I had the privilege of preaching at our new church yesterday morning. It was a joy to come into membership a week ago and it was a joy to be back in the pulpit yesterday morning. I really appreciate the kindness of our elders for allowing me the opportunity.
We have been working through the book of Ephesians and I got to pick up where our pastor left off last week. The text before us was Ephesians 4:17-24. It is a great text…as is every text! At our church we talk about the sermon in Sunday School after the worship service. There is great advantage in discussing the material with a few simple questions. Part of our text was the following:
 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.  They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.  They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. (Ephesians 4:17-19 ESV)
We took a dark elevator down, way down, much in the flavour of Romans 1, to the depth of people’s depravity. Some of those descriptive words for unbelievers are so gritty. We all have unbelieving friends who are good-natured and kind and hard-working and have overcome some pretty big mountains in their lives. As true as that may be, these dark descriptions also help us see them from God’s perspective.
One of the questions that we considered in our Sunday School class was ‘how does this text influence our thoughts when it comes to evangelism?’
We are to understand unbeliever’s frame of mind to help us see that we don’t save anyone…we can’t. When unbelievers are so up to their neck in sewer living and in cesspool thinking, only the Spirit of God is able to open their eyes to their need for Jesus (John 3:5-8). We are to be used by God as tools in the task of evangelism but it’s God’s work in salvation:
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. (1 Corinthians 3:6 ESV)
We are to also present the gospel with much clarity. There have been so many gospel sharing techniques that avoids the words repentance, belief, sin, judgement, wrath, and Hell. We don’t need to cut the corners off the greatest message ever told. We can’t improve on it. It’s the really bad news of this text that needs to be shared and that makes the good news so much more glorious.
We also need to cry out to God in prayer for lost people. I believe in a sovereign God but I also believe that in His grace, God allows us to be involved in the process of lost loved one coming to faith, by being involved as intercessors. Paul was all about God’s sovereignty, just read Romans 9, but that didn’t keep him from hitting his knees to pray for unbelievers.
[10:1] Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.(Romans 10:1 ESV)
Another principle that may or may not come from this text is that unbelievers need a repeated exposure to the gospel. The text talks about the darkness of an unbeliever’s heart and this may mean that a one time gospel presentation will not be enough. From a human perspective they may need a while to ‘get it.’ The reality is that the Spirit of God can open someone’s eyes on the first time or the hundredth time. It was a first time presentation for Lydia and the Philippian jailer in Acts 16. But Paul was willing to go the long route with Agrippa if he needed to.
 And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?”  And Paul said, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains.”
(Acts 26:28-29 ESV)
So as we think about evangelism we need to remember that God does the saving, that’s His part, and that our job is to share it faithfully and repeatedly and pray persistently. Amen.