Category: Evangelism


This is Revival!

When men in the streets are afraid to open their mouths and utter godless words lest the judgments of God should fall; when sinners, overawed by the Presence of God tremble in the streets and cry for mercy; when, without special meetings and sensational advertising, the Holy Ghost sweeps across cities and towns in Supernatural Power and holds men in the grip of terrifying Conviction; when “every shop becomes a pulpit; every heart an altar; every home a sanctuary” and people walk softly before God, this is Revival!

Today the word Revival has largely lost its real meaning. Our present generation, never having witnessed the mighty movings of God in nation-wide spiritual awakening such as has taken place in past generations, has little conception of the magnitude of such a “visitation.”

Heaven-sent revival is not religious entertainment, where crowds gather to hear outstanding preachers and musical programs; neither is it the result of sensational advertising, in a God-sent revival you don’t spend money on advertising; people come because Revival is there! Revival is an “awareness of God” that grips the whole community, and the roadside, the tavern, as well as the church, become the places where men find Christ. Here is the vast difference between our modern evangelistic campaigns and true revival.

In the former, hundreds may be brought to a knowledge of Christ and churches experience seasons of blessings, but as far as the community is concerned little impact is made; the taverns, dance halls, and movies are still crowded, and the godlessness marches on. In revival, the Spirit of God, like a cleansing flame, sweeps through the community. Divine conviction grips people everywhere; the strongholds of the devil tremble, and many close their doors, while multitudes turn to Christ!

WHERE IS OUR NEXT GREAT REVIVAL?

Discipleship? What is Jesus calling us to in Matthew 28:18-20? Matthew 28:16-20Romans 121 Corinthians 12
It is better to have an army of one: “Jesus;” than a battalion of Secular Christians”: [see ‘Christ and His cross’]
“Are you training troops? Or, are you leaving them on the battle field to die?”

What is discipleship and what is Jesus calling us to in Matthew 28:18-20? Is this a command, or a suggestion; does it mean we are just to evangelize and let people find their faith on their own, or does this mean we are to lead others and teach the precepts of the Scriptures and the character of our Lord? Does it require obedience and action on our part, or are we disciples just by being a Christian and being in a church on Sundays?

This passage at the end of Matthew’s Gospel is what is called the “Great Commission.” This is also the great failure of the church! This is the main call to the church from our Lord and Savior, and is the one thing most churches do not do at all! This is the main reason for a church to exist, yet can you name one church that actually teaches people the basics of the faith and then moves them deeper into the precepts of His love and Word through all of the seasons of life? If discipleship is mostly absent from our churches, then most Christians will not understand how to live out their faith. They will not be able to handle problems, witness, share their faith, or grow effectively spiritually, because no one is modeling, or showing them the way! Some churches do a great job with evangelism, but once the people come in, they are stored in the pews. Where is discipleship? What is it? Is the back door of the church as big as the front door?

Being a disciple encompasses more than just asking Christ in, and goes far beyond baptism. Our conversion, our acceptance of Christ as Savior, our election, is the beginning, the entrance, into the faith and Christian life. It is not the only act of being a Christian! It would be like joining a club, but never venturing into the club. Baptism is initiation and public dedication. It is to be the door through which we go in our walk of faith, as is also our profession and testimony of our faith publicly. It does not stop there! It starts there!

So, what does the average church do about discipleship? In most churches, people are encouraged to accept Christ or make a profession of faith. Then, they are congratulated, put on the membership role, and then quickly forgotten. Sadly, the Church has forsaken discipleship, and has left its members to figure out these spiritual growth things on their own. In doing so, it causes many to give up on Christianity, while others become confused, calloused, or complacent, or they are swept away by false doctrines and cults because they do not know the difference.

The Church Is Called To Make Disciples

“Then Jesus came to them and said, “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, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

This is perhaps the chief characteristic that most churches somehow forget. It is also the quintessential aspect and reason the church exists. So, why is it that so few churches actually have disciple making as a primary ministry? For most churches, it is something they think they are already doing when in fact they are not. Saying that going to church on Sunday is discipleship, or providing a couple of token adult Sunday school classes that few attend, is not discipleship. Some churches throw it in as an after thought, or may offer a class or something related to the subject.

Due to our human, fallen thinking, we desire the right to ourselves more than we desire the life that Christ has for us. It is difficult for the non-Christian to except a Savior when they think they have to give up their rights. It is similarly difficult for the Christian to live a life that is truly surrendered and poured out to the sovereignty of God. Yet, true discipleship cannot begin until we learn one key important aspect of life: there is one God and you are not He! We must learn to yield to the Lordship of our God and not to the desires of our will. When we do this, the discipleship process can begin. However, when we refuse, we will be the strife and conflict that gives Christianity a “black eye.” We become the problem rather than the solution.

Therefore, discipleship as a priority gets lost. We make up excuses saying, “Well, people will not come; We are Christians already, so we are Disciples already; The Spirit will guide them; That is not what Jesus was saying; He is saying for us to evangelize only; we do not have anybody to lead it; etc…” Excuses, excuses, excuses, and no response to Christ! What they do not realize is we are not responsible for people coming; we are only responsible for obeying our Lord and doing it! The reason there is no one to lead it is that there is an extreme lack of real disciples in the church; that is, people whose lives are surrendered to Christ and out of gratitude to Him are modeling and teaching Biblical precepts to others. Even the Apostle Paul spent three years being discipled by Barnabas, and he received his call and was empowered directly from Christ Himself!

