By Jesse Morrell
I. WHAT IS THE RIGHT HEART FOR APOLOGETICS & EVANGELISM
- Our primary motive in all that we do as Christians ought to be the glory of God (Matt. 22:37). Our primary motive in apologetics and evangelism, therefore, ought to be to promote the glory of God.
a. God is glorified by the obedience of his saints (Ps. 29:2). Therefore, our obedience to God in fulfilling the Great Commission glorifies the Lord. If our heart is to glorify our Lord, we will seek to obey His commands, especially His command of the Great Commission.
b. God’s character is slandered and His name is dishonored by the sinful world. The lives of sinners do not glorify God (Rom. 1:21). Therefore, if we want to promote the glory of God, we will seek to change the world around us.
c. If our hearts love the Lord, our hearts should break over the fact that the world does not glorify and serve the Lord as He is worthy of.
i. In 2004 I was open air preaching in the streets of New Haven CT to a bus stop that I had preached to many times before. I recall reflecting on how many of these people, who have heard me preaching Jesus Christ before, were still not serving the Lord. I believe that I started going through the Ten Commandments with them and as I stated the First Commanded, I started to weep. I didn’t mean to. I was a bit embarrassed by it. But I couldn’t help but to weep. And I wasn’t weeping for them. I was weeping for God. The contemplation that God was not receiving what He deserves from His creation, that sinners are actually robbing God of what He is worthy of, was breaking my heart. I remember thinking at that bus stop how good God has been to our world and how good He continues to be, and yet how hostile and hateful our world is towards God. Such a thought deeply grieved and broke my heart, as I was weeping for God.
ii. It’s been said that believers should have such compassion that they weep over the lost, but I have never heard anyone talk about having such sympathy for God that you weep for Him. If we mourn over sinners, who are going to receive that which they deserve, than how much more should we mourn over God’s rejection in the earth, as He is not receiving from the world that which He deserves!
iii. How sin effects God should deeply grieve the hearts of those of us who love the Lord. God is the greatest victim of sin. The greatest commandment is to love God supremely, so the greatest sin is not to. God is constantly being sinned against by our world. He is continually being dishonored by His creation! And the Bible says that God’s heart is grieved and broken over the sinfulness of the earth (Gen. 6:5-6; Eze. 6:9; Matt. 23:37). The church ought to have deep sympathy for God.
iv. Motivated by sympathy for God and a desire for His glory and happiness, we should seek to win the world back to God.
- Our secondary purpose in engaging in apologetics and evangelism ought to be the well-being of our neighbor (Matt. 22:39).
a. If we valued our souls so much that we sought after salvation, should we not then seek after the salvation of our neighbor’s soul, since they are our equal? The soul of our neighbors is just as valuable as our own. And since the value of their soul is equal to the value of our own, we should seek the salvation of their soul as if it were our own. That is what it is to love your neighbor as yourself.
b. God has been deeply grieved with the sin of the world (Gen. 6:5-6) and He has even been provoked to anger over it (Ps. 7:11), yet He does not take any pleasure in the damnation of the wicked (Eze. 33:11) and He desires the salvation of all men (2 Pet. 3:9).
i. Of all beings in the universe that have been hurt by sin, God is the greatest. God has been sinned against more than anyone else and for a longer period of time than anyone else can claim. Yet he is not spiteful or vindictive towards sinners at all in His heart but in His goodness and mercy desires their well-being. Our heart should imitate God in His benevolence (Matt. 5:43-48).
c. Jesus said that he rebuked and chastened as many as he loved (Rev. 3:19).
i. Our motivation in confronting and correcting our sinful world ought to be benevolence.
ii. If we truly love the world, we will do that which is necessary for their well-being.
d. If we are not motivated by love and benevolence for the world in our witnessing, we are “sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal” (1 Cor. 13:1).
i. Nevertheless, even if a person preaches Christ with a motive other than love, Paul said that he rejoiced that Christ is preached (Php. 1:16-18).
ii. God was able to use the preaching of Jonah to bring Nineveh to repentance to avoid the judgment of God, though Jonah had no love or benevolence in His heart for the Ninevites (Book of Jonah).
iii. However, if we preach the gospel of Christ willingly, we will reap a reward (1 Cor. 9:17).
e. Our hearts should be broken when we contemplate the eternal fate of the lost.
i. Those who do not believe in Christ are condemned already (Jn. 3:18).
ii. Those who die without obeying the gospel will face an eternity of punishment (2 Thes. 1:9).
f. The greatest soul winners in history have been those who had such benevolent hearts that they wept for souls.
i. George Whitefield would weep as he stood before the masses and preached the gospel. He said, “I weep for you because you do not weep for yourselves.”
ii. John Knox prayed earnestly, “Lord, give me Scotland or I’ll die!”
iii. The Apostle Paul said, “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh…” Romans 9:1-3
g. Those who are sent by God to speak His word are given a “burden” (Mal. 1:1).
i. A burden is defined as a heavy load to carry (BDB).
ii. The gospel message includes a warning of coming judgment (Rom. 2:16; Col. 1:28).
iii. The mental consideration and obligation to preach that the judgment of the Lord is coming and that many souls are going to be doomed for all of eternity is a burden given to the church to bear.
