What evangelism isn’t

Imposing your beliefs on others

To begin with, they aren’t your personal beliefs, but biblical facts. Second, evangelism is telling the gospel, not making sure that the other person responds to it correctly. Evangelism isn’t an imposition because no human can coerce another into becoming a true Christian.

Personal testimony

In telling how you came to faith in Christ, you may or may not make clear the claims of Christ on other people. Personal testimony is great and needs to be done; evangelism is about God, Jesus, and man’s response.

Social action and political involvement

These emphasise horizontal problems over the vertical one. The Gospel is about reconciliation to God. That said, there’s nothing wrong with social action.

Apologetics

As with personal testimony, apologetics may or may not include evangelism. While apologetics responds to the agenda that others set, evangelism responds to Christ’s agenda. Again, there’s nothing wrong with apologetics.

The results of evangelism

An approach that equates evangelism and its results may lead to believing that we can change people, resulting in manipulation. Looking at the book of Acts, we see that even the apostle Paul was often unsuccessful. The lack of a positive response isn’t indicative of our lack of faithfulness (2 Corinthians 2:15-16). We fail only when we don’t tell the gospel at all.

What is evangelism, then?

Evangelism is telling the good news of what God did through Christ on the cross and living a life that backs it up.

Excerpted from a talk given by Mark Dever at The Gospel and Personal Evangelism Conference held at UCC Dubai, September 2010. This material can also be found in a book he wrote, of which you can read an excerpt.

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