1. ARE YOU SATISFIED WITH YOUR EFFORTS TO EVANGELISE OTHERS?
So often our sharing of the gospel seems relatively fruitless in terms of results and we sometimes get dejected at how few conversions we see. One fundamental question we need to ask ourselves is: "am I doing evangelism amongst the lost according to what Jesus taught". If in fact we are deviating from the method that Jesus taught, and from the resources he purposed, is it any wonder we see little fruit from our efforts?
Jesus ministry was evangelism. In Luke 19 verse 10 Jesus tells Zacchaeus: "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost". 1 Timothy 1 verse 15 reminds us:"Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners".
Jesus did not rely on words alone to convince people as to who he was. Many times he said that if they did not believe His words then they should believe because of His miracles, for example:
John 10:25: "Jesus answered, "I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me""
John 10:37-38: "Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father."
John 14:11: "Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves."
2. HOW DID JESUS TEACH HIS DISCIPLES TO REACH THE LOST?
Let's look at what he told the 12 and the 72, all of whom he sent out in twos.
3. THE TWELVE
In Luke Chapter 9 verse 1 we read: "When Jesus had the 12 together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick." We know from Matthew Chapter 4 verse 17 that the message of the kingdom included a call to repentance from sin: "From that time on Jesus began to preach "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.""
4. THE SEVENTY-TWO
Later, in Luke Chapter 10 verse 1 Jesus sends out the 72: "After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go." In verses 8 and 9 he adds: "When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, "The kingdom of God is near you."" On their return, the 72 reported (verse 17): "Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name." Note that, when Jesus responded to their joyous exclamation, he said to them (v 19):"I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you".
5. THE MODEL FOR US
While we would not dare to compare ourselves with the 12 - the Apostles - we can reasonably equate ourselves to the 72 who were un-named followers, normal believers of no special mention or exalted position either then or thereafter. In the Great Commission set out in Matthew Chapter 28 verses 16 to 20, Jesus says: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you (my italics). And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Some words Of Jesus from John's gospel:
John 14:15: "If you love me, you will obey what I command."
John 14:21: "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me."
John 14:23: "Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.""
John 14:24: "He who does not love me will not obey my teaching."
6. POINTS OF SIGNIFICANCE
Disciples of Jesus are required, via the Apostles and believers down the ages, to "obey everything that I have commanded you". Note also John Chapter 14 and verse 12 where Jesus says: "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing". The relevant commands in relation to evangelism, based on his commands to the 12 and 72 seem clearly to be threefold, namely:
(a) Preach the Kingdom of God
(b) Heal the sick and cast out demons, and
(c) Preach repentance from sin and the nearness of the Kingdom of God in the personhood of Jesus.
As always with Jesus, he never asks us to do anything in our own strength. Consequently, we need to take note of his opening words in verse 18: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me." As believers, that authority to do Jesus' works now rests on us, his agents for the Kingdom.
7. HOW DID JESUS HEAL THE SICK AND CAST OUT DEMONS?
The Gospels are full of examples of Jesus' work in healing the sick and casting out demons. Frequently we find him speaking to the infirmity with a command, for example Matthew 12: 9-13, Mark 7: 31-37, Luke 4: 38-39, Luke 13: 10-17. Many times he would also place his hands on the person on the afflicted part, e.g. deaf ears and blind eyes. In the case of demons, he normally commanded them to go, in the same way as he commanded infirmities.
It is clearly evident that Jesus never prayed for the sick in evangelism, nor did the 12 and 72 whom he trained. We find not one example of Jesus or anyone else ever healing a person by asking God to do the healing. In each case the healing was done by the power of the Holy Spirit working through a human agent.
8. PUTTING IT TOGETHER
Evangelism amongst the lost, done the Jesus way, flows from the "all power and authority" that the resurrected Jesus has received from the Father. Consequently, when we proclaim the gospel of the kingdom, make clear the need for repentance from sin, and exercise Jesus' power and authority over sickness and demons, we are truly doing the work of evangelism according to the "Jesus model". It is because all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus, that infirmities and demons have to go. His authority has been invested in us, so they are required to obey our commands. All we need to do is GO AND BE OBEDIENT .
9. GIFT(S) OF HEALING versus EXERCISE OF POWER AND AUTHORITY?
We differentiate here between the "Gift(s) of Healing" given to the Body of Christ and the exercise of authority over sickness and demons used to reach the lost. Paul makes it clear that spiritual gifts are given by the Holy Spirit to build up the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12 verses 7 to 31). On the other hand, in the exercise of power and authority by Jesus, 12 and 72, and thereafter by both Peter and Paul in Acts, we see in evangelism (and in other situations too) the use of verbal commands given in Jesus' name, normally accompanied by the laying on of hands. Some post-Pentecost examples include:
Acts 3 - Peter heals the beggar
Acts 9 - Peter heals Aeneas and raises Tabitha from the dead
Acts 14 - Paul heals the man lame from birth
Acts 16 - Paul casts out the demon from the fortune-telling slave girl
Acts 22 - Paul relates how Ananias restored his sight
We notice in the book of Acts that the apostles continually declared that people were healed in the Name of Jesus.
10. DOING IT JESUS' WAY BRINGS UNITY AMONGST BELIEVERS
When we evangelise the Jesus way we find the body of Christ united, since both Charismatics and non-Charismatics are able to work on a common ground that is biblical. Doing evangelism the Jesus way avoids any theological conflicts in relation to spiritual giftings, since healing and deliverance done the Jesus way relies on ordinary believers exercising His power and authority, in humility and obedience, and not on a "spiritual gift of healing".
11. WHY DON'T WE TRY TO REACH THE LOST THE JESUS WAY?
We fail to do it the Jesus way because we are afraid of failure and embarrassment. What if nothing happens when we lay hands on an unbeliever - perhaps even a Muslim - and command an infirmity to go in Jesus name? How will we look then? What will unbelievers think if Jesus doesn't show up and the person doesn't get healed/delivered? Satan uses fear and unbelief to paralyse us and make us fruitless. Sadly, we are inclined to forget that Satan was defeated at the cross.
12. GOOD NEWS - A TRAINING COURSE ON EVANGELISM THE JESUS WAY YOU CAN OBTAIN ONLINE FOR FREE!
The Elijah Challenge have kindly made their training course available online at no cost, with a view to equipping believers to evangelise the lost according to the Jesus model. Please visit their website where you can :
a. download a pdf file of their basic training course - go
b. download the four .flv Flash video files comprising the basic training course. Please note you need a broadband connection for this as the 4 file downloads total almost 2 gigabytes - go
(NB: At www.newchristian.org.uk we already have obtained the 4 Flash video downloads and can provide these on 4 CDs at no charge if you live in the UK)
c. request a free DVD (pay postage only) of the basic training course - go
d. read many reports and testimonies of the effectiveness of this biblically based training - go