Education Is Important
Voting Is Important
Right Living Is Important
But Sharing The Gospel
Is First In The Order Of Magnitude
Personal Evangelism is almost a lost art. We rarely discuss it and because of that, we engage it even less.
The broad topic of Evangelism is mentioned often but it covers so many subtopics, from salvation to ordination and everything in between, that it’s hard to clarify the focus. Someone says the word Evangelism and it’s anyone’s guess as to what they mean.
Personal Evangelism, which doesn’t get so much attention, is very different. It’s personal, meaning it’s relational. It involves at least two people: the Christian who shares the Gospel and the unbeliever they share it with.
It’s one person, a Christian, sharing the Gospel with at least one other person, an unbeliever, usually face-to-face, and the intent is always the same, the salvation of a soul.
That’s how it is usually described but my experience defies that description. I’ll explain shortly.
Jesus Wants To Save Souls
When we finally get around to discussing Personal Evangelism, we are so focused on what to say, how to say it, and how to deal with objections – all important stuff – that a significant truth is often ignored or minimized.
The evangelist is never alone. He or she is accompanied by Jesus. He is the most important Person in the formula and He actively participates because He really wants to save souls.
Jesus is interested and involved and His words prove this.
Jesus taught that there was more rejoicing in heaven over one soul that repents than over ninety-nine souls who need no repentance (Luke 15:7). If that is true, isn’t it reasonable to believe Jesus must also get excited when we make an effort to share the Gospel?
The truth is Jesus doesn’t just save souls He actively looks for opportunities and even manipulates situations to get people into position and ready to hear the Gospel. The Bible says this, literally.
The kindness of God leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4).
Statements like this prove the brilliance of the Bible. Though short, it opens the door to many thoughts and questions. How does God lead people to repentance? What does it look like? Shouldn’t we be able to recognize it when it happens?
Aside from all those interesting questions, there is an important observation to be made. Jesus doesn’t wait till you start to witness before He pays attention.
Before you learn to share the Gospel, before you target someone to share it with, Jesus is already there preparing the individual ahead of time for what you have to say.
He’ll even break a few of the recognized parameters and my experience is proof.
How I First Heard The Gospel
Every salvation is a miracle but some seem to be more intriguing than others. Some people get saved rather quietly, maybe sitting in a pew at church or on a bus on the way home from work or at a table over coffee, but these salvation experiences always follow exposure to the Gospel. The person hears a clear presentation of the Gospel from a Christian (possibly a family member, workmate, or neighbor), contemplates it for a period of time, and then in repentance calls upon Jesus for salvation.
Not so with me.
I was introduced to the Gospel by someone who wasn’t a Christian and it was accidental. He wasn’t trying to share the Gospel and he wasn’t interested in my soul. He had heard the Gospel and was deeply concerned about the implications for HIS soul. He wasn’t concerned about mine.
That’s not how we expect folks to hear the Gospel but that is what happened to me. Let me share the details.
An Unbeliever Shares The Gospel
At the age of 13, I was playing with my best friend after school. We did this every day but this particular day, my friend was distracted. He didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything.
He was quietly sitting on our picnic table staring into the ground. He was obviously deep in thought and then all of a sudden blurted, Nancy got saved!
Nancy I knew but I had no idea what he meant by saved. My first thought was Nancy had fallen in the creek near their house and someone had fished her out.
I was curious so I asked him, “What do you mean by saved?”
And my friend said, “Well if you’re not saved when you die you go to hell.”
Immediately when he said that, God reached down and gripped my heart with conviction and I couldn’t let go of it. The exchange that followed was both frantic and quick.
I asked, “Am I saved?” and he said, “I don’t know.”
Naturally, my next question was, “How do you get saved?” and he said, “I don’t know how to tell you.”
At this point I’m desperate. “Who can tell me how to get saved?” I pleaded and he said, “Richard.”
Again, Richard, I knew. He was my friend’s brother. He was the older guy in the neighborhood that all of us younger kids looked up to. Richard had recently gotten saved and was telling everyone in his family they needed to get saved too.
That’s why my friend was distracted. He was under conviction about his own salvation. The thoughts swirling around his heart couldn’t be held inside.
Long story short, we went to my friend’s house and a very surprised Richard led me to the Lord.
The Person Driving That Exchange Was Jesus
Although that happened decades ago, I’ve thought long and hard about it since. It was a highlight in my life. I couldn’t forget it if I tried but one fact stands out.
Jesus wants to save souls and that truth should motivate all of us to share the Gospel as freely, as often, as clearly, and as persuasively as we can.
My friend introduced me to the Gospel but that wasn’t his intent. He was concerned about salvation but he wasn’t saved. He was more concerned about his soul than he was interested in mine.
He didn’t come to my house planning to share the Gospel but God used my friend’s conviction to spur a response that would lead to my conviction about salvation.
I didn’t see it coming. My friend didn’t see it coming. Even Richard was surprised! God was the primary player and He used a couple of unwitting people to make my salvation happen.
Again, Jesus wants to save souls and is actively working toward that end. He will use every person and situation to make that happen.
If that is true. If Jesus is working constantly to find situations in which He can insert Himself, how much more effective will He be if we work with Him?
Makes you think.
What The Bible Says
Does the Bible support such an idea?
There are many verses to suggest it does.
- There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15:7)
- Jesus said, “Herein is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit. So shall you be my disciples…You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should GO and bring forth fruit and that your fruit should remain. (John 15:8 & 16)
- The Lord is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
- God wants all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:4)
Those are references from the New Testament but the Old Testament isn’t silent on the issue.
- Make known among the nations what He (the Lord) has done. (Psalm 105:1)
- He that wins souls is wise. (Proverbs 11:30)
- Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us? And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)
- Tell of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the peoples! (Psalm 96:2-3)
That’s just a few references. The Old Testament has many more.
The point is Jesus wants to save souls and He’ll use any person at any time and in any place to make that happen. That should motivate us to do all we can to make it happen.
Spiritual Giants Need Not Apply
So, if all the above is true. If Jesus really wants to save souls and uses every opportunity and even every person as a conduit for the Gospel, why then aren’t more people sharing the Gospel more often?
It’s not about knowledge. Newly saved individuals, whose knowledge base is quite limited, share the Gospel excitedly all the time. This happened in the Bible.
Andrew found Jesus and then immediately shared Jesus with Peter, his brother (John 1:40-41). Philip did the same thing. He found Jesus and immediately told Nathanael (John 1:43-45).
Philip teaches us a great lesson on how to answer objections too. When he told Nathanael about Jesus, Nathanael objected “can anything good come out of Nazareth” and Philip countered, “come and see!”
He didn’t become defensive and make arguments for finding good people in Galilee, he put the ball in Nathanael’s court. Come see for yourself.
The most important observation is neither Andrew nor Philip waited till they had Bible degrees to share Jesus. They knew less when they first met Jesus than they would at any other time in their lives but they understood the most important truth and couldn’t wait to share.
It doesn’t make sense but the more a person learns the less likely they are to readily share the Gospel. Don’t be that way. Make Personal Evangelism a primary discipline in your life. Souls will be saved. Lives will be changed and you’ll never be very far away from the work Jesus is doing.
Remember, Jesus wants to save souls. Work with Him.