation. You need to be listening. You need to be learning more about them as a person. Get to know them as a person, and then make the gospel personal for them.
      • What you want to do is help the person think about his/her own life. Get them to think through it for themselves. If you’re talking about sin, it’s not enough to say generically that everyone’s a sinner. They need to think about their own sinfulness before God.
      • Some people don’t know what they believe. And your conversations with them help them
      • Also, all of us have a natural defensiveness when it comes to talking about our sin. And talking to them personally can help lower those defenses.
      • You need to learn to listen to them. Ask thought-provoking questions. Help them clarify what they think or believe, and then you’ll have a better way forward in articulating what it is that the Bible teaches.
      • Be personal and be adaptive. Understand who it is you’re speaking to.

9. Be joyful.

      • I hope evangelism doesn’t sound like a chore or just a gloomy sort of deal. It’s not supposed to be a burden.
      • Yes, Christ expects us to evangelize… but
      • 1 John 5:3—His commandments are not burdensome
      • There is a reward awaiting us!
      • The Bible talks about evangelism in the language of love.
      • Those who came to know Christ spoke with joy and eagerness. It was an overflow of their own joy. That’s what the Samaritan woman did. That’s what many of the people did whom Jesus healed. Nobody was begging them to evangelize. But they recognized what Jesus had done for them, and so, out of the overflow of their heart, they proclaimed Jesus.
      • You might think: “Well, it’s so sad to talk to people about hell or sin or death.” And maybe it is. But our message doesn’t send anyone to hell. They’re already going there. Our message saved. We’re coming with the cure. we’re coming with the solution. And we should be joyful to participate in it.
      • Romans 1—I am not ashamed of the gospel. It is the power of God unto salvation.
      • The gospel brings eternal life. And eternal life is knowing God through Jesus Christ. Knowing the most glorious being in existence. The One who rewards all who come to Him. So let’s be joyful.

10. Be hopeful.

      • There’s a story I’ve heard about Charles Spurgeon. A young pastor came up to him sad because he said that he hadn’t had any converts for some time. Nobody’s come! Nobody’s come! and Spurgeon told him: “Young man, do you expect someone to come to Christ every time you preach?” And the man said: “Well, no.” And Spurgeon answered: “That is why you have no converts.”
      • There should be a hope and a confidence in our approach. Something is happening. God is working. Consciences are being pricked. The seed is being planted.
      • Paul was in Corinth, facing opposition. God said to him: “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.”
      • We may not have a personal guarantee from God that we won’t be harmed in this city, but we do know that His elect are in every tribe and tongue and people and nation and people group. And we have no way of knowing who will come to faith and who will not. So we can step out joyfully and hopefully.
      • Even if we think we could have done it better, God will work through whatever truth we presented. And He will bring His people to Himself.
      • So we should be expecting God to work. Be expectant.
      • If you pray for gospel opportunities, don’t be surprised when they come. Because God wants to glorify Himself.
      • Don’t you think God wants to answer your prayers about evangelizing? He wants to give you opportunities. He desires that all men should come.
      • So evangelize with hope in the power of the gospel and in the love and mercy of Jesus Christ.

11. Be corporate.

      • Evangelism is a group effort. Include the church in every aspect of evangelism.
      • Ask others to pray with you for opportunities and boldness and for conversion.
      • Those whom you evangelize: invite them to church
      • Introduce them to others in the church. We are a body, a family. Don’t assume you’re the best person to reach them.
      • they are joining a body.
      • Acts message: Repent and BE BAPTIZED! Make an outward public affirmation and get connected with a local church
      • The church is a body, and that is what they are joining. The New Testament tells us that the body of Christ is manifested locally in churches filled with those who have formally committed to the group.
      • Baptism is the church’s way of receiving and affirming a new convert
      • The church should be “attractively different” (Dever)
      • This is a team effort. Let’s work together, and not just bring people to a church meeting, but into the network of our relationships.
      • Be corporate.

12. Be steadfast. Be encouraged.

    • Be encouraged
    • 2 Cor 4:1—Having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.
    • 1 Cor 15:58—Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain.
    • Nike evangelism: Just do it.

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