Foundational to speaking of Christ naturally is a strong assurance of your identity: “I am a new creation in Christ” (2 Cor. 5:17, NIV here and throughout). Supernaturally, you are a new person credited with the righteousness of Christ, yet still experiencing “the evil I do not want to do” (Rom. 7:19). Living daily with this tension should not disable you. As you take God at His word that you are a newly created person, the Spirit enables you to say with Paul, “Thanks be to God . . . through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom. 7:25). With confidence in God’s mercy, you offer yourself as a living sacrifice. But living sacrifices have a tendency to crawl off the altar. Security in knowing who you are becomes shaken, and the approval of people becomes preeminent to God’s approval. Your enthusiasm to show and tell about the One who changed you is dampened. What will convince you of your union with Christ and sustain a motivation to reach out to others?
CONFIDENCE THAT THE GOSPEL IS TRUE
A Christian must thoroughly learn the gospel, not only to be a better evangelist, but to mature in the Christian life. The longer you are a Christian, the more you realize the adequacy of gospel truths for increasing victory and peace. Study hard so you can teach the gospel,
reducing it to its simplest essentials, to analyze it point by point, to fix its meaning by positive and negative definition, to show how each part of the message links up with the rest — and to go on explaining it until you are quite sure that listeners have grasped it . . . to get gospel truth fixed in people’s minds. Teaching the truth is the basic evangelistic activity. (J.I. Packer)
What turned dejected, fearful, ordinary people in the early church into proclaimers of the gospel while their leaders stayed in Jerusalem? It was the resurrection of Jesus and the Spirit’s fullness that gave boldness. We see them teaching gospel truths to others. The word doctrine in the Bible means “teaching.” Doctrines form the bones of truth needed in evangelism.
GOD’S TRUTH — AN ONGOING EXPERIENCE IN YOUR LIFE
Incorporating the divine Word into your life and enjoying fellowship with Jesus, the living Word, is the basis for your experience, not just your feelings at that moment. To regularly confess sin (to repent) and feel forgiven clears your conscience and puts you in step with the Spirit of holiness again. Confidence in the pledged love of God kindles trust in God and honesty in prayer. Are you personally experiencing the beauty of Christ’s truth and finding ways to bring emotions into conformity with it, instead of the opposite?
Worship is the fuel for and the goal of the Christian life. Edmund Clowney writes:
Worship is evoked by the presence of God, a response, not a selfinitiated creative activity on our part . . . it is adoration, the most self less emotion of which our nature is capable, and therefore the chief remedy for that selfcenteredness which is our primary sin and the source of all actual sins.”
Worship takes gospel truths from your mind down into the desires of your heart, motivating you for a life of ongoing evangelism. Worship takes you out of yourself to focus on the sovereign God. Can you remain indifferent about those who are lost among your family, friends, acquaintances? Worship by the Spirit sparks desire and action. Your emotions are touched in personal and public worship to plead in prayer and love, and to initiate conversation about Christ. The experience of God working through you to reach others gives birth to faith that God will use you to point people to Christ.
OBEYING NOW — NOT WAITING TO FEEL LIKE ACTING
My wife, Suzanne, had many unbelieving friends and acquaintances. She met people easily. Her twinkling eyes and welcoming smile broke down barriers. Her friendliness connected with them. During visits to Mark, our eye doctor, he commented, “You always brighten up my day.” When the Lord surprised her with a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, a new challenge awaited us. In spite of this, she always smiled and listened to the problems of others.
Six months after the Lord promoted her to her heavenly home, I sat in a dimly lit room with our eye doctor for my eye exam. I began to talk of her final week. My words were like photo snapshots of her peacefulness, which was mixed with a sorrowful realization that she would not watch our six grandchildren grow up. She spoke with joy and a calm assurance of seeing the smile of her heavenly Father. Unable to speak in her last hours, she would gesture excitedly, pointing upward in anticipation of seeing God’s face. At that point, he said: “I don’t have confidence about the end of my life like Suzee did. I’m fearful, I don’t want to be alone.” I was shocked. I replied: “These are serious matters, can we meet to talk? I’ll come anywhere: your home, a restaurant, my home. You choose.” Grabbing a notebook, he scribbled his private phone number. The following year and a half we met irregularly. Aware of his sinfulness and inability to change, he began to read Scripture and peppered me with questions. My ability to express the gospel succinctly helped him “connect the dots” of truth that he had been hearing in church. The invisible Christ took outline form in his mind and His call to come was heard. The witness of my wife and I flowed naturally from what we had become through uniting with Christ. It was not just something we did.
My wife and I witnessed according to our gifts, and we witnessed together: Suzee’s friendliness and genuine faith was joined to my explanation of the good news. When the two combined, the gospel came with the Spirit’s power. We did not need to question if we had a gift for evangelism or agonize regarding how to mention Jesus to others. A winsome life joined with winsome words will win some.
ASK YOURSELF THESE QUESTIONS
1. Have I experienced the saving grace of God in my own life? What is the evidence?
2. Has neglect of repenting and enjoying forgiveness handicapped me in witnessing?
3. Are there specific people for whose conversion I am pleading in prayer?
4. How long has it been since I last explained at least part of the gospel with someone? Can I articulate the gospel with Scripture and illustrations?
5. Have I ever been so entranced by the wonder of the gospel of enabling grace that my fear of rejection by others has lessened?
6. Is my attitude, “Lord, I want You to use me to point others to Jesus, so I will initiate the topic with people”?