Humbleness is characterized by the willingness to grow in Christ, and receive learning and experience growth. Peter tells us we ought to be humble toward one other so that we can know the grace of God and not be in opposition to God. Then secondly, he says, we had better be humble, not only toward one another, but toward God. This is so straightforward.  This is so essential to be a blessed church, to be a growing church, not in numbers, but in discipleship!

Check out some passages that tell us discipleship and mentoring are not an option, but a command:  Matthew 28:16-20; Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12; Galatians 6:1-10; Mark 1:352:12. We must follow out of our obedience and mentor in a multigenerational lifestyle, caring for the total person. This will move us from just playing church, to really being a church.

The effective church is mentoring, building relationships, and teaching each of the members by other, caring people, who are being discipled themselves, who are being taught, encouraged, and led. The death of a church happens when we follow political trends, not the national politics, but the patriarchal personalities that want to control people. In addition, when we have a controlling attitude, we do not allow God to control us, thus, we become empty shells and hollow logs. Being hollow means there is nothing working within us, there is no Creator of the universe leading and directing our ways, so, we become worthless to the Kingdom of God.

Making disciples takes vision and the understanding of Scripture. It gives the church a purpose to forms leaders who grow other leaders in an outgrowth of their growth. The Christian, especially the leader, who disciples and equips others is a person who is living the faith for themselves and setting goals for their personal growth before they set goals for others. Their skills and abilities are growing them to be a better worker because first, they are striving to be a better child of God.

From the character of Christ will come the conduct of Christ, if we chose to follow Him. Then, those values of our daily walk, which drive our behaviors, will, in turn, influence others. You cannot lead where you have not been, or where you do not know the direction to go. This is why discipleship is so essential to the aspect of being a Christian. We are called, not to just visualize discipleship, but to do it; not to just talk about it, but to do it. One cannot just think about dinner and satisfy hunger; the meal has to be prepared, then eaten! The effective church will take Scripture and the call of our Lord seriously, and then implement it into functioning!

Jesus’ purpose for His three years of earthly ministry was the discipleship and equipping of the 12 Disciples. This was His drive and where most of His time was spent. He was focused on the teaching of the kingdom of God, teaching men to see beyond their present situation to the life to come. With His teaching, Jesus entrusted His church and people to the care of the people He taught. They were to replicate themselves to others. The objective was that every Believer was an equipper, every member a minister, every Christian involved in the life and gifts of the Body to influence the world.

The Word must touch who we are, and transform the very core of our being. This is the knowledge that leads and transforms. One cannot lead where he does not know the way, and to know the way you must have knowledge. Knowledge comes from experience, and experience comes from discipleship. The will of God is for us to study His Word, which will change our behaviors. A Christian and especially a leader in the church must have the knowledge and experience to put into practice the work that needs to be done. The disciple will be studious so that the Word nourishes him. He must study and apply the Scriptures, not just read it occasionally like a novel. The Word must touch who we are and transform the very core of our being. This is the knowledge that leads and transforms.

So, what are we to do? 

God does not ask us to seek converts, He simply asks us to do Discipleship. Discipleship is modeling and teaching Christians the precepts of the Bible-mainly prayer, doctrine, Christian living, and worship. Yes, we are still to evangelize, but that is not our main mission and call! When we evangelize, we must realize that it is the role of the Holy Spirit to bring people into an intimate relationship with God. This is an act of divine intervention and grace. He uses us as the tools, but He is the means! We are to care, and share with others His love and character. We obey and reach, but we cannot lead people anywhere. He is the One who leads!

This leads us to our role, which is to model to the convert Christ-like character, encouraging others to surrender themselves to Jesus Christ (Gal. 2:20-21). However, this is only the beginning! Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. Surrender is the process in which we grow toward Him and His will and away from our Will. Surrender is making Christ Lord of all of our life. We have to get rid of our perceptions, reckless ideas, faulty thinking, and other such things that are barriers to our growth, so we can make room for Him. Jesus authors our faith, and teaches us how to run the race according to God’s will, His glory, His worship, and His purpose. Thus, we gain a deeper intimacy with our Lord as our Commander and Friend, as our God and our King, as our Love, and our reason for being. In His purposes, we find real contentment, joy, and fulfillment.

There are three main areas or principles in discipleship:

1. Relationships and Mentoring

2. Teaching

3. Service
Relationships

We are called to build a network of relationships so we can build one another up in the faith through friendship and mentoring! (fishers of men) Most people are intimidated by discipleship out of ignorance, fear, unawareness, or just not wanting to be bothered out of their “comfort zone.” The term, discipleship, has been viewed as something only for the spiritually mature, or just for certain people, such as Sunday school teachers and Bible study leaders. What we need to see is Barnabus and Paul, and, later, Paul and Timothy, where the elder, more experienced Christian takes the inexperienced Christian under his wing, and helps him to become a better, deeper, more effective Christian for God’s glory. Keep in mind that Paul was highly educated and an experienced leader, and although Barnabus may have not been educated formally as Paul was, or at Paul’s level in the world, Barnabus was Paul’s superior in the experience and knowledge of the Word. Friendship, knowledge, experience combined into mentoring, and the quality of the relationship are the keys for this spiritual growth to have happened. Discipleship equals friendship with a Christ-centered focus. However, it is very important that we make disciples in His image, not ours!

