Evangelizing a lost and dying world

By guest author Hugh Crowder, PhD.

One of our greatest privileges as believers is to share the gospel – the good news of Jesus Christ’s death for our sins and His resurrection (1 Cor 15:3-4) – with unbelievers.

As believers, we should approach evangelism with humility, remembering:

  1. God could have chosen any number of ways to get the gospel to unsaved people, but he decided to use people telling others how to be saved (Acts 1:8)

  2. God can use any believer, but He has prepared opportunities for us (1 Cor 16:9)

  3. We are speaking on behalf of the Almighty God

  4. Nothing happens until He opens the door (Col 4:3)

  5. Only the Holy Spirit can cause the seed that is sown to bear fruit (2 Thess 3:1)

God calls us to go to those who do not know Him with a simple message – “Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead.” This message is designed to free people from their bondage to sin by putting their faith in the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ

Unfortunately, fear and ignorance often cause us to avoid sharing this message with the lost. Common reasons include:

  1. Who am I that I should go to?

  2. What shall I say to them?

  3. Suppose they don’t believe me or listen to my voice

  4. I am not eloquent

How can we overcome our fear and ignorance?

  1. Examine our focus. Are we focused on our circumstances or God?

  2. Get more training. This will help us learn from our mistakes and become better at turning a conversation to spiritual things and answering questions.

  3. Pray for boldness (Ephesians 6:19).

  4. Remember this is a spiritual battle. Leave the results in God’s hands. Ultimately it is the Holy Spirit who will convict unbelievers that they are sinners who have missed the mark of God’s absolute holiness (Romans 3:23, John 16:7-11). They will face judgment and eternal separation from God (Romans 6:23, John 3:36) unless they believe Christ’s death on the Cross is the only thing that can save them.

As God opens doors for us to share the good news with unbelievers, we should understand:

  1. There is no one way to do it.

  2. We must recognize that people are at different stages of their spiritual journey. Knowing where they are can help us decide where to start our discussion.

Regardless of how we share the gospel, we must be clear and accurate and use Bible verses whenever possible. For example, John 3:16 is a way to share the gospel in a single verse. It shows:

  1. 1. God’s love – for God so loved the world. God loves us, not for who we are, but despite who we are – sinners

  2. God’s gift – that He gave His only begotten Son. God gave His Son to pay the price God required for our sins

  3. God’s offer – that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. The word ‘believe’ means to trust, depend or rely on Jesus alone to save us

There are also Scriptural-based methods like the Romans Road and Evantell’s Bad News/Good News. In all cases, always make the issue of trusting Christ (Acts 16:31); and His sacrifice for sin on the Cross. Don’t cloud the issue by using phrases like ‘Give your heart to Jesus’ or ‘Give your life to God’ or ‘Invite Jesus into your heart.’ None of these concepts appear in the Word of God.

Also, avoid promising unbelievers that trusting Christ automatically leads to God blessings. Scripture never links the gospel to guaranteed health or financial prosperity in this world. A believer’s hope is in the Lord and His eternal promises. This is what we have to offer people in evangelism – nothing more, nothing less.

Not all unbelievers will listen to our message of good news. So how do we handle rejection and keep it from hindering future efforts?

  1. Recognize that people are rejecting the message, not us. People don’t want to hear that they are sinners, that their good works aren’t enough to satisfy God, that failure to trust Christ leads to eternal separation from God.

  2. Look beyond the person to the problem. Unbelievers are slaves to the world, the flesh and the devil (Eph. 2:2).

  3. Pray for them instead of reacting (Matt 5:44).

But what about those who do come to saving faith? How can we help them as they begin their new lives in Christ? Matthew 28: 19-20 tells us to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Once people trust Christ as Savior, we can help them by:

  1. Giving them assurance that they cannot lose their salvation. John 5:24 says “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me as everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” Though they will continue to sin after salvation, 1 John 1:9 promises that confession of sin will cleanse them from unrighteousness and restore them to a moment-by-moment walk with God.

  2. Challenging them to find a Bible-teaching church with a spiritually mature pastor where they can learn and grow in their knowledge of God and His plan. Attending a local church also offers opportunities for fellowship and opportunities to serve God and others.

  3. Encouraging them to buy a good study Bible and start a regimen of daily reading. This may seem overwhelming at first, so recommend they start with the book of Philippians because it is short and focused on issues of practical daily living in the Christian life.

  4. Developing a personal testimony about how they came to understand and believe the gospel.

  5. Sharing the good news with unbelieving family members and friends.

  6. Considering water baptism as a public testimony of their faith in Christ.

As believers in Jesus Christ, we are surrounded by people who have not yet trusted Him for salvation. Our hearts should be burdened, and our desire should be to go forth and share the good news that “God demonstrates His love for us in this: while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Source: The Evangelism Study Bible notes. Evantell Inc. 2014

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