Jesus told his followers not to toss pearls before swine. We also know that people come to Christ when he draws them to himself. Paul writes that faith itself is a gift from God.
So, with these admonitions, is it really important to share Christ multiple times with someone who rejects it? Is rejection of the gospel a sign that God isn’t working? Are we wasting time and resources when we persevere in evangelism?
The answer to all these questions is a resounding no.
Has someone you love not become a Christian despite your best evangelistic efforts? Are you feeling like a failure? Keep sharing Christ! Below are reasons why perseverance in evangelism is right.
THE BIBLE TELLS US
Second Corinthians 5:20 says: “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, ‘be reconciled to God.’” The imagery here is of one carrying a message, passionately telling the message, to another person. When we see the ministry of the apostle Paul, we see a man who was continually sharing Christ with those he came in contact with.
There may be seasons or times in a relationship when we choose to be silent for a while; however, the Bible shows us that perseverance in evangelism is part of being obedient to God’s command.
PEOPLE NEED IT
Canadian pastor and mission leader Oswald J. Smith once said: “No one has the right to hear the gospel twice, while there remains someone who has not heard it once.” Now, I understand Smith’s passion, and I share his concern that far too many have never heard of Jesus (This is to our shame, but is a topic for another article.). We cannot, however, take this admonition at face value and assume we only need to share Christ with someone a single time, and then we can move on.
Each person we share with is somewhere on an imaginary number line as it relates to their belief in Jesus. If the number “0” is the moment a person trusts Christ, we know that some people we share with might be at a place we’d call “-1,” ready to believe in Jesus. Others are much further down the number line—far from trusting Christ. Here, our goal in evangelism would be to help the person move one step (or more) up the graph and into a relationship with Jesus.
Think of it this way. There are a number of reasons people don’t respond positively to the gospel when we share it.
• Insufficient knowledge. Placing our saving faith in Jesus requires basic knowledge about God, sin, and salvation, to name a few topics. It is possible a person simply does not know enough to be saved. We can share to fill in these knowledge gaps.
• Hurt or bitterness. Living in a broken world makes us all vulnerable to hurt and disappointments. It is tempting to direct these toward God or the people of God. Sometimes when we share Christ, the person cannot trust God because they believe He hurt them or allowed them to be hurt. Our witness and ministry shows His love.
• Hostility. Some are hostile toward the faith. Perhaps it is because they are adherents to another faith or have other reasons to oppose the gospel. A witness in these encounters can show that all Christians do not fit their stereotype.
• Apathy. The number one reason people don’t trust Christ is that they do not feel the need. They are too busy with life or other priorities to care. Our witness can be God’s voice to pay attention to eternity.
Note, in each of these encounters, the goal is to lead a person closer to trusting Christ. This requires patience and persistence.
Those we love need Jesus. He has placed us in their lives as His ambassadors and witnesses. Effective evangelism demands patience, persistence, and faith. We plant and water, but God gives the growth.
Portions of this article which originally appeared on LifeWayVoices.com are adapted from Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out, 2nd Ed (B&H Publishing Group). Used by permission.