This is another snipit of ideas for the book I would like to oneday write entitled "Do the work of an evangelist."
It has often been said, “Preach like a Baptist, pray like a Presbyterian.” The idea is that God uses means in reaching the lost, and prayer is one of them. We recognize that God alone is the one who has elected those who will be saved and he alone has the power to change the heart and enable them to embrace the gospel. Thus, if we desire gospel success, we ought to devote much time to the Lord in prayer.
Let us look at two Scriptures in this regard. The first demonstrates the need for prayer. In Luke 11 Jesus told his disciples to “Pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” This verse tells us that God has ordained prayer to be one of the means He uses in reaching the lost. The converse implication is that without prayer, the advancement of the kingdom will be retarded.
Another important text to consider is the Lord’s Prayer, specifically the second petition, which says, “Your kingdom come.” Christ taught his disciples to pray for the advancement of the kingdom. Thus, it illustrates again how God has incorporated prayer into the grand scheme of the salvation of men and his unfolding, redemptive plan.
It has historically been recognized though that each petition of the Lord’s Prayer is a synecdoche (a literary device where one part stands as a representative of a whole or larger body). So, this one petition, embodies all things associated with prayer and the advancement of Christ’s kingdom. The catechisms reveal this:
Westminster Shorter Catechism:
In the second petition we pray that Satan’s kingdom would be destroyed; and that the kingdom of grace may be advanced, ourselves and others brought into it, and kept in it; and that the kingdom of glory may be hastened.
Westminster Larger Catechism:
In the second petition, acknowledging ourselves and all mankind to be by nature under the dominion of sin and Satan, we pray, that the kingdom of sin and Satan would be destroyed, the gospel propagated throughout the world, the Jews called, the fullness of the Gentiles brought in; the church furnished with all gospel officers and ordinances, purged from corruption, countenanced and maintained by the civil magistrate: that the ordinances of Christ may be purely dispensed, and made effectual to the converting of those that are yet in their sins, and the confirming, comforting, and building up of those that are already converted: that Christ would rule in our hearts here, and hasten the time of his second coming, and our reigning with him forever: and that he would be please so to exercise the kingdom of his power in all the world, as may best conduce to those ends.
Thy kingdom come. That is: so rule us by Thy Word and Spirit that we may submit ourselves more and more to Thee; preserve and increase Thy Church; destroy the works of the devil, every power that exalts itself against Thee, and all wicked counsels conceived against Thy holy Word, until the perfection of thy kingdom arrive wherein Thou shalt be all in all.
We must never forget the necessity of what has often been called biological evangelism. The Scripture reminds us that God works through families (Adam & Eve, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc). The promise of the gospel was “to you and to your offspring.” And it will always be the case that the family will be the nursery of the gospel. This is why Martin Luther once said that the church is always one generation away from dying out. He understood that without gospel nurture in the home, the church would cease to exist.
For this reason we must make it our aim to cultivate Christian nurture in the home. At the very least parents must have daily times of family worship where the Scripture is read and prayer is offered. Songs and Christian music should fill the home. Homeschooling has also been seen as a vital part of the process of Christian nurture (Deut. 6:4). In any case, the parents are to see to it that the children are raised in an environment where they can be exposed to the means of grace and godly discipline (discipleship!).
3. Personal gospel engagement
Church members ought to be given adequate instruction in sharing the gospel and lovingly encouraged to engage their family, friends, and neighbors with the gospel. The church should organize events where they can be given opportunities to witness or give their personal testimony. Those who are mature and have the means to do so should also be encouraged to lead Bible studies for people who are inclined to listen to what Christianity is all about.
At the very least, the congregation should be attempting to invite friends to church services and functions so that they might encounter the gospel on a more fuller scale.
4. Church organized outreach programs
I once knew of a church that wanted to start some evangelism. The end result of their efforts was that they put up a sign out front that said, “First Presbyterian Church.” Little did they know that it was more a sign that it was a dead church.
Churches should be planning ways to engage their community. First, they must be equipped with gospel literature and/or other materials that will help propagate the gospel (books, pamphlets, websites, social media, business cards, tracts, etc.) Secondly, they must be intentional about connecting with the unbelieving: booths at the county fair, passing out literature at public events, etc.
By this time you know where I stand on this. The testimony of Scripture is prolific when it comes to how effective the preaching of the gospel is for the advancement of Christ’s kingdom. We need only look at the verse cited at the very beginning of this page: Christ wanted us to pray for harvesters—men who would go out into the world and preach.
The emphasis on preaching is so replete in the Scripture that the Westminster divines went so far as to say, “How is the Word made effectual to salvation? The Spirit of God makes the reading, but especially the preaching of the Word, an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and building them up in holiness and comfort, through faith unto salvation.” The men of the Westminster Assembly rightly understand that God has a particular place for the official proclamation of the gospel that rates even higher than the simple reading of Scripture.
We must understand that friendship evangelism has its place, but it will never compare to a man who has been raised up to proclaim the Scripture. Just see Romans 10:14-15.
Thus, ministers much preach as often as they can and in as many places as they can.
Kindled Fire is dedicated
to the preaching and teaching ministry of
Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.