Two weeks ago I met Dr. Henry Krabbendam, an 82-year old theologian, professor, and evangelist. He came to speak at our church about evangelism.
During the weekend there was a reception and Q&A with “Dr. K.” at someone’s house. When it came time for the Q&A, we went around the circle, each having a turn to ask a question. My question was deeply personal, one I’ve wanted to ask someone for years. I was a little nervous because 1) I’m still very new to our church and these people are just starting to get to know me, and 2) it wasn’t some polite, underhand pitch softball of a question. It was a fastball, right down the line, with years of history loaded in it, and fired right at my target. I wasn’t trying to hit him; my question was propelled honestly. For a long time I carried this question like a burden. It was a hard question which required a real, concrete answer:
Why it was that in all my years as a Christian, after sharing the gospel with many people in many different settings, I’ve never had one convert? Not even one person say to me, “I’d like to hear more…” No one coming to me and thanking me for showing them Jesus and now they are so thankful they know Him too. Why?
His answer had three main exhortations:
Get on your knees and plead with God for a convert.
Be willing to pay the price.
Don’t give up sharing the gospel.
The next morning in my time with the Lord, I did just that. I got on my knees and prayed for a convert. That next night my wife and I had dinner with Dr. K. We talked about a lot of things. One of the additional exhortations he gave was to pray for a burden; pray to weep for souls. (Something I admitted I don’t have, and don’t do.) This made me ask another blunt question, Do you literally weep for souls? Many preachers and writers talk about weeping, and I’ve wondered if they are using that word as hyperbole or if they really do themselves. Is weeping for souls supposed to be normative for every Christian? Dr. K. received my intensely personal question with grace and candor. He shared that he doesn’t always weep either, but that was proof he, too, needed to pray more earnestly.
I want to have that kind of broken, weeping concern for the spiritual condition of those around me, but I often don’t. But then again, it’s up to the Spirit to give that kind of intense burden, and perhaps He does not give that to every believer. My job is to be faithful in the measure God has entrusted to me, not to focus on straining to produce a kind of fleshly emotionalism. I believe all Christians should evangelize, both out of delight and duty, “in season and out of season.”
When was the last time you shared the full message of the gospel with someone? As I asked two professing believers a few weeks ago, if you had an opportunity to do so, could you even tell someone what the gospel message is? (They admitted they could not.) Incidentally, if you’ve been at a church for any length of time, and months or years later you can’t summarize the message of Christianity in a minute or so, you’re not being property trained and should find a Bible-teaching church immediately.
If you’ve been at a church for any length of time, and months or years later you can’t summarize the message of Christianity in a minute or so, you’re not being property trained and should find a Bible-teaching church immediately.
We don’t need tears to evangelize. But we do need to be able to articulate the points of the gospel. And then we need to pray for the Spirit’s help to step out in faith, over our human fears, and tell others how they can be saved.
God give me a love for people and concern for their spiritual state. Help me, as Dr. K also said, to see people not with my eyes as a man sees (i.e.: see them as black/white, male/female, rich/poor, clean/dirty, safe/suspect, etc.), but to see them as You see them, either saved or lost. There are no other categories. In short: Lord, I repent of my apathy, please let me bear fruits in keeping with repentance.