12 Aug Quarter One Lesson Twelve
What is evangelism?
Congratulations, you have made it to the last lesson of the first quarter. Our hope is that you’ve learned about Jesus in these lessons and that you’ve grown in your understanding of His love for you.
We want to close this section out by discussing the subject of evangelism. We remember from our last lesson that evangelism is simply telling other people about Jesus and encouraging them to believe the good news.
Evangelism is not a complicated thing that requires special skills. If you are learning to walk with Jesus by reading His Word and talking to Him in prayer, then you are becoming equipped to evangelize.
God will provide opportunities for you to evangelize no matter where you are. The apostle Paul, who wrote a lot of the New Testament, spent a lot of time in prison. You might think that Paul would be sad or discouraged that he was in prison; but instead, he was delighted because he could evangelize people. He had a “captive audience” as he gave the gospel out. He asked people to pray that God would give him an open door for him to tell others about Jesus:
“At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison” Colossians 4:3 (ESV)
One man I know, makes it his goal to tell as many people about Jesus as he can. He prays every day, first thing in the morning, for God to lead him to someone with whom he can share the gospel; and he has been responsible for leading numerous people to Christ.
Question 1. What is your current level of desire, on a scale of 1 (being low) to 10 (being high), to tell people about what Jesus has done for you, and what He can do for them?
Today, we wanted to share with you an illustration of what true evangelism looks like. Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words, so here is a word picture of evangelism. Please read the story below:
Elisha said, “Hear the word of the LORD. This is what the LORD says: About this time tomorrow, a seah of flour will sell for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria.” 2 The officer on whose arm the king was leaning said to the man of God, “Look, even if the LORD should open the floodgates of the heavens, could this happen?” “You will see it with your own eyes,” answered Elisha, “but you will not eat any of it!” 3 Now there were four men with leprosy at the entrance of the city gate. They said to each other, “Why stay here until we die? 4 If we say, ‘We’ll go into the city’–the famine is there, and we will die. And if we stay here, we will die. So let’s go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die.” 5 At dusk they got up and went to the camp of the Arameans. When they reached the edge of the camp, not a man was there, 6 for the Lord had caused the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots and horses and a great army, so that they said to one another, “Look, the king of Israel has hired the Hittite and Egyptian kings to attack us!” 7 So they got up and fled in the dusk and abandoned their tents and their horses and donkeys. They left the camp as it was and ran for their lives. 8 The men who had leprosy reached the edge of the camp and entered one of the tents. They ate and drank, and carried away silver, gold and clothes, and went off and hid them. They returned and entered another tent and took some things from it and hid them also. 9 Then they said to each other, “We’re not doing right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace.” 2 Kings 7:1-9 (NIV)
Question 2. What were the conditions during this story? (See verse 4.)
Question 3. What was the condition of the people that found the treasure in the Aramean camp? (See verse 3.)
Question 4. What types of treasure did they find? (See verse 8.)
This is an interesting story isn’t it? The nation of Israel was experiencing a severe famine; that is, food was scarce. Then a group of four men decided they had nothing to lose, so they went over to the camp of the Arameans, hoping to find food and risking their lives to do so (the Arameans were enemies of the nation of Israel).
But these were no ordinary men; they were lepers. In case you are not familiar with leprosy, I will explain a little about the disease and the implications of it at the time of this biblical event. Leprosy if left untreated is a contagious skin disease (Leviticus 13:27) that can be spread through touch. In Elisha’s day people with leprosy were considered “unclean.” Lepers were given strict instructions to avoid other people entirely. If they saw someone walking on the road coming toward them, the leprous person had to move to the other side of the road and yell out “Unclean, unclean!” so that people could avoid them and the disease (Leviticus 13:45). Lepers were unwanted and considered outcasts.
In fact, because of the infectious and obvious effects of leprosy some passages of the Bible actually use leprosy as a picture of sin because sin makes us unclean and spreads throughout our entire person if it remains unchecked (see Hebrews 12:15).
Now, in light of all this, isn’t it interesting that God chose four starving lepers to find the food and treasure that would save His people?
As the lepers went over to the camp of the Arameans, the Lord caused the Arameans to hear a great army and flee in the dark. So the lepers found the Arameans’ treasure unguarded and free for the taking. Yes, lepers, whom everyone else avoided, who were considered useless to society and were outcasts, found treasure at God’s direction.
And notice specifically what the lepers found: not just food, which would have been good enough but also gold, silver and clothing. Wow, what a blessing! This was grace upon grace.
Question 5. What did the lepers say to each other after they found all those good things?
