Do you want to be more effective at sharing the gospel of Jesus with your family, co-workers, and neighbors? Do you want to see souls saved? What can you do to be more effective as an evangelist? Well, there are probably a number of things to say here …
Getting the gospel right is paramount. And so is presenting it, not merely in your own words, but particularly in those of Scripture.
Prayer is vital, too. No one comes to Jesus unless they are drawn by God. And so we do well to plead that God would do what we cannot.
And then there are lesser (but still important) things like winsomeness, relationship, clarity of expression, and so on.
But it struck me, as I read Psalm 51 this past week, how David connects his own evangelistic effectiveness with the cleanness, joyfulness, and Spirit-filling of his own heart (vv.10-13):
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
And sustain me with a willing spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners will be converted to You.
Did you pick up on what David is saying? He asks for a clean heart, a steadfast and willing spirit, the presence of God’s Spirit with him, and a restored joy in the salvation of His God! And then, he says, “I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to you” … as though his success in sharing God’s word with others depended (at least partly) on David’s own holiness, and joy, and nearness to God! And that is exceptionally worthy of note! It’s akin to what pastor Robert M’Cheyne said famously: ‘What my people need most is my own personal holiness.’ Were M’Cheyne’s words an overstatement? Probably. But you get the point. It is a clean and well-sharpened scalpel that is most effective in the hand of a surgeon. And it is a clean, Spirit-filled, happy Christian who is the best instrument in the hand of the Holy Spirit.
Now, in saying this, we do not negate the fact that the power for conversion is in the word of God, applied by the Spirit of God. Not for a moment would I seek to de-emphasize that! Nor do I deny that God can use the filthiest of sinners to speak the gospel such that multitudes will be saved. It is “the gospel”, in the final analysis, that is “the power of God for salvation” (Romans 1:16).
But the gospel’s reach often seems to extend much further, and to ring out much more clearly, from the lips of happy, holy, Spirit-filled Christians. So let us be such! And please do pray for this needy pastor, that I would be such. “Then I will teach transgressors [God’s] ways, and sinners will be converted to [Him].”