Monday, February 14, 2011

Article: Evangelism by the book by Neil Gamble

Evangelism by the Book,



Mt. 10, Mk. 6, Lu. 9,& 10
I have spent the last 10 years involved in the discipleship/house church movement around the world. I am by no means an expert on the subject of evangelism but I have been involved in some amazing times with the Lord in the last 28 years. Evangelism in the discipleship/house church movements that I have been apart of looks totally different than what I was taught in my younger days in the western church setting. My journey into discipleship/evangelism did not begin in the movements I am presently a part of but 25+ years before in Idaho doing street/prison ministry.


I have always been about doing and going, not just sitting. I have found that Mt. 28:18-20, Mk.16:15-18, Lu24:47 and many other commands to “Go” can not be done sitting. Jesus says, “when we have done it to the least of these my brothers you have done it unto me”. (Mt. 25:34-40). So, when I began to be a part of the “church” in the USA, going was not a problem to me, sitting was. I had read the scriptures and was determined to be a doer not a sitter. This was a thorn in many leaders side as I refused to sit down and conform to “church life”. I have always been a bit out of control when it comes to obeying Jesus.


The evangelism I was taught as I attended traditional gatherings of the body of Christ did not seem very effective and going door-to-door and giving people the 4 spiritual laws or the “Roman road condemnation” did not work for me. I did it because leaders told me that is what I must do, but found such a small amount of fruit that I was constantly frustrated or felt condemned. I was not seeing what I saw in the book of Acts. Church would not let me practice discipleship or evangelism like I read. That type of thing brought a bit of a chaotic result. You can not control people who find Jesus presence in their own lives. Leaders would tell me that I was not submissive and was rebellious because I was looking for what I saw in the bible. They did not have bad hearts but were only doing what they had been taught. I went to many of these elders of the church as I knew it in the gatherings we attended. Though they would agree with me about the scriptures and what they said, when I would practice them, I was labeled rebellious and divisive because the people I taught these things to would quit coming to all the gatherings and be out on the street; going, not sitting. They would quit supporting programs that did not work and began to give to the poor or whomever God spoke to them to. Once they found they could hear from the Lord and that He would do miracles and other things through them and use them, they were no longer controllable. You could not tell them to sit down nor that they were not anointed.


I began going to prisons because the Lord says that when you visit the prisoners, (Mt 25:34-36) you are basically visiting Him. I wanted to “know” Jesus so going to prison was one way to get closer to Him. In prison I found a freedom to practice gatherings according to 1 Co 14:26 and to do evangelism and discipleship like I saw in the bible. I soon saw fruit begin to show up and we actually saw our first person raised from the dead in one of the meetings in prison. I saw extreme evangelism take place as I shared with the inmates about what the Spirit of God would do if we followed Him. I saw discipleship taking place without even having to tell them that they should. It was amazing to watch as God did what I read in the book of acts. The prisons were a training ground for me. One incident happened as I was talking to an inmate through the bars on his cell. As I was talking the Spirit showed me something specific about his past. I shared with him what I heard the Spirit say and as a result of what he heard he was really moved so he asked me for a bible. I gave one to him and left. Two weeks later as we got to the medium security section to do a service this young man I had talked to was in the hallway waiting for me. He had a bandage on his neck and upon seeing me got on his knees and asked me to help him receive Jesus. I asked why the hurry and told him we could do that once we were in the chapel. He said, “No way man, I want to receive Jesus right now!” Right in the middle of the prison yard on his knees, in front of the guards and other inmates I introduced him to Jesus. Once in the chapel I asked him why the hurry. He related that as a result of asking me for a bible his cellmate had put out a contract on him. They had shived (knifed) him in the shower, for receiving a bible. The hole in his neck missed the jugular vein by a few hairs distance. So he says, “If they will shive me for reading a bible this Jesus must be true so I gotta follow Him.”


I went to the streets and found that I could follow the leading of Holy Spirit and He would guide me to someone who was ready to change their lives. I saw healings and deliverances take place like I did in prison. People would be changed and they would share with others in their environment. It was not hard to change people because they were ready to find the truth. Whenever they would encounter the power of Holy Spirit in some personal way through a “word”, deliverance or healing they would receive. The true Jesus was what they were looking for. They did not want Christian religion they wanted Christ! By following the voice of God I was being fruitful and multiplying. Most of these people would never enter a church even after Jesus touched them. They were not interested in religion, only Jesus.


