The series now leads us to what some have called “the one thing you can’t do in Heaven.” Evangelism. Witnessing. Sharing your faith. I must admit that, personally, this is a hard thing for me to do. Humans can be a lot like water in that they often take the path of least resistance. It’s much easier to justify reasons I didn’t share Christ with someone else than it is to actually do it. We’ll talk about what motivates (or demotivates) us from sharing a little bit later. But first…
The foundation for evangelism is rooted in the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20. It says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” In these verses Jesus gives us a mandate, or command, to go and make disciples. Scholars say that “go” could more accurately be interpreted “as you go.” This is something expected of and directed towards all believers. Sure some are particularly gifted to evangelize, but nonetheless we are all evangelists.
As we read this we mustn’t miss the “therefore” in verse 18. Anytime you see “therefore” in the Bible ask yourself, “What is the ‘therefore’ there for?” In this case, Jesus has grounded His command for us to go in His omnipotence. Look at verse 18, “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore…” These are powerful words. Jesus is claiming his supremacy over the entire universe (which certainly includes us!). But He doesn’t just leave us with the command. He leaves us with the end of verse 20, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
So the mandate, based on the supremacy and authority of Christ over all things, is to be heralds of Christ’s message, to go and make disciples, baptizing them, and teaching them to obey Christ. He has chosen us to be the vessels of His message to the nations. There is no plan B. But what is this message?
The message of evangelists is, literally, the “evangel,” or good news. We have good news to share with people who desperately need to hear it. Another word for the good news is “gospel” and if you ask 100 people to define the gospel you’d probably get 50 or 60 different answers. We need to brush up on the message! Greg Gilbert puts it in a very easy to remember way in his book What is the Gospel? There are basically four elements that must be present in any presentation to qualify as gospel. If you share these four elements you can be sure you’ve shared it. They are: God. Man. Christ. Response.
God created man(kind) and we are accountable to Him. However, man(kind) sinned against Him and have reserved future judgment from God for our sins. Don’t stop there. That’s not good news which means it can’t be the gospel. The good news doesn’t shine through until you get to the two greatest words in the Bible, “But God.” But God sent His son Jesus Christ to live the life we couldn’t live and die the death we deserved to die. All we have to do is respond with repentance and faith in Him.
The Motivation (or Lack Thereof)
There are an endless number of excuses as to why we don’t share our faith. I will just list some of them for you as they appear in Mark Dever’s book The Gospel & Personal Evangelism (p20-23).
- It’s illegal
- It’s not allowed at work
- I don’t know any non-Christians
- I have more urgent, pressing matters to attend to
- They don’t want to hear or they won’t believe it
- They already know the gospel
- I won’t have all the answers I need
I have found in my own personal life that the motivation to witness comes from a heart that loves the gospel. The more I understand the gospel, the deeper into the gospel I penetrate (better said, the deeper it penetrates into my heart and soul), the easier it is to share my faith.
Face it, when we love something (or someone), I mean truly love them, we can’t stop talking about them can we? “I don’t care if you want to hear it or not,” we say implicitly, “I love it so I’m going to tell you about it.” OK, so maybe that’s not the right tactic either, but you get the point. If you struggle with evangelism, study the gospel, learn the gospel, experience the gospel. Don’t try forced obedience because you likely won’t do anyone any good. Instead, learn to love the gospel and then sharing it will come naturally. But we must do it now for time is running short…
Feel free to share you struggles and how you overcome them in the comments section…