Evangelism and Our Sovereign God

9 Jun

Evangelism is oftentimes misunderstood.  And because it is misunderstood, evangelism is oftentimes neglected by those of the body of Christ.  However, if we recognize the true nature of evangelism, then we can live out our calling as Christians to be witnesses to and proclaim the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.

What Evangelism Is Not

1. Evangelism is not your personal story of life-change.
This is an amazing testimony to the power of the Gospel of God’s grace, yet is not itself the Good News of Christ. Many will find it interesting and, perhaps, even emotionally compelling, but it is not a true description evangelism.

2. Evangelism is not telling people “God love you.”
This is an aspect of the Gospel, for if God did not love, He would not have chosen to redeem a sinful people for His glory and their eternal joy. To merely tell people that God loves them is to lull them into a sense of comfort and belief that following Christ or putting their faith in anything is unnecessary because God already loves them.

3. Evangelism is not tell people they are going to Hell
While this may well be true of those who reject Christ and live in willful rebellion against God, telling people they are going to Hell is not evangelism. To those who do not know Christ, Hell is of little significance and will often lead to argument.

4. Evangelism is not merely talking about spiritual things or doing good for others
Discussion about spiritual things is good and can lead to true evangelism, but it is not of itself, witnessing to the truth of the Gospel. I urge you to engage in spiritual conversation with your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers, but do not confuse discussing the existence of God  with the Gospel. On the other extreme, some believe that evangelism is something that is lived out.  This often takes the form of social justice (taking care of the poor, funding mercy ministries, community restoration, etc.). Yet taking care of people’s physical needs out of the love and gratitude that flows through us because of the Gospel is not itself evangelism.  These things are good and should be pursued as we feel led by the Spirit, but should not be mistaken for evangelism.

So, What is Evangelism?

Evangelism can be defined as stepping out in faith, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to share the historical truth claims of Jesus’ perfect life, death and resurrection, as well as the call for us to repent of our sin and put our faith in His finished work on our behalf (for our sin), and leaving the results up to God. That is evangelism.  We are called to share the amazing truth of Jesus’ life and the implications it has for us. If we bear witness to this truth, we are successful. It is not based on whether or not people receive this good news, or reject. That is the work of our sovereign God, who by the power of His Spirit, moves in those whom He chooses to move. We cannot know if He will soften one’s heart and bring him or her to saving faith. But we do not need to worry, for if we proclaim the truth of this message and do so in loving obedience and trust that God will use it for good, we are 100% successful. God receives the glory of His name and message being proclaimed, we store up treasure in heaven, and, if God so chooses, we get the privilege of being the instrument through which another comes to know and enjoy the Lord of our salvation!

For more on evangelism and sharing the Gospel, check out Mark Dever’s book, The Gospel and Personal Evangelism (Crossway Books, 2007). 

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