Over the years I saw a lot of weird and wonderful miracles and signs outside the church gatherings I was a part of. At work and everywhere I was willing to follow the voice of the Spirit I saw Jesus work. It was not enough for me to see these wonders through my hands but I wanted others to feel what it was like to be used and needed by the Lord. Thus I began taking others with me and then getting them to pray or share. I looked for ways that I could energize them to teach, pray or hear from the Lord for others. I found that Father moved even more as I gave away what I knew of intimacy with Him to others. As Christ followers began to recognize the voice of the Spirit in their lives, changes happened and more were moved to “Go”. Young kids and youth would get hold of listening to the Spirit and doing what He led them to do and they would change those around them and even a couple of schools got changed by a small group of kids following the leading of the Spirit.


What happened is this; I found what true evangelism and discipleship would do.


A great part of discipleship and evangelism is getting people who say they are Christians to “Go”. Discipleship and evangelism involves modeling, assisting and watching, sending, then leaving. It is tough to carry on discipleship without a heart in you for the lame, blind and halt. This along with the desire to see other Christians find a dynamic relationship with the Lord and to find intimacy with Him is the foundation of Jesus’ discipleship.


Discipleship does not work unless there is a hunger for “Seeking and saving the Lost” (Lu.19:10) and “destroying the works of the enemy” (1Jn.3:8). Your relationship with Jesus must be filled with passion and hunger to know Him and bring the reality of His presence to others. You must be unwilling to settle for what you see in “church gatherings” and be persistent to see the promises in the bible true in your life. You must be willing to change constantly and not look back. You must also be humble enough to realize you are imperfect and needy.


One key element found lacking in modern Christianity is realization that the Kingdom of God is not a democracy but it is a Monarchy. Father does not accept our ideas of right and wrong, good or bad, obedience or disobedience. Jesus is “the Way, the Truth and the Life”. His life and teaching are the standard of conduct for all who say they are Christ followers. We must judge ourselves by this standard.


So with these thoughts let’s look at evangelism by the book. How did Jesus evangelize and how did he teach his disciples to do this great work of the Father’s heart? First, we must realize that evangelism is seeking and saving the lost and destroying the works of the devil. It is not about making people into “church members”. It is not about getting people to go to a Sunday gathering to listen to someone preach. It is about getting someone to look like Jesus, gain His heart and follow Him.


What methods did Jesus embrace to do this and how can we follow these methods if they exist?


To understand His actions we will need to look at the Gospels and note the theme. In actuality, Jesus’ focus was not on evangelism but on discipleship for His three years of ministry though He taught crowds about God, His character and showed the world the Father’s heart. He told all the people that “the Son of himself could do nothing but it was the Father in Him that did the works” (Jn 14:10). The Father, through Jesus, healed, delivered and set the captives free, but He only empowered the disciples to become fishers of men. Real evangelism is simply the natural result of discipleship that empowers, equips and gives tools to someone so they can walk like a child of God. The focus of discipleship is to teach, impart and guide someone into an intimate (close, dynamic, personal, rich) relationship with Father and Jesus through Holy Spirit and show them the responsibility and demands of this relationship. Then we show them how they can and must give what they receive away to others.


The focus of much of what Jesus did with the multitudes was used in training and equipping 12 men to know Father and walk like He Himself walked. There is a question we should ask about Jesus training; Did Jesus ever do anything without the presence and power of the Spirit of God? Is there anywhere that He went without the miraculous being a part of what He did? Did He practice any kind of evangelism or discipleship without the Power of God? Can the Gospel Jesus spoke of and walked be lived without the miraculous? In confirmation of this Paul says that the Gospel is a demonstration of Spirit and Power. (1 Co. 2:4, 4:20). We fool ourselves if we think we can evangelize of disciple without the power. In all the nations I have visited, the Works of the Spirit—miracles, etc., primarily fuel the fire that is spreading the Gospel. Without it we have nothing to offer but a different religion. These signs prove His love for the world and us and without them we present a different Gospel than is found in the New Testament scriptures.


