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The Cowardly Evangelist

posted Dec 11, 2013, 3:14 PM by Sam Newberry   [ updated Dec 11, 2013, 3:19 PM ]
A whole lot of people who go by the name of Christian have never said a word about the Gospel to a single person, even after being a Christian for years and years.  And it shames them.  I know.  It shamed me too for years.  I prayed and prayed and prayed for victory to have the courage to witness.  I got failure after failure and condemnation upon condemnation from the accuser of the brethren.  “If I really believed in Jesus, I’d say it.  If I was really saved, I’d do it.  I’m shy.  I don’t know what words to say.  I don’t know the Bible like I should or like others do.  I can’t memorize Scriptures.  What if they ask a question I can’t answer.  I freeze up and can’t think of what to say. I don’t want to make a fool of myself or look like an idiot or, even worse, shame Christ because I’m such a poor testimony.”  I know all the arguments.  I’ve been to that same place and got that same T-shirt more times than I care to tell about.  Have you used I don't know how to witness, I don't feel called to do evangelism.  That is the work of the evangelist and pastor,  I'm too busy to do evangelism, - my job, my family, and my church activities occupy all my time, I witness at my job and to my friends and family, or my life is a witness, it’s never worked for me – nobody ever listened or believed.  I did not feel led to witness to that person.


I’ve used more than those.  Any excuse will do.  As I’ve gotten older, my health has been a very useful excuse.  In 1993, I suffered a complete physical, emotional, and mental breakdown.  I was completely incapacitated for 7 years.  How about that one?  Can you top it?  I am certified in 5 counties in Texas as being mentally incompetent and have been officially disabled by the federal government since 1993.  In 2013, I had a stroke, came close to dying.  Do you have that excuse.   Friends, I do not believe you’ve got an excuse that I can’t top.


So, I want to tell you about the worst Christian witness I’ve ever heard of.  This guy was the cowardly lion of Christian witnesses.    And he had the best qualifications ever but preaching the Gospel person to person literally shook him to the ground.  He had the equivalent of a Christian education, then Bible School and Seminary education.  He studied under the foremost recognized Biblical scholar of his time.  He was recognized officially as the finest and most pious person in his religion.  Then he got saved.


He has testified about his experiences -  he got physically weak and visibly shook when he engaged someone about the Gospel person to person.  He was scared to death;  he was a wreck.  Have you ever gotten the cold sweats and got nervous because you were already nervous.  This went on for decades of his life, well into what we consider the successful parts of his ministry.


He didn’t stutter as far as I know, but he could hardly get his words out of his mouth, even with all his training and education.  He forgot what to say and stumbled over his words.  AND he knew the Gospel better than anyone else before or since. And he probably had more experience of preaching the Gospel in more different kinds of situations than anyone else ever has, in multiple countries and even different cultures types.


He personally met Jesus when he was born again and talked to him in person, visually seeing Him on a number of occasions.  Well, you might have guessed it by now that I’m telling you about the Apostle Paul.  Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles, personally selected by the Lord Jesus for that position and role was The Cowardly Lion of Evangelism.


He told the Corinthians in his first letter “3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.”   1 Corinthians 2:3   “Weakness” there means  feebleness (of mind or body); by implication, malady; morally, frailty – He was about to fall down.  “Fear” there means alarm or fright and is translated as ‘terror’ in 3 verses in the King James Version.  In Greek it’s the word phobos from which we get the word phobia, as in claustrophobia – that paralyzing fear of enclosed places that terrorizes a person into states of insanity.  “Much trembling” means quaking with fear – visibly shaking with uncontrollable tremors.


Then Paul writes in verse 4 “4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:”  The words he used and even the thought processes behind them were not confident and persuasive.  His preaching was a mess, unable to impress anyone.  The Holy Spirit’s demonstration of power in the conviction and conversion of the Corinthians was in spite of Paul’s presentation, not because of it!!!!


