Is Church Membership a Requirement?

There is no Bible verse that says, “join a local church.” Many object to the idea of church membership for that reason alone. But is this argument even reasonable?

What is church membership?

In Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, Mark Dever, a leading advocate of church membership, wrote that the five following responsibilities of church membership includes:

  1. Regular attendance at services
  2. Regular attendance at communion
  3. Consistent attendance at members’ meetings
  4. Regularly praying for the church at which you are a member
  5. Giving to the church regularly

Dever is not alone in believing this. John Piper, D.A. Carson, John MacArthur, Albert Mohler, Ligon Duncan, and Timothy George all endorsed Dever’s teachings in this book. To be clear, listing big names does not prove that anything is biblical, but it is important to establish that Dever’s understanding of biblical church membership is supported by many well-respected Christian leaders. Let’s look at why they believe these things.

What did the Epistle Writers Assume?

Here are some introductions to the New Testament Epistles:

To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours.
1 Corinthians 1:2

Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— and all the brothers who are with me, to the churches of Galatia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,
-Galatians 1:1-3

Notice that Paul addresses these letters directly to churches which are assemblies of believers. He could address his audience in this manner because of their habit of regularly gathering together. He writes under the assumption that the church itself would be meeting together in a context where the letter would be read aloud.The concept of a Christian who did not belong to a church would have been foreign to Paul.

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
-Colossians 1:1-2

And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea.
-Colossians 4:16

The introduction and closing statement above assume that the believers will be gathered together to read the letter, and they confirm that there were specific churches receiving letters. Being part of a church, not a wanderer who comes and goes as he or she pleases, was the norm in the earliest churches and ought to be the norm in ours as well.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
-Hebrews 10:24-25

The writer of Hebrews commands believers to assemble regularly. Neglecting to meet prevents believers from encouraging one another to obey Christ as they eagerly wait for His return.

Biblical Commands for Church Leadership and Discipline

1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9 teach the qualifications of church leaders. How would Paul appoint leaders if they were not going to preside over an assembly of Christians? Appointing leaders suggests that there is a group that needs to be led, and these leaders cannot fulfill their callings to teach, care for, and lead a group unless the members of the group are committed and submissive to the leaders’ authority. The apostle Peter explicitly commands elders (church leaders/pastors) to lead the congregation and the congregants to submit to leaders.

So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
-1 Peter 5:1-2, 5

Is it possible to obey God’s commands without Church membership?

1 Corinthians 12:7-26 is one of the clearest passages on how the members of Christ’s Body should function. We will examine chapter 12 verses 7-26 in two parts.

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. -1 Corinthians 12:7-11

Verses 7-11 begin with Paul saying that the Spirit gives to each believer a gift for the “common good” of other Christians. The last verse here, teaches that the Spirit freely chooses to distribute gifts to Christians so that they may serve other Christians. How can we be obedient to the Holy Spirit’s will without pledging to serve a community of believers with our gifts? It is incredibly difficult to devote one’s gifts to serving Christians if they do not commit to a church by means of membership. One who refuses to consistently serve with their gifts in a community of believers is not adequately caring for their fellow Christians. We should rejoice that we can serve in a way that pleases the Triune God, and that we can be blessed by the gifts of God directly through our Christian siblings.

If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
-1 Corinthians 12:17-20

Continuing with his discussion of spiritual gifts, Paul parallels the Spirit’s giving of different gifts to Christians with the various functions of the human body. Each person with particular gifts within the Body of Christ is represented by a body part. In verses 17-20 he explains that no Christian is truly separated from the others even if they claim to be, and that the body is made whole by all the parts being unified.  

But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
1 Corinthians 12:24-26

Since the body parts represent Christians, one of the points that Paul is making here is that Christians have need of each other. If one does not commit to serving the other through church membership, how can the body be complete and how can the eye receive the benefits of what only the hand can do. Committing to church membership is part of submitting to the Holy Spirit’s purpose in giving gifts. All Christians are bought with a price, born again for good works, and commanded to sacrificially serve the Body of Christ at all times (Philippians 2:1-11, Ephesians 2:10, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Next Steps

Be mindful that you bring both problems and gifts into whichever church you join. Remember that your love toward other believers is proof that you love God (1 John 4:20) and that you are commanded to lay aside your own privileges for the sake of your fellow Christians (Philippians 2:1-11). Look diligently for a church that preaches the truth about God and the gospel. The gospel is that Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, took on human flesh died for the sins of all who recognize themselves as having fallen short of God’s standard (which is perfection) and trust in His sacrifice. All who repent and believe the gospel will be forgiven and adopted as God’s children. The sinner must trust in Christ and not his or her own works, since they cannot bring about forgiveness by their own deeds (baptism, church attendance, etc.).