When Jesus sent out His disciples to the world around them He gave pretty clear instructions for going. These were the first evangelistic journeys we have recorded other than Jesus journey itself. These sending times are found in Matthew 10, Mark 6, and Luke 9 &10.


I will primarily use Luke 10 but first I will note some variations found in the like scripture passages of Matthew and Mark before I lay out the whole theme from Luke 10.


Mt.10:5-15 is pretty specific instruction for the 12 and the first people they are sent to are the “lost sheep of Israel”. This could mean that the first place to start evangelizing now could be amongst those you live with who call themselves Christians or your family members who do not know the truth, (those who should know but do not do). What the disciples are told to preach is pretty specific, not just anything they wanted to say. “The Kingdom of God is at hand” is to be the message along with healing the sick and walking in power.


Mk. 6 says specifically “He began to send them out”, this indicates possible multiple outings not specifically recorded. Here in Mark He adds to Mathew’s account, “go 2x2”.


Lu. 9 like Mt. 10 is pretty specific to the 12 but here He seems to emphasis the need to not take provision instead go dependent upon God and those you go to for provision.


We are to be disciples of Christ also if you read the prayer in Jn. 17:20 and then the Great Commission found in Mt. 28:18-20. We are sent just like Jesus if you read Jn.20:21. As a result of the resurrection commands we are also to do what the original 12 did.


Jesus modeled what He sent the 12 out to do, helped them do it, sent them to do it and then left them to do it. He healed, delivered, and preached that the Kingdom of God is at hand. (a good study is to look up all the scripture references where Jesus used the phrase, “the kingdom of God”) His method of evangelism was the miraculous. And His preaching about the Kingdom of God and sending the disciples out to do the same was His goal. He told the 12 to go and gave them the power to go like He went from the first (see Mark 3). Lu. 10 adds something that makes it absolutely defining that we are sent like the 12 and to imitate Jesus.


We must realize that Jesus did not begin His ministry by healing, and preaching. He began it by being baptized, having the Holy Sprit come upon Him, being tempted to do his ministry by taking short cuts offered by the enemy and then by calling 12 disciples with a specific message to them. “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men”. Before beginning to preach, He called 12 to go with Him. In calling them He presented a contract of sorts. It was this, “if you follow me I will make you fishers of men”. His goal in the contract was that they become fishers of men, followers of Father. That was His purpose. They began to follow Jesus knowing beforehand that the reason He called them was to equip and send them to seek and save the lost, and destroy the works of the enemy, not to sit. At the beginning He gave them His purpose in calling them. So sending them out in Lu. 9 and 10 is not unexpected to them. It is the purpose they followed Him, a part of the discipleship process.


Let us focus on Lu. 10:1-11 verse by verse with some notes inserted after each verse;


Lk 10:1 –Lk 10:11 (NKJV)
1: After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go.


The first thing about this scripture that is imperative to note is that these people being sent out were “appointed by the Lord”, He is KING, but you cannot separate that from the amount sent. 70 or 72 in some translations is significant. It has the intended meaning of “ALL”. So the statement starts with an imperative from the King that all disciples are sent. You may also note that Father send Jesus, Jesus called the 12 and then sent them and now there are 70. Eventually there will be 120 as the book of Acts begins.


He also states here that we are to go 2x2. It is not good to go alone. There is need of accountability, support, companionship, focus, and help. (Encouragement and courage come with another like-minded person being with you. It is harder for the enemy to deceive two than one also).


These 2x2 groups are not sent to wherever they feel like going. Jesus specifically sends them to every place that He is going to go—specific locations.


There may be a question in your mind, Where does Jesus not want to go?


The conclusion; He wants everyone to go (sent 70), He wants to send them everywhere He is going to go (all the world every tribe), and He is going there also (“I will be with you always”)! Yet each person is sent to specific places and not all go to the same destination or in the same way. Each has the same specific purpose—Spread His Kingdom, not build edifices or ministries.


2: Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.


