A driving force behind personal evangelism is a sense of urgency.
Without a sense of urgency, evangelism loses one of its core motivations.
Without a sense of urgency, the persecutions that believers suffer for the sake of the gospel becomes something to be avoided.
The urgency of the gospel has propelled missionaries to all corners of the earth, often at sacrificial cost to their own lives, employment, and family.
Are we busy with trivial things?
We are busy in our churches with many affairs.
We appoint committee members who are focused on administrative issues.
We discuss issues ranging from the color of hymnals, women in ecclesiastical office, brand of coffee makers, proper liturgy and what constitutes outreach.
Some committees simply treat evangelism as a hobby, rather than an actual team doing the work of evangelism (not all!).
Many of these concerns are legitimate.
But we may become so preoccupied with so many diverse interests that we lose sight of God’s main interest – His desire that none should perish.
Bible verses that support the urgency of evangelism
The following Bible verses and themes are often used to justify the urgency of personal evangelism.
Jesus is coming back. Jesus, the One who says these things are true, says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!. – Revelation 22:20 (NCV).
World evangelism will signify the return of Jesus. The Good News about God’s kingdom will be preached in all the world, to every nation. Then the end will come. – Matthew 24:14 (NCV)
Hell is real for those who don’t know Jesus. And anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire – Revelation 20:15 (NCV)
But cowards, those who refuse to believe, who do evil things, who kill, who sin sexually, who do evil magic, who worship idols, and who tell lies—all these will have a place in the lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. Revelation 21:8 (NCV).
The harvest is ready now. You have a saying, ‘Four more months till harvest.’ But I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields ready for harvest now. – John 4:35 (NCV)
We are to warn. When I say to the wicked, ‘You will surely die,’ you must warn them so they may live. If you don’t speak out to warn the wicked to stop their evil ways, they will die in their sin. But I will hold you responsible for their death. If you warn the wicked and they do not turn from their wickedness or their evil ways, they will die because of their sin. But you will have saved your life –Ezekiel 3:18-19 (NCV)
So today I tell you that if any of you should be lost, I am not responsible. – Acts 20.26 (NCV)
So we continue to preach Christ to each person, using all wisdom to warn and to teach everyone, in order to bring each one into God’s presence as a mature person in Christ – Colossians 1:28
The Lord says, “Shout out loud. Don’t hold back. Shout out loud like a trumpet. Tell my people what they have done against their God; tell the family of Jacob about their sins. – Isaiah 58:1
Personal Responsibility. Telling the Good News is my duty—something I must do. And how terrible it will be for me if I do not tell the Good News – 1 Corinthians 9:16
Sin is universal. There is no one who understands. There is no one who looks to God for help – Romans 3:11 (NCV).
Christ is the sure remedy for sin. Christ took away the curse the law put on us. He changed places with us and put himself under that curse – Galatians 3.13 (NCV).
Today is the day of salvation. I tell you that the “right time” is now, and the “day of salvation” is now. – 2 Corinthians 6:2 (NVC)
Is it your fault if people don’t hear?
I believe there is one argument in often used in the urgency of evangelism that must be forever removed from our teaching.
If someone dies before you share the gospel with them, it’s your fault they are in hell.
I’ve heard this expressed in different ways to soften it’s destructive blow.
The phrase – It’s your fault -is often hidden or unspoken to soften it’s blow. It’s implied.
No matter how it’s phrased, this blame placing motivator to urgency is guilt driven. Examples:
- If you think a person needs 29 conversations with you before getting to the gospel, woe to you if they die before the 28th conversation.
- You might be the only Christian witness a person might ever see.
I think this guilt driven approach to urgency needs to be banned from our teaching.
It undermines the sovereignty of God, since you failed God’s ability to save.
It undermines the drawing work of God, since it implies that you are the only one ever in the life of that person to witness to the Good News.
It undermines the witness of the body of Christ, making you to be the only witness when other church members or believing friends could be in their life.
It undermines God as the author of salvation, since this makes salvation of someone else dependent upon your obedience.
I cannot stand this teaching. I believe it is harmful and guilt inducing.
Let’s get rid of the “it’s your fault” teaching when we teach on gospel urgency.
How does urgency affect evangelism?
I have great sorrow and always feel much sadness. I wish I could help my Jewish brothers and sisters, my people. I would even wish that I were cursed and cut off from Christ if that would help them. – Romans 9:2-3
Paul had a sense of urgency to his message. In the letter to the Romans, he expresses it with the words:
- great sorry
- Feel much sadness
Do I feel that way about family, neighbors, classmates, friends, or even strangers who are headed for a lost eternity? Do I grieve for them?
Are there people I desperately want to see come to Christ, or come back to him?
Am I willing to lay down my life, and even my resources, so that they might know that there’s hope?
It’s a very different emotional motivator than guilt.
Now, getting the gospel to as many people as possible is our urgent task.
- Is it urgent because hell is real?
- Is it urgent because we know Jesus is coming?
- Is it urgent because we must warn people about hell?
- Is it urgent because someone might die and live eternally separated from God because you didn’t share?
I’ve been thinking about motives recently.
I wonder,how does gospel urgency impact our personal evangelism?
Do we go to the streets with tracts and open air preaching? Do we preach a message of warning to passer-by who don’t hear the solution? Do we preach about God’s love to passer-by who don’t hear the problem?
Do we strive to speak in front of as many crowds as possible, a la Billy Graham or Cash Luna? (Not everyone is a gifted public speaker).
Do we make time in our schedule to talk about faith with strangers in the park, 1-1, with a scripted conversation, a la Way of the Master or Evangelism Explosion?
Do we find ways to share our faith at work, without being obnoxious, or other relational ways to open up faith sharing conversations?
Do we study books on apologetics to provide a rational foundation for our faith sharing discussions, a la Ravi Zacharias?
Let me ask you this?
How does one balance the urgency of the gospel with the time it takes to share the gospel in a friendship?
How does one balance the urgency of the gospel with the dreaded feeling of guilt that you’ve not done enough?