When God created the universe, did He begin small and work up to the really big stuff? When He created life, did He begin with algae and plankton, using them to develop more complex things? Did Jehovah begin the universe with creation and then use evolution over a zillion years to finish creating? Do you mean that the Lord created all things in less than seven days – complete and complex? Is there any evidence to support that idea? Do you suppose that the things which the Lord created even had the appearance of age?So why didn’t the Lord instantly do the same thing with salvation? Why didn’t He glorify you and make you completely perfect at the time of your repentance and faith? If we are going to put it that way, why bother with repentance and faith at all? Why didn’t the Lord save you before creation, and glorify you before you were born? Assuming that you are a child of God, does the Lord intend to glorify you and make you perfect? Is there no doubt that He will do that for all of those whom He has chosen to save? Could we even say that it is a done deal; it is completed – as far as the decree of the Lord is concerned? Does that mean that the elect were never lost people? Does that mean that the chosen of God were never children of the world and children of Satan? Okay, some day the Lord is going to glorify all of His redeemed. Does that mean that the elect should postpone their repentance in order to enjoy their sinful days? What about the Christian: are we supposed to behave like the ungodly until the time of our glorification? There should be a gradual progression of holiness from the time of our salvation until the time that the Lord chooses to take us unto Himself. I won’t say that there are a precise number of steps that we are to take or that are ordained of God for everybody, but there should be progress toward more and more Christ-likeness. And there are means and tools that the Lord uses in bringing us to that point and that glory.
The same might be said about bringing the lost man to the foot of the cross and then into salvation.
The WORD OF GOD.
What is the first and foremost tool that the Lord uses in evangelism? Can a person become a child of God apart from the ministry of the Word? (God can do anything.) Can a person be convicted of his need and be brought to Christ through reading a tract or sermon? Can he be saved if that tract or sermon contains no scripture or a presentation of the gospel? (Yes.) That particular appeal may not have much or any scripture, but in that case, the person must have been given the gospel and the Word of God previously. The Word of the Lord is always a part of the “process” of evangelism. Can someone be saved by watching or studying the life of a godly saint? Not if he hasn’t also been given the testimony of the gospel. Can someone be saved through the singing of Christian hymns, or by watching a godly play? Can someone call himself an “evangelist,” if he does nothing more than live a godly life, singing Christian songs and inviting people to watch Mel Gibson’s movie?
What is the gist of the first part of the so-called “Great Commission?” (Teaching the Word.) From your understanding of the Book of Acts, would you say that the New Testament era began with great hymns of the faith? How many “Passion Plays” do you recall from our study of Acts? Are there any miracles described in that book? What usually followed those miracles? What was the key activity which engaged the Apostles and evangelists in the Book of Acts? (Preaching.) Do you mean th Apostles weren’t writing Christian novels about fictional people being saved?
If we take Romans 10 as a description of the primary job of the Biblical evangelist, how would you summarize that job? (Confront people with the Word of God.) “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
What are some of the things from which we are delivered through salvation? (Sin, judgment, Hell.) What is the primary difference between committing a crime and committing a sin? Is a crime always a sin? Is a sin always a crime? How can someone know that a crime is really a sin in the eyes of the Lord? Is there any way that someone can know about the judgment of God for sin apart from the Word of God? Who is the means of salvation? Is there some other source of information about Christ, apart from the Word of God? Can a person be saved through reading or studying John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress?” Is “Pilgrim’s Progress” scripture? Can a person be saved who does not repent of his sin? Where do we learn about repentance?
Think about faith. What is primary source of instruction for faith in Christ? Is Biblical faith – saving faith – a leap in the dark? I remember hearing and using the story about a child at the stop of the stairway into the family basement. The basement was completely dark and the little one couldn’t see a thing down below. But at the bottom of the stairs was her dad, who could see up into the light and the silhouette of his child. He was trying to test her confidence, encouraging her to jump; telling her that he would catch her. She did, and he did. This, we are told, is an illustration of faith. Is this a good example of Biblical faith? It’s not perfect, but it isn’t terrible, because it wasn’t a leap in the dark for that little girl. She could hear the voice of her father, who was promising to catch her. She believed him and had confidence in his ability to catch her – because he had done it all her life. Faith in Christ is not blind, but rather just the opposite – it should be well-instructed – in the Word. Knowledge of the Word of God, is a prerequisite to saving faith. Why would I make a statement like that? (Nature of faith.) The Word is not only a prerequisite to saving faith it is also the key element in saving faith.
