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

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

SUPER SUCCESSFUL CHRISTIANS

Spare a thought for those people who are often overlooked by churches—and if they are Christians—they frequently struggle to even find a suitable church where they can deepen their relationship with Christ. Often we think of those who struggle with life as those who are “down and out” and blighted by impoverishment, or destitution, or ill-health, or family breakdown, or poor mental health. But surprisingly, even those who are seen as super-successful because of their wealth, social stature, public acclaim or amazing achievements, are actually struggling with loneliness, emptiness, and poor mental health — even if they are a Christian. These super-successful Christians are CEOs of large companies, or world-class or national sporting champions, or internationally renowned performing artists, or A-lister actors, or media personalities, or highly sought after professionals such as surgeons or barristers. They often pay a high price for their success, including, long work hours, constant stress, public criticism, extended time away from their families, fierce competition, and strained marriages. These pressures are exacerbated by their constant travel associated with their work which also makes them vulnerable to exhaustion and extraordinary temptations. This is why these super-successful Christians need to join the kind of church that can provide them with the kind of support, counsel, and accountability that every Christian needs. Here’s how a church can become this kind of church.

MAKING CHURCH A WELCOMING HOME

For many people, making a decision to attend a church is a significant and potentially daunting decision. As they come through the front door they are entering an unfamiliar environment. It is also an environment that may be associated with preconceived ideas of what the expectations and rules of the church community may be. These people probably will not know anybody and they might have concerns that relate to their previous or current lifestyle. For those of us who are regular church attendees, it is possible that we may not fully appreciate the challenges a new attendee may be facing. When we can relate to these concerns, I believe we are better equipped to provide a warm and patient “welcome” to what we hope will become their new church home.

LOVE IN ACTION

Physical illnesses and stressful events are endemic in our society. They can be likened to the thorns that cause both pain and damage. It doesn’t take much for them to impact a person’s life in ways that they did not expect. I believe that we can become more resilient as followers of Jesus by applying an appropriate solution to a known problem. I believe that an appropriate and important part of the solution is for us to show love the way that Jesus demonstrated love during His ministry on earth.

THE TOOLS OF REMEMBERING

I like to think I have a pretty good memory.  I like to think I’m organised.  Generally, I am – I don’t double book appointments, I keep track of what I’m doing and when, I mostly turn up on time. But, on reflection, I’m not so sure this means I have a good memory.

TRUTH vs SOMETHING BIG AND HAIRY

“You were lying in your bed, you were feeling kind of sleepy.
But you couldn’t close your eyes because the room was getting creepy.
Were those eyeballs in the closet? Was that Godzilla in the hall?
There was something big and hairy casting shadows on the wall.
Now your heart is beating like a drum, your skin is getting clammy.
There’s a hundred tiny monsters jumping right into your jammies”!

These are lyrics from a song on the very first Veggie Tales video every made. The title of the song?  “God is bigger than the Boogie Man”. Junior Asparagus was lying in bed frightened, and Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber appeared to tell him that he doesn’t have to be scared of the imaginary monsters because, “God is the bigger.” My childhood night-time fears weren’t so much about big and hairy monsters, aka boogie men, or Godzilla in the hall. My fears were house fires – our home burning down, and “burglars” or “robbers”. But I certainly identify with lying in bed, my heart beating like a drum, my skin getting clammy, my imagination in overdrive.

BUILDING A MOODY CHURCH

The three things that make the Christian life exciting and enthralling are the same three things that enable a believer to develop a closer relationship with God. The combination of these supernatural gifts gives the child of God an awareness that there is more, much more, to this world than we can see, touch, taste or feel. When the Christian’s faith is grounded and buttressed in God’s Word, godly prayer, and God’s house he or she flourishes. But there are forces at play that are determined to stop the believer from reaching their spiritual destiny. While we might think these enemy forces only use the fiery darts of doubt to hinder the believer’s journey to glory, there is something that they successfully use far more often: our mood. This is why, for any church to be successful, it must discover how to build moody church.

PRAYING PRAYERS

The amazing thing about prayer, is that nearly everyone does it – but hardly anyone thinks they do it well. If you visit any Christian bookstore you will notice that the largest display of books is about prayer. And it’s not just Christian bookstores where you’ll find books on prayer. Regular bookstores also sell a wide range of books on prayer (even if they do classify them as books on ‘meditation’!). One of the most frequently searched questions on Google is, “How to pray” (which then points enquirers to over 2.3 billion web pages answering their question). But in all of human history – and two thousand years before anyone but one had ever heard of Google – there was just One person who was supremely qualified to answer this question. And fortunately for those of us who really want to know the answer to this question (without having to peruse more than 2.3 billion web pages!) He gave us the answer.

WHY SOME BELIEVE

Why is it that two people can look at exactly the same evidence and can come to completely different conclusions about it? Even more puzzling is how two equally qualified scientific experts can look at the same data and utterly disagree about what it means. This happens many times in court cases where the prosecution will call their “expert witness” to give his or her professional opinion to verify that the defendant is guilty only to have the defence to present their “expert witness” who gives his or her professional opinion as to why the prosecution’s expert witness was wrong and to prove that defendant is innocent! This at least illustrates why it is not always the quality of the evidence that leads a person to accept or reject a claim. This especially apply to the claims that Jesus Christ made. Of the four accounts in the New Testament written about His life, three of them were written by eye-witnesses and the other one (Luke’s) was written by someone who interviewed many eye-witnesses. It is with interest that we turn to the last one to be John’s Gospel, where he describes dramatic proofs that Jesus was who He claimed to be. Yet despite these otherwise inexplicable proofs that at times thousands of people witnessed, many still wouldn’t believe. But it seems among those who did believe they all had one thing in common.

UNPACKING CHRISTIANITY

home > Pastor's Desk > 2022 > JUNE 3rd > UNPACKING CHRISTIANITY UNPACKING CHRISTIANITY I have a thing for bags. Not shopping bags or lady’s handbags, but manly bags - functional bags. A few years back I became fed-up with the number of bags I was...

HOW TO OPEN LIFE’S LOCKED DOORS

When I turned 50, I decided to do something really difficult. I enrolled in a university course to learn Biblical Greek. And, trust me when I say, this in no way is a brag – because I struggled through it and took far far longer than the average Biblical Greek student ordinarily takes to complete this course. I had to do twenty translation tests and then two major translations exams of the New Testament’s Greek text into English. I scraped through the course and somehow managed to pass it. I can testify that learning another language later in life is really hard! This is why I have the utmost respect for non-English-speaking migrants who come to our country and manage to learn English. Learning languages is not the only thing I find difficult. I envy those people who do the things easily that I find difficult to do or understand (like quadratic mathematic equations for example). Over the years I have pondered why it is that different people doing the same task can result in a person finding it incredibly easy who then gets it done quickly, and why another other person finds it next-to-impossible and as a result gives up trying to do it. I have discovered the answer to this conundrum lies in the “mat” principle.