I love this verse, but I think that we misread it at times. This verse in not simply about prayer. It is about evangelism and what we as disciples are supposed to do as we go. Our focus is to be on finding laborers. There never has been a problem with the harvest. They are waiting in the fields to be harvested. The harvest is HIS harvest not ours.


The problem is not enough laborers. The church prays for the harvest, Jesus says that the harvest is great, but the lack of laborers is the problem. Jesus sends out the disciples to find laborers, not to do the harvest. Evangelism is what will happen if we find laborers. It is the natural result of workers being found. Those who will become disciples will always become fishers of men because that is the purpose of being a disciple – to become a fisher of men.


The first verse must be a prerequisite to the meaning of the second. The disciples are sent, so first we as disciples must be going. We are sent. As they go they are to pray that the Lord would send forth laborers. The disciples are not sent to harvest the wheat in the cities they are going to but to find laborers there who will do the harvest. Two strangers in a town cannot harvest the souls found there. They can make converts but unless there is someone there to train these converts, there will not be any change or lasting impact in the city. These sent ones are strangers, but there are laborers in that city that can plant, grow and harvest the crop. We should be praying for laborers everywhere we go.


(In most countries a lot of the harvest in fields is still done by hand. Two people cannot harvest a field. It takes many people with a variety of skills to bring the harvest of wheat or rice to the storehouse). It is the same with Christ followers.


3: Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves.
Go—this word seems to proceed all of the commands given disciples. “GO”. Then Jesus tells them “Go, as sheep among wolves”—How does a sheep walk when it knows wolves are around… “Bah Bah Bah” or in human terms “making a lot of noise and drawing attention to themselves”? I do not think so! Quietness and hiding would be much smarter, leaving no scent for the enemy to find by staying in one place instead of going everywhere we want to go is another smart decision -- to keep from being found by wolves out hunting. (you leave no tracks or scent if you do not move around).


So what is Jesus saying in modern vernacular? “I am sending you into dangerous places where you will not be able to defend yourselves”. “Go quietly not drawing attention or letting people know what you are doing”. (That will do away with what most western Christians call “evangelism”). The last thought, wolves are killers, they do not just kill something to eat, they are one of the few animals that at times kill simply for the pleasure of killing. A lot of time they do not eat what they kill. When wolves get in a band of sheep they will kill 5-15 sheep and eat only one.


The thought in this scripture is that where Jesus is sending us may get us killed, we may not come home. Jesus does not make any excuse or provision in this to not go. This is simply part of the cost of being a disciple sent out to the places Jesus is going to go.


4:Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road.
Do not take your own provision but rely on the Lord and the people you are going to visit for your sustenance while there. This will make it impossible for you to stay at fancy hotels, you will have to live amongst the people.


The second thing is to greet no one along the way or in other words, do not get sidetracked by stopping and visiting friends and seeing the sites. STAY FOCUSED. This is not a vacation. Father has a purpose and a place for you to go. Don’t waste time doing other things. Today is the day of salvation and we have no guarantee of tomorrow.


5: But whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’
Wherever we travel around the world, there is always someone who will want to have you come into his or her home and visit. For the most part people like to entertain or be hospitable to strangers. So, in this scripture Jesus is saying that He has a place for you already prepared to receive you. Second, you are to say “SHALOM” not “Hi how are you, nice to meet you”. Why is Jesus so specific in the greeting? Who is Peace? Who does it come from?—Jesus is the answer to both statements! Also there is so much in this word “shalom”, peace, healing, prosperity, long life and rest. Wow! If I remember right, Jesus says “life and death are in the power of the tongue”. What you say is important. By saying “Shalom” you are calling Him to accompany you into this home that He has sent you to and wherever Jesus enters He seems to always produce a miracle of some kind.


6: And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you.
This word accompanies your previous instruction to enter with Shalom. What He is saying is that if someone feels that you are truly bringing peace and receives your word; you will know or feel the peace in the home. If not, you will not have any peace being in the home. The people there will be ready for you to leave. It will be uncomfortable. Jesus will not be welcome.


7: And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house.
Again Jesus is saying do not go from place to place in the city, He sent you to a specific place for a reason. Don’t scatter seed all over the place, Stay, eat, drink and receive there. Do NOT go to all the places that people want you to go.. Listen to the Lord not the people and their “good intentions or desires”.


