ASSUMPTIONS AND DEFINITIONS
Assumption #1 You are in Christ Jesus
Are you in Christ Jesus? This is something I can assume of you: it is NOT something YOU can assume of yourself. Being "in Christ" means, you have obeyed the Gospel after gladly receiving His Word. But that is not all it means. That is just getting into Christ: it is the beginning. In a race, there is a time when beginning is everything. But once the race has started, beginning is secondary. Then, the real issue is if you are IN the race.
I am assuming you are in Christ -- TODAY! That you are comfortable in His presence -- TODAY. I am assuming you are sensitive to His presence, and uncomfortable when you are not aware of Him. It is possible to be in the presence of the Lord and not know it--like Jacob: "Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it" (Gen. 28:16). The individual that is "in Christ" is not like that. This is the person that has died to self and the world: one that has been baptized into Christ's death. "Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life" (Rom. 6:3-4). This is the person that is walking in a new life, a life characterized by resurrection power (Phil. 3:10).
To be "in Christ" means you are in fellowship, or accord, with Christ. "God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful" (1 Cor. 1:9). You think of Satan and sin as He does. You see God and His promises as He does. Not only is Christ in you (2 Cor. 13:5), strengthening, teaching, and leading you; you are in Him, bringing great delight to Him. Such an individual is "a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Cor. 5:17). If you are going to evangelize, you have to do so as an "insider," so to speak. You must be "in Christ" to bring people TO Christ. You must be "in Christ" to speak FOR Christ. I assume you are "in Christ."
Assumption #2 You know you have passed from death to life
Knowing you have passed from life is having assurance. "We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death" (1 John 3:14). It lifts religion from the theoretical to the practical. Those that evangelize will confront many obstacles. They will be found in the people they are evangelizing, in the environment in which they evangelize, and even in themselves. If you are not positive you are with Christ and He is with you, the task will be threatening.
The wonderful part of this is that you CAN know you have passed from death to life. The evidence is found in your preference of others that are alive to God. If you develop, keep, and prefer that kind of friends, you can become sure of your standing in Christ. If, on the other hand, your best friends are OUT of Christ, and you feel more comfortable with them, it reveals a serious deficiency.
I am not speaking about condemning everyone you know that is out of Christ. That is not the point here. If you do not prefer God's people, how can you be sure you prefer God? What is more, this attitude will be sensed by those you evangelize, and they will be disinclined to you as a bringer of good news. They may like you as a friend, an athlete, or musician. But if they are not attracted to you as a follower of Christ, they are not likely to receive your message.
Your assurance -- knowing you are now dead in sin and alive to God -- will affect your whole person. It is something like a swimmer. When the water gets deep, it is not long until you know who can swim and who cannot. And what is really the difference between someone that can stay on top of the water and someone that cannot? It is simply confidence. If you are not afraid of the water, and know that you can swim, you can make it. It is the same with evangelizing. If you are saved and know it, you can be effective.
I am assuming you really know that you have passed from death to life. If you do not know this, do not imagine that you can be effective for Christ. If you DO know this, do not imagine that you cannot be effective for Him.
Assumption #3 You are fighting the good fight of faith
We do not live for Christ in a vacuum. We are in a world that has Satan as its prince and god (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; 2 Cor. 4:4). We are also aligned against "the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Eph. 6:12). These are Satanic forces that are intent on bringing you down. Beside that, part of you has not been born again. You still have an alarming capacity to sin. Satan knows it, and entices you through your own base desires. "But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed" (James 1:14). You are also surrounded by thousands of distractions that can dull your heart toward Christ and His will.
What can you do about a situation like this. Scripture admonishes us to "Fight the good fight of the faith" (1 Tim. 6:12). That means you will have to exert effort to keep believing. Once faith comes to you, it is not welded, so to speak, to your soul. It is more like you holding faith in your hand, while the devil is trying to take it away. You fight to keep your faith! You fight to keep Christ dominant in your life! You fight to make some progress toward heaven! You fight to be in good standing when Jesus comes again and the world ends!
I assume you are fighting the good fight of faith. If you are, it will make you a good witness. If you are not, it will make you a bad one.
Some have viewed evangelizing as saving the lost. Still, others think of it as telling people what to do to be saved. You must know that there are many quick programs that claim they can produce evangelists. An evangelist -- one that evangelizes -- is not someone that has been trained to be one. It is not someone that has taken a course in evangelizing -- although they may have incidentally done these things.
Evangelizing is announcing, or reporting. It is not diagnosing people, it is proclaiming a message. It is not condemning souls, it is announcing liberty. When you evangelize, you report something that has already happened. You are not foretelling something that will happen, but announcing something that has happened.
The daily newspaper is a form of evangelizing, except it is on an earthly level. The good newsman will tell you precisely what has happened in the news. If he is a real good newscaster, he will show you how relevant matters bear directly upon you -- something like a weather man announcing a tornado, then telling you it is headed for your house. That would have something to do with you!
In Christ, evangelizing is the announcement of good news, or glad tidings. Good news is not simply the report of something that IS good, the hearing of it makes the listeners glad they heard it. Jesus announced good news. "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor" (Lk. 4:18-19).
The good news concerns what Jesus HAS done, and what He IS doing! He has put away sin (Heb. 9:26). He has destroyed the devil (Heb. 2:14). He has plundered spiritual powers aligned against us (Col. 2:15). He has taken away the condemning Law (Col. 2:14). He is now appearing in God's presence FOR us. He is interceding for us (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25). As we are engaged in His work, He is with us, even to the end of the world (Matt. 28:20; Heb. 13:6). That is good news--nothing but good news. It is especially good because it is for the very people to whom it is announced.
