There is a paradox about evangelism. Actually there are several but I’ll only mention one here. It starts with the realization that evangelism is impossible. Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44). Jesus also said, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:15).
Given those realities, we need to see that evangelism requires at least two miracles. In my life, God must work supernaturally in order for me to say anything or do anything that could possibly connect to regeneration. In the life of the person hearing the gospel, God must work the miracle of raising them from the dead. (See Ephesians 2:1, “…we were dead…”).
Thus, when we step into the process of evangelism, we are entering the world of the impossible. But our God specializes in doing the impossible.
So the paradox of evangelism is that when we remember that evangelism is impossible, we are more likely to evangelize!
We accept the fact that “success” is not dependent upon us. We understand that God uses both the human and the divine in the process (remembering, of course, that the divine component is so much more important). We open our mouths, knowing that God can actually use our frail attempts to accomplish the impossible. We speak with our mouths but we ask God to speak in ways far more powerful. We reason but we ask God to reveal. We proclaim but we know we’re on a playing field with many other forces at work.
It’s a paradox but a privilege.
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Randy Newman has been with the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ since 1980 and currently serves with Faculty Commons, their ministry to university professors. He ministers on campuses and elsewhere in our nation's capital to students, professors and policy shapers. He is an honors graduate from Temple University and has a Masters of Divinity degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he is also engaged in doctoral studies. Randy is a Jewish Believer in Jesus and is the former editor of The Messiah-On-Campus Bulletin. He is the author of numerous articles and the books Questioning Evangelism: Engaging People's Hearts the Way Jesus Did and Corner Conversations: Engaging Dialogues about God and Life, both published by Kregel Publications, and Bringing the Gospel Home: Witnessing to Family Members, Close Friends, and Others Who Know You Well, forthcoming from Crossway.
To find out more, visit his blog, Integration Points.