The LightHouse of Hope Ministries
A Biblical Approach to Evangelism
By Raymond Shaw
When we look at the current spiritual condition of our American churches, our hearts grow heavy at what appears to be a spiritual state of emergency. Having access to countless resources, why do our churches appear to be void of the spiritual power we see recorded in the book of the Acts of the Apostles? We are losing ground in America - making little to no impact on our culture. What is the problem?
The problems are many but may we suggest that one of the major problems is the American church's approach to evangelism is that of a Unbiblical, DIFFERENT GOSPEL. In many churches we have heard the popular expression, "all you have to do is ask Jesus into your heart and you are saved!" However, we have not found this phrase anywhere in the New Testament. No one in the Bible was ever told to "ask Jesus into their heart". What we ask Jesus is to have mercy on us and to save our souls from God's WRATH.
Yes, it is true that Jesus Christ comes to live within a person once they are born again. This is, in fact, what makes a person a Christian. However, to tell someone that Jesus came to live within them simply by their human act of walking an aisle, signing a card, raising a hand or by praying a prayer is unbiblical. Salvation is a supernatural act upon the believer when Jesus seals the new believer with the Holy Spirit at the point of their true salvation. You know when you have been truly born again! There will be real evidence that it has happened and fruit. It will be evidenced in their life later on. Everyone who says a prayer is not automatically saved!
The other Unbibical Gospel that is in the American church today is that salvation is a destination-Heaven. Yes Heaven is a wonderful by-product of salvation but the scriptures say we will recieve "eternal life" not heaven. Salvation is not a destination it is a person, Jesus, and a intimate relationship with God the Father through the Son JESUS CHRIST. KNOWING HIM INTIMATELY! There is no accountability when its a destination, lacking any intimacy or relationship. Jesus Christ came to restore intimacy with God that had been lost in the fall! The scriptures do not say "seek Heaven" they say seek God's face!
So what then is this "eternal life"? John 17:3 clearly defines "eternal life" as knowing the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent". It's a living, knowing, love relationship with the one and only Triune God wherein the Holy Spirit indwells the Believer, testifies and glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ, walks in obedience to Christ, and bears much fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
During the 1700 and 1800's revivalists had what were called "inquiry or birthing rooms" where individuals upon hearing the preaching of the Gospel and being drawn to Christ by the Holy Spirit would go into these rooms and "labor" in prayer and the Word as they were convicted by the Holy Spirit of their own wickedness and sin, of God's righteousness, and of His wrath upon them and the coming judgment. In this birthing process, the individual is confronted by the Holy Spirit with Christ's death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead which was required for God to establish a love relationship with man. A love relationship with God can only be obtained through Jesus Christ. God the Father calls and Jesus Christ gives eternal life. Salvation is not controlled by a human act of man. Salvation is a supernatural encounter with the living Christ wherein He draws us, we turn to Him in repentance and faith and cry out for Him to have mercy and save us, and by His grace in His perfect timing He redeems us and we are regenerated - we become born again - and we receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. If we have a REAL encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ, we become new creations and will never be the same from that day forward. "Behold, [Christ] makes all things new. You must be born again."
In the early 1900's - "decisional evangelism" by simply walking an aisle, raising a hand, signing a card, or praying a prayer became increasingly popular - particularly increasing to new heights during the ministry of evangelist, Billy Sunday. No more were there "birthing rooms" where man under the conviction of the Holy Spirit would see his sinful state, the righteousness of God, and the coming judgment. It became unpopular to wait on God's timing, as it was in the birthing rooms where the individual called on the Lord and his eyes were opened to Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life and by God's grace through the power of the Holy Spirit he would believe and be gloriously saved -- surrendering his everything to Christ. We may not need birthing rooms but we do need the "birthing process". There are of course those who have been saved by walking an isle and saying a prayer but it opens the door to many false conversions also.
And whosoever believes on Him shall have eternal life.(FAITH! NOT HEAD KNOWLEDGE)
The Scriptures (Matt Chapter 7) tell us that "many are called and few are chosen" - "the way is narrow and few are those who find it". The spiritual condition of the American church seems to declare that there may be many people that have "walked an aisle" or "prayed a prayer" that most likely have a false assurance of salvation and may one day hear "depart from Me, I never knew you". Statistics from George Barna indicate that possibly as many as 65% of those sitting in church pews every Sunday are not truly born again. Billy Graham felt that only one in four who came forward at crusades were really saved. A. W. Tozer felt that as many as 90% of church members were unsaved.THIS IS ONE OF THE MAJOR REASON OUR CHURCHES ARE SO VOID OF SPIRITUAL POWER! THE MAJORITY ARE LOST.
