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Evangelism: God’s Part, Our Part

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
June 6, 2023 4:00 am

Evangelism: God’s Part, Our Part

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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June 6, 2023 4:00 am

God is the creator and sustainer of the world; He doesn’t actually need any help to save people. So why does He involve us in His work of salvation? Listen to Truth For Life as Alistair Begg distinguishes our part from God’s part in evangelism.



Welcome back. Ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, it has been God's plan to redeem His people. And He doesn't need our help to accomplish this. Yet He chooses to involve us in the work of salvation.

Why is that? Alistair Begg answers that question today on Truth for Life in a message he's titled Evangelism, God's Part, Our Part. Right at the very beginning in understanding what it means for us to be involved in evangelism, we need to recognize that in fulfilling our responsibilities in being obedient to the Great Commission, we need to be clear as to what God alone can do and what we, therefore, cannot do. First of all, conviction of sin is the work of God, the Holy Spirit. That is why Jesus says, John chapter 16, 8, concerning the Holy Spirit, He says, I'm going to go away. Unless I go away, the counselor will not come to you.

But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he, the Spirit, comes, he, the Spirit of God, the third member of the Trinity, will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment in regard to sin because men do not believe in me. It's interesting that the ultimate sin is the sin of unbelief. Not to believe in God is sin. Now, the natural man doesn't expect that nor accept it.

However, that's what it says. In regard to righteousness, because I'm going to the Father, and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. So God alone can bring conviction of sin. God alone can give repentance to men. How in the world is an unrepentant, upright, dignified, well-meaning member of society who works in your office or lives on your street ever going to get down on his knees and acknowledge that he's a helpless, hopeless sinner before God?

Unless God grants repentance. When the apostles go out in the birth of the church, Acts chapter 5 and verse 31, and Peter is proclaiming the responsibility that he has to obey God rather than men after they've been given a whacking and we're going to get another one, he says, we must obey God rather than men. In Acts 30 of Acts 5, he says, the God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him to his own right hand as prince and savior that, or in order that, he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel.

It's a great word. Only God, thirdly, can draw men and women to Jesus Christ. Isn't that what we discovered in John chapter 6? Jesus says, and no one can come to me unless the Father draws them. Also, God alone can reveal Jesus.

We can say all the things that we understand in our Bibles about Jesus, but how in the world is a person ever, deep in their inner man, inner woman, going to come to an acknowledgment of Christ? 2 Corinthians 4 and verse 6, Paul says, for God who said, let light shine out of darkness, and so there was day and there was night. Paul says, the same God who turned the lights on in terms of the natural order has turned the lights on in the spiritual order. He made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, where? in the face of Jesus Christ. And then fifthly, it is God's unique prerogative to bring about the new birth.

That was what we saw last time. We needn't go back to it concerning Nicodemus, who was a bright man, very well versed in his Judaistic background, concerned that somehow or another he didn't have all the pieces in the jigsaw puzzle. He comes to Jesus and Jesus says to him, you know, you need to be born again. And of course, Nicodemus, who was pretty bright, but slightly obtuse in part, said, well, surely I can't enter a second time into my mother's womb and be born. Jesus must have said, you know, no cloth ears.

I mean, listen to what I'm saying here, don't be ridiculous for goodness sake. Sure, he wouldn't say that, only a bad person like me would say that, but he said, no, we're not talking physical, we're talking spiritual. There was a time when you were born physically, you didn't have anything to do with it, you didn't create it, you didn't engineer it, you didn't ask for it, you had no part in it.

All of a sudden, boop, out you came. And so he says in the exact same way, in your spiritual birth, God brings it about. He reveals Jesus, he draws you to him, he is the one who creates the new birth. Let me ask you this, are you prepared to have a salvation that has any other origin than God himself? If you are the originator of your salvation, you can presumably be the exterminator and the concluder of your salvation. And those who live their lives believing that salvation is something that they did of their own initiative when one day they got smart, are the same people who if you press them have got no conviction that they will stay the course or one day go to heaven?

