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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 4

Why Your Involvement
In Evangelism is So Important

 Back to Chapter 3
Study Questions

The New Testament Commands it

First, your involvement in Evangelism is important because Scripture commands us to shepherd the sheep. Paul commands us in Acts 20:28-31,

"Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the Church of God which he purchased with his own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remember that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears."

The word overseer in Greek is ejpivskopo" (episkopos).67 It occurs five times in the New Testament.68 Rackham, in his commentary, The Acts of the Apostles states that an overseer has the same function as a shepherd. He states,

"The shepherd protects the flock against the wolf, and that by watching against false doctrine: That is the episcopos is a teacher, and guardian of the faith. . . The presbyter has an active ministry of helping the weakóand that at the cost of self-sacrifice, even as the good shepherd laid down his life for the sheep."69/386

Paul tells us in this passage of Scripture that there are evil men and deceivers in the world that wish to draw Godís people away from the truth. In many cases they are drawn away. When they are they are blind to their deception. Because they are blind they certainly are not going to realize they need to talk with their Pastor or someone else qualified in the body to show them the deception of their ways. That is why we must take the initiative when someone disappears from the fellowship to go and seek them out, for they will not come to us.

Not only will men outside the Church draw Jesusí sheep astray and away from His fold, but Paul also tells us that perverse men right in the midst of the Church will draw Jesusí disciples away from the fold and after themselves. This kind of subtle deception can only be discerned and discovered by our taking the initiative to visit with the sheep individually to see how they are doing and what they are into. As we take this initiative we can then also show them the error of their ways and thinking before they get too deep into whatever it is and be unable to draw them back to the truth in Jesus.

In conclusion Paul speaks of his own life as an example of being a good shepherd to them, who took the initiative day and night for three years admonishing each one of them with tears until they were well established in the true faith and mature enough to give others the same kind of one on one care. Paul commands us to go and do the same.

Men Are Bound by Satan

Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5,

"For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful in order to destroy strongholds. We are subverting computations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ."

Again he tells us in 2 Timothy 2:24-26,

"And the Lordís bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will."

The word for strongholds in the Greek is ojcuvrwma (ok r ma).70 These strongholds are centered in the subconscious part of manís soul where basic presuppositions, decisions made, and talents are stored or implanted as a result of volitional decisions made through conscious reasoning and God implanted giftedness. It is also the root of soul expression (1 Cor 14:25, Prov 27:19).

The word t/yl;K]75 (kelay th) in Hebrew in the Old Testament and nefroiv76 (nephroi) in Greek in the New Testament translated reins seems to fit into this description (Jer 17:10, Rev 2:23). David Cairns in his book The Image of God in Man defines this word as meaning ". . . where motive, or that which is known to God but hidden to man."46/34 Lawrence J. Crabb in his book Effective Biblical Counseling defining what he calls the unconscious mind states that it is ". . . the reservoir of basic assumptions which people firmly and emotionally hold about how to meet their needs of significance and security."47/91

Paul in these passages tells us that men are bound by Satan, and that this bondage comes about through false assumptions in their subconsciouses (strongholds) about the truth. The only way a person can be freed from a lie is through hearing the truth. Jesus said in John 8:32, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

Through Christian Laymen reaching out Evangelistically, Satanís lies to Jesusí sheep can be exposed and the truth put in its place. The end result will be that those sheep will be freed from the bondage of Satanís lies, be made healthy spiritually, and continue to grow in the true knowledge of Jesus Christ and into maturity. Without Christian Laymen reaching out Evangelistically, many sheep will stay bound by Satanís lies and eventually die spiritually.

Christians Have Been
Hurt by Christians

"Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself lest you too be tempted." (Gal 6:1)

Several years ago the Lord led me into friendship with a man who had a drinking problem. When I first met him the Lord spoke to me plainly and said, "Do not moralize him; just love him." The Lord told me this for five years.

At first I did not know why; but as I got to know this man and his problems better, I began to see why he had a drinking problem. Besides having a rough childhood, at one point in his past, some, I suppose well meaning, Christians had taken him into a field and tried to literally beat some quote unquote demons out of him. Needless to say as a result of this experience he found it difficult to trust Christians, especially ones who tried to moralize his life. This man had been so hurt by Christians that when ever he would go into a Church he would go up and basically cuss the preacher out. He would do this to find out how genuine they were. What I mean by genuine, would they be able to love him and discern if this was what was really going on and be able to truly manifest Christís love to him through their response?

It is so important that before we judge people from face value alone that we spend time before the Lord about that person and allow Jesus to minister to our hearts about the individual we are concerned about before taking any action toward that person, irrespective of the obviousness of his or her actions.