Now this is the Apostle to the Gentiles, specially selected by God for that position before he was even born, if you believe Galatians 1:15-16.  This is the man knocked to the ground by a bright light and met Jesus personally at his conversion, blinded but hearing His voice plainly.  This was a man with greater education in Judaism than everyone else own age.  His rabbinical training was impeccable.  He knew the Scriptures inside and out. 


What in the world came over him when he got to Corinth???  This wasn’t his first day on the job, folks.  He got to Corinth 20 years after his conversion on the road to Damascus.  He was born again probably in 34 A.D. and met Barnabas in 46 A.D. in Tarsus.  Those 12 years he had spent in study and prayer.  Jesus Himself was revealing mysteries to him that had never before been revealed to anyone else.  No other apostle got these revelations from the Lord Jesus.  No Old Testament prophet knew any of these things.


He wasn’t a newby just starting out in the Christian life, folks.  And Corinth wasn’t his first try at sharing the Gospel either.  So, what’s the story?  After meeting Barnabas in 46 A.D. they went to Antioch where they spent a year preaching and establishing the church there according to Acts 11:26.  They trained others in evangelism.  They traveled to Seleucia and Cyprus then to Salamis and Paphos, to Perga and Pamphylia, Antioch of Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, well, you get the idea!  And he was making disciples all along the way.  Finally, in 51 -52 A.D. he made it to Corinth.  He had preached all over by then, been persecuted in all kinds of ways.  He was stoned to death at Lystra and came back to life.  This man Paul wasn’t a raw recruit here.  He’d been over the  mountains, down the raging rivers, and sailed the wide seas.  In Christian experience he was what a Special Forces warrior would have called a snake eater. 


But now he gets to Corinth and later tells the true story there in 1 Corinthians 2:3-4.  But get this, folks. Ten years later after more adventures and experiences than can be told in such a short space, he writes to the Ephesians where he had been in 53 A.D. on his second missionary journey.  In 61 A.D. he writes the letter to the Ephesians.  This is now almost 30 years since he was saved.  It’s 10 years after being so frazzled in Corinth.  Now he’s the grizzled veteran of the spiritual wars, right???  Paul is the seasoned warrior, tested, proven, right???  Toughened, trained, and experienced to the height of all possible training, right???  No more jitters or nerves, right???  Nope.


What do you read in your own Bible in Ephesians 6:18-20???  YOU go read it in your own Bible.  I’ve read it in 18-20 different translations and I hear desperation for the prayer support of the Ephesians like it’s his first time ever. 


18 Pray in the Spirit in every situation. Use every kind of prayer and request there is. For the same reason be alert. Use every kind of effort and make every kind of request for all of God's people.  19 Also pray that God will give me the right words to say. Then I will speak boldly when I reveal the mystery of the Good News. 20 Because I have already been doing this as Christ's representative, I am in prison. So pray that I speak about this Good News as boldly as I have to.”  God’s Word for the Nations, Ephesians 6:18-20


18 through every prayer and petition, praying in every season in the Spirit, being watchful to this same thing with all perseverance and petition concerning all the saints— 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for the sake of which I serve as an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I must speak”  English Majority Text Version 2011,  Ephesians 6:18-20


18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; 19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, 19 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”  King James Version, Ephesians 6:18-20


18 Pray in the Spirit at all times. Pray with all kinds of prayers, and ask for everything you need. To do this you must always be ready. Never give up. Always pray for all of God's people.  19 Also pray for me--that when I speak, God will give me words so that I can tell the secret truth about the Good News without fear. 19I have the work of speaking for that Good News, and that is what I am doing now, here in prison. Pray that when I tell people the Good News, I will speak without fear as I should.”  The Easy-to-Read Version, Ephesians 6:18-20


He’s saying, “Please, please, please pray for me so that I’ll speak up boldly instead of still being the cowardly lion.  And please pray for me so that I’ll know exactly what to say, instead of stumbling over my own tongue. Please help me here.  I’m in prison for preaching the Gospel and I need help to speak without fear.” 


