Archives For Evangelism

Acts 14:15 And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: 16 Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. 17 Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.

God has given evidence of Himself to all people that He exists and is good to all!

Dios escogió a Jesucristo para ser el que moriría por los pecados del mundo. Él habilitó a Cristo a través del poder de su Espíritu Santo para hacer todo lo que Él hizo. Él le dio la autoridad para hacer todo lo que Él hizo. Cristo viajó alrededor haciendo el bien y sanando a todos los pueblos que el diablo oprimía, porque Dios estaba con Él.

Cristo, el Hijo de Dios, que fue elegido, facultado y autorizado por Dios, nos amó lo suficiente para morir por nosotros en la cruz por nuestros pecados en cumplimiento de lo que Dios prometió sucedería siglos atras. En la cruz, los soldados llegaron a romper sus piernas, pero no lo hicieron porque Él ya estaba muerto. Después de eso, uno de los soldados puso una lanza a través de su lado y sangre y agua salieron de su lado; esto efusión fue una prueba segura de que Él realmente estaba muerto.

Alguien más quitó su cuerpo muerto de la cruz y preparó su cuerpo para el entierro envolviéndolo con 75 libras de tela de lino y especias. Luego Él fue enterrado en una tumba. En la boca de la tumba, rodaron una enorme roca. Después, la tumba fue sellada con un sello a todo su alrededor. Finalmente, los guardias romanos, que bajo amenaza de muerte habían sido mandados para custodiar la tumba, se colocaron alrededor de la tumba.

Al tercer día, el Padre a través de Su Espíritu levantó a su Hijo de entre los muertos. Jesucristo de la descendencia de David, fue resucitado de entre los muertos en cumplimiento de lo que Dios había predicho y prometido se llevarían a cabo hace siglos.

Muchas personas diferentes en diferentes momentos durante un período de 40 días vieron a Aquel que era el Hijo de Dios con poder. Apareció a aquellas personas a quienes Dios había escogido específicamente y que de antemano iban a ver a su hijo después de que Él había resucitado de entre los muertos.

Ese Cristo resucitado se apareció a las personas cuyas vidas cambiaron para siempre después de que ellos lo vieron vivo después de muerto. Se le apareció a Pedro, que pocos días antes había negado tres veces que lo conocía. Sin embargo, poco después se le apareció a Pedro, Pedro estaba predicando valientemente su resurrección.

Cristo apareció entonces a los Doce, y poco después de ese aparición, todos ellos fueron testigos de su resurrección de entre los muertos. Después de eso, más de 500 personas vieron ese Cristo resucitado, al mismo tiempo. La mayor parte de ellos todavía estaban vivos cuando los apóstoles predicaban que Dios lo había resucitado de entre los muertos. Si hubieran querido hacerlo, las personas hubieran podido consultar con ellos para ver si realmente habían visto a Cristo vivo de entre los muertos.

Jesús se apareció por último al Apóstol Pablo. Él no estaba buscando a Cristo antes de ese punto. Después de que Dios estuvo complacido en revelar a su Hijo a Pablo un día, él dio su vida entera a decirle a la gente la buena noticia de que Jesucristo había resucitado de entre los muertos. Pablo pasó de ser un perseguidor de los cristianos a ser un predicador de Cristo por el hecho de que Cristo se le apareció a Pablo después de que Dios le había resucitado de entre los muertos.

Lo que todas las autoridades judías y romanas habrían tenido que hacer para detener la propagación del cristianismo habría sido proporcionar el cuerpo. Habrían destruido ese movimiento infantil si hubieran sido capaces de producir el cuerpo. Ellos, sin embargo, no pudieron hacerlo porque su cuerpo no estaba allí. Él había resucitado de entre los muertos, así como Él prometió que lo haría!