You want to minister life. Jesus is life. Jesus said, "It is the Spirit who creates-life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are Spirit and are life." (John 6:63). Jesus is the answer to manís needs, problems, and immoral behavior. We do not want to minister ourselves, flesh, no matter how truthful our words are. We want to minister Jesus; that is, what Jesus is telling us to minister. This is because only then are we assured of Jesusí backing through the Holy Spirit and that there will be spiritual life changing power and conviction that leads to life behind what we say.

In this personís case the Lord made quite plain to me to just love him. This man was hurting very deeply inside. For me to just deal with his drinking problem, without first getting to the root sin of his problem, at that point, would only have added to the hurt. He had been badly rejected by Christians in the past for false reasons and it was a reflection of Godís love toward him, he thought, through them. If it was true that Jesus himself felt this way about him and he was supposedly a hopeless case then what difference did it make what he did with his life morally. He was condemned already. He was drinking to drown out the hurts and feelings of rejection that Satan had him believing were coming from God through some well meaning immature Christians.

I do not claim to be any better then other Christians. The love I had for this man was definitely a supernatural love outside of myself, but I do believe my choosing to believe the best of this person at the offset and my openness to Jesus through worship and praise helped me to be able to receive properly from Jesus his instructions to my life concerning this person.

After five years of a growing friendship with this man, he came over one night to my apartment purposely stone drunk. When I opened the door and he came in, he walked up to me and said, "What do you think of me now?" What he was really saying was, "You have shown me Godís unconditional love now for five years. Can God still unconditionally love me even in this condition?" After I had taken a minute to pray and open my heart to Jesus, looking to Him as to how He wanted me to react to what was presently taking place, I said to this man, "If you are asking whether or not God still loves you, yes, he still loves you. I am not saying that he condones your drinking, not because it hurts him but because he knows what it is doing to you and because he loves you and does not want your life to be destroyed."

After that night, for the first time in the five years that I had known him, he stopped his drinking. Why? He stopped his drinking because he was convinced through the testimony of Jesus through my life that God loved him and accepted him even when his life was not very pretty to others. The Apostle Paul wrote, "For the love of Christ controls us." (2 Cor 5:14, and see also Rom 2:4).

After that night this brother began to really grow in the Lord. A few months later he unconditionally surrendered the Lordship of his life to Christ. As a result, Jesus was able to do a work of stability in his life which resulted in his being able to plant himself into a Church body and stay there.

When a Christian has been hurt by Christians the last place he wants to be is in Church. If we do not take the initiative to reach out to them, they will not get healed of their hurt. The end result may be that they will fall back into the world completely and are lost, unable to be renewed to repentance (2 Pet 2:20-22). We are our brotherís keeper and we are responsible for his spiritual well being. Only as Christian Laymen reach out aggressively in love can these brethren with these kind of problems be brought back. God, rebuking the shepherds of Israel, said through Ezekiel in Ezekiel 34:4-6,

"Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost.... And they were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and they became food for every beast of the field and were scattered. My flock wandered through all the mountains and on every high hill, and My flock was scattered over all the surface of the earth; and there was no one to search or seek for them."

Christians Do Not Think
Anyone in Church Cares

Marshell Shelly, in an article titled, "Home Visitation: How Well Does it Work," quotes from a letter of a woman who had been visited by a Church group in her home,

"I became a Christian three years before, but I back slid. After this visit I felt as though someone cared. When they left, I rededicated my life to Christ. Now Iíve joined a womanís Bible study at the Church."71/80-81

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church,

"For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself, if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep." (1 Cor 11:29-30).

The word judge in the Greek is diakrivnw (diakrin ) meaning also to discern.72

Outside of open rebellion, it has been my conviction for a long time that there is never a valid reason why any believer should fall back into the world, but many do. Why? Because they are not being rightly judged or discerned by the body of Christ.

To illustrate what I mean, one night a brother called me up to express concern over another brother who was practicing the sin of homosexuality. The brother who called me loved this brother and was concerned that he was going to have to stop fellowshipping with him, not because he wanted to, but because this brother seemed to him to express an uncaring attitude about his present life-style. The brother who called me and asked me to come along with him to talk to this brother about his homosexual sin was doing the right thing since he could not reach him alone.

My concern in the matter at that point, though, was not so much whether or not we were going to have to reprove this brother as much as it was why he was choosing to go back to his former life of sin. In other words, was he going back to a homosexual life-style because he was simply choosing this out of his own desire irrespective of the love of the body of Christ, or possibly because of the lack of it in some form? If it was the former, then reproof was in order. If it was the latter, reproof at that point would be a mistake.

