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1 Corinthians 9:11
"If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we should reap material things from you?"

 

 

 

 

 

Evangelism:
The Time Is Now!

Section 5, Chapter 1

Evangelism:
The Responsibility Of All Christians

Chapter Illustration

Back to Section 4 Chapter 9

When I was a Junior in High School I was involved in Environmental issues. This was during the late sixties. I would give talks and lectures about the environment. I came to realize during this time that manís problem was not just educational, I came to realize that manís problem was primarily volitional.54 It was a problem of the heart. I came to realize this because as strong as my convictions were about the environment, I found myself unable to live according to my convictions. When I realized that I could not live according to my convictions as strong as they were I also realized there was no way we environmentalists were going to change the world who did not care to begin with. I did not know how to change manís heart because I could not change my own. I came to what Francis A. Schaeffer called the logical conclusions of my convictions and that was that man did not have the answer to the conflict within man.

This caused me great depression at times. My means of escaping, of what I viewed at the time as manís hopeless condition, was climbing mountains. I loved the mountains and the beautiful scenery at the top I felt I had worked for by conquering the mountain.

I had hit bottom intellectually. Man did not have the answers. It was during this time that I went with a group of people to Mt. Shasta to climb up the Whitney Glacier on the North side of the Mountain. We spent about five days on the mountain. The whole time I was on this Mountain I was fighting this black depression of the pessimistic view of the world and of man that I was carrying. There was not a time previously or after that I recall feeling this low and this depressed, but I held it in, not showing it on the surface. My climbing associates themselves were conservationists. Many of them held my concerns environmentally, but not my discovered conclusions.

I carried this pessimistic view of manís condition for over a year. I kept hoping I would find an answer. I began to read profusely on every subject. One of the things I decided to read was the Bible. I started with the New Testament. Initially, though this was not encouraging either. Jesus taught in Matthew Chapter 5 that God did not just judge a man for his actions, but for what he thought in his heart. Jesus said that if you never committed adultery or murder physically, but lived it out in your heart, God held you guilty of those sins.55 The faith that I had been raised in taught that if either of these sins were committed it was a mortal sin and if committed more than three times that, that person had no hope of salvation. As Bill Cosby said in one of his comic routines, "Thatís it! Everybody! Out of the pool!"

At this point, reading the Bible rather than giving me answers only increased my realization of the hopelessness of manís condition. Reading the Bible made me realize my hopeless sinful condition, but my dark clouded mind could not discern its message of salvation.56

This kind of discernment of the Scriptures only comes about through Holy Spirit inspiration. Only Born again Christians have this kind of inspiration and knowledge of the Scriptures and that is why aggressive One on One Evangelism is so important. The only way a non believer can come to have a saving knowledge of the Scriptures is when a believer shares it with them. This is what Paul is talking about in Romans 1:16-17 when he wrote,

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith."

This is the condition of most of humanity, even if they know the message of salvation, they are so much in bondage to self-condemnation, they cannot see for themselves the message of Godís salvation. Even if they can, they are not able to rise above their self-condemnation to feel worthy enough to receive Godís love and forgiveness through Jesus, not without outside help from born again Christians.

Almost a year later I did come to know Jesus, but it was by accident while riding my bike home from school one day,

Jesus, my life is far short of what I want it to be and I am sure it is far short of what you want it to be. But this is Dale. I cannot change him. Jesus, you change me! Here is my life. It is yours to do with whatever you please.

Some immediate changes took place in my life. I had been studying for the Priesthood at the time and I had one problem that was not consistent with the pursuit of this vocation: a four-letter-word vocabulary. The old computer was well programmed and I could not unprogram it. This was what Paul was talking about when he said in Romanís 7:19, and 24,

"For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish.... Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?"

Our soul and flesh cannot be repaired. We need to be born again.57 That day on the way home from school, Jesus came into my heart and I was born again, my spirit came to life, and Jesus made me a new creation.58 How do I know? Because the first thing that happened to me on the surface that I could see that I knew I had nothing to do with was a clean mouth. Whatever the propensity to swear that was in my heart and spirit, Jesus just took away. I was a new creation, born again.

