The evangelism process can be tumultuous; there are ups, and there are downs. Throughout the journey, there are moments that can leave you with such a positive outlook. However, some moments bring doubts that your neighbor will ever see God’s will for their lives. Pursuing someone’s soul requires a commitment that few are willing to sign up for. Seeing our spiritually dead neighbor next-door, at work, at school, a friend, or a family member who needs Jesus and making the conscious decision to intervene in their life is what our Savior has called us to do. Throughout this series of articles, we have been attempting to flesh-out the ten steps we all need to be actively doing as we try to implement the “Who is My Neighbor Program.” More than that, we have seen that these are the very things we find in Scripture, Christ and His Church did to WIN SOULS. Introducing yourself, building a rapport, engaging them, expressing your faith, serving them, having the hard discussions, inviting them, informing them, and giving them other Christ-like associations… this has ALL been leading to the final step in the process… the very most important step yet. BIBLE STUDY. Bible study is the point you finally show them you care first and foremost about their spiritual well-being.
Many Christians believe there really is no need for the previous nine steps. They say, “Why wouldn’t you just go straight to step ten, Bible study? Time’s-a-wasting!” When this happens, they fail to realize that the person across from them has the beliefs he or she has for an untold amount of reasons. Without understanding who the person is, and what made them the way they are, we could be closing the door of their heart forever. If we do not take the time to earn their trust, they may not understand we are simply trying to show them GOD’S WAY. They may believe we are only trying to FORCE FEED them “our way.” Instead of gaining the understanding of where they are and then bringing them to where they need to be, many Christians prefer that they forget their understanding they have believed their entire life. The knowledge that they were given from their parents and grandparents. The understanding that they have believed, up to this point, was absolutely positively RIGHT. These are the things that should be in our minds as we enter into Bible study with our neighbor. The knowledge that we are about to potentially expose that their entire belief system has been in opposition to God’s Word… should humble each one of us.
If you have reached the point of Bible study with your neighbor and have truly given your best attempt at the previous nine steps… this will be something your neighbor has been WAITING on. To finally be given a chance to see why you are the way you are. To see why you spent so much time engaging them. To see why you spent so much time serving them. To see why you gave so much energy into building a rapport with them. It all has been leading up to this pivotal step. Not only will they see it coming, they will want it to happen. The question is, are you ready for this crucial moment?
It is one thing to be able to step out of your comfort zones in doing steps one through nine… it is an entirely different thing to actually be ready to show them God’s plan for their salvation. This is where many back out. They think to themselves, “Ahhh, I will let a minister step in here. I’m sure they can take it the rest of the way.” Sometimes, that is true. However, the most effective evangelist to share the Gospel with them is ALWAYS going to be the person who has walked alongside them from step one. The reason far too many are frightened and scared to be the one actually to conduct the Bible study is because we believe it is UP TO US to give the increase. This could not be further from the truth; in fact, this mindset is sinful.
Paul would write in admonishing the Corinthian brethren, “Who then is Paul and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, BUT GOD GAVE THE INCREASE. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, BUT GOD WHO GIVES THE INCREASE,” 1 Corinthians 3:5-7. Whenever we enter into a Bible study, we must realize it is NOT up to us to “get them in the water,” it is not up to us to give the increase. God has and always will be responsible for the increase. We have to have the mind of Paul when he said, “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect,” 1 Corinthians 1:17. Our job as Christians is to show the Gospel, to preach the Gospel, to teach the Gospel, and to do it to the best of our ability praying that God will bring the increase! Whenever we do otherwise, we are simply making the “cross of Christ to be made of no effect.”
I have great news today! The pressure is off. All we have to do is show our neighbor what they must do to be saved. In Bible study, it is no longer about THEIR thoughts, beliefs, or feelings. It is no longer about OUR thoughts, beliefs, or feelings. It is ONLY about what God’s Word prescribes for our lives. At the end of the day, the decision is up to them; as much as we may want to, we cannot choose Christ for them. They must make the life-changing choice to submit to the Gospel for themselves. If they don’t, we will have done everything we could to be who Christ calls us to be. Oh, but if they do, we will have made them far more than a neighbor. We will have made them our brother or sister in Christ.
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the ends of the world. Amen,” Matthew 28:18-20.
-Ben Hogan, Minister of Evangelism