Evangelism: Its\’ Heart, Its\’ Head, It\’s Hindrances.

It’s rather providential that we should need to have a lesson on evangelism. Since preaching at Fairview I’ve been thinking about what I want to do next time I’m in there pulpit and I believe this is exactly what I want to do; in fact, I intend to make this lesson into my next sermon. I am sorry that I did not adequately teach you all this already but I am grateful that we have found a crack in our armor. Here forward, all the leaders of this bible study will make it a point to diversify our studies in the spiritual disciplines when the text allows for it. This is will be a bit different from most of my lessons; it will be (mostly) brief and non-exhaustive and it will be immediately practical. So first things first: How would you define “evangelism”? What is it? You can define it as: A speaking of Jesus because we love Him “Speaking to anyone, anywhere the Gospel”-John Piper. Or, my definition: honestly, humbly and holy telling others about the person and work of Jesus Christ and the worth thereof. Or, evangelism is speaking the Gospel to someone. And the Gospel is this: “it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” (Romans 1:16). What do all these definitions of evangelism have in common? They all involve the telling of Jesus. Evangelism is not evangelism if it doesn’t involve the telling of Jesus. The Greek word for Gospel is “Evangelion”; which is where we get the word for “evangelism”. That said, how would you all define the “gospel”? The Gospel means ‘good news’ and the good news is this: That God, in love, sent Jesus Christ to save sinners from the wrath of God. Now that we know what evangelism is can you all think of any texts that talk about evangelism? There are many but for our purposes, we will only look at a few. We will first look at the Parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30. What do y’all notice about this parable? Who are the characters? What are they doing? “The parable of the talents illustrates the tragedy of wasted opportunity. The man who goes on the journey represents Christ, and the slaves represent professing believers given different levels of responsibility. Faithfulness is what he demands of them (25:23), but the parable suggests that all who are faithful will be fruitful to some degree. The fruitless person is unmasked as a hypocrite and utterly destroyed (25:30)”-John MacArthur study bible notes on Matthew 25:14-30. What have y’all been given? Salvation, brothers, and sisters, (at least) 2 great teachers, etc. Are you wasting any opportunities with what you have been given? Almost certainly. Focusing on evangelism, are y’all wasting opportunities there? Probably; yes we all are. Why are we wasting opportunities in evangelism/sharing the Gospel? There are probably many reasons; most of those reasons probably boil down to fear (in some form or another). We will address those fears, those hindrances now. The first fear we will look at is the fear of failure in the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13:1-13. Anyone want to take a guess as to why I’d go here to address the fear of evangelism? Because here Jesus is teaching the guaranteed failure and success of the spreading of the word. There is no reason to fear failure when it is promised in the word of God. What else is promised in this passage? The success of evangelism (13:8). And who is the one responsible for the success of evangelism? Not us at all (praise God!). “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.” (13:11). The success of evangelism realizes on God and God working in/through you. You are not an evangelist alone. We are saved by Christ alone but He does not leave us alone to do His work/will. If He calls you He equips you. And we are all called to evangelize, for our Lord says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…(Matthew 28:19). And we evangelize by the power of God, the Holy Spirit working through us, as Spurgeon comments on the workings of regeneration, “If I say, ‘Repent, repent of your evil ways! Why will you die’ one may take no notice of it. But if the Holy Spirit will come and say this, then he will certainly be obedient to it; for He has the key of the heart, and He knows how, without violating the free agency of man, to make man willing in the day of His power.”-Charles Spurgeon on Ezekiel 33:11. Now that we have a guarantee of failure and success let us move on to another fear in Matthew 10:28. So what kind of fear, or dread, stops us from evangelism? A fear, or dread, of man. Look to Matthew 10:28 What sort of fear, or dread, should motivate us for evangelism? A fear, or dread, of God. (Isaiah 11:3). “The “fear of the Lord” is not about cowering away from God. It’s actually about being… possessed with and awed by his all-compelling majesty. Isaiah will go on to tell us about the Messiah who shall delight “in the fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:3). Here is a delightful dread. It’s being overwhelmed by the radiance of the Lord’s glory. Such fear is a liberating fear. It means that, when it comes to evangelism, we fight fear