Dios exige a todos en todas partes, que ya no piensen por más tiempo que Él es como los numerosos objetos de culto que los hombres a través de la imaginación y el arte han hecho de oro, plata, piedra, y otras cosas. Ahora manda a todos en todos los lugares a que se arrepientan y crean su Evangelio acerca de su Hijo, Aquel a quien Él ha hecho Señor y Cristo.

Dios ordena a este arrepentimiento y la fe en el Cristo resucitado por lo que ha establecido un día en el cual se va a juzgar a los vivos y a los muertos a través de ese hombre a quien designó, Su Hijo, el Cristo de Dios. Dios ha señalado ese Cristo ha ser el Juez de vivos y muertos, y Él ha aportado la prueba a todos los hombres que Él va a juzgar a todas las personas a través de ese hombre con haberlo levantado de los muertos.

Porque Dios ha hecho todo esto, Él manda a la gente a cambiar por completo su forma de pensar acerca de Él y a hacer obras de acondicionamiento para el arrepentimiento. Él quiere que ellos se arrepientan y sean bautizados en el nombre de Jesucristo para el perdón de los pecados. Él es el Señor de todos.

El Padre envió a su Hijo, Jesucristo, para ser el Salvador del mundo. Él hizo a Jesús, que no conoció pecado, pecado por nosotros, para que nosotros fuésemos hechos justicia de Dios en Él. A través de Él, Dios quiere que usted sea reconciliado consigo mismo.

Jesús está vivo hoy y quiere salvarte. Como Juez y Salvador, Él te salvará si se va a arrepentir, creer en el evangelio, y confesarlo como Señor. Cualquier persona que invoque el nombre del Señor Jesucristo, será salvo.

Llamalo a Él como Señor, creyendo que Dios le levantó de los muertos, y pidanle por el perdón de todos sus pecados!

(Trasladado con la ayuda de Google Translate y Daniela Medina.)

Many people think that as long as they are not hurting anyone else with what they are doing, they should be able to do whatever they want. At a funeral service this past Saturday, I heard a great illustration by my pastor Dr. Mark Minnick that explains in an excellent way why such reasoning is flawed.

Here is my version* of that illustration that so clearly explained why such a belief is false:

On a long, straight 40-mile stretch of highway in the middle of a desolate part of a Western state of the US, a lone vehicle speeds along at 25 miles above the speed limit with the driver completely oblivious for quite some time to the fact that he is going far faster than is legal. Given that there is no one else anywhere on the road on the entire stretch of the highway, the lone driver of this vehicle “innocently” exceeds the speed limit without even knowing it for a long time because he is caught up in his thoughts about many other things.

When the driver realizes that he is going way too fast, he thinks to himself that what he is doing is not wrong because there is no one else on the road that he is hurting by what he is doing. He decides to keep going at 80 mph instead of the posted 55 mph maximum speed.

About 25 miles down the highway, the driver notices flashing lights coming up behind him and realizes that a state trooper is coming after him. He pulls over and tries to tell the officer that what he was doing was not wrong because he was not hurting anyone else by what he was doing.

After all, there was no one else on the road with him at all. Of course, the office does not buy his argument and tickets him heavily for going way above the speed limit.

Just as the trooper in this illustration did not buy that what this driver was doing was right to do just because the driver thought that he was not hurting anyone, so God is not going to excuse anyone who breaks one of His laws simply because he thought that what he was doing was right to do because he thought that he was not hurting anyone else by what he did. Whatever God says is wrong to do is wrong to do whether we think otherwise because we think we are not hurting anyone by what we are doing.


To read the good news of what God offers to all of us because we have done wrong before Him, please read this post.

* My version maintains the key points of the illustration as it was told by Pastor Minnick. I wrote this version because I wanted to share this great illustration with others and do not have the time to listen to the illustration over and over again and transcribe it exactly as he told it.

God is the only One who has existed forever. When God, therefore, created the first angel(s), there were no other created beings in existence.