This good news has power--unimaginable power! God has spoken, and it will not be rescinded. "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation . . . " (Rom. 1:16). What does that mean? How is the Gospel powerful? There is an attraction to the Gospel that breaks through the hardness caused by sin. It is a beautiful message that offers hope to anyone and everyone seeing their need of a Savior. If an individual--any individual--will open up his ears and heart to the Gospel, he will be attracted to it. It has DRAWING power. This power is not literary power, like a beautiful story that makes you cry or laugh. It is divine power. The Good News is about the Person of Christ, and He Himself is present to work when the message is proclaimed. That is what gives it power. However, if you do not declare a message that Christ-centered, do not expect it to be powerful!
The evangelist is not someone who listens to people unload their problems and concerns. It is someone that powerfully announces good news that is superior to all the world's bad news. If you will preach and teach Christ--Who He is, and what He has and is doing--your words will become the most important words. They will appeal to those with tender hearts, and help them rise above Satan's delusions.
WHY EVANGELIZE? You are God's steward
The Apostle Paul referred to himself as a "servant (steward) of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God" (1 Cor. 4:1). Peter said we are "faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms" (1 Pet. 4:10). What is a steward? It is a servant, but much more than a servant. Jesus has NOT surrounded Himself with vassals, but with fellow workers. You are working with Christ, nor merely for Him (1 Cor. 3:9)!
A steward is a manager--something like an executive vice president. When Jesus went back to heaven, He left this marvelous Gospel in our care. If His people do not preach the Gospel, it simply will not be preached. They have charge of it, and will be held accountable for what they did with it. That is the meaning of the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-30).
Satan has blinded minds
When you bring the good news to people, they will not always smile and say "Thank you!" Sometimes they will make it difficult for you by rejecting the message you love so dearly. If this happens, you must remember WHY it happens. It is not because of the WAY you said things, or because they do not like you personally. It is because Satan has blinded them. This is not conjecture, it is a matter of revelation. "And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God" (2 Cor. 4:3-4).
What is to be done when you confront a situation like this? Should you just step back and let Satan have the individual? The answer ought to be obvious. You proclaim the Gospel all the more forcefully, knowing that Satan cannot stand to hear the truth. It is like this. If you want God to turn away from you, tell him lies whenever you speak to Him. He cannot stand the lie, and will have nothing to do with it. Satan is that way about the truth. He cannot stand it, and is repulsed by it. Put it in his face, and give him no rest!
Faith comes by hearing
"And without faith it is impossible to please God . . . " (Heb. 11:6). If the people to whom you witness do not come to have faith, they will never be able to please God. And, if they do not please God, they do not stand a chance of getting into heaven. The question is, how does a person come to believe?
Some people are good marketeers. They can sell you practically anything because of their overpowering personality. But this is not the way it is when bringing people to faith. Faith "comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ" (Rom. 10:17). Faith does not come by seeing! It does not come by touching? It comes through the vehicle of hearing. The saying "I had rather see a sermon than hear one," is an old wives fable. The Gospel is something that is heard; and if it is not heard, people will not believe. To be sure, your life must be consistent with the Gospel; yet, the power is in the Gospel, not in your life. Godly living is to the Gospel what clothing is to a person--it "adorns" it (Tit 2:10)..
But faith does not come by simply hearing sounds. It is the MESSAGE heard that produces faith. That message is "the word of Christ," or the Gospel. Earlier that message is called "the good news" (Acts 13:32; Rom. 10:15). This is the proclamation of what Jesus accomplished in His death, resurrection, and return to heaven.
You will never produce faith by reading the ten commandments. They are not calculated to produce faith. You can read Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy--in one sitting--and they will not induce a spark of faith. For the believer, they will be edifying, but they cannot produce faith. That was not why God gave them. But the Gospel is another story. It is an announcement of good news, something that has been accomplished for the individuals to whom you speak.
Souls are precious to God
God did not love the world because it was worthless. He made humanity in His own image, with the unique capability of enjoying and working with the Living God. Everything about the Gospel points to the value of people. Jesus left heaven to save us (Phil. 2:6-8). He "suffered, when He was tempted" so He could save us (Heb. 2:18). He "learned obedience," so He could save us (Heb. 5:8). He was cursed by God, so we would not have to be cursed (Gal. 3:13). He became sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. 5:21). He loved us and gave Himself for us (Gal. 2:20).
Our worth, of course, is not the result of our accomplishments. People are not valuable to God because they have done such wonderful things. They are precious because they bear His image, or likeness (Gen. 1:26,27; 9:6; 1 Cor. 11:7; James 3:9). They have the capacity to live with Him and share with Him.
DO NOT LET TRUTH DIE IN THE STREET
It is possible for truth--God's wonderful truth--to die in the very streets it is intended to bless. This happened in Isaiah and Jeremiah's day. "So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter" (Isa. 59:14). "Truth has perished; it has vanished from their lips" (Jer. 7:28).
How did the truth die, or perish in the streets? Simply by not being proclaimed. All you must do to see the truth lose its power is not proclaim it. The Gospel will not be the power of God to anyone unless it is announced. The Gospel will not sound good to anyone unless they hear it.
Jesus is counting on you! He has left the treasure of the Gospel with you, and promised to give you whatever is required for you to keep and report it. Now, go in the strength of the Lord! Remember, "your labor in the Lord is not in vain" (1 Cor. 15:58). Now, go in the strength of the Lord, and work in His harvest!
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