Teaching

The other main principle in discipleship is teaching. We are all called, as a church, to teach one another–not only the kids in Sunday school, but also all Christians at all ages and levels–how to live the Christian life. The new Christian, (and all Christians for that matter) need sound instructions on how to live the Christian life. We do not learn by magic or osmosis. Although the Spirit will lead, it is still our responsibility to learn and grow, and then to teach others! In most churches, there are some opportunities to be in Bible studies, and even teach. The focus must be to teach the basics first–how to study the Bible, how to pray, how to worship, essential doctrine, etc And, as we grow, how to be a Christian family, how to find God’s will, our conduct in the work place, discovering our spiritual gifts, leadership, and so forth. Then, the deeper expressions into the faith can be explored, along with accountability, and so forth.

Service

We are all called to put our faith into practice! We now take the relationships, mentoring, and learning, and carry it out in daily life. This is often expressed in service projects and missions, but that is only a small, although necessary aspect of service. Service is how we live our lives and model His character on a daily basis to those around us! When we are in ministry, we need to realize, it is not what I do, but whom I can equip. As we practice by reciprocating what we have learned to others, we will also be built up!

All three of these principles collate and build into each other synergistically. Discipleship can be skewed and people fall away if any of these three principles are let go. We will lose valuable opportunities to share and teach one another if, as Jesus stands at the door and knocks, we are watching TV and ignoring His door. Remember, the focus is never the task in and of itself. Rather, it is the glory and worship of our Lord and the enabling of one another to do and be better at the Christian life. What we learn and do here during our short time on earth will echo throughout the vastness of eternity!

Just as anyone can be a friend, anyone in Christ can disciple. We cannot expect only a select few to take up this call and imperative, and we do not need to be spiritual giants to do the work. We just need to be real in Christ, be willing to learn and grow as one of His disciples, and replicate our knowledge to others. Many people may feel anxious when it comes to reaching out, and it requires a big step of faith that many do not want to make. Therefore, the excuses pile on top and over our responsibility. That is a flaw in our human nature, our sinful nature! If we all just sit in the pew and expect someone else to reach out to others, we are slapping our Lord in the face. When no one reaches out, we are condemning others to feel and be lonely and isolated. We must reach out as a team effort, linking people with introverted personalities and who are reticent at interacting with others, with people who are more extroverted and that do not have this problem.

What is a Disciple?  

A Disciple is one who models and teaches Christians the precepts of the Bible, prayer, doctrine, relationship, Christian living, service, and worship, to name the main ones. 

Question:

Ask yourself, “How do I, and how can I, do these:

Question

Ask yourself, “Where am I?” in these thoughts: 

  • When we live just for and to ourselves, we miss opportunities, learning experiences, and growth, and we exchange an eternity of rewards for a limited time of fun.
  • Remember, Christ loves you and wants the best for you. His way is the best way, and we need to have Him and the perspective of eternity in mind, not our limited feelings and desires!
  • Jesus lived and died on our behalf, for He willingly gave up His life by paying the penalty for our sins. He allows us not only to escape the fires of hell, but also to give us eternal life. What is your response?
  • Being a true disciple means having a willingness to trust Him completely in all aspects of our lives from the highest highs to the lowest lows. It means we are not only willing to trust Him to provide for our salvation, but we trust Him for the future. We are to trust Him even when we do not know, like, or understand, and when where He is leading is unpopular!   
  • Being a true disciple allows us to put our hand to the plow and not look back. As we grow in Christ, we become increasingly unsatisfied with anything less than His call and character.

Question:

Ask yourself, “Am I willing to pay the cost?” Luke 9:23; Luke 14:25-35

  • Jesus invites you to discipleship. But, He lets you know up front that it is a commitment that will cost you something. It is not going to be easy. You cannot just say you love the Lord. You must show it with your heart and it must  transcend to your hands and feet. Then you will be Jesus’ disciple!
  • Discipleship is costly because Jesus must have priority over your will, ideas, plans, and presumptions.
  • “Follow me,” means going His way to His purpose, not our own way. It means following His plans, not our own; obeying His will, not our own.
  • Jesus is saying, Look, if you want to be a disciple, you will have to choose to  whom you will be loyal.  Will it be God the Creator and Savior, or your limited ideas and things?
  • The world hates Jesus because it knows that He has priority over all things and all relationships. The world wants to be god even though there already is a God!
  • Considering the cost of discipleship means asking the question, “What does Jesus want me to do?”
  • Jesus wants us to see that the cost of discipleship involves understanding that there is a higher calling on our lives than doing what we want to do. We cannot say to God that we are only available two hours on Sunday! We must respond with the attitude of Isaiah, Here I am God, ready to be used by you.
  • How much does discipleship cost? It costs everything!  However, the rewards are limitless as we are entrusted to a Savior who loves us deeply and more than we could ever comprehend! He desires the best for us, He has a plan and purpose for us in the kingdom of God, and He wants us to spend eternity with Him. There is no better way. To whom would you rather entrust yourself and your possessions?

How do I Become a Discipler? 

  • We all are called to make disciples! There are only two kinds of people who cannot disciple, and that is one who is not a follower of Christ and/or one who disobeys God’s command and refuses to disciple.
  • Disciple by obeying and doing as Jesus did! Set up a plan; target a small select group of people without ignoring the others around you!
  • In Proverbs 27:17 and 1 Corinthians 10:12, we are told to come along side and encourage those who are down, who are new, who are old, who are immature, and who are mature. In other words, everyone.
  • Teaming up with God and others makes it possible!