Whoever trusts in Him will worship God in Heaven for eternity. The church you join should practice the sacraments of baptism and communion as the Bible commands. Do not blindly rush to join a church, but if you are not a member anywhere you need to be looking. Also, college students, do not be deceived, you must join a church. You may only be in your college town for a few years, but God has still called you to submit under a body of elders and be committed to serve in your local church. God has died for us to enjoy Him through serving other Christians and being served. We should be obedient to this call at all times.

What is Baptism? (A Credobaptist View)

The discussion of baptism is one that has been prominent in Christianity since the second century of the Church. Even saying the word “baptism” will draw many people into a debate as they plant their flags and defend their respective position. It is important to note that both the paedobaptist (infant baptism) view and the credobaptist (believer’s baptism) view believe that baptism is a command from God. When we engage in either practice without the utmost conviction that it is what God has commanded in Scripture, we put words in God’s mouth which is blasphemous. We must derive all teachings from Scripture and study them earnestly rather than haphazardly holding to a teaching because it is the tradition of our denomination or family. Regardless of where you fall on this issue, I pray that this article leads a greater understanding and more importantly a greater love for one another. We must recognize that despite our slight difference in teaching, we are both children of God.

I believe that the best way to begin explaining why I affirm believer’s baptism is to show why I do not affirm infant baptism. Before I begin, I want to state something that both sides of this argument can agree on: baptism does not save you. This is a clear teaching in Scripture that is fundamental to understanding salvation and baptism.

Baptism = Circumcision

Paedobaptists will often equate baptism to circumcision in the Old Testament and propose that, like circumcision, baptism is a sign of God’s covenant. We see in Romans 4:11 that Abraham “received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith.” Scripture is clear that circumcision was a sign of the Old Covenant, while baptism is never called a sign of the New Covenant. Scripture tells us what God’s sign of the New Covenant is in Ephesians 1:13-14: “In Him you also – when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you also believed – were sealed in Him with the promised Holy Spirit.” God seals His people with the Holy Spirit after their belief in Christ (also see Eph 4:30 and 2 Cor. 1:22). To say that baptism is the sign or seal of God’s covenant is to contradict Scripture. Circumcision and baptism are mentioned many times in Scripture, but no verse ever makes a one-to-one comparison between the two. The Israelites’ sign was circumcision but as those under the New Covenant, ours is the Holy Spirit.

Household Baptisms

Household baptisms are another prominent argument for infant baptism. The book of Acts is most referred to when speaking of household baptisms because it accounts for the household baptisms of Cornelius (Acts 10:24-48), Lydia (Acts 16:11-15), and the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:25-34). Many people who hold to infant baptism will say that they cannot prove that there were infants in these household baptisms. Nonetheless, they argue, based upon the silence of Scripture, that “household” includes infants. In each of the accounts of household baptisms, Luke emphasizes that God’s word was taught. This indicates that people heard and comprehended the gospel message. In the stories of both Cornelius and Lydia, there is mention of the Holy Spirit moving among the people and drawing them to God.

Finally, in every passage mentioned above there is an account of baptism. This is not an uncommon procession throughout Scripture. In most occasions of salvation recorded in Scripture, it is noted that people heard the word of God preached, understood it, repented of their sins, and rejoiced over their baptism. An infant is incapable to do any of those. We must remember that Scripture teaches that belief must precede baptism (Mk. 16:16, Acts 8:37, Rom. 10:10-11, 1 Cor. 1:21, and Eph. 1:21).

Jesus’ Baptism

One of the greatest arguments for believer’s baptism is the story of Jesus’ own baptism. It is mentioned in all four of the Gospel’s and is detailed in Matthew 3. Matthew 3:14-15 says,

But John tried to stop Him [from being baptized] saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and yet you come to me?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Allow it for now, because this is the way for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then John allowed him to be baptized.

What is the significance of Jesus being baptized? There are many significant parts to the baptism of Jesus, but Jesus only mentioned one – to show the way we are to fulfill righteousness. Christ, at that moment, identified with sinners. His own baptism symbolized the sinner’s own baptism into the fulfillment of righteousness. Acts 2:37-38;41 says,

Now when they [the crowds] heard this [the Gospel], they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brethren, what shall we do now?’ And Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.’ … So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.

