When we begin to think about evangelism, there are several things that we must believe if we are to be successful. First, we must have a belief in the supernatural. We live in the presence of an unseen world. Christianity is a supernatural religion. The work of winning souls is a supernatural work. Soul winning is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. In soul winning, God uses individuals as instruments, but it remains the work of God from beginning to end. Because it is God’s work, we can have confidence that as we labor in the task of evangelism, God will bring others to a saving knowledge of Christ.
Second, we must believe in the power of God. Often as we speak to others, we realize how lost men and women really are. We call this truth “total depravity,” meaning that sin has affected every aspect of people’s lives. They are really “dead in their trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1–3). Only by the power of God Almighty can such people be brought to life. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (vv. 4–5). With us this is impossible, but with God it is possible.
Third, we must believe the gospel. The world is a wretched place. Only the good news of Jesus Christ will change it. The Apostle Paul tells the Corinthians: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). As Christians, we have the answer to the plight of men and nations in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Fourth, we must have a passion for God’s glory and the salvation of men. Paul reminds the Colossian Christians that God has made known to them “the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). Paul was willing to become all things to all people that by all means he might win some (1 Cor. 9:22).
Realizing that the gospel we proclaim is scandalous to the Jews and folly to the gentiles, we must be wise in our endeavor to persuade people (Prov. 11:30). We challenge the unbeliever intellectually, since knowledge without Christ is vanity. Religiously, their worship is idolatry, and socially, Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth” (Matt. 10:34). The cost of following Jesus is total life surrender.
As Proverbs 11:30 says, those who would be soul winners must be wise. Two mistakes to be avoided are placing too much emphasis on intellectual acumen, saying that only professionally trained individuals can do evangelism, and saying that no thought is needed because the work of evangelism is God’s work. Paul reminds Timothy “to present [himself] to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). To the Colossians Paul writes: “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me” (Col. 1:28–29).