By Stephen Myers
This is not a blog about the proper method or technique of evangelism, nor is it a conversation on the necessity of evangelism for the sake of fulfilling the Great Commission. A Believer in God need not search the scriptures hard to see the command and commitment that is required of believers to share their faith.
So, the question today is, “What benefit does evangelism have in the life of the believer?”
Now let us be careful, otherwise we may be accused of a narcissistic approach to the pronouncement of Gospel.
Evangelism absolutely has an eternal purpose in establishing the Kingdom of Heaven and the Lordship of Christ in the hearts and lives of people who are not found in Him.
The practice of evangelism in the life of the believer is the first step of obedience to the commands of Christ. Unfortunately, this often gets lost among the how, where, when, and to whom believers are responsible for evangelizing to.
When we talk about evangelism, we speak often about the global expansion of Christ’s eternal Kingdom, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,” (Matthew 28:19) and we speak too little of His promise of faithfulness: “And behold I am with you always, to the end of the age,” (Matthew 28:20).
In his study of trends among Christians in the U.S., George Barna noted, “We have found that nine out of ten individuals who attempt to explain their beliefs and theology to other people come away from those experiences feeling as if they have failed. . . . The reality of human behavior is that most people avoid those activities in which they perceive themselves to be failures. As creatures seeking pleasure and comfort, we emphasize those dimensions and activities in which we are most capable and secure.”
Barna is right, we often neglect to take part in activities in which we know we will fail. This is where obedience comes in to play and causes us to shift our focus.
So far in our discussion of spiritual disciplines, we have broached the two most fundamental practices: prayer and study. What is interesting about both of those disciplines is they are inward facing, intended for personal development.
Evangelism, on the other hand, is intended to put into practice what we have received regarding the life, death, resurrection, and commands of Jesus. This is where what is internal first makes an appearance externally. To tell others about the hope within you.
But when we place too much emphasis on our use of the right words, or method, or technique, and are met with rejection, we tend to take that personally. When in reality any rejection of the Gospel is a rejection of Christ.
So why then would the New Testament writers place such an emphasis on the practices associated with evangelism? It is a demonstration of our faith and obedience.
“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:2-5 ESV)
To practice the discipline of evangelism is a demonstration of faith and a willingness to be an instrument in the hands of God to bring about the fulfillment of His plan. It is an openness to the outworking of the spirit in our lives. It is the first step of many in trusting God with the outcome, provision, and protection for His saints who are called according to his purposes.
George Barna, as quoted in Discipleship Journal, issue 49,40..