This summer, we are reading Don Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life together. With certain goals for us as individuals, we all desire to grow in grace and personal holiness. The purpose of this study is to help us make necessary adjustments in our spiritual lives that will enable us to achieve such goals by incorporating the use of spiritual disciplines.
In the previous chapters, Don Whitney has outlined the specifics of Bible reading, meditation, prayer, and worship. What exactly is taking place when we read the Bible, meditate on Scripture, and pray? These are merely component parts of worship. In this chapter, Whitney shifts gears and puts his focus upon evangelism. In the opening words of this chapter, Don Whitney writes, “Only the sheer rapture of being lost in the worship of God is as exhilarating and intoxicating as telling someone about Jesus Christ” (119).
Evangelism is Expected
As we consider the fact that evangelism is expected of us since Jesus has commissioned us to share the good news, why do so many of us fail to openly share the gospel with our contacts, friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers? The reason is typically centered on the false idea that we have to be Bible experts to share the good news. In addition to this false assumption, the fearful concept of door-to-door (stranger evangelism) evokes a negative response from most people in the church as well. Poor methods of ministry typically lead people to fear and a lack of genuine ministry – in this case – evangelism. Don Whitney labels this evangelophobia.
Don Whitney points out that while God may indeed gift the church with certain people who are exceptionally gifted in the area of evangelism, He does expect all believers to do the work of evangelism. He writes, “Just as each Christian, regardless of spiritual gift or ministry, is to love others, so each believer is to evangelize whether or not his or her gift is that of evangelist” (121).
Evangelism is Empowered
Don Whitney touches on something that’s perhaps at the raw core of the fear to evangelize unbelievers. He writes, “I’ve never heard it expressed, but I think the seriousness of evangelism is the main reason it frightens us” (123). That very well may be a point worthy of consideration. Although Christ expects us to share the gospel, the very seriousness of heaven, hell, judgment, grace, and the eternality of a person’s soul is at the center of evangelism. That alone may prevent more true evangelism.
The Holy Spirit empowers us to evangelize the lost. Just as we are empowered by the Spirit, the very message of good news is called the “power of God” unto salvation (Romans 1:16). Therefore, we must share the gospel with confidence that God will indeed bring His elect to faith through the good news of Christ. Whitney writes:
What is success in evangelism? When the person you witness to comes to Christ? Certainly that’s what we want to happen. But if we measure evangelistic success only by conversions, are we failures whenever we share the gospel and people refuse to believe? Was Jesus an “evangelistic failure” when people like the rich young ruler turned away from Him and His message (see Mark 10:21-22)? Obviously not. Then neither are we when we present Christ and His message and people turn away in unbelief (124).
Evangelism is a Discipline
Have you ever been around someone who wanted to speak the praises of their doctor who helped them through a difficult health condition or scare? They willingly recommend them and assign great words of praise to them and their ability to do their job. Why is it that so many people claim to have been saved by Christ, but they never tell anyone about Christ. According to Don Whitney, “Evangelism is a natural overflow of the Christian life” (127).
Like any other discipline, evangelism is something that must be practiced and developed through an ongoing routine of sharing our faith. Whitney writes, “Unless we discipline ourselves for evangelism, we can easily excuse ourselves from ever sharing the gospel with anyone” (130). No matter how much or how little Bible knowledge we possess, we must discipline ourselves for evangelism.
Catch up in this series:
Questions to Consider:
- Because evangelism is expected, will you obey the Lord and witness?
- Because evangelism is empowered, will you believe God can use your words in the salvation of others?
- Because evangelism is a discipline, will you plan for it?
- Do you use the law to prepare people to receive the good news of Christ? Consider using the law (use the Ten Commandments) as a means of revealing a person’s sin and then point them to Jesus Christ as their only hope (Acts 4:12).
Next Week: Next week, we will turn to chapter 7 and look at the subject of serving. Read ahead and think through the content of that chapter, and we will gather here next week to discuss what we’re learning.
Discussion: Post your comments, thoughts, and questions in the comments section. I will engage with you at times, but the purpose is to allow everyone to have a conversation regarding what we are learning and considering through this book. I do hope you will be encouraged.