The Need for Personal Evangelism

Walton Weaver
Memphis, Tennessee

The increased interest that is manifested by more and more brethren across the nation in personal evangelism is encouraging. Yet, the number of churches actively involved in a personal evangelism program, and even the number of individuals who are participating in such a program, i alarmingly small. We have failed, and yet are failing, to get brethren to see the necessity of each Christian being a winner of souls. Even when they are taught, too many times there is inadequate leadership and motivation to get them out into the field of labor. These problems will be dealt with in a later study. Just now we ask: could it be that most brethren have not recognized the need for personal evangelism?

The Need of the Lost

1. All have sinned. Paul said that the law, which is "holy, and righteous, and good," pointed out to him the real nature of sin: it is "exceeding sinful" (Rom. 7:13). So, although the Jews had the advantage of having received the law (Rom. 3: 2), they still were in sin.

The Gentiles who were not under the law, but who lived while the law was in force, were also in sin (Rom. 1: 18-32). They were sinners, however, not because they had violated the Law of Moses, but because they had not lived up to God's eternal moral law (Rom. 2:14-15). This is a law inherent in the nature of our relations to one another. Therefore, Paul concludes, all are in sin: "They are all under sin; as it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God; they have all turned aside, they are together become unprofitable; There is none that doeth good, no, not so much as one ... for there is no distinction; for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:9-11, 22-23).

2. The wages of sin. The recompense of sin is terrible: "the wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23). If only physical death were meant here, the punishment would not be so severe. But this death is a spiritual death, a spiritual separation from God. It is a death that carries with it all the agonies of hell. Separation from God - yes, but there is much more in store for the one who dies in sin.

Hell is the hardest fact revealed in the Bible. But the reality of hell was taught more by Jesus Himself than anyone else. It is the place where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched (Mk. 9:48). In hell men are conscious, they remember, they cry out, they beg for water, and they long to warn their loved ones, "lest they also come into this place of torment" (Lk. 16: 28). All who die in sin will be cast into hell, even the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone forever and ever (Rev. 20: 10; 21:8).

The first essential in successful soul winning is facing up to the hard fact of the reality of hell and fully believing that any that die in sin are going there. "The wages of sin is death." Believe it! The hard and impenitent heart treasures up for itself "wrath in the day of wrath" (Rom. 2:5). Accept it! Every soul that obeys not the truth shall receive wrath and indignation, tribulation and anguish (Rom. 2:8-9). Admit it! All those who know not God and obey not the gospel "shall suffer punishment, even eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might" (2 Them. 1:7-9). Preach it!

The very nature of sin necessitates spiritual death, and the sinner must be paid what he deserves. The wage that sin pays his slave is death. God is so holy His nature will not allow sin to pass by unnoticed. Sin makes one weak (Rom. 5:6) because as a sinner (Rom. 5:8) one is an enemy of God (Rom. 5: 10) and is unable to provide for himself an adequate means of reconciliation.

3. The free gift of God. God is good, and God is severe (Rom. 11:22). All sinners are under His wrath (Rom. 1:18; 2:5; 5:9; 12:19) because they are in bondage to sin (Rom. 6:16, 20), but the free gift of God, which is eternal life in Christ Jesus (Rom. 6:23), makes them free from the wrath of God (Rom. 5:9), free from sin (Rom. 6:1718), free from the law (Rom. 7:1-6), and free from death (Rom. 8:14).

The free gift of God is not a wage as death is a wage of sin. Death is what the sinner earns or deserves, but man can in no way earn eternal life. The sinner is "justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 3:24). This is not to deny that man has anything to do to be saved. Paul's teaching of justification by grace through faith is not opposed to obedience to the gospel; rather it is opposed to works of law or works of merit. Paul points out that the very purpose of preaching is "unto obedience of faith" (Rom. 1:5; 16:26).

Brethren, millions of people are in this world - and lost! They are lost forever without Jesus Christ. Your mother, your father, your brother or sister, your neighbor, your friend, could very well be one of them. The lost need you to become involved in personal evangelism today! Our greatest sin is failing to be aware of this important fact.

'The Christian must face his responsibility for lost men! Until he senses the terrible eternal lostness of others about him, he will continue in his state of lethargy. If the church fails to feel the lostness of men, of families going on in their rejection of Jesus Christ, how can we expect the sinner to experience any spiritual concern for himself?"

" The most astonishing fact that faces the Christian church (I would say the churches of Christ, W.W.) is that we who have been delivered from sin and Satan, from darkness and fear, and who know the joy of salvation as well as the destiny of the damned, do not go to the sinner who is lost."

"Today the Church, in its easy way of life, stands condemned in its comfortable carelessness. We must be awakened to the awfulness of men and women dying in their sins without Jesus Christ" (Charles W. Kingsley and George Delamarter, GO! Revolutionary New Testament Christianity, pp. 15-16).

TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 1, pp. 8-9
November 5, 1970