These verses reveal a brief look at Pentecost. In these three verses, we see some very essential truths regarding salvation. First, we see that after hearing the Gospel, people were pierced to the heart. Peter responded by telling them to repent of their sins so that they may have forgiveness of their sins. After they repented, he baptized them. Secondly, we see that the promise of salvation is offered to them and their children. This does not mean that their children had to be baptized for this promise to be fulfilled. Peter is stating that the Gospel is open to everyone. It is not just reserved for certain people but it is a promise given to all if they repent. Thirdly, after Peter had told them to repent, Scripture tells us that those who had received his word were baptized. Here we see that the act of baptism is reserved only for those who were pierced to the heart, repented, and received the Holy Spirit. Luke, the writer of Acts, was very clear about this. Believers are expected to, by the power of the Spirit, rid themselves of their old nature and put on their new found identity in Christ. Baptism is a public declaration of this new identity. In order words, it is a outer expression of an inward reality. Through baptism, we publicly declare that we are a new creation in Christ and that we have passed from death to life, just as Christ has done.

In Christ,
Nicolas Olson

Did God Choose Whom He Would Save?

If God did not act first, no one would be saved. -RC Sproul

A year and a half ago I would have opposed a belief that I now hold dear to my heart, and that is this: God chooses whom He saves. Today, I agree with AW Pink who argued that, “reduced to its simplest terms, election means that God chose me before I chose Him.” As Pink argues, the reason why this doctrine is so detested by mankind is that the doctrine of election “makes nothing of the creature and everything of the Creator; yea, at no other point is the enmity of the carnal mind so blatantly and hotly evident.”

God chose exactly whom He would save before the foundation of the world. The gut reaction of many modern-day evangelicals would is, “What! Why would a good God not save everyone?” The question we should really be asking in light of our radical sinfulness is, “Why would a good God save anyone at all?” We should never for a moment imagine that anyone on earth is entitled to grace in the first place. No one deserves, merits, or is entitled to any grace at all. If they did, it would not be grace, (Romans 11:6). God is not obligated to pardon a single sinner, yet His glorious grace has already caused countless sinners to not only be forgiven, but adopted as His precious sons and daughters for all eternity. The cost of saving them was high; He purchased His elect by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Paul describes the great love that God has shown His elect in Romans 8: “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?… Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (8:33, 35).  Let us then approach this issue with humility and gratitude knowing that we are recipients of unfathomable mercy and grace and that we are not in the position to question or criticize God, let alone ever claim that He is unjust.

Paul wrote in Ephesians that God “chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace…” (Ephesians 1:4-5). In Revelation, John writes that the names of the elect were “written down before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain” (Revelation 13:7-8). Those whose names are “written in the book” will be saved. As believers, we can conclude from these two passages that God has loved us since eternity past and knew our names even before creation. Christina Perri’s famous song, “I’ve loved you for a thousand years,” is pathetic and soft in comparison to the love God has shown His children. Your name was so precious to Him that He decided to save you by the blood of “the Lamb who was slain” even before man had fallen or had even been created. But what about the obvious fact that not everybody’s name was written down on that list? Has God truly not chosen to save some people on this earth? Let’s discuss this.

I was afraid to study this issue, probably because I was scared where it would lead me. I knew that believing in predestination would result in believing God had chosen to save some and not others. I think I was so resistant because in my heart to some extent I believed we all deserve grace or that we all had to make a choice to “allow” God to convert us. I didn’t realize that God sovereignty is not limited by man’s free will. I believed my salvation rested on my decision to choose Jesus or something like that. But could it have been true that all along I never had autonomy over my life and destiny? Yep, pretty much. And thank God I did not. If God did not intervene and it was up to me, I would never have come to Christ and I would not be typing this right now. We are incapable of following Christ until God works in our heart. The Lord Jesus declares in John chapter 6 that, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:44), and, “All that the Father gives me will come to me and whoever comes to me I will never cast out” (6:37). He also declares that “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he is giving me, but raise it up on the last day.” (6:39) When Christ here preached the sovereignty of God in salvation, “The Jews grumbled about him,” (6:41) and “many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him” (6:66), leaving only Him and twelve disciples. These verses make it clear that:

  1. The doctrine of God’s sovereignty in salvation would be important even if Christ didn’t talk about it in the Gospels, but obviously because Christ Himself preached it, and was willing to lose followers over it, we can know that it matters to Him, and therefore, it should matter to us. This glorious truth was not concocted by John Calvin or R.C. Sproul, but preached by our Savior Himself, and written of throughout the whole Bible, (if you don’t agree with me, read Dr. Steven Lawson’s book Foundations of Grace where he goes from Genesis to Revelation showing how the entire Bible defends the sovereignty of God).
  2. We are hopeless and cannot “come to [Jesus] unless the Father” draws us to Him (verse 44).
  3. “All that the Father gives [Him]” will end up coming to Him, (37, 39). God’s call of sinners to faith in Christ is effectual. He is truly mighty to save.
  4. 100% of the people God chose before He created the world come to Jesus and He will lose none of them (37, 39). “No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” (John 10:29)
  5.  This will offend some, indeed, “When many of the disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” (6:60) This topic is divisive, (66). It’s offensive and controversial; it always has been (41).

