home > Pastor’s Desk > 2022 > 1st July > CLOSING THE DEAL

In 1871, the American evangelist, Dwight (“DL”) Moody was preaching to huge crowds each night in Chicago. At the end of each message he would give an appeal for people to either respond immediately to the gospel message he had just presented, or at least go home and consider it. But on Sunday October 8th, 1871, a huge fire broke out in Chicago. It burned through the city for days and became known as The Great Chicago Fire. Around 10,000 people were homeless as a result, and hundreds of people lost their lives. Moody was heart-broken when he realised that many of the people who had died were the people who had attended that Sunday night meeting where he had urged them to consider accepting Christ. His deep grief over this tragedy led him to make a vow that he would never again merely urge people to simply consider accepting Christ. From now on, he vowed, he would plead with all those he preached to – to immediately turn away from their sins and turn to the Saviour. DL Moody committed his life and ministry as an evangelist to be someone who would always strive to close the deal because he was now aware—more than ever—that people’s eternal destinies were in jeopardy! 

 

WHAT IS EVANGELISM?

As a young Christian I soon developed a burden for the lost. I began street-witnessing in Geelong as a teenager, going out every Friday night to hand out gospel tracts. Around 1984 I travelled around Australia street-preaching. As the call of God on my life became clearer I knew that I had to undertake formal theological training. It was during this phase when I enrolled in an evangelism course that I discovered that “What is evangelism?” was not a straight forward question. Was evangelism just preaching the gospel? Could this preaching really be considered evangelism if the gospel was not presented very clearly? Could it be considered evangelism is no-one ever came to Christ as a result? Did it necessarily involve preaching?

I even came across scholars who argued that evangelism could be done without preaching or even inviting people to turn to Christ. These scholars would cite Francis of Assisi whom they claim had said, “Everywhere you go, preach the gospel—and if you have to—use words!” (I have since discovered that Francis said nothing of the sort!) While there is merit to letting our light shine by doing good deeds that help others (Mat. 5:16) as a means to reach out to them, it was not what Christ taught was the means for sharing the gospel. God has ordained that the gospel necessarily involves the use of words. In fact, we might consider our charitable works as pre-evangelism.

 

WHAT IS PRE-EVANGELISM?

In Christ’s parable of the sower (Mark 4:3-9) He described four types of people: those whose hearts were either – hardened like a well-worn path, full of rocks, riddled with thorns, or well-cultivated good soil. How do we turn a hardened-hearted person into a well-cultivated-hearted person? While there’s no magic formula, it at least involves being courteous, kind, and generous (note 1Peter 2:12; 2Cor. 8:21; 9:13; Phil. 2:15; Titus 2:8; Mat. 5:16). It often also involves patiently answering objections and questions (1Peter 3:15) which is referred to as apologetics (which means giving answers). And perhaps the most challenging of all, undoing the hurt caused by hypocritical Christians by re-building trust so that a person can distinguish the message of Christ from the person who claimed to follow Christ but did not do it sincerely. Unless we cultivate a person’s heart by a clear demonstration of our love for and commitment to Christ, we will never be able to close the deal in persuading a person to turn from sin and turn to the Saviour.

WHY EVANGELISM?

Based on the Parable of the Sower, evangelism can result in someone accepting or rejecting Christ’s offer to bear their sin, guilt and shame and mediate for them to adopted by God the Father as child of God with full inheritance rights. For a long time I wondered why God would bother using His redeemed people as His messengers of this infinitely valuable offer. After all, I had reasoned, wouldn’t people be more inclined to accept this offer if God Himself appeared to them to make this offer? Sadly, I have since discovered, God Himself did appear and make this offer to people—but He was still rejected by them (Jn. 1:10-11)! I eventually came to realise that God in His wisdom has ordained that this offer of salvation must be accepted with humility which requires that it is delivered by another frail but redeemed human being.

God created mankind as His image bearers who enjoy certain divine prerogatives including the ability to choose whether we will be loyal to Him or not. This unfortunately was why mankind originally fell from innocence into the bondage and deception of sin. But the wages of serving sin as your master is eternal condemnation and irrevocable separation from God (Rom. 6:23; Rev. 20:12-15). Yet God has ordained that it is in the proclamation of the gospel (the good news which announces the means by which a person can be redeemed from their slavery to sin) that a person can be saved from their sins and set free from a life of bondage to Satan. God implores all people to turn to Him to satisfy the deep thirst of their soul—but He necessarily uses His humble people to summon people to turn to Him and to call them to repentance and to close the deal by accepting His offer now.

