Tag Archives: preaching

What’s Missing In Our Evangelism (It’s Not What You Think)

It is incontestably true that, with the exception of Jesus, the apostle Paul made the deepest spiritual impact upon the world and spread the gospel further than anyone else in history. It is also fair to say that, as believers, we all have a desire to transform our world and reach lost souls the same way Paul did. But, as painful as it is to admit, it is observably true that we are not doing so for the most part. So, what are we missing in our evangelism? Why aren’t we impacting the world like Paul did? 

We have a plethora of evangelistic resources and tools at our disposal—much more than Paul had—so that’s not the problem. We mostly know how to share the gospel with sinners who will listen, so that’s not the issue. And, we certainly have ample opportunities and plenty of “open doors” to proclaim the gospel every week, so that’s not the hang-up either. What we don’t have oftentimes is the heart Paul had. 

What we need in order to reach the world like Paul is a burning and broken heart—a heart that burns hot for God’s glory, and one that is broken and shattered for the sinfulness of man. That’s the heart Paul possessed, and it drove him to evangelize a place as depraved as Athens, Greece. Paul was consumed by a conviction that compelled him to preach the gospel and point idolatrous sinners to the only God who is worthy of worship:

“Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols.  So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him” (Acts 17:16-18)

As soon as Paul arrived in Athens, he wasn’t struck by the alluring ancient architecture; he was struck by the awful idolatry that filled the streets. “The city was full of idols,” Luke says. In Greek, this literally means the city streets were “smothered in idols.” And people who passed through Athens confirmed this, as they would often say that it was easier to find a god than a man. 

Athens was an idol-factory that never ceased operations. Temples to mythical gods towered thousands of feet high. Every street corner had an altar. Marble busts depicting every fictitious deity imaginable were almost innumerable. And, at the sight of this, Paul was “provoked” within his spirit.

His heart simultaneously erupted in righteous indignation and fractured into a thousand pieces. He was enraged that wood and stone idols were given glory that belongs to God (cf. Deut. 9:7), and he was saddened because he knew that all sinners are hopelessly enslaved to such idolatry. And a burning and broken heart drove him to proclaim the gospel—the only remedy for sinners steeped in perverted idolatry. 

Thus, Luke says: “So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him” (vv. 17-18a).

Paul did not raid temples or topple idols. He didn’t grab robes or protest in the streets. And most importantly, he didn’t stand idly by while people sailed merrily to eternal torment. Instead, he patiently and boldly preached the gospel to anyone who would listen.

He “reasoned” with the Jews, proving to them that Jesus was the Christ, just as he had done in many other cities. He conversed with people in the public marketplace, engaging in street evangelism with pedestrians. And he debated the philosophers of the day, arguing that Jesus was the way, the truth, and the life (cf. John 14:6).

Here’s the bottom line: Paul saw sinners the way they truly were, and it compelled him to impact the world for Christ and proclaim the gospel to every listening ear. And thus, we have the missing ingredient in our evangelism. If we want to transform the world the way Paul did, we must speak the way Paul spoke. If we desire to speak the way Paul did, we must feel the way he felt about the world. And, if we want to feel the way Paul felt, we must see the way Paul saw the world: steeped in idolatry and in need of redemption from the Lord.

Seeing the world’s pitiful idolatry through biblical eyes is what fuels our zeal to point lost sinners to the only God who is worthy of worship.

How do you see your unsaved family, friends, and neighbors? Do you see them the same way Paul saw the world? Do you see them as helplessly and hopelessly enslaved to idolatry? That’s the conviction that will compel you to proclaim the gospel to a place as sinful and unreachable as Athens.

Let Them Hear | Bible Gleanings – July 16-17, 2022

The violin’s strings became an angel’s vocal cords when Fritz Kreisler played them. Kreisler (1875—1962) was a world-famous Austrian violinist and an officer in the Third Army Corps during World War I. And the sweetly soothing symphony of a violin was more appealing to him than the chaotic cacophony of conflict. Thus, he dedicated himself entirely to playing the violin and amassed a tremendous fortune performing at prestigious venues in Paris, New York City, and Berlin. But, one day his fortune ran dry at a particularly inopportune moment. 

As he was touring, a stunningly spectacular violin tugged the strings of his heart. But, his pockets were empty because he had given away most of his money. Time passed, and he eventually saved enough money to meet the asking price, but when he returned to the seller, he learned that it had been sold to an antiques collector. Kreisler then hastily traveled to the new owner’s home and made a bid to purchase it. Unfortunately, Kreisler’s string of misfortune persisted because the collector refused to part with it.

Kreisler then tried to pull some strings. “Could I play the instrument once more before it is consigned to silence?” he asked. The collector then gave the magnificent musician permission, and the room filled with a melody so marvelous that the man was moved to tears. “I have no right to keep that to myself,” he exclaimed. “It’s yours, Mr. Kreisler. Take it into the world, and let people hear it.” 

Likewise, the One who purchased redemption with His blood has commanded His people to fill the world with the sweet song of salvation: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). Jesus has called His followers to “sing the LORD’s song in a strange land” so that sinners will be moved to tears of godly sorrow (Psalm 137:4; 2 Corinthians 7:10). The gospel is the most charming carol that has ever graced the ears of fallen sinners. It is the terrific tune that causes the heart’s broken chords to vibrate with everlasting joy. And disciples of Christ are to play the “gospel violin” for all the world to hear; we have no right to keep it to ourselves. 

