Two weeks again, we checked out missions and private evangelism and the objective of all of it. Why did Paul give his life to spreading the gospel? And we bought the reply: Paul was all about profitable. He mentions the phrase win 5 occasions in 4 verses in 1 Corinthians 9:19–22. That was our focus in APJ 1898.
It’s fairly straightforward to talk of evangelism within the summary like that. And it’s far more difficult to truly do evangelism. So right now I wish to encourage you with a narrative. That is the story of 1 man’s try to win one other man to Christ — a narrative of two neighbors. And it’s a narrative that may problem us to contemplate the all-important query behind our evangelism: What’s Jesus value to me? Your reply to that query turns into your sharable testimony. It’s what you provide others as you search to win them to Christ.
With regards to private evangelism, I’m inspired by gritty and trustworthy tales of doubt and hesitation and overcoming fears. And that’s what we get right now, the story of 1 man, Pastor John, searching for to win his next-door neighbor to Christ (a person named Allen) in a really uncommon, prolonged story advised by Pastor John in 1982, over forty years in the past. Right here it’s.
I’ve a neighbor named Allen, and he’s a single man in his forties, I might guess. When Noël and I moved into the neighborhood over right here, I met him most likely on the primary or second day. And in that dialog, I requested if he went to church anyplace, and he mentioned no. And my response to that was, “Nicely, you’re certain welcome to come back to Bethlehem anytime” — he knew I used to be the pastor there as a result of I had advised him that — and I dropped it.
Now the rationale I dropped it there — I imply, I assume when any person says they don’t go to church anyplace that they most likely don’t know Christ, as a result of Christ strikes his individuals into fellowship — the rationale I didn’t comply with up on that, although I suspected he wanted the Lord very a lot, will not be as a result of I had a really clear and smart technique for reaching him within the subsequent few weeks. It’s as a result of I used to be inept, and my religion was not very important, and Christ was not very valuable to me at that second, speaking to me a love for this man.
Prayer and a Guide
Now, a 12 months goes by. Throughout the 12 months, from the summer season of ’80 to the summer season of ’81, I noticed him I don’t know what number of occasions, however by no means in any prolonged dialog — simply passing alongside the way in which. “Hello, Allen.” “Hello, John.” And that was it, just about, although he lives proper subsequent door.
And through the 12 months, I might rarely go to prayer with out him coming to thoughts. I might go to God feeling low generally and say, “God, I need energy. I need blessing on my life. Is there something standing between me and also you? Is there . . . ?” Allen, Allen, Allen, each time. I felt so responsible. And what occurred was that I started to hope very fervently, and I requested the Lord to offer me braveness, and most of all love — that I’d be genuine, actually care, in order that once I spoke it was actual.
After which the Lord started, very patiently, to maneuver me step-by-step. Right here was step primary. He prompted me within the spring to begin carrying this little booklet round, Turning into a Christian by John Stott. I’d carry it on this pocket proper right here daily.
And I vowed to the Lord, “Subsequent time I see Allen, I’m going to speak to him about his religion. I’m going to inform him, ‘Allen, I care about you. And this e-book has been a assist to me, and perhaps you can learn it and we might discuss it.’” That was my textual content. The Lord laid that on my coronary heart.
Okay. The summer season passes throughout to July, finish of July, and it’s time to go on trip. By no means seen him. I hadn’t seen him for 3 months. I’d been carrying this factor the entire time. It’s all shabby. So I bought a brand new one out and put it in my pocket.
Then I believe it was concerning the day earlier than trip, simply earlier than August, and I needed to get some grading accomplished on the facet of the home, and I needed to get his permission as a result of it was going to go over into his yard, I assumed. And I advised him concerning the grading. “Is that okay?” “Oh certain.”
“Allen,” I mentioned, “you bear in mind final time we talked? You mentioned you didn’t go to church anyplace, and I assume meaning you don’t have a lot curiosity in Jesus both. And also you most likely know that I rely him as my Lord, and I’m actually involved when individuals don’t care about Jesus. I’ve been carrying this e-book round for 3 months in hopes to offer it to you, in order that perhaps we might discuss what it means to belief Christ. Would you thoughts studying it?” “Certain, I’ll learn it.”
He was going to the Boundary Waters the subsequent day. He took it. He was very courteous, thanked me for it. And that was the final I noticed of him until Christmas — however I’m getting forward of myself.
Face to Face
After that, I used to be in fixed prayer about how I ought to comply with up on this. For those who actually care about any person, you don’t stick them with literature and run away. “What do I do subsequent, Lord? What’s the subsequent transfer?”