When we walked into this brotherís apartment and sat down I explained to him that I was not there to judge him, but that if what my brother said was true about his present life-style that he was right in calling up a brother and asking him to come along to confront the supposed issue. I told him I assumed the best of him and then asked him if what this brother said about him was true. He said that it was true. At that point I still was not so much interested in what he was doing as much as I was in why he was doing it. As I began with great sensitivity to investigate the why of my brotherís practice of sin in this way, it eventually came to the surface that though he had repented of his former life-style, the body of Christ was not accepting him and giving him the love and support he needed. In fact no one was calling or visiting him at all. Instead they were criticizing him to death and doing their best to avoid him without justification. Because of his loneliness and the continued rejection and isolation that he was receiving from the local body of believers, which to him was a reflection of Godís supposed attitude toward him, it seemed to him that since he could not meet the standards of the local body of believers in his repented state, what difference did it make to go back to his former life-style of sin? At least something then was filling the void.

I then told this brother that we loved him and were available to him and that if he ever needed someone to talk to, he could call us any time day or night. I also made a commitment to myself to call him at least once a week and get together with him as often as I could.

When we gave him what he really needed, which was expressed love and concern at that point, not condemnation, he decided to repent of his homosexual sin. We prayed together with him and left.

That was several years ago. For the two years I was living in that town until I moved I kept that commitment, and so had the other brother in calling him and seeing him whenever he could. The end result was this brother did not go back to his old life-style of homosexual sin.

Had we come over and simply condemned him for his homosexual sin alone, this would not have brought him to repentance, but only driven him more deeply into it since it would have only more greatly confirmed the root sin: The Churchís unjustified rejection of him while in a repented state.

All this man needed was for someone to show him that they cared about him as a human being and that he had value as a brother in the body of Christ. Had the Church he attended had a Laymanís Evangelism Program and had at least reached out to him personally in his home, he would have had the restraint against his weaknesses in the flesh despite the immature dealings of his person by other members of that Church. Laymen taking the initiative to reach out Evangelistically, even to their own fellow church members, is not an option; it is an absolute necessity for any Church if it is to remain healthy spiritually. God only knows how many Christians have fallen back into the world and died spiritually over this same kind of false rejection. "For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep," are dead.

People Do Not Know
How to Be Saved

Paul writes in Romans 10:13-15,

"For whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. How then shall they call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, ĎHow beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things!í"

Many people have gone to Church all their lives but have never made a decision for Jesus Christ because on a mass appeal it is sometimes too easy to reason oneís way out of it. But in a face to face one on one encounter it is harder to say no. You know it is the right thing to do and in the face of another human being you do not want the other person to think or Jesus to think you are ashamed of making that decision. Therefore, through the encouragement of another human being you finally find the courage to make that most important life decision you need to make. You as a Layman Evangelist provide this kind of encouragement that mass appeal cannot. Charles Goodell, an early twentieth century preacher, was a revival preacher to the masses, but he was discerning enough also to realize that not all will respond in a mass appeal situation. He writes about his own practice as a Revival Preacher and Evangelist,

"Throughout his [my] ministry the writerís practice has been to follow-up the revival sermon by Pastoral visitation, devoting to that purpose the afternoon of each day. He has gone to those families where there were unconverted and urged their presence at the services. Where the unconverted have been present at the meetings but have made no movement towards Christ a few words spoken under the guidance of the Spirit in a heart-to-heart talk in the privacy of the home have led to quick and complete surrender."73/23

I find that one of the reasons people donít turn to the church to get answers to their sin and guilt is just for that reason: they are bound up with guilt and are convinced they are so bad they cannot be saved or accepted by God. One time while doing door to door Evangelism, my partner and I came to the door of a man who said he was visiting his sister. After sharing the Gospel with him, He also told us that he was a mercenary by trade and that he knew he was going to hell. We did not know why the man believed this and we did not pry into the reasons why, but we did share with him that no matter his sin, that if he would turn to Jesus, Jesus would forgive him.

Often times people are so bound by their guilt, that even if they want to turn to God they are not able to because they feel so unworthy. It is only as we, a born again Christian, who knows the Savior, encourages that person to turn to Jesus that they find the courage to turn to Jesus. This personís guilt will keep him or her from turning to the church for answers because they are convinced there are no answers. John the Apostle wrote in 1 John 4:17, "As He is, so also are we in this world." How do people know what Jesus will do if they turn to Him? They do not know. The only way they come to know is when His representatives, you and I, go to them and share Jesusí love and forgiveness with them. This is because we represent Jesus to them. Through our encouraging them to turn to Christ, they find the courage to turn to Jesus.

Due to the size of our population today one preacher cannot possibly do all the one on one follow-up of every person that attends a revival or crusade; but this work can be accomplished if the members of a church, the Christian Laymen, work with their Pastorís to reach out to the lost and hurting in their communities by giving a minimum of two hours of their time a week for this purpose. With todayís inner-city populations, it is impossible for a Pastor alone to be able to give every person in his Church and surrounding community the necessary one-on-one contact needed to minister to each individualís needs and share with them how to have eternal life through Jesus. It is impossible without all the members of the church getting involved in this work also. When you finish this Training Program in Evangelism, take the initiative and go to your Pastor and volunteer to help him in doing the necessary door to door Evangelism in your community and the necessary one-on-one visitation of people who have attended your church services.

