When was the last time you personally shared the Gospel?
Many people can’t remember either because it’s been a long time since they shared the Gospel or they have never personally shared the Gospel with anyone. Since February is Evangelism Emphasis Month, now is the perfect time to talk about personal evangelism. Personal evangelism is the act of teaching someone the Gospel and extending an invitation to turn from sin and trust in Jesus.
One of my favorite passages on personal evangelism is found in 2 Corinthians 5:20-21:
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (ESV)
In his book Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus, author J. Mack Stiles highlights the power of these verses for personal evangelism.
First, ambassadors have a job. The job of an ambassador is to deliver the message. The most powerful thing you can do to share the Gospel is to know the good news: God saves sinners who turn from sin and trust in the death and resurrection of Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come. These simple words, or something like them, are the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16).
It’s our job to deliver the message and make the invitation. God’s job is to convict, draw, and save. God doesn’t need us to be His ambassadors. He could easily save people apart from our witness, but God gives us the privilege of announcing the victory of Jesus over sin and death. Paul says, “we are ambassadors for Christ,” and that He makes his appeal through us. Our job isn’t to make up the message, change the message, or soften the message.
Our job is to deliver the message.
Second, ambassadors must be bold. Many Christians avoid sharing the Gospel because of fear. Common fears associated with personal evangelism include fear of rejection, fear of embarrassment, or fear of not knowing what to do or say.
The good news is that Jesus gives us boldness through his Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:12 and Philippians 1:19). In fact, boldness is contagious! We see this in Philippians 1:14, where Paul writes, “And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the wordwithout fear.” (ESV).
Praying for boldness with others in your church is a good place to start. Early Christians prayed for God to make them bold (Acts 4:29). Persistent sin kills boldness and causes us to shrink back from personal evangelism. As the Bible says in Job 28:1: The wicked flee when no one pursues,
but the righteous are bold as a lion. Knowing the Gospel, praying for boldness, and turning from sin are basic ingredients of personal evangelism.
Third, ambassadors trust God for the response. We deliver the message and make the appeal, but only God is sovereign over the response. This was Paul’s theology, which fueled his evangelism expressed in 1 Corinthians 3:7: So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. (ESV)
God gives the growth. Trusting the sovereignty of God in salvation need not dissuade evangelism; to the contrary, it fuels passionate personal evangelism. Paul endured hardships for the Gospel because he understood that God can and does save:
Therefore, I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. (2 Timothy 2:10, ESV)
Lastly, ambassadors must not lose heart. Personal evangelism often wanes as a person experiences personal grief, church hurt, physical pain, and other forms of evil and suffering. Such experiences can turn a person inward, causing one’s thoughts to be occupied with personal concerns rather than with the concerns of one’s neighbor.
Paul, however, emphasizes that personal trials are intended by God to embolden our witness, not silence it:
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. (2 Corinthians 4:7-12, ESV).
Our frailty shows the surpassing power of God belonging to us in Christ. Later in that same passage, Paul draws this conclusion: Therefore, we do not lose heart (2 Corinthians 4:16).
Personal evangelism is the job description of every Christian. As section eleven of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 so eloquently puts the matter: It is the duty of every child of God to seek constantly to win the lost to Christ by verbal witness undergirded by a Christian lifestyle and by other methods in harmony with the gospel of Christ.
So, when was the last time you personally shared the Gospel?
 Jon Bloom, “Lord, Make Me More Bold” at desiringgod.com (February 2017)
 J. Mack Stiles, Evangelism (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014), 207.
 Ibid., 110.