This is well-expressed in “Jesus Saves,” the hymn written by Priscilla Owens (1829-1907):

“We have heard the joyful sound: Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

Spread the tidings all around: Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

Bear the news to ev’ry land, climb the steeps and cross the waves;

Onward! ‘Tis our Lord’s command; Jesus saves! Jesus saves!”

Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).

The Lord Blesses an Evangelistic Church

“Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord” (Acts 11:19-21).

Any church whose members offer their hands to labor in preaching the gospel will have God’s hand of favor resting upon them. He blesses churches who “bring in the sheaves.” His blessing will come inside the church when believers go outside the church with the gospel of grace. He fills the barn with wheat when laborers work the field for a harvest.

We often experience a shortage of God’s blessing on our churches because of a shortage of gospel-laborers gleaning in the field. There is no undersupply of gospel seed. There is no lack of fields ripe for planting. What is in short measure are grace-empowered, Spirit-compelled believers sowing the gospel seed in fertile fields. That is precisely why Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few, therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38).

The gospel harvest was abundant in the city of Antioch, according to St. Luke in the passage above. Believers fleeing persecution in Jerusalem took the gospel seed with them, scattering it in the soil of many unsaved hearts (cf. Acts 8:1, 4). As a result, multitudes came to Christ, eventually forming a large church in the city.

As the scattered saints sounded the saving message of Christ, they experienced the spectacular blessing of God, for, “the hand of the Lord was with them.” You can’t stifle the outstandingly powerful hand of God Almighty. The Scripture declares, “None can stay his hand” (Daniel 4:35b). His hand of grace can lift any sinner drowning in the mire pit of iniquity. His hand of salvation can reach the farthest wandering soul, no matter how vehemently they run hellbound on the broad road to destruction. His hand of mercy can pry open the most impenetrable prison cell to liberate even the most enslaved sinner.

By God’s hand of blessing and grace, a growing church was born without seminary training, strategic planning, or the spending of money. Believers preached. God saved souls. Membership skyrocketed. That’s it.

The hand of the Lord—that’s what it takes. Of course, offering your hands to sow the gospel seed in evangelism is essential, too. God does the saving, but no one can be saved unless they first hear the gospel—from you (cf. Romans 10:14-17). Faith comes by hearing the word of Christ.

Moreover, we would be foolish to try to channel growth into our churches any other way. Solomon warned, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1a). And God’s chosen means of building His house, the church, is evangelism, where we take the gospel to the unsaved in faith that God will save them, and lay them as living stones in His ever-growing spiritual house (1 Peter 2:5). Let’s stick to it.

The Holy Spirit Doesn’t Need Your Help

“While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.” — Acts‬ ‭10:44‬ ‭KJV‬‬

One of the most essential and encouraging truths in all Scripture about preaching the gospel is that the Spirit of God works mightily while we preach.

The Spirit of God punches His timecard when you proclaim the full gospel to the lost. The Spirit engages in CPR, reviving a heart once dead when you engage in evangelism (Eph. 2:1). He shines gospel light in darkened hearts when the blazing gospel torch is carried to those in darkness (2 Cor. 4:6). The Spirit opens blinded eyes when you call the unregenerate to look away from themselves to Christ (2 Cor. 4:4).

The very first thing He does is convict, according to Jesus. He said, “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8). The Spirit puts a person’s conscience on trial when the gospel is published. And He says to them, “You are in serious trouble with God, and you are in serious need of salvation. Wake up! God is holy and you are not. You need Jesus!”

Furthermore, the Spirit converts a sinner’s soul. Paul said:

“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:4-6).

He regenerates the unregenerate soul. He creates new life within a person devoid of spiritual life.

The Spirit does it all, and oftentimes in the very moment we present the gospel.

This does not mean that every person who hears the gospel will be saved. Sometimes your gospel preaching falls on deaf ears. Unsaved sinners still resist grace (cf. Acts 7:51).

What it does mean is that Spirit can penetrate the hardest heart, loosen the stiffest neck, and overcome anyone’s resistance to His call when He wills (John 6:37-40; Acts 16:4; Romans 8:29-30).

What it does mean is that you can faithfully present the gospel and walk away with a full heart, knowing that the Spirit leads a person to Christ.

What it does mean is that you don’t have to worry about whether your presentation of the gospel was eloquent or sophisticated enough to convince someone to believe.

What it means is that you don’t have to use gimmicks, tactics, bouncy-houses, potlucks, or concerts to win a person to Christ.

And it means that no amount of therapy, theories, or prescriptions make a person a better candidate for salvation.

The Spirit of God alone convicts and converts lost souls—and He doesn’t need any help. Just preach the gospel (Romans 10:14-17).

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English shepherd), and Dot (beagle).

Sermon: Don’t Miss the Point! (Acts 7:1-53) | Aug 29, 2021

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English shepherd), and Dot (beagle).

Sermon: When You Die for Christ, Part 2 (Acts 7:54-60) | Sept 12, 2021

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English shepherd), and Dot (beagle).

Sermon: When You Die for Christ, Part 1 (Acts 7:54-60) | Sept 5, 2021

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English shepherd), and Dot (beagle).

Sermon: Whosoever Meaneth Me, Part 2 (Acts 10:1-43) | Jan 30, 2022

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English shepherd), and Dot (beagle).

Sermon: The Providence of Persecution (Acts 8:1-4) | Sept 19, 2021

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English shepherd), and Dot (beagle).

Sermon: The Free Gift of the Spirit (Acts 8:14-25) | Oct 10, 2021

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English shepherd), and Dot (beagle).