While it offended some and will offend more, this doesn’t make what Christ said any less true, and may we never apologize for the sovereignty of God. Paul celebrates how God is the one who saves us from start to finish: “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” (Romans 8:29-30) Theologians call this passage “The Golden Chain.” It is unbreakable and none of the predestined and foreknown elect of God are lost. Foreknown here does not mean God had knowledge of what people were going to do and then acted accordingly, but that God chose these individuals out of mercy and set His love on them. All of those foreknown by God are regenerated, justified, sanctified, and glorified, and God is the one who carries out each step. 100% of the people God foreknew and predestined end up in glory.

Our Savior makes the truth of election more undeniably clear in John 15, when He states that, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide…” (John 15:16). Therefore, if you are a believer you cannot take credit for it. You ought to thank God that your eyes were opened. Now, did God choose us because we are better than other people? Absolutely not, for

God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 1:27-30

Not only is it God who chooses who will be saved, but it is God who performs the act of salvation, leaving no room for anyone to boast; “So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy” (Romans 9:16). Our good works are like filthy rags, (Isaiah 64:6). Therefore we cannot earn our way to God or do anything to appease His just wrath. Indeed, “For by the works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight…” (Romans 3:20), again, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9), and again “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.” (Romans 11:6) When a group of men were shocked by some of Jesus’ teachings on salvation, they asked Him “Who then can be saved?” (Matthew 19:25). Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). Our salvation depends on God, not on who we are or what we do.

Our salvation not only does not, but cannot hinge on anything anything we do, even a decision of the will. It must rest on God alone and His will. We can’t do anything good without God’s grace:  “those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8). We are unable to please God until we have been born again, and therefore we cannot believe in or follow Jesus until we have been born again; “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:12-13). The ones who “receive him” must be born of God, and that does not happen by the “will of man, but of God.” We therefore do not choose to be born again. Lazarus obviously cannot follow Jesus until Jesus raises his dead corpse back to life. We do not choose to believe in Jesus and then are born again, but rather we are born again and then we will choose to believe in Jesus. Any person who has not been born again has no will to receive Christ until he is born again. How can you argue that a spiritually dead slave to sin is free to accept the Gospel when “those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8)? It is impossible! The Bible makes it clear that a sinner who has not been born again cannot accept or understand the things of God: The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14) Therefore, those who receive Christ have already been born “of God.” Jesus makes this clear to Nicodemus:

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God… unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” –John 3:3,5-6

When we understand the incredibly liberating truth that God is sovereign in salvation, it ought to make us the most humble creatures on the planet and give us rest. There is nothing we did to earn God’s love, and there is nothing we can do to lose it. As God’s adopted children, we are absolutely safe in His arms forever.  Perhaps, you are unconvinced and reluctant to believe something that appears so unloving to you, or maybe you think it would be immoral or unjust for God to chose to save some and choose to damn others. In Romans 9, Paul boldly asserts that God, “has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills” (Romans 9:16). God is God, and He is free to save whomever he chooses. Every single person in Hell deserves to be there, and especially because Hell is where we all deserve to be, we are in no place to question Him, or blasphemously accuse Him of being unjust. Yet still, our twisted and prideful hearts are inclined to do that exact wretched thing. Paul even writes that, “You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” (Romans 9:19) Here is his response:

But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom he has called. –Romans 9:20-24

God is God, and we are not. Our chief end is to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever. This passage makes it clear that God will either be glorified in our salvation by His mercy towards sinners, or in our damnation by His justice towards sinners, and that it is up to Him, “the potter”, to do what he pleases. May God forbid us from blasphemously accusing Him of being unjust. No one deserves grace, the elect get mercy, the damned receive justice, and God gives no one injustice. Unless everyone deserves to be in Heaven, we have no ground to call election unjust. May we neither arrogantly use this glorious topic for foolish debates nor avoid believing and studying this truth out of anger or fear, but may we all praise and thank our God in tears for choosing vile sinners like us to be redeemed by the blood of Jesus as we get to know our amazing God more and more.

How Should I Share the Gospel?