WE WORK AS AN EVANGELISM TEAM AS A CHURCH

We can all contribute to the evangelism of our friends, neighbours, family or work colleagues. Our consistent, authentic, sincere following of Christ is foundational to this. Our acts of selfless kindness, the hallmark of a true follower of Christ, can begin the work of softening a hard heart which may lead them to Christ as their Saviour. Our contribution might also be our invitation to our friend or family member to come and hear the gospel in a church service or special evangelistic meeting. The person who accepts this offer may experience a warm welcome from the members of the church’s congregation that their heart is deeply touched. Our combined prayers for those who do not yet know Christ can result in extraordinary miracles of conversions is another way we can support each other in evangelism. But our evangelism ultimately must be proclaimed with an appeal for people to turn from their devotion to their sin, to being fully devoted to Christ. Only then, will they have accepted God’s gracious offer of mercy can we say that we have now closed the deal and successfully evangelised.  In the closing verses of the Bible

What’s holding you back from turning to the Saviour to receive His offer of forgiveness for your sins? Will you receive Christ as your Lord and Saviour? If you were to die now, would you have the assurance that you would enjoy peace with God for eternity? Will you now ask God to forgive you and have His way in your life? These are all questions to be asked to close the deal in evangelism. What’s the “deal”? The deal is what has often been described as The Great Exchange. We exchange our brokenness and shame for God’s forgiveness and a new life as His son or daughter. It’s that simple. It starts by accepting the truth. It then causes us to ask God for His gift of salvation. It results in us accepting His offer and living a life of gratitude toward God for what He has done by sending His Son to die in our place, rise from the dead for our redemption, and ascend back to the Father to secure our inheritance with Him. C.S. Lewis concluded Mere Christianity with these deal closing words:

The Great Chicago Fire of 1871But there must be a real giving up of the self…The very first step is to try to forget about the self altogether. Your real, new self (which is Christ’s and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him…Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life…But look to Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.
MERE CHRISTIANITY, pages 226-227

Amen.

Your Pastor,

Andrew

Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.

3 Comments

  1. Janet sands

    Thank you Andrew. Thank God for your weekly input into my life. Evangelism gets harder as people in our country have so much to occupy them
    Entering into a conversation to the unconverted becomes even more difficult as the years go by. One can just keep trying and praying for loved ones, friends and neighbours.

    Reply
    • Legana Christian Church

      Thank you Janet. May God grant you some fruitful opportunities to be an effective witness for Him.

      Reply
  2. LYDIA

    Sometimes I wonder about this young man I encountered many years ago. Where is he now? Did he take heed of the words I said to him? It was the year 2000. My girlfriend and I were driving in the city, in what I ‘thought’ was a four lane one way. Ah…alas it wasn’t. Still here I drove in what I’ll call lane two and I had just turned on my indicator to go to the right heading for the turn off to Koorong Bookshop. At the same time a vehicle’s engine revved up and began to speed passed me on the right, but…what could either of us do??? I was turning and he was driving past, almost. So I slammed on my brakes, he slammed his too and found himself and his car a fraction from death, a metre from hitting a light pole head on! I calmly got out of my little car, headed towards him and stuck my body partially thru the door window and hugged this young Italian. Then I said, (the exact words fail me) “Son you were that close to meeting your Maker!” putting it to him not to mess up his life and get on track and when he got home to hug his mother. Then I looked at his shredded front tyre, gave him some money to get a new one and left him to ‘reflect’.
    Thank you Andrew for your clear way of walking thru the steps on how to continue ‘on the road of evangelizing’ and that it is ‘completed’ when that individual comes to repentance and faith in Jesus.

    Reply

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Follow Me AS I FOLLOW JESUS

We all walk a path in life that is set before us. We start with very little experience and knowledge about the purpose of our life and the world beyond us. All of humanity experiences joy, wisdom, strength, weakness, suffering and hardship, especially those who are “contending for the faith”. Knowing Jesus is a very special part of this life journey.

A CERTAIN GOD

We can be reasonably certain about many things. In fact, without this certainty about life, none of us could function. We can be certain that tonight the sun will ‘set’. Tomorrow the sun will ‘rise’. After the February 28th it will be February 29th. This year there will be international unrest and much political instability in many parts of the world. In the coming months global warming will be identified by politicians as the source of floods and wildfires. Several high profile international celebrities will die this year. Archaeologists will make a discovery that will require some aspects of history to be rewritten. And you will certainly have one of the most memorable moments in your life in the coming days. You see, there are clearly some things we can be quite certain about. However, there are some aspects about our future that we cannot be certain about, yet in those moments we can be certain about what we should do.

