Monday, May 21, 2018

10 Things An Evangelist Is Not


Ten Things An Evangelist Is Not

You've probably heard the term Evangelist before.

Most people have. The term most likely brings something to mind. Sometimes positive. Often negative.

Does your idea match what other people think of when they hear the term evangelist?

More importantly, do any of these ideas match what the Bible tells us an evangelist is?

The truth is that most of the popular ideas about what an evangelist is and does are based on the culture, not the Bible.

This is a problem.

The cultural idea of an evangelist is so popular that it is beginning to be used by companies. If you go to popular job sites and put the term evangelist into the search bar you will find many non-church jobs looking for evangelists. Many of these positions include the duties of spreading knowledge about a particular company, product, service, or idea.

The Bible tells us that Jesus gave some Evangelists for His church.

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11)
The pastors tend to get the most attention in our modern church culture. It's hard to think about a local church without a pastor. Other members of the list can cause some controversy. Depending on your circles and denominational influences, you may have strong opinions about those positions in the church.

But this post is about the evangelists. More importantly, it's about what evangelists are not.


I've done a lot of research on evangelists. I've talked with church leaders. Read a bunch of articles, books, and commentaries. I even wrote a book of my own about evangelists.

In doing that research I encountered ten primary ideas that are commonly held about evangelists. When each of these ideas are examined in light of Scripture, they are all exposed as contrary to the biblical role.

The 10 Common, But Incorrect, Ideas


Here's the list:

  1. The Church Is The Evangelist
  2. Evangelists Are The Office of the Gospel Writers
  3. Evangelists Are Travelling Preachers of The Word
  4. Evangelists Are Those Gifted With the Spiritual Gift of Evangelism
  5. Evangelists Minister Primarily to the Lost
  6. Evangelists Were Apostolic Delegates
  7. Evangelists Are Church Planters or Missionaries
  8. The Pastor Does The Work of an Evangelist
  9. Evangelists Cannot Be Distinguished From Other Leaders
  10. Evangelists Are Officers With No Defined Office

The Bible Gives Us Enough Information To Avoid These Mistaken Ideas

There are three passages in the Bible that speak directly about evangelists. These passages are Ephesians 4:11-16, Acts 21:8, and 2 Timothy 4:5.

That's it.

It may seem that such meager biblical evidence would cause problems in defining the role, purpose, ministry, and character of evangelists. The opposite is true.

If we pay careful attention to these passages (and their context) we have a true wealth of information. We can then allow the biblical data to renew and transform our minds, instead of simply allowing ourselves to be conformed to the cultural views.

So How Do These 3 Passages Refute The Commonly Held Incorrect Views?

The biblical refutation is actually short and swift for most of them.

The real question is: Are we willing to change our minds if we are shown to be in error?

I hope so. If you find me to be in error, I hope you'll let me know in the comments. Be sure to explain how the biblical data better fits with your position. Please and thank you.

1. The Church, The Whole Church, and Nothing But The Church

The first inadequate view is one I have a lot of appreciation for. The sentiment is on the right track. It just needs minor modification.

This is the view that the whole church is the evangelist.

The idea is that the whole church, every member, exists to proclaim the glory of God.

The problem with this view is not the aim. It's the terminology.

Yes, the whole church exists for the glory of God. That is our purpose. This is made explicitly clear in Ephesians 1:12. Paul writes that God has made known His plan in Christ, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1:12). The existence of Christians, our very being, is for the praise of His glory.

But does that mean that the whole church is an evangelist?

It does not.

If we allow the Bible to define its own terms (which we should), then the Bible tells us in all three of the passages that evangelists are individuals, not fellowships. The work of an evangelist is the work of a person, not a congregation.

Acts 21:8 tells us, On the next day we left and came to Caesarea, and entering the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, we stayed with him (Acts 21:8, bold added).

In Caesarea, Philip was the evangelist. Specific. Singular. The phrase that comes after - "one of the seven" - speaks about his former ministry as a deacon when he was still in Jerusalem (Acts 6). The church in Caesarea had an evangelist. His name was Philip.

Likewise, Paul instructed Timothy (who was in Ephesus at the time), But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry (2 Timothy 4:5, bold added). Paul is writing to an individual. The "you" at the beginning of the verse is you singular. Paul is not telling Timothy that he has to do the work of the whole church. That would be quite a burden!

Finally, Paul wrote about Christ's gift to His church in Ephesians 4:11, And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11, bold added). Christ gave some as evangelists. Not all.

No matter how commendable the sentiment, this view is contrary to all of the biblical data.

It would be better terminology to say that the whole church exists as an ambassador for Christ, or a witness for Christ. Not an evangelist. This biblical term means something different. More specific.

2. Gospel Writers


At some point in history, the term evangelist definitely expanded to include the writers of our canonical gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). If you read commentaries and other research helps you will almost certainly come across this more than once.

Our interest is not in what the term has come to mean. We are primarily interested in what the biblical definition is.

If you ignore the modern notions of what an evangelist is you will open yourself to misunderstanding. That would be bad.

However, if we misunderstand the biblical meaning then we open ourselves to improper leadership in the church. We open ourselves to missing out on a gift given by Jesus Himself. That's worse.


You can find many well-respected authors and commentators who refer to the Gospel writers as the evangelists. No dispute there.

But let's once again consider the biblical testimony.

Acts 21:8 tells us Philip was the evangelist in Caesarea.

Did Philip write one of our Gospels? No. He did not.


Paul instructed Timothy to do the work of an evangelist in 2 Timothy 4:5.

Did Timothy write one our Gospels? Nope. He sure didn't.


Therefore, no matter how many scholars use the term evangelist this way, we must admit that the Bible does not. Accordingly, this view is inadequate and should be discarded.

3. Travelling Preachers


This view is one of the most common. But majority opinion isn't always correct.

There have been many wonderful travelling preachers throughout the history of the church. There are many wonderful ministries of this type today. Often, these ministries label themselves as evangelists.

When critiquing this view I want to be clear: I am not critiquing travelling preachers in general.

