Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney
"I’m convinced that the main reason many of us don’t witness for Christ in ways that would be effective and relatively fear-free is simply because we don’t discipline ourselves to do it."
EVANGELISM IS EXPECTED
New Testament evangelism as communicating the gospel. Anyone faithfully relating the essential elements of God’s salvation through Jesus Christ is evangelizing.
God does gift some for ministry as evangelists, but He calls all believers to be His witnesses and provides them with both the power to witness and a powerful message.
EVANGELISM IS EMPOWERED
I think the seriousness of evangelism is the main reason it frightens us. We realize that in talking with someone about Christ, heaven and hell are at stake. The eternal destiny of the person looms before us. And even when we rightly believe that the results of this encounter rest in God’s hands and that we bear no accountability for the person’s response to the gospel, we still sense a solemn duty to communicate the message faithfully.
Jesus expects evangelism of every Christian because the Spirit empowers every Christian to evangelize.
When you speak the gospel, you share “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” Sharing the gospel is like walking around in a thunderstorm and handing out lightning rods. You don’t know when the lightning will strike or who it will strike, but you know what it will strike — the lightning rod of the gospel. And when it does, that person’s lightning rod will be charged with the power of God and he or she will believe.
The gospel is the power of God for salvation and not our own eloquence or persuasiveness
EVANGELISM IS A DISCIPLINE
Evangelism is a natural overflow of the Christian life. Every Christian should be able to talk about what the Lord has done for him or her and what He means to him or her. But evangelism is also a Discipline in that we must discipline ourselves to get into situations where evangelism can occur, that is, we must not just wait for witnessing opportunities to happen.
So any Christian who has heard biblical preaching, participated in Bible studies, and read the Scriptures and Christian literature for any time at all should have at least enough understanding of the basic message of Christianity to share it with someone else.
We should also acknowledge the common objection that people do not witness because of the lack of time... Do we expect that at the Judgment Jesus will excuse us from the single most important responsibility He gave us because we say, “I didn’t have time”?
Raising children in the “discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6: 4) is one way of fulfilling the Great Commission. Supporting the work of a church and its missionaries financially is another. But what about those unbelievers outside our families? And who will do the evangelistic ministry of a church but people like you who comprise the membership of that church?
Isn’t the main reason we don’t witness the simple lack of disciplining ourselves to do it? Yes, there are those wonderful, unplanned opportunities God appoints to give the “reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3: 15). Nevertheless, I maintain that apart from making evangelism a Spiritual Discipline, most Christians will seldom share the gospel.
Unless we discipline ourselves for evangelism, we can easily excuse ourselves from ever sharing the gospel with anyone.
the best way I’ve found to turn the conversation toward spiritual matters is to ask the person how you can pray for him or her. Although such a question is common to the Christian, most non-Christians don’t know of anyone who prays for them.
I heard the story of a man who became a Christian during an evangelistic emphasis in a city in the Pacific Northwest. When he told his boss about it, his employer responded with, “That’s great! I am a Christian and have been praying for you for years!” But the new believer was crestfallen. “Why didn’t you ever tell me you were a Christian? You were the very reason I have not been interested in the gospel all these years.” “How can that be?” the boss wondered. “I have done my very best to live the Christian life around you.” “That’s the point,” explained the employee. “You lived such a model life without telling me that it was Christ who made the difference, I convinced myself that if you could live such a good and happy life without Christ, then I could too.”
The example of Christianity saves no one; rather it is the message of Christianity — the gospel — that “is the power of God for salvation”
Will you commit yourself to at least one way of intentional evangelism in the near future?