Series: Proverbs II
October 08, 2017 | Randy Smith
Effective EvangelismProverbs 11:30
Sunday, October 8, 2017
Pastor Randy Smith
Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962), the world-famous violinist, earned a fortune with his concerts and compositions, but he generously gave most of it away. So, when he discovered an exquisite violin on one of his trips, he wasn't able to buy it. Later, having raised enough money to meet the asking price, he returned to the seller, hoping to purchase the beautiful instrument. But to his great dismay it had been sold to a collector. Kreisler made his way to the new owner's home and offered to buy the violin. The collector said it had become his prized possession and he would not sell it. Keenly disappointed, Kreisler was about to leave when he had an idea. "Could I play the instrument once more before it is consigned to silence?" he asked. Permission was granted, and the great virtuoso filled the room with such heart-moving music that the collector's emotions were deeply stirred. "I have no right to keep that to myself," he exclaimed. "It's yours, Mr. Kreisler. Take it into the world, and let people hear it" (Our Daily Bread, February 4, 1994).
As we look forward to the baptism testimonies, today's sermon is a natural progression from the past two messages.
Two weeks ago we studied the core principles of the Gospel - the holiness of God, the sinfulness of man, the Person and work of Christ and faith and repentance. Or if you want a shorter list-God-Man-Christ-Response.
Then last week we looked at the spiritual fruit that God produces once someone believes this Gospel and gets saved. Remember, good character and good works do not save a person, but once a person is saved, God will transform that personal internally and use the individual for His good purposes.
So then what is the natural progression from here? Very simple, we will not keep the message to ourselves, but we will as commanded, like the man with the violin, proclaim the sweet sound of Gospel music to others.
So this morning, again using only the book of Proverbs, let's see what we can learn from these nuggets of wisdom that might assist us in proclaiming the Gospel. Permit me to provide some random thoughts that I trust you will find helpful to overcome the common feelings of inadequacy, laziness and fear when sharing Christ.
First of all, and probably most important, you need to cherish the message (the Gospel you are proclaiming) as being true and beneficial. Or put more specifically, you need to believe it is essential that others hear the Gospel because the eternal destiny of an individual's soul is hanging in the balance. Being convinced of this reality, combined with our love for others, compels us to share the message of salvation.
Let me throw a few Proverbs at you.
- 10:6, "Blessings are on the head of the righteous."
- 10:7, "The memory of the righteous is blessed, but the name of the wicked will rot."
- 10:16, "The wages of the righteous is life, the income of the wicked, punishment."
- 10:25, "When the whirlwind passes, the wicked is no more, but the righteous has an everlasting foundation."
- 12:7, "The wicked are overthrown and are no more, but the house of the righteous will stand."
- 12:28, "In the way of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death."
- 16:20 "He who gives attention to the word will find good, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD."
- 18:10, "The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe."
- 23:17-18, "Do not let your heart envy sinners, but live in the fear of the LORD always. Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off."
- 24:20, "For there will be no future for the evil man; the lamp of the wicked will be put out."
Do we really believe what we claim to believe as Christians? If an eternal death in hell awaits the unrighteous, how can we not proclaim that the righteousness we need before God can be found in Jesus Christ. There is no message more valuable for a person to hear. Sharing the Gospel is a good thing! In your heart you must believe that. Do you?
- 10:11, "The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life."
- 15:23, "A man has joy in an apt answer, and how delightful is a timely word!"
- 11:30, "He who is wise wins souls."
Something else to remember is that when you are speaking to an unbeliever, you are entering a worldview (if you are walking with the Lord) that will be diametrically opposed to your own. Apart from God's grace giving them eyes to see and ears to hear, the Bible declares that your words will be foolish. That's because natural man, apart from the Lord in his life, according to Proverbs, is a fool. Not the most flattering way to identify an unbeliever, but that is exactly what the Bible calls him. Apart from God doing something, don't expect them to understand the message, applaud your efforts, agree with your logic or accept your Bible verses. It's important to keep that in mind!