I tend to fear offending man more than I fear offending God. I tend to want to please man more than I want to please God. In my mind, my reputation and my personal comfort are precious treasures that evangelism probably will rip away. I often feel too embarrassed to talk about Jesus in public. I often find myself questioning why I should make such a costly sacrifice to myself in order to obey Jesus. So why should we evangelize when the cost appears so high and the fear is so intense?

I believe that the first and primary  reason we should evangelize is to glorify the God who commanded us to do so. Whether it is by starting a conversation with the person next to you on a bus, building a relationship with a coworker or classmate, engaging with people on the street, standing up and preaching in public, or posting about the Gospel on instagram, we must stand up and obey Christ’s command to share the Gospel as Christians have been doing for two thousand years. He has commanded it, we must obey it, and delayed obedience is a form of disobedience. Christ says that “anyone of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:33) I am confident that the command to “renounce all that he has” includes renouncing his reputation, his comfort, and even his life if that is what is required of him. In the end, that is worth it to obey Jesus, and it is also worth it if sinners are saved. And as Christians, we do believe that unless they repent and believe the Gospel they will be damned. So how can we withhold the Gospel of grace from them with a clear conscience?

Out of the abundance of a heart that loves God and unsaved sinners, we ought to enter into evangelism with joy. In Philemon 1:6, Paul tells Philemon that he prays “that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.” Here we see that God can use sharing the faith to help us grow in our faith. Almost everyone that practices evangelism knows that it helps us grow in many valuable ways. When it is done biblically it aids us in our battle to kill our pride as we take our stand next to Moses, who, “when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin,” (Hebrews 11:24-25). So let me ask, when will we grow up and take our stand with him? This means stepping forward as an unashamed ambassador of Christ and trying to glorify Him regardless of the consequences. Evangelism will not always be comfortable, people will not always repent, and both persecution and rejection will come in a variety of forms, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” (2 Timothy 3:12). As Christians, the amazing joy of bringing glory to our God and seeing sinners come to Christ is incomparable and worth every ounce of discomfort and rejection.

We know that we are not responsible for the results of evangelism, but rather we are called to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, biblically, gracefully, blamelessly, honestly, and in love. The Bible teaches us that the results of evangelism lie solely in the Spirit’s hands. Their conversion doesn’t lie in our hands, and it should comfort us to know that it doesn’t lie in their hands either. God is the one who gives His people ears to hear and eyes to see. God is the one who softens hearts and illuminates minds. God is the one who draws people to His Son Jesus. Not us. Indeed, “the salvation of the righteous is from the LORD” (Psalm 37:39), and “to God, the Lord, belong deliverances from death.” (Psalm 68:20) The results of evangelism and the process of salvation lie in His hands alone. Therefore, no redeemed sinner or evangelist can ever boast in anything except our amazing God. We have no choice but to “ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name” (Psalm 29:2), and because ALL the glory is due to his name, we must ascribe it all to Him. May God forbid it that we ascribe it to ourselves, to a prayer we prayed to “invite Jesus into our heart”, to our evangelistic skill (which is from God if we have any), to their ability to believe the Gospel (which is from God if they have any), or to literally anything accept God. We therefore evangelize out of love for God and neighbor: for God’s glory and not for our own glory. I know that evangelism is hard and uncomfortable and I have so many days where I am overcome with fear when I want to share the Gospel with someone, and even days when I don’t want to share the Gospel at all. I think we all do and it’s hard. Even so, I plead with you, that out of love for Jesus and for your neighbors, that you would share the Gospel and pray for God to change your heart. Share it with your classmates, share it with the lunch-lady, share it with your teachers and coaches, share it with your family, share it with your city or town, and share it with all the people that need it, (that is, all the people). Here are some verses and practical tips that I hope will help you evangelize.

1. Prayer

Always pray before, during, and after evangelism, if possible. It is very easy to forget this step, but in reality it is so important to the entire process. We must know that it is God who is fully capable of saving sinners at any given moment, and we must remember to bow before Him and pray for Him to use us, to open doors, to give us boldness, and to transform hearts. Remember that the results are up to Him. God encouraged Paul in a vision one night while he was in Corinth, telling him: “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” (Acts 18:9-10) God’s elect are His people, and we must not fear because the Shepherd has countless sheep in this world whom He laid down His life for. (John 10:11) We must also remember that all of God’s sheep will hear His voice and follow him, (John 10:4), and also that all of God’s sheep will end up believing the Gospel:

“And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.” (Acts 13:48)

2. Lifestyle: Holiness, Love, Reason, Courage.

Be blameless and show love. While walking in vulnerability and humility, make it clear that you yourself are a sinner. We must do this in part so that people are not given an excuse such as unrepentant sin in us or self-righteousness in us to avoid our urgent message. Paul says “I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:26-27)Paul wants to “win the race.” Let us too exercise discipline and self-control so that we are not disqualified. Let us make sure we know what we are talking about. Have key verses about the Gospel memorized, study theology (this is not just for pastors), and “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.” (Philippians 4:5) Every Christian is called to be both a missionary and a theologian, and that includes you and me. In all this, be fearless and courageous.

