Sunday, May 22, 2016 pm                                                    Evangelism Index

What does one need to know?


The past 2 years we have devoted the fourth Sunday night to a study of evangelism, aka personal work or reaching the lost.   We are reminded continually in scripture of the importance of this.  We have addressed many things including the qualities of a personal worker (that we need to develop), why we need to do this, attitudes and perspectives that help us understand this work, tools that will help us (such as prayer, faith and courage), obstacles to reaching the lost, seeking prospects and a realization that at some point we need to persuade them.   That just about covers the basics of our part in evangelism. 

But what do we teach?  Where do we start?  Beginning with this lesson we want to address what to teach!  This includes a knowledge of what one needs to know, determining where to begin with someone, finding a study that works for you (there are many courses out there), preparing to use that study, anticipating and answering objections, determining when one is ready, offering the invitation, and other matters associated with this aspect of seeking the lost.  Tonight we start addressing what one needs to know.

There is much discussion about what one actually needs to grasp BEFORE he obeys the gospel.  Some believe that as long as one knows they are a sinner and baptism is the act that saves them they are ready.   I would describe that as the bare minimum, and if one demonstrated enough of an understanding of these things, I would baptize him.  Acts is filled with examples of those who responded immediately including on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), Cornelius and his house (Acts 10), Lydia and the Philippian Jailer (Acts 16), and even Saul (Paul – Acts 9).   BUT even this requires judgment.  I have baptized some who I thought were ready only to see them for the last time when they left the building.  Clearly, they knew the plan of salvation but not the cost involved in it.  We need to do something about that if we can. (That having been said, I would rather err by baptizing someone whom I believe was ready but in reality he was not, than to refuse to baptize someone who was ready).

There are other things that if one fully grasps BEFORE they obey the gospel, their chances of remaining faithful are increased.  In the explanation of the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:18-23) Jesus taught there are four different types of hearts.  Three of them have problems.  Two of them receive the word (obey the gospel) but have problems.  One of them, the stony ground, falls away at the first sign of trouble (vs. 20-21).  This is a heart not adequately prepared to receive the word.  IF we have opportunity to prepare the heart beforehand, we should.

If we have opportunity to study in-depth, these are some things we should seek to establish. 

 I.                     The authority of God’s word

a.       One must first understand that the Bible is the word of God (inspired) and the only source where we can find what we need to do to be saved (Romans 1:16-17).

b.       NOTE: We cannot assume anymore that someone believes these things.  AND before you begin, there are some pointed questions you need to ask: 1) Do you believe in God? 2) Do you believe the Bible is the word of God?  Do you believe it is the ONLY source of salvation?  An answer of NO to any of these questions requires further discussion before you begin to discuss what one needs to know to be saved.

c.        They need to understand how authority is established – one must know that Jesus is the source of our authority – Matthew 28:18.   Hebrews 2:1-2 tells us in these last days God has spoken to us through His Son. 
One must understand that God means what He says and says what He means!  2 John 9, Revelation 22:8-9

d.       There are many false sources out there that people appeal to.  Parents, tradition, human wisdom, popularity, the majority, conscience, even the Old Law.  One must understand that these sources will not save you.

e.       There also need to be an understanding that we MUST do what it says – Matthew 7:21-23, 28:19-20.

 II.                   He is a sinner and needs salvation

a.       The better one understands what sin is helps.  In summary, sin is failing to follow God’s laws. 
1 John 3:4 describes it as lawlessness (acting without law), transgression.   Also James 4:17 speaks of failing to act when you should.

b.       Romans 3:23 tells us that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

c.        Romans 6:23 tells us the wages of sin is death.   Genesis 2:15-17 ties death to our sins.  This death is both physical (man dies because of sin – cf. Romans 5:12), but even more it is spiritual death – Ephesians 2:1 speaks of being dead in your sins.  Isaiah 59:1-2 speaks of sins separating us from God. 
Therefore, we need a plan that will take care of our sins, and the consequences of sin.

d.       Furthermore, man must realize that he cannot save himself (i.e. he cannot earn his salvation).  He needs help.

 III.                 Jesus is the answer to the problem of sin.

a.       John 3:16 – God loved us and sent Jesus to die for us.

Romans 5:6-8 - God demonstrates His love in the death of Jesus.

b.       1 Corinthians 15:1-4 – this is the message of the gospel (good news).  An understanding of the life and work of Jesus demonstrates why we must believe in Him.   One needs to understand that Jesus is Immanuel (God with us), that He lived a life without sin, that He died for our sins, that He arose from the dead as prophesied and that now He reigns at the right hand of God in heaven.  Each of these can be clearly documented in scripture.

c.        Jesus shed His blood and died for us – Ephesians 1:7; 1 Corinthians 15:3 says He died for our sins.

d.       Through His word, God has revealed to us what He expects. In essence He has given us “all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue…” (2 Peter 1:3).

e.       We sometimes describe these things as God’s part of salvation or GRACE.  Ephesians 2:8 tells us that it is by the grace of God that we are saved.  If one gains a good grasp of what grace is, it will help him understand his need for salvation, how much God loves us and cares, and what He has done to solve the problem of sin in our lives, giving us true hope.
NOTE: Many use this as the primary appeal to reach others.  When man understands the love of God and the work and sacrifice of Jesus, it can humble him.  Last year (August – September 2015) we presented a handful of lessons dealing with the scheme of redemption.  They help us understand this and can be very effective in converting the lost.

