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How to grow in evangelistic confidence and compassion

Hudson Taylor’s two lessons

Hudson Taylor was one of the first missionaries to inland China, and saw thousands saved and hundreds of churches planted.

Yesterday I mentioned two lessons he learned when God used his words and tears to save a hardened atheist.

One lesson — since God opens closed hearts through the Word, we should speak the Word even if people seem closed.

The other lesson — one reason people might be closed is because they don’t see us weeping over them.

Confidence and compassion

I’m weak in both of these.

I need more confidence that God’s Word can open closed hearts.

And I need more compassion for the lost.

So what can I do?  Beat myself up?  Try harder?  No.  There’s …

A better way

Everything I need to be as a Christian comes through faith in Christ — including joy and peace (Rom 15:13), love (Gal 5:6), and obedience (Heb 11:8).

So — if I’m lacking confidence and compassion — then there’s something lacking in my faith.

There’s truths in God’s Word that I’m not really believing.

So what I need to do is fight the fight of faith —

  • pray and ask Jesus to forgive my unbelief and strengthen my faith (Mark 9:24).
  • pray over whatever Scriptures I am not believing, until I sense the Holy Spirit strengthening my faith (Rom 10:17).

The power of God’s Word

Imagine a farmer who would not sow wheat in his field until he knew — from seeing wheat growing — that the soil was good.

That’s crazy, because you won’t see wheat growing until you sow the seed.   The seed produces the wheat.

But I do the same thing.  Too often I won’t share the Gospel with someone until I can tell they are open.

But it’s God’s Word — shared humbly, lovingly, wisely — that produces openness.

So I need to grow in believing this — by praying over these Scriptures until I feel the Holy Spirit strengthening my faith —

  • “The Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.” (Psa 19:7)
  • “It pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.” (1Cor 1:21)
  • “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth.” (James 1:18)
  • “You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.” (1Peter 1:23)

As I pray over these Scriptures, the Holy Spirit will change my heart.

He will give me boldness to share His word with everyone — even if they don’t seem open.

The plight of the lost

Jesus wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-42).  Paul felt “great sorrow and unceasing anguish” for the lost (Rom 9:1-3).

But too often my heart feels nothing.

But the good news is that faith produces compassion (Gal 5:6).  And God’s word produces faith.

So I am going to pray over these Scriptures until I feel the Holy Spirit increasing my compassion —

  • Jesus felt compassion because he saw the lost as “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matt 9:35)
  • Jesus wept over Jerusalem. (Luke 19:41-42)
  • Paul had “great sorrow and unceasing anguish” for the lost. (Rom 9:1-3)
  • Paul served the Lord “with all humility and with tears.” (Acts 20:19)
  • The lost are trapped in “the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” (2Tim 2:26)
  • The lost face “the wine of God’s wrath” and being “tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and the presence of the lamb.” (Rev 14:10)
  • “The smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest day and night.” (Rev 14:11)

What would happen

… if we were all filled with confidence that God’s Word can soften the hardest heart — and compassion and even tears for those around us who don’t know Christ?

We would see friends and neighbors and co-workers —

  • set free from sin,
  • liberated from the kingdom of darkness,
  • and brought into the heart-filling joy of being forgiven and knowing Jesus forever.

Let’s do it.

Feedback?  Thoughts?  Questions?

I’d love to hear them.  Feel free to leave a reply below.  Thanks.

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(Picture by OeilDeNuit at Stock Xchng.)

Category: Help with Evangelism


12 Responses

  1. Paul Walton says:

    You know I’m going to hit you with a question right? 🙂

    In light of Psalm 109: 9-12
    May his children be fatherless
    and his wife a widow!
    May his children wander about and beg,
    seeking food far from the ruins they inhabit!
    May the creditor seize all that he has;
    may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil!
    Let there be none to extend kindness to him,
    nor any to pity his fatherless children!

    I know this is a prophetic message about Judas, but are there people that the church should refuse to help, it sure seems this way in light of Psalm 109.

    • Cathy CHaron says:

      Paul,I believe we should always adhere to a posture of grace and mercy for all. There may be circumstances warranting God’s righteous wrath to fall on those who come against us, however we leave that to him. His word states vengeance is his..and his alone. The passage in Luke reflects there are times we may be asked to move on from those who refuse to hear the Lord. This seems to indicate after all attempts have failed in reaching out.
      Luke 10:11
      11 ‘We wipe even the dust of your town from our feet to show that we have abandoned you to your fate. And know this—the Kingdom of God is near!’
      I read from his word more often to love our neighbor, be good to those who may despitefully use us.

