What is the key to success in converting the lost? If I knew a secret formula, if I had an unfailing plan, I would be a millionaire. Multitudes of saved people would hover around me, but, alas, I do not have a magic system, a guaranteed program. No one else does, either. (The’ ones who claim they do usually have their system for sale. Does that tell you anything?) No, I am not opposed to literature, films and tapes which are neatly arranged, attractively presented and scripturally sound. But the answer is not to be found, bound and sold. It cannot be packaged. We are used to instant oatmeal, instant coffee, instant Jell-o pudding. Just plop it in the oven and presto, there it is. But there is no microwave gospel conversion kit.
The answer is not to be found in better buildings or more dynamic preachers. A “good depression” is not the solution, either. What, then?
“And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (Acts 5:42). “Ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine” (Acts 5:28). “They lifted up their voice to God . . . . And when they had prayed,’. . . they spake the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:24,3 1). “It is not reason (fitting, suitable) that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. . . . But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:2,4). “Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word” (Acts 8:4). “1 kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house. . . . For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:20,27).
Do you see the answer in the passages cited? It means more Work, more preaching, more home Bible studies, more gospel meetings, more debates, both public and private, more efforts to initiate conversation about spiritual matters. The work will not be done by merely attending every service. It will not be done by increasing your contribution. It will not be done by subscribing to this paper, or, any other periodical. There are no short-cuts. Success is not to be found in less controversy. Conversions to Christ are products of pointed preaching and teaching. Bigger, broader smiles may gain access, but they do not save a soul from death. Confrontation with error and evil was at the heart of all successful New Testament preaching. Check and see, if you doubt it. Conviction and conversion is always personal and often painful.
The following is not a slap at churches that have excellent personal work programs. There are some good ones, and there ought to be more. However, there is no substitute for plain old vanilla personal work. Sometimes we may unwittingly make “Personal Work” into an institution itself, into a “Church Program.” That, defeats the basic concept which is truly individual, personal work. Again, see the verses quoted earlier.
The need for greater, intense teaching is apparent. Generally, it is as simple as doing it. Talk to a neighbor, a friend, or a relative. Tell them. Awaken them. Shake them, if necessary. Teach them what the Bible teaches about their sin, their soul and their Savior. That is the essence of “successful evangelism.”
Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 13, p. 395 (July 6, 1989).
—Larry Ray Hafley