Our Role as an Evangelist
Over the past couple of weeks we have been talking a great deal about prayer; how to pray and when to pray. We’ve looked at passages that tell us that it is not only acceptable to pray any time of the day, but is necessary. We’ve also spoken about what it means to have a church that is centered on Christ and doing the work that He has set out for us to do. We’re still here, so we have some job that God wants us to do, right? So we need to be in prayer and seek guidance for our church. What exactly is it that God would have us do? Are we to grow? Are we to stay a 20 person or so church? God has placed it on my heart to see the church grow in the community and be a 40 or more church. We have the potential to do it! Can you imagine 40 people in this room? How about 50? That would mean going to two services, and you know what? This is all doable. But each one of us needs to make the effort to make it happen. We need to be in prayer, and then we need to take action. Prayer for a flood of people is but only the first step, we need to follow that prayer with what the Lord tells us to do, and that is to get out there and go be fishers of men.
There were two farmers that were planning for the upcoming year. They had been in a drought over the past couple of years and the crops didn’t do so well in the sweltering heat. Both farmers called on God to help them. They both said, “Lord, please bring the rain so that my crops can do well.” The first farmer prayed every day, and waited for the rain to come. The second farmer prayed every day, but he also went out and tilled the land. Which farmer trusted that God would provide the rain? In looking at our church, which farmer are we? Do pray for a rain of people to flood our doors and stop there; or do we pray for rain then get out there and till the land by talking to those around us?
Please turn with me to Colossians chapter 4 and verses 2 through 6. Colossians 4:2-6.
Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak. Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.
Paul tells us several things in this passage, so let’s take a couple of minutes and dissect it. First, we need to devote ourselves to prayer. If we fail to continuously be in prayer, we will stray from God’s path and follow our own. To fall away from prayer becomes a wedge in the door and Satan will use to attack you. Does this mean that you must spend every waking moment in prayer? No because then you aren’t going out there like God has commanded us. But you do need to pray each and every day, and the more the better because you will grow closer to God and He will be your strength.
Look at the second part of that verse; we need to pray that God will open the door for the Word so that we can present the Gospel to others. Now, if we were to be like the first farmer and pray but do nothing, why would Paul have told us to ask the door to be open to share the Gospel? Well, he is simply following what Jesus told us to do. Matthew 28:19 and following puts forth the Great Commission:
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
Then Paul makes a statement that he is imprisoned for the mystery of Christ. At the time of this letter, Paul was in Roman captivity. He had been arrested for preaching the Gospel. And why? “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:6) Paul was not afraid to be imprisoned because he knew that it was his duty to go out and preach the Word. It is our duty to do the same; to go out and preach the Word or to witness.
We are to conduct our selves with wisdom to outsiders and make the most of our time with them. We need to make sure that we are living the Gospel, not just on Sundays, but each and every day of our lives. The day you accepted Christ, people began to watch you because there was a change in your life; and you began to proclaim the name of Jesus with excitement. They are waiting for you to make a mistake, so Paul warns us to conduct ourselves with wisdom.
Then he warns us to speak with grace. There are many Christians that get this attitude that they personally are to rid the world of sin by condemning all who sin. They are more worried about the speck in someone else’s eye than the log coming out of there own, as Jesus tells us. (Matthew 7:4-5) My wife’s grandmother was one of those people for the longest time. She would come to visit and the first words out of her mouth when the door was opened were, “you are sinners and heathens.” Did that drive my wife’s family to Christ? Nope. I did drive them somewhere. It drove my wife to want nothing to do with religion and her parents to staunch atheism. It wasn’t until a year after we were married and we had moved from California to Oregon that my wife accepted Christ. Her parents to this day will not speak to her as they have been so blinded by their atheistic beliefs; they believe that she dishonored them by accepting Christ and answering to God. We need to make sure that when we speak about God to others that we don’t bash them with words of condemnation, but give them words of grace.
