What do you think your job is in evangelism? Are you supposed to present all the logical arguments for the existence of God? Are you supposed to convince someone that they should become a believer? Is it your responsibility to bring someone to faith in Christ?
In this article, we’re going to look at our role in evangelism versus God’s role in evangelism and how, many times, we get the two confused.
We Don't Have to be Confused
A lot of times we get confused in our witness and, in our desire to share our faith with others, we feel like we have the responsibility to bring them to Christ. Believer, be comforted, that’s not your responsibility, it’s God’s.
Our responsibility is to proclaim the gospel with our lips and our lives knowing that it is God who is going to work in people’s hearts to bring them to faith.
We are to see ourselves simply as planters and waterers who trust God to give the growth.
Again, this goes back to our article on the importance of the content of the gospel where we talked about “the herald.” If you haven’t seen that yet, I’d encourage you to check it out by clicking here or the description below. The idea of the herald is that we are to carry and deliver the message that has been given to us.
I’d like to share a quote with you from the little book from 9Marks called What if I’m Discouraged in My Evangelism? It says this, “Our job is to proclaim salvation not produce it. We’re called to deliver a message to people; God’s the one who delivers people from sin.”
Consider also this analogy from Tell the Truth:
Imagine how odd it would be if a mailman was discouraged because he thought “Every time I deliver a letter and someone opens it, they don’t like what they read!” it’s not the mailman’s job to make people like the mail but to deliver it. Likewise, it’s our job to deliver the gospel to people, and God’s job to cause them to believe the gospel. We share the faith, and God grants the faith. As Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father” (John 6:65).
So in our evangelism, we should focus on being faithful to share the gospel message that has been delivered to us and not focusing on whether or not the person we’re sharing the gospel with comes to faith. Obviously, we want those with whom we share the gospel to come to a knowledge of the truth and to enter into a right relationship with God, but we should not judge whether or not we have been successful in our evangelism by the number of converts that we have.
Without the Right Focus, we will be confused
If your focus in evangelism is to see how many people you can get to “pray a prayer”, or raise their hand or come forward in a service you’re focussing on the wrong things. I want to challenge you by asking a very simple question: can we find any of these things in the Bible? The answer is: we can’t. They’re not in the Bible. And we’re going to cover this in more detail in our next article when we talk about genuine conversion.
In the Bible, what do we see instead? Jesus and the apostles taught the scriptures and called people to repent and believe in the gospel. They communicated the message given to them and called people to respond to that message, not by praying a prayer, or by going forward in a church service or raising their hand but calling them to repent and believe.
Jesus in Mark 1:15 “repent and believe in the gospel.” Peter in Acts 3:19, “Repent, therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out,” Acts 17:30 “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.” The apostles followed the model of Jesus and communicated the message that was given to them as servants of that message.
Paul often considered himself a servant and a witness to God. So should we. We are to witness to others by proclaiming the truths of the Scriptures. We should proclaim God as the maker and creator of all things, including them, and He is a lawmaker and a love-giver and we have failed to follow his commands.
Now separated from God and unable to make ourselves right with Him, we need Him to bring us to himself, and He has provided a way through Christ. By faith, we are to turn from our wicked ways and believe in Christ’s payment for our sins that we may be right with God and live a life pleasing to him. Out of love, we should even plead with people to receive Christ yet, we must not evaluate the success of our evangelism in terms of whether or not someone comes to faith.
As we’ve established in this series on evangelism the primary way we should evaluate our evangelism is, as John Piper says, to “look at the book.” We look at the Bible and see the examples of evangelism in scripture. After doing that we can study the history of the Christian church and see where God has blessed the proclamation of the gospel and drawn people to himself. From one such study, Martyn Lloyd Jones shares five foundational principles to evangelism that honestly completely changed the way that I view evangelism.
- The supreme object of the work of evangelism is to glorify God, not to save souls.
- The only power that can do this work is the Holy Spirit, not our own strength.
- The one and only medium which the Spirit works through is the Scriptures. Therefore, we reason out of the Scriptures as Paul did.
- These proceeding principles give us the true motivation for evangelism–a zeal for God, and a love for others.
- There’s a constant danger of heresy through a false zeal in the employment of unscriptural methods.
The Primary Purpose of Evangelism
The primary purpose of evangelism is to glorify God, not to save souls. We trust God’s work in people’s lives that He, through the Holy Spirit, is the one that is going to move people. The means by which God moves people is through the Scriptures. It’s not through apologetics or reasoning in a purely logical sense, but primarily we reason out of the Scriptures; we point people to what the Bible says. It is God and not us who is the evangelizer. We get to journey along with Him as he does the work of evangelism while we are just presenting the truths.
Our responsibility in evangelism is to proclaim the gospel with our lips and our lives knowing that it is God who is going to work in people’s hearts to bring them to faith.
In our next article, we’re going to look a little deeper into understanding God’s role in evangelism by looking at what genuine conversion is. What does it mean for someone to truly become a Christian?