Personal Evangelism: Follow the Pattern
If you wanted to build a house, what would be the first step? Before you can start the work, you must have a plan. You must decide how many rooms you want and where to put the doors and windows. You need a pattern to help you as you build. Then you will be pleased with the results.
In the Old Testament we read that God told His people to build a place to worship Him. He gave them a plan. In fact, He told them seven times to be sure and follow His plan exactly. When they obeyed Him, the building was completed successfully, and God was pleased. If we want to win people to Jesus Christ, we need a pattern, or plan. God has given us the plan in His Word. We see this plan in Jesus’ life and ministry, and through the example of early
Have you ever wondered why God decided to create the universe: heaven and earth, stars and seas, mountains and valleys, and, of course, man? Many people do ask this question. The answer is simple. God has a purpose, a plan, for everything. Nothing was created without purpose.
Right from the beginning, even before man’s creation, God’s purpose was to share all He has and is with man. This is the true pattern of personal evangelism, sharing what we have!
“And God said, ‘Let us make man in our image’” (Genesis 1:26, KJV). God shared with man His personal being, His own nature. This was good news, that God would share Himself with man. After sharing with man His own nature, God then gave to man all that He had created. Later, in the beautiful Garden of Eden, God came down and walked hand in hand with that man—Adam. Just like a father would talk with his son, they talked with one another. There was perfect understanding between them. I wish I were a good artist! But even if I were, I would completely fail to show you how beautiful it was.
One amazing reality is that the sharing love of God did not stop with Adam alone. When man sinned, God was sad, but His attitude did not change. He came down again and shared with man the good news of the coming Savior. In Genesis 3:15 we see the first announcement of this good news.
God is talking to the serpent, Satan, and He says, “Her offspring will crush your head.” Here He was talking about His Son, Jesus Christ. He was saying that the serpent Satan crushed Adam when he tempted Adam to sin. But He would send His Son, Jesus Christ, to crush Satan.”
Yes, God’s sharing love knows no limit. In John 3:16 we read, “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.” This well-known verse is the heart of God’s own pattern for personal evangelism. His love is a personal, giving, and sharing love for all people, including you.
Man has sinned. Sickness, sorrow, wars, and even death have come as a result. Although God could no longer walk with humankind as He once did, He still had a plan to continue His sharing work with people. That plan was to send us Jesus.
Speaking about His own work and mission, Jesus said: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has chosen me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind; to set free the oppressed and announce that the time has come when the Lord will save his people (Luke 4:18-19).
While in Burkina Faso, West Africa, I was in a church of about 600 Christians. They were singing these words: “Had it not been for your healing and saving power, Oh Lord, Hills would have been my dwelling place, and hell my lot!”
Jesus taught us the pattern of personal evangelism by His own example. He made no distinction among people. He received well-educated people like Nicodemus and some Greek scholars. He went to stay and eat with sinners. Lepers came to Him, and He healed them all. Even demon possessed people came to Him, and He set them free. When He needed to rest, He took time to be with children. Soldiers and widows found help from Him. Who would ever accuse Him of being indifferent to people who needed His help?
Jesus had one goal: to do the work and the will of the One Who sent Him. The apostle Peter, speaking about Jesus’ life and ministry, said, “He went everywhere doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, for God was with him” (Acts 10:38). God was working in Christ, forgiving sin, bringing people back to Himself.
Christ was willing to make many sacrifices in order to accomplish His Father’s plan. First He left His home in heaven, His throne, His glory, to come down to us. He was born in a manger because those He came to help did not receive Him. But His greatest sacrifice was when He willingly gave
His life on the cross. It was not until then that Jesus cried out, “It is finished” (John 19:30). It was a cry of completion. His work was done. The pattern for personal evangelism, sharing the good news was forever made clear.
Yes, Christ has tasted death that you and I may live. He has paid our debt to God. Christ, the Lord of lords and King of kings, walked on this earth as a servant with nowhere to lay His head. He did this because He loved us. Is there any good news better than this? Certainly there is not.
Early Christians’ Example
Christ came, as we have seen, to tell us about God and His love. Wicked men crucified Him on the cross. But He did not stay in the grave. He came back to life, rose from the grave, and is now sitting at His Father’s right hand in heaven. But I thank God that His plan for sharing the good news did not stop with Christ. Christ passed it on to the apostles and to His disciples. He told them, “Go throughout the whole world and preach the good news to all mankind” (Mark 16:15). This command is not only to a group of selected people such as the apostles, the evangelists, the deacons, the pastors, or the teachers. This command is for all of us.
But how did Jesus send His disciples out? In His prayer to His Father, Christ said, “I sent them into the world, just as you sent me into the world” (John 17:18). And how did God send Jesus? He sent Him with a mission. He sent Him with power and authority. He sent Him to all people. He sent Him not to condemn, not to judge, but to set people free. This is the mission Christ has passed on to us. It was as if He said, “Father, just as You sent Me, I have also sent them. Keep them as You kept Me. Listen to them as You listened to Me. Be with them as You were with Me.” Isn’t it wonderful to realize that we are God’s messengers?
Now let us permit our eyes to gaze upon Peter as he talked about this same Jesus on the Day of Pentecost. The story is recorded in Acts 2:14-39. Try to see him standing before the crowd, sharing Christ with others. Listen to him as he talks before his judges. You can hear him say, “How can I stop sharing what I have seen and heard?”
Now follow him to the house of the Roman offi cer, Cornelius, a man who was seeking God. You will see him once again sharing his testimony about Christ with other people. (See Acts 10: 34-43.)
The Book of Acts gives us many details about the apostle Paul and his travels. Follow Paul in his travels and listen to him. He would speak of no one but Christ, and Him crucified. The ever burning desire of the apostle Paul was winning people to Christ and sharing his personal Christian experience with others.
Paul was willing to suffer in order to share this good news. He was thrown into prison, he was beaten, chained, hungry, lonely, forgotten by his co-workers. None of this stopped him from sharing the good news with others. If he could not speak, he would write down his message, or have someone write it down for him. He did this until the day he could say, “I am ready to die. I have finished my course.” (See 2 Timothy 4:6,7, KJV).
In times past in Africa, when a hunter killed an elephant, he would run back home and announce the good news to all. When the Americans landed on the moon for the first time, radio, television, newspapers spread this good news by all the mass media to all people everywhere. It is the nature of people to want to share good news with others. Should not you and I, who have far greater news, share it all around us?
When Jesus revealed Himself to the Samaritan woman, she too, like this African hunter, hurried back to her people. She shared with them all that Christ had done in her life. (See John 4:5-29.)
By their testimonies and witnessing, the early Christians were able to share the good news about Jesus with all of Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the entire Roman Empire. The believers went everywhere. They preached and shared their Christian experience with all people. It was actually the unbelievers who saw them speaking, living, and acting like Christ that gave them the name Christian. This name means “like Christ” or “followers of Christ.”
The early Christians had such a love for Jesus, and were so thankful for what He had done for them, that they could not keep from telling the good news. We want to share with others what Christ has done for us for the same reasons: because we love Him, and we want to give His love to others.