Thoughts on Evangelism :: By Sheila Gillespie

I thought I was saved when I was 9. I remember getting baptized, but I really don’t think that I was born-again. I was an ‘on-and-off-again” Christian. I can’t find that in Scripture anywhere. I was married when I was 17 years old and had my first child the week before I turned 20. I was married for 9 years before I had a spiritual conversation with my husband. When I think of that now, it seems so strange. I wonder how many people are just like we were. What a mess we had made of our lives!

At 26 years old, I can confidently say I was saved. The Lord spoke to my heart; I knew my life was loaded down by many sins, and I knew He was the only one who could lift that load. I also had a healthy fear of death. My conscience told me if I were to die, I would go to hell. I used to quote John 3:16 in my mind while telling God, “I believe!” But my life proved otherwise. (The Bible says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.)

I was a compulsive gambler and had been since I was about 18. I was on the verge of losing my husband and my sanity when someone cared enough about me and loved the Lord enough to obey HIS command to seek and save the lost. Because that person did, she shared the gospel with me. The gospel was definitely for me. I repented of my sins and put my faith in Christ, and I haven’t looked back since.

But the gospel is not just for the down and out. Salvation is not just for those who are about to lose their homes or their families, or for those who are getting ready to go to jail. Luke 4:18 records what Jesus said as He read in the synagogue from the prophet Isaiah:

“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives; and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”

Do you know of any unconverted people who do not fit that description? The Bible tells us they are spiritually dead. John 3:17 says they are condemned already. They are blind, naked and captive. The Bible clearly states that the soul that sins shall die. If a person slips into eternity without Christ, the fate that awaits is hell—where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth and where the worm does not die. Hell is a hard thing to talk about or even think about, but that is the truth from the Word of God.

So, here’s the first question: Do you WANT to step out of your comfort zone and begin to share your faith? You know, the sad thing is that I can presume that most of us do not share our faith on a regular basis. In fact, according to the Barna Research Group, only 55 percent of born-again Christians believe it is their responsibility to even share their faith at all. And according to Dr. Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ, only 2 percent of Christians share their faith on a regular basis.

The second question is this: What does God’s Word tell us about sharing our faith? Take a look at the following!:

Luke 19:10: “The Son of man has come to seek and save that which was lost.”

Romans 10:14: “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?”

2 Corinthians 5:9-20: “Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.”

How can we question our responsibility to share Christ? If we believe what we say we believe–namely, that Jesus is the Way the Truth and the Life, and that no one comes to the Father except through Him, and if we truly believe there is a heaven and a hell, and that there is no such place as purgatory, then we can’t go on ignoring the spiritual condition of the people around us!

House on Fire

Imagine seeing a group of firefighters polishing their engine outside a burning building with people trapped on the top floor. Nothing is wrong with cleaning a fire engine—but something is wrong with cleaning a fire engine while people are trapped in a burning building. Instead of ignoring their cries, the firefighters should have an overwhelming sense of urgency to rescue them. That’s the spirit that should be behind the task of evangelism. As I said before, only 2 percent of believers in America regularly share their faith with others. That means that 98 percent of the professing Body of Christ does not sense the need to tell anyone about the salvation they received even when they know others need to receive it as well.

Oswald J. Smith said, “Oh my friends, we are loaded down with countless church activities, while the real work of the Ccurch, that of evangelizing and winning the lost, is almost entirely neglected.”

We have polished the engines of worship, prayer, and praise and neglected the sober task given to us by God. A firefighter who ignores his responsibilities and allows people to perish in flames is not a firefighter; he is an impostor. How can we ignore our responsibility and allow the world to walk blindly into the fires of hell? If God’s love dwells in us, we must warn them. The Bible tells us to “have compassion…save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh” (Jude 22-23).

If you don’t have love and compassion, ASK HIM FOR IT! I can testify that I was just like that. I didn’t want to see people going to hell, but the truth is, I really wasn’t doing anything about it. You all may be thinking right about now, Hey, this lady has the gift of evangelism. But I don’t. I get sick to my stomach at the thought of sharing the gospel. Oh, I can ask people to go to church or tell them I will pray for them, but sharing the gospel is different.

You know, it’s interesting that in the many times I have shared the gospel with strangers, I have yet to have anyone yell at me, spit on me, cuss at me or do anything dreadful (although I do believe that day is coming!). It will always be a spiritual battle. The enemy will hit us hard, but we have the words of eternal life. Satan will do all he can to keep us quiet. BUT this is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith, AMEN!

Charles Spurgeon once said, “Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you are not saved yourself. Be sure of that.” That is a hard statement…but think about it! But then remember that God will always answer the earnest cry of any believer who cries out, “Lord, give me compassion for the lost.”

If God is speaking to you about your lack of evangelistic concern, before your head hits the pillow tonight, ask Him to make you a true and faithful witness, and to fill you with HIS compassion. We must stop making excuses.

The next logical question is this: Would you know how to share the gospel with someone who is not down and out? Someone such as your doctor, your child’s teacher, your mailman, or the person behind you in the grocery line? Do you have an effective way to share the gospel with everyone? Would you know how to move a conversation from the natural to the spiritual?

You have heard the slogan, “What would Jesus do?” I think a better question might be, “What did Jesus do?”

Look at Jesus and the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17. What DID Jesus do? He used the Ten Commandments to bring conviction of sin.

What does the Bible says about the Ten Commandments or the moral law of God?

Psalm 19:7: “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.”

Galatians 3:24: “The law is a school master or (teacher) to bring us to Christ.”

Romans 7:7: “I would have not known sin except by the law.”

Romans 3:19: “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.”

Romans 2:15: “The work of the law is written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them.”

We must remember that the preaching of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. If I were to tell you I have paid $1 million to purchase the cure for a horrible, terminal disease and that I am going to give you the cure, you would probably think I am a bit loony. But, if I took the time to tell you that you have the disease and that there are 10 sure symptoms of the disease written all over you and you will die without the cure, you will be far more likely to accept the cure…even eagerly reach for it…and will probably even be ever so grateful to me for providing it.

In the same way, when you take the time to shine the mirror of the Ten Commandments onto the heart of a self-righteous sinner, and to expose the disease of their sin, then the cure will make sense to that person. If a person doesn’t fully understand that he or she is lost, he or she won’t understand the need to be saved.

So how Does It Work?

Many people think they must get to know a person before they can share the gospel with that person. YOU WILL NOT find that in Scripture. Did Jesus do that with the rich young ruler? The woman at the well? How about the Pharisees? How about the great multitudes that followed Him at the Mount of Olives? No, you won’t find it in Scripture. It sounds like a nice idea, but you won’t find it in Scripture.

Friendship evangelism is NOT recorded in Scripture. Remember, God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. Use the “law” to resist the proud as Jesus did. The “law” is the teacher. It points its cold, chilly finger at sin. When we say, “All have sinned”… the unregenerate sinner says, “I agree, so what?”

If you, along with a group of others, are caught by the law vandalizing a neighborhood, it won’t matter how many lawbreakers are with you, you will still be personally guilty. Once the law has done its work on a self-righteous person, then that person is ready for the cure. Only then will the cross of Christ no longer be foolish.