The disagreement is with the terminology, not the model.

The Bible tells us that travelling teachers are a valid biblical ministry. Good travelling teachers are worthy of your support.
You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support such men, so that we may be fellow workers with the truth. (3 John 1:6-8)

But are these travelling teachers rightly called evangelists?


The Bible never does.

When we first met Philip, he was in Jerusalem (Acts 6:5). As a result of the persecution that started after Stephen's death (Acts 7), everyone but the Apostles were scattered into Judea and Samaria (Acts 8:1).

We get to see some of Philip's experiences on his way to Caesarea in Acts 8. A final summation is given after he preaches to the Ethiopian eunuch: But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he kept preaching the gospel to all the cities until he came to Caesarea (Acts 8:40, bold added).

Philip is not doing anything special during this time. Acts 8:4 says, Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word. Philip, like the rest of the church, is fleeing persecution and acting as a witness and ambassador along the way.

He continues doing so until he came to Caesarea. We don't hear anything about Philip again until Saul and his team arrive in Caesarea about twenty years later. This is what we saw in Acts 21:8 because Paul and his companions stayed with Philip in his house.

We must be clear that nothing in the text tells us that Philip did or did not travel again.

Based on what the text does say, we know that Philip was in Jerusalem. He scattered when the persecution began. He preached all the way on his way to Caesarea. And that's where we find him twenty years later.

Perhaps most interesting is that the text doesn't call Philip an evangelist while he is travelling. It saves this term for when we find him settled in his house exercising hospitality to the travelling workers.

Most travelling "Evangelists" require hospitality from others. Here Philip the evangelist opens his home to the travelling workers!

The typical modern idea is reversed. Instead of needing hospitality, Philip shows hospitality. Instead of relying on someone to give the evangelist temporary housing during his travels, we see the evangelist providing housing for those who are travelling.

If this was the only passage, it wouldn't be enough. Taken together with 2 Timothy 4:5 the case becomes stronger.

Paul instructed Timothy to do the work of an evangelist in Ephesus. Paul left Timothy in Ephesus to help correct some problems there.
As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines (1 Timothy 1:3, bold added)

How could Timothy remain at Ephesus to do his work if he was supposed to travel to other areas and preach?

Paul's instructions to Timothy assumes a stationary post. This was not itinerant work.

When viewed together, these biblical examples show us that the travelling ministries of many brothers and sisters in Christ are not accurately termed "evangelists." Travelling teachers are an important part of Christian work. But they are not what the Bible describes as evangelists.


4. The Spiritual Gift of Evangelism?

Many people assert that evangelism is a spiritual gift. I've taught that myself in the past. Spiritual gift tests often include evangelism.

But is this assertion valid?

The burden of proof is upon those claiming evangelism is a spiritual gift to support their claim biblically.

You'll see verses listed. But if you read the verses carefully, you'll never find "evangelism" listed as a spiritual gift.

Many commentators assert that Ephesians 4:11 says evangelism is a spiritual gift.

But read it again. No, it doesn't.


Ephesians 4:11 lists evangelists, not evangelism. You can't equate the two. They are different words!

Some commentators insist that the persons listed in Ephesians 4:11 are spiritually gifted with the corresponding gifts.

Apostles have the gift of apostleship.

Prophets have the gift of prophecy.

Evangelists have the gift of evangelism.

Pastors have the gift of shepherding.

Teachers have the gift of teaching.

The problem with this assertion is that it rests on the authority of the interpreter. It may sound right, but does the Bible actually say this?

You can read some of the most straightforward lists of spiritual gifts in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12. You'll find gifts of leadership, prophecy, and teaching.

But you won't find evangelism.

It's not there.

Experience will show us that some people like talking about Jesus more than others. No doubt.

Experience teaches us that some people lead more people to Christ than others do. No argument here.

Experience proves that some people are bolder, clearer, and better suited to proclaim the gospel publicly than others. Absolutely.

But none of these things indicate that the Bible teaches any such thing as a spiritual gift of evangelism. We must be careful when we begin using our experiences and opinions to define things that the Bible doesn't explicitly teach. We can get ourselves in trouble really fast if we don't proceed with caution.

Caution should be exercised any time we are making assertions that have no biblical text that teaches our position clearly. Yes, it is possible to interpret that evangelists have the gift of evangelism. But is this the best interpretation?

Ephesians 4:12 continues to describe the purpose of these gifted individuals that Christ has given: for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12). If their task is equipping the saints, then it seems the spiritual gifts of leadership and teaching would be adequate. These gifts are explicitly mentioned in scripture as genuine gifts.

When we have opportunity to choose between interpretations that are speculative or rest simply on the assertions of scholars and commentators OR that rest on explicit teaching in the Scriptures which do you think you should choose?

I am content to go with what I know the Bible teaches for sure instead of wading out into what seems right to me based on my own speculation or the speculations of others.

The burden of proof remains upon those who want to include evangelism as a valid spiritual gift to produce one biblical text that teaches this. Every passage that can be pointed to relies upon equivocation of terms and/or relying upon assumptions of the interpreter.

This isn't good enough. As a result, this view should also be discarded.

5. Ministers To The Lost?

Almost everyone would agree that the evangelists primary ministry revolves around the conversion of the lost.

Almost everyone is wrong.

That's bold. I know.


The Bible teaches that the primary ministry of evangelists is actually the opposite. Look again at why Christ gave some as evangelists.
And He gave ... some as evangelists … for the equipping of the saints for the work of service... (Ephesians 4:11-12, bold added)

Jesus gave the evangelists (along with the other leaders) to equip the saints for the work of service. An equipped body will then build up the Body of Christ (which is how the verse continues).

An equipped body will continue to build up the Body of Christ: until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13).

We are given a purpose. A direction. And an end goal.

Evangelists, with the other leaders given by Christ, are given to equip the saints.

Redirecting the focus of evangelists away from the saints is a mistake.

