Four Factors in Evangelism (Part 1)

Jesus’ final instructions to His disciples after His resurrection, before returning to His Father in heaven, was to go and make more disciples, “teaching them to obey everything I [Jesus] have commanded,” (Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:15-18).

With this same authority, Jesus still commands us to tell others the Good News and make disciples for His kingdom. This is His Great Commission.

"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost."      Luke 19:10

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”                     Luke 19:10

Leslie Flynn, author of 19 Gifts of the Spirit, defines evangelism as the following:

The gift of proclaiming the Good News of salvation effectively so that people respond to the claims of Christ in conversion and in discipleship.”

Four Factors in Evangelism
  1. Proclamation . . . . In addition to Christian witness through works, evangelism requires words: explanation of how a sinner becomes right with God; Christ’s historical, redemptive death and resurrection. The gift communicates the gospel with power so people are brought into the experience of salvation with knowledge of spiritual life and death. Hearers may or may not be emotionally moved, but the intellect must not be bypassed. How we proclaim is extremely important. 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV) says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”
  2. Good News . . . . The word gospel comes from the Greek words, well and announcement, which means “good announcement” or “Good News”.
  3. Effectively Resulting in Conversion . . . . Campus Crusade for Christ defines witnessing success as: “sharing Christ in the power of the Spirit and leaving the results to Him.” Only God can bring spiritual understanding and conversion. There will not be a response every time we witness, but the hearer should understand that a decision must be made: Accept or reject Christ.
  4. Discipleship . . . . Dedicated evangelists and organizations have systematic follow-up plans to help new converts grow in their faith and connect with the local church.

Evangelism is not reserved just for the pastor or professional. Campus Crusade estimates it takes 1,000 laymen and six pastors one year to win one convert to Christ. Philip, the only person called an evangelist in the Bible, was a deacon. And interestingly, the early church grew in numbers by a lay movement (Acts 8).

Teaching and Evangelism are Closely Related

Evangelism is referred to teaching several places in Acts. Hearers wanted to know much about Jesus before putting their faith in Him, (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Mich.). Church historians observe that evangelistic surges throughout the centuries result from sound theological advances.

Even if we do not possess the gift of evangelism, we are told to do the work of an evangelist (Mark 1:17). Some people are more effective in personal evangelism. Others may be most effective in group evangelism—such as Billy Graham—or cross cultural evangelism.

What is your experience with evangelism? Have you shared the Good News with anyone lately? Who shared the Good News with you? How has that impacted you?

*Next few posts: The message and methods in evangelism . . . . Have a great week!

 

Philip the Evangelist (Part 3)

I’ve always wondered what went through Philip the Evangelist’s mind when WHOOSH, he found himself transported to Azotus via the Holy Spirit. After sharing the Good News and baptizing an Ethiopian treasurer, POOF, “the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away” (Acts 8:39). He learned first-hand that God isn’t limited in the ways He uses His children. (The entire story is recorded in Acts 8:26-40.)

We’ll probably never share Philip’s means of express transportation; yes, there’s the rapture, but that’s a different subject! However, we can learn from Philip’s obedience to God.

"Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."  - John 15:4-5

“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:4-5

Acts 8:40 records Philip preaching the gospel in all the towns near Azotus, where God whirled him away. Perhaps God knew He could count on Philip’s obedience to proclaim the Good News.

Philip not only obeyed Jesus’ command to spread the Gospel, but also heeded Jesus’ example of only acting and saying what the Father directs:

For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that His command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”   -John 12:49-50

Philip’s example offers us several lessons:
  • We have the same Holy Spirit to teach and empower us to be an effective witness for Christ.
  • Upon persecution, Philip went directly to Samaria—a forbidden place to most Jews due to prejudice—and spread the gospel. The gospel is for everyone, not for a select few.
  • In the middle of his successful evangelism efforts, God’s directive for him to go south on the desert road must have first seemed like a demotion. But because of Philip’s willingness to hear God’s voice and obey—going near the Ethiopian treasurer’s chariot and engaging him in discussion—God placed a Christian (the treasurer) in a significant position in a distant country. Perhaps the entire nation was then influenced by the Good News.
  • Interestingly, Philip only used the Old Testament in leading this man to faith in Christ even though Jesus is found in both the Old and New Testaments.
  • Philip met this man where he was—immersed in the prophecies of Isaiah—and then helped clarify the passage as he shared how Jesus fulfilled that prophecy.
  • When sharing the Gospel, a great place to start is where the other person’s concerns and/or questions lie.
  • God finds great and various uses for those who obey Him wholeheartedly.
  • Like Philip, we can take advantage of the opportunities God gives us through active listening and obedience.

Following God may be risky and difficult at times, but I’m sure Philip would testify: It’s worth the ride!

Next week I’ll explore some simple evangelism plans that have helped many Christians share their faith.