Grace For The Journey
Several years ago, Dr. David Beck, professor of New Testament and Greek at Southeastern Seminary, made this statement, “Evangelism is often recognized as the heartbeat of the church, yet it is rarely the focus of serious research among biblical scholars.” In a message during a Southeastern chapel service, he asked faculty and students:
“How did people in the first century evangelize without attending an evangelism training seminar? Did Paul invent the FAITH outline, did Peter ever go through CONTINUING WITNESS TRAINING, or did James write the FOUR SPIRITUAL LAWS booklet? … Why did none of the New Testament authors write and circulate an evangelism manual? … It would seem that evangelism was not something planned or programmed by the early church. Yet consistently and constantly the Bible tells us that, ‘The Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved [Acts 2:47].’”
Dr. Beck concluded that the early church does not appear “to have been trained in any special [evangelism] seminar. …
When you study the Book of Acts, what you discover is . . .
Evangelism in the life of the early church
Was neither a plan, a program,
Or a particular presentation.
Rather . . .
It was the natural overflow
Of hearts filled with Jesus.
I believe that today’s church needs to return to a less programmatic Gospel presentation and return to a Gospel presentation that results from “the natural overflow of hearts filled with Jesus.”
To do this the church needs to focus on answering three questions:
- What are the Gospel essentials?
What content must a person know in order to share the entire Gospel with unbelievers?
God answers that question
Through Paul’s Spirit inspired
Summary of the Gospel
In 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.
There he declares, “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you which also you received and in which you stand, by which you also are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you – unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”
These verses sum up the entire teaching of the Bible
Concerning what we need to know regarding
What Jesus Christ has done for us
In order to provide us the gift of eternal life.
Anyone who knows enough of the Gospel to have heard it, believed it, and been saved by it, knows enough of the Gospel to share it. Conversely, anyone who doesn’t know enough of the Gospel to share it should ask himself whether he has ever heard and believed enough of the Gospel to have been saved by it in the first place.
Recall the Gospel message you heard and believed. At its core, it likely included:
- The reality and consequences of sin.
- The truth that the God-man Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and was raised on the third day.
- An invitation to repent of your sins and trust what Jesus did on the cross through His resurrection alone to save you; and verbally confess as Savior and Lord.
This truth is what causes our hearts
To overflow with love and appreciation
For what Jesus has done.
This is the only enduring motivation
That fills our hearts to overflowing
And “compels” us to share Christ with others.
This is reinforced in Romans 10:14-15, where the Bible says, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!”
Note the last phrase of verse 15 – “Glad tidings of good things?” This phrase is doubly emphasized in the original Greek because the verb itself means “to preach good news.” In a sense, nothing more would have been needed. But Paul then adds an adjective which the King James Version captures well — “glad tidings of good things” — literally, “who preach good news of good things.” In other words . . .
Paul is telling us that . . .
This is outstandingly good news,
Great news, unimaginable, super news
That is unmatched and unparalleled
To any other news we receive!
It is, furthermore, “news” from outside ourselves, news of something that we’ve not done, to which we’ve made no contribution. When the television announcer says, “Here is the news,” we don’t immediately tense up, wondering what we are going to be asked to do. We relax, we listen, we understand, and if the news is good – if the economic situation is improving, if the weather is going to be nice, or if our favorite sports team has won – we are glad for it.
In the same way . . .
The gospel is news outside ourselves,
News of what someone else has done
Which can affect us in a supremely positive way!
What is this good news?
Quite simply, it is salvation.
Paul loves to use that word over and over again. In Romans 10 verses 9, 10, and 13 he has emphasized it repeatedly: “That If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved . . . With the mouth confession is made unto salvation” . . . “For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This is the good news –
Through what Jesus has done we are saved –
Saved from sin, from wrath, from death, from the devil, and from hell.
