How Can I Evangelize?
You lived next door to me, for years
We shared our dreams, our joys, our tears,
A friend to me, you were indeed,
A friend to help me when in need.
My faith in you was strong and sure
We had such trust as should endure
No spats between us ever rose
Our friends were lie, and so our foes.
What sadness then, my friend, to find
That after all, you weren’t so kind.
The day on earth my life did end
I found you weren’t a faithful friend.
For all those years we spent on earth,
You never spoke of my lost soul
And of a Christ who’d make me whole
I plead today from hell’s cruel fire
And tell you now my last desire.
You cannot do a thing for me
No words today my bonds will free,
But do not err, my friend again
Do all you can for souls of men.
Plead now with them quite earnestly
Lest they be cast in hell with me.
We need to do everything in our power to win the lost. Jesus commanded that we win the lost. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matt 28:19). “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mk 16:15).
Some want us to believe that these texts no longer apply today. The reasoning is that Jesus gave these instructions to his disciples, and that these instructions have nothing to do with us today. But we need to remember what Jesus told his disciples: “Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matt 28:20).
We cannot e saved unless we make an effort to win the lost. Both testaments teach that we cannot be saved unless we seek to win the lost. Ezekiel 33:8. “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away” (Jn 15:2).
Yet we each have different abilities. In the Parable of the Talents, the landowner gave his servants talents “according to [their] ability” (Matt 25:15). The servant with one talent was not condemned because he just had one talent; he was condemned because he didn’t use the talent he had. “Having then gives differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them” (Rom 12:6). The context is spiritual gifts, but the same principles seems to apply today. “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers” (Eph 4:11). Just because we don’t have the same abilities as someone else, we shouldn’t feel inferior.
Let’s see how we can use our differing talents to win the lost.
We Can Set an Example
The Bible teaches that examples can win the lost. 1 Peter 3:1—Peter was telling women not to nag their husbands into being Christians but that they should set a good example for them. Luke told Theophilus that in his first account he wrote “of all that Jesus began both to do and teach” (Acts 1:1). It is probably no accident that Luke mentions the fact that Jesus did before he taught; we’ve got to do what we teach. Surely, Jesus’ holy life was one reason that people were drawn to him.
Good examples can do so much.
“Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim 4:12). Although Paul is telling Timothy to be an example for believers, we could just as easily say we should be an example for unbelievers. Paul told the Ephesian elders, “I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak” (Acts 20:35).
Setting a good example means that we live a holy life for others to see. “As he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct” (1 Pet 1:15). “Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor 7:1).
There are so many ways that we can live holy lives. We can refuse to hear and to tell the same jokes everyone else at the office tells. We can refuse to go see movies Christians have no right to see. We can refuse to dress in a manner that elicits lust in others.
Are you setting a good example?
We Can Invite People to Worship
Scripture teaches us to invite people to worship. In the Parable of the Wedding Feast, the king told his servants, “Go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding” (Matt 22:9). “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’” (Rev 22:17)—the bride is none other than the church.
We Can Be Neighbors to Those Around Us
We must care for those around us. The Parable of the Good Samaritan shows that we should care for those who are down and out (Lk 10:30-37). Jesus concluded the parable by saying, “Go and do likewise” (Lk 10:37). “As we have opportunity, let us do good to all” (Gal 6:10). “Do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Heb 13:16).
The old cliché says “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” That is so true; we must show people that we care about them.
Jesus showed people that he cared about them before he attempted to teach them. When two blind men called to Jesus to heal their sight, he “had compassion and touched their eyes” (Matt 20:34). A leper came to Jesus and asked to be cleansed, and Jesus was moved with compassion and touched him (Mk 1:41). Leprosy is a highly contagious disease. Those with leprosy were isolated from the rest of society. When lepers approached town, they had to cover their mouths and shout, “Unclean! Unclean!” Touching a leper could easily pass on leprosy. But Jesus didn’t care; he wanted to show this leper that he cared about him.
Those to whom Jesus showed compassion were open to his message. The bind men he healed followed him (Matt 20:34). Even though Jesus had asked him not to, the leper went out and told everyone what had happened (Mk 1:45).
If we show people love and compassion, they will want to respond to the Gospel. Church growth research shows that churches with the highest growth rates showed a higher percentage of love felt by fellow church members and a higher amount in love given to other church members, visitors, and community. Are we showing love to those around us?
We Can Speak the Truth in Love
We must speak the truth on God’s behalf. “I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). “Preach the word!” (2 Tim 4:2). “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Pet 4:11).
We have so many opportunities to speak the truth on God’s behalf. Someone wants to know what we think about abortion. Someone wants to know what we think about giving out free condoms in school. Someone wants to know why we don’t play the lottery. Someone wants to know why we don’t use musical instruments in worship. Someone wants to know how he can be saved from sin.
Although we are to speak God’s truth, we need to do so with love and compassion. “Speaking the truth in love” (Eph 4:15). “Always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Pet 3:15).
If we don’t speak the truth in love, we can do much damage to the church.
Love can do so much. A man, who had never become a Christian, even though he had attended services with his wife for years, finally did become a Christian. Someone asked him, “Why did it take you so long to be baptized?” The man replied, “Preachers had told me before that I was going to hell, but they seemed gleeful. This guy told me I was going to hell, and it broke his heart.”
Are you speaking the truth in love?
This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at the Alum Creek church of Christ in Alum Creek, West Virginia.