“…but the righteous are bold as a lion.” (Proverbs 28:1) 

“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents.” (Philippians 1:27-28)

“In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience…” (1 Peter 3:15-16)

While “speaking the truth in love,” (Ephesians 4:15) make every effort to show Jesus’ love through your tone, words, and actions, without compromising the truths of the Gospel. I would encourage you to memorize 1 Corinthians 13 and constantly ask yourself if your interactions are reflecting this kind of ‘agape’ love. The late Nabeel Qureshi, a Christian apologist, often spoke of how failing to show people love is failing to show people Christ. Let’s show people our Christ through our lifestyle and our words, not compromising either.

3. Overcoming the Terror of Evangelism

As you prepare to do any kind of evangelism, especially if you are new to it, it is more than likely that fear and anxiety will be in your heart, and it is likely that Satan himself will try to deter you. Fight this with prayer and love. Perfect love casts out fear, and I believe that if you have God-given love for the lost, love for God and His glory, submissiveness to Christ, and faith in the Gospel, you will be able to overcome fear and proclaim Jesus Christ to the world. If fear and laziness is hindering us, let’s examine our hearts and pray God would help us believe in the Gospel, love him, and love our neighbors enough to tell them the truth that has the power to set them free. What exactly are you so afraid of?

4. Do Not Forget to Actually Share the Gospel

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” (Romans 1:16) When you evangelize, don’t forget to actually evangelize. That means the Gospel must be shared, and it is ridiculous how often the conversation may veer off course or how tempting it is to just chat about religion or politics without actually sharing the Gospel. Even sharing one’s testimony, while usually important, is not necessarily sharing the Gospel (even though there are ways to weave it into a testimony). It will also almost always be tempting to either compromise on the truth of the Gospel or on the love we must have in presenting the Gospel, so keep an eye on yourself in that regard. It’s always easier to just say “Jesus loves you” and leave it at that. During conversations be patient and pray God opens doors for you to share, because a lot of people will try to avoid hearing it even though it is what they most definitely need to hear. I paid a guy in New York five dollars just to let me share the Gospel without him cutting me off. For some people, especially those who are trying to hide from God like Adam and Eve in the Garden, it will be incredibly hard for them to hear the truth. Do not forget or be surprised that the cross is offensive. (Galatians 5:11)

5. Having a Loving Conversation

An easy and non-confrontational method I love is to walk up to people and talk with them. Ask them if you can get their opinion on something, or ask them if you can ask them a few questions, and then, after getting their names or asking them where they are from or something, maybe say something like, ‘I’m a Christian, and I am not here to judge you or anything, but I was wondering if I could hear your thoughts on the Christianity.’ I will sometimes ask, ‘do you know what the Gospel is?’ If they don’t know what it is, I will ask if I can share it with them briefly. Even if they have already said they are atheist, instead of debating with them about that, (which is often a great thing to do), why not just tell them the amazing Gospel of devastating sin and glorious grace? When you speak about the Gospel, speak about it as if it is real… because it is. Sometimes it’s helpful to preface that question with, “do you have any religious or philosophical views.” When people realize that there is a loving person in front of them that genuinely cares about their thoughts, based on my experience they almost always will share their stance. If they look like they are about to walk away, ask “would mind if I just really quickly shared the Gospel with you?” and hopefully they will stay to hear you. If it is going well, or even if they seem pretty opposed, why not ask them if there is anything stopping them from trusting in Jesus right now? We must call for a responseI sometimes will even finish sharing the Gospel and then ask, ‘so when are you going to repent and believe the Gospel?’ Some have said “right now.” others have said “never.” You can’t know until you ask. If they reject Christ then and there, say, “will you think about these things?”

6. The Homeless

Buy homeless people lunch or snacks and stop to listen to their stories, share the Gospel with them, share your money with them, and pray for them. Remember their names and keep praying for them and loving them. Show them the love Jesus showed you. Give them a bible or a gospel tract, and invite them to church. Find out information for local missions, shelters, soup kitchens, and ministries that could help them out. Also, imagine if a homeless person were to come to your church service. Do you think they would feel warmly welcomed?