The good news is that we may be saved in our bodies and in our souls, saved for joy, for holiness, for fulfillment, for God. We may be saved for an endless, abundant life in heaven. God has done something by which we may be saved. Think of a project you have written on your computer which has taken hours of careful work. What an achievement, but one thing remains even when you have put in the last sentence. You need to move the marker to the “Saved” box and click on it. Then all that carefully gathered and thought out work is saved! The Lord Jesus Christ was sent into the world by the Father to seek and to save that which is lost. If He has come for us, and found us, and died for us, and lives in heaven interceding for us then how can we be lost? He has saved us. Great news! We are safe because of what the Son of God has done for us.
Paul uses a beautiful phrase in Romans 10 verse 12 when he describes him as “the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.” Here is more good news – How great are those riches! What good news this is! Instead of condemning us to hell for ever, God in Christ bestows His riches on us. In fact . . .
It would be wrong to confine this to abstractions,
For the good news is a person –
The Lord Jesus Christ.
He is the good news.
It is Christ Himself
Whom the preacher offers.
This is the best news there ever has been or ever will be!
- What Scriptures will I use to communicate these essentials?
Which Bible verses communicate these essentials that you and I have heard and believed? The New Testament presents two reasons why the Scriptures must be incorporated in our Gospel presentations.
1) Hearing the Word of Christ is prerequisite for biblical faith. The Bible says in Romans 10:17, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” This truth is reinforced in Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4; John 8:31-32; and 1 Peter 2:2.
2) Those who share the Gospel with unbelievers in the New Testament overwhelmingly incorporated the Scriptures (e.g., Luke 24:14-32; Acts 2:14-41; 3:11-26; 4:1-12; 7; 8:4, 35; 13:13-49; 16:25-32; 17:10-13; 18:5, 28; 20:27; 26:22-23; 28:23-27).
Likely you can call to mind verses that communicate the Gospel essentials that you heard and believed. For example . . .
- John 3:16 tells us of God’s great love for us and what His love led Him to do.
- John 6:38-40 tells us specifically where Jesus fits into God’s Gospel message.
- Romans 3:23 communicates the consequences and reality of sin.
- 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 conveys the truth that the God-man Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and was raised on the third day.
- Romans 10:9 contains the Gospel’s invitation to repent of your sins; believe in both Jesus Christ and His death, burial, and resurrection for your salvation; and verbally confess, “Jesus is Lord.”
With the Spirit’s help, select a verse that communicates each of the Gospel essentials and use these verses in your evangelistic presentation of those Gospel essentials.
- How do I instruct a willing hearer to repent, believe, and confess?
Some Christians believe that the most difficult aspect about evangelism comes at the beginning of the process – starting a Gospel conversation with another person. However, another aspect of evangelism can be just as terrifying, if not more so and that is finding that the person you share the gospel with is convicted by God’s Spirit of their sin and their need to accept Christ as Savior; yet you don’t know how to help him receive Christ. How do you lead an unbeliever to repent of his sins, believe in Jesus Christ for salvation, and confess Him as Lord?
If, after an unbeliever hears the Gospel,
They are convicted by the Spirit
Of the sin and need of Jesus,
Desires to repent, believe, and confess,
Then consider asking him to call on God in prayer.
Usually, an unbeliever does not know how to pray to God.
So, first have him share with you the reason he needs to pray to God. As they respond listen for them to admit their sinfulness and need for God’s forgiveness.
Second, ask him to tell God, in his own words, that what he has understood from the gospel essentials you shared can forgive his sins and make him right with God. Listen for him to reference the essence of the Gospel.
Third, instruct him to confess with sincerity the phrase, “Jesus is Lord.”
Finally, invite him to thank God for what he understands God has done for him. Usually, new believers will thank God for His forgiveness, His presence, His mercy, and His grace.
Wow . . . doesn’t all this truth warm your heart and cause it to overflow in love and thanksgiving for all the Jesus has done? Well then, go out and tell someone about Jesus!
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”