FIRST-PERSON: God speaks. Will we?

Tags: evangelism

NASHVILLE (BP) -- There is an area which is perhaps one of the most fiercely fought battlefields of spiritual warfare, yet one that promises greater rewards than any other. That area is personal evangelism, a Kingdom issue of supreme importance.

Many people struggle deeply in this area. We say we believe in evangelism, but it is hard to find anyone who enjoys personal evangelism. In Acts 4:13-20, however, Peter and John spoke the bold words, "We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard."

They had to speak! And we can learn much from them.

When a profound conviction is felt in the heart, it must be spoken of and reflected in one's life.

The true secret of evangelistic power lies in the quality of the church's inner life. Prayer is the lifeline of evangelistic fervor in the New Testament. Not only was a profound conviction felt in the church as a body, but also in the individual members. Untrained laymen became bold evangelists. The believers spent their time in fellowship, prayer, study and proclamation of the Word. Living in fellowship with Jesus, they spoke as naturally as they breathed. Their lives had been transformed, and they were irresistibly impelled to impart what they had received.

The unbelieving authorities could not ignore in Peter and John the undeniable influence of their faith in Jesus -- how changed they were -- and the undeniable evidence of their faith. There stood the lame man, for example -- healed!

The evidence of our Lord's grace and power is always like that. It is a changed life -- a life full of new joy, hope and a redirected purpose.

The great inward impulse to share flows from the possession of the Gospel and as a result of faith in the Gospel. The strength of this desire, coupled with the strong assurance that if we go, He is with us, will enable us to cross over the high walls of prejudice, hate and racial and cultural differences that separate men from one another. His call to be a part of this great task must override all else.

Why then are we silent? With glorious good news to share, and the enabling grace and strength of our Lord Himself to help us, why do we not feel like telling? Some people say they are silent because God is silent. They say that God is indifferent and uninterested in the world's peoples, unmoved by their sorrows and suffering. Others say God is in the world, present but powerless. He either will not or cannot do anything to overcome evil.

What do you say to these charges? Is our God silent or is He just powerless?

First of all, He is not silent. Hebrews 1:2 says, "In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son." He has manifested in word and deed that He is interested in our world.

To those who would say that God is present but powerless, they are obviously not in touch with reality. John 3:16 is a powerful reminder that God has spoken in power, having given us the power of the Gospel. In fact, Paul said in Romans 1:16, "I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes."

Just as Peter and John let God's Spirit take total possession of their lives, so must we. God is not outside the world, but in it. In ways that may be hidden from us, He is working with those who battle for righteousness. God did not just work in the past -- the present and future belong to Him as well.

If we don't have much to say, we aren't too eager to say it. If we have only a superficial knowledge of our faith, we will not have an earnest desire to share it. But if we have even a beginner's knowledge of truth and a real faith in Jesus as Lord, we will deepen our hold by a sincere attempt to share it.

If we do not speak, our joy and vision fade. Do you want to be a Kingdom witness?

Frank S. Page, online at, is president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee.
Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook ( and in your email (
Download Story