Evangelism is sharing the gospel. The “gospel” means “good news.” So how can there be any “bad news” when sharing it?
This blog is the first of a two-part series on evangelism. It walks us through ten points of God’s salvation plan that we can share in evangelism.
Unfortunately, our gospel starts with three points of bad news.
1. Evangelism Starts With Creation and Adam and Eve’s Fall
Evangelism begins with God’s creation of humans. God created humans perfectly (Gen. 1:31) and “in his image” (Gen. 1:27). That means (on a much smaller scale than God) we have intellect, emotion, will, and conscience.
As part of being made perfect, Adam and Eve had “free choice.” In other words, they could choose to love and obey God or rebel.
God placed Adam and Even in an ideal paradise (Eden). Initially, Adam and Eve had an intimate relationship with God. But Adam and Eve chose to use their “free choice” to rebel against God’s command to be like him (Gen. 3).
Their disobedience resulted in what’s known as the “Fall.” The Fall broke God’s perfect law. As a result, sin entered the world and spread to all humans (Rom. 3:23).
2. Evangelism Identifies the Source of Sin and Death
After sin entered the world, so did death. Death means separation. As the apostle Paul says, the “wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). And this death affects all of us (Rom. 5:12).
There are three types of death associated with sin:
- Spiritual death: the loss of intimacy with God
- Physical death: when our physical bodies separate from our soul (or spirit)
- Eternal death: eternal separation from God
Because God is holy and righteous, he hates sin. And as the ultimate judge, he pronounces us guilty of breaking his law.
Sinning against an eternal God means our sentence is to be quarantined from God in hell forever (John 3:18, 36).
3. Evangelism Emphasizes our Helplessness
So how can you make things right with God? How can you make amends for sinning against God? How can you pay off your “sin debt” to a perfect God?
The answer, in brief, is you can’t.
Because only a perfect, sinless human can be in God’s presence, let that sink in for a moment!
So here is the enigma. On the one hand, only a perfect, sinless human can hope to be in God’s presence. On the other hand, that is not you!
In fact, there are no sinless humans.
And further, God doesn’t grade on a “sliding scale.” Humans are either perfect or not. And you and I are not.
After the Fall, every human is born with a sinful nature (Rom. 3:23). We can never work our way to heaven by doing good deeds on earth to force God to change His mind.
As Paul summarizes, “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight” (Rom. 3:20).
In evangelism, it is good to have an illustration. Consider this example.
Imagine an impassible, bottomless chasm. On one side is God. On the other side are humans. This illustration demonstrates the unbridgeable gap between sinful humans and a perfect God.
We can never work our way to God by our “good works” (Rom. 3:20). And what is worse, our sinful natures blind us to our evilness in God’s sight (Rom. 3:10–12; 8:7-8).
4. Evangelism Must Begin with this “Bad News”
I understand why some of us prefer not to share the bad news when evangelizing. Obviously, the good news is so fantastic; why would you want to risk “turning someone off.”
But your evangelism must begin with bad news. Firstly, because it is the truth and anyone you evangelize deserves full disclosure.
Secondly, when the good news is shared, the contrast is extraordinary. Especially to anyone, the Holy Spirit is convicting (John 16:8; 1 Thess. 1:5)
A Personal Reflection
I ignored this bad news until I was 28 years old! I thought I was a “good person.” And God would let me into heaven because my good works outweighed my bad ones.
It wasn’t until I realized my sinfulness and utter hopelessness. Then I saw I needed God. Only then did I become receptive to the gospel’s truth.
A Word of Encouragement
Another issue is not wanting to evangelize altogether. I get that. You may fear what others might think about you. Or worry that your evangelism will put someone off.
But what you are offering is an eternal gift of unimaginable pricelessness. It doesn’t matter what others think of you. It’s what God expects of us. And that is to love him more than our fear of man. Plus, evangelizing is not optional.
I expect most everyone feels nervous at first about evangelizing. I know I did. But after sharing the gospel in a culturally sensitive way a few times. It is addictive and exciting even if others disagree with you.
Evangelism (Part 2 of 2): The Good News by Dr. Bob Martin III