The great preacher Charles H. Spurgeon once said something along these lines, “If you have no concern for the salvation of others,then you are not saved yourself, be sure of that.” Spurgeon was stating a truth that inherently, a true Christian will bear fruit in accordance with an inward desire to see men and women drawn into the kingdom. The scriptures are clear; a person who has been regenerated by God is incapable of being indifferent to the spiritual fate of others. This being so, why do many of us find it hard to evangelise? Because we hold to false and misleading ideas that affect how we pursue evangelism.
Firstly, we as Christians are powerless to convert the unbeliever’s heart. We need to grasp the fact that the work of salvation belongs to the LORD and not us (Jonah 2:9). If we are powerless to convert the sinner’s heart, you might ask why then do we evangelise? We evangelise because we are the vessels (or method) that God has ordained to carry His message of grace to the world. If God so delighted, He could save His sheep without this method meaning that He doesn’t need our help. But God has chosen to use us and it is an extreme privilege that we are the chosen vessels in His plan of redemption. When we fail to credit salvation as belonging to the LORD, we get discouraged easily when people don’t respond to the gospel. Why? Because if we had any power in conversion then the rejection of the gospel maybe due to something we did or didn’t do. Some people will respond positively and others negatively- that’s a fact, but we don’t need to be discouraged when the gospel is rejected, they are not rejecting us. Ultimately we are not responsible when people reject the gospel, and conversely we deserve no credit when a soul is regenerated. If salvation belongs to the LORD and no one else, we should then be faithful and confident and that God is able.
Secondly, the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Rom 1: 16). The gospel that we have been commanded to preach is used by God to regenerate the unrepentant heart. This sustains the first point but also brings to light another. To be faithful in our calling we must get the gospel right and preach it in its entirety. We do not need to dumb down the gospel, or leave any aspect out because we think it might offend the unbelievers or turn them away. The gospel is not the gospel when we leave out the not-so palatable parts or when we add our own ideas to it. The apostle Paul was at pains to explain this to the church in Galatia when the requirement of circumcision was added to the gospel of grace. For example, some modern day evangelism tends to soften down or even leave out the reality of sin, hell and judgement, even though they are crucial and scriptural aspects of the gospel. Without the bad news of sin, hell and judgement, the good news makes no sense at all. I also find it disturbing that sometimes we as humans have the arrogance to alter the content of the gospel, naively thinking that through this we will make more converts. Yes more converts may be made, but will they be converts to God’s gospel or ours?
Thirdly, there are many Christians who don’t know the gospel well enough to communicate it. If we don’t know it well enough, how are we ever going to be confident to share it? How are we going to get it right? Christians need to read and study the Word of God each day. In fact because we don’t know the gospel well enough, we have had to design programs to teach it to us and for us (I am not suggesting evangelism programs are wrong by any means, just pointing out that we need to be able to witness without them). Running well-intentioned evangelism courses are no substitute for knowing the Word of God so let’s commit to become disciplined in this area. Shouldn’t we be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us, in season and out of season?
God alone is the founder and perfector of faith (Heb 12:2), and God alone deserves all the glory. We can faithfully witness in hopeful expectation out of love knowing that salvation belongs to the LORD. The gospel will not return void unless we void it of the content. Let us preach and teach the whole council of God leaving nothing out and adding nothing to it. And finally brothers and sisters, may we refuse to be discouraged for we don’t know where the wind will blow (John 3:8) that is not for us to know. Our task is to faithfully go.