8: Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you.
Do you know how few places or times that Jesus repeats Himself like this? Do you think that what He is saying is important? When you are asked into someone’s home, why is it important to eat what is set before you?


It is amazing that all over the world, when you eat with people and accept what they feed you, how it breaks down barriers. Food is so important to cultures and the acceptance of their food is like accepting their culture. They will be watching how you eat what they offer you. Eat the ethnic food! IT IS IMPORTANT!


9: And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’
Are you listening? To this point in Lu.10 Jesus has not told you to share or do anything. First you are to enter and say Shalom, then you are to eat, you are to stay in one place and not travel around from house to house. Then He repeats EAT…


Then Jesus says “Heal the sick”. He did not say pray for the sick, He said, “Heal the sick”…. It is not until Jesus has done a miracle of some kind that He then says tell them the “Kingdom of God is come near you”. You are not to preach first but to demonstrate first just like He did. (Jesus had already modeled what He is telling them to do here). Oops, maybe we should read that again. Maybe we read it wrong, missed something, or have the wrong version of the Bible?


Or maybe we should change from our ineffective methods and do what the Lord says. Maybe we should quit doing what we think is nice or good and begin to do God. If we cannot prove who we are maybe we should not speak. (Lu. 24:49)


What was the gospel they were to preach? “The kingdom of God has come near you.” That is pretty specific words, it is not your choice to preach or share what you want, here in this scripture it says to say as a result of the healing or miracle, “the kingdom of God has come near!” To speak this statement suggests that something must have happened before you can say it.


10: But whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say,

11: ‘The very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you.’


These two verses need to be as one. They do not say stay and keep preaching and preaching and praying and praying. It does not say go again and again to the same place if they reject you. It says if they do not receive or believe that God did the miracle or healing that happened, you leave, go to another place and quit trying to convince them of something that they have chosen to reject.


It does say to leave after you have done the specific commands that He gives. If you go and preach before you demonstrate, you are already wrong. Nowhere does Jesus say in this passage on evangelism to go and talk first. It is not there. If you do not have Jesus power you should not share Jesus’ gospel.


Well there you have it, Jesus sending out the disciples to evangelize. It certainly does not look like what we do. I know that many are saying that this is not evangelizing but to these I would like to say show me somewhere else in the Gospels where the disciples are sent out? And also show me another way that Jesus tells us to do evangelism?” If that is not enough then I would suggest you look at the resurrection commands and then back at this passage found in Lu. 10. In Matthew 28:18-20 He says Go and teach obedience, in Mark 16:15-18 He says heal the sick and cast out demons, In Luke 24:44-49 He says preach repentance, but do not go without the Power of God on you, In John 20:21-23 he says that we are sent “Just Like Him”.


I wonder what would happen if we believed Jesus and trusted Him? Maybe He knows that what He is telling us to do will work? All you have to do is go to the places that the gospel is spreading like fire and you will know – Jesus method is best! It works. In all the above passages the key is –Hearing the voice of the Lord and obeying out of our trust in Him.


Something to remember is that the miraculous is not always the spectacular. It is the miraculous.


What would Christianity look like if we laid down our desperate attempts to reach people for Jesus without the power and went back and sat down with Jesus and Holy Spirit until we knew we have the Spirit upon us and then followed? What would happen if we simply obeyed walking like Jesus, as people sent and under orders? Jesus made no excuses about what He commanded. We do not have the option to pick and choose which commands we accept and which provision we feel comfortable with. He gave only one set of instructions for all. Our “choosing “ which scriptures we accept and which we do not is nothing but pride, arrogance, and independence at work in us. My bible says that these things will cause us to fall.


Evangelism by the book is simply going back to the relationship and responding to His voice, doing what He commands --not in a general way but through specific guidance in your life like Jesus lived under. (Jn. 5:19-20, 6:38,8:28,12:49-50, 14:10).


Neil W Gamble

1 comment:

SOON said...

Hi Richard Schwedes,

I've just found your blog and notice your emphasis on evangelism. I wonder if you have seen my friend's page and resources about online evangelism, at
www.internetevangelismday.com


blessings


Gweno