Sermons & Sunday Schools

Disciplines of Grace

Disciplines of Grace: Evangelism, Part 2

In this sermon, Pastor Dave Capoccia begins talking about the “how” of evangelism from the Bible. Focusing on the first of six principles from the Bible for maximizing your effectiveness in evangelism, Pastor Dave explains what it means to 1. Evangelize Biblically.

1A. You must get the gospel message right (1 Corinthians 15:1-5)
1B. You must get the gospel response right (Mark 1:15)
1C. You must get the gospel means right (1 Corinthians 1:17-25)

Full Transcript:

Paul says he is making known again the Gospel—in Greek, euangelion, it means good news. Paul says that this Gospel that he is making known once again is the same saving good news that he had first preached to the Corinthians. It’s the same good news that they received and have continued to keep and believe. He didn’t come up with something new, this is what he told them before.

In the beginning part of verse 3, Paul gives a few further clarifications. He says that this message that he’s about to rehearse is of first importance. It’s primary. It’s the starting point. It’s fundamental. He says that he delivered or handed down to the Corinthians what he also received. In other words, Paul didn’t come up with this. It was given to him and he’s just passing it on.

From where did Paul get this? Did he get it from certain pious and creative men? Did he get it from the other apostles? No, Paul got it from Christ Himself, as he says quite explicitly in Galatians 1:12, I did not receive this from men, I receive this from God, from Christ.

This rehearsed gospel that Paul is about to declare is not a gospel, it is the Gospel. The gospel of Christ Himself, which all of the apostles preached, that the true Church believed and has believed and has held fast unto salvation. This is the gospel.

What is it? Well, the rest of verses 3 through 5 present a fundamental summary. Understand that there are some things assumed in this text as background. Some things that are to be understood from other scriptures, but this is the basic message, that both Paul preached and that you and I are to preach.

So, let’s see it. 1 Corinthians 15:3b,

Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.

Now there is a lot packed into that meaningful statement. Let me bring it out for you just a little bit. The God who created everything, including us, commanded us from the beginning to obey and worship Him alone. God commanded us to think, speak, and act perfectly just like Him, to be like Him, and to actually represent Him as image bearers before the universe. We were created as under rulers.

In doing this, we were to rely on Him to enable us to do it, to give us life, to deliver us to what is truly good. But our ancient parents, just like us today, rebelled against this good design of God. We do the same. We do not worship God alone, who is the only one worthy of worship as the Creator, as the good and perfect God, but we worship other gods. We worship ourselves and the things of this world.

We rebel therefore against God’s commands, saying we do not care to be like Him or to do what He’s told us to do. We do not have to trust Him. We want to choose for ourselves how to live, where we will find good, where we will even find life.

We, therefore, do not tell the truth like God does, at least not all of the time, but we lie. We do not love and forgive others as God does, but we hate and hurt others, especially when they hate and hurt us. We do not find contentment in God in what He has determined to give us, but we covet and lust after what is not our own. All this is what the Bible calls sin. It’s missing the mark. It’s not being like God. It is failing to be like God and disobeying what He has commanded us. This is sin.

God warned our first parents that if they rebelled and sinned that they would die. And because God is holy, faithful, and just, He had to keep His word. God punishes with death all those who sin. All who are not like perfect like He is, all those who miss the mark, will receive death as the penalty. This is not just physical death, but eternal death. The forever conscious torment in a place of darkness that the Bible calls hell.

Since we were all born sinners and because we have all sinned in our life, not just once but countless times, we have fallen short of God’s standard– God’s glory, then we are all under the sentence of death with nothing we can do to save ourselves. There’s nothing we can do now to fix what is an imperfect record. Moreover, even our attempts at offsetting our evil with good works only offends God because our good works, so-called, are only self-righteous and tainted by pride and selfishness.