Ask yourself these questions: 

Q: After doing a personal inventory of myself about my faith, have I truly become His disciple or am I just wearing the uniform?

Q: Do I love Him wholeheartedly? Then what is the obstacle to obeying Him?

Q: Is the Holy Spirit convicting me of a sin or a bad attitude that I need to confess and submit to Christ?

Q: Do I have a good understanding of God’s calling, and am I obediently pursuing it?

Q: Who is really in charge of my decisions, me, or the Lord?

Q: After reading 2 Tim. 2:19,  does He know me? Do others know that He knows me?

Q: Do I use Jesus or does He use me? Is He a divine bellhop or my Lord?  

Q: Do I constantly remind myself what I am living for, a future hope in eternity?

Q: Am I willing to do whatever it takes to become more like Jesus? 

Q: Calvin said I must be willing to “regulate my life and manners according to the Scriptures! ” Am I?

Q: Where do I need to go and what do I need to do? (Seek God’s will by knowing His character and precepts from Scripture, and look in your heart. Find your spiritual gift):

Q: Set goals for myself, as it is better to prepare than to repair! St. Francis of Assisi said, “Start by doing what is necessary; then do what is possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

To reach the goal set before you, there are three P’s you need to seek and pray about:

1. Preparation–never go off and do what you are not led and equipped to do!

2. Process–following a strategic plan from His precepts!

3. People–encircle yourself with good God fearing Christians to help you see possibilities and directions!)

Q: Do I practice my spiritual disciplines in a consistent manner?

Q: Is my family in good shape?

Q: Have I discovered my spiritual gifts and then prioritized my ministry to complement them?

Q: Do I have prayer partners to provide essential support?

Q: Do I see the seriousness of obedience that my eternal destiny depends on? Do I realize that Jesus required His disciples to distinguish between appearance and reality, that is, between being true Christians and just going through the motions?

Q: What is my attitude toward myself, the people around me, my situation, the precepts of Scripture, and the opportunities and life that Christ offers me?

Q: If He is Lord then He is my boss and conqueror, although in His case, a loving and caring boss with my best interest in mind, and a good and gracious King! Thus, am I willing to turn over the reigns of my will to Him, not somewhat, or half way, but allow Him to be in control entirely? As St. Augustine said, “If He is not Lord of all, then He is not Lord at all.”

Q: Am I afraid of failure? (If so, remember that God understands the difficulties, and it is OK to fail as long as you tried and were obedient! Remember, Jeremiah was a big failure in the eyes of his county and world, but a great man of obedience in God’s eyes!)

Q: My focus must be on Christ, not on how to disciple. I must not let the process be my doctrine, but rather, Christ!

Q: Do I confess God with my lips and deny Him in my daily life? It is not difficult to belong to a church or recite a creed, but it is hard to live the Christian life. Yet, He gives us the love, grace, and means to do so.

Q: How do I define faith? Remember, faith without action is a contradiction, and love without obedience is impossible!

As we walk the Christian life, we must be careful that in our strategies and struggles, we do not lose sight of God and His purpose. We typically try to come up with some type of short cut for success. However, in Him, there are no shortcuts. Maturity and discipleship are lifelong pursuits, and we are to always be growing and bettering ourselves through the Word, prayer, spiritual disciplines, and our Godly relationships. These are the tools. He is the means.

You may ask, Why should I be willing to give up riches, comfort, fun and even friends to follow Christ as His disciple? When we read the gospels, especially Luke, we are given a very compelling motivation–the salvation and blessings that Jesus gives us. These things are eternal, while what we give up are very limited and temporary. Giving up a smaller benefit for a superior one is smart and practical, both in business and in being a disciple of Christ!

If you are a church leader and feel this is just too much and you are feeling overwhelmed, remember it does not happen over night, it takes a lifetime. If you are still unsure, then consider this. One of the main reasons people leave their church is they have no real relationships there! Discipleship is the means for relationship building!  We are designed for something more in life than just pursuing pleasures. That is why people who “have it all” still feel empty. God did not create any Lone Ranger Christians. He created us to be in community, in relationships with one another, and discipleship is the key to that community. God calls us to lift one other up. There should not be a single person in the church that does not have at least one person they can call a friend and have a relationship with outside the church campus and programs.

Take this to heart: Jesus never asked anyone to do anything without  enabling them with the power to do it. Let this be you encouraging motive!

Some passages to consider on discipleship: Proverbs 18:24; Matthew 7:18-24; 19:28-30; 10:1-42; Mark 1:1-5; Luke 9:23-25; 48; Luke 14:26-27; John. 8:31; 12:20-26; John 14; 15; 1 John:5:3; 1 Corinthians 3:5-11; 2 Timothy 2:7; 1 Peter 3:

Winning souls is, essentially, the process of evangelizing or witnessing, which is simply communicating the message of salvation to unbelievers. Jesus Christ told His followers they should be His witnesses to “the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8) and to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19), which is the essence of winning souls. As our Father in heaven does not want anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9), all Christians should be eager to heed this call and have a passion for winning souls.

