Pattern for evangelism
Jesus has commanded his followers to preach the gospel to the whole world so that everyone will have the opportunity to believe in him and be saved.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
But he also said in John 8:44,
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.
If a person can only come to Jesus if he is drawn by the Father, then what part does our proclamation of the gospel have in salvation? I believe God has shown us the answer to this question in the story of the resurrection of Lazarus in John 11. The steps taken by Jesus to give physical life to Lazarus are the same as the ones he now follows to give spiritual life to those who become his followers.
John 11:38-44 describes the resurrection.
Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”
Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.”
Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”
So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.”
When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.”
The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
First Jesus told the people to roll away the stone that from the mouth of the tomb. This is what we do when we tell others how to be saved. They must know the facts of the gospel and it is our responsibility to meet this need. Some people may find it difficult to believe what we tell them because of false ideas and beliefs that they hold. This is where apologetics is involved in the evangelistic process. We must show them that what we are telling them is true.
After the stone had been removed Jesus commanded Lazarus to come out of the tomb and he did so. Jesus didn’t instruct anyone else to command Lazarus to live. He carried out this step without any human help.
This is where many people make a mistake. They think that after they have presented the gospel they must persuade the person to believe it. I have attended evangelistic meetings where the evangelist ended the service with an altar call and spent a lot of time trying to persuade people to come forward and be saved. This can be dangerous because sometimes a person will make a profession in response to the evangelist’s arguments rather that to the moving of the Holy Spirit. This can make a person think he is saved when in fact he is not and is one reason that so many who respond to evangelistic invitations later fall away. Jesus was the only one who could give physical life to Lazarus and he is the only one who can give spiritual life.
After Lazarus came out of the tomb Jesus commanded the people to untie the linen strips with which he had been tied. This corresponds to instructing the new believer in how he should now live. When a baby is born he needs care to prepare him for the new life he is now living. This is true whether he has been born physically or spiritually.
Our job is to share the gospel with people so have the opportunity to be saved and to help them grow in the faith after they believe in Jesus. But it is up to God to enable them to make the decision to actually believe.
Posted on November 12, 2011, in Bible study, evangelism, salvation and tagged alter call, evangelism, falling away, false profession, Jesus, Lazarus, resurrection, salvation. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.