7. Gospel Tracts, Outreach New Testaments, Gospel of John

Cheap, easy, and while not as effective per person, you never know how God could use each

People have read them right before they were about to commit suicide and were saved. One man had one in his glove compartment and was looking for something to write a suicide note on and ended up a Christian. The great missionary Hudson Taylor was originally saved after receiving a Gospel tract. I have a friend at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago whose family came to Christ after her father immigrated from Cambodia and was converted through a Gospel tract someone gave him. Consider leaving one along with a big tip when you pay for your food, and don’t tip 10% and expect them to read it. Consider also writing something on the receipt. After a good conversation with a stranger, it is great to leave them with something to read, so have one handy. Maybe even write your phone number on it so that they can contact you with questions. Consider writing your own Gospel tract, perhaps one contextualized to your neighborhood, and print it out.  Be extremely polite when handing them out and when people reject it rudely, that is a God given opportunity to show grace, so show it. Your love in the face of their nastiness may speak more loudly to them than if they had read the tract. I recommend ordering “The Only Solution to the Greatest Problem” by John MacArthur.

8. Open-Air Preaching

Stand up and preach the Gospel in a graceful, hearable, and biblical way. Tell stories and make clear analogies while showing you love the people you are talking to. Your tone of voice matters. Just like the Gospel tract method, it’s a shotgun approach, but it’s also a time tested way that Christians have shared the Gospel throughout History. Jeremiah, Isaiah, Amos, Nehemiah, Noah, Jonah, Jesus, Paul, Stephen, and many more people in Scripture, and countless more throughout church history, who have stood up in public and preached boldly, and you may be called to do so as well. Great men like Spurgeon, Whitefield, and Knox preached in the streets and saw men converted, men who may never have entered a church and heard the Gospel if it weren’t for street preachers. God loves calling timid men to preach Christ and giving them supernatural boldness. Read of John Knox who ran away in tears when someone asked him to preach for his first time, and ended up preaching with such force that a hearer said it was more powerful and moving than “500 trumpets.” I started doing this and have five brothers at Wheaton who started doing it for the first time this year, and other brothers who have been doing it for years. Check out Paul Washer, Leonard Ravenhill, Jeff Durbin, Ray Comfort, and Jeff Rose on YouTube, they all have some great tips to draw from. This and tracts are like fishing with a large net, hoping to catch as many fish as possible or any fish if possible, whereas having individual conversations is like fishing with a rod with your eyes on the exact fish you want to catch and using the correct bait. You would be surprised as to how God uses this method, even if it is just through you sowing seeds. A.W. Tozer came to Christ after hearing a street preacher. George Whitefield preached to an estimated 10 million hearers, primarily through the open-air. When Paul went to a city, there were either riots or revival, so toughen up, expect resistance, and give it a try if you are called to this.

9. Conversation Starter

Pastor Voddie Baucham will often answer people’s ‘how are you’ with, ‘I’m better than I deserve.’ Which can spark curiosity in the person and open a door for the Gospel to be presented. Pastor Paul Washer recounted in a sermon how he has a friend who would answer every, ‘how are you,’ with, ‘I’m blessed,” and that the answer to why he is blessed is because Jesus was cursed. If you are going to just share about Christ like this make sure it is genuine and sincere.

10. Non Believers at the Table

When you pray for the food at a dinner with unbelievers, just share the Gospel in prayer. Ask if you can pray for the meal. Thank God for sending His only Son Jesus to die for all who will put their trust in Him. This can be good for those family members who are not open to talking about Christ but just happen to be at the dinner table. It can also start conversations following.

11. Going up to Your Crush

No matter what method you choose on this list or not on this list, just remember that this is just like going up to your middle school crush and talking to her. It’s really scary, but once you get the first word out you are committed and the fear subsides. Also a wingman could help, so bring a friend, especially if you are going to be sharing in a potentially physically dangerous environment.

12. Follow Up

This one is the most difficult for me. While we need to preach the Gospel to every person, it is ideal that we get them plugged into a Gospel-preaching church. It is important that this isn’t a one-and-done type interaction where believing in Jesus is like checking a box and then living the exact same way. Believing in Jesus is not like getting a flu shot or pressing a button a single time. While it must start with repentance and faith, true faith in Jesus should result in a lifetime of obedience and sacrificial love. I would encourage you to get their number and try to meet up for coffee if they are interested in learning more, have a series of Bible studies with them, or invite them to church, give them your number. When we make disciples, we should desire strongly for them to become disciple-making disciples themselves.