with fear. The fears will come… But as we enter a conversation, we are not to be awed by the desire to be liked. Instead, we should be awed by the all-surpassing greatness of Christ.” -Glen Scrivener, (Evangelism Made Simple: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/evangelism-made-simple). We evangelize fearfully out of fear/love of our Holy Father. Our fear, our love, our holy reverence for the Father outweighs our fear of man on the scales of eternity. I would far rather lose all my friends and receive eternal riches instead. We fearfully evangelize, whenever, wherever, whoever with a view of eternity in our hearts and minds. We evangelize because we love God and we love our friends/neighbors. Does all this mean that you will have the perfect answer, the perfect counter to every single person you interact with? No. Absolutely not. To paraphrase Matthew Chandler, “You’re not God!” We’re not supposed to know everything. (Here is a brief list of verses on overcoming fear, in this case overcoming fear in evangelism: Galatians 1:10. 2 Timothy 1:17 Isaiah 41:10 1 Peter 5:7 Philippians 4:6-7 Romans 8:15). So what do we need to do in evangelism? 1. We need to get to the point. The “Evangelion” in evangelism. The goal is to get to the Gospel! Your testimony is not the Gospel. It can include the Gospel. But it is not the Gospel. 2. We need to be honest. Honest in our delivery and defense of the Gospel. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, the life.” (John 10:10). We need not lie and look like we have all the answers, or mischaracterize our opponent\’s position. If you don’t know then perhaps say something like, “You know, I don’t know the answer to that one. But I’d love to continue meeting with you to talk about Jesus; maybe we could meet again sometime?” 3. We are humble in evangelism. We do evangelism out of love, or submission to God. Not to make ourselves look like we got the biggest brain in the room (I’m guilty of this). We evangelize by the power of God, to the glory of God (not ourselves). 4. We are to be holy in evangelism. What I mean by this is that: We are first and foremost: Holy, are we living a life of holiness/honor to God (NOT perfect holiness to God). But are you actually Christian, are you doing evangelism to honor God, or to try and earn your salvation from God, and do you take your religion seriously in private and public? I also mean that we take evangelism itself seriously (literally reverently). Our religion is serious business; we treat the sharing thereof with serious business. Any questions? Now, like I said at the top of the study; we will put this lesson into immediate practice. Jacob and I will be your “crash test dummies”. The setting is this: You and a co-worker of several months, are getting lunch, at a restaurant, together during your work break. You have never evangelized to this person before and they just think that you’re a really nice person, they may suspect that you’re a Christian but they don’t actually know that. Before you begin your scenario you may ask 3, and only 3, clarifying questions of your choosing to aid yourself and your delivery in the scenario. You can not change the scenario in any way. Once you have asked your questions I will give you a minute to consider your approach on how you wish to implement this lesson. Please note, not all scenarios will be the same, nor will all of them have the same results, so pay attention to each one and learn from them. After the scenario is completed we all discuss it; how did they do, what they could have done better, did they implement this lesson well, etc. This said, I reserve the right, as the Bible study leader, to “wild card” you a scenario of my personal choosing. So be alert. Further Reading on Evangelism From Desiring God: (All titles with an “*” on them are highly recommended reading) *Hi, I’m a Christian: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/hi-im-a-christian *How to Start a Conversation About Jesus: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/how-to-start-a-conversation-about-jesus *Awkward is Better Than Silent: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/awkward-is-better-than-silent *Everyone You Meet Will Live Forever: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/everyone-you-meet-will-live-forever Evangelism Made Simple: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/evangelism-made-simple God So Loved the World, He Sent You: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/god-so-loved-the-world-he-sent-you Lord, Help Me See Their Destiny: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/lord-help-me-see-their-destiny Guilt Evangelism: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/guilt-evangelism Four Ways to Witness to Atheists: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/four-ways-to-witness-to-atheists Are Introverts Better Evangelists: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/are-introverts-better-evangelists Lord Make Me More Bold: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/lord-make-me-more-bold

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