Christians Need Encouragement
To Continue the Battle

The writer of Hebrews states in Hebrews 12:11-13,

"All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed."

The word strengthen in the Greek is ajnorqovw (Anortha ). It means "to set straight, set up; to set upright, set straight again; made erect again, restore, strengthen."77

As was stated in an earlier portion of this chapter, many times members of the body are hurting or are under attack and find themselves not strong enough to overcome the battles that they face alone. Many times instead of stronger believers reaching out and encouraging the weaker brethren, they sit at home and rationalize in their hearts why this brother or sister is a sinner and a hopeless case, and thus talk themselves out of going and visiting them to find out why they are wavering and not continuing steadfastly in the faith and with the body. The Bible gives no provision for this kind of self-righteous attitude, but instead tells us that we are responsible to uphold and strengthen those who are weak so that they do not fall away. We are our brotherís and each otherís, keeper.

Many times brothers or sisters are wavering and we are not aware of it because we are not being exposed to it. Through your weekly involvement in Laymanís Evangelism you will come in contact with people in this weakened condition and be able to correct and encourage them in their faith. You will also be able to pray for the personís needs which in itself is an encouragement. Finally through further contact you will be able to continue to encourage the person in their faith until they are stable in their relationship with Jesus.

Christians Needing Fellowship
Who Cannot Come to Church

The Apostle John writes in 1 John 3:17-18,

"But whoever has the biological means of life, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth."

There are people who are old and sickly, in rest homes, or bed ridden who because of circumstances beyond their control cannot come to Church and get the fellowship they need. You as a Christian Layman can go and visit these people, pray with them, administer communion and in many cases lead them to Jesus.

Home Fellowships Are Not Enough

Some Churches that I have approached about the value and necessity of Laymenís Evangelism outreach, after careful thought about the issue, decided to start home fellowships as the answer to this need. Though the intent is well meaning it is not the answer to the need. Why? Home fellowships are an important part of a Church ministry. The problem is they only attract those who are already faithful Church goers. If a Christian has been hurt by Christians, until that hurt is healed he is not going to chance getting involved in a more intimate setting of Christians only to get hurt again; and the only way that hurt is going to get healed is when properly trained laymen take the initiative to go to that personís home and show unconditional Christian love and whatever else is necessary to convince that Christian that he is important and needed in the body of Christ.

What about the unsaved who wonít step into a Church? If they wonít step into a Church they are not going to step into a home fellowship either. Home fellowships are important and necessary, but they do not replace nor meet the needs which can only be satisfied through an Evangelism Outreach Program. It is not an either or proposition either. Both have their place in Church ministry and compliment each other when viewed and exercised in their right context.

You Cannot Grow Spiritualy as Jesus Intended Unless You Are Involved in Ongoing Evangelism

Jesus said in Luke 6:38,

"Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return."

Iíve been doing Evangelism work for thirty-four years. Every time I go out and give of myself and time, I receive assurance of salvation as I share the Gospel with others; assurance of forgiveness of my sins as I share Godís forgiveness with others; and answers to my own questions as I seek Godís wisdom to answer the questions people have that are hanging them up in their relationship with God. Every time I give of myself to others I grow in my relationship with Jesus and in a deeper understanding of His love and who He is. This entire Textbook is a demonstration of Godís goodness and truth that if we give what He has given to us, He will give us more.

In another passage the Apostle Paul wrote concerning womanhood, "But women shall be saved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint." (1 Tim 2:15). When people have children, if they have any conscience at all, they will alter their life-style to make sure that the child grows up in a proper moral environment. Bearing spiritual children has the same effect on Christians. One of my former students, Rebecca Matteson, who went through my Basic and Advanced School of Evangelism wrote the following in her evaluation of what the Basic Program of Evangelism and Discipleship did for her,

"Learning how to explain my faith has given me greater confidence, and the experience of going witnessing to practice sharing Jesus has challenged me in my walk with Jesus, since itís hard to share something that isnít real in your own life."74

As Rebecca would go out and share her faith with others, wanting to have a good witness in life-style as well as word before men, she would become convicted of those things in her life she felt were not only a stumbling block in her relationship with God but also to the Gospel she was sharing. The end result was her drawing closer to God and getting those things right. It caused her to grow in her relationship with God. Staying involved in Evangelism will keep your faith alive, keep you close to Jesus and cause your faith in Him to continually grow stronger and stronger every day.

Study Questions
Chapter 5
Bibliography & Notes
Section 5 Chapters
 

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