After all these many years, seeing the Lord Jesus appearing before his own eyes, having the mysteries hidden from everyone else since the foundation of the world revealed just to him, sharing the Gospel innumerable times all over the Mediterranean Sea region, having been taken into Heaven and heard things that he couldn’t explain or express, seeing thousands of thousands of people believe the Gospel he told …  even after all that he had seen and done, he still pleads for prayer support for the very same reasons that hinder you when you try to witness to someone.  This is the Apostle to the Gentiles, folks, he’s still  the Cowardly Lion of Evangelism.


So, what do you think now about your obligation and troubles trying to share the Gospel???  Do you still think you can’t do it?


Well, guess what?  You absolutely cannot do it on your own.  This is the cutting edge of spiritual warfare.  If you’re not walking by the Spirit, you’re going be taken out.  If you do walk by the Spirit, you can have the success, the victory just like Paul did.  Folks, five times the Word of God says that the justified ones live by faith.  Colossians 2:6 says, “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:”  You were helpless when you were born again.  The Lord Jesus did it all for you, to you, in you, and around you. On his own, Paul was helpless, prey to the attacks from the evil ones.


Living the Christian life, the Victorious Christian life, happens the same way as salvation, by faith.  You were helpless.  You’re still helpless apart from Him.  Fully rely on God – be a F.R.O.G. as my wife says.  You just do what you’re told and leave the outcome to God. 


Your weakness is proof positive that Satan and his hordes are terrorized by your preaching.  That’s the reason you are under such fearful attack.  The Gospel is the cutting edge of the Word of God and they can’t stand it.  The only defense they have is to try to deceive you into not standing on the promises and obeying Him.


Be a F.R.O.G. like Paul was.  Go ahead and stutter or get confused or say the wrong things in your confusion. The battle is the Lord’s.  It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convince them of sin and righteousness and judgment. It’s His job to give them repentance from their own good works and turn them in faith to God and the finished work of Christ on the cross, to electroshock them into life out of death by their iniquities and sins.  You just tell the old, old story you know so well.  And if you’re saved, you know it.


When you get the heeby-jeebies about sharing the Gospel, remember Paul’s words 30 years after getting saved when he wrote to the Ephesians.  That’s part of the fellowship of His sufferings, folks.  Spiritual intimidation is the name of the game for the evil ones – it’s all they got.  Tell them to shove it and get on with job one.  Don’t put up with that nonsense from them.  Greater is He that is in you than any of them and all of them put together, even with their boss tossed into the pot too. 


I love 1 Corinthians 2:8 – “8 which none of the rulers of this age understood (for had they understood, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory).”  When they arranged for the Jews to condemn Jesus and convince the Romans to crucify Him, they, those rulers of this age, i.e. the minions of Satan, arranged their own damnation for all time.  They crucified the Lord of glory and are now terrorized by the words of Jesus in Revelation 1:18 – “18 am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.”


Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian,
  Lift up your voice and sing
Eternal hallelujahs
  To Jesus Christ the King!

He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
    He lives within my heart.

The fear and weakness you feel when you want to share the Gospel is not yours.  It belongs to the demons of Satan and they cannot escape it.   When you feel it, rejoice.  Rejoice O Christian.

Learn the joys of sharing the Gospel.  Go read 1 Corinthians 16:15.  The message comes out most clearly in the King James Version where it reads, 15 I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the first fruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)”  If you do it enough, you too will find that you have addicted yourself to the ministry of the saints.  The word addiction in 1611 did not have the same connotations it has today in the 21st century, but the meaning is the same.  Tasso, the Greek word translated as addicted, pronounced tas'-so means to arrange in an orderly manner, i.e. assign or dispose (to a certain position or lot).  Addicts and alcoholics today arrange their lives around their next fix or drink.  Their drug of choice controls their every action to satisfy their addiction to it.  But their addiction destroys them in the process.  Addiction to the ministry causes you to arrange your life to provide the opportunity to serve the risen Saviour at every opportunity.  He enriches your life and rewards His servants and makes being a minister of reconciliation a joy.  Consider 2 Corinthians 5:14-19 - “14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. 16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. 17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.”


Go get addicted my friends.  You’ll never, never regret it.

-Richard Trimble