There is nothing we can do; we are all under the sentence of death for sin. Yet, even after the very first sin, God promised that He would provide a Savior. A Savior for all of mankind to deliver them from death. More and more came to be written about this Savior as time went on, as the Scriptures came to be put together.

It was revealed that this Savior will be called Messiah, or Christ, two terms that just mean anointed one. It was foretold that this Christ would come and die for His people’s sins, so that they might live and be reconciled to God, made holy and clean and saved and safe before God.

You know what? This is exactly what happened! This is exactly what happened when God sent His Son Jesus into the world. Though God, the Son of God took on human flesh and He lived a perfectly righteous life, the one that you and I ought to have lived. He lived a perfectly righteous life and then He died an innocent death on a cross, which is a method of execution.

He was killed by sinful men as a substitutionary sacrifice from God. They didn’t realize they were doing this, but this is what God was accomplishing. Like an Old Testament lamb offered in place of a worshipping sinner to make that sinner accepted before God. Jesus Christ presented Himself in place of all those who believe in Him.

He died on their behalf. He, on that cross, took all of their sins. He took all of your sins if you’re in Christ. He bore them on Himself. He experienced the penalty of it. He received the suffering of it, which is eternal, but He could experience in a finite amount of time because He is God. He experienced all of that on the cross and He paid it in full.

Meanwhile, He gave His perfect record of righteousness to those who believe in Him. Like a garment, so that they might be clothed in righteousness. So that they might be made acceptable to God and freed from God’s just wrath forever.

This substitutionary death and life of the Son of God was no accident or scrambling plan B from God. This was what our good God had planned all along. It would give Him glory and He brought it to pass at the right time.

Paul and the other Apostles of the New Testament don’t just testify that it was foretold but that it actually happened. Jesus came and died for our sins according to the Scriptures. Then, in verse 4A, He was buried. This work on the cross was no trickery or sleight of hand as if Jesus only appeared to die. No, the Gospel is that Jesus actually did die. He died physically and He was physically buried in a tomb.

Then, verse 4B, and that He was raised on the third day according to the scriptures. God didn’t just foretell in the Old Testament Scriptures that His special Savior would come and die, but also that He would rise from the dead. On the third day since Jesus was placed in the tomb, He rose again. The door of the tomb was then opened so that all could verify that He wasn’t there anymore.

This resurrection is important since it proved that first Jesus’ sacrifice for sinners was accepted by God. They are clean and saved in Him. Second, it is a testimony that those who believe in Jesus will obtain the same resurrection life as displayed in Him. They will also be raised. This too was not something merely foretold. It is a fact of history that the Apostle’s witnessed and they testify about it. This was a real physical resurrection. It happened. Jesus died, but He rose again.

This was not a spiritual resurrection as some maintain. This was not a mass delusion, which is impossible. This was not a trick; this is really the dead Lord restored to life. There is no true Gospel hope without the miraculous physical resurrection of Jesus.

We know it really took place because of what verse 5 says, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Who is Cephas? Cephas is just the Aramaic form of the name Peter. Jesus didn’t just mysteriously disappear, and His disciples assumed or believed that Jesus rose from the dead.

No, Jesus actually appeared to them after He rose. He appeared to them in the flesh. They saw Him and He spoke to them. They spoke with Him. He let them touch Him to verify He is real, not some spirit or delusion. They gave Him food and He ate it; the food was gone. This is not some ghost.

He appeared to them. He spoke and explained everything to them all that had happened, showing them that it was all according to the Scriptures. And then He commissioned them to preach this gospel, this message, to the world.

In verse five it only mentioned Jesus’ closest 12 disciples, but they weren’t the only ones who saw the appearance. If you just keep reading on in verses six to eight it actually describes hundreds of people that Jesus appeared to, who all became witnesses that Jesus really did die and rise again.

This is our good news. This is the gospel. Not just for Jews, but for all people. For all of those who are under the sentence of death because of sin, which is every human being. Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures. He was buried and was raised on the third day according to the scriptures. And He appeared to His disciples who became the eyewitnesses who wrote down and passed down the message to us. This is the one true marvelous message about what God has done and we are commissioned to tell it to others.

