Evangelism 101

The church’s youth group walked over to a busy bus stop to observe an American youth mission team give a Gospel presentation through music, drama, testimonies and the way to eternal life mini-sermon. By the time of the sermon, the crowd of onlookers had intentionally dispersed leaving the church youth as the sole audience. Among the church youth, Steve responded to the invitation by raising his hand and saying “Yes” to the succession of questions given by two of the American mission youth. At

the final “yes” and brief prayer, the American youth squealed with delight, hugged Steve and left. Steve walked back home with the IMB missionary who was visiting that week, where the missionary shared with Steve’s parents what happened. Steve’s parents simply shook their heads and groaned: “Why do they do that? Why do they not take the time to carefully explain the Gospel and make sure that a person understands God’s holiness, His hatred of sin, how we have insulted God with our insolent rebellion, the price Christ paid on the cross, what it means to be justified, the importance of faith and repentance, and walking with Christ?” Steve’s parents went on to explain that their son had responded “yes” to invitations given at summer camps, but no one counseled or discipled Steve; when Steve returned home he kept behaving as he always had with no visible signs of a changed heart or desire to know God personally. Steve had come to assume that all he had to do was believe and heaven was his, another victim of “easy belief” evangelism.
Christ was never interested in numbers of nominal followers. Without hesitation, Jesus discouraged the crowds of groupies and curiosity seekers by talking about the cost of following him. He was more interested in those who had counted the cost and determined that knowing Him was more important than wealth, public approval, personal image, success and even family. His very first sermon was: “Repent!” When Jesus described following Him, He talked about self-denial and death. This is a recurring message of the New Testament epistles.
God cannot get glory through casual, temporal faith. Rather, He works mightily through those who treasure Christ above all other desires and obeys Him regardless of the cost or consequences. The Lord desires disciples. Jesus commanded

His disciples to make disciples of the nations, to baptize these new believers and to teach them how to obey His commandments. An “easy belief” gospel is detrimental to the healthy growth of new churches and the movement of God among a people or nation. In Hungary, it has tragic eternal consequences among a people already inoculated against the true Gospel by an embedded, millennial religious heritage; “easy belief” doctrine merely serves as the booster immunization.

Our evangelism should not appeal to our human nature and desires (“What’s in it for me?), but should be thoroughly God-centered: “What God deserves and what He demands.”

What is needed?

• Tell people about God’s character and nature from the Bible.
• Tell people about His righteousness, holiness and purity.
• Tell people that God hates sin.
• Describe how our sin, even attitudes, deeply insults our Creator with our insolent rebellion and treason.
• Talk to them about Jesus: who He is, what He did and why He came.
• Explain justification by faith alone in the righteous, atoning work of Christ.
• Call them to repentance and faith in Christ.
• Explain that Jesus Christ should be our highest treasure and prize. We should earnestly strive to know Him personally and cling to Him daily.
• Our testimony should reflect what God has done for you in Christ Jesus: your life before Christ, how you came to know Christ and what Jesus means to you. Use your story to point others to the Savior.

With some, God may allow you to freely discuss these in length. Others may only allow you to speak with them briefly. The most important matter is that you share as much as you can about the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit, regardless of how a person responds – that is a successful, effective witness.

Like witnessing in America, you will encounter Hungarians at different points of receptivity and openness to the Gospel. There will be many who have never heard these biblical truths and have only a vague idea of who Jesus really is. You may be the first person to ever confront them with the Gospel. Others might have a rudimentary understanding of why Jesus came, but reject the idea that they really are bad enough to deserve eternity in hell. There were some individuals or churches that have spoken with them about Jesus; they cultivated the soil and planted the seed – God uses you to verify or reinforce the message they received. Or an individual you witness to

comes to Christ immediately – for some time, perhaps years, various believers have been declaring these eternal truths to this person – now his/her heart is open and ready to receive Christ as Lord and Savior. Others prayed and labored for years; you have the privilege of reaping where others have sown the Gospel.

It is just as Paul described in I Corinthians 3:6-9. “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.” As a team, our efforts will complement each other. Where you shared the Gospel with different Hungarians, your IMB missionaries can continue to prayerfully develop those relationships, nurturing the seeds sown into hearts through ongoing witnessing and incorporate these friends into a home Bible study group.

Hungarians and the Gospel

Most Hungarians believe that they are already Christians because of their national identity, heritage and denominational membership. Saint Stephen, Hungary’s first king, made Hungarians Catholic by the point of the sword to convert them from their shamanist ways. Others point to their family’s Catholic, Lutheran or Reformed Church background to show evidence of their Christian faith.

There are so many religious images, relics and magnificent cathedrals throughout the land, but very few actually know the true, living God in a personal saving relationship through Jesus Christ. Hungary was also at the center of the Protestant Reformation kindled by the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ alone; it is time for this biblical truth to be boldly proclaimed again.

Hungarians are also a processing people. When presented with facts that challenge their value and belief system, Hungarians tend to mull over and weigh out this knowledge and how it will affect their life, values, desires and relationships. Post-modernism stimulates this contemplation. Not a bad thing, actually. Jesus is looking for disciples, not a mental assent or temporal faith acknowledgement. Christ calls people to count the cost of

following Him. And for many Hungarians, this is a serious issue. To come to Christ and follow Him in believer’s baptism could be viewed as a repudiation of one’s family’s faith and church background, might even lead to social isolation from relatives, colleagues and friends or deprive one of career advancements. We want them to weigh the cost of knowing Christ. We want them to desire Christ more highly than sin and all the rewards and enticements this world has to offer. When this happens, God will be glorified through the testimony of the saints! And others will notice, marvel and wonder at what miraculous events are occurring in their midst. “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

We commend the following resources for your preparations that will assist you in presenting a clear, God-centered witness to the Hungarians. These can be obtained/ordered through a LifeWay bookstore or website, christianbook.com or your local Christian bookstore.

  • How To Give Away Your Faith by Paul Little (InterVarsity Press)
  • Share Jesus Without Fear by William Fay & Ralph Hodge (LifeWay Press)
  • Tell the Truth:  The Whole Gospel to the Whole Person by Whole People (InterVarsity Press)

If you receive podcasts, you should subscribe to Reaching Your World with Luis Palau podcasts. Or visit Palau’s website: www.palau.org; Luis gives encouraging examples and practical suggestions for discussing with others about God, man’s sin, and Jesus’ redeeming work on the cross. Check it out!

We look forward to serving with you to declare the whole Gospel in all its eternal, life changing truths to the Hungarian people!

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