Bella Vista Church of Christ

LIFELINES

06/12/2019

Randall Caselman

 

Jesus Style Evangelism

 

  Evangelism! It's commanded: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go 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 obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always..." "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation." "...You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

 

  God enables. There's no doubt that God is at work in the lives of His people, enabling us to accomplish His commission: "Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us" (Ephesians 3.20). "May the God of peace... That great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ..." (Hebrews13.20-21). "Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus... For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose" (Philippians 1.6 & 2.13).

 

  Our problem is: Do we recognize the open doors that God places before us, or are we oblivious because we are not soul sensitive? Not sensitive to the opportunities because we've forgotten our kingdom mission and purpose, "to seek and save the lost." It's easy for us to become so wrapped up in our own schedules that we become unaware of His open door.

 

  Jesus is our example. Three things we note...

 

• Jesus was into personal evangelism. First and foremost, He shared God with friends and family. Half of the Apostles were previously known to Jesus, and He spent ninety percent of His time with these twelve and a few women. Indeed! Most people come to know Jesus, not by strangers, but by someone they know.

 

• A careful study of the four Gospels reveals an interesting fact: Of the sixty recorded encounters Jesus had with others, eight of them were with the social elite, twelve were with average folk, and forty were with the hurting, the poor, the hungry, sick and bereaved, the outcast and downtrodden. Check it out! Jesus didn't mingle with the prophets, priests, kings. Does this tell us something? Our most effective evangelistic efforts will not be with the rich and socially elite, but with those who have a perceived need. If we're to follow Jesus, we must care about people as individuals, knowing not only their cultural context, but also about their personal needs.

 

• In the parable of the sower, Jesus seems to be telling us that broadcasting the seed onto all kinds of ground is the least best way to share God's Good News. You're not hearing me say we shouldn't use today's media or technology, but the best result comes from sowing the seed on ground that God has cultivated. Take time to examine the conversion narratives in the Book of Acts, and you'll find folk who had an intimate relationship with God to begin with: The Jews on Pentecost, the Samaritans in Acts chapter eight, (They had been exposed to Jesus by the woman at the well), the Ethiopian treasurer, Saul of Tarsus, Cornelius, Lydia, etc.). Why should this surprise us that searchers are open to God's intent in their life. Perhaps we would do well to focus more of our efforts on the Good Soil. Be open to the heart, the ground, already cultivated, fertilized, and is awaiting our planting efforts. Amen?

 

  Become a good listener. It's easy to see from the above points that we do our best work with family, friends, acquaintances, by listening. Sometimes we start our evangelistic efforts by talking first and listening later, or at worst, never listening at all. Where are they? What do they need, want, expect? What is their life about? What's their current relationship with God? Listen, telling them we have all the right answers before we know the question is presumptuous, arrogant, and generally a turnoff. Again, listen to Jesus as he shares the truth at Jacob's Well, at Simon's house, the woman taken in adultery, with Zacchaeus, Nicodemus, the thief on the cross, etc.

 

  Have a plan. Sharing Jesus, teaching truth, takes time. Perhaps this is the downfall of most of us. We must set aside a time for evangelism, or we won't do it. Amen?

 

• A time for prayer. Ask God to make our heart soul sensitive, that we will see the open door when it's presented. Pray for wisdom in sharing, that we use the right words, illustrations, and ideas that will mean the most to them. Pray for the person that God will providentially soften their heart, making them receptive.

 

• Spend time in the Word. Search for material on how to best reach the lost.

 

• Spend time with those we're trying to win, become involved in their lives, establish credibility in a culture skeptical of Christianity.

 

  Indeed, people are headed for eternity! We can make a difference.

 

—Randall Caselman