iv. When I was first becoming very active in evangelism, the spirit of God shared with me His heart. I was walking down the hallway of my house when all of the sudden, unexpectedly, it felt like the spirit of God crashed upon me. My knees gave out and I fell down to the floor, sobbing and weeping immensely. Thoughts entered my mind about all of the lost cities full of lost people that were around me. I knew that God was sharing with me His broken heart over the world. It was the most unexplainable and intimate experience that I’ve ever had with God. I wasn’t expecting it or even seeking it at the moment, but it came. It was as though God opened up to me His heart and shared it with me. And He hurt so much. I received the burden of the Lord.
h. Our hearts ought to be magnanimous and benevolent towards all, even those who oppose and persecute us.
i. We are to pray for our enemies (Matt. 5:44).
ii. We are to love our enemies (Matt. 5:44).
iii. We are to bless those who persecute us (Matt. 5:44).
iv. We are to do good unto our enemies (Rom. 12:20).
v. We are to overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:21).
vi. Jesus and Stephan both had such hearts as to desire the well-being of others that they even prayed for the forgiveness of their persecutors right before they died (Lk. 23:43; Acts 7:60).
i. Jesus mourned and wept over Jerusalem for rejecting the word of God (Matt. 23:37; Lk. 19:41).
i. The word used to say that Jesus “wept” means that he sobbed and wailed aloud, as opposed to silently (Strong).
ii. This mourning and weeping over the people obviously arose from a deep desire of Jesus’ heart for them to embrace the word of God and be saved, and their refusal to do so.
iii. The suffering of Christ is an example given unto us, to follow in His steps (1 Pet. 2:21).
iv. We are to actually “suffer with Christ” (Rom. 8:17).
v. It has been medically shown that when Jesus died on the cross, that he actually died of a ruptured or broken heart. This is evidenced by the intense agony of soul he endured and showed by sweating drops of blood (Lk. 22:44), the blood and water that came out of his side immediately after death (Jn. 19:34), by his early or quick death on the cross (Mk. 15:44; Jn. 19:33), and by his ability to speak right before his death, indicating that he was not dying of the suffocation that crucifixion causes (Mk. 15:37; Lk. 23:46; Jn. 19:30).
j. The right demeanor of a Christian, especially when engaging in witnessing for Christ to this lost world, is summed up in this passage: “But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (2 Tim. 2:23-26).
i. Jesus described his witnesses as being “sheep in the midst of wolves” and told us to be “wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” (Matt. 10:16).
II. WHAT IS NOT THE RIGHT HEART FOR APOLOGETICS & EVANGELISM
- Acting upon a desire to show off your intellectual knowledge.
a. “Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth” (1 Cor. 8:1).
b. No matter who you are, what your credentials are, or how much you have studied, there will always be someone, somewhere, who can ask a question that you cannot answer, or who can make a point that you cannot immediately address. If you go out to try to show the world how smart you are, get ready for someone to come and humble you.
- Acting upon a desire to simply win a debate.
a. It is ungodly to have a quarrelsome or contentious spirit (Rom. 1:29).
b. If our demeanor, spirit, and motivation are not right, we might win the debate and still lose the soul.
c. Strong intellectual arguments should be coupled and wrapped in benevolence and humility.
- Acting upon a desire to receive praises or accolades from men.
a. The motivation of our heart ought to be love for God supremely and love for our neighbor equally (Matt. 22:37-38), so any selfish motivation in what we do is sinful and wrong.
b. God does not reward religious self-centeredness and Jesus himself rebuked it (Matt. 6:5).
III. HOW TO DEVELOP A RIGHT HEART FOR THE WORK
- Make prayer a regular part of your life.
a. Intimacy and communion with God synchronizes your heart to His heart.
b. Prayer for the lost will enlarge your desire for their salvation.
c. Prayer for God’s glory will enlarge your desire for its accomplishment.
- Study the word of God.
a. Our obligation is continually pressed upon our minds as we read the word of God.
b. God’s heart and character is constantly expressed throughout the Scriptures.
c. The dreadful fate of sinners is declared all throughout the Bible.
- Give thought to the fact that all men will die, all will stand before God in judgment, and all souls will spend eternity in Heaven or eternity in hell.
a. Your emotions and sensibilities are moved by the thoughts of your mind. Certain considerations spark and incite specific feelings.
i. Give thought to the value of the soul, the darkness of our world, the dreadfulness of hell, the worthiness of God, etc, and these thoughts will naturally create the necessary corresponding feelings and emotions.
IV. HOW TO GUARD AGAINST DEVELOPING A WRONG HEART
- Do not take the mockery or rejection of the world personally.
a. If you take the mockery and rejection of the world personally, your heart can become bitter and sour.
b. Remember that many of those who you might be witnessing to do not even know you personally. If they knew you on a personal level, maybe they would like you. Their mockery and rejection is not of you as a person, but as a witness. It is for the message that you carry.
c. If you have realistic expectations, you will not have disappointment.
i. Jesus taught us to expect the rejection of the world (Matt. 5:11; 10:23). We shouldn’t be surprised or offended when it comes.
- Make a conscious choice to have the right heart, that is, determine within yourself to have the right motivation and intention.
a. You determine within yourself what the condition of your heart is.
i. God commands that we circumcise the foreskin of our hearts (Deut. 10:16; Acts 7:51).
ii. God commands that we make unto ourselves a new heart (Eze. 18:31).
iii. God commands that we purify our hearts (James 4:8).
iv. It is obvious from these passages that we can make a conscious choice to have the right heart (motivation, intention). The choice is ours to make.