What Is Successful Evangelism?

“Evangelism is a work of communication in which Christians make themselves mouth pieces of God’s message of mercy to sinners. Anyone who faithfully delivers that message, in a small meeting, from a pulpit, or in a private conversation, is evangelizing. The way to tell whether you are in fact evangelizing is not to ask whether conversions are known to have resulted from your witness. It is to ask whether you are faithfully making known the gospel message.”  – J. I. Packer

Consider for a moment the accounts of both Peter’s and Stephen’s proclamation to the Jews, recorded in the Book of Acts.


“Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.

Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you 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 for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:36-41 ESV)


“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.” (Acts 7:51-53 ESV)

“Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” (Acts 7:54-59 ESV)

Peter and Stephen preached the same hard message to both groups of Jews – that the Jesus they had crucified was the long awaited Messiah. Neither man minced words. Under the leading and power of the Holy Spirit, they accused their listening audiences that they had murdered their Savior. After Peter’s sermon, the listeners were cut to the heart and 3,000 were saved. After Stephen’s sermon an enraged crowd stoned Stephen to death.

Did Peter succeed and Stephen fail? Perhaps by the ‘head counting’ standards used in our day, but not by God’s standard!

Success in evangelism is measured by our faithfulness in delivering the unvarnished message that Christ died for OUR sin and was raised from the dead. to the glory of God, so that men and women who repent and believe the gospel would also be raised from spiritual death to spiritual life, and one day be raised physically to be with their Lord forever. God is in charge of the result.

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