The Cost Of True Evangelism
“And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
The testimony of Scripture reveals that very few who were confronted with Christ’s call to follow accepted the challenge.
Luke 14:27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
Therefore, a man who refuses Christ’s discipline cannot be referred to as a Christian as discipleship is a requirement for Christianity. Jesus Christ, the Messiah, is known as Savior. Therefore, a man who walks with Christ possesses salvation. However, we cannot have His life if we are unwilling to forfeit our own. We cannot save our life and simultaneously exalt His. Let no man deceive you, every spiritual endeavor, including discipleship, involves sacrifice.
Luke 14:28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
And likewise, every facet of Christian discipleship has its specific cost. Evangelism is no exception.
Luke 10:2 Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.
If we are to truly preach the gospel, as it should be preached, we must understand and accept the cost. Now, to preach the gospel is to exalt Christ.
John 12:32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Hence, we cannot say we are exalting Christ while we soften the blow, or otherwise obscure the truth. There can be no liberty, no freedom apart from divine truth.
John 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
Truth is expressed exclusively in the Scriptures. Therefore, the gospel cannot be accurately preached apart from a declaration of God’s Word. This is what is meant by telling the truth – the true soul winner is a man who is willing to tell the truth.
Proverbs 14:5 A faithful witness will not lie: but a false witness will utter lies.
Proverbs 14:25 A true witness delivereth souls: but a deceitful witness speaketh lies.
Ironically, today the claims of mass conversions abound while the popularity for truth telling continues to plummet – something is amiss. A man who has told us the truth is a man who has applied God’s Word to our lives – and this is very, very unpopular. In a nutshell, truth telling constitutes Biblical evangelism. Two times in the N.T. the cost of telling the truth is mentioned. If we will be effective witnesses for Jesus we will face these two repercussions for our faithfulness.
TRUTH TELLING CAN BE DISCOURAGING
John 8:45 And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.
The more faithful you are to communicate and express the truth of God’s Word the more ineffective you will seem. Truth alone can set men free but it’s the one thing that most refuse to hear. The lying prophet always seems to have more immediate results because his message is gutted of all the spiritual cost. Only eternity will reveal the great gulf between the potential that truth has to deliver and the utter inability of anything less. In reality, the truth is always spiritually effectual because it always accomplishes the will of God. It always works its eternal ramifications. When applied under the unction of God’s Spirit, there is no escaping the divine effects of gospel truth on the human heart. Truth as light can reveal, expose, or blind. Truth as salt can preserve but it can also ruin. Truth as a hammer, can shatter as well as break. In Isaiah 6, we see this distinction of the effects of truth revealed in the commission of the prophet.
Isaiah 6:10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.
This is the same prophet that lamented in Chapter 53 after years of truth telling…
Isaiah 53:1 Who hath believed our report?
Oh, the mystery and the horror of the eternal influences of God’s truth on the human spirit. It will feed and strengthen the hungry soul while it will offend, deceive, and slay the insincere. However, we must understand: it is not so much how it’s applied, but rather how it is received that dictates its effect. Truth can destroy or can deliver, depending on how we respond to its eternal demands.
Matthew 21:44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.
What is Jesus seeking to communicate in the above words? He is warning us, the stone doesn’t change. Whether we like it or not, whether man agrees or disagrees, the nature of the truth remains constant, immutable, and unyielding. There is nothing wrong with the Rock but the whosoever. There’s nothing wrong with the truth or the truth teller only how men react to that truth. The man who longs to be faithful to God in evangelism must simply be content to tell the truth. When we purpose in our heart to give folks the naked truth the opportunities for discouragement are plenteous. We will be misunderstood, our motives will be doubted, our compassion and love questioned. It takes courage to wound men with the truth.
Proverbs 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
Few will believe what we say (meaning not many will accept, take up as their own, subject themselves to, readily follow).
Our spiritual efforts to be a witness and a blessing will appear unproductive at best. Nonetheless, let us be encouraged in the way of our Lord…
John 8:45 And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.
TRUTH TELLING WILL EARN YOU MANY ENEMIES
Galatians 4:16 Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?
The more faithful you are to communicate and express the truth of God’s Word the less popular you will be. If we are faithful to express the truth of God’s Word we will garner the labels of harsh, unloving, insensitive, and unmerciful. In the natural, the eye that is not exercised and exposed to light loses its power to focus. Likewise, when people refuse to come to the light, they lose the ability to see in the spirit.
Now, darkness always provokes the worst of kind of fear. Out of such fear men will indiscriminately strike out to protect themselves. When the truth of God’s Word comes, either in the gospel to the sinner or in doctrine to the saint, it comes to reveal Christ. Indeed, more of Christ always mean less of us. Hence, the truth of God’s Word, always presents the cross. I have heard men accuse the the true, Spirit anointed preaching of God’s Word as “hateful”. Perhaps, such accusations are rooted in some truth as wayward men sense the unwavering demand of the cross thundering in their conscience. The cross demands death to their god. The god of sin. The god of self-will. The cross never comes to slay Christ, nor torture others, it always demands its proper victim, “me”. This is an unpopular message and will earn the most violent of reactions. Self-preservationalways provokes the most rigorous self-defense. Men, who are otherwise peaceful and serene, can be aroused to the most horrid violence to save their own lives. Hence, we should consider the price of preaching the gospel uninvited and often unwanted.
John 7:7 The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.
John 8:40 But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.
Eloquent words and kind expressions don’t necessarily minister life to anyone. In fact, it can be exactly the opposite.
Romans 16:18 …by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
It takes courage and resolve to tell people what may motivate them to hate you.
Jeremiah 9:3 …but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth
However, as Christians let us be encouraged with the instruction of our Lord. In Matthew 10 Jesus commissioned the twelve and commanded them to preach. Then, He warned them of the cost of telling the truth.
Matthew 10:16-18 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake…
Matthew 10:21 And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death…
Matthew 10:22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake…
Matthew 10:26-27 Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.
Matthew 10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
The reason for the reaction is that our message contains Christ, or the truth.
Matthew 5:11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Acts 9:16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.
1 Cor. 4:10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.
If we will preach this gospel we will earn many enemies. There are many fields out there that most will never tread, let alone consider to plow. We must count the cost of Biblical evangelism. Are we truly prepared to be a witness for Christ as He was for the Father?
1 Peter 4:1 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind…
Over the years I’ve heard teaching after teaching on “how to evangelize” where the main issues were nothing more than:
- Be nice, polite, and respectful.
- Smile, make a good first impression.
- Dress sharp, comb your hair, and shine your shoes.
- Use mints and deodorant.
Sounds more like a used car salesman seminar, doesn’t it? Or perhaps some Amway convention. In the July 2001 issue of Charisma magazine they gave tips on the “do’s and don’ts on witnessing to homosexuals.”
- Know your pastor’s and denomination’s official position.
- Invite speakers to address your church.
- Stick to verifiable facts.
- Admit error, we have made mistakes.
- Stay flexible when discussing theories but adamant when discussing the Bible.
- Show Christian love.
- Do not attack people.
- Do not stereotype people.
- Do not use clichés.
Notice, Charisma, like the rest of the apostate church-world, gives us very little to encourage us to simply tell the truth. Why? Obviously, because it makes enemies. If we wish to preach God’s Word then be warned, we will be hated, mocked, ridiculed, perhaps jailed, and maybe even killed. No matter our field of labor, being faithful to the truth will gain us many enemies.
There is a cost if we will follow God’s prescribed method of evangelism. We will be tempted to be discouraged and often will be hated. Let us pray for grace and courage.
Acts 20:24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
1 Thes. 3:3 That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.