LHOH Ministries' approach to Evangelism is relational and simple.
First and foremost, the person doing the evangelizing MUST BE BORN AGAIN!
PRAYING FOR THE LOST INDIVIDUAL IS VITAL AND A MUST! Anything we do without prayer is presumption on God! It is only God that saves. As we seek His face, we look and listen to see where God is working (calling) in a person's life and then join in God's work with that person. [Examples of this in Scripture include the woman at the well, Zacheus, the Centurion and his household, and the Philippian jailer.] This process takes as long as God wants it to!
We cannot know if God is calling someone until we have some sort of relationship with them - either long or short - but have some knowledge of them and see God drawing them to Himself. Are they ripe for harvest? If God is truly calling a person, the Holy Spirit in the person evangelizing will know it. A PROBLEM in the American Church is we are spending a lot of time trying to evangelize those who are NOT RIPE FOR HARVEST. Trying to sell them on saying a prayer. Jesus says in John 4:35 "lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest". A farmer does not harvest unripe crops only ripe crops ready for harvest and picking. The American Church has been harvesting many green unripe apples instead of ones red and ripened for Harvest. God the Father and the Holy Spirit are the ones who do the ripening and Jesus will do the saving. Ask God to show you the ripe apples ready for harvest. They will show interest in the things of God and will ask good question seeking to know more. Those who just want to argue and drag you down "rabbit holes" are not ready YET and it is time to go find a ripe apple instead. Pray for ripe ones and God will bring them and show them to you.
It is important to show the person the Scriptures ( The power is in God's Word) and let the Holy Spirit reveal the truth of the Gospel to them: showing them their sinful, wicked, condemned state before a holy and righteous God whose wrath is upon them - and then seeing that God's forgiveness, pardon and love are available through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who came to pay God's penalty for their sin, impart His righteousness in them and cancel out God's judgment upon them.
The power is in the Holy Spirit and God's Word! The person needs to know that they need to be saved; they need to repent of their wicked ways; and then cry out to Jesus Christ to accept them and save them. [It's not that they need to accept Christ, it's that they need Christ to accept them!] This individual may be ready now or may go through a process of grief and tears - hours, days - let God do His work in His timing! Pray for God's mercy to be upon them - to see the cross - to cry out to Jesus - and for God to save them. When they are ready for salvation tell them to ask Jesus to save them IN THEIR OWN WORDS. If it is truly the Holy Spirit working at this moment they will know what to say. They do not have to pray a perfect prayer just a heartfelt one! I have heard some of the most beautiful requests from those who never have been near a church!
When God truly saves a person - they will know without any doubt they have been redeemed because they will have an encounter with the LIVING GOD and filled and sealed with His Holy Spirit! It's not up to the evangelizer to tell someone that they have been born again - especially if the person performed an act such as praying a prayer or walking an aisle or signing a card. How can the evangelizer see in the human heart? What is perceived as "salvation" may only be a reformation (turning over a new leaf, trying to change themselves) rather than God's regeneration or even only an emotional experience. By letting God do the saving and God do the assurance, many still births and false conversions can be prevented.
True evidence of salvation is seeing change in a person's life: obedience; love for God and for fellow believers; desire to fellowship with other saints; desire to be in the Word listening to God and learning more about Him and to have fellowship with Him in prayer; true joy; true peace; patience; kindness; goodness; faithfulness; gentleness; and self-control...a new creation...no longer filled with selfishness and sin - but now surrendered to Christ.
Every salvation is different! There is no "cookie cutter" way to evangelize. Salvation is the work of the Holy Spirit. May the one doing the evangelism be led by the Holy Spirit and prayerfully reliant upon God.
At the LightHouse of Hope Ministries, as we train up disciples. We teach Believers the Scriptures: who God is; what man's condition is; what God's plan of salvation is; who Jesus Christ is; and evidence of true regeneration. Our evangelism training provides Scriptural pointers on how to pray for the lost. Jesus saves - and we are desperate for Him! We also can provide Scriptures on how to seek the face of God to test yourselves and know if you are truly born again.
Do you truly know God and does He know you? It is the most important question we can ever answer!