LOW COST LIVING

Turn on any TV or radio news lately and there’s bound to be a story about the current “cost of living crisis”. We all feel it. Initially most people accepted the widespread price-rises were caused by 2020-21 pandemic lockdowns. But whatever the reasons for the rapid price hikes over the past two years, every time we go to the supermarket we feel it again. While governments are striving to curb the impact of this cost of living crisis, there remains a way to enjoy low cost living. The key to this is recognising that the most valuable things in life are literally priceless. The path to enjoying low-cost living is to be found in Christ, and what He taught — and it begins with treasure.

How To Know Jesus Better

It’s a scary thought to realise that the Jesus we have been told about and worship may not really be known to us at all. We can ‘know’ about someone or something, but not really know them. In Christian circles it’s often referred to as head knowledge not heart knowledge.

Knowing Christ Better

As a church, this year’s theme is coming closer to Christ by getting to know Him better. I feel that I am “the least qualified person” to tell anyone how this is done — but someone else has already claimed this distinction – the apostle Paul. After decades of hearing directly from Christ, seeing extraordinary miracles, being taken to heaven temporarily, planting churches across the Roman Empire, he could still say I would give anything to really know Christ – even if it meant suffering like He did! (Phil. 3:7-10). Therefore, I could say: If you do this or that, you will then know Christ better – but in my view, it’s not as easy as that! How we develop our relationship with Christ is shaped by several factors including our personality, our life experiences, our physical health and fitness, and our relationships with others (especially our parents and particularly our father). In fact, I believe that there is a relationship between how we have learned to build relationships with others (and notably how we have learned to relate to those who are closest to us) and how we then proceed to have a relationship with God. Even though I have expressed my lack of qualifications in telling anyone how to have a closer relationship with Christ, I still can, like one hungry beggar to another hungry beggar, offer you a few of the morsels of food that I’ve been able to find.

SOME PEOPLE HAVE AMAZING BUTS

I know of several people with amazing buts. There’s Jo’, Mo’, Sam, Esther, Jerry, and others. Each of these people were gifted by God with an amazing but that changed there life and the course of human history. Sometimes these gifts came with a …then, or …God, or …the LORD. When it comes to the size of things, a but is a relatively small thing (in Greek it can be just two letters: de) but it can have huge implications and enormously great blessings for multitudes. I hope to show you how this was the case with each of the people I have chosen as samples, and then show you how God is your God of buts.

OPEN

What does the word ‘open’ mean to you? Like language itself, it is like any word in which the meaning only comes from the context in which it is used. I can think of at least 12 different understandings of this word, some of which I will point out, most I will not, and one that I focus on because it is prophetically important for where we are at as a church at this crucial time.

ONE THING I HAVE TO SAY

​I’m always amazed at the really cool events I’d organised for my kids to experience, so that they might have happy memories – but now they don’t remember it except the random comment someone made in the car trip on the way there or what snack was eaten. Conversely, if you make a mistake, well that one is remembered! Once I drove Andrew’s car and just lightly hit something so it ended up with an annoying 2cm scratch. The mistake is (still) there in full view to anyone who looks. Is Andrew going to remember this above the years of my devotion to him? (Not likely, but some people do remember the wrong for way too long!) If you had the choice, what one thing would you want to be remembered for? What one thing would you want your family to remember? It’s not often going to be the thing you have in mind.

‘Famous last words’ comes from the hope that you’ll be remembered for them. If you were given the privilege of being able to articulate as the important thing to say, to be remembered by all, what would it be? Would it be a reflection on your love toward someone? Would it be a directive on how to have the best life? Would it be that you wished you had done something? Someone once mused, ‘would your dying words be that you’d wished you’d spent just one more day in the office’? (Not likely.)

AT THE END OF THIS YEAR I WILL RECOUNT 12 WONDERFUL THINGS (An Explication of Psalm 9)

This is my last end-of-year Pastor’s Desk post. When the head of our Live-stream ministry, Sari, asked me what I was thankful for this year, my immediate answer was obvious and predictable. But since then, I have considered that I also have eleven other things for which I am grateful to GOD for. In this last ever end-of-year Pastor’s Desk please indulge as I share my heartfelt thanks to God and for those God has used to bless me this year.

HE WAS BORN A KING

The king who reigned over Judea when Jesus was born was Herod the Great. Herod had no legitimate claim to the throne of Israel. He was from an Idumean noble family who supported the Roman occupation of Palestine. As a reward he was appointed by the Roman Senate as the King of Judea. Despite his attempts to curry favour with the Jews, including several major public works programs (including completing the temple reconstruction) he was still largely unpopular among the Jews. Little wonder then that when the Magi arrived in Jerusalem with their large retinue and requested to view the birth of the prophesied King of the Jews, Herod was emotionally threatened by this revelation. Herod immediately ordered an enquiry from the chief priests and religious scribes.