How much must a person know about the Lord before possessing Biblical faith? He must know that he is a sinner and that he needs a Saviour. He must know that Christ Jesus is the Saviour and sufficient to meet all that sinner’s need. Must that believer understand and accept what the Bible says about the virgin birth of Christ? Must that believer know about the relationships within the Trinity? What if that person denies the deity of Christ; can he possess true faith? Must he know that there was the necessity for a substitutionary sacrifice in order to save him? Must he know that he cannot possibly save himself? Isn’t the abandonment of one’s self a part of Biblical repentance?
Is there a difference between the acceptance of Scriptural facts concerning Christ and salvation, and committing one’s soul to God, based upon those facts? Did King Agrippa know the facts about Christ? Did Judas know, preach, and even believe the facts about Christ? Is there a difference between believing on Christ and believing what the Bible says about Christ? Can a person believe on Christ, but not believe what the Bible teaches about Christ?
If a person lacks absolute and fully assurance of faith, does that mean that he doesn’t possess saving faith? What word did the Lord Jesus use in Matthew 11:28 when inviting people to salvation? (“Come”.) What did the Israelites have to do to be saved from the fiery serpents? But was that “look” a step of blind faith? What was it based upon? Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by what? Repentance cometh by hearing, and hear by what?
The Word of God is the primary instrument to be used in Biblical evangelism. Is it absolutely necessary? Can we say that it is a human means or it is a part of the divinely-provided tool-kit of the evangelist?
The Evangelist’s life.
Can the Lord save someone who has received the Word of God through the ministry of a lost man? Do you suppose that there were any who believed on Christ through Judas’ preaching? During the days when Christ was battling with the Jews, the Sanhedrin met and wicked Caiaphas spoke. “Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.” Omitting divine revelation, how was it that John had this information from what was a closed meeting? Was it possible that later, after the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, one of the members of that priesthood, remembered what the High Priest had said and this was a part of the means in which he was brought under conviction? Are the salvation of souls through the wicked and unbelievers common or are they exceptions to the rule?
But should the Christian with known sin in his life expect the blessing of the Lord on his ministry? What did the Jews mean when they said “Physician, heal thyself”? What did the people of Philippi think as they heard the demon-possessed woman testifying of Paul? What does the unbeliever think when he hears the gospel coming from lips that often blaspheme?
On the other hand, should we expect the good life of a person to be sufficient in saving people? In Matthew 10:7-8 the Lord sent out some of His disciples, commanding them, “Preach, saying, The Kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick.” If we had the power to heal all the sick who walk into our church services, would that make us evangelistic? Luke 9:6 says that the disciples, “went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.” Which was the more important work? Is teaching someone how to read – the same thing as evangelism? Is there anything wrong with a missionary teaching people how to farm more effectively? Is there anything unbiblical about a missionary using medical skills among the people to whom he ministers? Are teaching science and healing the sick the same thing as evangelism?
Is it true that the way that we live our lives, the way that we speak, or the way that we recreate, either make or break our work as evangelists? It would be nice to be able to miraculously heal the sick; and it would be evangelistically helpful. It would be helpful to be able to predict the future, like some of the Biblical prophets of God. But we don’t have these gifts; we are stuck with other gifts or without gifts at all. But how we use the gifts that we have – like truth, and kindness, generosity and friendliness…. How we use our time and even our opportunities to sin… can have an effect on our evangelistic efforts. Let’s say that you are repairing your fence or working on your car and you hit your thumb with a hammer. If you blurt out some profanity within the hearing of a neighbor, you may never again have the opportunity to give that man the gospel. But just the opposite may be true – your self-control may open the door for the gospel.
The primary tool of the evangelist is the Word of God. And, humanly speaking, the arm that the Lord has given to use that tool, is your life. Mess up your arm and you may not be able to pick up the scripture to give it away.