Witnessing, however, is less about what we do for the Lord as it is about what He does through us, and this requires a surrendered heart filled with the Holy Spirit. Indeed, the same Holy Spirit who empowered Christ while He was ministering on earth can empower us as well. First, however, we need to understand our role in building the body of Christ. As the apostle Paul explained to those in Corinth, we are God’s servants who work in unity with one another to produce a harvest. One will plow the soil, another may plant the seed, and another laborer will water it, but only God can make that seed grow (1 Corinthians 3:7). Thus, even though we each may have individual roles, we nonetheless have a unified purpose of winning others to Christ, for which everyone will receive his own reward according to his own labor (1 Corinthians 3:8).

But how can we gain a passion for spreading this good news and winning others to Christ in these difficult days when there are so many who oppose our work every step of the way? It starts by having Jesus Christ front and center in our own lives. Indeed, our passion for winning souls will increase as our passion for Christ Himself and our walk with Him becomes stronger. Two of the best ways to strengthen our Christian walk are to read His Word daily and to pray continually. When we fill our hearts and minds with Christ, we can’t help but to have a passion for sharing Him with others.

The most enthusiastic laborers are those who have a heart that is on fire for Christ, and this should actually be easy when we consider the magnitude of what our sinless Savior did for us at Calvary. His willing acceptance of death on our behalf cured us from our terminal disease (sin) and saved us from an unfathomable eternity in Hell. Yet we know what happens to those who die apart from Christ. And this hopeless eternity apart from God, let alone in the fiery darkness of inextinguishable hellfire, should motivate us to win as many people to Christ as possible, especially when we consider the brevity of life that the apostle James aptly calls “a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14). Once we cross the eternal horizon, there is no going back and the time for winning souls will be over. Thus, not only is the harvest great and the workers few, but, on top of this, our time is very limited.

In these challenging times we certainly don’t have to look far to see many in despair, and yet even in the midst of this chaos, Christians can find solace in God’s Word. If a Christian finds himself in one of life’s trials, for example, he knows our sovereign Lord either put him there or is allowing him to be there. Either way, the Christian can make sense of this turmoil by realizing God has a purpose for our trial for we know that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him” (Romans 8:28). Further, if life occasionally doesn’t make sense to us, that’s okay for we know to trust in the Lord with all our hearts and to not rely on our understanding of a situation (Prov. 3:5-6). Enduring life’s hardships that inevitably come our way is a lot easier when we know that God is in control.

Our lost brothers and sisters can find this same comfort when they put their faith in Christ. However, as Paul explained to the Romans: “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news’” (Romans 10:15). The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, and which guards our hearts during these difficult times (Philippians 4:7), can guard theirs too, once they let Him in.

There can be no better calling than working on behalf of the One who died so that we may live. Jesus said “you are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:14), and His command was that we obey Him and that we love each other as He loved us. Clearly, then, our love for Him is best exemplified when we passionately and tirelessly work to share His love with others.

As a preface to this article, please see our article on “What is Islam, and what do Muslims believe?” Through the gospel of Jesus Christ, God offers—and true disciples of Jesus have received—that which everyone in the world, including every Muslim, needs and many long for: forgiveness for their sins, a loving heavenly Father with whom they can communicate personally, and assurance that eternal happiness awaits them beyond this life. The key to witnessing to a Muslim is getting him to understand that Islam does not offer these things and that Christianity most certainly does. In fact, Christianity is the only religion that does.

Muslims use much of the same terminology that appears in the Bible: sin, salvation, heaven, hell, one God, law, and punishment. What is missing from their lexicon is the word “savior.” The Muslim does not believe that he needs a savior because he believes he alone must atone for his sin by his works. Islam teaches that man is born sinless and, therefore, does not have a sin nature from which he needs to be saved. His sinlessness was corrupted by external influences and can, therefore, be ‘cleaned up’ by works and efforts that please Allah. The Qur’an tells the Muslim that his good deeds can cancel out his bad deeds (Sura 11:114), but no one knows how many good deeds are enough. Muslims believe they can ask Allah for forgiveness from sins, but Allah may or may not forgive them. There is, therefore (and this is the key), no assurance of salvation for Muslims.

Muslims believe one must be sorry for sin and repent of it, but the idea that payment for sin is required by a holy God is not part of Islam. It’s important to begin with the idea that being sorry for sin will not help the Muslim when he stands before a holy God on Judgment Day. Ask the Muslim if a murderer will be allowed to go free if he says he’s sorry in court. Most Muslims would agree that if the judge is a good man, he must make sure justice is done. Being sorry won’t keep the murderer out of prison. Then ask the Muslim if he believes he will go to heaven. Muslims believe in the Law of Moses, so ask if he has kept each one of the commandments perfectly. Once he admits he has lied at some time in his life or lusted after a woman in his heart, ask him, if an earthly judge can’t pardon a murderer just because he is sorry, how can Allah forgive him when he has just admitted to being a liar and/or an adulterer in his heart. If he’s at all honest, he will admit this is impossible. At this point, you can say that God made it possible for him to go to heaven even though he can’t get there on his own. Preach Jesus Christ as our substitute for sin, our Savior from sins we cannot atone for ourselves, but do not say that He was the Son of God or allude to the Trinity as these ideas are anathema to Muslims.