  2. Paul Walton says:

    We like to think that there is only one response that applies to all cases, but God’s word is more dimensional than one answer fits all, if we never question some of what we read in God’s word, we aren’t reading it ALL. Do a little research about a man named Dietrich Bonhoeffer, did Hitler deserve mercy, or death? This is a question Bonhoeffer made a difficult decision about, do we stand idly by while innocent people die?

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Paul, and Hi Cathy. Thanks again for visiting, and for sharing your questions and thoughts.

      Paul, you are raising a good question because in these psalms the author calls down God’s wrath upon people. So are there times when we should do the same?

      But Cathy, you are right in that Jesus calls us to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us (Mat 5:44; Luke 6:27-28,35).

      So how can we reconcile these sorts of psalms with Jesus’ teaching? Here’s some thoughts from men who have pondered this question (these psalms are often called “imprecatory psalms”) —

      John Frame — “It is possible to hate someone, opposing his plans and intentions, and asking God to judge him, while at the same time desiring his conversion. We should keep this in mind when we pray the imprecatory psalms.” (The Doctrine of God, p.461).

      John Piper — “It may be that, seeing with God’s eye, the psalmists discerned the irrevocable [never-changing] rebellion of their enemy and spoke judgment with the very Spirit of God.” (A Godward Life 1:183)

      Piper’s comment would mean that these psalms are not necessarily a model for us to pray — but are prayed because the psalmists by inspiration knew these people would never repent.

      I’m wondering if I should start a forum section on this site where people could discuss questions they have that are not necessarily the subject of the blog post. That way we could hear from others as well. Thoughts?

      Love you both, Steve

      • Cathy CHaron says:

        A dialog of that nature may prove very enlightening. I find it interesting hearing from different “life-experience” and revelation the Holy Spirit has imparted to others…sounds good. 

  3. Paul Walton says:

    Hey Steve,

    Thanks for the reply, I was focusing more on the compassion part of the post, sorry I got off the subject somewhat.


    • Steve Fuller says:

      No problem! I was just wondering if having a forum section would help others find discussions like this, so these discussions could involve others. I’ll keep thinking about it —



      • Paul Walton says:

        Hey Steve,
        I think it could be a good idea, if folks remain civil. Sometimes debates can get heated. Just one more thought about showing mercy (compassion) , God in His love for us will often times remove His mercy to humble us, somewhat like we were discussing at home group the other night. When are we actually enabling someone by constantly showing them mercy, God will let us suffer for our bad choices, but it does require wisdom to know when to remove mercy, in love.

  4. Kyle Laplante says:

    i really needed to read this. God has been putting it on my heart to share with someone very important to me and its been hard to start. i have had those same thoughts go through my head, “ill wait until theyre ready and open to hearing what the bible has to say”. that is a lie from satan himself. there is no better time than now.

    also, i used to think, “well i need to work on my walk with God, its not going so well right now. So ill wait until my walk gets better to share.” that also is wrong. God revealed to me that we should never be at a “satisfactory” level of Christianity. our walk with God should ALWAYS be getting stronger.

    and i think the forum idea would be great.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts, Kyle.

      I will pray that God does a powerful work as you share the Gospel with the person you mentioned — keep us posted on what He does in and through you.

      And I love your thought that we should never rest at what’s just a “satisfactory” level — let’s press in for more and more!

      And thanks for your input about the forum idea — I’ll keep thinking and praying about it.

      Steve Fuller

  5. Meghan says:

    “too often I won’t share the Gospel with someone until I can tell they are open”

    I’ve been doing this forever. I did this today. I was looking around your blog’s encouragement regarding evangelism, trying to find something that would point me in the right direction regarding this very thing. I’ve heard Taylor’s lesson one for the first time today. I’m excited to have God teach it to me as I pray and pray and pray.

    One lesson — since God opens closed hearts through the Word, we should speak the Word even if people seem closed.

    A major reason I wait for people to open up before I share my hope in Christ with them is that I don’t want to be misunderstood. This has been an issue my entire life, I don’t share myself with people until I know they will listen to me, because I despise when people misunderstand me. Hopefully God is bringing things to a breaking point where I will finally be willing to be misunderstood, where pride and self-preservation will be put to death, and where love for Him and compassion for the lost will win out.

    Praise God for the wisdom He has given you in teaching practical, hard truth – that what we need is faith in order to accomplish all things in Him, and in order to have faith we need to pray. Praying is fighting, and fighting is hard, but it’s always powerfully encouraging to see the courage of others who have chosen to fight as well.

    Jesus help us to persevere!

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Meghan,

      I am so glad your heart is being stirred more and more in this area. Keep praying, sister, and fighting the fight of faith, and stepping out in bold love with evangelism.

      You will never regret it, because He is worth it all.

      Steve Fuller

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