Because all angels are created beings, they must believe what God has told them about His having created them and that they have not always existed, as God has. Since no angels were around to witness God’s creating at least the first angel(s) who was/were created, righteous angels exercise faith in what God tells them about their origin.

It makes sense to think, however, that some or perhaps all fallen angels reject what God has told them about their origin. Given this demonic rejection of the truth of their being created beings, it would naturally follow that some or all demons have played a leading role in influencing humans around the world to reject the biblical doctrine of creation.

I think that we would do well to present this biblical line of reasoning to those who reject the biblical doctrine of creation and challenge them that their rejection puts them in line with evil supernatural beings. What do you think?

In his very popular work Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, Dr. Wayne Grudem devotes a chapter to a treatment of “The Gospel Call and Effective Calling.” In this chapter, he writes, “In human preaching of the gospel, three important elements must be included” (694). He says that these elements are the following:

I. Explanation of the Facts Concerning Salvation

II. Invitation to Respond to Christ Personally in Repentance and Faith

III. A Promise of Forgiveness and Eternal Life

These headings cover many essential aspects of giving the gospel to sinners, but unbelievably and inexplicably, Dr. Grudem does not say anything anywhere directly about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ in this treatment of the subject, “The Gospel Call and Effective Calling”! How is it possible that a renowned biblical scholar like Dr. Grudem does not say that testifying to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is an essential fact that must be explained concerning salvation!

I was shocked when I first saw this omission years ago and could not believe what I was reading. I am still amazed that this lacking treatment of the gospel was published and has not been addressed for all the years that the work has been available. How could those who have proofed this work not have noticed the lack of any mention of the Resurrection in the chapter that explains what the Gospel call is?

Apparently, Dr. Grudem and others have thought that in giving the gospel, it is enough to say that Jesus Christ “is a Savior who is now alive in heaven” and who is Himself appealing to the sinner to come to Him.1 The Gospels2 and the apostolic preaching of the gospel throughout the book of Acts,3 however, show that this is not a sufficient testimony to the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

Leaving it to sinners to infer the truth of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is not how we should present the gospel to them.4 Explicit, detailed, and emphatic testimony to the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is the very essence of biblical gospel preaching!

In his own thinking and practice, every reader of this leading theological work needs to correct this omission in Dr. Grudem’s teaching concerning the gospel call. Those who are responsible for training future leaders must take care to address this matter with those that they train for gospel ministry who have encountered this teaching by Dr. Grudem.


1 After quoting Jesus’ invitation to sinners that is recorded in Matthew 11:28-30, Dr. Grudem writes in this regard,

It is important to make clear that these are not just words spoken a long time ago by a religious leader in the past. Every non-Christian hearing these words should be encouraged to think of them as words that Jesus Christ is even now, at this very moment, speaking to him or to her individually. Jesus Christ is a Savior, who is now alive in heaven, and each non-Christian should think of Jesus as speaking directly to him or her (694).

2 Every Gospel ends with extensive testimony to the bodily resurrection and post-resurrection appearances of Jesus Christ (Matt. 28; Mk. 16; Luke 24; John 20-21).

3 Explicit mention of the resurrection is part of the climactic content of key evangelistic messages that are recorded in the book of Acts (Acts 2:31-32; 10:40-41; 13:30-37; 17:30-31).

4 Paul told the Corinthians that the gospel that he preached to them was the message that included testimony that Christ “rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:4). He did not relate that he had testified to them that Jesus was alive—he had borne witness that God raised Jesus from the dead (1 Cor. 15:15).

Jesus chose Peter to be the leader of the apostolic company and entrusted him with the keys of the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 16:16-19). After giving them instructions about how He wanted them all to be witnesses of Him to the whole world (Acts 1:8), we first see in the book of Acts that Peter led the believers in choosing the necessary replacement for Judas (Acts 1:15-26).

In Acts 2, we read of Peter’s preaching the first apostolic message in obedience to Jesus’ directive for them to be His witnesses. This premier gospel message has many instructive features that we need to learn from so that we will be the witnesses of Christ that we should be.

