As a Christian you want other people to get saved. You know that God uses means in the salvation of others and you want God to use you but you might not know how. Here are five actions of faithful evangelists.
1. Faithful Evangelists Prepare
Believe the gospel yourself. Don’t promote a God who isn’t precious to you. Jesus has hard words for proselytizing hypocrites (Matt. 23:15). Missionaries are sincere Christians who help others know their Lord and their God (John 20:28).
Live like a Christian. Why would anyone ask you about your hope if they can’t see it (1 Pet. 3:15)? Christians must consistently live according to the gospel—even when our failures drive us to repentance and deeper trust in Jesus—so that by our godly living our neighbors may be won over to Christ. You can’t evangelize if you aren’t walking with the Lord.
Trust God to save. You can’t do anything to make people believe. Salvation is a work of God not a work of the evangelist or the one being evangelized. Still, God gives to believers the Holy Spirit for the divine power we need to witness about Jesus (Acts 1:4–5). When you communicate the gospel God genuinely calls those who hear it to repent and believe.
2. Faithful Evangelists Perceive
Witnesses are careful interpreters of people.
Determine your relationship. Even short-term relations—someone you sit next to on a plane, your waitress, a check-out clerk—provide opportunities to sow seeds. Longer-term relationships encourage us to consider a longer-term approach.
Distinguish worldviews. When you meet other believers be generous about their faith. Rejoice in your unity in Christ. Aquila and Priscilla taught Apollos “the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:26); despite his limited knowledge they treated him as a brother.
When you meet openly acknowledged unbelievers try to discern their particular sort of unbelief in order to use the gospel more skillfully. Those ignorant of the gospel need a simple presentation. Those hostile to the gospel need their objections firmly challenged. Those aware of the gospel but afraid to claim grace should be pressed to believe God’s rich promises.
When you meet nominal Christians—those who might identify as believers but who lack a living relationship with Jesus as their Savior—understand that they don’t need discipleship. Nominal believers need to meet the Triune God of Scripture, perhaps for the first time. Help them see that cultural Christianity is its own religion in which Jesus is not worthy of sincere worship and morals are the fruit of self-improvement not regeneration.
Draw out the deep issues of life. Ask questions and listen. After all, you don’t have a script other than the basic gospel message. As you listen you will hear felt needs that you can use to introduce the biblical themes of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration.
3. Faithful Evangelists Preach
The evangel—the good news of the gospel—keeps our witnessing focused; evangelism isn’t the promotion of a particular culture but the announcement of a clear message about Jesus.
Don’t get distracted. Don’t mistake the gospel for denominational traditions, conservative values, political affiliation, or common decency. Don’t confuse the gospel with the Bible in general. The gospel is the message that Christ died to save those in whom he works faith and repentance.
Articulate the gospel. As Will Metzger explains, a gospel presentation simply requires Christians to elaborate on four familiar words:
- God—God is the creator. He is holy. And he will hold people accountable for their ungodliness.
- People—God made people good, like him. Sin separates us from God and subjects us to punishment.
- Christ—Christ is the God-man. He came to do the works that please God for people who can’t.
- Faith—Faith is our response to the gospel. Faith is how Christ’s righteousness becomes our own.
Make plain that the gospel is both a promise and a command . Whoever believes in Jesus will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). That’s an inviting promise but God also “commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).
4. Faithful Evangelists Pray
Use God’s promises to pray for the unconverted. Lord, be a Father to them, make them your sons and daughters (2 Cor. 6:18).
St. Augustine thanked God that his mother prayed like this. “You sent down your help from above and rescued my soul from the depths of this darkness because my mother, your faithful servant, wept to you for me, shedding more tears for my spiritual death than other mothers shed for the bodily death of a son” (Confessions 3.11).
Consider telling your friend that you are praying that God would open their heart so they would believe the gospel and invite others to pray (Acts 16:14). Paul often sought prayer for his own boldness in sharing the gospel (Eph. 6:19–20). Encourage fellow believers to pray boldly for particular conversions.
5. Faithful Evangelists Pursue
It is easy to be passive evangelists. But Paul didn’t wait to be asked about his faith. He was proactive. Paul steadily pursued Agrippa, finally asking him for a decision: “King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets?” (Acts 26:28). Overly passive evangelists should not be surprised when their mere morality fails to draw out of others questions about their only comfort in life and in death.
Invite your friends to church. If preaching is a means of grace we should encourage our unbelieving friends to join us in hearing the pure preaching of the gospel (Rom. 10:17). Faithful evangelism anticipates discipleship within a committed community of people who prod each other on toward more mature faith and godliness (Heb. 10:25).
Our pursuit of unbelievers honors the God who effectually pursues his elect. God is the true missionary. We are merely the means he uses to save, but in his kindness God enlists us in the high calling of partnering with him in his work of saving sinners.