Showing posts with label Evangelism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Evangelism. Show all posts

A Point About Evangelism


(A picture from when we visited our friends' ranch in the Spring.  Ranch...agriculture...seeds...let's just go with it.)


Last year I started going to the Community Bible Study I went to as a child with my mom.  I can't express how much of a blessing this Bible Study has been to me since I started back!  It's so encouraging to hear everyone else's insights, and it challenges me to get into God's Word and think about things a little deeper.

Today we talked about the parable of the sower in Mark 4.  To be honest, I didn't love the questions and commentary in the lesson book this week - I felt like they muddied the waters a little.  I was also frustrated with myself for not preparing my lesson ahead of time this week, which limited my ability to contribute to the discussion.  Since I couldn't really get my thoughts out today in class, I thought I'd write them out here since I've had a little more time to think about it.

 “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed.As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”

Mark 4:3-8

The parable of the sower is a tricky parable, and I've heard it applied different ways.  But as I've read it, I've always understood it to be a representation of how different people who have not yet believed will respond to God's Word when they hear it.  I did a little more research on it today after our lesson, and I wanted to write out my thoughts for my own clarity, and because I thought about one point in a different way after the discussion today.

"Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? 14 The farmer sows the word. 15 Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satancomes and takes away the word that was sown in them. 16 Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 17 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”

Mark 4:13-20

These are the categories and my thoughts:


The Hard Soil - Those with hard hearts, who hear the word but it doesn't sink in or take root at all.  Satan immediately snatches it away, and they do not believe.

The Rocky Soil - Those who have an emotional response to God's Word, but who only have superficial, incomplete understanding of it and have never truly repented.  They may even say they "believe in Jesus" in a superficial sense, but we know from other places in the Bible that just acknowledging the truth does nothing.  Even the demons know the truth (James 2:19), but they will not accept it and repent.  When tribulations come, the true colors show, and it is shown that these people never truly believed.  They superficially accepted God's Word because it made them feel good, and as soon as it doesn't anymore, they fall away.

The Thorny Soil - From the way I read this same passage in Matthew, these are the people who hear the Word, and initially want to accept it - but they love the world, they love the things of the world, and as soon as they get back to their lives, it all comes to nothing.  John MacArthur (his sermons were some of my "research" - listen to them here) gave the rich young ruler as an example of this.   They love money and everything else the world has to offer, and that love stifles the Gospel, because we cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24).


I think the important thing about those second two there is that these people did NOT lose their salvation!  Jesus tells us that once we are His, NOTHING can snatch us out of His hand (John 10:27-30).  Those second two categories of people are those who were never truly converted in the first place.  The love of the world, and misunderstanding of the truth, led to false conversions.

I think the temptation is to try to fit people we know into these categories, but I don't think we should do that.  God knows what kind of soil a person is, and in the end, time will tell, because true believers will abide with Christ and bear fruit (John 15:1-6).  If someone eventually falls away, it's because they never truly let the Word of God take root in their heart and change them, they never truly repented.

I think another important note here is that we shouldn't assume that just because someone "prayed a prayer" that they are actually saved.  God is the only one who truly knows, but if a person has turned away from God, by all means, I think we should preach the Gospel to them again!

Our CBS director said something that was encouraging to me today - she said that no "soil" is beyond hope.  God can pull out those weeds.  God can remove the rocks.  God can break the hard ground.

He can make the soil good.

The final category:


The Good Soil - Those who hear the Word, understand it, and accept it with repentance and faith.  They bear fruit, and spread the truth to those around them, leading to a greater harvest.


All that we have to do is be faithful to spread the seed of the Gospel.  The true Gospel, not a incomplete, feel-good, emotional gospel; not a false, you-can-follow-God-and-keep-all-your-sin gospel.  The true Gospel that we are sinners, people who broke God's law, who deserve death and Hell, but that Jesus, God Himself, came to take our punishment.  He died in our place and rose again to save us from our sin.  We must recognize the truth of who we truly are as sinners and what Christ has done, repent, turn our back on everything the world offers, turn our back on our sin, and follow after Christ alone, with all that we have.

