“Evangelism – Obligation or Opportunity?”

(What went wrong with the harvest?)

Acts 1, 2; John 7

October 24, 2004

Dr. Jerry Nelson

About every six months I have a conversation with Bill Fay.  Bill, who served on our staff for a short time in the 80s, is now an evangelist and evangelism trainer.  Some of you also know Bill, and know something of God’s gracious transformation of his life.  You also know God has well suited and gifted Bill for the work he does.

Sometime back Bill called me and, as he usually does, he told story after story of God’s surprising work in people’s lives to bring them to faith.  On this one occasion he told of renting a car, outside of Washington D.C., as I recall it, and then promptly getting lost on his way to a speaking engagement.  Fortunately, no, providentially, the rental company had upgraded him to a car with the “OnStar” service.  Bill pushed the appropriate buttons, or whatever you do with “OnStar” and was connected to an operator ready to provide Bill whatever assistance he needed.

The short version of the story is that while she was giving him directions to his earthly destination, he was giving her instructions to avoid her eternal destination and get a new one.  Over the “OnStar” satellite voice connection, he led her to a profession of faith in Christ.  Bill lives his life looking for opportunities to bear witness to the saving power of his loving God to change life and destiny.

Every time I talk to Bill or even think of him I feel a twinge of guilt as I think, for example, of my most recent plane trip, where I ended up almost praying that I wouldn’t have to sit next to anyone, much less having to have a meaningful conversation.  Contrary to Bill, it seems that my passion is to disengage, not engage.  I exaggerate, but I do so to ask, toward which end of that spectrum are you?

Do you look for every opportunity to witness to what Christ has done in your life or do you rarely, if ever, even think of it?

In this sixth and final sermon in the series entitled, “Gables, the Kingdom and 2005,” I am obviously speaking about evangelism.  I can think of few subjects, other than money, which are more likely to make a church audience go deaf than evangelism.

You can’t have been a Christian very long before you find out that God is a missionary God and his children are missionary people.  Jesus said in John 20:21 “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.

“From my childhood I have heard that I am supposed to bear witness to who God is and what he has done.  Two summers ago, my father took from his wallet and handed me a very small card that he had had in that and previous wallets for nearly 50 years.  This is that card and on it is my name with the date and then the following words: “I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Savior today and by his help will read a portion of the Bible and pray each day and with the strength he gives me will tell others about him.”  READ MORE

 

Evangelism Obligation or Opportunity

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