An equipped body of Christ will be better suited to reach the lost than individuals could ever do. Evangelists are given to help equip the saints to be effective in their individual and collective ministry to the lost.

Any definition of evangelists that redirects their primary task away from the saints should be rejected.

6. Were Evangelists Delegates of the Apostles?


This view was predominant during the Reformation.

Many who hold this view believe that the evangelists died out with the apostles. If there are no apostles, they can't send delegates. Therefore, when the last of the apostles died the office and ministry of evangelists died with them.

It is indisputable that the apostles sent delegates for certain tasks. Men like Timothy, Titus, and Crescens (e.g., 2 Timothy 4:10) were given responsibilities and oversight positions directly from the apostles.

In these cases the responsibilities, duties, and oversight of the delegates were temporary.



The authority entrusted to these men seemed to be on par with the apostles own authority. It extended beyond the normal local church authority.

The problem with this view is not centered on the fact that apostolic delegates existed. This cannot be disputed.

The problem comes from calling these delegates evangelists.

The Bible never does. Why should we?



I've read commentators who assert that Timothy was an evangelist. I've read others that insist he was the pastor. This is why the letters written to him are considered pastoral epistles.

I tend to agree with the commentators that view Timothy as neither a pastor nor an evangelist, but as an apostolic delegate. Timothy's role was temporary in his assignments. He did what Paul tasked him with. When he was done he was either available to join up with Paul again or be sent elsewhere.

Part of Timothy's responsibilities in Ephesus was to do the work of an evangelist (2 Timothy 4:5). This doesn't mean that Timothy was an evangelist. Contrastingly, he was explicitly being told to do the work of an evangelist at this time and in this context.

If Timothy was an evangelist he would be doing the work of an evangelist always and everywhere.



If we rely on what the Bible tells us, instead of on what commentators assert, then there is only one man who is labeled as an evangelist. Philip in Acts 21:8.

Since we know for sure that Philip was an evangelist, we can then ask the question: Was Philip an apostolic delegate?

The answer to this question is, No.

Since the one person we know for sure who was an evangelist is not recorded as being a delegate of an apostle (like Timothy, Titus, and Crescens were), then we ought to reject the view that Evangelists were delegates of the apostles.



7. Church Planters and Missionaries


Another of the most common views is that evangelists are essentially church planters and/or missionaries.

Like with the office of Gospel Writers, the term evangelist undoubtedly took on this connotation. But is this what the biblical term means?



The answer is no. It's not how the Bible describes evangelists.

Let's remember Timothy's role in Ephesus. He was urged to remain there to help the church work out some issues. As Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy, the young apostolic delegate had been ministering to the believers in Ephesus.

Paul urged Timothy to do the work of an evangelist. While Timothy was in Ephesus. Where the church had already been planted.



Whatever duties Paul had in mind for Timothy, he was not telling him to plant a church in Ephesus. He was not telling Timothy to go to a place where Christ had not already been preached as a missionary.

Despite its popularity, biblically speaking it is impossible that the work of an evangelist meant planting churches or preaching Christ as a missionary. No doubt church planting and missionary work are important tasks.

They just aren't the tasks of biblical evangelists.

8. Pastors Do The Work of An Evangelist?


If we think Timothy was the pastor of Ephesus, then this view follows fairly naturally. Paul directly told Pastor Timothy, "Do the work of an evangelist!"

But let's stop and think about this for just a minute. This view, if correct, contradicts itself. So, it's wrong even if it's right!

In order to accept this view we must equivocate on our terms. We must blend together things that do not naturally blend. We must admit that unnecessary words are being used and thrown around which only add confusion.

If the work of a pastor is to do the work of an evangelist, then why tell a pastor to do the work of an evangelist? Why not just tell them to do the work of a pastor?



If part of the calling of pastors is to do the work of an evangelist on an on-going basis, then why did Christ give some as evangelists and some as pastors?

If the pastors are supposed to be doing the work of the evangelists, then what are the evangelists supposed to be doing?



The results of this view are absurd.

I am a pastor. I understand the burdens, blessings, joys, and struggles of the work of a pastor. We do not need an extra burden upon us that is not ours to bear.

What we need is for pastors to do the work of pastors and for evangelists to do the work of evangelists. In doing so, the church will be properly equipped and built up to the glory of God.

This view, too, should be rejected as inadequate when examined biblically.

9. Evangelists Cannot Be Distinguished From Other Officers

When we read the basic job description of all the leaders listed in Ephesians 4:11, we must admit that it is kind of vague.

Equip the saints.

Got it.

Since the basic job description doesn't explain how each of these categories of leaders (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor/teachers) contributes to the equipping of the saints, some conclude that their roles are blurry. Indistinguishable. Perhaps even interchangeable.

Based on the vagueness of the description of duties, they propose a general or vague leadership approach. Perhaps the duties and responsibilities overlap. Leadership in a general sense is given and these leaders do what's necessary.

Makes sense. Seems possible.

However, if we take a step back and think about the context this view becomes harder to maintain. It can be agreed upon that the duties and responsibilities of these leaders may be vague to us.

However, they don't seem vague to Paul, Timothy, or the saints in Ephesus who wrote and received these instructions.


Paul could write to Timothy that he should do the work of an evangelist and expect that Timothy understood what he meant. Paul didn't have to specify the details because Timothy had an understanding of what Paul was telling him to do already.

Likewise, the saints in Ephesus knew the difference between the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Paul didn't have to define these roles. The saints in Ephesus were familiar with them already.

Our problem comes because we've drifted from the apostolic foundation. We've allowed cultural ideas to influence the biblical roles. Now, when we look back we have some trouble distinguishing the roles and figuring out how to separate and define them.

Hopefully we can agree that even if the distinctions are vague or elusive to us, that doesn't mean they cannot be defined and distinguished.


The conclusion is that these officers can be distinguished. They have different titles. They have different responsibilities. Attempting to define these in full detail is well beyond the purpose of this post. For now, we may simply conclude that the idea that evangelists cannot be distinguished from the other officers is inadequate and should be rejected.