 IV.                 What it means to believe on the Lord

a.       Acts 16:30-31, when the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas, “What must I do to be saved?”, Paul answered him, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.  But what exactly does this mean?
NOTE: Typically, when I am studying with someone I bring this out and use it to answer the question about what we must do to be saved.  This removes a key passage used by advocates of “faith only.”  It can very easily lead into a discussion of what we need to do to be saved.

b.       Back in Ephesians 2:8-9, we noted that grace is God’s part in salvation.  The term “faith” is a reference to man’s part.   This term, while at times means simply believing, at other times it is a reference to action as a result of that belief.  Faith can be an inclusive term of all that man does because he believes what God says.  We can illustrate this with the examples of Hebrews 11.  Also James 2:14-26 helps us understand these things.  

c.        Man’s part includes:

                                                   i.      Responding to what he hears – Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes by hearing.

                                                 ii.      When we hear we believe – John 8:24 – Jesus emphasized this saying if we do not believe in Him we will die in our sins.  John 3:16, Mark 16:16.

                                                iii.      We must repent of our sins – Acts 2:38, 3:19, cf. Luke 13:3 & 5.  Salvation involves putting to death the man of sin (Romans 6:3-4) which means a change in our lives.

                                                iv.      We need to confess Him as the Son of God and Lord – Romans 10:9-10, cf. Acts 8:36-37.

                                                  v.      He must be baptized – Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, 22:16, 1 Peter 3:20-21, Galatians 3:27, Romans 6:3-4, etc.
NOTE: While only one passage is needed (in context) for a point to be true, because of the emphasis on “faith only”, I would quote several passages emphasizing what baptism is and what it accomplishes.  Know these passages well!  And be prepared with more should the need arise in your discussions!  More on this later.

 V.                   Repentance

a.       One of the challenges we face in studying with others is to make sure they understand what repentance is.  There is great misunderstanding about this in the religious world, and even among brethren.  The result is the tolerance and practice of error and other sins.  Therefore, special attention needs to be given to this subject.

b.       One needs to understand that true repentance involves the mind and heart of a Christian.  It is more than saying one is sorry or regret.  It is a change of mind that results in a true change of conduct.

c.        It is needed to become a Christian as seen above (Acts 2:38), and needed as a Christian when we stumble and sin (Acts 8:22).

d.       2 Corinthians 7:10-11 describes the depth of true repentance.

 VI.                 The church in God’s plan

a.       From time to time, we emphasize what the church is and what it involves.  That has been one of the derivatives of a study of Ephesians, as it addresses Christ and His church.  We intend to study the church in much greater detail in the future.

b.       It is imperative that one understand there is only one true church (Eph. 4:4, 1:22-23).  Jesus died to build His church (Matthew 16:18, Acts 20:28).  When we are saved we are added to His church (the universal body of all who are saved).  Yet scripture demonstrates there are congregations (or local churches) that must follow God’s pattern and design for her. 

c.        As one obeys the gospel they need to understand that not every church teaches the truth.  As you study scripture, you begin to learn what the church of Christ is and does.  Through study you can eliminate those that are not the one true church. 

d.       Christians ought to seek to join themselves to a body of Christians that seek to do His will.   This is done by following His word (1 Timothy 3:15, 2 Timothy 3:16-17).  The true church will teach God’s plan of salvation, worship God as He dictates (John 4:24), respect its organization and work to the boundaries we find in scripture, etc. 

e.       Before one obeys the gospel, they need to know something about the one true church.

 VII.               The need to remain faithful

a.       Finally, before one obeys the gospel, they must realize that their responsibilities do not end when they come up out of the water.  That is just the beginning.

b.       When one comes up out of the water they are a new creation, walking in “newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4).  1 Peter 2:2 describes one as babes desiring the sincere milk of the word that we may grow thereby.

c.        The Bible is clear that you must remain faithful – Revelation 2:10.   1 Corinthians 15:58 tells us that we are to be always abounding in the work of the Lord.
The epistles in general are written to churches and the Christians who comprise them. 

d.       Continually we are warned against apostasy and falling away – Galatians 5:4, 2 Peter 2:20-22, Hebrews 10:26-31, etc.

e.       It is imperative that when one obeys the gospel they understand they need to learn more.  That is why we will ALWAYS offer to continue studying with a new Christian.    As one obeys the gospel, they NEED to understand that they need this further study!  Their faithfulness depends on it.

 And thus we have an understanding of some things one needs to know as they obey the gospel.   Let us do our best to make sure one who obeys the gospel realizes the task at hand.  If we have opportunity to sit down and study with someone about their soul, keep all these things in mind as their eternity is at stake.   Think about it!