Matt. 28:18-20; Eph. 4:11-13; Rom. 10:9-15
Now we come to the last of the four disciplines we’re going to discuss, and I’m sure it’s everybody’s favorite: witnessing/evangelism. My favorite book on this subject is one I’m sure you’ve never heard of. It’s Out of the Salt Shaker and Into the World by Rebecca Manley Pippert. She starts out the book with a very arresting point--There’s at least one thing Christians and non-Christians have in common: Both are scared to death of evangelism. Non-Christians and Christians alike have this idea that witnessing has to be in the form of waylaying someone with several verses from the Bible, coming across with a holier-than-thou attitude, and then the Christian walks away from the ambush thinking he’s fulfilled his “witnessing quota” for the time being. As always, I’d like to clear up some misconceptions right off the bat.
First and foremost, we need to understand that witnessing for Christ is for everyone. It’s not an optional thing or something reserved for the elite. Jesus’ last command in Matthew is for every believer. If you're saved, then you have a responsibility to make your contribution to seeing that command carried out.
Second, as Ephesians tells us, there is such a thing as a gift of evangelism, and not everyone has it. I don’t think I do, but my best friend in college did. So did my last pastor. They could witness to a telephone pole, and the telephone pole was very likely to come to faith in Christ. They are very effective in sharing the Good News, and they love to tell lost people about Jesus. However, notice the rest of the passage. The reason for the gift of evangelism is to equip the wider Body of Christ “for works of service.” In other words, they’re here to help us and teach us how to share Christ, not so that most Christians could be spectators and cheer the “real” evangelists on like players at a sporting event.
Does this mean that every believer needs to be able to preach a sermon? Of course not. Does that mean that every believer needs to be able to answer every argument that a skeptic brings up? No.
What it does mean is that every believer needs to be able to articulate what the Good News is and to explain it well enough that the regular person can understand it. It’s not your job to convince anyone!
The Romans passage is pretty familiar to me, since I grew up Southern Baptist, and vss. 9-10 and vs. 13 are part of the “Roman Road to Salvation,” a popular way to explain the Good News from the book of Romans. But what we didn’t usually examine too closely is the latter part of today’s Roman passage. God could send angels to lost people. He could write it in the sky. He could appear with a big audible voice. But he doesn’t, and he won’t. He's chosen you to be his ambassador, his representative to the non-Christians you encounter. If no one tells them, they won’t hear. If they don’t hear, they’ll never believe.
If you’re reading this and thinking “OK, Keith, you've convinced me I need to be a better witness for Christ, but I don’t know how!!!” then don’t worry. On the sidebar is "One-Verse Evangelism" which is my favorite way to summarize and present the Good News, and it's fairly easy to replicate. Of course, there are lots of good ways to share the Good News, so find one that fits for you. And as I think about this, I see a need to make it a topical study next year.
But for now, let’s get over the first hump. The first and most daunting barrier to you being an effective witness for Christ is you deciding to become one. You have to be willing. You have to choose to be obedient.
It all starts with prayer, maybe something like what’s suggested below.
Lord Jesus, I am blown away that you want me to be your representative. I’m not sure how I’m going to tell others about you, but I’m willing to. Please give me opportunities, open doors. Show them to me. Whatever it takes for me to be do things your way, I want it.
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