Peter as a Witness in Jerusalem

Peter preached to men who were devout Jews (Acts 2:5) from every nation, but before he did so, they all heard supernaturally produced testimony to the wonderful works of God (Acts 2:11). Because the Spirit has chosen not to give us any more information about what that testimony included, we cannot be certain of what specific content they received through this precursor to his message.

Following this initial supernatural testimony, Peter explained to his hearers what they had just witnessed signified (Acts 2:14-21). This means that his hearers received a lengthy two-part precursor to his actual message.

When we look at Peter’s message (Acts 2:22-36), we see that it was preeminently a God-and-Jesus message that highlighted that God raised Jesus from the dead and exalted Him (Acts 2: 22; 32, 36). When the people responded by asking him and the rest of the apostles what they should do in light of what he had preached to them (Acts 2:37), Peter instructed them to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:38-39), just as Jesus had commanded the apostles to proclaim to the world (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Lk. 24:44-49).

Peter then extensively warned them after his message and urged them to be saved (Acts 2:40). Because the Spirit has chosen only to give us a brief summary of this lengthy exhortation after Peter’s message, we again note that God has not given us an exhaustive record of the witness that these people received on this occasion.

Three thousand people from among his hearers joyfully received his message and were baptized (Acts 2:41). This vast multitude of people was genuinely saved not by hearing just “a simple gospel message” that only told them that Jesus is God and that He died for their sins—they actually received a very lengthy witness that climaxed with an emphatic proclamation of Jesus as the God-resurrected and God-exalted Christ (Acts 2:36)!

What Being a Witness of Christ Does Not Mean

Although we do learn many things from this premier message about what being a witness of Christ entails, the inspired record of Peter’s first witnessing of Christ in Jerusalem (Acts 2) also teaches us many key truths about what being a witness of Christ does not mean:

  1. Being a witness of Christ does not mean that we should necessarily give people as short and simple a message as possible. These people heard a four-part vast testimony (Acts 2:11; 2:14-21; 2:22-36; 2:38-40) that plainly declared to them many profound truths (cf. Acts 2:11, 33, 36, 38), including truth about the day of the Lord (Acts 2:16-21) that Bible interpreters even today have difficulty fully understanding and explaining.
  2. Being a witness of Christ does not mean talking only or mainly just about Jesus Himself. In fact, Peter bore vital testimony many times in his message to what God the Father did in relation to Jesus (Acts 2:22, 24, 30, 32, 33, 34, 36).
  3. Being a witness of Christ does not mean talking only or mainly about the Crucifixion of Jesus. Although Peter, naturally, did testify of the Crucifixion (Acts 2:23), he emphasized the Resurrection and Exaltation of Christ far more than he did the Crucifixion (Acts 2:24-36).
  4. Being a witness of Christ does not mean talking only or mainly about Jesus as God. Although what Peter preached did testify to the deity of Jesus, he also testified that Jesus was the Christ whom God approved (Acts 2:22), worked through (Acts 2:22), raised (Acts 2:24, 32), and exalted (Acts 2:33, 36).
  5. Being a witness of Christ does not mean talking only or mainly about Jesus as Savior. Peter did testify to that truth, but he climaxed his message with a declaration of Jesus as the God-exalted Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36), which statement is not reducible to testimony merely about Jesus as Savior.
  6. Being a witness of Christ does not mean talking only or mainly about believing on Jesus. Peter emphatically demanded that his hearers also repent (Acts 2:38).
  7. Being a witness of Christ does not mean talking only or mainly about getting saved. Although Peter did provide testimony to them about being saved (Acts 2:21) and did urge them to be saved (Acts 2:40), he also demanded that they be baptized (Acts 2:38).

Conclusion

The inspired record of Peter’s testimony of Christ in Jerusalem that is recorded in Acts 2 provides us with vital instruction about being a witness of Christ. Let us all profit fully from this glorious passage!

