This article first appeared in the Effective Evangelism column of the Christian Research Journal, volume31, number4 (2008). For further information or to subscribe to the Christian Research Journal go to: http://www.equip.org
Over the last few months I’ve had the great privilege of working with Elliot Miller, my editor-in-chief. Having had the opportunity to read carefully through his three-part series on the yoga boom in America during its preparation for publication (part three of which appears in this issue), two things repeatedly come to mind: (1)how vital it is for the Christian to be in right relationship to Christ—to know Him intimately—in order to be able to unveil Him to the nonbeliever who is influenced by Eastern thought, and (2)how vital it is for the Christian to understand Christ’s appointment as savior of the world in such a way that making His identity known to others is second nature.
Over my years of serving Christ, I’ve encountered the motto “To know Christ and make Him known.” It is the simplest of creeds for me to bring to mind and heart when defending the gospel becomes cumbersome, either because I am stumbling over my own apologetic or my listener has not the ears to hear it. Lately, a deeper reflection on these words has given me a new appreciation for their value in helping one to be an effective evangelist.
John, the beloved disciple, wrote: “And this is eternal life, that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John17:3).1 Jesus wanted each person He encountered to understand His supreme mission: to glorify God by drawing people to Himself. He provided for people’s immediate and physical needs, but also prepared them to see their spiritual needs. He delivered the people from the enemy, but also directed them to the Father.
On Knowing Christ. You may long to become more like Jesus, though you can’t expect to reach His perfection in this life, but you must not forget that you can certainly try to reflect Him in all you say and do. Here are a few suggestions to help you do so:
Be in a Right Relationship with Him. It is essential that you enjoy a personal relationship with Christ. As your relationship deepens, He will demonstrate His power in your life. To enter into this relationship, you must allow your will to be broken, your ego to be destroyed. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me,” Paul said to his readers in Galatia (Gal.2:20). We deliberately must crucify our selfish nature and cultivate His loving nature.
Be Filled with the Holy Spirit. We cannot move forward without His presence in our lives. The Holy Spirit works as the motivating force in our lives to propel us forward. He indwells us and He empowers us. The work of the Holy Spirit cannot happen unless we confess our “sins one to another” (James5:16). One Christian writer says: “Anything that springs from self, however small it may be, is sin. Self-energy or self-complacency in service is sin. Self-pity in trials or difficulties, self-seeking in business or Christian work, self-indulgence in one’s spare time, sensitiveness, touchiness, resentment and self-defense when we are hurt or injured by others, self-consciousness, reserve, worry, fear, all spring from self and all are sin and make our cups unclean.”2 For continuous power in our witnessing, we must keep our cups clean and filled with the Holy Spirit.
Walk with Christ. How often we forget our walk with Christ and start walking in our own counsel. The work of Christ must be done in the counsel of the Lord. One sure sign of this walk with Jesus is the “peace” in your heart. He gives you His peace. His peace is not the absence of trials and tribulations. His peace is His presence in your life. When you lose, or begin to lose, your peace, you should see it as a firm indication that you are no longer in regular communion with God. Immediately take steps to identify any sin in your life, confess it to Christ and others, and enjoy the restoration of your fellowship with Him—then continue your walk with Him with His peace filling your heart and mind.
Have Fellowship with Other Believers. When sin enters your life, one of the first reactions is to “hide” from your brothers and sisters in Christ. You start to feel isolated, no longer comfortable in community. Your fellowship with others, however, is a reflection of your fellowship with Christ. John rebukes Christians with these words: “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light” (1John2:9–10).
Be a Credible Believer. You must do your best, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, to be a person who can be trusted. Christian witness suffers because of the misdeeds of some Christians, and the media seems to enjoy the chance to make all Christians look like charlatans. Jesus calls Christians “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” (Matt.5:13–14). You are here, as salt, to flavor the dull and dreary lives of those who have not tasted the power of Christ and, as light, to expose and eliminate the dark recesses of the human heart with the forgiveness and love of Christ.
Be a Praying Believer. One can never overemphasize the need for prayer in the life of a Christian worker. Prayer keeps you in contact with Christ, enables you to remain dependent on Him, permits you to grow, and allows you to develop your capacity to love and cherish others in Christ. The first disciples were people of prayer and the first churches were assemblies of prayer. The person who purposes to pray and spends time on his knees praying accomplishes more than the person who neglects to pray and rushes here and there working.
Be a Holy Believer. God’s holiness must become visible in your life if your witness is going to influence people who hold other worldviews. Peter asks God’s children to seek holiness for their personal lives: “As he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (1Pet.1:15–16). Some Christians believe that obeying “pious” human institutions makes them holy. Holiness means “separation.” God wants you to become available to Him and to Him alone. As you become separated unto Christ, you begin to acquire holiness.
Be a Growing Believer. It only takes a moment to become a Christian. It takes a lifetime to be the Christian one becomes. It is vital to study God’s Word on a daily basis, to learn from it, and to grow in it. You cannot develop Christian perspectives without the daily disciplines of prayer and study and meditation on the Word of God. These activities, along with fellowship with other believers in the Lord, are essential for your growth as a believer. Early Christians apparently discovered this because we read: “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers….And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts2:42,47).
Making Christ Known. These are sure ways to know more of Christ. When the time comes for an encounter with nonbelievers, however, do you know who you are about to introduce them to?
Recognizing the following truths concerning Christ’s appointment as savior of mankind for the work of the kingdom of God will enhance your motivation and priority for the work to which you have been called:
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Christ Was Appointed by God. “Behold my servant, whom I have chosen” (Matt.12:18). We know that Christ’s appointment was from God, because it was announced by God and because it was acceptable and pleasing to God. Christ did not appoint Himself; He was appointed. As a believer, you, too, have been appointed for the work of the kingdom of God, which is to rescue nonbelievers from their kingdom of self; You must make sure, however, that your calling for your specific role in that is pleasing to God and comes from Him.
Christ Received Approval from God. “My beloved with whom my soul is well pleased” (Matt.12:18). Not only was God pleased with the task He chose for Christ, He was pleased with Christ Himself. When God is pleased with what you are doing, you also experience His presence and power in your evangelistic efforts.
Christ’s Longsuffering Was Acknowledged by God. “He will not quarrel or cry aloud; nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets” (Matt.12:19). Jesus overcame the trials God predicted He would face. He did not give in to the pressures of the job. He stayed with His commission irrespective of its demands. You must not let anything get in the way of fulfillment of the mission to take the gospel to people who have not heard. Despite discouragement, you must continue to move forward in the community of others and in the fellowship of the suffering Christ.
Christ’s Accomplishment Was Assured by God. “And in his name the Gentiles will hope” (Matt.12:21). Jesus persevered to perform the task that was assigned to Him despite its difficulties, and, as God promised, His perseverance resulted in people’s trust in His name. You must stay on course. Only then can you be used by God’s Spirit to cause others to put their trust in Christ.
Your work for the kingdom of Christ depends upon the power of the Lord Jesus who lives and works in and through you. Paul tells us that “he who has set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach Him among the Gentiles” (Gal.1:15). He goes on to state the principle by which he preaches Christ to the gentiles (those who are outside the true kingdom): “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal.2:20).
— C. Wayne Mayhall
1. All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version.
2. Roy Hession, The Calvary Road (Great Britain: Hazell, Watson, and Viney, 1950), 19–21.