This message requires a certain response, which is the next part of evangelizing biblically. You must get the gospel message right, but you also must get the gospel response right. In evangelism we Christians are looking for one fundamental response to the gospel. Do you know what that is? Scripture tells us in. Mark 1:15 is a good example. Mark 1:15 says, this is actually Jesus speaking,

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.

Of course, that’s not the only place. Acts 17:30-31, this is Paul preaching to Athenians at the Areopagus,

Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.

Then there is John 3:16,

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

There is only one proper response to the gospel message and it’s the one that Christ Himself commanded. It must be that you repent and believe. Or to give the noun forms, it must be repentance and faith. What do these words mean?

To repent means that you fundamentally turn. You turn 180 degrees from everything that dishonors God back to God. You want to change your mind about yourself, your sin, and God. You are no longer to want idols or sin; you want Jesus and obedience. You no longer want your own way; you want God’s way. You no longer try to satisfy God’s standard on your own, you can never be perfect, so you turn to what God has provided.

Repent and believe are two terms for the same reality, they just emphasize different parts. Repent is your turning away from something and belief is what you’re turning to. When you believe, you fundamentally believe the Bible’s gospel message as true, and you take it for yourself. More specifically, you believe that you are a sinner just like God says you are, and you deserve what God says you deserve for your sin. “Yes, I am worthy of hell, God. I have disobeyed You continually in my life.”

You believe that Christ really is the Son of God; He did die, rise again, and appeared to His disciples. You believe that by trusting in Him alone and what He accomplished, your sins are totally paid for, and you have the righteousness of Christ Himself to free you from death and to reconcile you to God once for all. You also believe that you now want to pursue your Lord, your Savior Jesus Christ, as His devoted disciple.

You must repent and believe. That’s what we’re looking for when we give the gospel. The Bible promises that all those who repent and believe in Jesus in this way have eternal life. They have the life of God Himself, now and forever, with the Holy Spirit given to them as a down payment. The Spirit of God Himself comes to dwell inside that person.

Where do repentance and belief take place for a person? They take place in the heart. They take place in your mind. They take place in your inner person. Yes, repentance and faith will manifest themselves on the outside if they are real. If a true internal change has taken place, it will manifest on the outside.

For example, a verbal profession of faith says I believe. And in, for example, a prayer to God is asking God for forgiveness, expressing trust in Christ, and expressing commitment to God. Also, in baptism by immersion, you will express a public commitment to Christ and His church. Also, in a new righteous pattern of behavior, you start to do what God commands, you start to live in a holy way empowered by the Holy Spirit.

These things do accompany real repentance and faith, but these external changes, though they should and do accompany repentance and faith, they are not in themselves repentance and faith. They are not what brings about salvation. They are just the fruit on the tree, not the root.

This is important to understand. The Biblical gospel, the one true gospel, does not provide a work, ritual, or prayer to save a person. It’s all about the heart. Do you believe this good news? Do you therefore repent of your old way to follow Christ? How a person responds verbally should reflect what’s in the heart. Some people can say something verbally that’s not true in the heart or some people can say nothing verbally when a heart change has taken place. It’s about what goes on in the heart.

This is what we’re looking for in our evangelism. This is what we’re calling people to in our evangelism. We’re looking to give one fundamental message and I am looking for one fundamental response. Repentance and faith in the heart. We must zealously guard these fundamentals of biblical evangelism because there will always be a push, even within the church, to win more people or to make the message of Jesus less offensive. To change these fundamentals of the gospel or to offer what really is a different gospel.

This was even happening in the New Testament times right after the Church was born. The Apostle Paul had some choice words in Galatians 1:6-9 about those who would seek to pervert the true and only saving gospel. I won’t read that to you, but just to paraphrase, Paul says that anyone preaching a gospel that is not the biblical gospel, even if that person is an Apostle, or looks and acts like an angel, that person, Paul says, should be considered accursed. Anathema, devoted to God for destruction.