Because they believe they started it, and they have a sneaking suspicion that having started it, maybe they'll stop it sometime. But when you and I survey the panorama of grace and faith and realize, when I began to look at my life over the last 24 months, I realized that no individual could have engineered this scenario of events, no one person could have put together all of this. Apparently it must have been God at work in my life. Now, that's an amazing testimony. That's not the testimony of the natural man.

That's not the average man in the street. That is the verbal testimony of somebody who has recognized God's priority and initiative in their lives. Now, here's the point, love ones. This takes a lot of monkeys off our backs and personal evangelism straight off, doesn't it? Because if we think that tomorrow morning we're going to have to go out, sweat and perspire amongst our friends and neighbors to convict them of sin, to bring them to repentance, to draw them to Christ, to reveal Jesus, and to make sure they're born again, we are a high hill to climb. But when we realize that that is what God alone can do, and therefore what we cannot do, then we can bow our knees tonight before we go to bed and say, God, we've got a big day tomorrow, but I'm going to go and be what you want me to be, and I'm going to trust that you will do what God, you alone, can do. When we realize these things, far from it preventing us in evangelistic zeal, it actually creates evangelistic zeal, if you think it through. Okay, that's God's part.

What about our part? We must be clear as to what God requires of us in two ways. First of all, by way of preparation for the work. If we're going to be prepared for the work of evangelism, our life needs to be open to God, my life needs to be open to God, and cleansing sought for all known sin. Secondly, if we're going to be rightfully prepared, we must be living in the fullness of the Spirit.

Ephesians 5 18, be filled with the Spirit. And that may seem a very straightforward thing, and yet it's awfully important. There's a lot of Christians running around, again with the perspiration running down their face, trying to do everything in their own strength. It's a bit like somebody trying to cut their grass with a power mower, and nobody told them they had an engine. As they come around, the final bend, and their legs are buckling underneath them, and their faces are bright red, somebody reaches forward and pulls the cord. And the guy who's been pushing around goes, what's that? The person says, that's the engine. So I didn't know I had an engine.

No, that's clear. If you'd known you had an engine, you wouldn't be in the condition that you're in. I don't want to demean or denigrate the role of the Holy Spirit, comparing it to an engine. But here, do you know that God doesn't call us to activity without providing us with the power necessary to do the job? Do you know that God knows how fearful we are to speak out for him? And that's why he gives us his power. That's why Paul says to Timothy, God didn't give us a spirit of timidity, but of power, and of love, and of self-control. That's why he said, don't go charging into Jerusalem, not yet.

Wait here till the Holy Spirit comes on you, then go into Jerusalem. So the preparation that needs to be done in a church family is simply this. First of all, confession of our sin and our need of God, and a cry to God for cleansing. Secondly, a cry to God that he would pour out the fullness of his spirit upon his people in a dramatic, self-evident way.

It's all part of the preparation. Thirdly, that there would be within us an awareness of our own dependence upon the Lord Jesus for salvation. There needs, fourthly, to be a humble recognition of God's power.

Let's just look at that reference, because I've forgotten myself what it is. First Corinthians 3 and verse 7, so neither he who plants nor he who waters it is anything, but only God who makes things grow. It's a great verse.

I'm surprised I forgot it. It's an important verse. Lest any of us become big shots.

That's the point. Lest we become experts too quickly. I remember somebody gave me a book just when I was married, actually on my honeymoon, it was letters to Philip, and they wrote inside of it, read this book quick before you become an expert. It was about how to live in harmony with your wife. So there needs to be a humble recognition of what God alone can do. We must, number five, know the Scriptures. You see, when evangelism kicks into our brains as the raison d'etre of life, i.e. that God is seeking worshippers that his name might be glorified. He longs for people to be added to the throng of those who worship him. And so he has enlisted us that we might be a part of the chain that brings people to himself so that they in turn might worship.

Then when that begins to register in my mind, then all of a sudden everything else fits into place. That's why I'm reading my Bible. I'm not reading my Bible because I get points for reading my Bible.

