We were talking yesterday about different approaches that people have in evangelism. Some people have gentle voices and others have strong ones. Some people show love and concern, while others seem more serious. But when it comes to helping people see their sin, how do we do that?
Some Christians feel strongly that they must pound in the fact that the person they are talking to will burn in hell if they don't repent. Many times they are expressive and try different ways to communicate that the person they are talking to must immediately feel his guilt and repent. What kind of dangers does this present though?
If we are the ones pounding in the fact that the other person is a sinner, could we be, maybe even unintentionally, trying to do the work of the Holy Spirit in that person's life? Isn't it the work of the Holy Spirit to show and convict people of their sin? Are we ignorant of the fact that 'salvation is of the Lord'? If we try to do the work of the Holy Spirit, wouldn't that be a form of manipulation? God grants us repentance, according to the Bible. God also gives us the faith we need to have to trust in God.
The danger with this kind of thinking could actually lead to legalism. We are, for all practical purposes, not acknowledging the person of the Holy Spirit in the life of a person. He is the One who reveals Christ. He makes God real to a person. He works in the individual's heart, helping him or her to see his or her sin, and to own that sin. And, He makes the Gospel 'make sense' to us. He helps us to understand our need for a Savior, and that Jesus is the only Savior. We can't do those things. Are we doing the work only reserved for God?
How hard should we be pressing people to repent? What was your conversion story like? Did people bang on your heart and try to make you feel bad for your sin, or, was it God who was beginning to do a work in your heart, and you responded to that work, and were drawn to the light? Was your salvation experience the work of people, or was it the work of God in your heart?
Yes, I do believe, (and I know that if you know me, you will believe me) that we need to do the work of evangelism. We need to lay the foundation down, explaining to people who God is, and what He is like. They need to understand what sin is, and how they are affected by it. They need to understand that God is holy and perfect, and He will punish sin. We need to tell them what God did in order to take care of their sin problem. They need to repent and turn to God and trust in Christ. I wish we could be out there every day doing this. But if we are coming down hard on people, and showing anger and hatred to them (trying to explain to them by our appearance, how God feels about sin), we are acting in the flesh. We are not in faith believing that God is not big enough to help a person see his/her sin. We are trying to do the work of the Holy Spirit.
God's word never returns back to Him void. It accomplishes what it is intended to do. We give it out. We ask people questions. We serve and love people. But we preach the Gospel to them.
The Bible tells us that we are 'constrained by the love of Christ'. It also describes the Apostles as people who could not contain the Gospel. They had to tell others. Not to get brownie points, but because they realized how great their sin before God was, and what a great salvation God had provided for them. They sowed, they watered, but God gave the increase.
Let us love people and go out and give them the Gospel. And let us be filled with the Holy Spirit and ask God for boldness to make His name known.