As I have shared previously (here, here, and here) I am currently burdened to look at my own attitudes toward evangelism both as an individual and as a corporate responsibility. In order to clarify my own thoughts I have undertaken a prayerfully closer look at some of the things I have previously learned on the subject/activity. Likewise, I have endeavored to share what I am learning with whomever out there finds these posts. Today I would like to introduce or even reintroduce you to a short book by pastor and author Mark Dever.
Mark Dever in The Gospel and Personal Evangelism has written a most helpful book addressing a topic and responsibility which most Christians fear. In so doing he has created a resource that anyone who has an interest in encouraging others in the duty to and joy of evangelizing the lost may use in developing a church wide program to accomplish that goal. He covers all of this information in seven short, yet packed chapters addressing everything from why Christians do not evangelize to what should be done after evangelism takes place.
Throughout this short book I was challenged to consider the reasons why many Christians do not engage in evangelism, what is the Gospel actually, how effective are we as Christians at communicating the Gospel, what evangelism is not, and why all Christians should be actively evangelizing the lost.
I was immediately struck by the reasons provided for why Christians do not actively engage the lost through evangelism as I have had opportunity to utter some of these same reasons. However, I was greatly encouraged by Dever’s “twelve-step program” for overcoming these excuses used to avoid the biblical mandate to evangelize unbelievers. I will actually be utilizing this checklist in my own life as I seek to model and develop a lifestyle of faithful evangelism. Furthermore, I believe that I will adapt this list into any future training others in evangelistic ministry.
The next two areas I was challenged by are directly related and will be dealt with in this paragraph; what exactly is the Gospel and how effective are we at communicating this Truth? In this particular area I was struck by what the Gospel is not and was thus able to zero in on what it is; that we as mankind are lost and rightly condemned due to our inherited enmity with God, but God has chosen to reconcile us to Himself through the satisfaction of His wrath in the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. In faithfully communicating this Truth to an unbelieving world they will not only be introduced to their need for salvation but they will likewise be introduced to the Saviour.
In addition to having my understanding of the simplicity of the Gospel message refined I was also instructed in the area of what evangelism is not. I was particularly struck by the knowledge that though they are useful in presenting the Gospel the mere communicating of one’s testimony is not evangelism. This is especially true if the Gospel is not explicitly communicated in the giving of the testimony; because after all isn’t this a methodology that many people rely upon solely in order to “evangelize” folks. I was additionally encouraged that evangelism is the faithful communication of the Gospel by the Christian, but the results of evangelism are in the hands and under the authority of the Lord. This knowledge attained and put into practice will negate the tendency to engage in purely pragmatic, emotion driven, results oriented, program driven methods of evangelism in the local church.
The reason normally given for why a Christian should be engaged in evangelizing unbelievers is that it is commanded in Scripture in what is normally referred to as “The Great Commission” (Matt. 28:13-20; Mk. 16:15; Luke 24:46-47; John 17:17-18; 20:21). Dever does not offer anything to countermand or undermine this understanding of Scripture; however he goes a bit further by providing the motivation for obedience, love. Love for God who has saved us (John 14:15) and love for those who are perishing even before our eyes.
So as I have done in past posts, I want to challenge you to go out and love God by sharing the good news of Salvation in Christ Alone, by Faith Alone, by Grace Alone, as presented in Scripture Alone, to God’s Glory Alone.