My Musings

The Gift of Evangelism

The Gift of Evangelism

I am currently preaching through a series titled, “What’s so Holy about the Spirit?” Thus, an old book that sat on my bookshelf, unread, for over twenty years finally found its way to my desk: The Holy Spirit (1978), by Billy Graham. It’s really good! Here are a few sparkling gems of spiritual insight:

  • “We have two natures within us, both struggling for mastery. Which one will dominate us ? It depends on which one we feed.” (p. 81)
  • “[Struggling] is an evidence that the Holy Spirit has come into your life, illuminating the darkness of sin, sensitizing your conscience to sin, awakening in you a desire to be clean and free from sin before God.” (p. 82)
  • “A transformed life is the greatest of all miracles.” (p. 166)

Billy Graham is a gifted man. His charisma blends beautifully with his humility. He wrote: “I believe God has given me the gift of evangelism, but I did not ask for it.” (p. 142). Fortunately for millions, he opened that gift and put it to good use throughout his life.

As I write, the 93-year-old evangelist is in the hospital with bronchitis, in stable condition. I pray for his recovery.

In a far less apparent way, I believe God has also entrusted me with the gift of evangelism. In his section on the evangelist’s gift, Graham correctly clarified the evangelist’s message as one that “…centers in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, His coming again, and the need for all men everywhere to repent and believe.” Graham’s understanding of the role of baptism in conversion seems slightly different from mine, but his ministry has always encouraged new believers to open and trust the Bible as an authority above that of any man. Thus, his ministry has pointed people in the right direction. I respect that (and him).

In his book on “The Holy Spirit”, Graham conveyed clearly the limitations every evangelist lives with, regardless of how famous he or she is. He wrote:

"One can use hundreds of different methods, but it is the message that counts. Let us take note, however, of what evangelists cannot do. They cannot bring conviction of sin, righteousness, or judgment; that is the Spirit's work. They cannot convert anyone; that is the Spirit's work. The evangelists can invite men to receive Christ, and exhort them. But the effectual work is done by the Spirit as He works on the minds, hearts and wills of the unsaved. We are to take care of the possible and trust God for the impossible." (pp. 143-144)


Inviting is crucial. God’s Word, from Genesis on, invites people into a covenant relationship with Him and each other. God invites us to love sacrificially and His Son shows us how. Jesus invites us to die in order to live. God’s Word is ultimately an invitation to heaven! The church carries forward the mission and message of His word. This makes her God’s personal invitation to the world to come to Him. Be a fearless inviter!

Wading into deeper waters, Graham wrote, “True evangelism speaks to the intellect and may or may not produce emotion, but its main job is to speak to the will.” (p. 142). In other words, the ‘tin-man’ and ‘scarecrow’ matter, but it’s the ‘lion’ in us that evangelism appeals to ultimately. A few centuries before Christ, a Greek philosopher named Plato also gave primacy to the will when he discussed the three parts of the soul (the reasoning, emotive, and volitional parts). The Holy Spirit works on all three, as Graham made clear in the quote above (pp. 143-144). People can be well informed about Jesus and feel deep feelings about Him, but we are not saved until we surrender to Him our will.

 

The views expressed on this blog are personal and belong to Joel Solliday unless otherwise stated. They are not, intended to characterize the views of the Lewiston Church of Christ or other organizations to which I may refer.

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About the Author:

Joel graduated from Pepperdine University with a B.A., completing two majors: Art and Religion. He went on to earn the Master of Divinity degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. The views expressed on this blog are personal and belong to Joel Solliday unless otherwise stated. They are not, intended to characterize the views of the Lewiston Church of Christ or other organizations to which I may refer.
  • Claire

    Thank you for this, Joel. I too pray for Billy Graham’s recovery. I especially like this, which I’m about to post to the “Christians Only” wall: “God’s Word is ultimately an invitation to heaven! The church carries forward the mission and message of His word. This makes her God’s personal invitation to the world to come to Him. Be a fearless inviter!”

    • Anonymous

      Glasd you liked that quote, Claire. There is too much church bashing going on these days, so I thought I would put in a good word for her.