Embrace His Grace

                    

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       Communicating the joy, the certainty, the completeness and the glory of The Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world is the work of evangelism. This is the Music of the Gospel, our personal proclamation of the good news that the  indwelling Holy Spirit gives our lives everyday. Let us go forth and let this sweet music be heard 'round the world!

  

    There is a legend which recounts the return of Jesus to glory after His time on earth. Even in Heaven He bore the marks of His earthly pilgrimage with its cruel cross and shameful death. The angel Gabriel approached Him and said, 'Master, you must have suffered terribly for men down there.'  Jesus replied, 'Yes, I did.' And Gabriel continued to question, 'Do they know all about how you loved them and what you did for them, how important it was?' 'Oh, no,' answered Jesus, 'not yet. Right now only a handful of people in Palestine and around there know.'  Gabriel was perplexed, and queried, 'Then what have you done to let everyone know about your love and sacrifice for them?'  Jesus quickly replied, 'I've asked Peter, James, John and a few more friends to tell other people about me. Those who are told will in turn believe and tell still other people, and my story will be spread to the farthest reaches of the globe. Ultimately, all of mankind will have heard about my life and what I have done.'  Gabriel wanted to sound positive but he was still very skeptical because he knew the stuff mortal men were made of. 'Yes, I understand,' he said to Jesus, 'but what if Peter and James and John grow weary? And then they die. And what if the people that come after them forget or don't care enough to work and spread Your Word? Have You made any other plans?'  Jesus just looked at Gabriel and said, 'I have no other plans. I am counting on them.'  Twenty centuries later He is still has no other plans. And He's still counting on them: that's you and me.

        You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.  Matthew 5:13

    Jesus used salt to illustrate three qualities that should be found in His people: 1) We should remember God's faithfulness, just as salt when used with a sacrifice recalled God's covenant with His people 2) We should make a difference in the 'flavor' of the world we live in, just as salt changes meat's flavor 3) We should counteract the moral decay in society, just as salt preserves food from decay. When we lose this desire to 'salt' the earth with the love and message of God, we become useless to Him and to His Kingdom.

    For salt to be effective, it must get out of its container and into the world of hurting, dying, suffering, sinning people. There is no impact without contact, and yet, after knowing the Lord the average Christian has little or no significant evangelical relationships with non-Christians. Often conversion opens up a whole new group of relationships with other Christians and the new Christian moves slowly away from the non-Christian, unsaved associate. Frequently, the unsaved are viewed as enemies rather than victims of the Enemy. The Christian begins to feel he has nothing in common with the non-Christian. Frankly, we have everything in common with the unsaved: we have mortgages, car payments, food to buy, kids to feed, a lawn to mow, interests in sports and hobbies, Indeed we have life in common, and with our dedication to evangelizing the Word of God will can have His saving Grace in common. It is well to remember that Jesus was called a 'friend of sinners.'

                              

Paul's Evangelistic Strategy

    We can learn much from the evangelistic strategy Paul used for the various cultures he ministered . In 1 Corinthians 9:22 he writes, 'I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.'  Note how critical 'becoming' is in the task of 'saving some.' To win the Jewish audiences, Paul became a Jew. To win the Gentiles, he became like the Gentiles. To win those under the law, he became like one under the law. To win some, he became all things to all men. In fact, Paul became a slave to everyone to win as many as possible to the Lord.

    Evangelistic effectiveness is directly related to the ability to become, This is the ability to understand and relate to the differences in people and their social conditions. Paul was a master at this valuable, resourceful technique. He refused to blast his way into their lives, ignoring their customs and conscience. He honored each in their unique way while still proclaiming his message of salvation through Jesus Christ. He never willingly insulted anyone's beliefs. He tempered his own brilliance and power to deal with often weaker audiences. The issue at stake according to Paul is not what I need to know but what I need to become.

    Paul's efforts to adapt his life and methods to the target audience underscore that every decision for Christ must be made within the framework of that person's culture if it is to be genuine, and indeed the evangelical effort is to be successful. Paul's strategy focused on likeness rather than difference. We cannot expect the non-Christian to become like us before he is even converted. We must be willing to build the necessary bridges to bring him to our Christian beliefs and values.  This same flexibility exemplified by Paul must be used and encouraged in our Christian evangelizing.

    Paul utilized three critical principles in his evangelical work: First, Paul had a flexible conscience when it came to matters without moral significance. To relate to different cultures and peoples demands this flexibility. Paul demonstrates this in a classic example of legitimate, biblical, situational ethic. When eating with a Jew, the ethical thing is to respect his dietary restrictions and order food that does not offend. Good judgment is the key. In every situation, the unsaved man's soul should have precedence over any opinions. Second, Paul was able to draw near to people because he made himself flexible to another man's interest, concerns, circumstances, opinions and backgrounds. He transmigrated himself into their souls and clothed himself with their feelings, burdens, and concerns. He shared not only the Gospel but his very life. He moved among the people he was evangelizing and had compassion for them. While Paul was exhorting, he was also encouraging. Third, Paul's whole life was a lesson in self-denial and servanthood. Such self-denial begins in the mind. As Paul relates, 'Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ.' (Philippians 2:5). For Jesus Christ Himself never exalted His place, but rather 'made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant.' (Philippians 2:7). Even further, Paul wrote, 'Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible' (1 Corinthians 9:19). Paul's attitude to service was foundational to his success. He willingly put up with anything and everything to reach the unsaved and to preach the Gospel to the world.

 

 

Evangelism: An Attitude

by Richard H. Harris

Evangelism is an attitude, a mind-set. When we wake up in the morning, we need to say to God, "I'm Yours today to use in whatever way possible." When we make ourselves available to God, He will bring people to us. Here are some things we can do to help us reach people for Christ:

Keep a Prayer List
Make a list of people for whom you will pray. Pray daily for the salvation of each person. There is a direct correlation between the amount of time we invest in prayer and the results of our evangelism.

Record Evangelistic Contacts
Keep a record of the people you are trying to reach. With whom have you talked? With whom do you need to talk? With whom do you need to follow up?

Set Personal Goals
A goal might be to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to one person every week. It is our responsibility to be faithful in sowing the seed, and it is the Holy Spirit who will bring the results.

Look for Opportunities
Consider your circles of influence: Your family, your friends, your business or school associates. Think about people with whom you have some affinity. Nurture those relationships and look for the open door to present the Gospel.

Be Persistent
Some Christians will talk with someone about Christ once or twice and conclude that the person is not interested. One company found that 90 percent of its salespeople did not return to a potential customer after the third contact, but 80 percent of the sales were made after the fifth contact. Many of us give up too easily.

Use Gospel Tracts
Use Gospel tracts and go through the material with the person. Ask, "Is this something that you've been thinking about? Would you like to pray this sample prayer, inviting Christ into your life?" I've seen more people respond in faith to Christ when I've used a tract than when I've used anything else.

Consider Your Setting
When you are in a relaxed atmosphere, you will be more effective in bonding and in building relationships. Neutral settings, such as parks, ball fields, restaurants, or golf courses, are good places to talk.

Ask About Needs
Visit your neighbors and ask them if they have any special needs that you can pray for. Say, "I believe that God answers prayer. Do you have a need that I can pray about?" A couple of weeks later visit your neighbor again. Get an update on the situation and ask if there are additional needs for which to pray. Give your neighbor contact information so that he or she can get in touch with you.

Depend on the Holy Spirit
When I have witnessed to Jesus Christ or knocked on a neighbor's door, I have always been at least a little anxious and nervous. God has taught me that this keeps me in utter dependence on the Holy Spirit.

 

 

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