Why Is Personal Evangelism So Difficult?

Why is it so hard for me to share my faith with others? Why am I so hesitant to talk about Jesus and the gospel with those who do not know Christ? I’ve had the same problem for many years and it is far easier for me to share the gospel publicly from a pulpit than in a personal one-on-one encounter. When you are preaching from the pulpit, no one can talk back to you or raise objections to what you are saying.  But when speaking face-to-face, you have to deal with the unpredictability of people who can be rude, hostile, or scared of you. Make no mistake about it, evangelism by its very nature is confrontational: you are telling people to their face that up until this point in their life they have been living a lie and stand condemned before a holy God.

Personal evangelism is difficult because evangelism is an act of spiritual warfare against Satan and his kingdom which do not want to see their prey rescued. We are dealing with the supernatural when we share the gospel and are fighting against demons who are far more powerful than we are. One devil is stronger than a thousand men and therefore success in evangelism can only come by the power of God.  Paul affirms this truth when he says in Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Our fight is with Satan, not his captives. As Russell Moore has said, “we rage against the dragon, not his prey.” And his prey are blinded by their sin from seeing the glory and beauty of Christ: “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor 4:4). Something satanic is afoot among those who are lost. Satan is active in influencing the minds of unbelievers as Ephesians 2:2 says, “in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.” But Satan’s tempting influence does not excuse men of their sin.  The lost are “hostile to God” (Rom 8:7) and willing slaves of sin (John 8:34). We find evangelism difficult because we are unprepared for battle and try to do what only the Holy Spirit can. We must rely on God who “is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

The Christian life can also be compared to an athletic competition: “Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable” (1 Cor 9:25). You wouldn’t run a race after chowing down on junk food. If you did, it shows that you don’t care about the event or about pleasing your coach. In the same way, we shouldn’t go out witnessing unless we have first prepared through prayer and study to train ourselves to share the gospel with others. We must practice sharing the gospel so that when an opportunity arises, we know what to say. A “canned” gospel presentation is better than stumbling over our words and not knowing what to say at all. Evangelism is difficult because there is something wrong with us, not our method. We are sinners in need of daily cleansing and the fire of the Holy Spirit to burn away our impurities so that we might be fit instruments in his hand. 2 Timothy 2:21 says, “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.”

Evangelism is difficult because we are trying to do the work in our own power rather than relying on God’s power. As Jesus said, “apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). We cannot be soul winners if we neglect prayer which is the means by which God works to save the lost. Prayer empowers and emboldens us to share our faith without fear (Acts 4:29). Evangelism is impossible if we fear man instead of God. Our hesitancy to share our faith in Christ displays a lack of trust in God to change people’s hearts. Only God can take off the blinders of sin and defeat the power of Satan. And it is through the preaching of the Word that the Holy Spirit works to bring about regeneration (Jam 1:18; 1 Pet 1:23). We must therefore pray for divine appointments that God would arrange the events of our life that we might have as many opportunities to share the gospel as possible.

If we lack wisdom to know what to say, we must pray that God would supply what is lacking in knowledge with passion and courage to speak the truth. If we have no love for the lost, we must pray that God would give us a burden to see lost sinners saved and brought to a saving knowledge of Christ. As Leonard Ravenhill once said, “Great soul-winners have always been great lovers of men’s souls. All lesser loves were conquered only by the greater Love. Great love to the Lover of their souls drove them to tears, to travail, and to triumph. In this evil hour, dare we love less?” (Why Revival Tarries, 127). If you are not sure what to say to someone who needs Christ, just ask them, “Do you have a religious background?” and start a conversation with them. Be honest about why you are talking to them and don’t “beat around the bush.” You can then ask them, “Has anyone ever explained to you the Christian gospel?” and if they say “no,” tell them about God and his love for sinners.

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