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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AMAZING ACCESS

Anyone who has attended a large event such as the recent Will Graham Outreach event that was held at the Launceston Silverdome would be familiar with the varying levels of access that are provided to staff and volunteers associated with this type of event. The security system used included identification in the form of different coloured shirts, prayer volunteer cards, and all access cards that permitted access to the entire venue with no questions asked by security personnel. This is like the access level that God has to our lives. Being omnipresent, He has unhindered access to every aspect of our lives. He knows our innermost thoughts, sees all that we do, hears all that we say. God has the ultimate ‘all access’ card.

WHY FINDING TRUTH MATTERS

How can we determine whether a claim is true or false? Some people think there are different kinds of truth — my truth, their truth, and your truth. But how do they know that their assessment of truth is true? After all, their assessment – that there is my/their/your truth might just be based on their truth rather than the truth. Truth has certain qualities that distinguishes it from what is false-
 Truth corresponds to reality.
 Truth is verifiable (that is, if it is true, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is falsifiable (that is, if it is false, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is sometimes testable (that is, claims that are experiential can be tested by experience – including scientific claims, historic claims, and existential claims).
We have good reasons for the believing that the Bible is true because it is the divinely inspired, reliable and authoritative Word of God which has been superintendedly preserved by the Holy Spirit (read more about this).

THE 5 MOST IMPORTANT YEARS OF ANYONE’S LIFE

Parents, Kids Church leaders, and Christian school teachers should be intentional about shaping children to be fully devoted followers of Christ who have reasons for believing Christianity is true – which shapes them into virtuous contributors to society and to find their role in God’s Kingdom. This will be one of the necessary and indispensable means for the Church to fulfil the Great Commission of Christ.

TIME- YOU CAN’T CONTROL IT – BUT YOU CAN LEARN FROM IT

We live in a fast paced world. We expect things to happen quickly. None of us like to be kept waiting. Even when we order something online we expect it delivered straight away. Some of us having to work two or even three jobs just to be able to pay the bills. We describe ourselves as time-poor. Yet, we all get twenty-four-hours in a day. Sixty-minutes in an hour. And sixty-seconds in a minute. Most of us need to adjust how we see, understand, and treat our time. This will involve, what will be for some, adopting a foreign and largely unaccustomed view of time that involves worship, sabbath, and deepening relationships. From this biblical perspective we will come to see time as a gift from God, not a curse, or source of frustration. Within this gift of time God teaches us how to worship in those times when it is difficult to do so. Rather than thinking this divine gift of time is ours to do with what ever we want, God uses this gift to teach us that we should gift it back to Him beginning with (but not limited to) treating Sunday as a sabbath to come together to recommit our hearts, voices, minds, and presence with God’s people, back to God. God gives us passing time to learn to deepen relationships – especially with our kin, and our friends. Time is meant for relationship building. 

I AM WHO I AM BUT I AM NOT WHO I USED TO BE BUT I AM NOT YET WHO I WILL BE

One of the greatest lies that the would-be enemy of all our souls attempts to perpetuate is that we are what we are and we can never change. This lie is whispered into the ears of many people’s invisible ears so imperceptibly that they actually think it originated with them. “You were born this way – and you can never change”, “This is who you really are – and you can never change”, “There’s no hope of anything ever changing for better – so you might as well just kill yourself” and so on. But these sly alien voices inside the heads of the vulnerable are lies. People can change. People do change. Some circumstances were always going to be temporary and were always going to change. I know this is true because I am living proof. I am who I am but I am not who I used to be and I am not yet who I will be.

WHO DOES THIS EPHESIANS FELLA THINK HE IS?!

It may well still be the best-selling book of all time – and continues year-by-year to be so – but certainly is not the best-read of our current times! If there was ever any doubt about this, the events this week in Hobart, at St. Mary’s (Catholic) College Girl’s School, should remove all doubt! A furore erupted over the news that the prescribed Scripture reading for the year-end graduation celebration, which incorporated a Mass, was “Wives submit to your husbands” taken from Ephesians. Callers into ABC radio’s breakfast program decried this assault against women – especially young, vulnerable girls. One caller, responding to the news that the text being used was a citation from Ephesians, denounced Ephesians and apparently demanded, “Just who does this Ephesians bloke think he is?!” Another caller stated, “Why are they quoting ancient Roman philosophers in the twenty-first century?!” And yet another caller somehow linked all religious wars to passages like this one in the Bible! He remarked, “I’m an atheist. All wars are started by those who are religious! No war was ever started by atheists!” (Perhaps he had never heard of Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Vladimir Putin, who were collectively responsible for the deaths of over 20,000,000?) This furore led to the Archbishop conceding that the Ephesians passage did not have to be used at the graduation ceremony. But this furore has highlighted just how unaware many Tasmanians are about what the Bible is, what is actually says, and why it says it. And I am now about to correct this deficiency.  

THE LORD IS MY ROCK

Of the many tributes paid to her majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, was the often noted reflection that during her reign the world underwent a series of rapid changes that were dramatic and unprecedented in human history. There were technological inventions that revolutionised the way people could access international travel options enabling them to be virtually anywhere in the world within a matter of hours. New forms of communication emerged with the development of a global satellite communications network enabling people to watch Neil Armstrong take his one giant leap Live on their black-and-white TV screens (as I did in the corridors of Corio Primary School in 1969). Space exploration, the stuff previously just in the realm of science fiction writers, became a reality with manned and unmanned voyages to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. But the past one hundred years have also been a time of great upheaval with empires crumbling, governments toppled, wars waged, genocides committed, pandemics raging, nations birthed, rulers assassinated, and massive refugee movements from oppressive Islamic and Communist regimes. Added to this has been the demise of professional journalism and the rise of internet-citizen-journalism where it is now common for TV News reports to feature footage taken from someone’s cell-phone which was posted on social media rather than the more expensive option of sending their own film crew there. And while we’re mentioning the internet, let’s not forget to mention – the internet. This alone has possibly been the most monumental change in the way people communicate, work, learn, and shop. But while it was noted that the Queen had witnessed all of these many changes, it was also noted that the Queen herself was an unchanging constant during all these upheavals who brought about a sense of stability, peace and reassurance. To millions of people around the world, she was their rock in a world of turmoil and change. Yet this was only possible because she herself had an immovable, dependable rock upon which she had built her life.

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home > Pastor's Desk > 2022 > October 7th > Who Builds A City On A HillFor those who don’t know, I was born in Geelong, and have always been fan of the Geelong Football Club. But I’m not just a fan, I’m a paid-up member of the Club. In fact, I’m a student...

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