Paul as a Witness of Christ

February 23, 2015

In my final message in the series Thoroughly Equipped to be a Witness of Christ, I covered these key points about the apostle Paul as a witness of Christ. Although there is much more to learn about Paul as a witness that is important, these eight points cover many of the key things that Acts teaches us about this vital dimension of his life.

1. Paul began to be a witness of Christ (Acts 9:20) shortly after he was saved and baptized (Acts 9:18). Every believer must be baptized after he is saved, and then he should witness of Christ regularly (cf. Acts 9:20, 22, 27, 29).

2. Paul began to be a witness of Christ (Acts 9:20) in the place where he was after he was saved (Acts 9:19). If possible, we need to be witnesses of Christ wherever we are after we are saved.

3. Acts 9:20 does not tell us what Paul did not say to these people in the synagogues in Damascus when he witnessed to them. We must not misinterpret this one-verse summary of his message by saying that it teaches us something that it does not.

a. Acts 9:20 does not show that Paul did not preach about the resurrection of Christ to the people in the synagogues.

b. Acts 9:20 does not show us that Paul did not tell them to repent.

c. In fact, Acts 26:20-23 proves that he testified to both of these truths in Damascus when he first was a witness of Christ!

From Damascus, Paul went to Jerusalem and was a witness to Christ there (Acts 9:29). Then he was sent to Caesarea on his way to Tarsus, where he was born (Acts 9:30). Knowing Paul, he undoubtedly was a fervent witness in Tarsus.

After I was saved, I made a trip to city where I grew up to witness to everyone I grew up with. As God allows and directs, every believer should try to do likewise.

4. Paul served in the church at Antioch for some time before the Holy Spirit called him and Barnabas to go on a missions trip (Acts 13:1-4). God calls missionaries from local churches and sends them out from them.

Local churches must be faithful to prepare their people for the possibility of God’s calling them to missions. Local churches are where you should be trained to be a witness of Christ. Local churches are to be faithful in sending out and supporting those they send out as missionaries.

Acts 13:32-33 is an important passage because it shows that Psalm 2 was a key text that Paul used to preach the gospel of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ. We can preach the gospel to any lost person by taking them through Psalm 2!

5. Acts 16:31 does not show us that the jailor was saved by hearing a one-sentence gospel message. Note that Acts 16:32 says that Paul and Silas gave him more testimony than just what Acts 16:31 records.

Also, note what the jailor’s response was to the witness that they gave him: he was baptized (Acts 16:33) because Paul and Silas obviously told him that he needed to be baptized, which is not recorded in Acts 16:31.

6. Acts 17:17-18 is a key text about Paul as a witness because it shows that his content was the same with various groups that he evangelized in various ways. To all the people that he encountered in Athens, he preached the same essential content—Jesus and the resurrection. We must do likewise.

Acts 17:29-31 then teaches us vital truth that we should give to every person we witness to about Christ. We must explain to them that God has proven to them through His raising Jesus from the dead that He has fixed a day in which He will judge them through Jesus as the Judge that He has appointed. Because God has proven this to all men everywhere, we must tell them that God commands them to repent in view of these realities.

7. Acts 26:16-29 is perhaps the most important passage in at least the book of Acts for understanding Paul as a witness of Christ (Acts 26:16). It teaches us about his witnessing in four vital ways:

a. Geographical comprehensiveness – Paul began to be a witness where he was saved (Damascus). Then he witnessed of Christ in Jerusalem, throughout all the coasts of Judea, and to the Gentiles. Paul’s life of witnessing (Acts 26:20) was fully in line with what Christ directed His apostles to do (Acts 1:8).

b. Chronological comprehensiveness – Paul was a witness first in Damascus (Acts 26:20) and continued to be one unto the very day that he defended himself before King Agrippa and others (Acts 26:22). Paul’s entire life included his being a witness of Christ and so should ours.