There are sadly many false gospels preached in the name of Christ today, but we must repudiate them all. We do not preach the prosperity gospel, that Christ came as the great genie to make you rich, healthy, and successful on the earth. We do not preach the therapeutic gospel that Christ came as the great psychologist to enable you to reach self-fulfillment and self-esteem. We do not preach the gospel of works, that Christ came as the great law giver that you can keep his rule and earn your way to salvation.

We do not preach the gospel of social justice, that Christ came as the great liberator, so that you can be freed from all earthly oppression. We do not preach the gospel of easy-believeism that Christ came as your great buddy, so that you can be saved without turning from your sin. And we do not preach the gospel of universalism that Christ came as the great accommodator to save all those who are really sincere in whatever they believe.

These are not the Biblical Gospel. These are lies. They come from the demons. They come from the pit of hell. They have taken true aspects of what is the real Gospel and they’ve twisted them. We must say, with Paul, that whoever comes preaching these fake Gospel, let them be accursed. Let them be given over to God for destruction because those who believe such false gospels will be devoted to destruction as well. Why such a severe condemnation on those persons? Because they are leading others to destruction while pretending that they are leading them to life.

If we are to be faithful ambassadors, we dare not mess with the gospel. We must preach Christ’s gospel, the apostolic gospel, the gospel of the Bible. We must call for the proper response to that gospel.

What basic means does God give in the Bible for spreading the gospel and making disciples? In one sense, the answer to that question should be obvious because I’ve been saying it already. You can’t even talk about the gospel without mentioning the proper means if you’re talking biblically.

Point 1C, you must get the gospel means right. You get the gospel message right, get the gospel response right, get the gospel means right. When I say means, I am talking about how we do this. How do you give God’s gospel to people? The answer: you preach it. This is to say, you use words to proclaim and explain the gospel message from the Bible. You use words to proclaim and explain the gospel message from the Bible. That’s how you give the gospel.

To see this clearly, turn over to 1 Corinthians 1:17-25. We are back in the book of Corinthians. This is pew Bible page 1140, by the way.

What’s the context here? Paul is confronting the Corinthians about another issue. This one was much more serious. There were divisions taking place in the church about who was each person’s favorite teacher.

These divisions didn’t have to do with who was a more faithful teacher, or who was more earnest in his preaching, but this was all about who was more intellectually flashy. Who was more philosophically astute? Who seemed more impressive according to the rhetorical techniques and styles popular during that day? Who preached with more demonstrable human wisdom and clever speech? They were dividing over this.

Paul confronts the Corinthians over this issue a number of ways, but one of the ways he does so is by drawing them to think about how people are saved in the first place. How people come to be reconciled with God in the first place. Look at what 1 Corinthians 1:17-25 says,

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void.

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,


Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling blocks and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

So often people end up altering or adding to the Bible’s gospel because they conclude this gospel is not wise enough or strong enough to persuade anyone. No one is going to believe this. We’re only going to offend them, so let’s make it more philosophical. Let’s give it some pizzazz. Let’s bring in some popular ideas from the culture. Let’s not mention certain things that people don’t like. Let’s major on what they do like. In fact, let’s not preach, that’s such an outdated concept, let’s dialogue. Let’s do theatrical productions and concerts. Let’s show people acceptance and just love them into the kingdom.

All of this contradicts what Paul teaches right here, especially in verse 21. These alterations and substitutions according to human wisdom will not prove effective in saving anyone. Rather, verse 21 says, God was well pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

The way God has chosen to save sinners is by His people declaring the gospel message from Scripture and then calling on the listeners to repent and believe. That is the way God has chosen to save people. By the way, that really is what preaching is.