One Monday morning within the fall, I used to be praying again right here in my research, and I couldn’t get off my knees till I made a vow to the Lord. And what I vowed was this: I’ll name him tonight. Then I bought up, and I advised these interns that afternoon, “Guys, I’m going to name him tonight, and I’m going to ask him if we might discuss concerning the e-book.” They usually prayed for me.
At 7:30 I referred to as him, and he wasn’t house. I referred to as him once more. He wasn’t house. He didn’t come house all evening. I felt good. I hadn’t accomplished that for a very long time, and that made me really feel good that no less than I’d accomplished that. Now, I didn’t really feel proper to name him the subsequent evening, as a result of the Lord began to put on me one other factor: Neglect the cellphone. Let’s have a head to head. Go. Jesus went. Go. Give up this intermediate stuff and go, in the event you care.
Now, the subsequent factor that occurred was this Christmas open home we had. That was on the finish of November, and he got here. That’s the primary time I’d seen him since July. However the lounge was simply full of individuals. We sat on the ground collectively. He felt so good to be there. He’s simply pure. And I mentioned, “That is nice. He’s not as petrified of me, and that’s good.”
However I didn’t ask him concerning the e-book there as a result of there have been so many individuals round. I don’t know whether or not I ought to have or not, however I didn’t. And he left, and I felt good that he had felt free to come back. And I felt like now I do know he’s not afraid of me, and so we may be pure with one another.
In This Collectively
After which I did one thing that I like to recommend to all people. Monday, December 14, I took a retreat day. For 5 hours, I prayed and skim the Bible, and the Lord laid on me an excellent burden for final week’s sermon and this week’s sermon. And I suspected very strongly I couldn’t preach it if I didn’t comply with by way of with Allen. That’s strain for a preacher.
The fruitlessness of our witness at Bethlehem actually weighed on me, and I knew the issue was as a lot with me as with every of you. And due to this fact, as a frontrunner and a pastor, I knew some modifications needed to be made in me. Certain, I witness each Sunday from this pulpit. And you might assume, “Oh Piper, he’s so lucky. He can simply declare the phrase on a regular basis and really feel nice.”
And I discuss to individuals concerning the Lord in my research each time they arrive there. I hardly let anyone get out with out the gospel. That’s straightforward. However in terms of going to the individuals on the earth the place they’re, like Jesus did, I’m as hesitant as any of you. So don’t assume any in another way. We’re all in it collectively.
“I mentioned to myself, ‘I’ve to stop denying the gospel by way of silence.’”
I knew one thing needed to give in me. One thing needed to snap. Some lengthy, ingrained fears needed to be overcome if I used to be going to be any genuine minister, if I used to be going to maintain going as pastor. I mentioned to myself, “I’ve to stop denying the gospel by way of silence.” If I’m going to face on this pulpit and say to you, “Love your neighbor, love your neighbor, love your neighbor,” I needed to stop contradicting that command by my very own neglect.
So, December 23 rolled round. Early earlier than breakfast, I used to be praying downstairs, and the Lord did one thing he hasn’t accomplished perpetually, in a single sense, to me. I used to be wrestling, wanting the resolve, but not wanting the resolve, to stand up off my knees and go. And the Lord wouldn’t let me up till I vowed to do it that evening.
How A lot Is Jesus Price?
Now, apart from eighteen months of prayer and faltering and little child steps, the factor that introduced me to that time was this query: How a lot is Jesus value? And I took one in all these huge yellow sheets of paper, and I laid it beside me on the sofa the place I used to be kneeling. And I wrote for myself, “How a lot is Jesus value?” on the prime of the web page.
After which right here’s what I wrote in reply: “Jesus, I might fairly have you ever as my Savior and chief than hold my well being, have my sons and spouse, or protect my very own life. You’re extra helpful to me than all I personal, all of the friendships I cherish, all of the pastimes I take pleasure in, and all my plans for the longer term.”
After which I wrote, “Why? Why is he so helpful?” And I wrote three solutions. First, “Jesus, I might haven’t any peace with God with out you. My conscience declares to me there’s a God, and I’m an accountable sinner. And with out your demise on the cross, Jesus, I might stay each day within the distress of guilt.” Second, “Jesus, with out you, my life can be like a ship with no rudder in a sea of time, with no vacation spot in any respect. I need which means and significance to my life. And I do know if the Bible’s true, solely you may give that which means, since you give which means to the entire universe.” After which third, I wrote, “With out you, Jesus, eternity and demise can be fearsome to me. However God despatched you into the world, so loving me that if I simply consider on you, I needn’t perish, however have everlasting life.” And I put a textual content with every a type of causes for why he’s so helpful to me.