Brothers and sisters, you cannot imagine the suffering in mind and soul I had gone through before I stumbled upon Jesus, because that was exactly what I did. I can honestly say that no one had ever previously shared with me that Jesus was my answer and how to receive Him as Savior and Lord so that His Salvation was really mine. It was not until much later I read Romans 10:9-10 that if I surrendered to Jesus as Savior and Lord that His already completed work of Salvation would be mine. I had grown up knowing that Jesus had died for my sins, but no one told me it became mine when I received Jesus as Savior and Lord.

The reason why Jesusí salvation does not become ours until we receive Him is because when we receive Him we are made one spirit with Him. As a result His death becomes our death for our sins, and thus the penalty of our sins are paid for. We are also made one with Him in His resurrection, and thus receive eternal life for ever, never to die again. Even though Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, Jesusí death does not become ours until we receive Him and become one spirit with Him.

You can imagine my excitement at realizing that Jesus really was the answer to manís needs. The second thing Jesus did in my life was to free me of my religious self-strife and bring me to a place of rest.59 He also gave me victory over some personal problems that no amount of will power on my part could change. Jesus changed my heart.

Once Jesus freed me of some of my personal problems and my religious self-strife and brought me to a place of rest, He then told me He wanted me to share the message of His love and forgiveness with others. Though I had been able to force myself to talk to men about environmental issues, the thought of sharing Jesus with others caused me to withdraw into my bedroom with the door shut. For no logical reason I found myself petrified with fear at the idea of sharing Jesus with a total stranger. But I remembered how greatly I suffered because no one had shared the message of how to apply the Gospel to my life with me.

A year and a half later I was visiting an evening service in a church in my hometown. After the service, two people I had climbed with up the Whitney Glacier on Mt. Shasta came up to me and said, "Dale, are you a Christian?" I replied, "Yes!" They said, "Gosh, we didnít know that?" I then asked them, "Were you guys Christians when we were on Mt. Shasta?" They said, "Ya, we were."

You cannot imagine the anger and hurt I felt at that moment. I had spent five days on this mountain with these two Christians. We ate together, joked together and helped each other to the top of the Mountain, but not once did they ever mention that they were Christians, that they knew Jesus. In fact, I never saw anything different about them than the rest of my associates. If they had told me about Jesus on that mountain I would have fallen into their laps. I knew man did not have the answer to his problems and I was waiting for God to show me if there was an answer.

Often when I talk to Christian Laymen about sharing their faith aggressively with others they say things like, "It is not my gift," "It is not my calling," "I do not feel led to share my faith with others," "I donít want to be legalistic." Brothers and sisters, sharing our faith with others has nothing to do with your calling, giftedness, feelings, or legalism; it does however have everything to do with LOVE. None of us would hesitate to give the cure to cancer to alleviate man from his suffering and to give back to him this temporal existence on Earth. Can you imagine a person with the cure to cancer saying, "It isnít my calling to give people with cancer their cure." Or, "God has given me complete peace about not sharing the cure to cancer with those who need it." Yet Christians will work at finding an excuse to withhold the cure to the cancer of our eternal souls. To not care enough to take the initiative to share the love of Jesus with lost humanity is to say to man, "I do not care whether you go to hell and spend eternity in the Lake of Fire or not."60 No matter what a Christianís calling or station in life is, he or she has no excuse for not taking at least two hours out of their time a week to share their faith with others. It is the loving responsibility of all Christians. It is the most loving thing in life you can do.

Because my climbing Christian friends did not take the time to share the Gospel with me, I ended up spending several more months of needless depression, suffering and searching until I accidentally stumbled upon the answer myself. I was lucky. I was searching though. Most of humanity is not.

The reason why many laymen do not get involved in aggressive Evangelism is because it is not their natural inclination. I do not know of a Christian in full-time ministry or not who has ever said to me that sharing their faith with others was a natural inclination. I know it was not for me. This is what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 11:12 when He said, "And from

the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force." The Bible plainly tells us in Galatians 5:17, "For the flesh with-strong-passion-fights against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please." The word in the Greek for with-strong-passion-fights is ejpiqumiva (epith mia) meaning to rush against with an irregular or violent desire.63 In order to do Godís will and share our faith with others we must do violence to the desires of our soul and flesh.

As we already established in Chapter 1 of Section 1, the great commission to share the Gospel with humanity is not a calling to a few select Christians,61 it is Jesusí call to all Christians. Most Christians know this, but unfortunately they stop here. They know it is Godís will for them. Like I experienced when Jesus first told me He wanted me to preach the gospel, they are filled with torment and fear at the prospect. For most, sadly, that is where it ends. Every time they hear a sermon on the subject they wrestle in torment for a few days until the feeling goes away. This is very unfortunate.

