What is the first actual thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word evangelism?
Evangelism is sharing good news/the gospel about salvation which is through Jesus Christ. It is fully obedience to the great commission (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8).
The great aim of evangelism is to bring men to repentance and back to right relationship with God.
What Laypersons should know before engaging in Evangelism
The time of evangelism is now and one’s relationship with Jesus is the key to effective ministry (John 4:35). Any person who has begun a relationship with Christ can be involved in evangelism. Jesus’ disciples followed Him and shared their faith with whomever they met
Any person who has begun a relationship with Christ can be involved in evangelism. Believers should care for people more, longer, and better than anyone else on the planet. Sharing one’s faith doesn’t have to be difficult! When we keenly look at the biblical model for personal evangelism, we see it was relatively simple for Jesus’ disciples. They followed Jesus and shared their faith with whomever they met. Therefore, we should not be reluctant to do the same. We should not lack confidence or fear rejection or even feel not qualified.
To win the lost for Christ we must return to the example of the cross. How much was Jesus willing to sacrifice to bring us back to God and to salvation? Jesus was willing to give and sacrifice all that He had: His very life on earth, and surely He did. We cannot win the lost for Christ until they see our unshakable conviction as believers of the reality of heaven and its supreme value in comparison to what this life has to offer. That we are willing to lose anything in this world to bring them the message of Jesus’ love and forgiveness, even to the extent of our very lives.
That the key to reaching the world for Jesus Christ lies primarily in Laypersons and not in pulpit activity or in crusades. Dean Hodges gives information about the effectiveness of Laymen leadership throughout the history of the Church. He says that there are three periods in the history of the church; the time of the martyrs, the monks and the Methodists. In each of the periods, religion spread greatly. Significantly, each of these periods was an era of Lay activity. The church was started by Laymen (the apostles).
Witnessing requires each of us to reach out in sincere sacrificial love with a clear biblical message of repentance and forgiveness in Christ alone, with a lifestyle and methodology that does not contradict the biblical message for the love and glory of God, regardless of personality! (Mike Bechtle, 2006).
Is witnessing intimidating you? Do you feel guilty and out of place because you’re too shy to share? It is because evangelism methods are tailor-made for extroverts. The reasons people not sharing their faith are mostly wrapped up in the fear factor.
The following four things will help you to overcome your fear of witnessing:
- Knowledge of the Scriptures;
- Successful past experiences;
- Being around people who witness too;
- Prayer. (Mike Bechtle, 2006).
Understanding The Four Spiritual Laws
In order for a believer to win souls for Christ he/she needs to understand and explain to unbeliever the four spiritual laws which are as follows:
- God created man in his own image and likeness. He constantly had fellowship with him everyday in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2).
Genesis 2:7, “And the LORD GOD formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
- Man sinned hence lost fellowship with God. Sin separated man from God (Genesis 3;). Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
- God loved the world so much that He sent His only son Jesus to reconcile man to Himself (John 3:16).
- Man can now have a direct fellowship with God if he confesses his sin, repent and accept Jesus in his life (Colossians 1; John 1:12).
To be an effective Christian witness the first requirement is the study of Biblical doctrine in the areas of Evangelism, Salvation, Discipleship, and Apologetics. Each Evangelist must therefore have a mature and Biblical understanding of what the Gospel is. Paul commands us in 2 Timothy 2:15 that we are to study to “… present ourselves approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.”
Jesus said, “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to You, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.” (John 4:35). Here, Jesus tells us that the time for Evangelism is always now. Paul wrote, “behold, NOW is ‘the acceptable time,’ behold, NOW is ‘The day of salvation.’” (2 Corinthians 6:1-2). This follows that the time for Evangelism is always NOW. In Ecclesiastes 11:4 we learn that in order to bring men and women to Jesus Christ we must sow, water, fertilize and weed and the only way this is done is when we plan and make time to go out and share the love of Jesus Christ with people.
Jesus commissioned His disciples to go and proclaim the good news (Matthew 28: 18-20).
During the process of evangelism one need to cover the following:
- Know the importance of prayer before evangelism and pray. Desire Holy Spirit led evangelism.
- The Creation, Constitution and Fall of man and the Complete Salvation through Jesus for man (Genesis 1, 2 and 3; John 3:16).
- Who Jesus is and His claims about Himself (John 1:1-2, 14).
- What Is Eternal Life? (1 John 5:11-12).
- The essential Ingredients for Christian Convert (Galatians 5:22-23).
