|Volume 22 Number 1 January 2020||
Personal Evangelism Tip:
Have A Simple Plan
John 16:12 might be one of the most important principal verses to remember when it comes to personal evangelism. Jesus told His disciples, “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” In this context, Jesus explained that He was going away, and the Comforter would come in His place. However, the point is this: Jesus had much to tell the disciples about what was going to happen, but He knew they were not ready for it. Therefore, He did not burden and overwhelm them.
When it comes to evangelism, we feel like we need to teach everything all at once, and that is a huge mistake. When we teach, we need to have a plan, and we need to keep it simple. We have a lifetime to teach about the church functions, the home, gender roles, end times, church history, etc., but those are things that can wait. So, let’s focus on the most important things first: Establish the principles of authority and obedience. Take a biblical account like Noah, Naaman or any number of others and show (don’t tell) that to be saved we must do what God says the way He says to do it. Then, show in the New Testament what God said to do to be saved.
[Editor’s Note: The “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) cannot be presented in a single occasion of Bible study. Yet, there are fundamentals of which a prospective candidate for conversion must be aware and accept (e.g., three persons in the Godhead, the one church, Christian worship, Christian living). Biblically, one who would obey the Gospel (2 Thessalonians 1:8; Romans 6:17) may need to be apprised of known, specific sins for which he needs to repent (Acts 2:36-38) or of sins characteristically practiced by non-Christians (Acts 21:25). For instance, awareness that persons are cohabiting without marriage or that the practice is rampantly practiced and accepted in a society warrants introduction of appropriate Scripture treating the topic. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]
Members of the Lord’s church need to feel true compassion. Evangelism has too often grown a harsh edge in our thinking and actions rather than being an act of compassion. We need to teach the truth firmly and clearly without fear or compromise. However, we sometimes seem to have forgotten the underlying reason to practice evangelism.
It is important to note that the Scriptures often mention Jesus felt compassion (Matthew 9:36; Matthew 14:1). At one point, Jesus observed the city of Jerusalem:
Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:41-44 NKJV)
Interestingly, in the verses following this passage, Jesus went into the Temple and very emphatically cleared it of the moneychangers. That action did not negate His compassion and concern, but rather His action was guided by His compassion. Jesus cared about the people of Jerusalem, and yet, He recognized the destruction that would come to it less than 40 years from the day that He spoke those words. He literally cried over these lost people.
We have to learn to feel compassion for the lost. There are those who have dedicated their lives to sin and are thoroughly in the grasp of Satan. It is obvious, many times, even to them, that they are not right with God and that they need to change if they begin to desire to be right with God. We need to feel compassion for those who have lost their way. I know that others are part of Satan’s legions and proud of it. They are not the ones about whom we speak. However, even those whose lives are dedicated to sin ought to break our hearts because we see them heading for eternal destruction.
Recently, I sat in the midst of a group of predominantly denominational people. It struck me that many of them were sincere and that they had a faith that God is, and even that Jesus is His Son. It struck me that, because of the teaching they had received, they were totally convinced that they were right with God. Suddenly, I felt a great sorrow. It had to be the same kind of feeling that Paul expressed in Romans 9-10.
I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen. (Romans 9:1-5 KJV)
Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. (Romans 10:1-3)
Paul said concerning himself, “And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day” (Acts 23:1). He further said, “I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth” (Acts 26:9). He was fully convinced that he was doing what was right in the sight of God. It is not only possible, but it is often the case, that zealous people who are convinced that they are right with God become involved in process of “going about to establish their own righteousness.” That is exactly what denominationalism does. The apostle Paul understood how one can be religiously sincere and very zealous in religious beliefs and service, and yet be wrong.
However, sometimes I am afraid that evangelism is nothing more to some people than winning an argument. Obviously, we have to prove from the Scriptures the truth, and yet, with a wrong attitude, we can win an argument and lose a soul. In other cases, evangelism may be nothing more than a responsibility we have been given by direct command. We have been given that responsibility, and we must fulfill it. However, that truly should not be our major motivation, because without compassion we will mechanically go through the process with no true feeling in the matter. I am convinced that we will do the evangelizing that God wants, commands and expects, like it should be done, when we act out of an honest and sincere compassion for those who are lost. As I looked around me at the faces of so many who have been misguided religiously and realized that they needed to have the truth and needed to follow God’s pattern instead of manmade patterns, I realized that if I, and others like me, did not try to teach them that they will die, sincere, dedicated and lost. That truly breaks my heart.
Obviously, we cannot make anyone obey. Anyone who rejects God’s Word seals his own fate. It is also imperative that we present the whole truth and stand firmly against error. However, the reason we do that is not so we can be shown to be right, but instead so that precious souls will be saved. I know that “many” will travel the broad way to destruction, but that makes me very sad.