Wednesday, February 16, 2011

5 Things that Matter in Evangelism (Richard Sibbes on Espousal Evangelism)

It's the time of year many Christian Unions raise the temperature for a week of additional events designed to give others the opportunity to encounter Jesus and explore their questions. I've been immersed in last week's Cardiff Uni 'But God' week and next week's at Bath Spa Uni. I'd value your prayers for myself and the students. I'm seeking to follow Richard Sibbes' lead, so here he is on Espousal Evangelism:

1. The Character of the Evangelist Matters. 
If we would be happy instruments to convert others, being converted ourselves, labour to be such as the world may think to be good and gracious. ‘you fairest among women,’ fair in the robes of Christ took out of his wardrobe. All the beauty and ornaments that the church has she has from Christ. Let us labour to be such as the world may see are good persons. We say of physicians, when the patient has a good attitude, the cure is half wrought. So the doctrine is half persuaded when there is a good appreciation of the speaker.

2. The Manner of the Evangelist matters 
Labour to be earnest. If we would kindle others, we must be warmed ourselves; if we would make others weep, we must weep ourselves. The church spoke this with large expressions, indeed, more than can be expressed.

3. The Affections of the Evangelist Matter 
Let us labour to be deeply affected with what we speak, and speak with confidence as if we knew what we spoke, as the apostle John does, in the beginning of his epistle, to bring others to be better persuaded of his doctrine. He affirms ‘that which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with these our eyes, which we have looked upon, and these hands of ours have handled of the word of life’ he delivered to them, 1 John 1:1. For when we are confident from spiritual experience, it is wonderful how we shall be instruments of God to gain upon others. So Peter. ‘We followed not,’ says he, ‘deceivable fables, when we opened unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but with our eyes we saw his majesty,’ 2 Pet. 1:16.
Do not think it belongs only to the ministry. There is an art of conversion that belongs to every one that is a grown Christian, to win others. That which most of all stirs up holy affections to search after Christ is the large explications of his excellencies. Be in love with the ministry of the gospel and the communion of saints, who have their tongues and their hearts taught of God to speak excellently. Their tongues are as refined silver; their hearts are enriched to increase the communion of saints, Prov. 10:20. Mark this one excellency of that excellent ordinance of God in Christ, where Paul says, Eph. 3:7, 8, ‘To me is committed this excellent office, to lay open the unsearchable riches of Christ;’ such riches as may draw you to wonder, such ‘as eye has never seen, nor ear heard, nor has entered into the heart of man to conceive,’ 1 Cor. 2:9; and so to draw the affections of people after them.

4. The Message of the Evangelist Matters 
It is the special office of the ministry to lay Him open, to hold up the tapestry, to unfold the hidden mysteries of Christ, therefore we labour to be always speaking somewhat about Christ, or tending that way. When we speak of the law, let it drive us to Christ; when of moral duties, to teach us to walk worthy of Christ. Christ, or somewhat tending to Christ, should be our theme and mark to aim at.

5. The Aim of the Evangelist Matters
Those who hinder the preaching of the gospel are enemies of the conversion and calling of God’s people, and of their comfort. Like Cain they are vagabonds, wandering without submission and keeping themselves out of the great opportunity to hear of the excellences of Christ which might draw their own hearts to him. We are made forever, if we are one with Christ. If we have the whole world without him, it is nothing; if we have nothing in the world but Christ, we are happy. Oh! happy then when this match is made between Christ and the soul! The friends of the bride and of Christ lay open the unsearchable riches of Christ to the spouse, drawing the affections, working faith, and so bringing the bride and the bridegroom together.

MP3: Hosea 2:14 - Christ Loves (Dave Bish, Cardiff CU)
More on Espousal Evangelism: I will allure her


  1. love it. did i ever send you that stuff from RL Dabney, Evangelical Eloquence? sounds very similar on affections.

  2. I don't think you did. Please do :)

  3. 6. The Argument of the Evangelist Matters :)

  4. Didn't want to deny you the opportunity to chime in with that one! And of course I totally agree.

    Though I think I'd want to say for a young evangelist nailing the first five is pretty key. So easy for us to charge in adversarially with great arguments without being warm and welcoming.