Tag Archives: personal evangelism

The Ingredients for Evangelism

D. T. Niles once said, “Evangelism is one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.”[1] If Jesus Christ is the Bread of life, then we who were once in need of that life now have the ability to tell others where it is to be found. But let’s face it, there’s no table with which we can point and say, “The bread’s over there.” I would more liken evangelism to baking bread than telling where bread is. Baking is much more difficult than pointing. There are ingredients when one bakes bread. Having done it many times, I know that flour, milk, yeast, sugar, eggs, salt, and butter are typically the least amount of ingredients necessary. Of course, there’s the kneading of the dough before it bakes. In evangelism, there are probably just as many ingredients that go into it.

  • First prayer. Jesus told His disciples in Acts 1:8, that it was the power of the Holy Spirit that would come upon them to be His witnesses. That power is utilized greatest through prayer. Prayer gives a heart for evangelism to the evangelism. It also softens the heart of the one who is to hear.
  • There is an understanding of the gospel itself. If the evangelist doesn’t understand the gospel rightly then he cannot speak it plainly. Jesus explained the gospel in Luke 24:46-47, “And [he] said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer, and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem,” (ESV). The gospel is that man has sinned against God and that Jesus suffered, died, and rose again for all who would trust in him and repent of their sins. Those who believe will have their sins forgiven.
  • There is courage upon the part of the evangelist. Evangelism is not an easy task, but again we have the power of the Holy Spirit, but beyond that we have Christ Himself. As Matthew recorded his words, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age,” (28:20c, ESV).
  • As silly as it may sound, there needs to be the evangelized. That seems to go without saying. Yet, this is often the missing ingredient. By that I simply mean that many Christians don’t know anyone to tell about Jesus. Like the baker who goes to his refrigerator to grab eggs and suddenly realizes she has none, so the Christian is who finally becomes determined to proclaim the gospel. There’s no one to tell. This has to change within the church.
  • Which leads to the next ingredient; there must be a heart—a passion—for the lost person. Spurgeon wrote, “When you know how to carry a man on your heart, and have felt the burden of his case, you will have his name engraven upon your soul.”[2] Theodore Roosevelt is given credit with coining the phrase, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” That is true. Does the evangelist care about the person with whom he speaks, or is there no earnestness in the soul or in the lips?
  • Still another ingredient is time. While it is easy to give a tract to someone and it takes little time to do so. That is not exactly evangelism in its fullest sense of the word. The one who desires to evangelize needs to set aside time to talk to others. Like anything else, it must be planned on doing. Other moments, events, or druthers will crowd out evangelism if one is not intentional.
  • Finally, I would say that there needs to be determination. While one needs to be sure to make time to evangelize, one also needs to be determined to evangelize. How easy is it to go out for a cup of coffee and start chatting things up and never actually get to the gospel? How often does one know the calling to evangelize and yet haphazardly thinks that they will get around to it one day? Determination is a key ingredient.

After all these ingredients are mixed together, one has a good base-bread. Depending on the individual and where he/she is in their spiritual walk, will depend on extra ingredients. Sourdough bread takes the same base-bread ingredients as French bread, but there are other ingredients that go into each. The same will be for individuals. There is no cookie-cutter way of evangelizing and we cannot expect one way to work with everyone. That being said, be patient. Let the dough rise. Knead it here and there when appropriate, but give it time for the ingredients to meld and the yeast to rise before trying to bake it. Sometimes the lost is close already to receiving Christ, sometimes they are not. We must be careful; almost always there will be some hint of what happened with Peter in Acts 2. After preaching the gospel, the people, “heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do,” (v. 37, ESV)? If the Spirit is truly convicting the lost person, they will respond. Then we can finish baking.

Okay, enough with the metaphor. Jesus is the bread and not the actual work of evangelism. But if one is not clear as to what evangelism is, people may tend to think that “just talking about Jesus” is evangelism. There is definitely more to it than that. There is a lot that goes into the prepping, the evangelism itself, and the aftermath. Jesus told us not only to share the good news, but to make sure that in that we are also discipling—developing the new convert to live a life worthy of his/her calling beginning with baptism (Matthew 28:19-20). So perhaps being a beggar telling another beggar where to find bread is technically true, I find it leaves a lot of questions as to how exactly that happens. I hope this helped at least a smidge.