10. Evangelists Are Officers Without An Office?

In practice, almost everyone holds to this view. Whatever view is taken about evangelists, the one thing that seems to be consistent across the board is that evangelists operate outside of the local church in the "parachurch."

Evangelists may be brought in for ministry by pastors. They may be relied upon by officers of the local church and supported by the church. But they are not recognized as regular, permanent leaders in a local body.

What is most interesting to me about this view is that most people who discuss leaders in the church have something to say about the apostles. They have a view on the prophets. They are passionate and descriptive about pastors and teachers.

Evangelists are seemingly forgotten. Take 'em or leave 'em. Maybe they are useful from time to time. Other times, the work of the local church is not affected positively, negatively, or even neutrally by the ministry of the evangelists floating about out there in the world.

How do we justify giving an office to everyone else in Ephesians 4:11 and neglecting the evangelists?


How is it that we study church leadership and install pastors in nearly every local church but have no consideration for evangelists? How do we elevate the office of pastor to necessary for the local church and relegate evangelists to optional? Where is the justification for these interpretive decisions?

We have leaders listed in the same context. For the same purpose. Leaders whose roles and importance are then treated completely differently.

I'm calling foul.


There is interpretation bias affecting our conclusions.

The conclusions we reach influence the leadership we submit to. The leadership we submit to influences the direction of our ministries. This stuff is important. We have to talk about it.

If you read the book of Ephesians in its entirety (and you should), you'll see that the Apostle Paul states that the apostles and prophets are foundational (with Jesus Christ Himself) to all church ministry (Ephesians 2:19-22). This means that the ministries of Jesus, the apostles, and the prophets are trans-local, or universal, in their influence.

Every church must be built on the same foundation. Regardless of location, denomination, affiliation, persuasion, or whatever else, every church is under the headship of Christ.


Christ gave the apostles and prophets for the purpose of revealing His divine will for His people. In all places. Everywhere.

As an apostle, Paul received revelation directly from God to describe the leaders given to properly equip and shepherd the Body of Christ. This included evangelists and pastor/teachers at the local level. For equipping the saints. Until we are all built up and attain the fullness of Christ.

All throughout Scripture we see two main tasks in the church. The internal mission and the external mission. Both built upon the timeless, unchanging foundation.

Why wouldn't Christ give an overseer to both major tasks? Why wouldn't Jesus provide overseers for the external as well as the internal? Why would Jesus provide any gaps that may allow one or the other mission to be neglected or placed on the back-burner?


The answer is He wouldn't. And He didn't.

Jesus gave evangelists and pastor/teachers as part of the permanent, on-going oversight of the local church.

To kick evangelists out of their office and into the parachurch is a sin against them and against the Body of Christ. It will negatively impact our ability to grow into the fullness of Christ. It will detract from our unity and knowledge of the Son of God. It will because Jesus gave evangelists (along with the other officers) for these purposes.


These Common Views Of What An Evangelist Is And Does Are All Inadequate

But we shouldn't lose hope. We should redeem the biblical term and role from the cultural deviation. By the grace of God, we can.

If we do so, we can expect that God will honor His design and work through His leaders and Body for the purposes of His own glory. There is an ideal church model.

Only then can we expect to see what God promised regarding His church in all generations:
Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21) 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

How To Bring Men To Christ - A Review


How To Bring Men To Christ by R.A. Torrey was recommended to me recently. I'm glad that it was. A short book and quick read. Even so, it contains a lot of powerful information.

Some readers will take issue with some of Torrey's theological positions. However, there is much wisdom that can be gleaned in the main thrust which is bringing people to a saving knowledge of Christ through the use of God's word under the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Greatest Strengths

1. Dependence Upon God's Word and Spirit

Torrey emphasizes from beginning to end the need for the effective witness to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit and the power of God's word. Nothing else will be effective in bringing the lost to the living Lord and Savior. The first chapter deals with certain conditions that Torrey believes are necessary for the Christian to be effective in service and witness. The final chapter discusses the controversial topic of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Regardless of whether you agree with every position Torrey takes the emphasis is clear: the Christian must yield themselves to God fully. The ministry of reconciliation is not a half-hearted ministry.

2. The Role of the Holy Spirit In Witnessing

I know that the topic of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is controversial. Whatever you may believe about this topic, Torrey's final chapter brings important scriptural observations to consider. Far from being overly emotional or charismatic, Torrey shows how Christians in the New Testament are empowered for testimony and/or service in every case of being filled with the Spirit. In our modern day, most of the controversy surrounding such discussions revolve around the ecstatic or dramatic effects that accompany such a baptism. Torrey remains close to the text instead of relying on experience or emotion. This chapter, in my opinion, was worth the purchase price alone. I have read many different treatments of this topic. I thought Torrey's handling of the topic was the best I've read in a long time.

3. Hints and Suggestions

The second to last chapter is "Hints and Suggestions." It is evident that these tips are the result of many years of faithful service in the ministry of reconciliation. Whether you are new to witnessing or have been witnessing for decades, there is something here that will edify you.

Greatest Weaknesses

1. Seemingly Contradictory Sections

Some of Torrey's thoughts are border-line contradictory. I choose to give him the benefit of the doubt. This is a book on evangelism practice, not theology in general. Perhaps, if he took more time to elaborate on some of his statements the seeming contradictions would disappear. The clearest example that seemed to run through the entire book was how Torrey deals with those who make a profession. For those who are seemingly coming to Christ, Torrey suggests time and again to have them read God's word and believe the promises are theirs. However, he mentions in chapter 7 in dealing with a particular group of people who lack assurance or who are back-sliding:

It is very important in using these texts to make clear what saving faith is; because many may say that they believe when they do not, in the sense of these texts, and so get a false assurance and entertain false hopes and never find deliverance.

Torrey seems to give with one hand what he takes from the other. Depending on your theological persuasion, you will likely take offense or issue with some of the points he makes on this matter. Taken together he gets close to a faithful biblical picture. However, the language he uses is not always qualified or as careful as I think it should be. The result is closer to contradiction than I'm sure he intended. Also unclear is how and when the Christian worker should qualify their statements to one who has made a profession of faith according to Torrey's view. The reader will have to make their own conclusions as to what is right.