1:7, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction."
In others words, if an unbeliever does not fear the Lord (which they obviously don't or they would be a believer!), don't expect them to even come close to understanding biblical knowledge. Such a person (according to the verses) is a fool and he or she will despise God's wisdom and instruction. In other words, don't get discouraged!
How about 12:15? "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel" (cf. 21:2).
You see, if we are only going to argue beliefs or experiences we should expect opposition because what makes my beliefs or experiences better than yours? Come on, our beliefs and experiences are always right in our own eyes! But when we counsel from the Word of God (12:15), we appeal to the highest authority.
This is the ultimate standard we are to bring our lives in line with. And when someone, according to 12:15, argues his beliefs or experiences above it and refuses to listen to God's counsel, he is biblically called (in 12:15) a fool. 21:30, "There is no wisdom and no understanding and no counsel against the LORD." But to the fool it's 18:2. "A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind."
And the unbeliever will foolishly argue according to his unbiblical worldview and we need to be prepared to counter it with truth. 14:12, "There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death." That's why we share the Gospel because all the manmade remedies for eternal life only lead a person to spiritual death.
Let's keep going - just some simple practical thoughts today regarding evangelism from the book of Proverbs.
How about this one? If you want to be an effective evangelist, it is essential that you have a strong testimony. The world smells hypocrisy from a mile away. In other words, if you are living with your girlfriend, speaking with profanity or slandering others, how can you call people to purity? If you complain and live a depressed life, plagued with fear or anxiety, how can you prove your message will bring joy and peace? If you have given into addictions, how can you proclaim the liberation found in Christ?
- 10:9, "He who walks in integrity walks securely."
- 11:20, "The perverse in heart are an abomination to the LORD, but the blameless in their walk are His delight."
- 20:7, "A righteous man [is he] who walks in his integrity."
All professing Christians should share Christ, but I think we've all met some that we wish would just keep their mouths shut!
How about some advice using Proverbs as to how you should engage another when sharing the Gospel. Let me shoot five thoughts your way.
First, use self-control! A few pitfalls that most of us make. One is we let the individual take us off the main point. "What about those who never heard the Gospel?" "Where did Cain get his wife?" Maybe it's the person that just wants to share unrelated stories. You need self-control to prevent yourself from going down rabbit trails that will take you away from the four core elements of the Gospel.
Second you will need self-control to avoid getting emotional, angry, discouraged, frustrated or offended. Oftentimes these conversations can get very sensitive. You need to be filled with the Holy Spirit and produce the fruit of self-control even if the other person has lost his. Don't let their spirit dictate your spirit.
- 12:16, "A fool's anger is known at once, but a prudent man conceals dishonor."
- 12:18, "There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing."
- 14:17, "A quick-tempered man acts foolishly."
- 14:29, "He who is slow to anger has great understanding."
- 15:18, "The slow to anger calms a dispute."
- 20:3, "Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, but any fool will quarrel."
- 26:4, "Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will also be like him."
Second, listen carefully to the person! Yes, avoid rabbit trails, but listen to the person. You are not talking to a robot. Your words are not a prerecorded message. This is an individual with a soul created in God's image. Show the person dignity. They are not a personal challenge viewed simply as a convert to be won or a prize for our evangelism trophy case. Listen to them and try to genuinely enter their world. Love them by genuinely listening to them!
- 18:13, "He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him."
Listen carefully so you can, number three, speak to their heart! Jesus was a master at this technique. Compare how he spoke to Nicodemus in John 3 and then the Woman and the Well in John 4. Same message, but packaged in two different ways to customize it to the personal situation. We must so the same. And we'll never be able to do this until we enter their world.