Again, the key to witnessing to Muslims is their lack of assurance. Islam teaches that Allah was the source of both the Bible and the Qur’an, so they are willing to listen to passages from the Bible. Passages that speak to the wickedness of man’s heart (Psalm 14:1-3; Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:9-18), the holiness of God (Exodus 15:11; 1 Samuel 2:2; Joshua 24:19; Psalm 93:5) and His hatred for sin (Deuteronomy 25:16; Proverbs 6:16-19) will drive home the need for a Savior. As long as the Muslim believes he can atone for sin himself, the message of the gospel will be foolishness to him. If he comes to understand that “no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law” (Romans 3:20), the door is open for the light of the gospel to shine in his heart.

Of course, no one comes to the knowledge of the truth solely by good apologetics. The natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit because they are spiritually discerned (2 Corinthians 2:14), and the Holy Spirit is the only one who can open the eyes of the spiritually blind. Therefore, any witnessing efforts should be bathed in prayer that hearts and minds will be opened so that when we speak the truth in love to a Muslim, it may please the Lord to grant him or her salvation through Jesus Christ.

When trying to decide how to share Christ with someone, the starting point should be the same as that of John the Baptist and Jesus Himself. Matthew 3:2 tells us that John began his ministry with the words “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” Repentance refers to a “change of mind,” which implies sorrow for past offences (2 Corinthians 7:10), a deep sense of the evil of sin as committed against God (Psalm 51:4), and a conscious decision to turn from sin to God. The first words Jesus spoke when He began His public ministry were identical to John’s (Matthew 4:17).

Biblical evangelism – The good news and the bad news
The word “gospel” means “good news.” While many well-meaning Christians begin their evangelistic efforts with the good news of God’s love for mankind, that message is lost on unbelievers who must first come to grips with the extent of the bad news. First, man is separated from a holy, righteous God by sin. Second, God hates sin and is “angry with the wicked every day” (Psalm 7:11). Third, death and judgment are inevitable (Hebrews 9:27). Fourth, man is wholly incapable of doing anything about the situation. Until the full extent of this bad news is presented, the good news cannot be effectively communicated.

Biblical evangelism – The holiness of God
What is missing from much modern evangelism is the holiness of God. In Isaiah’s vision of heaven, God’s holiness is being extolled by the seraphim around the throne. Of all the attributes of God they could have praised, it was His holiness—not His love—of which they sang. “And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory’” (Isaiah 6:3).  When we understand just how holy God is, we can begin to understand His hatred of sin and His righteous wrath against sinners. Zechariah 8:16-17 and Proverbs 6:16-19 outline the sins God hates—pride, lying, murder, false witness, those who stir up trouble, and those with evil in their hearts. We cringe at the idea of God actually hating, because we are more comfortable with Him as a God of love, which He certainly is. But His hatred is real and it burns against evil (Isaiah 5:25; Hosea 8:5; Zechariah 10:3).

The unsaved person stands in mortal peril of the wrath of holy God, as Hebrews 10:31 reminds us: “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” An unbeliever is separated from God by his sin, which God hates, and there is nothing he can do about it. His nature is corrupt and fallen and he is “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1) with no hope of redeeming himself. He cannot save himself, in spite of good intentions or good works (Romans 3:20). Every good work that man thinks he can do is as “filthy rags” in God’s sight (Isaiah 64:6). No amount good living will make us acceptable in God’s eyes because the standard is holiness, without which no one will see God (Hebrews 12:14).

Biblical evangelism – Salvation through Jesus Christ
But now comes the good news. What man could not do to save himself, God accomplished on the cross. Jesus exchanged His righteous, holy nature for our sinful nature so that we can stand before God completely clean and pure, new creations with the old sin nature gone forever (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). God provided the perfect sacrifice for our sin, not because we deserved it or earned it, but because of His love and grace and mercy (Ephesians 2:8-9). Only those whose natures have been changed can escape the wrath of God and live in the light of His love and mercy. If we believe these things and commit our lives to following Christ by faith, we will live eternally with Him in the bliss and glory of heaven. This is good news indeed.

Biblical evangelism begins with prayer for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in witnessing, open doors of opportunity, and a clear understanding of the bad news of sin and wrath and the good news of love, grace, mercy and faith.

The role of the pastor who specializes in evangelism and/or outreach varies widely from church to church. The person who engages in evangelism and outreach should first be gifted by the Holy Spirit in these areas and that gifting should be clear to both the pastor and those he serves. Ephesians 4:7-8 and 11-13 state, “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says: ‘When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive,…And gave gifts to men.’ And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” Whatever the role and duties of the evangelism/outreach pastor, his primary goal should be to equip others for service within the body of Christ.

A pastor who specializes in evangelism may go out into the community himself, perhaps in a door-to-door ministry, sharing the gospel of Christ with all he meets and inviting them to church. He may conduct regular evangelistic crusades or meetings in other areas for the goal of spreading the gospel and calling others to Christ. The evangelism pastor uses the biblical method of evangelism, sharing both the bad news of sin and judgment and the good news of salvation from sin through the shed blood of Christ at Calvary.

Outreach is another function of the evangelism/outreach pastor that can have many facets. The outreach pastor may be in charge of reaching out in a practical sense to those in the church with special needs, such as widows who need help with home maintenance and repair, single mothers who need childcare help, the unemployed, the homeless, etc. The outreach pastor may have a staff of volunteers he can call upon to help identify and meet those needs. Outreach can also be another word for discipleship. Some outreach pastors meet regularly with young people in the church to help them grow to spiritual maturity. He may conduct formal Bible studies or simply meet over a meal to come alongside and encourage them.

Again, whatever the individual duties of the evangelism/outreach pastor, his primary role is “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12-13).

Street preaching, or preaching openly in a public area, has been a method used throughout the history of Christianity for the purpose of evangelizing people who would not typically enter a church. Ever since the apostle Peter preached in the streets of Jerusalem in Acts 2, Christians have used this method to lead many to faith in Christ.

Despite the long-standing tradition of street preaching throughout church history, some believe that the practice should no longer be used. They have a variety of reasons for their opinion. First, critics believe street preaching has lost effectiveness as compared to its results in past decades. Second, some believe that street preaching is too overt or offensive, that people are turned away rather than drawn to Christ. Third, some critics note that certain people have used the “soapbox” to spread extremism, political wrangling or bad theology, giving street preaching a negative association. As a result, they argue, Christians should use other forms of outreach.

A practical and biblical look at these concerns reveals many weaknesses in these criticisms. First, even if street preaching is less effective than at other times in history, this does not mean it should no longer be utilized. What if a street preacher sees only one person come to faith as a result of his sermon—does this mean he should not have preached? It still changes eternity for that one person. Other methods of outreach may be more effective, but this does not mean street preaching is ineffective.

Of special concern is the second criticism, that street preaching is too offensive. Since when are Christians to reach the lost only in “inoffensive” ways? Paul wrote that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). Unless a Christian never shares his or her faith, opposition is inevitable. The goal is not to avoid offense at all costs; the goal is to avoid unnecessary offense. The cross of Christ will always be an affront to unbelievers (1 Corinthians 1:23). The way we communicate can be adapted to the audience, but our message must remain the same. Street preaching is simply one method to communicate Christ to those who may otherwise not hear the gospel.

Third, should Christians continue to use street preaching even though some have misused this method? Rather than abandon the practice, perhaps Spirit-filled individuals should reclaim the proper use of street preaching. Christian writers don’t give up their craft simply because some authors write bad books. The Bible teaches, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).

In summary, street preaching is a historic method of evangelism that can be quite effective in reaching those who might never enter a church. It may appear less effective than in the past, it may indeed offend those who resist the truth, and it may have to overcome some negative associations, but street preaching continues to be used by God around the world to lead people to faith in Christ. We need not condemn its practice but encourage those who boldly communicate the faith in the public square. Rather than wait for the lost to come to us, we should go to them.

Friendship evangelism as a method of bringing people to Christ or sharing the gospel of Christ has several meanings and connotations. Some people believe that friendship evangelism requires Christians to become friends with unbelievers, establishing a relationship before attempting to address their need for a Savior. Some see friendship evangelism as living a solid righteous life—a living testimony—before others so that they desire that kind of life and ask how to achieve it. At that point, the gospel is shared. Still others believe that living a righteous life in the world is evangelism enough and that no further efforts are necessary. The theory is that unbelievers will be so convicted of his need for that kind of life that they will seek God on their own. What does the Bible say about friendship evangelism?

Each of the three above-named methods of friendship evangelism fall short of the biblical method of evangelism. The first method, becoming friends with unbelievers in order to gain enough credibility so they will listen to the gospel, fails to recognize several important biblical truths. For one thing, believers are not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14-17). The essence of friendship is mutual respect and affection based on agreement on basic life principles. But can a believer really have such a relationship with an unbeliever? In light of James 4:4 and Ephesians 5:11, such a relationship is not biblical. The unsaved person is part of the world which hates God and the people of God. How can such a person have affection and respect for believers who are part of the kingdom of God? Are we to be friendly towards unbelievers? Absolutely! Are we to have intimate relationships with unbelievers? Biblically speaking, no.

Furthermore, neither Jesus nor the disciples practiced this type of friendship evangelism. Jesus didn’t limit His gospel presentations to His friends and relations. He preached to complete strangers the message of repentance from sin and salvation through Him. He sent His disciples out two by two and they “preached that people should repent” (Mark 6:12). If they refused to listen to them, Jesus instructed them to “shake the dust” off their feet and move on to the next town. He never encouraged them to settle down for a few months and develop friendships with those who rejected His message. Nor did He tell them to avoid quoting Scriptures so that their hearers wouldn’t be offended or turned off to the Gospel. He knew that the “message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing” (1 Corinthians 1:18), and that most people will reject that message, no matter how friendly the manner in which it is presented. Christ was rejected by the world and He told us to expect the same reaction (John 15:18-20).

What about the method of “evangelizing” through our living testimony? There is no doubt that we are to live righteous lives before the watching world, and there certainly is power in the testimony of a life transformed by Christ. A classic example of this is Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-42). Jesus was able to tell her everything about her life, including the life of sin she was living now. Jesus, in His infallible way, gave her the gospel, and, of course, she believed. John 4:39 picks up the story: “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I ever did.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers” (John 4:39-41).

Everyone in that town knew this woman and the sordid life she lived. What caused them to believe in Christ was not only her words about Jesus, but her transformed life. She was a living testimony to the power of the gospel of Christ. So impactful was the change in her life that they knew something miraculous had happened and they asked Jesus to remain with them, which He did for two days, preaching the same gospel of repentance and the offer of the living water of eternal life through Him. “And many more believed because of his word” (John 4:41). In this instance, both the preaching of the Word of God and the testimony of a life changed by that Word bore the fruit of repentance.

