You Can’t Win if You Don’t Enter!

Posted: October 20, 2013 in 99-Uncategorized
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Earlier this week, I read this quote from Evangelism Handbook: Biblical, Spiritual, Intentional, Missional by Alvin Reid:

If you have attempted to witness, you about this fear, “I don’t know what to say, What if they ask a question I can’t answer?” The fear of failure is real. How do we cope with it? This fear may exist because we misunderstand our task. We are called to faithfulness. Faithfulness to share is our measure of success. Our Lord Jesus did not win every person with whom He shared. We are ambassadors. Ambassadors do not speak on their own authority, but for another. We must remember that God holds us accountable for obedience, not perfection. Remember, Jesus called us to follow Him, and if we did so He would make us fishers of men (Matthew 4:19). If we enjoy fishing as much as catching, we will experience a lessening of this fear as we focus more on the joy of telling good news and less on our “success.”

This quotation resonated with me because it speaks to the fact that we are not personally responsible for winning souls to Christ. That is the Holy Spirit’s job. We are, however, called to be witnesses wherever we are (Acts 1:8). We are to be obedient and share the gospel and rely on the Holy Spirit for the rest.

I have read from various sources that the average number of times a person will hear the gospel before they come to faith in Christ is, depending on the source you read, as low as five (5) times and as many as eight (8) times. Thus, if we are keeping statistics, with all other variables being equal, it equates to an evangelistic batting average of .125 per unsaved person. When you factor in the fact that not all Christians share their faith ever, the batting average for the sharing person is less than that. If it takes that many (i.e., multiple) encounters for the hardened heart to be softened to Jesus Christ, when we do not share our faith, we are stretching out the salvation time line (first encounter with the gospel until the last where conversion occurs).

One of my friends from the time that I lived in California once compared this time frame to teaching basketball to a person. In teaching basketball, we start with dribbling and as the person progresses to the stage where they can dunk the ball in the basket (yes, I know not all people can dunk but allow some poetic license in the illustration). She compared the first sharing of the gospel with an unsaved person to teaching them to dribble. Something effective has been shared but it is just the start. We have planted the seed of salvation. Another person teaches them to dribble and drive toward the basket. Soil is softening and the person is actually thinking about God. Eventually, someone teaches them how to dunk. They are there for that final leap of faith and into the basket of salvation. We all often think that we are supposed to be there for the slam dunk. But, sometimes we are there simply for the dribble. We do not determine where we are in this basketball analogy. We simply must share. The command is obvious (Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:19) that we must do this. We are not given any additional clause that we have a role with whom the gospel is shared. Our command is to share, share, share.

In the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-23), the seed of the gospel was sown indiscriminately on all four soils. The sower is generous with the seed. While it is true that only one of the four was good soil and brought fruit, it did not change the fact that the seed kept falling on all four. Instead of being generous with the seed, we are being selective. I think there is a temptation to be discouraged from sowing the seed because we focus more on the fruit (harvest) than being faithful with the seed. The sower’s responsibility is not to determine the outcome of the seed. In that, we are trying to take God’s place by being selective with whom we share the gospel and worse yet not sharing it at all. We are commanded to be obedient to Jesus Christ. We are not required by Scripture to be a Bible know it all. We must though know what matters – the change that Christ has made in our lives. Sure, as we mature in faith, we can learn how to improve our witness by learning how to witness to baby boomers vs. Gen-X’ers, but that has to do learning what motivates people spiritually – the story remains at the core. When the earth was formed, the core formed first and then the layers of crust and earth developed after that. It is the same with our witness. The core of any witness is our story – how Christ changed our lives (what it was like before, how we came to Christ, and how our life has been radically changed since). To close out, I quote from Will McRaney’s book, The Art of Personal Evangelism:

You do not have to possess the attributes and gifts of Billy Graham to share Christ. You do not have to be an extrovert, meet strangers well, have a booming voice, be courageous in every circumstance, or speak eloquently before a crowd to tell God’s story in your life. Sharing Christ involves faithfulness to report for service in the Lord’s army. God desires to use you, which includes the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of you (p. 195)

If we wait until we have lived the perfect life to share the gospel, then the gospel would never have been shared beyond Jesus. We are commanded to share. We are to share the good, the bad, and the ugly side of us. Therein lies the power of our testimony. God redeems imperfect people through Jesus Christ. We are the tools He chooses to share the gospel through. It makes the story of salvation all the more powerful. God changes us from the ugly lostness of sin and its effects into imperfect beings made perfect in the covering of Jesus Christ before God. Your story of salvation is your personal evidence of how God redeems. That is the substance. That is the meat. That is what we are ultimately to share, as obedient believers. Every time we share, we shrink that person’s salvation time line. Their eternity is worth stepping up to the plate and taking a swing. It is worth being on the court, dribble or dunk.

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