14:10, "The heart knows its own bitterness, and a stranger does not share its joy." Don't be a stranger to them. Learn their heart to speak to their heart. They might not show it, but often there is a lot of pain in there. Find their pain and speak Christ to that pain. There are a lot of people pretending to be happy. 14:13, "Even in laughter the heart may be in pain" (cf. 15:13, 15; 17:22; 18:14). Pray that God uses your words as you share His words to cut to the soul of their heart. 18:4, "The words of a man's mouth are deep waters." Therefore it is your job to understand their heart and speak Christ as the remedy. I love 20:5, "A plan in the heart of a man is like deep water, but a man of understanding draws it out." Probe them. Emphasize with them. Question them to understand them. This is love, investment in a human being however short of long that interaction might be, drawing out their worldview, beliefs, struggles and fears and then presenting Christ as the answer who has overcome sin.
Fourth, choose your words carefully! Be strategic with what you say. There is wisdom in communicating truth with the right words and the right amount of words. Listen to these excellent Proverbs that apply not only to witnessing, but every aspect of life.
- 10:19, "When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise."
No one wants to listen to a babbling fool or a person that just wants to talk about himself or a person that can't take a hint that the other person wants the conversation to end. None of us want to be a part of a conversation like that! Offend with the Gospel, not your lack of manners. Don't turn the "good news" into "boring news!"
Some more Proverbs along these lines:
- 10:31, "The mouth of the righteous flows with wisdom."
- 10:32, "The lips of the righteous bring forth what is acceptable."
- 13:3, "The one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin."
- 15:1, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."
- 15:4, "A soothing tongue is a tree of life."
- 15:28, "The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer."
- 16:21, "Sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness" (cf. 16:23).
- 25:11, "Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances."
And number, be sure that you speak God's truth accurately. 12:17, "He who speaks truth tells what is right."
Let me close by sharing some related personal thoughts that have weighed heavily on my heart over the past few months.
I am very grieved that we have professing believers in this church that are not sharing the Gospel. My friends, witnessing to the lost is your Great Commission mandate from the Lord Jesus Christ. I am also very grieved that we have professing believers and I would dare to say members that are not able to articulate the Gospel. That is something that is illogical because they claim to believe it and painful because I proclaim it in nearly every sermon.
You see, educating people in church is unlike any other form of education. Could you imagine entering your Calculus classroom and the teacher on the first day saying, "Don't worry about taking notes. Just listen if you want to. Get up and use the bathroom throughout the class. There will be no homework, no quizzes and no tests."
How much would you learn? Maybe 2% at best. Is the church any different? I am not suggesting you are given a test (although I would love to do that every week!). I am suggesting that unless you are putting in some effort and taking this seriously, all my effort, which I hope is God ministering through me to you, is simply going down the drain.
I am not asking that each of you become a doctor in theology, but I am asking that you know the Gospel and are able to share your faith equipped with sound biblical knowledge and doctrine. God expects that of you. I would be in sin if I expected anything less.
That's why we are going to take a half hour to work through and practice this every Wednesday night. Last week was a good start. We covered the insert from your bulletin and we'll be going over this particular subject for a few weeks. I encourage all of you to attend. I'll provide you with the basic facts on paper and I'll give you (on occasions) opportunities to practice it with each other. Nothing to embarrass you - just one-on-one conversations. If you're new to the faith, you are welcome to join a couple a just listen. Don't let your pride or fear hold you back. Because if you can't dialogue with a brother or sister in the church, you will never do it with an unbeliever in the world!
We don't need another series on how to evangelize. More talking, little action. We need to put in practice what we have learned. And I want to help you because I want to see you bear fruit for God's glory.
You know, no football team just watches game films and studies X's and O's and then goes out on Sunday afternoon to meet its opponent. They practice on each other throughout the week. We need to do that.
I've got a lot of great feedback regarding last Wednesday. Please let me know if you have an idea of how we can improve it. What matters it what we are doing as a church to fulfill the Great Commission, the very thing that defines our reason for existence.
- 25:25, "Like cold water to a weary soul, so is good news from a distant land" (cf. 25:13).
- 14:23, "In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty."