One helpful aspect of the School of Evangelism is that the teaching is accompanied by daily evangelism. This past week at the Boardwalk Chapel we saw guests and staff for the summer assemble, digging into the Word, studying evangelism in the theoretical and the practical. Some who came are experienced evangelists, and others are novices. All Christians, no matter how gifted in evangelism, are waging war against the world, the flesh, and the devil in order to preach the Gospel to themselves, and maintain an openness and readiness to share with others.
If it were up to our efforts, brilliant or otherwise, pitting our minds against the arguments of the world, it would be no wonder that so many are intimidated by evangelism. But when we go out, it is not in our strength. It is in the power of God. Even our apologetics are secondary to presenting the Gospel, for the Word of God is what truly can convert the soul (Psalm 19).
”Even if I’m preaching the Gospel clearly as I ought, people will reject me, but they’re rejecting Christ,” said Addie, who was encouraged by this reminder in the School of Evangelism. “People will reject the Gospel, and it’s not in my power to open their eyes. It’s really refreshing and encouraging because it takes the burden off of me and allows me to rejoice and trust in God to give the increase as he sees fit.”
Paul, in Ephesians, talks about putting on the whole armor of God. In one of our sessions this week, Chris Byrd pointed out that evangelizing is part of the armor of God. “Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:14-15). We ought not neglect this discipline. Why? Because even as we share the Cross with others, we preach it to ourselves. We are struck anew with the beauty of it. There is a great benefit to the repetition of nightly evangelism during the conference.
Yes, evangelism is a struggle at times. But there is no shame in that struggle. We are weak and God knows it. The Gospel is what is powerful. The God whom we serve is not helpless to save souls.
“What’s stronger—Islam, or Jesus? What’s stronger—secular atheism, or Jesus? What’s stronger—godless humanism, or Jesus?” Chris asks on Friday, to the group of conference guests and staff who are gathered together for a final day of learning. Voices echo back to him, “Jesus!”
Patrick, a guest at the School of Evangelism, remarked on how he saw God’s all-knowing power in the seemingly coincidental conversations on the boardwalk. He shared about how he passed a tract to a man, and took the opportunity to tell him the reality of God’s law and God’s grace. “I told him, these are God’s commands,” Patrick recalled. “Have you broken any of these commandments? And he said ‘Yeah.’ So I’m like, ‘The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death,” so by breaking God’s law, you deserve death.’ I gave him the Good News—that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again on the third day. And the amazing thing was, he told me, ‘Earlier today, I had a thought about really wanting to turn my life around. And really thinking about God. And then all of a sudden I’m walking here and you come up to me, talking about the Gospel.’ I was like, man, that was God’s divine appointment there. That was God’s divine, sovereign will. It was just really cool that he had that thought in his mind, and then I happened to just be here, talking to him about the Lord. That just really shows that the Lord is completely sovereign over all, and that he will find a way. And he will use his way to bring people to the knowledge of his Son.”
God is mighty to save. It is our glorious responsibility to proclaim this fact. So let us put on the armor of God. Let us bow our heads in desperate, humble prayer. Let us speak words of compassion to those around us, whether on the boardwalk in New Jersey or unsaved friends and family. When at the Chapel, sharing the Gospel every night builds a readiness that encourages attendees to continue on when they get back home. We want to be ready to share this powerful Gospel.
“Through this repetition now, going out every night, you’ve been putting on Gospel shoes,” said Chris Byrd. “How do you maintain that readiness? Continue to do it.”
We do not need to be afraid: the power does not come from us.