And I jumped up off the ground, and I mentioned, “I’m going to learn that to Allen right now.” And I went over and typed it on a chunk of paper so I might give it to him. Earlier than I left the room, I requested the Lord for a promise. “I want a promise, Lord, as a result of I’m going to hen out right now. I’m going to hen out in the event you don’t give me a promise.” And you realize what he gave me? Chariots of Hearth the film, and the textual content “He who honors me, I’ll honor” (see 1 Samuel 2:30). And I seemed up one other one: “If anybody serves me,” Jesus mentioned, “the Father will honor him” (John 12:26). And I simply paraphrased that for myself. I mentioned, “Okay, if that’s true, then it means, ‘He who goals in like to testify of my worth, I’ll honor.’”
“And the Lord opened my eyes to see there’s nothing on the earth extra helpful than to be honored by God.”
And the Lord opened my eyes to see that there’s nothing on the earth extra helpful than to be honored by God. And I fought the battle all day with that textual content, and it was nice. At noontime, I went to Logos Bookstore and acquired a New Testomony and Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. And I wrote a message of hope and a prayer in every a type of. And I wrapped them up as a Christmas current.
That evening, we had visitors for supper, and after supper, I advised them what I used to be going to do and requested them if they’d pray for me whereas I’m going subsequent door. And we prayed, and I referred to as him. “Good day, Allen, that is John Piper, your neighbor. I’ve bought a Christmas current for you. Can I deliver it over?” “Certain.”
He’s house. Nice. Victory primary. And I’m going over and knock on his door, and he lets me in. We stand there in the lounge, and the tv is on. And I say, “I’ve bought a few books right here I needed to offer you for Christmas. And there’s one thing else I wish to say too. Is it okay?” “Certain.”
I mentioned, “You realize from our conversations that Jesus is actually necessary to me, and I do know that you simply don’t consider in him the way in which I do. And I’ve been praying for you daily for nearly a 12 months. And I simply felt this morning I needed to come inform you why Jesus is so helpful to me as a result of I’d like, like loopy, so that you can consider in him too.”
And I took out this piece of paper, and I used to be going to learn it, however the tv was on proper there beside me. You simply can’t think about the ambiance. It was so rotten for sharing one thing so valuable. So as a substitute of studying it, I simply held it there. I mentioned, “I wrote these down. I’ll go away them with you.” And I paraphrased them. I mentioned, “That is how necessary he’s to me,” and I mentioned, “These are the explanations.” I gave them these three causes in my very own phrases.
After which I mentioned, “Allen, have you ever ever desired that type of a relationship? Have you ever ever needed to know Jesus like that?” And he mentioned, “Flip off the tv and sit down.” That’s nice. And we sat down on the sofa and talked. And among the many issues that we mentioned, he mentioned, “I learn that e-book within the Boundary Waters, and I heard some Christians singing a tune within the Boundary Waters.”
And I mentioned, “That is perhaps type of good to have religion like that.” And I mentioned, “What hinders? What’s the hindrance? Is it what it will price? Life-style? Or is it mental issues?” And he mentioned, “Yeah, the latter.”
And I mentioned, “Nicely, one in all these books, C.S. Lewis, was an amazing assist to me once I was a freshman in school, overcoming a lot of these hindrances. And I’d love to speak with you about that e-book and about these issues.” And he mentioned, “Yeah, that may be nice. May we discuss once more?” “Certain.” And he thanked me for my concern.
Now, that’s the place the story stands right now. And I pray for him daily. Now that’s the primary time I ever did that in my life. Go to a neighbor. I’ve talked to different individuals concerning the Lord. A neighbor: the toughest particular person to witness to and go into his home and say, “I like Jesus. It’s so necessary to consider in Jesus. Can I inform you why it’s necessary?” I did it, and I might do some issues very in another way. Retrospect is all the time higher. You be taught by expertise.
Three Classes for Evangelism
Now listed below are the teachings for us from that story.
1. God is affected person. Don’t hand over on God. He’s affected person. Eighteen months of responsible emotions, and he didn’t abandon me.
2. For those who proceed in prayer — that is all you’ve bought to do, I promise. If you’ll not stop praying, the Lord will do the remaining. That’s all. He’ll get you in some way. All that you must do is pray. What we do is we really feel so responsible each time the identify involves thoughts, we put it out. We clean it out. However in the event you don’t clean it out, and you retain praying, He’ll do the remaining. He’ll make the way in which.
3. For those who do what I did — take a chunk of paper and write out, “How a lot is Jesus value?” after which put that in your personal phrases, after which say why, write why — there’s your testimony, and it’s yours. It’s genuine. It doesn’t have to come back from any e-book. And also you’ll have an affidavit, and also you’ll have the prayer help. And our church shall be on the way in which to reap in 1982.