Friday, March 5, 2010

Do You Have the Gift of Evangelism?

First, let's understand the gift of evangelism, per Eph 4:11, and then we'll see if we might have this particular gift or a different one.

Eph 4:11-12
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up

We've got five different ones listed here, but we're just going to concentrate on the evangelist. It doesn't say that it's a gift to certain people though, does it? It's more of a function, and as we function in each of these roles, we become a gift of sorts to the Church.
We are the gifts. And what is our purpose? It tells us right there - to prepare God's people. For what? For works of service. Why? So that the body of Christ may be built up. That falls right in line with the Great Commission Mark 16:15.

Everything we do in life that has any value at all, we learn. We learn to talk and walk, we learn to drive, we go to school to learn to speak properly and to do math, we learn to function in our place of employment so that we can earn an income and continue living. Why do we think it's any different when it comes to Church? Witnessing to people about eternal life is not some evangelistic "gift" it's a command! It's not some natural gift, but something we must learn, just like everything else in life. If you are obedient to God, you will learn how to do what He commands. Which brings us again to the evangelist. Is the evangelist the only one out proclaiming the Gospel? No, ALL believers are commanded to do that. So what is an evangelist again? Someone who is equipping God's people.

If we function in a role out of obedience to the Lord, His equipping will follow. Remember, He uses the weak so that it will be known that it is by His power and not our own that things get done.

So, if you consider yourself too weak, too afraid, not knowing enough, or not able to speak well, then you've just qualified yourself for the task!

Now you understand that you are commanded as a Christian to preach the Gospel, and it is up to you to get yourself equipped so that God can use you. He doesn't need you, but He can use you, and what a privilege to be used for God's holy purposes.
Let's get you equipped so that you are not lacking in obedience when you stand before the Lord on Judgment day.

The Way of the Master (WOTM) is one Biblical and simple way to share your faith with anyone, and that's what I'm going to share here. Is this the only way to witness? No, but in order to be Biblical, witnessing is ALWAYS Law to the proud, grace to the humble.

James 4:6
But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."

1 Peter 5:5
Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."

And I don't know of any other witnessing style that follows the Biblical example, so yes, this is the only way to witness Biblically.

Now, many people may do great things, helping out underprivileged children, the homeless and hurting. These are good things and we should continue in them, but this is not witnessing. Even if we make it known that we are Christians and that is the reason that we do these things, it still is not sharing the Gospel.

Where is the explanation of what sin is, making it personal instead of some general description of all mankind, so that they can understand their hopeless condition? Where is the description of justice and the obvious consequences of what we deserve? Where is the definition of what repentance really is, and the need do so? Where is the explanation so that we know what we deserve and can completely understand that God would be totally just, totally righteous in His punishment of each and every one of us for eternity? Only when we understand His holiness, righteousness and justice, and contrast that to our own moral failure and wickedness, can we understand that if justice is served, we would all be in torment for eternity. Only when we know that we deserve that, can we even begin to grasp the concept of His love and what He's done to keep us from what we've all earned by our actions - eternal condemnation. Then we can see that He paid the fine of His own justice for us, that we might be saved from that fate. Then we can see the love and understand that it is not our works that save us, but that our works are done out of gratitude, that they are evidence that we comprehend the great sacrifice made for us out of the great love of God on undeserving, disobedient creatures. Only then does it make sense.

So, let's look into this and see how it works.
A person must understand their need for a Savior (because they've broken God's Law and need to understand it in a personal way), or the Gospel will never make sense to them. For example, if God loves us and has some sort of wonderful plan for our lives, then why would He throw any of us into hell? I mean, if God is all-powerful, and He loves me, I've got nothing to worry about. I would never throw someone I loved into eternal punishment, so I cannot imagine that God would, either. So then, why would there be any need to change anything in my life? I've got a cosmic insurance policy to keep me out of hell - God loves me and I believe in Him.
It would be just plain mean to throw one of His children into hell.

But when we understand that we are not all God's children, we start out as children of wrath and are given the right to be His children through Jesus Christ.

John 1:12
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—

1 John 3:10
This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.

Romans 2:5
But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.

We must understand God's character - holy, righteous and just, in contrast to our own - our hearts are deceitfully wicked, there are none found good, no not one. And yet, Prov 20:6 says that we will still proclaim our own goodness.
This is why the Law must be given first, with full understanding of how a person has personally broken it. We will not be graded on a curve, we will not be held in contrast to other people, but we will each be held to God's holy standard, revealed to us in outline form through the Ten Commandments.
The Law is a schoolmaster to lead us to Christ (Gal 3:24)

Once one understands how they will stand up to God's holy standard, and can see their own hopeless condition, only then will they come to realize there is nothing they can do to earn God's favor, no possible way they can do anything for themselves. Once they understand that according to God's standard, each and everyone of us actually deserves to be thrown into hell for eternity in order for justice to be satisfied, only then can we start to understand the sacrifice made for us. Only then will we begin to comprehend the paying of our fine by God Himself, and then come to Him for salvation, submitting to His authority with gratitude for the undeserved grace and mercy that He has extended to all who will recognize this and give their lives to Him, not trample the sacrifice underfoot to continue the very things that nailed our Savior to the cross.

With that understanding, the Gospel message makes sense, our lives should be different, changed forever, as the fruit of the Spirit manifests in our lives.
So, is WOTM the only way to share your faith? Not necessarily. But using the Law then Grace is the only Biblical method to use. As long as you are doing that, you're following the example given in Scripture. I don't think there's any easier way to do this than the way it's explained in WOTM.

Should everyone be preaching on a street corner? Not everyone will do that, but we are commanded to share our faith. We can hand out tracts and speak to people one to one as well as preaching. But we must be doing something.

Many will use the excuse that not everyone is called to be an evangelist. Well, the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are there to equip believers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up, as per Ephesians 4:11-12.

The evangelist is the one preaching on the street corner. The evangelist is the one training and equipping people to be obedient and to share their faith with others. But the evangelist is NOT the only one sharing their faith, for the Great Commission is a command for ALL believers. So how do you share your faith? With whom, and how often? Are you being obedient?

Romans 12:2
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Are we a new creation (2 Cor 5:17)? Do our desires line up with God’s desires that none perish, but that all should come to repentance?? (2 Pet 3:9)

James 4:3
When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

If our motives are wrong, still putting our own selfish desires first, then we will not be granted those requests.

Psalm 37:4
Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

But if we delight ourselves in the Lord and our desires will match His, those are the desires that will be granted.

So, do our desires line up with God’s desires, or are we still putting ourselves first? Have we truly been crucified with Him and truly submit to Him as Lord and Savior?

Luke 6:46
"Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?

This verse then goes on to give the parable of the wise and foolish builders, and how the destruction was complete for the one who built upon the sand.
And here’s something interesting. That same parable can be found in the Book of Matthew, directly following the scariest words in the entire Bible (Matt 7:21-23). Then it tells us that those who hear His words and put them into practice are like the wise builder (Matt 7:24-25). And those who do not are like the foolish builder, who suffers destruction (Matt 7:26-27).

Matthew 7:21-23
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'

Now, these were not even just lukewarm believers. They were doing works in Jesus’ Name, but with wrong motivation. How much less might one be known, who is doing nothing? Back to Luke 6:46.

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