The lepers felt the need to share all the things they found. They said it was “a day of good news,” and that the good news should not be kept to themselves but should be shared with others.
Question 6. Can you see how this story applies to us who have heard the good news of the gospel?
This story can be applied to you and I, can’t it? We were like those with leprosy for we had the sin of unbelief from birth. This sin made us unclean in God’s eyes, we were outcasts of Heaven unable to enter into God’s presence.
But one day God gave us some good news. He told us that Jesus took our sin and became an outcast for us, as He was taken “outside the camp” (Hebrews 13:11-13) and crucified. And when we go to the cross, we find a treasure trove of wonderful things. We find forgiveness of sins, cleansing from all wrong, the removal of all our guilt, freedom from the penalty of our sins and eternal life. What a treasure! This is grace upon grace.
Indeed this is truly a day of good news; the good news of the gospel. And we would not be doing right to keep it to ourselves, we must share it with others. We should go and tell them about Jesus and help them to receive the food and the treasure too.
This is evangelism. Every day we encounter those who are in a spiritual famine; that is, they are not receiving spiritual life and nourishment from Jesus. Since they are unbelievers they are leprous, unclean, not fit for God’s presence.
But we have the solution, his name is Jesus Christ, the “Bread of Life” (John 6). We have found that He can forgive us and cleanse us and make us new. So we want to go and tell the hungry people the good news. This is evangelism.
Now not everybody will receive the good news or even listen to what we say. Some people aren’t ready to hear yet; others have preconceived ideas of what Christianity is and don’t want to be involved now, but they might later. Some will get angry and might even threaten you. Nevertheless, we never write anyone off, for as long as they have breath in them they need to hear the gospel.
When Christianity first began the good news started spreading rapidly as that is the nature of the gospel (see Mark 4:30-32 and Luke 13:20-21), but there was also much opposition:
But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name.” 18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. 20 For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:17-20 (NIV)
Question 7. From Acts 4:17-20, how do we know that Peter and John really wanted to tell people about Jesus?
This phrase “we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” says to us that telling people about Jesus was really important to Peter and John. The reality is that as we spend time with Jesus, we will see Him in His Word and hear from Him by His Spirit. These things make us “eye-witnesses” and “ear-witnesses” to the reality of Christ and to the truth of the gospel; and then we, too, must tell others what we’ve seen and heard.
And one of the most wonderful things about telling others about Jesus, is that God gives us power to witness about Him:
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (NIV)
We remember from the early lessons in this unit that the Holy Spirit is the third Person in the Trinity. God gives Him to all who believe in Jesus (Ephesians 1:13) and one of the most wonderful things that happens when the Holy Spirit comes to us is that we receive power. This power is given so that we can witness effectively about Jesus to others. God wants us to take this gospel “to the ends of the earth” and He gives us the power to do so, through His Holy Spirit.
So now we know that God gave us His Son, and He also gives us His Spirit. But He is not done giving. As you continue on in these lessons you will see that God has much more to give. In fact, “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17).
And we who believe have the privilege of taking this good news of a giving God to people who need Him.
There are some ministries which exist to help teach us what to say to people to get them interested in the gospel. These ministries might teach us what questions to ask, what Scriptures to use, how to defend our faith and argue for the gospel. And all this can be good and helpful, but Gospel Growth Ministries maintains that the best witness is simply one who spends time with Jesus.
You don’t have to know exactly what to say but as you study God’s Word and hear God’s voice and as you pray and pour out your heart to God something will happen to you. You will begin to experience boldness and power to simply share with others what God is doing in you and what He is teaching you. And sharing in this authentic way is often more appealing to nonbelievers than a pre-made script. Spending time with Jesus comes with power and boldness.
Notice how two people, Peter and John, witnesses boldly about Jesus:
This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” 13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. Acts 4:11-13 (ESV)
Question 8. In the above passage we find out how Peter and John came to be so bold. How did that happen?
Question 9. Are you spending time with Jesus too? Are you reading His Word, the Bible, and praying to Him?
As you become more and more convinced of the truth and reality of Jesus Christ and the gospel, you will become increasingly emboldened in your proclaiming of the gospel to others. You will share your faith with both power and compassion; and as you do, God will use you to bring people to Jesus. You will then get the joy of watching as their lives begin to change right in front of your eyes. This is evangelism, and it is the privilege of everyone who knows Jesus.
We encourage you to go on from here, continue your study with us into the second quarter. There you will learn how to overcome in your Christian life.
Question 10. Please summarize the lesson today, and let us know if you have grown any in your understanding of sharing the good news.