Do You Know My Jesus?
"Evangelism and the life of the church", is kind of a heavy-duty subject for a Monday morning chapel talk. I don't think I have the time in 20 minutes to explain all of the how's and why's of evangelism and how evangelism effects the life of the church. However, I can tell you that evangelism, true evangelism, cannot occur without the presence and action of the Holy Spirit.
You could say that it's the Holy Spirit that does the evangelism and we are one of His many instruments that include:
- Our conscience
- World events / Powers
- Christian example / influence
- The Word of God
- The church
So like I said, there's not enough time to explore evangelism and the life of the church, but maybe I can share with you how the Holy Spirit evangelized me and what this has meant in my life.
How The Holy Spirit Evangelized Me
1. The Holy Spirit Provoked my Conscience
Jesus says that the Spirit convicts the world of sin and part of that conviction works through the consciences of men - (John 16: 8-9). I was a worldly man, evil in many ways, a Blasphemer and mocker of God. My flesh was enjoying the world and drinking in the pleasures of sin but my conscience and soul were troubled. The deeper I sank into this world and it's wickedness, the more my conscience was crying for a way out. God's Spirit strived with my spirit over my life, my soul on the battleground of my conscience.
2. The Holy Spirit Used All Kinds of Believers to Teach Me
- Using Roman Catholic believers He taught me about God the creator, and Jesus the Son of God.
- Using Pentecostal believers He introduced me to God's word, the Bible, and how to handle it.
Then, using the teachers and preachers in the church He explained to me His plan of salvation and through them He also discipled me as a Christian and trained me as a minister. My journey from lost in the world to preaching to you today has taken 30 years baptized this week 1977 and the Holy Spirit has used literally hundreds of people and events to shape my character and ministry. But, His work is not yet finished however:
3. The Holy Spirit Continually Opens the Eyes of my Heart so That I can Perceive the Image of Christ Being Molded out of me.
What Paul prays for in Ephesians 1:18:
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
In Romans 8:11 Paul says the following:
But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you.
Basically Paul is telling Christians that the same spiritual power at work raising Christ from the dead will also be at work in each Christian giving us this same "eternal life". Now some people think that this eternal life only begins after we resurrect from the dead. In fact "eternal life" begins in this life, not just the next, and the Holy Spirit is the one who powers it. This is the experience Paul speaks of when he says, "But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit (II Corinthians 3:15).
The Holy Spirit reveals Christ to us every day until He is fully revealed in us at our resurrection.
In Other Words
Each greater insight, knowledge, understanding, view, presence, of Him (What Paul calls glory leads me to another level of glory for myself because I am slowly being transformed into Him. Why do you think Jesus says,
And this is eternal life, that they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou has sent.
- John 17: 3
And so the Spirit powers this "experience" of eternal life for me in the here and now. What does this "eternal life" feel like, look like? Well, all I can say is that in my life I have experienced two lives. In the life I was born with I experienced sin, shame, fear, guilt. And in this new "eternal life":
- I have a new lifestyle
- Love, joy, peace
- Instead of sex, drugs, money
- I have a new priority
- Christ first
- Instead of me first
- I have a new confidence
- God's grace.
- Instead of my ability
- I have a new message
- Instead of Win
- I have a new home
- Instead of World
- I have a new guide
- God's Word
- Instead of the wisdom of men
- I have a new power
- The Spirit
- Instead of the flesh
- I have a new future
- Life with God forever
- Instead of nothingness forever
These things that I mentioned are not goals for my life - they are the natural experience of my every day "eternal life" as a result of the Spirit's indwelling and transforming power in me.
In view of my own experience as one who has been evangelized and discipled by the Holy Spirit -- let me share with you what I have learned about evangelism and the life of the church in the last 30 years of my eternal life:
1. If the Spirit is not leading, it's recruitment, not evangelism.
Too many times the church relies on marketing skills instead of the power of the Holy Spirit to evangelize. The Spirit that caused the growth of the church we see in the book of Acts is still working today, for those who seek Him and submit to His lead. The military recruits; hockey teams recruit; corporation recruit; but the church of living God adds members through the power of the Holy Spirit working through the word and the body of Christ.
The second thing I've learned about evangelism and the church:
2. If There's No Spiritual Change True Evangelism Has Not Occurred.
Evangelism is about reconciliation with God, spiritual regeneration, full redemption from eternal condemnation -- when these things have happened, the natural effects is a changed life and character. When there's no change in a Christian's life it usually means he's been indoctrinated with religious information not evangelized by the Holy Spirit.
Finally, the lesson I keep on learning about evangelism and the church ..
3. If the evangelism isn't centered on God's grace, it's man's gospel not the Spirit's.
Men preach about the right church, the correct way to do things, the only group that will make it - the Spirit message however, focuses on God's love, man's need, and the resurrection of Christ and those who believe. The Holy Spirit begins by proclaiming the love of God which is the power that initially draws us to Christ, and then continually reminds us of His grace which enables us as weak and sinful people to remain faithful.
There may be more things that I will learn about evangelism and the life of the church - but as I said, I'm only 30 years into my eternal life - God bless you.