Our soul winning verse from the Word of God today is 2 Timothy 2:15 which reads: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
Our soul winning quote today is from Charles Haddon Spurgeon. He said: “Swords are meant to cut and hack, and wound, and kill with, and the word of truth is for pricking men in the heart and killing their sins. The word of God is not committed to God’s ministers to amuse men with its glitter, nor to charm them with the jewels in its hilt, but to conquer their souls for Jesus.”
Our soul winning devotional is part 43 of our series titled “What Evangelism Is” from Dave Earley and David Wheeler.
Evangelism Is…A Lifestyle
Jesus Was a Lifestyle Evangelist
In John 1:14, we read: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” The Greek term for “flesh” (sarx) is used when referring to “flesh, muscles, tissue and the like.” The implication is that Jesus, who was born physically, was a human being through and through. The word incarnation is taken from the Greek in carne or, literally, “in the flesh.” “Dwelt,” used in John 1:14, is an Aramaic term that could be translated “pitching one’s tent.” Linking the two ideas together, we see that Jesus did not merely shout the good news at us from heaven. No, He literally became one of us and “pitched the tent” of His life among us so He could get the message of God to us in a manner that was “full of grace and truth.”
We Should Be Lifestyle Evangelists
Richard Bond leads an organization dedicated to proclamation evangelism. Yet he sees the wisdom and biblical teaching of combining both proclamation and affirmation in order to reach the lost. In addressing the value of affirmation evangelism, he writes:
As God personally brought the Good News to mankind, so we are to “incarnate” Christ to the lost, that is, to penetrate, (pitch our tent) significantly into the lives of the non-Christian for the purpose of not only verbalizing the Gospel but also to live it before them. As Christ lives His life through the believer, they see the “visible expression of the invisible God” as well as hearing the Word of salvation.
Acts 1:8 gives the famous last words of Jesus when He told His followers, “Ye shall be witnesses.” Note that His last command was to be witnesses, not merely do witnessing. Doing witnessing without being a witness tends to treat lost people as projects instead of friends.
While proclamation evangelism alone may reach some people, the people it reaches are usually already prepared. They have already heard the basic truths of Christianity a few times, and God has been working on their hearts. The seed of the gospel has already been planted and watered and is ready to be reaped.
As America becomes more and more secularized, most of the prepared people have already been reached. Secularized people are rarely reached through an initial encounter with the gospel and rarely through proclamation of the gospel alone. They require time to process the information and observe an affirmation of the message as seen in an authentic life. They have to see Jesus in us before they believe what we have to say about Him.
Stop and think what we expect when we proclaim the gospel to a nonbeliever. Let’s say we approach a 20-year-old secularized man with the intent of proclaiming the gospel to him. He has rarely, if ever, been to church. Over the past 20 years, he has done primarily what he wanted to do, establishing habits and developing his own belief system. Almost everything he has fed into his mind is contrary to the Word of God.
Let’s say we spend an hour explaining the gospel. Now what do we expect to happen? Often we expect him to conclude that the direction he is taking in his life is wrong. We expect him to turn his back on 20 years of living and say, “For 20 years I have been mistaken. In one hour you have shown me how to change everything I have ever believed. I repent of my sin and cry out to Jesus to save me.”
To expect that to happen is to expect the practically impossible. Does it ever happen like that? Yes, but in America it is occurring less and less often than it did 30 years ago. Why? People are less prepared. They did not learn the Ten Commandments in public elementary school. They do not have a strong church background. They do not know many evangelical Christians as friends. The story of Jesus is new to them. They usually need time to process the decision.
In closing, remember these two quotes regarding lifestyle evangelism:
Sheldon Vanauken said: “The best argument for Christianity is Christians: their joy, their certainty, their completeness. But the strongest argument against Christianity is also Christians – when they are somber and joyless, when they are self-righteous and smug in complacent conversation, then Christianity dies a thousand deaths.”
Greg Laurie said: “It’s been said that there are two reasons people do not go to church: (1) They don’t know a Christian, or (2) They do.”
In our next broadcast, we will look at why evangelism is…Winning Three Battles So Jesus Can Win the War