Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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How to Succeed in Sharing the Gospel

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Recently, in doing some reading about evangelism, I came across a sermon outline by Mark Copeland titled “Perspectives for Success in Evangelism”. The lesson pointed out that even diligent Christians can reach a point where they become discouraged or apathetic with regard to teaching the lost. As this is an important duty for the child of God, it is important to avoid that trap. Mark points out certain perspectives that will help a person maintain enthusiasm and persistence in seeking opportunities to teach others. I want to share and discuss them in this short post.

These Perspectives include:

The power to save resides in the message. “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10-11). The message itself is the important thing, and has the ability to save the soul. The fact that it doesn’t always accomplish that end is because of the second perspective we need to consider…

The results depend upon the type of soil where the seed (the gospel) is sown. As Jesus’ parable of the sower shows (Luke 8), not all soil is receptive to the seed. In fact, only one of the four “types” of soil brought forth fruit. Where is the blame? Not in the sower, or the seed, but in the soil (the hearts of men). Because of this, we need to learn to rejoice in the sowing of the seed, rather than placing too much emphasis on the end result. Whether or not any particular individual accepts the message of the gospel, it is the Christian’s purpose to share that message to the world. While we are obviously hopeful that a proper response will come, a rejection of truth is not a failure on the part of the disciple. As such, the goals we set should be regarding how many are taught, rather than how many are converted. We have some control over the first, but little over the second! Which leads to perspective number three…

The sole significance of the teacher is that he is a “seed-slinger.” Paul stated this clearly to the Corinthians, “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:5-7). So, we have no reason to be prideful when someone obeys God as a result of our teaching. At the same time, we do not need to belittle our own ability to share the gospel, nor be hesitant to apply ourselves to the task. As Paul noted regarding those who preached the gospel from evil motives (cf. Philippians 1:15-18), God can even use seriously flawed people to save souls. This is because the power is not in the man, but the message. And, yet another perspective helps…

The principle of sowing and reaping applies to the preaching of the gospel. Paul wrote of this principle in 2 Corinthians 9:6, “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” As noted before, in the parable of the sower, only one type of soil in four brought forth fruit. But, just like a salesman who knocks on enough doors, the one who shares the gospel will ultimately come across good and honest hearts. So, if we want to convert more, the obvious answer is to evangelize more! Don’t get discouraged if you hit a “dry spell”, and don’t become prideful if you hit a “hot streak.” Just remember, the important thing is how many you teach, God will take care of the results. Which leads to yet another thought…

Sometimes when one sows, it is another who reaps! Jesus established this truth in John 4:37, “For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’” While it is a wonderful thing if our teaching leads immediately to a baptism, and perhaps growth of the local congregation, the key again is simply to sow the seed. The fruits of our efforts in this may not be seen or known, but such results come. Efforts to teach on social media, using the teaching website of our congregation, conversations while on vacation — all of these might lead to one obeying the gospel without your knowledge. Plus, you may just “reap” due to the efforts of another. Regardless, souls are saved. Another important thing to remember…

God’s providence is at work in the saving of souls. Paul noted this in Ephesus, where he wrote, “a great and effective door has opened to me” (1 Corinthians 16:9). Whenever an opportunity to share the gospel occurs, do not be dismissive of it, as such times are directed by God! As Paul wrote, “we are God’s fellow workers” (1 Corinthians 3:9). Which leads to our final stated perspective…

These doors will open to those who prepare themselves for the work! We prepare through a study of God’s word. In wielding the sword of the Spirit competently, we take advantage of the opportunities we see. We prepare by having the proper mindset. We look for opportunities to share the gospel with others. We prepare by prayer to God, so as to have opportunities to preach, to create in us a proper love and motivation toward the lost, and to open the hearts of those with which we share the message.

May each of us heed the admonition of Paul, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). Remember, enthusiasm and persistence are the keys.