To maintain our sanity we need to understand clearly who is responsible for what in sharing the Good News.
In particular we need to address the questions, 'What is God's part and what does he expect of me?' Get the answers to those questions wrong and you will find that your experience of evangelism is an unhappy one because you have fallen into one of these traps:
- 'If God is in control there is no point in me doing anything.'
- 'I feel so guilty that I don't share my faith with everyone I meet.'
- 'I must find a better technique to make people come to Christ.'
- 'I give up! None of those I talk to has followed Christ.'
The Big Picture
We need first to see the big picture - it is God who is in control of history and the universe itself. He is its:
CreatorGn 1:1-2; Ps 8:3; 2 Pet 3:5OwnerPs 24:1; Jb 41:11SustainerHeb 1:3; Ps 147:8-9,15-18DirectorDn 2:21, 4:17; Is 40:15,22-24RedeemerRm 8:20-22; 2 Cor 4:16-5:5
It is he who will bring history to an end (Rev 5:9-6:1). His ultimate plan is a new heaven and a new earth (Rev 21:1; Is 65:17, 66:22) where there will be no more death, crying or pain (Rev 21:4), populated by a people drawn from every nation (Gn 12:3, Rev 7:9) who have been set apart to do his will (Titus 2:11-14; 1 Pet 2:9). He is now in the process of gathering this people (Mt 24:31) before the world as we know it is destroyed (Zeph 1:2-3; 2 Pet 3:7; Rev 21:1). This is achieved through evangelism, the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Rom 1:15-17; Rm 10:14-17).
God's Sovereignty in Evangelism
The proclamation of the Gospel requires human instruments (us), but it is God's work. It is he who:
- Gives us the Word to proclaim Rm 1:1,16
- Opens doors of opportunity to proclaim it Acts 14:27; Col 4:3
- Gives us the courage to speak 2 Tim 4:17; Acts 4:29; Eph 6:19-20
- Enables hearers to understand the message Acts 16:14
- Convicts people of sin John 16:8
- Enables sinners to repent Acts 5:31,11:18; Eph 2:8
- Brings about rebirth Acts 2:38; Rom 8:9; John 3:3-8
What are the Implications for Us?
- The biggest obstacle to evangelism is not technique but opposition. Our enemy the devil's opposition will take many forms...often our indifference means he hardly need bother doing anything else. But in reality he is a defeated enemy because Christ who lives in us has conquered him (Eph 1:19-21) and we share his victory (Eph 2:4-7; 1 Cor 10:13; 1 Jn 4:4).
- Our response needs to be spiritual and practical. Paul's response was to pray and encourage others to pray also (Eph 6:18-20). Prayer is central because it is a recognition of our humble dependence on God. If he does not inspire and empower our efforts, our work will be in vain (Ps 127:1). We must pray for opportunities and courage.
- But it does not stop with prayer. We must also obey. We are commanded to ...'go and make disciples...' (Mt 28:19). We have actively to step out in faith and seize the opportunities he gives us.
God is in control of the universe and our own lives. Evangelism, the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is his work, but we are his instruments. We need first to pray for opportunities, and the courage to use them to step out in faith.