c. Comprehensiveness about the people whom Paul witnessed to and about the people whom he desired to be saved – Paul witnessed to Jews and Gentiles (Acts 26:20), to the small and the great (Acts 26:22), and to the king (Acts 26:29), governor (Acts 26:30), and many others who were present at his defense (Bernice, chief captains, and principal men of the city [Acts 25:23]). Moreover, Paul wanted all of them to be saved (Acts 26:29)!

d. Content that Paul testified to every person – Paul told everyone everywhere from Damascus to the Gentiles that they had to repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance (Acts 26:20). He also testified to all people that Christ should suffer, be the first to rise from the dead, and show light to the people and the Gentiles (Acts 26:23)—all of which was exactly what Moses and the prophets did say should come (Acts 26:22).

8. Acts 28:23 and 28:30-31 show that Paul witnessed of Christ by testifying to everyone that he could for two entire years about both the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, just as Peter (Acts 2) and Philip did (Acts 8). We must likewise evangelize all people with the gospel of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 8:12).

I began my message this past Sunday morning with this illustration that pointedly challenged my hearers about a key issue:

Suppose that tomorrow, several hundred people here in Greenville would go to their mailboxes to get their mail. They find a letter that congratulates them because they have been chosen to attend some very special seminars. Billionaires will give specific teaching in these seminars that is guaranteed to make them very rich.

Can you imagine how eagerly people would pay attention in those seminars? Don’t you think that people would try to learn as much as they could? Wouldn’t they take very detailed notes about what those billionaires teach them about making money?

We are not here this morning to hear from billionaires about how to make lots of money. We are here to profit from the words of God about how to be a witness of Christ, which is far more important than making lots of money. I hope that you will pay very close attention this morning and take many notes from what God teaches you today.

How interested and eager are you about learning more about being a witness of Christ? If you will be in Greenville this Sunday morning (and do not already have your own church that you regularly attend), I invite you to come hear my final message in this series Thoroughly Equipped to Be a Witness of Christ.

 

Acts 1:8 records that Jesus instructed His disciples to be witnesses of Him to the whole world. The rest of the book relates many accounts of their bearing witness to Him and for Him.

For many reasons, Acts 8 is a uniquely important chapter in the book of Acts for our understanding of being a witness of Christ:

—Shows how not just the apostles, but also other believers were witnesses of Christ (Acts 8:4)

—Has key statements about how believers initially witnessed of Christ to people outside of Jerusalem (Acts 8:1, 4)

—Has far more occurrences of forms of a key verb for preaching the gospel (euaggelizomai) than any other chapter of the book of Acts has (Acts 8:4, 12, 25, 35, 40)

—Provides the only inspired record of the gospel ministry of the only person named as an evangelist in Scripture (Acts 8:5-13; 26-40)

—Provides a crucial statement about the dual-faceted nature of sound gospel preaching (Acts 8:12)

—Records vital apostolic instruction about the necessity of repentance and prayer for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 8:22)

—Relates the vital importance of believers’ helping people understand what that they have been reading from Scripture but have not understood properly (Acts 8:30-35)

—Underscores the importance of confronting people with their need to have hearts that are right in the sight of God (Acts 8:20-23; 37)

Because God has given us Acts 8 to teach us so many important truths that vitally equip all believers for doing the good works of evangelizing and making disciples of the world, we need to profit from it as fully as possible. Because this chapter uniquely provides us with an extensive record of the evangelist Philip as a witness of Christ, we all as believers need especially to learn from Philip how God wants us to be witnesses of Christ.

If you will be in the Greenville area on this Sunday and are looking for a church to attend, I would like to invite you to come hear my message this Sunday morning that will explain these things further.

This morning, I used a creative approach with some other believers to help them understand better how many believers have not rightly understood why Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead the way that He did. I believe that a vast number of believers need to understand this key point and then use that understanding to adjust in a very important way their use of John 11 in evangelizing people.

