Okay, I have a confession to make. Whenever I think about evangelism, I feel intimidated. How about you? Does the idea of bringing up in conversation the topic of faith in God and talking with other people about their relationship with God make you feel nervous? You are not alone!
The idea that many have in evangelism is that it is our job to go out and try woo people to be interested in God, make them feel convicted about their sins and then step in to convert them into Christians with a convincing argument. But the truth is, none of those things are our responsibility. Those are all things the Holy Spirit does!
Fortunately, we can all take comfort in the awareness that in evangelism, we are only responsible for our part in evangelism and not God’s part in the conversion of people. When Jesus gave us the Great Commission he made it clear that we are not alone as evangelists:
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:19-20 HCSB)
We have all read this verse. Many believers can quote it by heart. We’ve heard it preached scores of times. I have heard preachers talk about how the word “Go” can be translated “as you go,” and that this verse means we should take the Gospel with us in every situation in which we find ourselves. I have heard countless messages about how it is the role of the believer to not only teach the Gospel but also to stick with people who come to faith in Christ, seeing to it that they are baptized and discipled to be fully devoted followers of Christ.
But what I want to talk about in this blog is the promise found in the Great Commission, something Jesus asked us to remember, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Why did our Lord find it necessary to say, “And remember…” when he told us He will be with us? It could be because we need to be reminded continually that, in evangelism, we play a limited role. We must depend on Him to do His part, or our evangelism efforts will be wasted.
For the last few weeks, I have been reading books by authors who came to faith Christ in the midst of some very difficult circumstances. Some would even say impossible situations. Esther Amad and Nabeel Qureshi are Muslim-background believers who came to faith in Christ. In both cases, God gave them dreams and led them to divine encounters that can only be explained by the active work of God to reveal Himself, draw them to Him and bring them to the conviction that they needed to repent. My takeaway from reading their books was they clearly would not have come to faith in Christ were it not for the miraculous intervention of the Holy Spirit.
That is not to say there was no evangelistic role for the believers they encountered in their lives. God also put obedient Christians in their paths who knew what their role in evangelism was. No amount of debate or shrewd logic could have convinced Esther and Nabeel of their need for Christ. There was the “personal evangelism” of people who patiently did their part in evangelism—they were friends with them, did not hold back from telling them the truth of the Gospel. Yes, there was some gentle persuading involved, but for the most part, it was plain and simple Christian love and fellowship that God used to lead this (now) brother and sister to Christ.
This is not only true in the hard cases, like when someone from another religion comes to Christ. It’s how it happens for anyone who comes to Christ. God is actively doing His work, and we have the privilege of joining Him by being obedient to do what He has asked us to do in evangelism.
Here are a few verses about God’s role and our role in evangelism:
|God’s Role||Man’s Role|
I don’t know about you, but when I read that list of Scriptures that speak of “Man’s Role” in evangelism, I am less intimidated. I feel encouraged knowing that if I will only remember what Christ said, “I am with you,” I can have confidence in evangelism. God is already at work in the lives of the people with whom I speak about the Gospel. I know the Lord will do His part in evangelism. Now all I need to do is focus on mine.