[1] Quoted by Dave Earley and David Wheeler, Evangelism is. . . How to Share Jesus with Passion and Confidence, (Nashville: B&H Academic Publishing, 2010), 55.

[2] Charles Spurgeon, The Soul-Winner, (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans Publishing, 1961), 181.

The Great Commissions of the Bible

If one were to stop and think through what evangelism is, having only the “Great Commission” passages, he would probably come up with something to the effect of: By Christ’s authority and by the power of Holy Spirit, we are commanded to go into all the world, teaching and so proclaiming to every person in God’s creation that Christ was to suffer, die, and rise again on the third day for the remission of sins upon the repentance and faith of the sinner, baptizing the new convert and teaching them to live in a manner worthy of their calling, taking upon ourselves the very mantle of Jesus.

This means that Christ has the authority not only to send us out as evangelists, but that He has the authority to give us lost souls to save. As with Paul who having been threatened by the Jewish leadership was told by Christ Himself: “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people,” (Acts 18:9-10, ESV). In these two verses, we see Jesus’s authority commanding Paul to keep speaking and His authority by proclaiming there were many still yet to come to faith.

Yet, it is also done in the power of the Holy Spirit. As Spurgeon wrote, “Dependence upon God is our strength, and our joy: in that dependence let us go forth, and seek to win souls for Him.”[1] Without the power of the Holy Spirit at work in believers’ lives and the lives of the lost to regenerate their souls, they are helpless and weak.

In one’s evangelism effort, there is not to be one stone left unturned. As believers, each ethnicity or people group is to be evangelized, and no believer is to be prejudice toward any, but are to proclaim the truth of the gospel, and upon the convert’s repentance and faith, baptize them into the fellowship that is Christ’s church. But according to the “Great Commission” passages, the job does not end at baptism, but continues as the evangelizer teaches and builds them up in their faith so that they are not those who fall away due to trials, tribulations, or the of this world.

This is a command. As Dave Early wrote, “The word commission is a military term meaning ‘an authoritative order, charge, or direction.’ . . .The one disobeying the commission would be subject to court martial.”[2] Thus there is a seriousness within the commission. It is not a suggestion, nor is it to be taken lightly.

If one were to look at the five passages in question, he would see that there are similarities but also differences in each one as to how the church is to live out the commission. In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus told His followers to go in to all the world. The same would be true in Mark and Luke as well. But in Matthew, one reads that he is to make disciples and baptize the converts. He does not leave room for Savior only theology as he instructs His followers to teach them to observe everything He commands.

In Mark 16:15, one simply reads she is to proclaim the gospel. Like all of Mark, this is a very succinct verse. When one gets to Luke, the definition of the gospel comes through: the Christ must suffer, die, and rise again for the remission of sins. This then strengthens the doctrine of the church as to what the gospel is and what it is not. What is vital to actually evangelize and what is simply information-swapping.

As one reads John recording Jesus’s words that He is sending His followers just as He was sent (cf. John 20:21), one sees that Jesus was the example of how the commission was to acted upon. One is to spend time with those who are lost. One is to have a heart for those who are like sheep without a shepherd. One’s mission in life is to win souls to Jesus. That can only be done by testifying as to who Jesus is and showing what He has done, as read in Acts 1:8.

None of these verses get the full picture of evangelism in and of themselves, but read in light of each other, the church gains an understanding of the action she is commissioned to take. That being said, if I had to pick only one of these five passages, I would have to choose Luke 24:46-47 as the gospel is clearly delineated within those two verses. There is the mention of repentance and the remission of sin by the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ.

What are your thoughts on the Great Commission passages (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:46-47, John 20:21, and Acts 1:8)? Did I get anything wrong? Did I miss something? Let me know in the comments section; I’d love to hear from you.

[1] Charles Spurgeon, The Soul-Winner, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 1981) 39.

[2] Dave Early and David Wheeler, Evangelism is. . . How to Share Jesus with Passion and Confidence, (Nashville: B & H Academic Publishing Group, 2010), 21.