I have been seeking to understand how God works in the conversion of souls. The more research I do, the more I realize that many standard evangelistic practices must be flawed, for it seems we often try to do the work that God tells us He needs to do. Here is a list of some of the things we can and cannot do in evangelizing.
Things we cannot do.
- We cannot help others realize the desperation of their situation or convince them that God exists as it is the Holy Spirit who must do these things. Men are willfully ignorant of them. 2 Peter 3:5 says “For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God.” (emphasis mine) The hearts of men are hard and only God can soften them.
- We cannot convince unbelievers of their sinfulness. It is the Spirit who convicts men of sin Before He died Jesus spoke of the Spirit and said “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” (John 16:8)
- We cannot show them the beauty, necessity and wonder of Christ. A man needs the grace of the Spirit in his heart before he can see this. Isaiah 53:2 prophecies about Christ saying “For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him” Sinful humans can neither appreciate nor desire Christ with the Spirit first working in them.
- We cannot produce repentance or faith. Once again, those are God’s works and His alone.
To summarize this, we must not try to do the Spirit’s work, for if we are likely to meet with failure. This is not to say, though, that there is nothing we can or should do to spread the gospel. Here are four things that we are required to do.
Things we must do:
- We must pray for the lost. God delights in using our prayers to accomplish His purposes. Pray for salvation and pray for a “heart of flesh.” Pray that God would use circumstances, either specific or general, to bring people to a realization of their desperation. Pray that God would confirm what we are saying through other people or circumstances. Pray that God would remove the peace they have in their unrepentance. Pray that God would put people in our lives that we can share our faith with.
- We must show our faith in our lives. We need to not only speak about God and what He has done, but we also need to show in our lives that we have changed. Our day-to-day lives are our greatest testimony to unbelievers.
- We must share our faith. When opportunities present themselves we are to act as the messenger to deliver the message, free from our prejudices and opinions. We are to present the purity of the gospel, not our spin on it. This, of course, requires knowledge of the Bible and of God’s ways. A prerequisite to sharing our faith is strengthening our faith by learning about God and growing closer to Him.
- We must invite others to hear the message. We are to invite people to church and other evangelistic occasions. I Corinthians 14:25 speaks of the potential of church services where it speaks of an unbeliever hearing the “secrets of his heart [being] disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.”
God chooses to use sinful humans to be His messengers on earth. We can be most effective when we understand our roles and our responsibilities. When we do this, we can joyfully and obediently do our part to fulfill God’s purposes.