The thing that I realized today is this:

It is not in my power to change the soil of someone's heart.  Only God can do that.

I can't make the soil good by saying things a certain way, or following certain "strategies".  If I am living out and speaking the whole truth of the Gospel, I can't mess this up.  My only job is to spread the seed of the truth of God's Word to those around me.  I can spread the seed, I can water it, but it is God who makes it grow.

"So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth."

1 Corinthians 3:7

I can't explain how comforting this is to me.  I've lately tried to speak to people about the Gospel more, for the first time in my life really, and I've been shut down, and it breaks my heart every time.  It's easy to worry that I did it all wrong.  But according to this passage, I should expect rejection, I should expect that some will not truly understand.  God is in charge of that, not me.  I don't know how big my personal harvest will be, and I'm not in control of that anyway.  I only need to be faithful to the Great Commission, to spread the seed and pray for God to prepare the ground.

And oh, the joy when some of that seed will take root in good soil.

That's what will make it all worth it.


Evangelism Is Scary



Confession: I've been a Christian for over 20 years, but I struggle with evangelism.  A lot.  I know I'm not alone in this, because I've recently heard a statistic that only 2% of the church shares their faith on a regular basis.  Yikes!  That's embarrassing.

I like to think that sharing the gospel in written form on this blog counts for something, but let's be honest, if I really are about those around me who are headed for Hell, I should be willing to speak up in person too.  But I get scared, and I don't know what to say.  It's a problem.  I've been feeling convicted about this for a couple years, but it's so hard to know where to start.

After praying about this for a while, I feel like the Lord brought a couple resources into my life in the last few months that are making me feel a lot less terrified of evangelizing.  I was going to share about all this in one of my life update posts, but then I thought, hey, evangelism is an important enough topic that it certainly deserves it's own post.  And I know some of you out there have the same struggles as me.  Speak up in the comments!


Resource #1 - Wretched Radio

In December we started listening to a podcast called Wretched Radio.  Derek and I are officially hooked now.  Todd Friel, the host, has a sarcastic sense of humor that is entertaining, but the meat of his ministry is all tied back to the importance of the gospel and evangelism.  We don't always agree with his style or word choice, but he's very grounded on God's word.  Each week he does a "Witness Wednesday" episode, where he gets random people on the radio and witnesses to them right there.  Just hearing how someone else witnesses to people, in real conversations, has made me feel so much more prepared for the moment when I might get a chance to witness to someone myself.  And feeling prepared is half the battle, right?

Resource #2 - Living Waters

On a related note, Friel started this part of the podcast with Ray Comfort, who has a whole Youtube channel where he witnesses to strangers.  His boldness in sharing the gospel is so inspiring, and makes the whole thing seem less scary and more doable.  Derek and I could sit for hours and watch his witnessing videos.  You can see all those here, but be prepared to get sucked in for a ridiculous amount of time.

Resource #3 - Successful Christian Parenting by John MacArthur

I've mentioned Successful Christian Parenting before, but this is my go-to book for refocusing on evangelizing my children - who are the people I want to point to the Lord the most, for obvious reasons!  That's really the whole point of Christian parenting.  I think this book would be great in particular for anyone who has children in their life that they want to lead to Jesus, even if you aren't a parent yet, and the approach he explains in this book would be helpful in witnessing to someone of any age.  I'm reading it again this year.

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Evangelism is one of those things that I think a lot of us put off because we don't think we have the "gift" of evangelism.  But the thing about spiritual gifts is that they are often things that we are supposed to do whether we have a "gift" for it or not.  We're all supposed to be practicing discernment, hospitality, mercy, etc.  And we're all supposed to be evangelizing.  Plus, this is purely a guess, but I imagine that since we know God is not willing that any should perish but all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), He probably has gifted more than 2% of the church with the gift of evangelism...and maybe a lot of us just don't realize it because we're too scared or lazy to give it a try.

That would be me. But I'm working on it, and I wanted to encourage my fellow sisters in Christ to work on it too.  Checking out these resources is an easy place to start.

Do you have a hard time with evangelism too?  Are you trying to work on it?  What resources have helped you?






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