2. Difficult To Implement Immediately

Those familiar with Bill Faye's method, Share Jesus Without Fear, may immediately notice how similar the approaches are in theory. However, Faye's method is much easier to adapt and begin using immediately than Torrey's. The reason is that Torrey is less interested in giving you a simple path through God's Word to take with everyone. Instead, relying on the lead of the Holy Spirit, he suggests different types of people you may meet and possible Scriptures that you could use in those situations. It may be overwhelming to some readers to see how many different verses Torrey recommends for his many different categories of people.

3. Easy To Read, Difficult To Study

This weakness is related to the second. This book can be read in just a few sittings. However, to truly digest the content and allow it to inform your practice will take much more direct effort. I would have appreciated a chapter or appendix at the end that had all of the suggested verses listed out. As it stands, I will have to make my own. This will likely require a greater time commitment than reading the book in the first place. It is possible that such extra investment will make this a strength instead of a weakness but I include it in the weakness section because many will not take the extra time to make their own study of the material. Sometimes the hardest methods are the best ones but the difficulty of implementation can be a discouragement to some, especially those new to witnessing for Christ.

Torrey attempts to alleviate this difficulty a bit by emphasizing the importance of earnestness and the effectiveness that can come from mastering just a few passages as opposed to knowing many texts but lacking earnestness and mastery in any of them. I believe he is right. Torrey makes this encouragement in his second to last chapter and may have lost some of his readers to discouragement before they ever got there.

Conclusion

I found Torrey's book to be refreshing, edifying, and sometimes challenging. For a short book it packs quite a punch. I know that the theological positions may make it a book that some criticize heavily. I suggest looking past whatever theological quibbles you may have to the substance:

1. Dedicate yourself fully to the Lord's work;
2. Depend upon the grace God gives and the power He provides;
3. Focus on the main task of leading people to Christ, not arguing over other details, and;
4. Continue in the grace of God until the end for the praise of His great name.

Hopefully we can all agree that this is good and right for Christians.

Torrey's short book is a worthwhile read and one that I will likely read again in the future.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Keys To Effective Witnessing

Content is a major component of effective witness. But it is not the only component.


Some evangelistic methods are presented as if they are the perfect witnessing method. Some think memorizing a method and mechanically delivering the content means you have effectively witnessed.

Witness throughout the New Testament demonstrates this is not accurate. There are certainly unifying principles to be identified. But there is not a cookie-cutter approach that is applied the same way every time.

Content is extremely important. Without the right content our witness cannot be effective. Messing with the content of the gospel voids its power.

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. (1 Corinthians 1:17)

Focusing only on content fails to recognize that our witness is not made in a vacuum. We are not preaching to the air. We are preaching to persons.

To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it. (1 Corinthians 9:22-23)

Reflecting on Peter's proclamation in Acts 2 is helpful. Other observations could be made from other passages. Regardless, I know of no biblical example of more people responding to the gospel at one time than what we see recorded in Acts 2.

What made Peter's proclamation so effective? Here are five reflections of my own. Feel free to leave your reflections in the comments.

Effective witness includes:

  • Walking in God's timing. Peter waited for God to open the door. Jesus commanded the disciples to wait for the power they would receive when the Holy Spirit came. They waited patiently until God delivered on His promise. They did not rush ahead and miss the opportunity God was preparing.
  • Going along with God's activity in the world. God's preparation of the audience is clear. "Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven" (Acts 2:5). God had gathered this audience from every nation. The reason they were gathered was to celebrate the Jewish feast of Pentecost. Their presence in Jerusalem demonstrates the truth of what the text tells us: these were devout people. They were already primed for hearing God's Word. When God poured out the Holy Spirit on this day so that Peter could speak to this audience we should take note of God's activity in this effective witness. God is still active in the world today. We should strive to go along with His activity. It is not enough to simply be active on our own.
  • Boldness. God opened the door. Peter took full advantage. He was not shy. He was bold and direct.
  • Picking relevant passages. Peter's content was perfectly suited to his immediate context. Peter did not simply use his favorite text. He picked passages that explained the situation they were currently experiencing. He picked passages that directly explained the significance of the moment. We must be aware of our surroundings and our hearers. This is what it means to be in the world but not of it.
  • Dedication to the Word of God and to prayer. Peter's message came on the heels of three years of personal discipleship with Jesus and an intense ten day prayer meeting. Peter remained committed to this focus. When a situation arose in the early church that threatened this Peter resisted it. "'But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.' The statement found approval with the whole congregation" (Acts 6:4-5a). The whole congregation approved of this statement because they understood the importance of prayer and God's Word to effective witness.

It is easy to wander off the path of effective witness. We can fall into the trap of thinking that memorizing a few verses and speaking them mechanically to everyone regardless of the situation is the ministry that God has called us to.

It's not. It can be a good place to start but it's not a good place to remain forever.

The appeal of such approaches is that they lack a need for continued dedication beyond the initial investment of time in memorizing the method.

Memorizing methods is easy. Dedication to serving in the ministry of reconciliation requires sacrifice.

Dedication to prayer and the Word will keep us tethered to God's will. If we ask for wisdom and opportunity God will direct our steps. He is pleased to use humble and well prepared people to accomplish His purposes.

Dedication to being person focused will ensure that we lovingly speak the truth in understandable ways. We want them to hear us because we want them to be reconciled to God. We want this because there is rejoicing in heaven over every sinner who comes to repentance. We want this because when people are saved they magnify the glorious grace of our God and Savior.

Dedication to boldness will keep us alert. We cannot wait for dead sinners to ask us how to be saved. The crowd asked Peter what they must do only after he boldly proclaimed Christ to them. They responded to Peter's boldness. Peter did not wait for them to open the door because God had already shown him that the door was open.