An Imaginary News Report of Jesus’ Raising Lazarus from the Dead

Imagine that a news crew from a leading TV network is able to go back in time to videotape one key Bible event, and they choose when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. This crew has the ability to record what takes place without any of the people even seeing that they are present.

As they watch Jesus and others coming to the tomb, they choose to begin recording only at the exact moment when He actually commands Lazarus to come forth. Getting what they want on tape, they return to the present to share their highly selective eyewitness account with the world.

On a prime time news program, they present the stunning video, which instantly creates a worldwide sensation. As teams of news reporters and analysts all around the world go back and forth discussing the remarkable footage, leading news anchors here in the US carry on a torrid debate about what the world should make of this miraculous event.

The Internet explodes with a never-before-seen deluge of discussion on social media. Many bloggers chime in with their take on what significance the world should attach to seeing Jesus do something that no one else had ever been recorded doing—raising a person back to life who had been dead for four days!

Everywhere, people fiercely dispute why Jesus did what He did the way that He did it and what His doing so reveals about who He was. An endless stream of world leaders, political and religious, gives their opinions on whether they believe that the video proves that Jesus was God.

All too often, many Christians have evangelized people by using the account of Jesus’ raising Lazarus from the dead in a very similar way to what I concocted in this hypothetical story. By focusing on a very small portion of the Bible record about this event, they have in many cases not given people a right understanding of why Jesus raised Lazarus the way that He did and what His doing so shows about who He was.

The Foreground Significance of Jesus’ Raising Lazarus the Way That He Did

An examination of the Holy Spirit’s inspired report of what happened shows clearly how this has been the case. When John relates to us what happened immediately before Jesus commanded Lazarus to come out of the grave, he says,

Joh 11:38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.

 39 Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.

 40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?

 41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.

 42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.

Only after relating these events does John tell us the very selective part that the fictitious news story I gave above provided:

43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.

 44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

Had the Spirit only inspired John to write verses 43-44 after he had given enough preceding material to give the basic information about the setting of this event, the news report would have been a more valid representation of what took place on this occasion. John, however, provided vital information in the verses immediately preceding verses 43 and 44 that the news report failed to provide.

Right before Jesus commanded Lazarus to come forth, John says that Jesus lifted up His eyes and talked aloud with God the Father (John 11:41). In this conversation, Jesus thanked the Father for hearing Him and for His always hearing Him. These statements show that Jesus communicated that He had prayed to the Father just before His raising Lazarus from the dead and that the Father had heard His prayer, just as He always had done before this event!

Moreover, John then recorded that Jesus then remarked to the Father, “But because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me” (John 11:42). Here John reports from the mouth of Jesus Himself what is the key to understanding why Jesus raised Lazarus the way that He did—He wanted the people to believe the vital truth that the Father had sent Him!

Saying this, Jesus told all those who were present on that occasion that the foreground significance of His raising Lazarus the way that He did was that people would believe that God the Father had sent Him! What He Himself said prior to what He was about to do thus made known that His intent through this miraculous event did not have proving His own deity as its foremost significance.

Yes, what He did testified to His deity but that clearly was not the sum total of what this event testified about Him. In fact, by Jesus’ own statement that John relates, we know that His own deity was not even the foremost truth to which His raising Lazarus the way that He did gave witness to His original audience.

How We Must Use John 11 Properly in Evangelism

As we have seen, this conversation between Jesus and the Father about His hearing Jesus’ prayer was a vital facet of this miracle that the news report completely left out. What Jesus testified about His purpose for doing this miracle the way that He did it is also a vital facet of this event that many, many believers do not account for when they use this account to witness to people.

In using John 11 in evangelism, we must not use this “news report” approach to sharing this glorious event with lost people. We must rather faithfully tell them that Jesus raised Lazarus the way that He did so that they will believe that the Father sent Him!