‘God-Centered Evangelism’ by Mark Dever

Mark Dever’s topic today was on sharing the good news. He asked four questions about his topic.

1. Who should evangelize?

2. How should we evangelize?

3. What is evangelism?

4. Why should we evangelize?

First, who should evangelize? The task of sharing the good news is not limited to the apostle Paul or to the first disciples. It is not only for preachers. It is for all believers. Evidence for this is found in Acts 8 where all believers are scattered by persecution from Jerusalem except the apostles and they are said to be spreading the gospel wherever they went. Further evidence is found in the example of Phillip, a deacon in the church, who is seen in Acts 8 evangelizing the Ethiopian Eunuch. In 1 Peter 3:15, we are told that we are to be “always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” Likewise the lives of believers in community with one another is a powerful evangelistic method per John 13:35 which says, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Second, how should we evangelize? Here Dever gave six Biblical guidelines for evangelism. They are:

1. Share the gospel honestly. Don’t hide the fact that it is costly to follow Christ. Don’t be like Robert Schuller who said,

I don’t think anything has been done in the name of Christ and under the banner of Christianity that has proven more destructive to human personality and, hence, counterproductive to the evangelism enterprise than the often crude, uncouth, and unchristian strategy of attempting to makepeople aware of their lost and sinful condition.

Instead, we are to be like Peter who is in sermon in Acts 2 publicly indicted the Jews for crucifying the King of glory. Jesus said that in order to follow him we must take up our cross. The cross was not ornamental in that day, it was an instrument of death! We must be honest in our presentations of the gospel!
Second, we must share the gospel with urgency! The first point made all the Calvinists happy, now it’s time to make all the Arminians happy. We must stress that unbelievers must respond. They shouldn’t put it off waiting for a better deal. There is no better deal coming. The gospel is not like a cellular phone plan that you can wait a couple of weeks for a better offer. No, the gospel is God’s final and only offer. Time is limited. Time is uncertain. There are opportunities now that one may never have again. Stress the urgency of the gospel!

Third, we must share the gospel with joy! We must tell sinners that if they repent and believe the gospel they will be saved. It’s worth it to follow Christ! As Jim Elliot famously said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he can never lose.”

Fourth, we must use the Bible. Not because, as it was fifty years ago in America, people will take it as an authority. Whether, in order to show that the gospel message which we proclaim is not idea.

Fifth, we recognize that the lives of Christians are a powerful complement to our sharing of the gospel. The church can and should be “a confirming echo of our witness.” A church full of regenerate people loving one another as John 13:35 indicates can be a powerful witness to the world. We should ask ourselves not, “How can we be like the culture?, but, “How can we be distinct from the culture?”

Sixth, we must pray. If we recognize that fundamentally salvation is a work of God, doesn’t it then follow that we must pray to God for the conversion of sinners!?!?

Third, what is evangelism? Evangelism is not imposition. When you evangelize you do not impose your views on someone else, but you seek to present the Good News accurately. We cannot coerce people into becoming Christians.

Nor is evangelism personal testimony. Instead, evangelism is objective statments about God, the state of all men, sin and righteousness.

Evangelism is not social action or apologetics. It is not the results of evangelism. In 2 Corinthians 2, Paul’s proclamation of the gospel has two very different effects on two different types of people. We cannot predict what kind of people will be reached by the kind of music that we use (contrary to a popular book).

Positively, evangelism is to declare on God’s authority what He has done in Christ while calling on men and women to believe the gospel and repent of their sins.

This mission cannot fail! If there are no results, there is no failure as long as the message is faithfully proclaimed.

Finally, why should we evangelize? Some motives for evangelism can be wrong. You can have the motive of wanting to be right, to win an argument, to look spiritual, to increase your reputation. But here are three good motives for evangelism:

1. Desire to be Obedient

2. Love for the Lost

3. Love for God – this is the only sufficient motive. “Only a deep love for God” will sustain your evangelism when all other motives fall flat.

In conclusion Dr. Dever described the sales technique used in soul-winning by C.S. Lovett. Reading from one of his books, Dever said that we should take a firm grip on the potential convert’s shoulder. In a semi-commanding tone we are to tell him to bow his head. Don’t look to see if he bows his head, bow your head first. But out of the corner of your eye you will see him hesitate at first, then he will bow his head. You will feel his heart yeild by your hand on his shoulder. Then, lead him to repeat a “sinner’s prayer.”

Dever finally and passionately argued that instead of viewing God as the gentleman who would not force his way on anyone and the soul-winner as the one who is to use all his manipulative powers to persuade the sinner to pray a prayer, we should ourselves be the gentleman who simply proclaims the gospel message and calls on the sinner to believe and repent, then step out of the way and allow God to use all the resources of his power to impart life to the soul of the unbeliever.

Amen! You must hear the audio to this one! I can’t do it justice.

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