Dedication to faithfulness to biblical content ensures that we are bringing the word of life; not an eloquent speech which lacks the power of God for salvation.

Are you willing to do what is necessary to prepare yourself to be an effective witness for Christ?

Monday, April 30, 2018

Fullness By Design

My wife and I are expecting our 8th child this year. I want my children to grow to full maturity. That's not to say that I want to skip the fun things that accompany young kids. I don't want to skip any of it. As each day passes I realize how quickly these moments are gone.

The march toward adulthood is inevitable. Every day, we all get older. I must be aware that my children are growing up, whether I like it or not.

But maturity is not the same as age. It is possible to get older while never really growing up.

When I say that I want my children to grow to full maturity what I mean is: I desire my children to realize their potential. I want them to grow into responsible adults.

I don't want my three sons to live in my house indefinitely. They shouldn't be expecting their mother to cook and clean for them into their thirties. Part of my responsibility as a father is to steward the children God has so graciously given us. We are to raise them so that they can be delivered safely into maturity.

As Christians, we have a heavenly Father who likewise desires that we grow to full maturity in Christ. Like our natural growth, spiritual maturity is not the same as spiritual age. We are not necessarily more mature because we have been Christians for a long time. To think that maturity and age are the same is to be woefully deceived.

In Ephesians 5:17 the Apostle Paul writes, "So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." This is good counsel. To understand what Paul means we must understand what he has been writing through the book of Ephesians.

Paul is writing about God's will that the church reach full maturity for the praise and glory of His name. Fullness comes by God's sovereign design.

The first chapter of Ephesians is filled with some of the deepest theology you will find anywhere. It touches on the work of the triune God in redeeming a people for Himself. It discusses the Father's plan to choose a people for Himself from before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before Him (Eph 1:3-4). It tells of His predetermined plan to adopt us into His family through Christ to the praise of the glory of His grace (Eph 1:5-6). And, it tells us that God made known to us His plan.

God revealed the mystery of His will which He has purposed in Christ (Eph 1:9-10). We ought to pay careful attention to what God has revealed.

God had a plan before He made the world to redeem a people for Himself. This is done in and through Christ. The redeemed are called to be for the praise of His glory (Eph 1:12). This means that the church - our very being - brings glory to God's amazing, transformative, and redemptive grace which He has so lavishly and freely bestowed on us in Christ.

God made known the mystery of His will so that we would understand. When Paul states in Ephesians 5:11 that we are not to be foolish but are to understand what the will of the Lord is, it is safe to say he expects his readers to remember what he described in Ephesians 1.

God has a plan. He has a means of achieving that plan. God has given grace to accomplish His goals.

God has designed an administration suitable to the fullness of the times which is the summing up of all things in Christ (Eph 1:10). This administration points to God's gracious oversight of the process of transforming dead sinners into living saints who will be for the praise of God's glorious grace. This is essentially the topic of Ephesians chapter 2.

Before discussing God's transformative, redemptive grace in chapter 2, Paul makes this astonishing statement:

"And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all" (Eph 1:22-23).

Sometimes I hear professing Christians say disparaging things about the church. Be very careful with such statements.

By divine design the church is Christ's body. The church is the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

Let that sink in. This is why when Jesus confronted Saul on the road to Damascus He asked him,

"Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" (Acts 9:4, bold added).

Saul was persecuting the church. Therefore, Saul was persecuting Jesus Himself.

If what we perceive as "the church" doesn't fit this description either we are looking at the wrong thing or we are failing to walk in the grace God has given because we've decided that we have a better design for God's church. Neither situation calls for bashing Christ's church. Repentance would be a better approach.

Paul's expectation of the church was extremely high.

"Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen" (Eph 3:20-21).

God has a plan and a design. He has made His will known. He is putting all things in subjection under Christ because it is God's will that the church be the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Therefore, Paul has no problem asserting that God's power is at work within us to bring glory to the church and Christ Jesus for all generations. Forever and ever.

This is awesome stuff.

It requires responsibility on our end. We are God's adopted children. This is why in the very next sentence Paul writes:

"Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called" (Eph 4:1).

Paul implores the saints to understand the will of the Lord and to walk in a worthy way. To walk according to God's grace and design.

It is in this line of thought that Paul describes most fully the administration that God has designed and given. By His grace God has provided for the growth of the body into the fullness of Christ.

Really take a moment to wrap your mind around this.

God desires for the church to be the fullness of Him who fills all in all. He entrusted Paul with a stewardship of God's grace to proclaim this design (Eph 3:1-10) of God's administration. The administration is given to bring about the full maturity of the body.

Paul tells us that each individual member of the church has received grace (Eph 4:7). The risen Jesus has given officials to equip the body "until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ" (Eph 4:13, emphasis added).

These officers are the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.

Fullness doesn't happen by accident. It happens by the grace of God according to the administration that God designed for this very purpose.

It happens by the body of Christ understanding the will of the Lord and submitting themselves to Christ's design to the praise of His glorious grace.

Without the apostles and prophets - the foundation (Eph 2:18-3:10) - we would have no idea what God's divine will was. Thankfully, God has revealed the mystery of His will through His apostles and prophets. We have this revelation recorded in the Scriptures.

Christians must submit to biblical revelation. This is where the apostles and prophets have been preserved. The book of Ephesians is a part of the apostolic foundation.

If we lift our eyes from God's word and look around we see a different administration. Take a survey the body of Christ for yourself. We see many pastors and teachers who exist for the equipping of the saints in every local church.

One element is conspicuously absent from God's revealed design: the evangelists. They have been forgotten.

Our modern idea of evangelists is not biblical. We have pushed them out into para-church ministry. We've re-defined them primarily as ministers to the lost. But the apostolic foundation says that Christ gave these officers for the equipping of the church. It doesn't restrict them to reaching the lost and leaving the rest of the body off the hook for the Great Commission.

The church exists to reach the lost and make disciples. It's not just the evangelists.

By pushing out evangelists to the fringe (at best) of the church, it is no wonder many look at "the church" today and think it falls short of Paul's lofty comments.

We have strayed from God's design. We've settled for an administration that is more Roman than Christian. As a result we are walking foolishly. We are walking according to our own designs and not according to the fullness of God's revealed administration for bringing about full maturity in every member of the body of Christ.

By the grace of God, we can understand what the will of the Lord is. We can walk wisely in His gracious plan according to His power which is at work within us.

Are we willing to repent of walking in our own designs and walk by faith? If we will, God will do abundantly beyond all we can ask or think in our generation for the praise of His glorious grace.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Beautiful Feet

Many stumbling blocks exist for people coming to Christ.

One of them is the idea that God's grace is unable to save some because they are too sinful.

This stumbling block can exist in the mind of the person being confronted with the gospel. They may believe the words of the preacher couldn't possibly apply to them.

Not with their background. Not if you knew the whole story.

Maybe for others. Not for me.


This is false. God's grace is more amazing than we can fathom. It is the responsibility of Christians to declare the height, breadth, width, and depth of God's redeeming love in Christ. God is both able and willing to save all who will turn to Christ.

Another stumbling block may exist in the mind of the preacher. This occurs when the Christian restricts their preaching from certain people because of their own bias. This is why Jesus taught about the Good Samaritan. God's glorious gospel and offer of salvation should be freely offered to all.

Even those who persecute us. Even people who hate us. Even people we look down on or who make us uncomfortable, angry, or vote differently than we do.

Thanks be to God the Scriptures are clear:
that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, 'WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.' For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek [Gentile or non-Jew]; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for 'WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.' (Romans 10:9-13)

Who is it that can be saved from the wrath to come according to Scripture? The Scripture tells us that whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.

What is it that results in righteousness? Believing in your heart that Jesus is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead.

What results in salvation? Confessing this amazing truth with your mouth. The Word declares that the same Lord is Lord of all, and whoever will call on Him shall not be disappointed.

Hallelujah!

A question for those of us who have believed: How is it that you came to know the truth? Was it by some special revelation? Doubtful. Someone declared the gospel to you so that, by the grace of God, you could turn to Christ and trust fully in Him. You had the opportunity to receive Christ because someone cared enough to tell you.

Scripture continues:

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, 'HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!'" (Romans 10:14-15)

Jesus has commissioned His followers to go (see Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16; and Acts 1:8). If you are a follower of Jesus, you have been sent. Will you obey this commission? Will you proclaim His excellencies and His gospel as you go? Will your feet be considered beautiful?

If you will preach, they will hear. If they hear, they can believe. If they believe, they will confess He is Lord and call on Him. And if they call on Him, they will be saved. This will all be to the praise of God's glorious grace.

Lord, I pray that my feet would be called beautiful by You as I try to be faithful in bringing Your good news to those who are far from You and perishing under Your just and holy wrath. Father, glorify Your Name by redeeming a people to Yourself from every tribe, tongue, nation, and people! For Your Name's sake, amen.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Jesus Is Risen: So What?

Unity is important.

Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(Romans 15:5-6)

The church is called to glorify God with one mind and one voice. Disunity is a terrible hindrance.

Paul wrote to quarreling believers in Corinth. They were divided. They were putting more faith in their human leaders than in Christ. The bickering was resulting in factions.
Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe's people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, "I am of Paul," and "I of Apollos," and "I of Cephas," and "I of Christ." Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? (1 Corinthians 1:10-13)

There were other problems in Corinth. Paul addressed them, too. But Paul was distressed at their lack of unity. It was hindering them from working toward their purpose.

The Apostle begins to end this same letter by reminding them of the importance of the gospel:
Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:1-4, emphasis added)

Paul didn't ignore the various issues and problems they were experiencing. Nevertheless, Paul points these believers to the most important truth of Scripture: the gospel. This is the truth that unifies all believers.

Paul received this message directly from the risen Lord Jesus. This glorious gospel declares that Jesus is the promised Messiah from the Scriptures who came to fulfill God's promises revealed through the Scriptures:
  1. That He died for our sins according to God's predetermined plan (e.g. Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Psalm 22);
  2. That He was buried (e.g. Isaiah 53:9), and;
  3. That He was resurrected on the third day (Isaiah 53:10; Psalm 16:10) fulfilling God's promises and demonstrating to the world that Jesus, whom we crucified, God has made both Lord and Christ (Psalm 2; Daniel 7:9-14; Acts 17:30-31, Romans 1:4).

This glorious truth is of first importance. It is the basis for unity in the church. Not just in Corinth but everywhere.

Instead of fighting about lesser things, Paul encouraged these followers of Jesus to refocus their attention on the gospel. He called them to heed the implications of this truth. They were to stop debating which preacher/teacher they liked best. By focusing on the differences between Apollos, Peter, Paul, and Jesus they were failing to notice that these teachers all were united in the gospel.

So what are the implications of the gospel? Jesus is risen. So what?

Paul states plainly that the resurrection of Jesus demonstrates the truth of Christianity. All of Christianity - not just the parts that make us comfortable.

It guarantees the reality of the coming resurrection. It promises judgment for all people. It declares with power that Jesus is the appointed King of Heaven and Earth. It proves He will reign until all of His enemies are put under His feet (1 Corinthians 15:25-27). It verifies the truth that it is only through repentance and faith that anyone is able to be saved from the wrath that is to come.

Think about this for a minute.

Really, think about it.

Is there anyone you know who is not in Christ?

If so, what does this mean for them?

If you are a follower of Jesus, His resurrection proves the truth of your salvation. It also proves the truth of condemnation resting upon all who do not believe.
He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. (John 3:36)

Paul cuts straight to the heart of the matter with his application:
Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame. (1 Corinthians 15:34)

Paul urged these believers to dwell soberly on the truth of their salvation in Christ and the condemnation that is upon the world. In light of this, his application is to stop sinning. Stop paying attention to unimportant matters. Stop bragging about yourself and your favorite teacher/leader. Stop putting your eyes on the world and the things that are fading away.

Stop sinning. Seriously.

But why does Paul say we need to be sober minded and stop sinning? Is it because sin is making the Corinthians unhappy or causing them to miss out on God's blessings in their personal lives? That's not what Paul says.

Paul tells them exactly why they need to stop sinning. It's because some have no knowledge of God.

Believers have received the revelation of God (1 Corinthians 15:1-2). Through hearing and believing the message we pass from death into life. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe (Romans 1:16-19).

Paul said the mere fact that there are some in Corinth who were unaware of this truth is something the church ought to be ashamed of. They should be ashamed that the world perished around them without the opportunity to hear the gospel. Why hadn't they heard? Because it is the responsibility of the church - every member - to proclaim the gospel to the world.

Sadly, in Corinth, the believers were too busy arguing amongst themselves and preoccupied with their own individual pursuits to obey their Lord and Savior in proclaiming His glorious gospel to the perishing.

Strong language.

Do you agree with Paul?

Do you think it's shameful when believers hide the gospel from the world? Do you agree that it's shameful that we who know the truth are not willing to pay the cost to bring this message to those who are lost and perishing?

Do you not know that it is required of servants of Christ that we be found trustworthy in our stewardship of the gospel (1 Corinthians 4:1-2)?

Who do you know who has no knowledge of God? How many in your city are perishing with no real idea of the gospel call to repent and trust in Christ alone?

What are you doing to put them in mind of the coming judgment and the command from the risen King for all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30-31)? How is your church leadership equipping and sending out the body of Christ to declare with one mind and one voice the gospel in your community?

If the answer is "nothing," then Paul suggests that we, too, should be ashamed.

Fortunately, God is pleased in His grace to give us further opportunities to be found faithful and trustworthy with His gospel - even if we've been negligent in the past!

God is able to use His church for the praise and glory of His name (Ephesians 3:20-21). He has made us adequate for the task of proclaiming His glory and goodness to the world (2 Corinthians 3:4-6, 1 Peter 3:9-10). Therefore, let us no longer live for ourselves. Let's live for Him (Galatians 2:20) in the strength He provides knowing that He is able to accomplish what He has begun (Philippians 1:6)!

Get equipped. Obey your King. Glorify your God.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

5 Keys To Effective Witness

Keys to Effective Witness

Content is important. But it's not the only thing.

Some evangelistic methods are presented as if they are the perfect witnessing method. Some think memorizing a method and mechanically delivering the content means you have effectively witnessed.

Witness throughout the New Testament demonstrates this is not accurate. There is not a cookie-cutter approach that is applied the same way every time.

Content is extremely important. Without the right content our witness cannot be effective. Messing with the content of the gospel voids its power.
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. (1 Corinthians 1:17)
Focusing only on content fails to recognize that we are not preaching to the air. We are preaching to persons.
To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it. (1 Corinthians 9:22-23)
I know of no biblical example where more people responded to the gospel at one time than Acts 2.

What made Peter's proclamation so effective? Here are five reflections of my own. Feel free to leave your reflections in the comments.

Effective witness includes:

  • Walking in God's timing. Peter waited for God to open the door. Jesus commanded the disciples to wait for the power they would receive when the Holy Spirit came. They waited patiently until God delivered on His promise. They did not rush ahead and miss the opportunity God was preparing.
  • Going along with God's activity in the world. God's preparation of the audience is clear. "Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven" (Acts 2:5). God had gathered this audience from every nation. The reason they were gathered was to celebrate the Jewish feast of Pentecost. Their presence in Jerusalem demonstrates the truth of what the text tells us: these were devout people. They were already primed for hearing God's Word. When God poured out the Holy Spirit on this day so that Peter could speak to this audience we should be overwhelmed with God's activity in this effective witness. God is still active in the world today. We should strive to go along with His activity. It is not enough to simply be active on our own apart from God's leading and work.
  • Boldness. God opened the door. Peter took full advantage. He was not shy. He was bold and direct.
  • Picking relevant passages. Peter's content was perfectly suited to his immediate context. Peter did not simply use his favorite text. He picked passages that explained the situation they were currently experiencing. He picked passages that directly explained the significance of the moment. We must be aware of our surroundings and our hearers. This is what it means to be in the world but not of it.
  • Dedication to the Word of God and to prayer. Peter's message came on the heels of three years of personal discipleship with Jesus. It followed immediately after an intense ten day prayer meeting. Peter remained committed to this focus beyond Pentecost. When a situation arose in the early church that threatened this focus Peter resisted it. "'But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.' The statement found approval with the whole congregation" (Acts 6:4-5a). The whole congregation approved of this statement. They understood the importance of prayer and God's Word to effective witness. 

It is easy to wander off the path of effective witness. We can fall into the trap of thinking that memorizing a few verses and speaking them mechanically to everyone regardless of the situation is the ministry that God has called us to.

It's not.

I understand the appeal of these approaches. They lack a need for continued dedication beyond the initial investment of time in memorizing the method.

Memorizing methods is easy. Dedication to serving in the ministry of reconciliation requires sacrifice. Constant growth and practice.

Dedication to prayer and the Word will keep us tethered to God's will. If we ask for wisdom and opportunity God will direct our steps. He is pleased to use humble and well prepared people to accomplish His purposes.

Dedication to being person focused will ensure that we lovingly speak the truth in understandable ways. We want people to hear us because we want them to be reconciled to God. We want this because there is rejoicing in heaven over every sinner who comes to repentance. We want this because when people are saved they magnify the glorious grace of our God and Savior.

Dedication to boldness will keep us alert. We cannot wait for dead sinners to ask us how to be saved. The crowd asked Peter what they must do only after he boldly proclaimed Christ to them. They responded to Peter's boldness. Peter did not wait for them to open the door because God had already shown him that the door was open.

Dedication to faithfulness to biblical content ensures that we are bringing the word of life; not an eloquent speech which lacks the power of God for salvation. We can't tickle their ears or simply tell them the parts of the gospel that they are comfortable with.

Are you willing to do what is necessary to prepare yourself to be an effective witness for Christ?