I'm learning the Scriptures, because I need to know the Scriptures so that I might share the Scriptures with people who don't know the Scriptures. And one of the most embarrassing things for us, especially those of us who've been a Christian for some time, is our ignorance of the Bible. We make these grandiose statements about it, and someone asks us a simple question, and we're dreadfully embarrassed, and we have to say, I'm sorry, it's in here somewhere, but I don't know where it is. Now, I don't mean to chide you in relation to that. I just acknowledge I forgot what 1 Corinthians 3.7 was myself.

We're all in the position together. But when we read our Bibles each day, there needs to be a reading with a desire to know, and to learn, and to understand, and then to communicate. And we must also, sixthly, understand the human predicament without Christ. Now, some of us are better able to do that experientially because we came to faith in Jesus Christ at a later stage in our lives, and we remember what a horrible mess we were. Those of us who were converted far younger in our days haven't had such a, in other words, volume one of our lives was a smaller volume than volume two.

Some of you have had a bigger volume one. And so when you think about the human predicament without Jesus, you just think back a few years to the mess you were in, to the condition of your life, to the way you used to go into the office, when you drove in the car, when you spoke with your wife at home, and so on. And so you mustn't forget that your friends and your neighbors are in that exact position. That as Jesus says, as describes them in Matthew 9.36, that he saw the people as sheep without a shepherd, that he looked out and he just saw them as a mass, an amorphous mass of people who were helpless and hopeless, who were going nowhere.

The human predicament tonight without Christ is absolutely awesome, isn't it? I was just saying in the prayer time, I mean, just take the plane dealer for a week and look at it. I mean, just take the movie page. Let me say a word to you young people here just for a moment about these movies.

A couple of guys just set up to listen now. Let me tell you something. The Bible makes perfectly plain that when we take garbage in, we will spew garbage out. And you young folks are going to be out there with your mums. You're going to be telling them you're going to this movie and it's not that movie, it's another movie and everything else. I'm going to tell you, you will put things on the computer screen of your brain that you may never be able to remove before the day you die.

I know because I put stuff there that I wish I could remove. And sometimes in the strangest circumstances, in the most bizarre moments, back it comes. Boom!

Full, vivid technicolor. Of course, I was smart when I was seventeen. Ah, don't be deaf. These things don't matter.

They can't affect you. They're still around. The human predicament tonight is so real and so awesome that we need young folks with an alternate lifestyle. And so when we engage in the task of speaking with our friends, we need to do so with sincerity of heart. You know, one of the things that people are always asking when you go and speak to them about anything, whether you're trying to sell them encyclopedias or whatever it is, this is what I'm asking. And number one is, is this guy for real? And if we go out to witness to people in the way that gives them the notion that somebody gave us a quota, like Indians, I mean Indians from the old cowboy movies, right?

And the guy goes out and he has all those, what, hanging from his belt, scalps. Hey, look at this. There is an approach to personal evangelism that's just like that. There are Bible schools in America that cultivate it. If you don't fill your quota before Friday, maybe they've forgotten what God alone can do and what we can do.

So don't think in those terms. The key thing is sincerity of heart. You see somebody thirsty, give them a drink of water. See them unhappy, give them a word of encouragement. See them in need, help them. See they fell off their donkey, give them a ride on your donkey. I don't have a donkey.

Well, neither do I, so, all right. We must be clear as to what God requires of us by way of cooperation in this work, not only preparation, but cooperation. Here we go.

Although the work of conversion is essentially God the Holy Spirit's work, he calls us to work with him in achieving it. Are you going to tell me that obstetricians produce babies? They may walk around like they do, but they don't. Half the time it's the little nurse that does more than the obstetrician. Sorry, guys, sorry. All right? But the obstetrician has to go to bed at night and recognize God produced the baby. I may have had the thrill of saying, Mrs. Jones, it's a girl, but that's all I did.

Right? And that's our part in salvation ultimately, that when we've lived our lives and sung our song and played the melody of the transformed life by the power of the Spirit, and somebody comes to faith in Jesus Christ, we didn't do it. God did it, and he gave us the joyful privilege of being around in the labor ward to see it happen.