I know we often think about preaching as something special that only the pastors or the elders do in church on Sunday mornings. Now, that is preaching, but that’s not the only form of preaching. To preach, the Greek word Kerusso, means to announce or proclaim. That’s just what an ambassador does, right? He gets a message from his government, and he delivers it to the intended recipient and then he calls for a response. Kind of like the Roman Ambassador we were talking about in the beginning.

This is what God has called on all believers to do with His gospel. Not just the pastors and elders, all believers. You are all, we are all, preachers. We are all proclaimers. We are all announcers. We’re to do this with the people we meet in the world. That’s pretty straightforward, isn’t it? Just proclaim and announce the message that God gave you and call for a proper response.

That’s straightforward. That’s simple. And that should be liberating because you don’t need to come up with some snazzy technique, some extra message to get people to follow Christ. Just do what God told you to do. Proclaim his gospel call for a proper response.

This can be in a simple conversation with another person. This can be in a public address, such as what I’m doing right now. This can be in a written form, like in a letter, blog post, or email. However you do this, evangelize biblically. You’ll need to use words to declare to others the gospel message and call for a proper response.

Perhaps you’re still thinking, but come on, I just don’t see how this is going to work. How will anyone believe and response to such a simple proclamation? Let’s look again at this text. This is actually how God gets all of the glory. Verse 18 says,

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Or look down to verses 23 and 24 again,

but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling blocks and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

Are you seeing this? The reason why simple gospel proclamations are effective to save is because God makes it effective. For those that He has called, His chosen, His elect, He uses this so-called foolish word to be powerful to strike them as the very power and wisdom of God. After all, this gospel, this Word of the gospel, is no ordinary Word. It is the Word of God Himself.

It is a supernatural Word, and we know in other contexts what the Word of God is able to do. It was the Word of God that created the world, even as we’re talking about in Sunday School. It was the Word of God that gave life and breath to the first human, and it is the Word of the gospel. It is God’s Word that is able to breathe new spiritual life into those God has chosen.

You know Hebrews 4:12, which famously says,

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

This word, even the gospel, that Jesus gave us is a living word that reveals God and confronts you. It pierces you with its truthfulness like a sword does, so that if God is working you, if God is opening your eyes, you cannot help but acknowledge it for what it is. You cannot help but repent and believe.

You see, the Holy Spirit has to work inside you for all of this to happen. Otherwise, when you hear the message, well yeah, it’s just foolishness. It doesn’t strike you as anything special, or something you need to believe. In fact, it may only strike you as a menacing aroma of death from which you just want to get away. That’s how Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 2:16, those who are not called, it’s just the aroma of death to death.

The Spirit has to give you life. The Holy Spirit has to open your eyes to understand and to turn, which is why Titus 3:5 says what it does. Titus 3:5,

He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.

Regeneration means to be made alive again. To be saved, you must be born again, made alive again. You must be regenerated by the Holy Spirit. Without that you will never be saved; you will never repent and believe. The Holy Spirit must work and give you new life. God is pleased to marry this new birth by the Holy Spirit with the preaching of the gospel, a simple proclamation of God’s word. He brings them together and says, this is how people will be saved. This is how they will come alive and follow Me.

To say that another way, when you rely on simple gospel preaching to save souls rather than your own power or cleverness then you give God free reign to do what only He can do. That is to give life to the dead.

This is what we see in the scriptures. Let me say this before I give you some examples, we should note that man’s greatest wisdom, his greatest technique, never got anyone into the kingdom of God. Maybe you got some verbal professions of faith, but no one got into the kingdom of God through you.

Luke 18:27 says, but what is impossible with man is possible with God. God has to do it and we can see examples of God doing exactly this in the Bible. Lydia is a good example in Acts 16:14. Paul goes out to this stream outside a certain town. There’s some Jews and God-fearers gathered there. He preaches the gospel here. Listen to what Acts 16:14 says,

A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshipper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened he heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.