Does this mean that we should preach the social gospel as some do? Joel Osteen has a huge ministry, but he never talks about sin. He teaches that we all have a God shaped hole in our hearts that only God can fill, and if you come to Jesus, your life will be perfect. Is any of that true? The truth is that we have a sin problem and only the blood of the Lamb can heal that wound that would otherwise take our life and condemn us. Jesus tells us that our lives will be full of persecution for His namesake, not full of perfect bliss. So how do we go about sharing this very difficult, but very important message?
There are many styles that people have adopted to witness to others. Some prefer a friendship style where you become a friend to a person, and after time has passed, you share the Gospel. I am not one for this method and to illustrate why, let me tell you a little story:
A man walks in to a doctor’s office around lunch time. He has been having lunch with his friend Dr. Jones for sometime now. As he approaches the receptionist who is a fellow believer, he asks her to page Dr. Jones so they can have lunch. He says, “Dr. Jones and I have become great friends over the past two years, and I think that I can finally explain my faith in Jesus to him because he has been getting somewhat interested lately. It is so exciting; I’ve been waiting all this time, but I was afraid that I would scare him off until now. Oh, wouldn’t that be great if he came to know Jesus today?” Just then the receptionist broke into tears. “What’s wrong Judy?” She stopped crying just long enough to say, “Bob, I wish you would have done this sooner. You see, Dr. Jones was in a fatal car accident this morning on the way to work.” Bob walked out of the office in tears knowing that in the two years that they had been friends, and the dozens of opportunities that he had to share the Gospel with Dr. Jones, he had failed to do so and now it is too late.
Another method is a direct approach. It isn’t the bash them over the head approach, but is more like a physician explaining the seriousness of a disease. You go to see the doctor and he told you that you had Crohn’s disease. Here’s a cure, but you have to take it twice daily and no less than 11 hours but no more than 13 hours apart. Have a nice day. Would you take the doctor’s word about the disease and the cure? I wouldn’t. Now picture this. You go into the doctor’s office and the doctor tells you to sit down. He explains that you have Crohn’s disease and shows you book after book about the nature of the disease. He tells you that you can die from the disease if it goes untreated. Now he says there is a treatment but you have to take it twice daily and no less than 11 hours but no more than 13 hours apart. Now that you know what the disease is and the seriousness of the disease, you are more likely to follow the doctor’s instructions. We can use the same method with witnessing. Let’s look at where the method comes from. Turn with me to John chapter 4 and verses 7 through 38. John 4:7-26.
There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give Me a drink." For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, "How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?" (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water." She said to Him, "Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? "You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?" [Jesus opens with a casual dialogue to form a relationship with the woman, but it took but a matter of minutes not years] Jesus answered and said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life." [Jesus swings from things of the physical world, to the things of God] The woman said to Him, "Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw." [Now Jesus will diagnose the disease, or the sin] He said to her, "Go, call your husband and come here." The woman answered and said, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You have correctly said, 'I have no husband'; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly." The woman said to Him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. "Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship." [And now Jesus delivers the Gospel or the cure] Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. "You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. "But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." The woman said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us." Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am He."
We hear after this that the woman told all those around her of this Man and she spread the Gospel. We can use Jesus’ method and speak to others. And if we are true to the Gospel, it will produce true repentant Christians and not someone that will fall away because they were sold a bag of goods that would run out. The Gospel is eternal and will never run out; but it must be preached. It must be delivered in our witnessing.
If we look back at our Colossians passage, Colossians 4:2-6, Paul completes this section by saying that we are to season our words with salt. We must season our words appropriately to meet the needs of the person we are speaking to. For example, we wouldn’t need to talk about the sin of adultery to a 7 year old; but talking about a lie, baring false witness, would be appropriate. And we must present the Gospel, the cure to our sin each and every time. If we are the salt in this world, then let us salt the oats of those we speak to and lead them to the trough of water. We can’t force someone to accept Christ, but we can lead them to Him; and that is our job.
