Paying Your Gospel Debt to the World - Part Four

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Our Method: Getting Smarter

The main aim of a debtor is to pay the debt back, right? Those who are trying to get out of debt know that there are smart ways to go about such an endeavor. You’ve got to get better and better at it. You've got to be wise, and spend right, living diligently by a budget. It is no different when it comes to our spiritual indebtedness. Here are a few suggestions to consider as you try to better your gospel-indebtedness payback program.

o Stop relying on tricks of the trade, programs, and man-made efforts because they only result in adding people but not souls. It is a wonder the church has not learned from this yet. But as I speak there is yet another evangelistic program just launched that involves a bus trip around the country by denominational leaders. Another one several years ago was centered on building the Sunday School of a church. These sorts of efforts unfortunately do not make a lasting impact on the kingdom of God, I’m afraid. Evangelism lives and breathes by relationships, and not by programs like these.

o The bottom line in Scripture is that the best method for evangelism revolves around people who have been moved by the Spirit, are led by the Spirit consistently and are consequently motivated and filled with the Spirit such that their lives spill over into others’ lives. Those who truly worship God will desire to make new worshipers of God. Therefore your efforts must be several-fold.

1. First you must deepen your own devotion for Christ daily, regularly, consistently, persistently, purposefully.

Without this devotion, you will lack the very object of evangelism , which is to lead others to know Christ. You can’t lead others to know Him if you don’t know Him yourself. You can point to Him, of course, but you can’t really explain Him because experience in your own life what a difference this makes. That’s what made Paul’s evangelism so successful. He shared his story, his testimony, what God in Christ had done for him. People are looking for a message that is uniquely and inseparably connected to reality, not some abstract message that has no day-to-day meaning or application. If people see that Christ has changed you, they will be more likely to listen to what you have to say. You will become more “real” to them, because your devotion for this Person who saved you will ooze out in everything you say and do.

2. Second, you must not be ashamed to tell others.

This is what Paul says in Romans 1:16, a text I’ve already touched on for a couple of weeks. You have to stop being scared of talking to others. If you are afraid to tell others about Christ, Christ says He’ll be afraid to tell His Father about you. Fear of spreading the gospel will not grant you entrance into heaven. That much applies to you. But in application to others, if you have the message that can save and deliver and rescue them from their sinfulness, their guilt and shame, why be afraid to share it? The only one’s that stand to be shamed from the gospel are the ones listening to it, not the one sharing it. Your shame has been removed, your fear demolished, both by the death of Christ. So do not let them show their ugly heads any more.

3. Third, you must be willing to suffer for the gospel.

Stretch yourself out and do things that are out of character for you as a person, but are in character for you as a Christian. Take risks for the gospel, huge risks, and be willing to suffer whatever comes. Plan a short term mission trip with your family, and plan to minister instead of “veg out” on family vacation. Take regular trips to sites where homeless people live, seeking to get in among them to help them. Invite one or two to come in and live with you. Now we’re getting close to home, no pun intended. This is where the rubber meets the road. Evangelism is fine as long as it doesn’t require us to actually come into close and regular contact with an unsaved person—especially if they are drug-addicted, smelly, TB-infected, fashion less, unshaven men (or women). But this is what makes the difference. These are the kinds of persons Jesus came to save—the ones who know they are sick and have need of a physician.

4. Fourth, step into other people’s lives and help them from their viewpoint.

Paul said he became all things to all men so that by some means he might save some. This doesn’t mean adopting the sinful aspects of their lifestyle. Rather, it means adopting those aspects of their lifestyle that can be commonly shared as human beings, yet can be glorifying to God. If someone you want to lead to Christ likes fishing, then take up fishing. If they like to cook, then learn how to cook. If they are going through the loss of a family member, share your story with them. If they are struggling with rebellious teenagers, talk to them about your bouts during these times. If they have kids your kids’ ages, then let them play together. The key is finding or identifying what it is that you can do with them in order to develop a relationship with them, thereby building the bridge to share the gospel. In other words, share the gospel with your life as a precursor to sharing it with your lips. The relationship you form with them will go miles when you get that open door to share the gospel with them.

Read Part Five.

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