Evangelism; July 2, 2018

John 1:41-42 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).

Many people have noticed that here we have the fundamentals of personal evangelism. That is, one person discovers Jesus the Son of God, and then they bring someone close to them to meet Him as well. I have seen various evangelism programs that used Andrew as part of their name. The fact that they were programs essentially removed them from this Biblical model right from the start! The missing element for most people is actually the most essential: being convinced that Jesus is the only Savior. Anyone who doesn’t have that conviction isn’t going to be very effective in leading anyone to commit themselves to Jesus, because they haven’t really done it themselves. Andrew and John the son of Zebedee (the author of this Gospel – John was a common name back then) were apparently the two disciples of John the Baptist mentioned from verse 35 on. John wasn’t going to brag on himself, but he noticed what Andrew did and what it caused, bringing in Peter, who became the effective “squad leader” of the disciples. The whole point is that Biblical evangelism isn’t a program, but rather just sharing what we have discovered. I’m reminded of the lepers in 2 Kings 7 who discovered the Aramaean camp had been abandoned. “Then they said to each other, ‘We’re not doing right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace.’” (2 Kings 7:9) When they had discovered something so wonderful, they couldn’t wait to share the news. Often we fail to share the news of Jesus because we have forgotten how wonderful it is! Andrew hadn’t been to seminary or even taken an evangelism class, but he knew in his heart that he had met the Son of God, and he wanted his brother to meet Him too.

When I came to Omura in 1981 I told people, “I haven’t come to teach a religion, but to introduce the Lord Jesus.” (In Japanese there’s an “almost pun” between “religion” and “Lord.”) In the years since then I have sought to do exactly that, but with limited success (which is certainly par for the course in Japan). Japanese have very little concept of a Savior to begin with, and society is shame-based, rather than sin-based, so they don’t grasp why they would need a Savior. I spend most of my time plowing the field and trying to remove rocks and weeds, planting as I go and hoping for some sort of harvest. It is certainly discouraging at times, but the process is teaching me to take my eyes off of myself, because I’m a minor part in the process of salvation. As a pastor, I certainly desire that every member of this church be like Andrew, convinced in their own faith and eager to share the grace and love they have received. I can’t force that to happen, but I believe God is working on it, and I am to be faithful and expect great things of Him.

Father, thank You for the service yesterday, for Your guidance and anointing as I spoke and for how Your Word seemed to be received. I pray that we would indeed be transformed into the body that You desire, to do Your will effectively, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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