By Rich Carmicheal
This issue of Herald of His Coming focuses on evangelism. Hopefully, the articles will provide you with much encouragement and help in your work of sharing the gospel with others. In this article, I want to highlight some very important biblical truths concerning evangelism. My prayer is that these truths will inspire you to press forward in your outreach to non-Christians.
One of the most important truths concerning evangelism is that the Lord desires for everyone to receive salvation. As the Apostle Paul states, "This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:3-4). Likewise, the Apostle Peter writes that the Lord "…is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Pet. 3:9).
During His three-year ministry, Jesus made it very clear through His teachings and actions that He wanted to share salvation with as many people as possible. He came in order to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10) and to give His life as a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28). He was eager to travel from town to town in order to share the good news (Mark 1:38). He spent time with "sinners" in order to share God’s love and forgiveness with them. He spoke of the great rejoicing that takes place in heaven when a sinner repents (Luke 15:7,10). And, at the close of His ministry, He commissioned the disciples to go into all the world and to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19-20).
The message is clear: the Lord desires salvation for all people. He wants every member of your family to be saved… every friend…every neighbor… every co-worker…everyone in your city …everyone in your country…and everyone in the world. He does not want anyone to perish.
After His encounter with the rich young ruler, Jesus told His disciples how difficult it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. The disciples were concerned and asked, "Who then can be saved?" Jesus responded, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible" (Matt. 19:26). A second important truth in evangelism is the fact that God can do the impossible in matters of salvation.
You may know someone with whom repentance and salvation seem impossible. Perhaps you are about to give up hope. Keep in mind that God can do the impossible. Consider just a few of those mentioned in the Bible who received salvation: a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a dishonest tax-collector named Zacchaeus, a persecutor of the church named Saul, an immoral woman from Samaria, a rich man named Joseph of Arimathea, a business woman named Lydia, a thief in the process of being executed, people who had worshiped idols (1 Thess. 1:9), people who had practiced sorcery (Acts 19:19), and a very desperate Philippian jailer (Acts 16:27-34).
Because of God’s great ability to save,
we can be hopeful as we seek to lead others to Him. Like the Apostle Paul in his
encounter with King Agrippa, we can hope even against all odds. Agrippa asked
Paul, "Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a
Christian?" Paul replied, "Short time or long—I pray God that not
only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am…"
There are many verses which emphasize the importance of prayer in evangelistic work. For example, Jesus encouraged His disciples to "ask the Lord of the harvest…to send out workers into his harvest field" (Matt. 9:38). The Apostle Paul asked the Thessalonians to "Pray...that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored" (2 Thess. 3:1). He asked the Colossians to pray "that God may open a door for our message...pray that I may proclaim it clearly" (Col. 4:3-4). He urged "…that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone...This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved…" (1 Tim. 2:1-4).
Only the Lord is able to open a person’s heart and, therefore, we must continually ask Him to be at work in the lives of those we are trying to reach with the gospel. As Jesus told His disciples, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him…" (John 6:44). We need to pray that God’s Spirit will work powerfully and deeply upon the lost.
As we pray for the salvation of others, we
can do so with great confidence and expectation for at least two reasons. First
of all, we know that such prayers are in accordance with the Lord’s will that
all people be saved. Secondly, we know that with God all things are possible.
Although He will not force salvation upon anyone, we can confidently expect His
Spirit to work deeply upon those for whom we earnestly pray.
The Scriptures also make it clear that the Lord works through us to lead others to Him. For example, our godly behavior can "make the teaching about God our Savior attractive" (Titus 2:9-10). A non-believing husband can be won to the Lord by the godly character and behavior of his wife (1 Pet. 3:1-2).
And since "faith cometh by hearing" (Rom. 10:17), the Lord also uses our words as we share the gospel message with non-Christians. In light of this, the Scriptures declare, "Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone" (Col. 4:5-6). Peter adds, "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..." (1 Pet. 3:15). The Lord will work through us as we share His message with grace, sincerity, compassion, wisdom, gentleness and godliness.
Working With The Lord
"...Now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation" (2 Cor. 6:2). The Lord is eager to work through your life and your prayers to help bring salvation to others. With His help, all things are possible. Who can you help lead to Him?