HOW TO DISCERN WHOM TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO
“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” [Mark 16:15] ‘Every creature’ does not necessarily mean every Tom, Dick and Harry or Jane, Jill and Mary you run into! For not ALL are called, but ‘MANY’. These ‘many’ the Lord will call either through YOUR personal evangelism, a Gospel meeting, a radio message, a Gospel tract or one way or another. And of these many to whom the Gospel call comes SOME are chosen who will believe and THE REST will not believe to which also they are appointed. [1Pet 2:8]
“Preach the Gospel to every creature” must be tempered by “Give not that which is holy to the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine!” [Matt 7:6]
Yes, the gospel goes to ‘MANY’! But for the MAJORITY it is either foolishness or a stumbling block!
But unto them which are CALLED, both Jews and Greeks, (it is) Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God! [1Cor 1:24]
If only ‘FEW’ are ‘CHOSEN’ then why does God bother to call the ‘MANY?’
Dearly beloved, please understand that the gospel goes forth as a two edged sword both to ‘save’ and to ‘damn’! It goes forth as a savor of ‘life unto life’ unto the elect and ‘death unto death’ unto the reprobate! [see – 2Cor 2:16]
GOD DOES NOT DESIRE AND NEITHER HAS HE INTENDED TO SAVE ANY WHOM HE HAS FROM ETERNITY ORDAINED TO REPROBATION! (Jude 1:4)
Now WHO are these who are so ‘CALLED’?
They are none other than those whom God FORKNEW and PREDESTINATED!
It is THESE AND THESE ALONE whom He effectually calls, justifies and glorifies! [see Romans 8:29,30]
“Ye will not come unto Me that ye might have life”! [Jn 5:40] Fallen man cannot come because he WILL NOT COME!
Ye will not come that ye might have life, DOES NOT imply that IF THEY COME, there is ‘LIFE” for them! “LIFE” or the “ATONEMENT” was only provided for those whom God hath chosen, His elect, His people, His called out ones! “I lay down My life FOR THE SHEEP”! (not the GOATS) [John 10:15]
As Edwards so profoundly put it – “Christ did not intend to save those He knew He would not save. If He intended to save any it was those He knew would be saved. Christ has died for them (the elect) and NOT FOR THE WORLD. It was the elect that Christ came to save. Since God eternally decreed not to save others Christ would not be engaged in a FOOL’S errand.” [Jonathan Edwards]
Evangelizing or preaching to the lost can be categorized into two forms – One: preaching to a group or a gathering, and Two: personal evangelism. When we tell Christians to be discerning in their preaching to the lost we generally have the latter in mind.
Our guide to personal evangelism as with everything else is always the Word of God. How did Jesus do it, or how did the apostles do it, THAT is the question. And even an external skimming through of the New Testament will show that most of the ‘personal evangelism’ done there is done in response to questions and queries asked by the lost.
Just a few minutes following their encounter the ‘woman at the well’ showed signs of her concern regarding true worship. “Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. etc” [John 4:20]
The ‘rich young ruler’ came to Christ asking, “Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” [Mark 10:17]
The Lord had told His disciple Philip “Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.” In other words the Lord first told him WHERE to go, and whom to preach to – “Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot (of the Ethiopian Eunuch). And even after Philip joined the Eunuch alongside his chariot he didn’t start blurting out a ‘Salvation message’ but waited for the appointed time and by and by asked the Eunuch if he understood what he was reading.
The Eunuch once again read the portion from Isaiah and then asked, “I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? THEN Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.” [Acts 8]
Same with Philippian jailer who asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” [Acts 16:31,32]
When you are desirous to preach to someone, you can always ask the Lord to guide the conversation to something spiritual so that you’ll know for sure that the Lord really wants you to preach to that individual. Never forget the Lord has complete control even over the words which men speak. “The answer of the tongue is from the Lord!” [Prov 16:1] Also read Genesis 24 where Abraham’s servant who went looking for a bride for Isaac specifically prayed that if the damsel with whom he spoke to at the well said, “Both drink thou, and I will also draw for thy camels” then she was THE one that God had for Isaac, and what do you know the damsel (Rebekah) said the exact words confirming that she was the one for Isaac.
I remember once when I went to attend a wedding of one of my wife’s cousins, and it was arranged at a grand Five Star hotel. And as we walked through the lobby there was a man right in the middle of the lobby playing on the Piano very skillfully. I asked my wife to go on the wedding hall telling her that I would soon join her. I went up to this man and stood by him watching him play and got involved in a conversation. Since I am a musician and a vocalist too he asked if I would be kind enough to sing while he played the piano. I obliged and all the while was praying that God would steer the conversation to something spiritual so that I could preach the Gospel to him. And half way through the singing and playing he suddenly turned around and asked me, “Hey Mike, since you were so involved in Heavy Metal Music, I wanna know what you think of that song “Stairway to Heaven” and the accusations people make saying that there are Satanic backmasked messages in that song?”
THAT was the cue! I said, “Dennis, why don’t you take a break, there’s something I want to talk to you about.” And he took a break from his piano and we went over and sat on one of those huge sofas in the lobby and I preached Christ to him.
Then there are others whom I have had a burden to preach to and I myself start by asking a few probing questions such as – “Do you really believe in a life after death?” or “Are you aware of the fact that one of these days you will die and meet God for a reckoning?” If the man or woman to whom such a question is posed is the ‘called of God’ they will definitely be curious to know more, if not they will usually brush it off by changing the subject. For the record I have stopped trying to push the Gospel down people’s throats a long time ago.
In all your evangelizing and preaching efforts, please understand this – that generally speaking ‘sheep’ do not ‘argue’! They may ask a few sincere questions, but for the most part they will just hear the voice of the Shepherd who is speaking THROUGH YOU.
When you ‘officially’ preach the gospel of Jesus Christ . . . “It is NOT ye that speak but the SPIRIT OF YOUR FATHER which speaketh in you!” [Matt 10:20]. And as our Lord Himself told the unbelieving Jews of His day, “He that is OF GOD heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because YE ARE NOT OF GOD.” [John 8:47]
And John 8:47 above is not a stray verse quoted out of context! There are many more. Consider these –
“To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. EVERY ONE THAT IS OF THE TRUTH heareth My voice!” [John 18:37] (i.e. Everyone who belongs to the Truth – His Elect!)
“But ye believe not, BECAUSE YE ARE NOT OF MY SHEEP, as I said unto you. MY SHEEP HEAR MY VOICE, and I know them, and they follow Me!” [John 10:26,27]
“We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; HE THAT IS NOT OF GOD HEARETH NOT US. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error!” [1John 4:6]
But remember this dearly Beloved, no one for whom Christ died is going to wind up in Hell because YOU failed to preach to them and neither is anyone going to walk up to you in Heaven, grab your hands and exclaim, “Oh thank you so much for sharing the Gospel with me dear Brother, if it wasn’t for YOU I wouldn’t be here!” God forbid!
“Salvation” is OF THE LORD from the first to the last and man has neither part nor lot in it!
“Not unto US, O LORD, not unto US, but unto THY NAME give glory, for THY mercy, and for THY truth’s sake!” [Psalm 115:1] Amen!
Your servant for His sake