Do you see how those things went together again? God was doing the work inside her, but Paul was preaching the gospel. God was pleased that this would be the moment she’s alive and she believes.

This was also Paul’s testimony about the Thessalonian believers. 1 Thessalonians 2:13, Paul says this,

For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.

This is a working word. This is a supernatural word that the Spirit uses to make someone alive. Do you see why it was so foolish for the Corinthians to focus on these non-essential preaching styles, rhetorical flourish, and think that’s where the power is? There’s no power in that. You also see why it’s foolish for any of us, any Christian today, to come up with a way to win people to Christ besides simply declaring His word.

Gospel preaching is the only means that God has ordained to save souls. Nothing else will work. If you try, it’s like exchanging God’s sharp, supernatural sword for a plastic butter knife.

By the way, this is true in sanctification as well. That’s why we preach expository preaching in this church. We trust the Word of God to supernaturally change and transform us rather than man’s wisdom. It’s the same in counseling and in evangelism. You go to the Word, you use His Word, you use His gospel. You just simply proclaim it.

In your discipline of evangelism, you must preach the gospel. You cannot simply do Christian art as your form of evangelism. Nothing wrong with Christian art, but that’s not what you’ve been called to do. You cannot simply do good works in front of people, or to people, as if that were your evangelism. Works are an important assistant to evangelism but they’re not evangelism.

Ultimately, you must speak. You must proclaim. You must call on people to respond to the one trust message of Christ with the repentance and faith. You want to use something as a little springboard to that? That’s fine, but you have to speak, you have to preach.

I do want to add a little clarifier. When the Bible teaches that we are to rely on simple gospel declaration in our evangelism, that doesn’t mean that we do not also try to explain the Bible, or reason from the Bible to persuade people to repent and believe. After all, this is exactly what we see the Apostle Paul doing.

To go back to 2 Corinthians 5:20, remember this statement from Paul,

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

This is an appeal. This is pleading. This is begging. Or consider what we see Paul doing according to the record of the book of Acts. Again and again in the book we see Paul doing the same things. Acts 17:2-3 is one example. It says,

And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.”

You see, brethren, gospel proclamation is not anti-intellectual. It’s not as if in evangelism you are speaking magic words over people that will cause them to believe whether they comprehend or not. No, you don’t just speak words at people. You are speaking words to people trying to help them understand. You’re not relying on rhetorical techniques or cleverness to bring people to faith, yet you are aware that it’s not simply the declared Word, but it is the explained Word that the Spirit uses to give life.

This point of clarification makes me think of another account from the book of Acts. Do you remember that time when Philip is told by the Sprit to go into the desert and rendezvous with this Ethiopian eunuch who’s riding along in his chariot. Well, Philip ends up running alongside that chariot and he notices this foreign dignitary reading from the book of Isaiah. Listen to what unfolds. This is Acts 8:30-31.

Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

This leads to a wonderful question from the eunuch in his conversation with Philip about whether this passage, and he’s reading Isaiah 53, is about Isaiah himself or someone else. Acts 8:35 then says,

Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him.

Do you see what happened? In response to the eunuch’s question, Philip explained the gospel of Christ from the Bible in a way that the eunuch could understand. What was the result? The eunuch believed and was baptized. He was saved. He was made alive by the Spirit. The Spirit used the preached Word proclaimed and explained to save this man’s soul.

Brethren, that is instructive for us. This shows us that we cannot simply quote scripture to people without explanation or use words that they don’t understand.

If we just go back to how I started today’s message in 1 Corinthians 15:3. For someone who doesn’t have a background in the Bible, that verse probably doesn’t have that much significance to them. Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures. Who is Christ? What is a Christ? What are sins? What do these scriptures say about Christ and sins?

In your evangelism, you need to take account of what your listener knows and understands, so that you know what’s going to need more explanation as you proclaim to him the gospel. Otherwise, you may think you are declaring the gospel clearly and well, relying on the power of the Spirit, when in reality, your listener has no idea what you’re talking about. That’s not simply because of the hardness of heart and sin. No, it’s because you’re using words that he doesn’t understand.