But was the woman’s changed life sufficient to bring others to the Savior? No, but it was the impetus for them to seek more information. Can we today expect that our lives will be sufficient testimony to convince unbelievers of their need for Christ? The problem that arises in this third type of friendship evangelism is that too often the lives of Christians are not a good witness of the Lord and Savior we profess to know and serve. Too often the world sees in us more of a reflection of them than a reflection of Christ. To rely exclusively on the “living testimony” by redeemed sinners who, while saved by grace, still battle the flesh on a daily basis—without the testimony of the truth of Scripture—is to handcuff ourselves in a way the Bible never bids us to do. Not even the most perfect life can compare with the power of the Word of God. “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). “Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” (Jeremiah 23:29).

Clearly the biblical method of evangelism is the faithful proclamation of the truth of Scripture in conjunction with the living testimony of those who have been changed by that truth. When Jesus went about teaching the gospel message of salvation, He taught love and forgiveness, being kind and compassionate. But He went to sinners in order to convict them of their sins. A case in point is the very Samaritan woman we’ve been talking about here. Remember . . . the very first word Jesus said when He began His ministry was “Repent!” “From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 4:17). We are commissioned to bring that same message to the world, speaking the truth in love from a heart changed by the Savior.

Often the word evangelism brings to mind a dynamic person speaking to large crowds about Jesus and giving an invitation for salvation. Some evangelists do speak to large, public crowds, but the truth is there are many approaches to evangelism and many different strategies. Servant evangelism is sharing God’s love by simply serving others in practical ways without asking for or expecting anything in return.

The focus of servant evangelism is doing acts of kindness for anyone and everyone. “As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people” (Galatians 6:10). An example of servant evangelism could be something as simple as handing out free water bottles on a hot day or taking bags of food to needy families at Christmastime. The possibilities are endless, but the common denominator is that nothing is asked for in return. One of the motivations behind this type evangelism is that the Bible tells us that God’s kindness leads people to repentance (Romans 2:4).

There are many benefits of servant evangelism, both for those being served and for those serving. Servant evangelism reaches people where they are and exposes non-Christians to Christians showing God’s love in unmistakable and non-threatening ways. Not everyone is comfortable walking into a church building, but receiving a free service with no strings attached is harder to resist. In fact, it usually piques curiosity as to why someone would go out of his or her way to perform this act of kindness. Servant evangelism has the potential to soften people’s hearts, enabling them to hear and receive the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a good way to “water” seed previously sown (see 1 Corinthians 3:6).

Servant evangelism benefits those serving, as well. As Christians, we are called to “be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15). Serving others gives Christians the opportunity to tell about God’s love. When someone asks why they’re doing what they’re doing, those who are serving can point to Christ—it’s great training ground for other types of evangelism! Also, as Christians, we are to be full of the Holy Spirit in such a way that the Spirit flows out to others (see John 7:38–39). Engaging in servant evangelism puts Christians in situations where the Holy Spirit can minister through them. Jesus commanded His disciples and, consequently, Christians today to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19–20). Jesus didn’t say, “Wait inside your church buildings for the lost to come to you”; He said to “go.” Through servant evangelism the church can show people outside the church that God cares and give them a reason to want to come inside.

While servant evangelism is certainly a biblical practice, it is incomplete as a form of evangelism until the message of Jesus is spoken. Romans 10:17 tells us, “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” To complete the process of evangelism—to bring someone to accepting Christ as Savior—we need to speak “the word about Christ.” Servant evangelism can be effective in opening that person’s heart to receive the message once he or she hears it.

“Lifestyle evangelism” is an evangelism strategy that focuses on living a holy, winsome life among unbelievers with the goal of attracting people to the message of Jesus Christ. Many variations of lifestyle evangelism exist, but the definitive resource is the book Lifestyle Evangelism by Joe Aldrich.

Lifestyle evangelism has been popular since the 1990s, and many Western Christians have sought to share their faith through their lifestyle in addition to their verbal testimony. In contrast with other methods such as tracts, crusades, and media-based outreach, popular in the mid-twentieth century, lifestyle evangelism focuses on building relationships with one person at a time. Through friendship, opportunities arise to share the gospel.

Critics claim that lifestyle evangelism is insufficient or that it ignores the Bible’s command to share the gospel verbally. Doing good works is not enough; we must speak the truth. However, lifestyle evangelism can and should do both. There are many examples in Scripture of those who both lived out their faith and verbally shared their faith.

For example, the apostle Peter boldly shared his faith in Christ on the Day of Pentecost in the streets of Jerusalem, and 3,000 people were converted to Christ and baptized as a result (Acts 2:41). Shortly afterwards, he and the other apostles were taking action to meet the needs of widows (Acts 6:1-7).

In addition, members of the early church were known for their good works, being “highly regarded by the people.” (Acts 5:13). At the same time, they were obeying God’s command to “tell the people the full message of this new life” (verse 20). A combination of vibrant faith and a vibrant sharing of faith is the proper balance.

Paul exhorted Timothy to “keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching” (1 Timothy 4:16). Paul emphasized that Timothy’s lifestyle and preaching were both important in the effort to evangelize others.

Paul affirmed the same principle in Ephesians 4:1-3: “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Though called to boldly proclaim Jesus (Romans 1:16), we also have a clear call to live a life reflective of the message of Christ.

So long as lifestyle evangelism does not replace the verbal sharing of the gospel, it is a legitimate ministry tool. Lifestyle evangelism can be a wonderful way to show faith in action in a world that needs to see what true Christianity looks like.