Tag Archives: Prayer

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.

I Must See Jesus!

I was reminded today about two men in the Bible that did whatever they must in order to see Jesus. One was a blind man who lived in Jericho. A crowd had apparently gathered and was walking to get a glimpse of Jesus. Noting the commotion, blind Bartimaeus asked who it was that was coming. Notice how the people spoke of Jesus: “They told him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth is passing by,'” (Luke 18:37, ESV). Thrilled to hear the news that Jesus was coming, Bartimaeus could not compose himself. He must see Jesus! Notice how Bartimaeus spoke of Jesus, “And he cried out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me,'” (Luke 18:38, ESV)! To the crowd, Jesus was “of Nazareth,” but to Bartimaeus, Jesus was the “Son of David,” the Messiah that everyone had hoped for.

When everyone sought to shut him up, he would not be silent. He must see Jesus! “But he cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me,'” (Luke 18:39b, ESV)! Jesus stopped and had mercy upon poor, blind Bartimaeus.

“What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God, (Luke 18:41-43, ESV).

No amount of shushing would keep this blind man from seeking what he longed for. He must see Jesus! If you haven’t noticed, the word “see” is intentional. In such a way, this story reminds me of Fanny Crosby, the great 20th century hymn-writer. Fanny Crosby went blind just a few weeks after being born. The story is told about a conversation a preacher had upon visiting Ms. Crosby.

“I think it is a great pity that the Master did not give you sight when he showered so many other gifts upon you,” remarked one well-meaning preacher.

Fanny Crosby responded at once, as she had heard such comments before. “Do you know that if at birth I had been able to make one petition, it would have been that I was born blind?” said the poet, who had been able to see only for her first six weeks of life. “Because when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior.” (Christianity Today, emphasis mine)

But there was another man who must see Jesus in Luke’s text. This man is even more famous than blind Bartimaeus. Zacchaeus was a wee little man, and a wee little man was he. He too had heard that Jesus was in Jericho, and something welled up within him a desire to see Jesus. He must see Jesus! But he was short. Too short to see over the crowd that had gathered. Being a tax-collector probably made it even harder on him to scoot through the crowd. Why would a respectable citizen give way for the rift-raft? “So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way,” (Luke 19:4, ESV).

Whatever it took he would see Jesus. A grown man acting like a child, hiking up his robe, he ran and climbed a tree to see Jesus. Who cares if he looked ridiculous? He must see Jesus! “And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.’ So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully,” (Luke 19:5-6, ESV).

Two men: one blind, one a “sinner”–both must see Jesus. Because they sought him out– even at the expense of themselves: their dignity, their self-respect, their reputation (grant it Zacchaeus probably did not have a good reputation)–the saw Jesus! They not only saw Jesus, they experienced Jesus’s life-changing power. Jesus healed Bartimaeus of his blindness and Zacchaeus of his greed. Both of their lives were instantly transformed.

That being said. . . do we believe that we must see Jesus? Are we willing to do whatever it takes to see Him? What are we willing to lay down, sacrifice for the opportunity to see Jesus? To the believer, we will ultimately see Him one day face to face. But what about now? We may not see Him face to face, but we can still experience that life-changing power when we seek him with all our hearts.  While the verse was written to exiled Israel, I think we can still apply it to our lives: “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart,” (Jeremiah 29:13, ESV). That’s what we see with blind Bartimaeus: “And he cried out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me,'” (Luke 18:38, ESV)! It is what we saw with Zacchaeus: “So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way,” (Luke 19:4, ESV). Most Christians want to see Jesus, but they do not believe that they must see Jesus. It is not urgent to them and so they do not act in urgency. If we get around to Bible reading, study, and meditation, then great. If not, oh well. If we can squeeze in a few moments for prayer, we’ll be better off probably, but if not, so be it. We allow the shushing of our schedules and daily grind and emotions and busyness to keep us from crying out. We do not run to the Word and climb the tree of contemplation seeking the Lord Jesus. We do not cry out in our prayers, “Jesus, Son of David!” with much urgency or faith that He will hear. If we kind of would like to see Jesus if it isn’t too much trouble, we might not ever get the opportunity. But if we must see Jesus and put such a must into action, we will see Him as He comes upon the way. He will come, but we must keep seeking until He does. It will be a different sight than Bartimaeus and Zacchaeus saw, but we will see Him nonetheless.

’Tis the blessed hour of prayer, when our hearts lowly bend,
And we gather to Jesus, our Savior and Friend;
If we come to Him in faith, His protection to share,
What a balm for the weary! O how sweet to be there!

’Tis the blessed hour of prayer, when the Savior draws near,
With a tender compassion His children to hear;
When He tells us we may cast at His feet every care,
What a balm for the weary, O how sweet to be there! (Chorus)

’Tis the blessed hour of prayer, when the tempted and tried
To the Savior Who loves them their sorrow confide;
With a sympathizing heart He removes every care;
What a balm for the weary! O how sweet to be there! (Chorus)

At the blessed hour of prayer, trusting Him we believe
That the blessing we’re needing we’ll surely receive;
In the fullness of this trust we shall lose every care;
What a balm for the weary! O how sweet to be there!

Blessed hour of prayer,
Blessed hour of prayer:
What a balm for the weary!
O how sweet to be there!

~Fanny Crosby

I must see Jesus!