I remember hearing a story one time in seminary about some missionary monks during the medieval period. Believing in the power of God to save, they journeyed to a certain tribe of German barbarians and gave them the gospel. The problem was that these monks didn’t speak German. They gave the gospel to the Germans in their own language, in the language that they spoke. Can you guess the result? The tribesmen didn’t understand and therefore didn’t believe. Eventually, these monks ended up getting attacked by the tribesmen because the tribesmen thought the monks were up to no good.

We don’t want to fall into the same kind of mistake as these naïve medieval monks. It is right that we declare the one true gospel of God’s Word, even by quoting the Bible, but let us not merely speak the Bible but explain it. Don’t just speak Christianese to people.

Terms and meanings that are obvious to you might not be obvious to others or they might come from a religious background that defines those terms differently. You’re talking about grace and faith, they are talking about grace and faith, but they don’t mean the same thing that you do. You have to take stock of that.

Don’t just put John 3:16 on a billboard or a sweatshirt and call that your evangelism. That’s just the starting of a gospel conversation. That is not a replacement for a gospel conversation.

When it comes to the evangelism, we need to start with the most important principle. We must evangelize biblically. You must, and we must, speak the biblical gospel message. We must call people to respond appropriately to that gospel message with repentance and faith. We must use the only fundamental means that God has ordained to save sinners with this gospel. That is to preach it, to proclaim, and explain it from the Word of God.

When you do all of this, you do not know exactly how God is going to work in a particular person or how they are going to respond, but you do know that this is how God saves people. The person you’re talking to might respond in repentance and faith, if not now then later. However that person responds, you can also know that you are being a faithful ambassador for Christ, and that’s the truly important thing.

As many have said, the true mark of Christian success is not results, but faithfulness. Are you being a faithful ambassador by evangelizing biblically?

That was just the first principle. As I said, next week we’ll attempt, I think there’s a good chance, to do all of the other five principles for maximizing your effectiveness in evangelism.

As we close, I ask that you ask yourself two questions before the Lord. First, do I believe the biblical gospel? Second, do I preach the biblical gospel?

Let’s pray. Lord Jesus, Your gospel is glorious. Oh Lord, it reveals from beginning to end that salvation is all of the Lord. You have to do it all, God. We rebelled, we became slaves to sin, we did not want Your salvation, we could not even comprehend Your salvation without the regenerating intervention of the Spirit. You have to do everything. But because You do everything, that’s why You get all of the glory. It is indeed Your mercy, it is Your tender mercy, that has worked to bring us to salvation. You chose us from before the foundation of the world. You worked in us by Your Spirit. You brought faithful gospel declarers to us. You spoke Your Word to us through those people and You made us alive by the work of the Spirit and by the preaching of Your Word.

It didn’t just stop there. You’re continuing to work in us, God. Even our sanctification as we apply the hard effort, as we apply the responsible rigor that is a discipline of grace, we recognize where the power and change come from. It comes from You. You’re the one who’s doing it. You’re the one who’s making us more like Christ. You’re the one who’s enabling us to give the gospel and to even see other souls saved. It’s all of You. Your power, Your wisdom, Your wonder. Lord Jesus Christ, Father, Son, Holy Spirit, let Your name be praised. Let You have all of the glory, even as we look to apply this word today. God, we want to direct all honor and praise to You. You have done it all, we are just glad to be part of the process.

Help us to truly put this word into practice. We know our responsibility and calling from You. We also trust that when we proceed in faith, You will enable us to do it, because You keep Your promises. We will hold You to that, God. Forgive us for where we have strayed from the true gospel and true proclamation of it. Lord, we come back now in repentance, God, and in faith of what You will accomplish through us. Be glorified Lord God. In Jesus’ name, amen.