Jesus tells us all to go out and witness to others or to evangelize. So what are the qualifications of an evangelist? Let’s look at I Corinthians chapter 2 and verses 1 through 5. I Corinthians 2:1-5:
And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.
This passage gives us the 4 qualifications of an evangelist: speaking so that someone will understand you, witnessing in weakness, fear, and much trembling. Paul says that he determined to know nothing but Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. The Corinthians were widely known for their lengthy speeches that said nothing but how smart they appeared. Paul says to come to people in a way so to know only Christ and Him crucified, not to go on and on in a theological debate. The Gospel has the power of salvation. It is man’s thinking that it needs the help of debate. Know your Bible so you can answer questions, but you do not need to be a scholar to witness.
Then come in weakness. Jesus says that when we are weak, He is strong to pick us up. We need to make sure that we aren’t coming in arrogance, the “I know my stuff so let’s see you try to take on Christianity.” We don’t want to witness in arrogance, but rather in grace. We are also to witness in fear. Why fear? Because fear will drop us to our knees in prayer so that God will give us guidance. And much trembling; boy, I remember every time that go to witness to someone, my knees shake. What if they ask a question I can’t answer, or what if they become hostile? We are to tremble so we don’t boast of out knowledge, but lean on God. So who here meets this definition?
If you can speak to someone so they can understand you, raise your hand. Now think of witnessing, are you in weakness when you witness so that you can lean on God for strength and the words? Keep you hand up. Do you fear the encounter and your heart begins to pound before you bring up the subject of God to either someone you know or don’t know? Keep your hand up. Do you tremble or get the really nervous feeling in the pit of your stomach? Keep you hand up. Now look around; each one of you should have your hand up, and that means that we have a church full of evangelists. Now let’s get out there.
If we are presenting the Gospel the way that the Bible tells us to, then we will produce truly repentant believers. How do we make that switch from casual conversation to the things of God? It might help to use a Gospel tract. Here is my favorite that I have used many times at the grocery store check out. [Way of the Master Pink and Blue Card]. I have brought a few tracts and will put them up front at the end of service. I encourage you to take one or two of them and give them to someone this week.
Here is my challenge to each one of you. Not each family, but each one of you individually. This week, take this message to heart and talk to at least one person about Jesus. If you feel the fear of doing so, then that just proves that you are an evangelist at heart. Pray before speaking to someone and don’t let them walk by and not hear about Jesus. Part two of the challenge: invite at least one person to come to church next week. Remember, the Lord is on your side and is right with you, so lean on Him to get you through the witnessing encounter.
I want to close with a short letter from an unsaved friend:
My friend, I stand in judgment now,
and feel that you’re to blame somehow.
On earth I walked with you by day,
and never did you show the way.
You knew the Savior in truth and glory,
But never did you tell the story.
My knowledge then was very dim.
You could have led me safe to Him.
Though we lived together, here on earth,
you never told me of the second birth.
And now I stand before eternal hell,
because of heaven’s glory you did not tell! 
Don’t let this letter be from someone you know. Share the Gospel and share it with someone today.
Now I want to get a little personal and want you to think about your life with Christ. Where are you with your walk with Christ? Did you accept Him to fill the void, or to pay the price for your rebellion against God? Have you walked away? Now is the time to come to Him and lean on Him. Do you share your faith with others like Jesus commanded us to do? Have you been attending this church but haven’t quite made that decision to join? I can tell you from an outside opinion that this church is a great fellowship to belong to. These people are warm and caring, but you already know that. Today is the day to join them to add another to the force for Christ. Let today be a new beginning and the start of a church that will leave this building excited to witness for Christ. Let’s be the salt in our community and lead them to the water, the living water of Jesus Christ.
 Ray Comfort, "Letter From An Unsaved Friend," Living Waters Publications, 2004, http://www.livingwaters.com/letterfromanunsavedfriend.shtml/ (accessed August 17, 2007).