When Jesus told me he wanted me to share the Gospel with others, yes, I trembled at first with fear at the idea, but I did not stop there. I went to Jesus in prayer, "Jesus I want to do your will, but I cannot bring myself to talk to another person about the Gospel. Please give me the boldness to share my faith with others." I did violence to myself. I committed myself to prayer until I got the answer I needed.

At this time in my life I knew of no other person who knew Jesus personally. I knew Jesus was the answer, but I was scared to death. I was determined, however, to do whatever was necessary to get to the place to be able to share my faith with others.

When Jesus said in Revelation 3:15-16 that he would rather have us hot or cold, what did He mean? The word in the Greek for "hot" is zestov" (zestos).94 The Word means literally "boiling-hot." Jesus means that He wants us to be boiling-hot in our relationship with Him. He means that he wants us to to be boiling-hot in doing violence to our flesh to get close to him to overcome our fears to live for him. There isnít any other way you can except in being boiling-hot in your pursuit of Him.

People, I sympathize with you. It is not easy to live for Jesus today. The moment you open your mouth and say anything about Jesus you are ostracized, belittled, labeled a fanatic, bigot, hate-monger. For some it has meant losing a job (several jobs), a wife, a husband, a career.

Folks, I know it is not easy, but it is the will of the Father for every bornagain Christian to share their faith with others. His will for you is that he wants you to be a witness for Him. This is Jesusí will. But you know what? Jesus is a gentleman. He did not force you to accept Him as your Savior and Lord and He wonít force you to do what is the most loving thing you can do for another person either. Jesus did not force me to preach the Gospel to men. After He told me this was what he wanted me to do, everything in my being cried out, "NOOOOOo!" The Bible says though that we are to love God with all our hearts, with all our minds, with all our souls, and with all our strength. What does that mean? It means just that. It means that whatever is required to obey and serve Jesus with our lives, even if it means violence to ourselves, if we really love God, we will do it.

What does this mean for you personally? What will it cost you to share your faith with others? Only you have the answer to that. For me it meant going on a two week fast. Was that really necessary? I do not know. I do know that at the end of the fast something inside me broke. The next day I met a man who had been trained in how to share his faith with others. I had never heard of a training program in Evangelism before. I attached myself to this man like a tick on a dog. I would not stop bugging him until he told me where I too could get this training and what I needed to do to get signed up and go there.

The end of the story is that I did sign up, went through this training program and learned how to effectively share my faith with others. I came back to my High School campus and literally accomplished the task of sharing my faith with every person on campus before I graduated. I then spent four years at Fresno City College daily going out on the campus and sharing the Gospel with students. Then, while attending A Christian University and completing my studies in theology, I weekly went off the campus and shared my faith with men while teaching and training others to do the same. Since then I have not missed a week that I have not gone out and shared my faith with a total stranger. It is no longer a dreadful experience for me. It is a total joy. When you see a person come to Christ, his face lights up and his life changes. Nothing on earth can take the place of satisfaction and joy one feels seeing another person saved in Jesus.

How did I get there? It started with doing violence to myself first, telling myself that Jesusí will for me was more important than my desires or feelings. Jesus said that whoever saves his soul will lose it, but whoever loses their soul for him will gain it. The world has a plan for your life. So does Jesus. The first comes easy. Jesusí will does not. Why? Because the world, your flesh and the devil are against you in it. That is why you must first make the decision to do whatever is necessary to let Jesus have his way in your life. You must do violence to the desires of your soul and flesh. What Jesus finally puts in its place is so much more satisfying that all becomes second to it. Am I saying that you wonít be rejected? That you wonít lose a job(s)? That you wonít lose a wife, husband, friends? No. I cannot promise you the non loss of any of these things. I have lost many of these things at one time or another in the thirty-four years I have known Jesus. This is because I put Jesus and his Gospel first.

Jesus said, Greater love has no man than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.62 I do not know of any American who had to give up his life to share the Gospel. Millions did in Communist Russia. Thousands do in Muslim countries today. Eleven of the Twelve Apostles did. For right now the worst thing an American Christian has to suffer is the rejection of men, a job. American Christians are the only Christians who have absolutely no excuse for not sharing the Gospel with men.

Bibliography & Notes
Section 5 Chapter 2
Section 5 Chapters

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