The salvation experience involves the intellect, will, and emotions. For a person to respond to the Gospel he/she must first understand what the Gospel is clearly, intellectually. Thus in order to lead a person into salvation, we must first have a clear understanding of what the basic message of the Gospel is. Paul tells Timothy, “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things; for as you do this you will insure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.” (1 Tim 4:16).
Most of the times Christian Laypersons are not able to lead others to Christ because they cannot articulate what it means to be a Christian and how to become one. To understand salvation, an individual need to begin by knowing the Gospel as Paul commands Timothy and us in 1Timothy 4:16. This will help us to know clearly what constitutes salvation not only to assure our own but in order to assure the salvation of the person(s) we are witnessing too.
What to cover when talking about salvation:
- The Bible teachings about man’s fall and why man cannot save Himself (Genesis 3; Romans 3:23).
- Why God the Son (Jesus) had to be fully God and fully man to save us from our sins (Colossians 1).
- The reason why we must be born again to be saved (John 3: 1-5).
- The reason why Jesus is the Only Way to God/heaven (John 14:6).
- The reason why Jesus is our final and only High Priest (Hebrews 4:16).
- Why Salvation through Jesus is received through faith alone, not by works (Ephesians 2:6-8).
Evangelism goes beyond just explaining to a person what it means to be a Christian and how to become one. It also entails teaching them what it means to be Jesus’ Disciple after they have accepted Him.
This therefore leads us to two questions which are; what does it mean to be Jesus’ disciple, and, how do we teach a new believer to be Jesus’ disciple? Jesus answers what it means to be His disciple in John 10:27: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” Jesus tells us here that being His disciple means learning to discern His voice then obeying what He commands us to do.
Therefore, Discipleship Training is teaching a Christian how to discern what is Jesus’ voice to him in the different areas of his life and then encouraging him/her to obey what Jesus commands them to do (Matthew 28:19-20).
Discipleship should cover:
- Relationship with Jesus for the answer to our needs.
- Importance of daily reading God’s Word.
- Importance of Fellowship in a Church.
- Witnessing (Acts 1:8)
- Discerning What is Truly Jesus’ Voice; John 10:27.
- Knowing and Succeeding in Jesus’ Plan for one’s Life.
- How to Experience Jesus’ Forgiveness Daily and how to teach this to others; 1 John 1:8-9.
- The meaning of Loving Jesus with all your Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength (Matthew 6:33).
- The Cost of Discipleship and true meaning of walking with Jesus (Luke 12:9, 62).
This is simply giving honest answers to honest questions about the validity of the Christian faith. Peter says, “But Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” (1 Pet 3:15).
Many believers avoid this area of discipline in their witness claiming it is a lack of faith to ask questions. This explains one form of evangelical existentialism that evangelicals fall into without knowing it; the attitude if not the words, ‘Don’t ask questions, just believe.’ This sort of attitude is certainly wrong. One should know that it is not more spiritual to believe without asking questions. It is not more Biblical hence less spiritual because the whole man will not be involved. Therefore, know that it must be the whole man who comes to understand the truth of the Gospel and believes because he is convinced beyond doubt on the basis of good and sufficient reason that it is truth.”
When the prospective convert ask a question is not the problem of lack of faith on his/her part, but a lack of love on the part of the person witnessing. A lack of love means unwillingness to love man deeply enough to sacrifice one’s time and do research necessary to answer the individual so that his faith can be released to surrender to Jesus as Savior and Lord. Christianity certainly have the answers to all the questions man can ask and can be found for the person willing to sacrifice. Therefore, the discipline of apologetics is not an option in our evangelism if we really care about the salvation of men. It is actually an absolute necessity as Apostle Peter says.
Apologetics should cover the following:
- The Claims of Jesus Christ which addresses and rectifies most of the heresies taught by many of the leading Christian cults in the world today (Matthew 24:23-24).
- Teaching of the Bible on the Constitution of Man verses Secular Psychology (Genesis 1:26).
- The different ways in determining what is true and how the Bible meets these criteria (2 Timothy 3:16).
- The reliability of Old and New Testament manuscripts.
- The Evidence for Moses’ authorship of the Pentateuch.
- The reason why Genesis and Evolution are not compatible.
- The real absolute reality and existence of Heaven and Hell (Kruse Dale, 2008).
The power of the Holy Spirit has been given to every believer to empower them to proclaim Jesus Christ (Acts 1:8). We should never be ashamed of the gospel (Romans 1:16). Remember we are to be heralds of the gospel (Romans 10:14). We need to be willing to suffer for the gospel.
Kruse Dale. 2008. Evangelism: The Time Is Now. The World Wide, Web.
Bechtle Mike. Evangelism for the Rest of Us. Virginia: Baker Books, 2006.