Radiating True Beauty

In a culture that wrongly idolizes outward appearance, beauty is truly found on the inside. True beauty is manifested in an embodiment of a fear of the Lord, a life of confidence grounded in truth and a radiating love shown to others.

Chiseled cheekbones and a face free of wrinkles manifest temporary beauties compared to the true beauty found in fearing the Lord. A beautiful woman demonstrates humility, purity and steadfastness. Where do these qualities come from? These characteristics are produced in a woman through a fear of the Lord. A beautiful woman does not present herself as better than everyone else, but with a humble attitude and reverence toward the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. True beauty in a woman manifests through the way she protects her heart from the wickedness of the world, because her heart instead seeks God’s goodness and majesty. Fearing the Lord to her is more important than following the every changing beauty standards. A life marked by a fear of the Lord produces a foundation that is firm and secure rather than a life consumed with a struggle to live up to society’s fickle beauty standards. Women who hold to the steadfast truth that God created the world and holds them in his hand shine an unexplainable beauty. Proverbs 31:30 famously states that “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” By fearing the Lord, women realize that the pursuit of outward beauty must be taken with a grain of salt, because ultimate beauty and satisfaction come from a fear of the Lord. The outward beauty quickly blows away like a leaf in the fall air compared to the rock, solid truth of God’s majesty and sovereignty. Charm and false beauty depict shallowness and the temporary reign of the Enemy. God created humanity to fear Him because He is Lord, and when a woman truly fears God, she depicts God’s beautiful original plan. We, as women, must remember to “not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear” (1 Peter 3:3). We know that presenting ourselves with a humble attitude before the King is more beautiful than wearing a fancy dress, real pearls, perfect makeup and a prideful, haughty heart. In the same way, a pretty heart is more desirable than a pretty face.

When a woman understands and embodies the fear of the Lord, confidence radiates from her. Confidence speaks louder than a pretty face, but sadly in today’s society, women have lost their confidence in the truth that we have been “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). The loss in confidence attributes to the silly idea that all women must showcase “full lips, larger breasts, a nipped-in waist, lean thighs” as Alex Kuczynski notes in the article “What is beautiful?” So, how can we, as daughters of the Kings of Kings, regain this lost confidence? Psalm 139:14 states “wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Women must choose to let go of the lies crafted in media and embrace the truth that God has wonderfully created us in his image for a specific purpose. Our acceptance and love towards the God’s work of creation will shine through what society deems as imperfections. It’s easy in the moment to dwell on a comment that spews lies saying you’re unwanted, not beautiful enough, and not worthy of love. In these vulnerable moments, the best thing we can do is to guard our heart and take hold of our emotions and feelings and not rest in these lies. We must ignore the sly lies of society that declare that our beauty is not good enough, and instead walk, speak, and live confidently believing we are masterpieces crafted by God. When a woman is confident, her outward appearance is more pleasing by the way she walks and talks. In other words, the heart radiates the confidence from inside. Society will always portray a hegemony of one, cookie-cutter kind of beauty that has a chilling likeness to everyone but this “perfect” look strips women of their beautiful and unique characteristics that they have received from God. Embracing the way God has created women is essential because of passages such as Proverbs 31:25 which say that a beautiful woman “is clothed with strength and dignity without fear of the future.” A woman filled with beauty ignores the societal definition of beauty by listening to the truthful words of God. A beautiful woman breathes confidence, because she embodies God’s fingerprints.

When a woman has confidence in her identity found in Christ, it inevitably leads to a demonstration of kindness and love to those around. This is a radiating beauty more desirable than a perfect face. As women in today’s culture, we have become so distracted by the desire to look attractive on the outside that we neglect the inside. Women strive to look younger, have perfect skin, and thinner bodies but this pursuit will not fix the aged, hurting and corrupt heart inside. These women have believed the lie that cosmetics will make them beautiful, but they neglect the inside. Fixing outward so-called flaws will not fix the issues found in the heart.

The growing secular society around us will attempt to mimic true beauty, but will always leave us with disappointment and discouragement. Not only this, but it will also lure women into believing that their unique characteristics are not good enough. We, as women, must hold fast to God’s truth that He wonderfully and uniquely created everyone. We gain confidence by believing this truth and walking, living, and breathing confidence. This results in a portrayal of true beauty that God has made. With this beautiful confidence inevitably follows an amiable, humble heart that fears the Lord. The goodness from the inside makes a woman radiate beauty wherever she goes. Many people have tried to become beautiful through cosmetics and plastic surgery, but have failed because genuine beauty must come from the inside first.

Photo by Careah Turvin