That's fantastic. We may plant, we may water, but only God makes it grow. So the work of conversion is his, but we get a part in it with him. Our responsibility then, and we read this and we're not going to camp on it, is to make known the word of God. How can we make known the word of God if we don't know the word of God? Therefore, we need to know the word of God that takes us back. And what are we going to urge upon men? I mean, are we just going to stand around and say, oh, well, oh, well, I learned that God does everything and I'm not really very important, I'm just in the labor ward. No, this is what we're going to do.

You check the references when you go home. We should urge men to seek God, okay? Urge them to do so. Say to our friends, hey, have you read John's gospel? We should urge men to repent. We can make them repent, only God can grant repentance, we've understood that. Nevertheless, we should tell them, you know what?

You need to turn around, buddy, you're going in the wrong direction. I once went the same direction, I want to urge you to turn around. We should urge them to be converted. Years ago, I remember when they changed from coal gas to natural gas in Britain and they had all these plugs for being converted to natural gas and all kinds of advertisements on TV that said, have you been converted? And people used to come around our houses and urge us to be converted.

And it was one of the greatest evangelistic opportunities for the church in a long, long time. So the guy came to the door and said, have you been converted? He said, well, which one are you talking about? And he said, natural gas. And we said, well, I'll talk to you about that if you talk to me about another kind. He said, what's that? And I said, have you ever been converted to faith in Jesus Christ?

It was a good time, good time, okay? And to believe on the Lord Jesus, okay? Just in case we think that in terms of what we have a privilege of doing is kind of nothing leaning against the wall, let's just drive this home. In doing this, we must be willing to display genuine friendship, which will often be costly. Again, if we are not genuinely friendly to people and we give them the kind of scalp notion, then it's no surprise if they tune us out. And our friendship needs to embrace those who don't embrace our values.

If you love those who love you, what reward is that, said Jesus? We're supposed to be in the world, but not of the world. I hope we all have non-Christian friends and a good number of them. I hope we all are in some context during the week in an environment where in the context of friendship, we have the opportunity to give an answer for the reason for the hope that is within us, and we need to cultivate those friendships, recognizing that they will often cost us. And we are to be ready to do this work anytime and anywhere.

Let me finish up with this final statement. The implications of these truths are far-reaching, and they ought to at least instill in us a renewed sense of dependence upon God and an increased confidence in God, so dependence upon God, confidence in God, which will be demonstrated largely in our prayers. That's the great burning longing of Paul's heart, Romans 10, I would that all Israel would be saved. He said, the whole driving compassion of my life is the salvation of those who like me have come from the root of David. And so because of that, depending upon God, confident that God can do what he alone can do, he cries out to him in believing prayer. So I hope that is helpful to us, that there is a part which God alone can do, therefore we ought not to try to do it, but the fact that God has a part which is not ours does not negate the part which is ours. And therefore we need to do what we must and not try and do what we needn't. You're listening to Truth for Life with Alistair Begg. It is God's perfect plan to enlist us for the task of evangelism.

Alistair will clarify our role over the next few weeks as we continue in this study. We want to encourage you to take advantage of several resources that will be helpful for you as you look for opportunities to tell other people about Jesus. First we want to recommend a book called Before You Share Your Faith, Five Ways to Be Evangelism Ready. This is a quick book to read filled with five key tips and suggestions to consider before you try to introduce someone to the gospel. The book helpfully addresses how to overcome reluctance, how to push past fears you may have about initiating gospel conversations. You can request your copy of Before You Share Your Faith when you donate today at slash donate. Another significant and meaningful way that you can play a part in evangelism is through the global outreach of Truth for Life. It's the faithful prayers and monthly giving that comes from our Truth Partners that enables Truth for Life to be broadcast on your local station and to be heard online by people who are listening in countries all around the world. Because Truth Partners are so essential at Truth for Life, we are praying that God will add 500 new Truth Partners here during the month of June. So if you're listening right now and you're thinking, you know, maybe it's time for me to get on board. I hope you'll reach out and become a Truth for Life Truth Partner today. Call us at 888-588-7884 or go online to slash truthpartner. I'm Bob Lapine. Tomorrow we'll learn how to confidently respond to critics as we share our faith. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-06 05:21:02 / 2023-06-06 05:30:38 / 10

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