MERIDIAN, ID – Chuckling in your face. Wincing in disapproval. Polite smiles with a faraway look in their eyes. God’s Word has that effect on lost souls.
When believers receive disappointing responses from proclaiming the gospel, it can cause us to think twice when opportunities arise again. What are ways that a Christian believer can continue to be bold witnesses? It starts with discovering that strength comes from our weaknesses.
We tend to think that gifted evangelists never seem to get rattled. They appear bold and fearless. They readily talk about their faith with anyone God places in their lives. But for many Christians, including myself, we are prone to be reluctant witnesses. We twinge with awkwardness at the prospect of sharing a gospel message with a lost soul. And when golden moments arise for us to step out and share our faith with others, we become mute. Who has stood on the shores of guilt and watched missed opportunities float away in full sail?
What prompts us to dive off the high board of our own inadequacies and be God’s ambassadors? What dares a redeemed soul to jump off the bridge and share the Good News of forgiveness and peace found only in Christ? Are we like Gideon, demanding a sign before we step out in faith? Are we like Jonah, who think all our neighbors are Ninevites?
The Apostle Paul answers these questions. He acknowledges fear. He confesses timidity. He understands weakness. In fact, he declares that only in his weaknesses that he finds his strength. (2 Cor. 12:10) Perhaps Paul was not gregarious, outgoing, or an extrovert — all characteristics that we may consider necessary to be witnessing giants. Instead, Paul would agree that in humility, we are bold. In gentleness, we are resolute. In patience, we are persistent. In peace, we are discerning. The source of Paul’s strength found in his weaknesses, was Christ living in him. A believer’s weaknesses are often exposed in evangelism. This is the reason why verbally proclaiming the gospel is uncomfortable, intimidating, and scary.
There will always be threats – real or imagined – and potential consequences associated with being God’s ambassador and verbally sharing his message with others. Yet, only through the power of the message can lost souls receive the knowledge of the Truth. God sets apart believers to communicate its message and unsheathe its power. Every evangelist gets rattled. Their boldness is not necessarily a personality trait, but an outward appearance of an inward trust in God’s promises. And the greatest promises God gives us with the Great Commission is that he is with us. Faith trusts God’s promises and takes him for his Word. Proclaiming the gospel is an exercise of a faith.
When believers exercise their faith and proclaim the gospel, they make four discoveries:
After jumping off the high dive of our own inadequacies, we discover that Christ has always been there. Like a little child jumping off the side of the pool, we fall into our father’s waiting arms and realize that there was nothing to fear. There was no need to be intimidated.
After jumping off the ledge of our own fears of rejection, we discover that God provides unique opportunities specifically designed for us. We were arriving at an appointment that is often pre-arranged by God.
After receiving a disappointing response by people, we discover that we don’t need to take their response at face value. It’s not personal. It’s between them and God. Believers process rejection by understanding that receiving faith is often a process. Their soil was not ready for them to respond well.
After sharing God’s Word, we discover that proclaiming the gospel is not natural. Verbally proclaiming the gospel requires courage and a measure of boldness. It is something that we cannot generate on our own but comes from the power of the Holy Spirit. The promise of his presence (Matt 28:19) comes true. He is with us.
Evangelism exposes our weaknesses. Believers are blessed by the activity of verbally proclaiming the gospel by trusting and receiving God’s promises in a powerful way. Adapted by previous blog post, “Four key discoveries in overcoming the fear of evangelism.” (November 2013)
Evangelists are effective when they:
Trust that God’s Word is sufficient for salvation. They need nothing more than the message.
Understand that their most powerful tool is God’s Word and use it exclusively to bring as many people to heaven as possible.
Understand that God’s Word alone is all they need to proclaim to others the only way to life with God – both now and forever.
Understand that the Holy Spirit works through the Word to bring salvation to everyone who believes. Their role in evangelism is to get the Word out.
Accept God’s commission to go out into the world and unsheathe the powerful Words of Truth.
Are more intent on winning souls than winning arguments. They focus on planting seeds of the gospel and trusting that God will cause the seed to grow.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dave Malnes is the founder and director of Praise and Proclaim Ministries in Meridian, Idaho (www.praiseandproclaim.com). This ministry is all about providing meaningful opportunities for Christians to actively share the gospel of Jesus Christ.