Most Bible study groups could stand to be more evangelistic than they are. While Jesus may be known by the group members, and His Word studied regularly, the people in the group (including the group leader) could almost always stand to increase the frequency and intensity of evangelism.
There is a familiar story in Acts 16 that we can learn from. In it we see Paul and Silas at work as missionaries to lost people in their culture. These two men gave us a great example to follow as they followed Christ and evangelized a lost city.
- We must engage people beyond our group. Acts 16:16 records that Paul was on his way to a prayer meeting. In the middle of his walk, a girl with an evil spirit confronted him. Part of her accusation was that he had been evangelizing the people of the city (a rather good accusation, wouldn’t you say?). So we see Paul relating to believers at a prayer meeting, and also relating to the lost people of the city. Paul lived with a foot in two worlds, and so should we. It’s great to have fellow believers to meet with regularly, but we should not forget that we are on the planet to be ambassadors for Christ. As such, we must engage people who do not know Christ. As David Francis, former Director of Sunday School for LifeWay, has said, “The natural inertia of any group is to turn inward.” Group leaders must work hard to keep their group members’ attention focused on sharing Christ with lost people.
- We must believe that sharing the gospel is an urgent task. In Acts 16:26-28, Paul called out to the jailer who was about to kill himself when he believed the prisoners he was guarding had escaped their cells. “Do yourself no harm!” yelled Paul. The apostle knew that if the man died without Jesus, he’d spend an eternity in hell. Paul felt an urgency in sharing the gospel. He knew the reality of heaven and hell, and that our eternal state is determined “in the here and now” by what we decide about Jesus’ offer of forgiveness.
- We must clearly explain Jesus’ offer of forgiveness. In verses 29-32, Paul and Silas clearly explained the way of salvation: “believe on the Lord Jesus!” When the Philippian jailer asked the question, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” they knew exactly how to answer him. Whether you share your personal testimony, know a single verse of Scripture to share, or have a multi-verse gospel presentation, we must be ready when the time comes to verbalize a witness. A lifestyle witness isn’t enough; a verbal one is needed. “Faith comes by hearing.”
Kyle McDonald is a Canadian man who ran into some financial difficulties. He took the one thing he had of value, a red paperclip, and took to Craig’s List, offering it for trade. Within a short time, a girl from Vancouver traded him a fish pen for it. McDonald took the fish pen and put it on Craig’s List again, and was soon offered a door nob in trade. McDonald took the door nob and placed it on Craig’s List, and he traded the door nob for a cook stove. The cook stove was traded for a generator, and the generator was bartered for a neon sign. McDonald kept trading up items, and in 14 trades he finally traded for something pretty cool – a small acting job. He decided to put the acting job on Craig’s List, and a person who had always wanted to be the star of stage and screen traded him a house for the opportunity to be an actor! What a great exchange!
The point is, this exchange of items, spectacular as it was, pales in comparison to the Great Exchange that took place on Calvary! It was there that God provided a way for us to exchange our unrighteousness for His Son’s righteousness. It is that great exchange that we have the privilege to share with others through our witness to them.